4 Tips to Spice Up Your March Madness Party

March 10, 2014 Gameday Tips

I like it spicy. It wasn't always that way, however. I remember ordering pad thai at level zero and never buying a jalapeno. But, with a little time and a lot of experimentation, I learned to crave the spice. Now, I don't like heat for the sake of heat — I'm not going to get a spice level 10 or the nuclear-hot hot sauce — but spices add depth and interest to many dishes.

With March Madness quickly approaching, I know I'll need some unique dishes to bring to parties. And, I know attendees at those parties have various levels of spice tolerance. How do I incorporate spiciness into party dishes where not everyone likes the hot stuff?

Spices add depth and interest to may dishes.

Add layers of flavor. Instead of using plain pinto beans or black beans in your appetizers, why not try adding a mix of beans with some heat already included? Spicy beans are combined with cool sour cream in this delicious ranchero dip.

Try out new kinds of spice. Serve spicy Buffalo wings with homemade blue cheese dressing. Or if you like dips, why not try a curry-based dip with a little extra garam masala and serve it with naan. You can find naan in the frozen section or at an Indian grocery store. Cut it in triangles for dipping. It's unexpected for game food, but you'll love the added heat.

Add some heat to the sweet. Chocolate and spice go great together, so why not add a little spice to your chocolate bars or candied ginger to your chocolate chip cookies? It may sound a bit odd, but the combination of spice and chocolate is sublime and a great crowd pleaser. Everyone will ask, "what's your secret ingredient?"

Combine two classics. Think "gameday food," and your mind automatically goes to chili and Buffalo wings. This zesty chili recipe combines the flavors of both, and it feeds a small crowd of eight.

Spice isn't an all-or-nothing deal. In fact, sometimes adding just a hint of it can take your dishes to a new level.

Meet Julie Niesen

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