You have to know your crowd to make the right appetizers for a party.
As for a Super Bowl shindig, I really don’t want to say you need to make “manly” food, because there are just as many female New England Patriots fans as there are Atlanta Falcon ones. (I may be wrong on that, though; there seems to be a noticeable unisex leaning toward the Falcons in the newsroom.)
But, wings, dips and cheese balls are pretty central to partying in front of the big screen Sunday.
That said, even if you aren’t a football fan or attending a party, these five appetizers are keepers. They’re good year-round. The Football Fest Empanadas are shaped like footballs, but that can be easily fixed during the dough-cutting process. Plus, it’s one of those recipes where a rotisserie chicken can be used and the level of spicy hotness can be adjusted by using no or fewer jalapenos.
The Ham Cheddar Cheese Ball is also shaped like a football, with strips of Swiss cheese making the laces on top. You can redo the shape if you want to serve it any other time.
Make sure you have lots of napkins around if you serve the Crispy Sticky Baked Chicken Wings.
Football Fest Empanadas
1 jar (16 ounces) black bean and corn salsa
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced, optional
3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 package (9 ounces) ready-to-use Southwestern chicken strips, chopped
2 packages (14.1 ounces each) refrigerated pie pastry
4 ounces quesadilla cheese, shredded
1 egg, lightly beaten
In a large bowl, combine the salsa, corn, jalapenos, 2 tablespoons cilantro and lime juice. In another bowl, combine the chicken, remaining cilantro and 1/2 cup salsa mixture; set aside. Reserve remaining salsa for serving.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Unroll a pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface. Using a floured 4-inch round cookie cutter placed halfway on edge of pastry, cut 4-in. x 3-in. football shapes. Repeat with remaining dough, chilling and rerolling scraps as needed.
Transfer half of the cutouts to greased baking sheets. Place 1 tablespoon chicken mixture in the center of each; top each with 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese. Brush edges of pastry with egg. Top with remaining cutouts; press edges with a fork to seal. Cut slits in the tops to resemble football laces. Brush tops with egg.
Bake 8-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with reserved salsa mixture. Refrigerate leftovers.
Freeze option: Freeze cooled pastries in a freezer container, separating layers with waxed paper. To use, reheat pastries on a greased baking sheet in a preheated 400-degree oven until crisp and heated through.
Yield: 2 dozen.
Editor's note: Wear disposable gloves when cutting hot peppers; the oils can burn skin. Avoid touching your face.
Crispy Sticky Baked Chicken Wings
5 pounds chicken wings tips removed and drumettes and flats separated
2 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoon Chinese 5 spice
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/2 cup seedless blackberry jam or preserves
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse wings and pat dry. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with vegetable oil and spice blend until well-coated.
Place a baking rack onto a foil lined baking sheet. Lay wings onto baking rack, not letting wings touch.
Bake, rotating pan half-way through, until fully cooked, 45 to 50 minutes. Remove wings from oven and transfer to a large bowl.
Whisk together hoisin and jam in a small sauce pot over medium-low heat until warm.
Drizzle wings with sauce, tossing until well-coated. Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.
Ham Cheddar Cheese Ball
1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges
2 cups (8 ounces) finely shredded Cheddar cheese
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, cubed
1 cup chopped pecans
1 slice Swiss cheese
Place ham and onion in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped. Add cheddar cheese; pulse until blended. Add cream cheese; process until smooth.
Shape cheese mixture into a football; press pecans into cheese mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Cut cheese into strips; arrange over top for laces. Serve with crackers.
Yield: 4 cups.
Slow-Cooker Smoky Chorizo Bean Dip
8 ounces bulk chorizo
1 can (16 ounces) refried beans
1 can (14.5 ounces) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce (comes in a small can)
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Tortilla chips, as desired
Spray 2- to 3-quart slow cooker with cooking spray.
In 10-inch skillet, cook chorizo over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring to break up large pieces, until no longer pink; drain.
In slow cooker, mix chorizo, beans, tomatoes, 1 cup of the cheese and the chipotle chile; stir to combine. Cover; cook on high heat setting 1 1/2 to 2 hours or low heat setting 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until bubbling; stir to combine, then top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and the cilantro.
Serve warm with chips.
Yield: 16 servings.
Tips: If you want a little more heat, increase the chipotle in adobo to 2 tablespoons.
This dip doubles as a great filling for quesadillas or tacos.
Roasted Corn and Crab Dip
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 cup chopped red sweet pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup cooked crabmeat or one 6-ounce can crabmeat, drained, flaked, and cartilage removed
1 cup shredded pepper-jack cheese (4 ounces)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup sliced green onions (2)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lightly coat a 1-quart quiche dish or shallow baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
In a shallow baking pan, combine corn and sweet pepper. Drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Roast, uncovered, about 20 minutes or until vegetables start to brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven and let cool.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl stir together crabmeat, cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, green onions and black pepper. Stir in roasted vegetables. Transfer mixture to prepared dish. (To serve today, omit next step and continue as directed to baking stage.)
Cover with plastic wrap; chill for up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If chilled, remove plastic wrap. Bake about 20 minutes, or until bubbly around edges. Serve with toasted broken tostada shells, baguette slices and/or crackers.