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Stepping Out

Bring on game time

Super Sunday arrives in good taste

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Many of us will huddle up around our televisions to watch another battle for that championship ring. Of course that game on the big screen is the main focus, but plenty of the action takes place around the table — keeping everyone well fed is a sport in itself.

    The key to hosting a successful Super Bowl gathering, is to serve never-miss, crowd-pleasing dishes that can be made in quantity. Try these tips for a no-fuss gridiron bash:

    √ Keep the menu simple.   

    √ Anticipate all styles of snacking. Finger foods are ideal for grazing between plays and during commercials. Plan on serving more substantial entree-style dishes during halftime

    √ Set up a dipping station. Have a selection of hearty dips, salsas and guacamole available so everyone can have their favorite. And in addition to chips, set out some of these tasty dippers: bell pepper slices, baked mozzarella sticks, shrimp, pita and bagel chips, Jicama sticks.

    √ When it comes to dessert, fuss-free is the way to go. An array of cookies, brownies and dessert bars will satisfy the sweet tooth. You can take your dessert table to the next level by icing your treats in team colors.

    While crowd-pleasing Buffalo flavor-inspired foods and football always seem to go together, think beyond those traditional flavors for a new twist on your game day cuisine.

Baked Spinach and Chicken Dip

    1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed

    1 cup ranch dressing

    1 package (10 ounces) frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

    1/2 cup cooked chicken, chopped

    Heat oven to 375° F.

    In microwave-safe medium bowl, add cream cheese and dressing. Microwave on high 30 seconds, or until cream cheese is soft. Stir to combine. Add spinach and Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Add chicken and stir to combine.

    Transfer mixture to baking dish that holds at least 6 cups. Bake 20 minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. The internal temperature should be 165° F.

    Serve with crackers, bread or veggie sticks.

    Tips: If you like it spicy, substitute a chipotle ranch dressing and add diced pickled jalapenos. To make ahead, prepare unbaked dip up to 3 days ahead; store covered and refrigerated. Bake prior to serving.

Fiery Guacamole Dip

    2 medium ripe avocados, pitted and peeled

    2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

    2 tablespoons lime juice

    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/4 teaspoon salt

    3 tablespoons Franks RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce

    Coarsely mash avocados in medium bowl. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, garlic powder and salt; mix well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    Drizzle with RedHot Sauce before serving.

Pull-Apart Garlic Bread Pizza

    2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

    1 cup ricotta

    1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, divided

    1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

    1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    Kosher salt

    3/4 cup pizza sauce

    1 cup mini pepperoni

    2 (16 ounce) cans refrigerated biscuits (such as Pillsbury Grands)

    1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

    Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, mix together 2 cups mozzarella, cream cheese, ricotta, ⅓ cup Parmesan, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt. Transfer mixture to a 9”x13” baking dish then spread pizza sauce on top. Top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and pepperoni.

    Halve biscuits and roll into balls, then place on top of dip.

    In a small bowl, whisk together oil, garlic, and parsley. Brush on biscuits and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan.

    Bake until biscuits are golden and cheese is melty, about 45 minutes, then cover with aluminum foil and bake until biscuits are cooked through, another 15 to 20 minutes.

    Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Barbecue Three Bean Chili

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 yellow onion, chopped

    3 carrots, chopped

    1 red bell pepper, chopped

    1/2 tablespoon chili powder

    1/2 tablespoon cumin

    1/2 tablespoon dried oregano

    26-28 ounces crushed or chopped tomatoes

    2 cups vegetable broth

    1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

    1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

    1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed

    1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

    1/4 cup barbecue sauce

    Salt and pepper to taste

    Chili fixin’s: shredded Mexican cheese, avocado, jalapeno, sour cream, cilantro, green onions, fresh tomato, corn chips, and salsa are all great additions.

    Over medium heat, saute onion and carrots in olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and spices and saute another minute. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth and simmer over low heat until thickened, about 20 minutes.

    Stir in the corn, beans, and barbecie sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add more chili powder and cumin to spice up if necessary.

    Simmer another 5 minutes or until ready to eat.

    Serve with your favorite chili fixin’s.