Even in these gender-barrier-breaking times, the vast majority of military spouses (more than 90 percent) are still women. Similarly, NFL football remains a male-dominated sport. No woman has ever played on an NFL team, although there are more women playing important roles off the football field.

However, the percentage of females watching professional football games has been on the rise. Women now make up almost half of the NFL viewership. Why are more women watching football? Because husbands like football? Because they like pretty jersey colors? Because women think football players are hot? Because they’re “Swifties”?

I must admit, when I attended high school football games as a kid, I went for the hot cocoa. Nowadays, however, I identify as an avid female NFL fan, characterized by loyal viewing (every Steeler game, without fail), owning team apparel (shirts, hats, Terrible Towels, coffee mugs, flag, charm bracelet, and cowbell), and cheering during play (e.g., fist-pumping obnoxiously while screeching, “C’mon, Watt! Sack ‘em!” with a mouthful of cheese curls).

In the end, who cares why people watch NFL games. They just do. With 24 million men and women expected to tune into the conference championships this Sunday, no one can deny football’s appeal. Maybe it’s the food? Everyone loves a big pot of simmering chili with a side of sweet cornbread and a cold beer on game day. Our family must’ve consumed gallons of the stuff, but here are five other favorite football food recipes I’ve collected over the years:

1. Sausage Dip. Otherwise known as “Crack in a Crockpot,” this is the stuff dreams are made of. In a slow cooker, add a pound of cooked, crumbled hot Italian sausage, two bricks of cream cheese, two cans of Rotel tomatoes. Cook on high until melted and bubbly. Stir. Serve hot with tortilla chips, crackers, veggies, cardboard, roof shingles, whatever. I swear, it’s that good.

2. Pepperoni strips. Double the recipe or else you’ll resent your own children for eating your share. Roll one can of crescent roll dough out onto a cookie sheet; brush with beaten egg. Layer with sliced provolone cheese, pepperoni, provolone, and pepperoni — brushing beaten egg over each layer. Top with second roll of crescent dough, brush with egg, and bake 25 minutes at 375 until golden brown. Cut into strips, dip into marinara, and watch the rugrats come running.

3. Nacho bar. Pedestrian, maybe. But you gotta admit — it’s a crowd pleaser. Start with fresh nacho chips from a grocery store deli. Spread them on a cookie sheet and top with good cheese, like crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey jack. Bake until cheese melts and serve immediately, with a variety of optional toppings such as spicy crumbled ground beef, shredded chicken, fresh pico de gallo, black beans, sliced lime wedges, guacamole, sour cream, chopped onions, sliced olives, and fresh cilantro. Lest I’m branded a food snob, definitely include queso cheese dip. It might be made of God-knows-what kind of non-dairy chemical goop, but it’s freaking tasty.

4. Polish Chili. Stupidly easy, this recipe involves sautéing garlic, chopped onions, chopped green peppers, and sliced Polish kielbasa. Add two big cans of diced tomatoes, two cans of water, and two cans of drained cannelloni (white) beans. Simmer an hour, then ladle into bowls containing a few cooked potato pierogis. Serve with warmed, rustic bread slathered thick with butter.

5. Italian beef sandwiches. Real Chicagoans slow cook beef brisket with a gazillion spices for two days, but I’ve dumbed the recipe down for us football fans. Sear a beef round or rump roast in a skillet, then cover with dry Italian dressing mix. Plop it in a crockpot with a can of beef broth and more dry dressing mix. Cook on high for 4-5 hours. Slice the beef thinly. Serve au jus on toasted buns with sautéed green pepper slices and giardiniera (pickled Italian relish). Don’t tell Chicagoans, but I add sliced provolone to the toasting buns, because football isn’t the same without melted cheese.

On game day, let’s put our gender roles and individual motivations aside. Men and women can all agree: Watching NFL is fun for every fan, especially when the football food is fabulous.

Read more at and in Lisa’s book, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life: My True Lit Com.” Email:

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