The author is the director of quality assurance and customer service for Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese LLC, Waterloo, Wis. Crave studied culinary arts at Madison Area Technical College.

As I open the sliding patio door, I’m reminded very quickly that grilling season has come to an end. The wind is blowing, and the snow is flying around. I can hardly see my neighbor’s house through it all. I return inside to grab a nice warm blanket and my cookbooks so I can rethink my game day menu for the playoffs.

As the kids get older, they have started to take an interest in all sports. They learn to play the game and understand the ins and outs of each sport they are watching or playing. I love the enthusiasm and passion they have for each sport.

I recently had the privilege of coaching my daughter’s fall club volleyball team. All of the girls loved coming to practice and giving 110% each night. Their drive and determination was awesome to witness, and it was very rewarding to coach this group. They had a “never give up” attitude.

Whether it be volleyball, basketball, soccer, or football, these athletes give their all each game. It is a joy to watch. And while watching them, let’s score big with these simple, yet flavor-packed, appetizers for the big game.

Jalapeno popper pinwheels

1/2 pound bacon

4 jalapenos

2 16-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

4 flour tortillas


In a sauté pan, cook the bacon and crumble it. Set aside on paper towel to drain.

Cut the jalapeno and remove the seeds, then add it to the skillet and cook until soft. In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, jalapenos, bacon, and Cheddar cheese. Mix until combined.

Spread 1/2 cup of jalapeno popper mixture on to one side of each tortilla. Tightly roll each tortilla from one end to another. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or for at least one to two hours.

Remove from fridge and slice into 1-inch wheels. Serves 12.

Bagel dip

2 cups sour cream

2 cups mayonnaise

8 ounces chipped beef, roughly chopped

2 teaspoons dill weed, plus more for garnish (optional)

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon onion powder

6 bagels, cut into piece for dipping

1/2 teaspoon pepper


In a large bowl, combine the sour cream, mayonnaise, chipped beef, dill weed, garlic powder, and onion powder. If desired, hold out about 1 tablespoon of chipped beef for decorating the top of the dip.

Serve immediately with bagels for dipping. If desired, garnish with a little extra chopped beef and dill weed. Serves 12.

Bacon wrapped cocktail wienies

1 14-ounce package cocktail wienies

1/2 pound bacon

1 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon dry ground mustard


Preheat the oven to 325°F. Cut the bacon into quarters.

Wrap each wienie with a quarter of a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick. Place in a 13- by 9-inch baking pan.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar and mustard. Sprinkle over the wienies and mix to coat. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, turning once half way through. When they’re finished, the sugar should be bubbly.
Remove them from their baking pan into your serving dish to help eliminate excess grease. Serves 12.