Any other day of the year, buffalo wings, pizza and Rotel cheese dip are fine. But for the NCAA basketball tournament, Cats fans need to up their game, too.
And we are here to help with a (fairly) simple party menu that will please a crowd.
For those with a sweet tooth, try Blue Velvet cupcakes. They are kind of the Tyler Ulis of the buffet: they look small and innocent but are surprisingly good.
We used Duncan Hines boxed mix and store-bought tube icing but you could go homemade. Tip: If you want your cake color a little more "Wildcat blue" than Tiffany blue, try adding a drop or two of violet food coloring.
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We kept everything simple and bought a package of tips that go on the tube icing to spell out "GO CATS" and make little paw prints. You can also find fancy blue sprinkles at craft stores that sell cake decorating supplies. We used Wilton's blue Cake Sparkles to give them a little shine.
For an easy appetizer, try slow-cooker meatballs (you can buy frozen meatballs and even vegetarian versions from Quorn or Veggie Patch) in barbecue sauce and grape jelly. For a spicy kick, add a little Sriracha hot sauce.
For the beer lovers who are also UK fans, try Alltech's Platoon Pack: a six-pack with three blue and three white beers. This is a limited edition — only about 1,100 cases were made — of a Belgian wheat ale, so if see it in the stores and want to try it, get it while you can.
But the slam-dunk of your game watching party is this White Castle casserole, from Scott May of the Lexington Police Department.
"It's a meal in itself," May said. In fact, it's two — one of White Castle double cheeseburgers and cheese, with a hash brown casserole on top. Then, of course, it's all topped with bacon. You can't go wrong with bacon.
"It comes out and it's just smack-o-licious," May said. "It's really good, and it will serve six easily."
May usually makes only one a year because it is just too rich. He came up with the idea for the recipe while working at a local gun shop, trying to imagine the ultimate casserole. After he shared with his friends, it's become so popular that when one recently stopped by a Lexington White Castle to order the requisite 20 double cheeseburgers without the middle buns or the pickles, they said, "Are you making the casserole?"
May is still tinkering with the recipe. Now he adds a layer of cheeseburger patties on top of the bottom layers of whole burgers.
What about a layer of cheese on top?
Too much, May said. And he's cut the recipe back a little to shave off a few calories.
"I used to make it with butter."