American Idol Foodie: Quick Snacks and Viewing Party Dishes

Millions watch "American Idol" weekly -- and some like to snack while cheering on their season favorites.

When you think of "American Idol," you don't normally think of food. But the show often makes mention of food one way or another. Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips had his favorite Georgia restaurant. Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery had his fast-food shake. Season 5 finalist Kellie Pickler had no idea what calamari was, while Season 11 finalist Joshua Ledet received a big tub of iced crawfish, his favorite comfort food, from his home state of Louisiana. And the viewers? Well, viewers are going to snack during the show as well. But what to eat while the contestants try to win votes?

One could always go for the easy faves -- chips and dip. There's also healthier finger foods, like celery sticks, carrots, dried fruits. And, of course, there is the casual observer that can make do for the duration of the show with just a piece of "American Idol" bubble gum. But some like a little variety...

AmericanIdol.com has posted snack ideas for viewing parties for the last couple seasons and there's every reason to believe that they'll continue to do the same for Season 12. But until they do, Sarah Sellers continues her journey at Yahoo Music, a trip she began during Season 10 when Lyndsey Parker posted one of her recipes on her "Reality Rocks" blog. In keeping with the show, Sarah dished up a Hollywood Week treat: Avocado Tuna Crisps, viewing nosh featuring avocado and tuna served on table crackers.

In addition to the Yahoo Music feature, Sarah, who also has the distinction of being a former "American Idol" contestant (Season 10), posts her original recipes at her own website, Sarah's Musical Kitchen. The "Idol" recipes can be found along with non-"Idol" recipes (because people eat on other days and nights of the week, too).

For those who want an "Idol"-oriented meal before the show starts, there is something more hearty to explore. Back during Season 8 (as deduced from the judges line-up in the article), the food-centric and award-winning website Epicurious posted an American cuisine-based menu for the "Idol" watcher.

Centered around the traditional American course of Meat Loaf, Lauren Salkeld submitted a meal plan with dessert and drink suggestion included. Two more courses, Twice-baked Potatoes with Two Cheeses and Green Beans with Lemon completed the three-course meal listing. The drink, Iced Lemon Ginger Tea, was a nod to the contestants, as lemon, ginger, and honey (all key ingredients of the beverage) are known to soothe the throat. In keeping with the American theme, dessert consisted of Red, White, and Blue Cake.

So if one of those national fast-food chain commercials gets you headed toward the kitchen, just remember that you don't always have to settle for a bowl of corn chips and a jar of salsa.

And even if you don't snack that late in the evening (because some are watching their food intake for various reasons), that singer-friendly tea sounds like an anytime drink. So here's the recipe. Make yourself a pitcher and keep enough on hand for the next time "American Idol" comes on.

"American Idol" Iced Lemon Ginger Tea

Ingredients:
piece fresh gingerroot, approx. 4 inches long
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup honey
6 cups water
zest of 2 lemons, removed with a vegetable peeler
1 cup fresh lemon juice

Garnish suggestion: lemon slices

To prepare:
Peel gingerroot. Cut crosswise into thin slices. In a medium saucepan combine water, gingerroot, honey, sugar, and zest. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Remove mixture from heat. Steep "tea" covered for about 45 minutes, then uncover tea, allowing it to cool completely.

After cooling, remove gingerroot and zest, discard. Place tea in a pitcher (recipe makes seven cups, so container must hold at least a half-gallon). Stir in lemon juice.

Refrigerate and chill tea, covered, until cold.

Serving suggestion: Pour tea over ice in tall glasses, garnish with lemon slices.

Prep time: Approximately 45 minutes, plus additional refrigeration time.

"American Idol" airs on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. (EST) on Fox Television.

(photo credit: Gleb, Creative Commons)