Friends, comrades, fellow fans of the ball we call basket,
I write to you today in a much more morose state than when I composed my last post. As you may have heard, my beloved Cardinals faced a mighty Spartan horde this past Sunday and fell, like so many noble warriors before them, in a nail-biter of a match that went into overtime and added a few grey hairs to my head. I do not begrudge Michigan State their victory; they played incredibly well, definitely better than we did, and their hustle and focus have rightfully earned them a place in the Final Four. However, my heart (and bracket) are sad to see Louisville felled, forced to defer their dreams for another season.
And yet, I will not allow this defeat to squelch my enthusiasm for March Madness. Because even if my team is out, the Bluegrass State I call home is still (very) well-represented by the [RECORD REDACTED, by Scout, who is too superstitious for her own good] Wildcats. And so I’ll trade my red for blue, turn up the twang, and root for the BBN (just for this week).
See there are some who consider the Superbowl the peak sporting event of the year. Others thrill to the World Series (myself among them, if the Red Socks are having a good year). But where I come from, nothing matches the hype of the NCAA final, especially if, as is the case many years, one of our homegrown teams is making an appearance. So I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a little loss stop my fun. Kentucky’s still got some skin in the game, and I will follow them until the very end.
No game day celebration would be complete without snackage: There is nothing quite so satisfying as watching gods of athletic prowess burn calories while consuming heaps of them yourself. This is one of my family favorites, adopted from the wife of one of my mom’s grad school classmates and promptly installed in the Harlan Recipe Hall of Fame. No New Year’s, no house party, and no Game Day is complete without it. Like the best things in life (or at least in the kitchen), it is super easy to assemble with a huge delicious payoff and a little bit of a spicy kick.
2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese (regular or Neufchâtel will do the trick)
16 oz of mayonnaise (For both the mayo and the cream cheese, regular and low fat are acceptable. Fat free, however, is not.)
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 14-oz. cans of non-marinated artichoke hearts
2 7-oz. cans of diced green chiles
Set out the cream cheese to soften.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Drain the artichoke hearts and chop them up into chunks.
Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Leave out about ¼ cup of the parmesan for the topping.
Pour the mixture into a bake-able serving dish. I usually use a standard 9X13 in. casserole dish.
Sprinkle the remaining parmesan on top.
Bake for around 20 minutes.
Serve warm with tortilla chips, crackers, or whatever starchy transport mechanism floats your boat.
Enjoy, my dears! And, though I cringe a little as I say it, let’s go Wildcats.