Stepping Out

Game time flavors

Score with good taste on Super Sunday

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The action on the gridiron comes into focus on Sunday, Feb. 3, when most of us will gather by our TVs to see the 53rd edition of the battle for that championship ring.

The big game is always an occasion for some lively winter entertaining — whether your gang includes football fanatics or those mostly interested in the half-time show and the commercials,. A good party makes the game that much more enjoyable — even for the less interested among us.

The key to hosting a successful Super Sunday gathering is to have plenty of tasty munchies on hand, especially the essential crowd-pleasing dishes that can be made in quantity.

Of course, Buffalo flavor-inspired foods and football always seem to go together, but think beyond those traditional favorites for a new twist on your game day cuisine.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

1 package cream cheese (8 ounces), softened

1/2 cup Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce or Buffalo Wings Sauce

1/2 cup ranch dressing

1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese or other shredded cheese

Green onions, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In shallow, 1-quart baking dish, combine all

ingredients.

Bake 20 minutes, or until mixture is heated through.

Stir.

Garnish with chopped green onions, if desired. Serve

with tortilla chips, crackers, pita bread and/or veggies.

Sticky Sesame Chicken Wings

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons mild honey

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

Pinch of cayenne or dash of Sriracha

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1 scallion, finely chopped

Celery sticks (optional)

Ranch and chunky bleu cheese dressing, if desired

Heat oven to 425° F. Line a large shallow baking pan with foil and lightly oil it.

Stir wings together with garlic, salt, soy, hoisin, honey, sesame oil and cayenne or Sriracha until coated.

Spread wings and any sauce that fell to the bottom of the bowl out on the prepared baking pan in one layer. Roast, turning over once, until cooked through, about 35-40 minutes.

Transfer the wings to a large serving bowl and toss with sesame seeds and scallions. Serve with celery sticks, ranch and bleu cheese dressing.

Pull-Apart Garlic Bread Pizza Dip

3 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

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°. 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”-x-13” 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.

Chicken Parm Sliders

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

2 cups panko bread crumbs

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil, or as needed

Salt as needed

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

16 slider buns

Marinara sauce

Place chicken on a cutting board. Slice each breast lengthwise into 2 thin cutlets; slice each cutlet into 2 smaller pieces.

Preheat oven to 450° F. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and set aside.

Pour panko and eggs into separate shallow dishes. Combine flour, Parmesan cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1/2 teaspoon basil, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper in another shallow dish.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Dredge chicken pieces first in flour mixture, then eggs, and finally panko. Pan fry the chicken until lightly browned, no longer pink in the center, and the juices run clear, 2 to 3 minutes per side. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 F Remove to the cooling rack; sprinkle lightly with salt.

Top each piece of chicken (still on cooling rack) with 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce and 1 tablespoon of mozzarella cheese.

Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven; place chicken on buns.