We live in Texas, where football isn’t just a sport, it’s a religion.  And in my house, we practice it.  My partner Jill and I both play fantasy football, so Sunday finds us hyped up and watching the games—and our stats!

Often, we have folks over to watch with us, so it’s a fun opportunity for me to test out new, potentially crowd-pleasing recipes.  Here are three favorite Sunday snacks.


Carving a pumpkin soon?  Don’t throw those seeds out!  Simply rinse off that pumpkin goo and dry on kitchen towels before using in the recipe below.


There are infinite variations on this recipe—once you’ve got the method down, feel free to play it up with spices.  I’ve done an Indian version (cumin, coriander, red chili), a Mediterranean one (oregano, smoked paprika, garlic), and just plain ole salt.



1 ½ cups raw pumpkin seeds, washed & dried well
2-3 T butter or vegetable oil*
2 T honey or brown sugar (the former yields a “wetter” finished product)
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. chipotle powder
¼ tsp. cayenne
sea salt

oven:  350°
pan:  foil-lined baking sheet

Combine all ingredients but sea salt in a small bowl.  Toss to ensure that each seed is well-coated.

Spread the pumpkin seeds into an even layer on the baking sheet.  Toast for 12-15 minutes or until the seeds become fragrant but not overly brown.

Cool just a tad before eating, but they are so delicious warm!  Store in an airtight plastic container for up to a week.

*  If you use butter, the pepitas will be more flavorful but will also become rancid more quickly, so be careful.




(Slightly adapted from Gourmet Magazine, July 2009)

I’m not sure what more to say about this one except that it’s really, really good.  And that you’ll need a lot of napkins.



For the dip:

½ cup sour cream (use half thick yogurt & half sour cream for a slightly healthier option)
½ cup crumbled blue cheese (I used a wonderfully pungent Maytag)
¼ cup chopped green onions
2 T finely chopped dill
juice of half a lemon
a little buttermilk or milk, to thin the dip (skip if you used the yogurt)
salt to taste

Stir together everything except the buttermilk/milk.  Then mix in a tablespoon or two until you reach your desired consistency.   Personally, I like my blue cheese dip really chunky.

For the shrimp:

1 ½ – 2 lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined
½ stick melted butter
¼ cup hot sauce, like Louisiana Hot Sauce or Frank’s Red Hot
olive oil

Must serve with: many celery sticks!

I made the shrimp in a grill pan over medium-high heat, but the original recipe calls for an outdoor grill.  Oil either the pan or rack and then toss the shrimp with a little olive oil, salt, & pepper.

Grill until just cooked through, about 7-8 minutes depending on the heat of your grill.

Stir together butter and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss until they are coated.

I suggest eating the shrimp plain and “chasing” them with celery dipped in the blue cheese dip.  Just like wings!




What I especially like about this recipe is that the caramel isn’t fussy; no candy thermometer necessary here.  When the mixture starts to get dark, take it off the heat.  It’s really that simple!

This is also a great treat to bookmark for the holidays; it makes a lovely host gift and also travels well by mail.


8 cups plain popcorn
1 cup mixed nuts (almonds, pecans, macadamias, peanuts, etc.)
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup butter
¼ cup clear Karo (corn) syrup
½ T vanilla
plan or sea salt

Combine popcorn & nuts in a large bowl (one that will clean easily).  Prepare two baking sheets by either greasing or lining with parchment.

Melt the butter, then add sugar and Karo syrup.  Stir regularly until the mixture comes to a boil.  Turn down the heat and watch the mixture, stirring occasionally until it takes on a caramel color (10-12 minutes).

Remove the caramel mixture from heat, then stir in the vanilla with a heat-proof spatula.  Pour the mixture into the bowl of popcorn & nuts, stirring vigorously until coated.

Spread the popcorn mixture onto the two baking sheets, then sprinkle generously with salt for a lovely flavor contrast.  If you’d like to be extra decadent, you can drizzle some melted chocolate (milk, white, or dark) on top, too.

Let the corn harden before breaking into clumps.   Enjoy right away or store for up to a week in an airtight container.




[box type=”bio”]
NISHTA MEHRA is an English teacher, a lover of words, with a heart for great food.  Born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee as the first-generation daughter of Indian immigrants, she is equal parts Southern belle & good Punjabi girl.  Her amazing recipes can be found at BlueJeanGourmet.com, where she blogs about food and all about life. In 2010, the Houston Press called her one of  Houston’s Top Ten Blog Stars, and in 2011, the Houston Web Awards named Blue Jean Gourmet the city’s Best Food Blog.  She is also the founder & director of Valentines for Soldiers-Houston, an annual community and fundraising event benefitting members of the U.S. Military. 
Join her at BlueJeanGourmet, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter @BlueJeanGourmet, and Pinterest.


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