Without a doubt, my single favorite and least favorite thing about the postseason is the prognostication business. Articles titled, The Bitter Outsider’s Guide to the Playoffs, Hater’s Guide to the Postseason and looking at the Vegas odds are my personal catnip. I will pour over every one, studying who slighted which team and why, building personal (imaginary) grudges against writers who pick against the Steelers while at the same time, get nervous when it feels like too many people are picking the Steelers.
What I get superstitious about is making picks myself. “Be careful what you ask for” looms heavy over my head each time someone asks me what I think about a postseason game when Pittsburgh is the playoffs. Of course I want to pick them every game, but is it smart? What if I jinx them? Would I rather be right? What if I don’t think they will win and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy? And picking for or against one’s enemies is a horrible idea, right? Well, I don’t really want to pick the Chiefs because I think they’re awful and Todd Haley, is well, Todd Haley but what if it turns out they’re really good and are motivated because no one picked them at all so they go on to win the Super Bowl over the Seahawks because no one picked them either to go all the way to the final game either, but let’s not kid ourselves there is no way Seattle wins it all, so now not only have the Chiefs won the Super Bowl, we have a whole year about hearing about KC barbecue, and I for one don’t think we need to put up with that type of nonsense, especially when the last Chiefs great has been reduced to making Sketchers ShapeUp ads.
So against all Sarah-logic yesterday, I agreed to take part in a post-season pick’em with the rest of the Thunderdome and cat with a Ouija board. What was I thinking? I mean, I even talked through my reasoning against doing the league with Bryan about it being jinx-city and he agreed with me (because he’s knows it’s best to agree when I’m being totally irrational), but then we both ended up deciding the heck with it all and let’s just join in the fun.
Fast-forward to this morning’s freak-out of, “Oh my, what have I done?”
And then I remembered, Holly’s Sleepover of the Damned pick’em. She hadn’t sent the email out for it yet. Maybe she was too busy with her SBNation editorial duties and wasn’t going to do it this year? Maybe she was too busy with her recent move? Maybe she was doing it, but I wasn’t invited because during the 2009 playoffs I refused to make any picks at all because the Steelers were in the playoffs, so I finished the league with a big fat zero next to my name and a Super Bowl win? The whole reason why I needed her to be having the league this year, so I could NOT make picks and counteract the other league and not jinx anything! I had been a good member of the non-Steeler postseason leagues, she’d invite me again, right? RIGHT?
So, I calmly, rationally emailed her. League on. Hadn’t gotten around to sending out the email yet.
Good. Because I am really looking forward to not making any picks in it over the next few weeks.
Creamy Hot Hoagie Dip
Yes, hoagie dip recipes are not new. What bothers me about all the hoagie dip recipes out there is that they are cold. Cold cuts, cold dressing — some creamy, some oil based, and tossed like an antipasta.
Cold is not a hoagie. Cold is a sandwich.
Baked is a hoagie.
You will need…
1/4 pound capicola
1/4 pound salami
1/4 pound mortadella
1/4 pound pepperoni (preferably deli sandwich style)
1/4 pound ham
8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
8 ounces of provolone
8-12 ounces of shredded mozerella
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
2 teaspoons of oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper
1/2 white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
4-6 ounces of pepperoncini,
2-3 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 a head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 large baguette and olive oil for crostini
Preheat the oven to 350º.
In a small bowl, combine the oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, celery seeds and ground pepper with the mayonnaise, much like if you were making a creamy Italian dressing.
If you want to just use a packet of Italian dressing mix, that’s fine, but most dressing mixes are loaded with salt and when you consider the amount of cured, salted meat — more than a pound! — you’re about to chop up, I’d advise against it. You’re watching football; not running a Shenanigans. Make the dressing fresh if you can.
Roughly chop up your mortadella…
And finally, gone ham.
Mix together your chopped up deli meats with the soften cream cheese (if you need to, put it in the microwave for a minute), about 3/4-1 cup of the shredded mozzarella cheese, the chopped provolone, and your dressing. Much like Tebow’s throwing motion, it’s not pretty, but it’s good.
Spread your hoagie mix into a large 9×13 glass pan or the largest casserole dish you have so you can make the thinnest layer possible. This helps everything bake evenly and for easier dip-scooping later.
Top with just a little more mozzarella cheese, say about a 1/4 cup.
Bake until it’s bubbly all the way through to the middle, not just the edges. About 20-25 minutes at 350º should do it.
Once baked all the way through, remove from the oven to cool for a minute to set and so you don’t burn yourself putting on the rest of the toppings. You’re almost at hoagie heaven.
Top with chopped onions and then pepperoncini. If you’re not a big fan of raw onions, have no fear. By putting the onions on the bottom layer of vegetables just above the hot meat and cheeses, you’ll get a wonderfully steamed cooked onion while also avoiding making the dip too watery by baking the onions in with the rest of the hot layers.
(You can skip the onions if you like, but judging by my straw poll on Twitter last weekend, most people prefer onions on their hoagies.)
Top with the lettuce and tomatoes — Roma because they are the least watery — and serve with crostini.
Glorious. No lie, a fight almost broke out over the last bites of the Creamy Hot Hoagie Dip.
Much like you did for the “What do I put on my crostini?” post from last season, all you need to do is slice a crusty baguette (avoiding sourdough if possible), lightly brush with olive oil, and toast for 5-7 minutes in a 325º oven. No need to both rubbing each slice with garlic this time, as you’re serving it with well-seasoned dip already.
Crostini can be made a day or two before and kept in a sealed container.
Since we covered the win-loss record in yesterday’s post for Spicy Roasted Vegetable Dip, it’s only fair that I confess this was made for a Winter Classic viewing party, so I guess Creamy Hot Hoagie Dip is lucky for Redskins fans (in 2019 when they finally make the playoffs). Clean slate for every other team, because even though the Steelers-Penguins seemed linked together in the 2009 season, 2005 proved that they are indeed separate sports karmic entities.
Don’t forget to add your pictures to Football Foodies Flickr Group from last weekend and be sure to get some new shots this weekend.