This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. I’m happy, however, to share my sport-inspired style and snack ideas with all of you! #MVCheezIt #CollectiveBias
If you’re at your desk right now while you read this, chances are you’re not the only one on the Internet. If a certain college basketball tournament happens to be going on right now, you’re definitely not the only one on the Internet. You’re probably the only one reading blogs though, because everyone else is watching basketball games and examining their brackets.
I’m with you probably not monitoring the progress of my bracket midday because, in all likelihood, I didn’t fill one out. But… there’s a darn good chance I have a poster size bracket hanging on my wall at home that M prepared to fill out as the tournament progresses. For real, he’s hit up the print shop in years past for a four foot by six foot poster of the college basketball tournament bracket. It’s his thing! And that’s fine by me.
M and I graduated from college about a decade ago. Check out T’s shirt in this recent post for a little clue about our alma mater. In honor of all the games, I styled a casual Friday outfit sporting a little school spirit for the institution that brought us together (awww…). Our team isn’t playing in the tournament this year, but maybe next year. They’ve been a contender on and off over the last couple of decades, so maybe next year will be their year.
Since the day we walked off campus, every March gets a little bit crazy. As an accountant, I spend my days and nights cranking away in Excel to meet client deadlines and demands. I don’t file tax returns, but our team still faces a made rush of work after the new year that culminates the end of March.
While I’ve got my nose to the grindstone, M has his face glued to the television, at least on game days. He’s a huge sports fan and the annual college basketball tournament tops his list of favorite events to watch each year.
To celebrate the marathon of tall twenty-somethings shooting jumpers, he corrals a handful of college and high school friends, now living across the country, to gather and indulge in endless basketball watching during the first two days of the tournament. That is to say, while I spend the first two days of the tournament diligently at my desk all day long, he’s never worked those two days in his life. (He’s a hard worker, so don’t be mislead. But for those two days, he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure working isn’t on his agenda.)
On a whim of creative inspiration, I decided to spice up one of M’s favorite game day snacks as well as bring something new to his appetizer agenda. I don’t always spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but as of late I’ve been on a kick to try my hand at a few new recipes.
I started with savory Buffalo Chicken Cheesecake Bites inspired by one of M’s favorite snacks, buffalo chicken dip. Essentially the same ingredients take different form layered on top of a Cheez-It Pepper Jack cracker crust.
I snagged the Cheez-It crackers from one of my all-time favorite stores, Target. I’ve dotted on Target before for their massively appealing collections of just about everything. Am I the only one who stops in to pick up toothpaste and toilet paper and never leaves without spending at least $100? At least I used my Redcard to get an additional 5% off my Target purchase and my Cartwheel app to snag the Cheez-It coupon which saved me some loot.
T obviously had to steal a few Cheez-It Pepper Jack crackers between rolls.
- 2 cups crumbled Cheez-It Pepper Jack crackers
- 1 stick butter, melted
- 1 package Neufchatel (cream cheese)
- ½ cup hot sauce
- 2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix cracker crumbs with melted butter in a bowl, and then transfer the crumbs to a baking dish. I used a 6" x 8" in baking dish. Use your fingers to press the cracker crumb and butter mixture into the bottom of the dish.
- Bake the crust for 10 minutes.
- While the crust is baking, mix the cream cheese in a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer) until softened.
- Add hot sauce to the cream cheese and mix until they are well-combined.
- After the cracker crust has cooled, spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the crust.
- Return the dish to the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- After the dish has cooled, set in the fridge for at least three hours to cool and set.
- Top with cold, cooked chicken and some crust crumbs.
- Serve cold or room temperature.
When I was ready to serve, I added cold cooked chicken to the top (warm chicken on cold savory cheesecake seemed weird), adorned it with some crust crumbs, and served cold. It was pretty spicy, so if spicy flavor isn’t your absolute favorite, feel free to reduce the amount of hot sauce added to the cream cheese. You like how I even stayed within the basketball scheme with an orange colored cheesecake flavor? Fancy schmancy!!
With my creative kitchen juices flowing and carnitas in the crockpot, I whipped up a super simple Carnitas Cracker Stack snack (try saying that five times fast). After letting my slow cooker do all the hard work to prepare some tasty carnitas meat with a pre-packaged store bought marinade, I topped Cheez-It Zesty Cheddar Ranch Grooves crackers with a little spicy chipotle sauce and some shredded carnitas.
Sidenote: We also ate the carnitas for lunches during the week in bowls with toppings, in tortillas, and even on nachos. I make many of our meals in advance. It seems to be the only way to get through the week. One of those meals almost always comes from the crockpot!
- 1- 6 oz Greek yogurt
- 1 adobo chili
- ½ tsp adobo chili sauce
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp paprika
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- Mix all ingredients in a blender and you're set to make the sauce. It's really that easy. Just be sure not to overmix it or you'll have a chipotle juice instead of creamy sauce.
- Add carnitas to the cracker, top with some sauce and eat.
If winning $10,000 is up your alley, consider voting in the “Most Valuable Cheese” contest. If you’d rather just eat the crackers, Target has them on sale 3/$8 with an additional 35% if you use the Carthweel app, so that’s a guaranteed win. Good luck not buying the whole store or being swooned by the dollar section while you’re there!
Have you had any one over to watch the games? Did you serve anything special? Even if you’re not hosting friends, sneak into your closet and style a new outfit for the office inspired by your school. You know I’m always on the hunt for new places to find ideas to wear those same old clothes hanging in my closet. Let me know how it goes!
Of course it’s Monday, which means I can’t forget the Sophisticated Style Link Up. Work has been insanely crazy lately. We’ve been so busy and spending so many hours at the office that the partners declared it “Jeans Day” everyday until our deadline passes. Thus, I kept things really simply styling jeans, flats and a blouse while I focus my energies on my work and my family for now.
Be sure to share your style ideas and link up!