Game time at our house means something a little different than you might expect. We’re not big fans of the usual American stuff: football, baseball, basketball. In fact, we don’t even have live network television. We have a steaming player that takes care of all of the primetime shows we want to watch, plus movies and music. But when it comes to sports? We’re soccer fans, particularly women’s soccer. There’s nothing the streaming player can do for us there.
As you can probably imagine, many of the die-hard American football fans out there couldn’t care less about soccer, especially women’s soccer. Thus, women’s soccer games aren’t often televised unless they’re big events like the World Cup. Being a women’s soccer fan requires either some special cable television stations (which we don’t have) or some resourcefulness (which we do). We end up watching games at sports bars when there’s no other option, and finding games online. The Internet is where we find most of the women’s games.
So, game time at our house usually means we’re hunkered around the laptop, connected to the Ethernet cable for better streaming and the stereo speakers for better sound. Sometimes the picture quality is so bad that we have to leave the window in its collapsed small state and we finish the game with strained necks and squinty faces.
But we love it. We love it as much as football fans love their games. And we’re grateful to be able to see games at all.
And we love fun game-time snacks as much as anyone. We just have to be careful not to get cheese sauce on the keyboard.
This weekend we watched the Olympic Qualifiers for women’s soccer on an obscure website based in the UK. Our game-time snacks? Freshly baked soft pretzels with a duo of cheddar dipping sauces: Cheddar Guinness dip and Honey Mustard Cheddar dip.
The pretzels were exactly as they should be — salty and chewy — and the honey mustard dip was a delicious balance of sweet and tangy with just enough heat from the Dijon mustard. But the cheddar Guinness dip was the big surprise. I blended all the ingredients as instructed and then had a taste. I wasn’t exactly pleased. But this is one of those “chill for at least an hour” recipes. So I threw it in the fridge and hoped for the best.
What emerged an hour later was an extraordinary cheddar dip with just a hint of dark, smoky Guinness, paired with mellow parsley and onion flavors. It truly balanced with time to sit and was hands down our favorite of the two dips. Thanks to The Parsley Thief for the recipe.
And whatever “game time” means to you, enjoy your snacks, and here’s hoping your team wins.
1 package rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
3 cups flour
1 cup water, at approximately 110 degrees
1 T olive oil
Baking Soda Solution for boiling pretzels:
Approximately 6 cups water
3 T baking soda
Sea Salt for sprinkling on pretzels
Warm the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the water and dissolve the yeast for about 3 minutes. Add the flour, honey, salt, and olive oil. Using the dough hook, mix on low for about two minutes. Continue kneading on low with the dough hook for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Remove from mixer and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise for about 1 hour until doubled in size. Punch down and allow to rise again for 30 minutes.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a long strand about 20 inches long. Form in to a pretzel shape.
Preheat oven to 450˚
Bring 6 cups water with 3 tablespoons baking soda to a boil. Working in batches, add pretzels to the boiling water and boil each side for about 30 seconds. Remove from water, drain and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle boiled pretzels generously with sea salt. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.
Cheddar Honey Mustard dip
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon spicy brown mustard
1 tablespoon half & half
1/8 cup honey
sprinkle of kosher salt
Combine the cream cheese and cheddar in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add the Dijon, brown mustard, honey, half and half and salt and pulse to combine.