Mad About Basketball

March MadnessMarch comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, but somewhere in between, you’re likely to find a few Jayhawks, Blue Devils and Tarheels running around.

‘Tis the month for a little madness as college basketball playoffs start on March 19 to determine the season’s best team. It’s also a great excuse for a party. If you want to throw a slam-dunk of a shindig, here are a few ideas.

  • Part of the fun of March Madness is tracking the road to the Final Four. Get a large piece of poster board and draw the brackets starting with the initial 65 teams and how they fared along the way. Streamers, basketball-shaped helium balloons and school pendants can help dress up your TV room. Add some foam basketballs and hoops to complete the look.
  • Have guests support their favorite team by wearing its colors, even if it didn’t make it to the championship game. As the host, you could dress like a referee.
  • To cut down on your after-party clean up, place a basketball hoop over the trashcan. Your guests will be sure to pick up after themselves if it gives them a chance to shoot hoops in the process.
  • To keep your party going after the game, consider playing a basketball-themed movie. Coach Carter, Finding Forrester, Hoosiers, Air Bud, Hoop Dreams and White Men Can’t Jump are a few to choose from.
  • Remember that the TV will be the focus of your party, so serve food that’s easy to eat so while your guests watch the game. Chips and veggies with dip, easy finger foods, cupcakes or cookies frosted like basketballs, cans and bottles in a cooler—whatever is easy to grab and go.

Here are a few easy snack ideas to both make and eat:

Chocolate-Dipped Frozen Banana Bites

2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips
2 T. canola oil
Assorted toppings for coating bananas (crushed chocolate sandwich cookies, toffee bits, chopped Butterfinger candy bars, chopped salted peanuts or toasted shredded sweetened coconut)
3 ripe bananas, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

  1. Stir chocolate and oil in heavy small saucepan over low heat just until smooth. Let stand 15 minutes to cool.
  2. Place each topping in separate shallow dish. Line baking sheet with foil.
  3. Arrange banana slices on foil. Using fingers, dip 1 banana slice in chocolate, coating completely. Shake off excess chocolate. Drop dipped banana in 1 topping. Using clean hand, sprinkle more topping over banana to coat; transfer to foil-lined sheet.
  4. Repeat with remaining bananas, chocolate and toppings. Freeze until firm, about 3 hours, then serve.

Bacon Wrapped Dates

1 16-oz. package of bacon (regular thickness, not thick cut), cut into thirds
1 8-oz. package of pitted dates

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Position oven rack in the center of the oven. Cover a cookie sheet with tin foil.
  2. Wrap a piece of bacon around a date. Make sure the bacon seam is placed facing downwards on the cookie sheet. Press firmly on the bacon wrapped date so it’s less likely to unravel. Repeat until all of the dates are wrapped.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisp. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Makes 25-30 bacon wrapped dates.


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