Chicharrónes, Ranch Pretzels, Soft Pretzel Recipe, Cheddar Ale Spread, Sweet & Zesty Snack Mix

Week 3 - First String Snack Attack
Tailgate Thursday

Today it's all about armchair quarterbacks, and what better way to start the game than with the first string of munchy snacks.

KathyVegas - Chef living in where else but Las Vegas, has some amazing good eats on her site and I think this one is perfect to start out for all of us beer drinking, know-it-all, never-coached-a-thing-before, sideline football fans. It's the quintessential for pigskin rallying (and eating).


2 lbs pork skin
1 tsp salt
2 cups water
Cooking oil for deep fat frying

Trim almost all the fat off the skin and cut into 2-inch squares. Sprinkle with salt, spread on cookie sheet in one layer and bake in a 250 F oven for 3 hours.

Cool and set aside until ready to use. When needed, pour oil to about 1/3 the depth of the pan and heat to 375 degrees (medium hot). Fry pork the pork skin until puffed up, crispy and light brown. Drain on paper towels.

My good friend Michelle from Brown Eyed Baker sent me a very nice list of great snacks geared for some football fun. She is one of my favorite blogging buddies and she out scores me all the time over on Foodbuzz. That's okay though, I was told a long time ago, you're not worth a toot in playing if you can't help your team out during the game. The next three today are from her blog along with her comments. Enjoy!

Ranch Pretzels

(Source: Amber’s Delectable Delights

My measurements were to scale for the size bag of pretzels I used – adjust as necessary

9-oz. bag pretzels
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-oz. packet Hidden Valley Ranch Dips
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
2. Place the pretzels in a gallon-size ziploc bag. Add the oil, seal the bag and toss to coat. Add the dry ingredients to the bag, seal and toss again until all of the pretzels are coated
3. Spread the pretzels out on a large baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the oil has absorbed into the pretzels. Cool and store in an airtight container

Soft Pretzel Recipe
(Source: i shot the chef)

Ahh, the beloved soft pretzel. Before this past winter I didn’t realize that making them at home was so relatively easy. Sure, it takes some time with the rising and the baking soda bath, but each step is pretty simple and they are well worth it! The last time that I made homemade soft pretzels, I used this recipe, and they turned out great. The major difference in this recipe is the rising time, which doesn’t exist in the other recipe. I think that’s what makes these much more plump. Also, the egg wash at the end gets the pretzels to brown up really nicely. I loved these pretzels, and I will be keeping this recipe as my standard soft pretzel recipe.

1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 package (or 2-1/4 teaspoons) dry active yeast
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Soda Bath
6 cups water
3 Tablespoons baking soda

1 egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons coarse sea salt

1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand for 10 minutes to bloom. Add the water/yeast along with the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and 2 3/4 cups of the flour to your heavy-duty mixer and knead dough for about 8 minutes, adding the last 1/4 cup of flour if necessary (I never needed to add this). You can also do this by hand. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but very uniform and smooth. Place dough in a large oiled bowl, and let rise for 1 hour, until doubled.

2. Punch down, and divide the dough into 12 equal shapes and form them into small balls. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for 15 minutes. Roll them into 20″ lengths and form them into pretzel shapes. If you notice them getting hard to roll (springing back), cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 5 minutes and then continue rolling out. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and allow the pretzels to rise for 1/2 hour. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

3. In a large pot, bring the baking soda and water to a boil. Add the pretzels one at a time to the boiling water for 1 minute. Press down into the boiling water with a spatula. Remove and place on a cooling rack. When cooled, transfer to a parchment lined sheet pan. Brush with egg wash, sprinkle generously with coarse sea salt and bake for 12-15 minutes, until dark brown.

Note: To ensure the dough is thoroughly kneaded, take a small piece and roll it into a ball. With your thumbs, stretch the dough until either it tears or becomes transparent in the center, also known as a window. If you cannot stretch the dough to form a window, knead a little longer.
Note #2: If you have a kitchen scale, use that to weigh out the 12 balls of dough. They should be right around 2 oz each.
Makes 12 Pretzels

And here is a great dip for pretzels and gal-sticks.
Cheddar Ale Spread
(Adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

This cheese spread has a fabulous tangy flavor, thanks to a small amount of dijon mustard and beer. The recipe calls for an ale, and I think you could really use just about anything so long as it’s not a light beer; I used one of my new favorites – Blue Moon. I processed this pretty well in the food processor, but you could easily choose to pulse it for a chunkier consistency if you would prefer.

8 oz. cream cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2½ cups shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup beer (pretty much anything but a light beer)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I substituted 2 teaspoons dried)

Combine the cream cheese, mustard, cheddar cheese, cream, and salt in a food processor. Process for 30 seconds, add the beer, and continue processing until very smooth. Pulse in the parsley until just dispersed.

This can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You will want to take it out an hour before serving if you do refrigerate.

Find more remarkable recipes at Brown Eyed Baker.

Now team, here's a quarterback sneak, a great munchy snack from my cookbook, Grits to Guacamole:

Sweet & Zesty Snack Mix

1 stick butter
1 cup Karo syrup
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons Louisiana hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 bags Quaker traditional snack mix
1 cup dry roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cups pecans

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir in the next five ingredients. Cook until this begins to bubble stirring to combine. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix the snack mix with the nuts and pour sauce over stirring to coat evenly. Spray a deep roasting pan with cooking spray and pour in the snack mix. Cook in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour stirring every 15 minutes. Pour this out onto wax paper, coated with cooking spray, and let cool. Break apart and store in an airtight container.

Next week, we're going to watch the game - highfalutin' in style. Check back in for details.


  1. Thanks for the lovely sharing!

  2. love the chicharon!!! all that crunch!! yummmm!

  3. Hey Dick,
    I am asucker for soft pretzels! so thanks for sharing that one..and can I substitute chicken skins for pork skins?
    Thanks :)

  4. That cheddar ale spread is looking oh so good!

  5. Thank you for recommending these recipes!I like pretzels.

  6. Love the tailgating posts!! Thanks for including some of my recipes. Looking forward to getting more snack ideas for football season!

  7. Yummy chedder ale actually had me at pretzels


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