Margie Fischer makes shrimp mousse
In 1985, when the Bears were hot enough to win the Super Bowl, Margie Fischer kicked off a new family tradition for Sunday dinner: football and appetizers.
Traditional meat, potatoes and vegetables were banished to the locker room while pigs in a blanket and Mexican dip with tortilla chips moved into the starting lineup. "Finger foods are fun meals," says Margie. "The kids always looked forward to it because everyone got to pick a favorite."
Husband Bill and their three young sons enjoyed the change in routine, especially the boys because they earned a timeout from vegetables.
The new game plan extended through the Bulls' string of conference titles starting in 1991 and sometimes went into play for a sports-free evening meal.
"At the middle of everything were my mother's Soy Sauce Chicken Wings," says Margie, who shares the family recipe with us this week. The twice-baked morsels are drenched in homemade, teriyaki-style sauce.
Another favorite was a Mexican layered dip of cream cheese topped with canned chili and shredded cheese, heated in the microwave and served with tortilla chips.
Those were the decadent, calorie-laden good old days, which Margie has backed away from as she and Bill approach senior-citizen status. Appetizers, especially those baked wings, are still on the menu for frequent entertaining, and her oldest son, Mark has carried on the all-appetizer dinner tradition at home in Oswego.
But Margie's evening meals maintain a healthy focus on lean protein, salad and vegetables.
As she and her friends turned 60 "we all decided it was the new 40," says Margie, who received a subscription to "Cooking Light" magazine for that landmark birthday.
To sustain that 40 feeling, she plans to raise her game with even more nutritious foods, like seafood.
"My goal is to find better ways to cook fish and learn to like it more," says the former nurse.
Though she and Bill love sea bass, grouper and crab legs, she doesn't prepare them often. Finding recipes for omega 3-rich salmon, and learning to enjoy its assertive flavor is her latest mission.
"We could pop a (omega 3) pill, but that's silly," she says. Scouting for new recipes still fires her up. One favorite source is a digital cookbook called "Big Oven," a collection of 50,000 recipes stored on her laptop for easy transport to the couple's lake house near Galena.
"You can type in whatever ingredients you have and it comes up with recipes," says Margie.
Surrounded by friends who love cooking and swapping recipes, Margie isn't ready to retire from the kitchen.
She loves the whole process, from meal planning and shopping to cooking, but it's more than that, it's a desire to feed her family no matter how many are at the table.
"I don't feel I'm off the hook yet," she says. "I feel it's a responsibility; I don't want to go to a restaurant five or six days a week or eat cereal or grilled cheese for dinner."
Though she's cooking for two most of the time now, Margie is happy that she's still in the game.
"I feel good about the fact that I still love it," she says. "It's never really an effort for me to cook."