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For serious home entertainers, the biggest competition on Super Bowl Sunday is really about outdoing last year's food spread. So sure, make your favorite chili or wings, but if you want guests' eyes to pop out when they walk into your living room, there is no greater spectacle than the edible stadium.
1. Choose your base — and be realistic about your scale.
No need to spend days planning and building your stadium — there’s an option for every size party:
Go big: Use your coffee table or counter. Design and lifestyle blogger Lola Tangle has many ideas for mind-blowing, large-scale “snack stadiums” that are savory and sweet. One year, she lined her coffee table with foil, and another year she used her counter, then constructed the sides from there. For structure, she uses more foil and baking sheets.
Go small: Make a dip “field.” If building a whole stadium is too daunting, try putting together a field made of guacamole, salsa, queso and sour cream, like this one from Monica Norrell (pictured below) of the blog Absolutely Monica. By spreading the guac first into the dish, you can leave “end zone” space, creating natural dividers for the queso and salsa, then pipe on “yard lines” with sour cream (use a zip-top bag with one corner cut off as a makeshift pastry bag).
In-between: Use foil pans. Los Angeles-based baker Lindsay Ann, season one winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, used her decorating skills to pull off a savory stadium that's totally doable for non-pros. She uses a large, foil roasting pan to create the “stands” of the stadium, then insets two smaller foil pans to create a “field.” Snack foods fill the space in between.
2. Pick foods that will hold up well.
Avoid using foods that will quickly become soggy, Tangle suggests. “I used little cucumber sandwiches around the outside because I’m obsessed with them, but they were gooey and gross by the end of the party.”
3. Buy your avocados on Thursday.
Unless you’re building a dessert stadium, guacamole will probably play into your design somewhere. So buy avocados a few days out so that you’re not stuck with hard avocados, notes the Norrell. And if they start to ripen too quickly, stick them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them, she adds.
RELATED: How to keep guacamole green
4. Go homemade if you can.
Store-bought goods will save loads of time, of course, but if you want people to devour the stadium as well as ooh and aah over it, the quality of the ingredients makes all the difference, Norrell notes. For example, she says, “If you have enough time and ambition, making the salsa and queso dip is much better than using the stuff out of a can.”
5. Provide to-go containers.
The quantity of food needed to build one of these will generally be too much for most crowds. Have zip-top bags or takeout food containers on hand so you can send guests home with leftovers, Tangle says, “Or you’ll be eating snack food ‘til next Super Bowl.”
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This article was originally published on January 27, 2015.