Shortcuts and stellar ingredients can turn a ho-hum gathering into something special. Here are eight gourmet bites that your sports-loving friends will really appreciate.
Hosting a gathering from watching the big game? We’ve discovered some crowd-pleasing, fantastic gourmet bites that also provide some nifty shortcuts. First, meaty delights unveil in pâté and a lovingly cured lamb charcuterie that you can just put out with slices of a fresh-baked baguette and fancy mustards on the side. If game time means chili time, cut to the chase with high quality chili in a box. Some other pantry musts: a line of BBQ sauces, healthy nut mixes, and ketchup with a kick of sriracha. For dessert? A high protein gelato, in individual servings, save the day. This is a small part of the entire 5-star plan for hosting a group to watch the big game. See details below.
 Trois Petit Cochons
[photo above] Take your party spread to the next level with Trois Petit Cochons’ award-winning, all natural, pâté and charcuterie. Trois Petit Cochons began their small charcuterie business in 1975 in Greenwich Village, NYC, and has since become a leader in the industry while still retaining their signature small batch, artisanal touch.
Forget the chips and salsa and create an incredible charcuterie board with Trois Petit Cochons’ luxurious pâtés and cured meats made with hearty, wild game like venison and wild boar and Autumnal delights like apples, chestnuts, cranberries, and wild mushrooms. We especially love their Pâté de Canard à l’Orange—made with duck, pork, pistachio, and a touch of Grand Marnier. It’s earthy, rustic, and rich, and perfect for cool, crisp game days—served with a side of cornichons and a loaf of crusty bread. 3pigs.com
 Cooksimple Chili
Montana-based Cooksimple proves that convenience doesn’t have to mean low-quality, processed ingredients. Created with nutrition and weeknight-ready ease in mind, Cooksimple’s meal starters give boxed kits of yore a healthy 21st century makeover. This isn’t your mom’s Hamburger Helper—think nutritious ingredients like quinoa, sorghum, and brown rice, and protein-packed, high fiber legumes. All you need to add is water or occasionally a kitchen staple like milk or canned tomatoes.
Two of our favorites for a game day event are the crowd-pleasing classic tomato-based Cowboy Chili and the lively Santa Fe White Bean Chili. The Cowboy Chili is seasoned with cinnamon and chili peppers and chock full of good-for-you ingredients like quinoa, black beans, zucchini, and spinach. The Santa Fe White Bean Chili features three beans (white, pinto, and navy) and chia seeds, and can be bumped up to the next level with shredded rotisserie chicken, corn, lime, juice, and multi-grain chips.
All of Cooksimple’s kits have lots of great suggestions for add-ins and variations to suit your family or party guests’ tastes, so you can think of these boxes as a healthy jumping off point for a variety of meals. cooksimplemeals.com
 Traina Sriracha Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup
Traina has taken its award-winning sun dried tomato ketchup and given it a spicy Asian kick. With the equivalent of four pounds of fresh tomatoes in each ketchup bottle, the sun dried tomatoes (dried the traditional way in the sun) used in the ketchup creates an intense, deep tomato flavor, while the Sriracha flavors gives us that spicy tang we all love. Slathered all over burgers, hot dogs, and more, your tailgate won’t survive without it. traina.com
 Edwards Lamb Charcuterie
Virginia-based Edwards Smokehouse has been in the ham business for four generations, making the best country ham in the U.S. With specialties like Buttery Peanut-Fed Ham, made from pigs fed only a traditional diet of (you guessed it) peanuts, and their classic award-winning Surryano ham, that’s aged for more than 400 days, Edwards uses traditional smoking and curing methods and only free-range, humanely raised pigs to get the best, most flavorful product.
Now, Edwards is venturing into what may seem like new territory with their newly launched line of lamb charcuterie (or “lamb ham”), but in fact, the sweet, buttery, slightly smoky delicacy was a prized mainstay in colonial times and enjoyed by quite a few of our Founding Fathers. Partnering with Virginia’s Border Springs farm, Edwards will transform succulent, rich grass-fed lamb with a six month traditional curing process using salt and hickory smoke. The incredible result will be a product even George Washington would have loved. edwardsvaham.com
 Green Mountain Mustard
[SADLY, THIS COMPANY HAS GONE OUT OF BUSINESS] Give your yellow squeeze bottle of mustard a huge upgrade with Green Mountain’s line of mustards spiked with big, bold, in-your-face flavors.
