LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- March means college basketball for many people in Kentucky and southern Indiana. But not everyone is a hoop fanatic. Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen's Janine Washle has some ideas for game day snacks, and a primer for the non-basketball lovers to get up to speed.

The following is your guide to understanding the phenomena that takes over Kentucky known as March Madness. For a non-sports minded person, this basic 101 will demystify the thrill and agony that will overtake most of the Commonwealth in a few days.

What is March Madness?

The NCAA tournaments are an American tradition that sends millions of fans into a synchronized frenzy each year. It's this chaos that gives the tournament its March Madness nickname. March Madness is the concentrated hype of 68 teams vying for college basketball's biggest prize. It's the last-second, buzzer-beating baskets, the euphoria of winning to play another day and the agony of losing and going home.

Who is the NCAA?

A single governing body, known as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), is charged with overseeing the almost 1,300 voluntary college and university members that comprise the association. Volunteers from the association's member schools manage the organization and make rules to ensure fairness among all intercollegiate athletics.

What is bracketology?

Each NCAA basketball season starts with as many as 345 Division I men's teams and 343 women's teams. Don't let that number panic you, though. Before the start of the tournament, a selection committee of athletic directors and conference commissioners narrows those 300-plus teams down to 68 (64 for women's basketball). From there, it's up to you to place the teams in the brackets.

What Is A Selection Committee?

A selection committee that comprises different university athletic directors and conference commissioners chooses teams for both the men's and women's tournaments. Each tournament has its own committee. The selection committee meets between the Thursday and Sunday before the date picked for the tournament's first game. Its job is to figure out the teams deserving of an invitation. The decisions are announced on television during Selection Sunday.

How Do Teams Get Chosen to Compete?

Thirty-one teams receive an automatic invite to the tournament, which is their reward for winning their respective conferences. Thirty of these teams win their tournament through conference tournaments. The remaining invites, 37 for men and 33 for women, are left in the hands of the selection committee. Of the teams left in the pool, certain teams are assured a spot in the tournament, others don't make the cut, and then there's a third group, called "bubble" teams, that could go either way. (revised from 'How Things Work')

If this 101 primer still didn't entice you to fill out your brackets sheet or watch the games, then maybe you should put your talents to use in the kitchen fixing snacks and appetizers. The number one rule when making snacks for those afflicted with March Madness, is not to make anything that will stain upholstery or carpet if it gets dropped. Other important considerations are small bites, no implements (forks not necessary), nothing sloppy. The following recipe is fits the guidelines. It is a thin crust pizza easily eaten in 3-4 bites with a topping that stays put.

Cracker Crust Mini Pizzas

Makes: 8-10 3" rounds



2 cups self rising flour

½ tsp salt

1 TB granulated sugar

1/3 cup water

3 TB plain yogurt

3 TB olive oil


1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 TB prepared pesto

1 TB tomato paste

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup chopped pepperoni

2 TB chopped green olives

2 TB chopped green peppers

2 TB chopped mushrooms, optional

1 TB minced onion


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together dry ingredients. Combine water, yogurt, and olive oil in a separate small bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until a ball forms. Cover and let dough rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Roll out to ¼" thickness. Cut out as many 3" circles as possible at the first pass. Gently press dough together then roll out one more time to a ¼" thickness. Cut out remaining circles. Place the rounds a ½" apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. You should end up with 8 possibly 10. Bake the rounds for 2 minutes to set the crust while preparing the filling.

Prepare the filling by stirring together mayonnaise, pesto, and tomato paste in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in cheese, pepperoni, olives, peppers, mushrooms, and onion.

Divide the pizza topping over top of the rounds. Spread it evenly to the edges. Place pizzas back in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until topping is hot and edges of crust are golden brown. Cool slightly before eating.

TIP: Add a little March Madness by cutting out cheddar rounds from cheddar slices. As soon as the pizzas come out of the oven, lay a round on top. The residual heat will soften the cheese. Once the cheese has set, use black food coloring to paint basketball seams on the round to resemble a basketball.

The reason for mayo over cream cheese or sour cream is that when mayo bakes, it literally melts into the dish and takes on the flavor of the ingredients; whereas, the other two have a distinctive taste that comes through.


Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen also has a special NCAA Basketball tournament Recipe Booklet available by email. To ask for a complimentary copy, just email Janine Washle at cloverfields.farm.ky@gmail.com  

To find Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen on Facebook: CLICK HERE. 

CloverFields Farm & Kitchen


Hardin Springs Area

Big Clifty, KY 42712


About Janine Washle:

Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.

CloverFields Farm is dedicated to the preservation of southern, especially Kentucky, food traditions. The kitchen is commercially-outfitted compliant with Health Department standards. In this kitchen I develop new recipes based on original ideas, inspirations from my culinary research, and most often according to what is in season.

On the farm, they make many gifts and specialty items. She is currently working on her first cookbook, but she also has a long resume developing recipes for several companies. She has also won several contests and cook-offs with her original recipes.

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