Meaty hoagie dip other ridiculously good game day appetizers

Oct 20, 2014 at 2:45 p.m. ET

Change up your rotation and make one of these classic recipes on game day. Even if you're not a football fan, the food alone will make any tailgating party a big win.

And truth be told, I do enjoy the food more than I enjoy the game itself. Because food and football are so quintessentially American, I think it's important to celebrate game days with universal favorites. Here are three dishes that scream classic, but they have a tasty twist. Enjoy each and every bite... I mean play.

Meat lovers' pizza mac and cheese

Serves 6-8

This is pizza and mac and cheese baked into one comforting dish. If your friends aren't picky eaters, consider making this an "everything pizza mac and cheese" and add peppers, onions, mushrooms, chicken... you name it. Be creative.


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup medium-diced onion
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 2-1/2 cups fontina cheese
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 pound dry ziti, cooked
  • 1/4 pound bacon, cooked and diced
  • 2 links sweet Italian sausage, casing removed, cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup sliced pepperoni minis
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pizza sauce
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium-size saucepan. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Stir in the flour and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the milk and, stirring constantly, heat until thickened and nearly simmering. Reduce the heat to low and add the fontina, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted and then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Add the cheese sauce, ziti, bacon, sausage, pepperoni and pizza sauce. Stir until all the ingredients are combined. Place the mixture into a 2-1/2- to 3-quart casserole dish and top with mozzarella and oregano.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is golden brown.

Hoagie dip in a bread bowl

Serves 10-12

The classic Italian hoagie has never tasted so good, or been more party-friendly. Since this recipe requires some chopping, consider prepping it the night before and wait until game time to stir in the dressing. I use a food chopper when I make this, and prep the day before. It takes only minutes."


  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
  • 3 pepperoncini, chopped (1-1/2 tablespoons juice reserved)
  • 1/4 cup dill pickle, finely diced
  • 4 cups iceberg lettuce, diced
  • 4 ounces provolone, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces Genoa salami, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces ham, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 4 ounces roast turkey, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large round or long loaf of Italian bread
  • 2 (6-inch) hoagie rolls, cut into 1/4-inch slices (for serving)


  1. Add the onion, tomato, pepperoncini, dill pickle, iceberg lettuce, provolone, Genoa salami, ham and the roast turkey to a large bowl and toss the ingredients to combine.
  2. Next, mix the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, olive oil, pepperoncini juice, dried oregano and the black pepper in another medium-size bowl. Whisk the ingredients until well combined.
  3. Add the prepared dressing to the ingredients in the large bowl. Fold until the ingredients are evenly coated.
  4. Carve out the center of the bread loaf to make a bowl, and fill the center with the dip.
  5. Tear the carved-out center into bite-size pieces and serve with the dip. Serve the hoagie roll slices with the dip as well.

Fudgy salted caramel brownies

Serves 12-15

If you're not a big caramel person, consider drizzling in some of your favorite ice cream toppings like peanut butter, marshmallow or even hot fudge before baking. You can also add nuts, if you like.


  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces extra bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cacao), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee granules
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup caramel sauce


  1. Position an oven rack in the bottom of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 11.5-inch baking pan. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and baking powder. Set aside. In a large sauce pot, over medium-low heat, melt together the butter, chocolate chips, bittersweet chocolate and coffee granules, stirring constantly. When chocolate is fully melted, remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the sugar, eggs and vanilla until fully incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and whisk again until combined.
  3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Drizzle caramel sauce all over the surface of the brownie batter and gently swirl the caramel into the batter with a toothpick. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Do not over-bake.
  4. Cool the brownies on a cooling rack. Sprinkle the remaining 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt over the brownies. Cool completely before cutting.

David Venable is the program host of QVC's popular cooking and dining showIn the Kitchen with David. He offers a diverse and unique viewership experience with features such as product information, cooking demonstrations, on-air guests, celebrity appearances and live viewer interaction. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.