With cheeky names and a fun, creative spin, Green Mountain brings you rich, creamy mustards with flavors like Ragin’ Rooster made with Sriracha, Deli Dirt filled with everything bagel topping, and Clove Encounter made with garlic and oregano. Sweet, spicy, or savory, there’s something for everyone. Green Mountain Mustard is a family affair, and began when its founder, Michael Adams, and his father created their original flavor, Sweet Hot Mustard, and started selling it at their local farmers’ market. Now, Green Mountain (named after its home base in Vermont) is available in stores across the country and boasts 15 mustard flavors that belong on more than just your hot dogs and sandwiches. buymustard.com
 Lillie’s Q BBQ Sauce
Taste what it means to have three generations of Southern style barbecue mastery with Lillie’s Q’s incredible 6-bottle gift set of their renowned small-batch, regional barbecue sauces.
Housed in a handsome wooden box, these beautifully designed bottles, each featuring a hand-dipped wax seal, come from Lillie’s Q, an award-winning restaurant recognized by Food & Wine Magazine as “The Best New BBQ Restaurant in the Country.” Opened by Chef Charlie McKenna, originally of Greenville, South Carolina, Lillie’s Q is named after McKenna’s beloved grandmother Lillie who taught him the art of true Southern cooking, including a secret or two to knock-your-socks-off barbecue sauces.
Not content on creating just one amazing in-house sauce, Lillie’s Q has six types in their line-up, each based on traditions of unique barbecue regions (which also makes this collection a great conversation starter for those serious about barbecue). There’s not just one tangy Carolina-style sauce, but three: Carolina, a tomato-vinegar-based Western Carolina-style; the spicy, three-pepper-infused E.N.C. (Eastern North Carolina); and the marigold-hued Carolina Gold with a mustard base that recalls the area’s German heritage. Sweet-and-smoky Memphis-style sauces of a deep mahogany hue come in two varieties, Smoky and its fiery friend, Hot Smoky.
The most striking of the bunch, and probably the most intriguing to Yankees who have never heard of the style before, is Ivory, a tangy, creamy white barbecue sauce popular in northern Alabama. Try all six—we dare you to pick a favorite. lilliesq.com
 Forte High Protein Gelato
Living a healthy, active lifestyle doesn’t have to be one of only deprivation, especially when at a party with friends where you just want to forget the diet and indulge. Treat yourself and guests to Forte’s rich, satisfying, creamy gelato that just happens to also be packed with protein and calcium.
Made with rBST-free dairy (meaning no artificial hormones), cage-free eggs, and organic agave nectar (instead of corn syrup), each serving contains just 160 calories, 45% of the recommended daily value for calcium, and a whopping 15 grams of protein.
Flavors include bold Espresso made with real brewed espresso (a shot in each serving), pure and simple Vanilla made with Fair Trade organic Madagascar vanilla, Chocolate made with deep rich cocoa from Holland, and spicy-sweet Ginger made with refreshing organic candied ginger. tasteforte.com
 Navitas Naturals Superfood Nut Mixes
Reach for Navitas Naturals Superfood+ line of snack mixes when you want to turn your mindless snacking into mindful indulgence. Navitas combines superfood ingredients with great-for-you nuts—perfect for whether you love salty or sweet or a little bit of both.
Their products are organic and all-natural, with partners that follow only the strictest growing standards. Fantastic as party snacks or as an on-the-go plant-powered protein boost, the line has something for every taste: chocolate-y Cacao Almonds, rosemary-infused Chia Pepitas, lightly sweet Coconut Pepitas, tart Goji Cashews accented with Italian herbs, savory Turmeric Almonds, ginger-spiked Goldenberry Almonds, and praline-inpsired Maca Cashews. navitasnaturals.com
See more tips for hosting a five-star sports viewing in 18 Classy Sports