5 appetizer recipes to make on Super Bowl Sunday (or any day)

Preparation is key, and also part of the fun for your Super Bowl spread. Appetizers are often the main attraction, and a no-pressure way to experiment with ingredients or recipes. /                                             
Oleksandra Naumenko/Dreamstime/TNS
Preparation is key, and also part of the fun for your Super Bowl spread. Appetizers are often the main attraction, and a no-pressure way to experiment with ingredients or recipes. / Oleksandra Naumenko/Dreamstime/TNS

The matchup for Super Bowl LVIII is set, but if your favorite team is out of contention, you may be more interested in what's on the table than who's on the field. Still, we're all fans of the game. So let's embrace a football state of mind as we plan our game-day party with these tips and recipes.

› Form a game plan. Preparation is key, and also part of the fun. Appetizers are often the main attraction and a no-pressure way to experiment with ingredients or recipes. Start with these recipes — and don't forget dessert.

› Rely on your bench. Party planning is a team sport. Choose a dish or two to make, and ask others to fill in the gaps. Just huddle up beforehand to make sure there aren't six kinds of wings and no dips or vegetables. Variety is the spice of life, and key to a successful spread.

› Play defense. Entertaining doesn't always go as planned. There are no-shows, or the friend who was supposed to bring meatballs brought chips instead. No problem, because you're prepared. If you have time and ambition, make and freeze empanadas to pop in the oven as needed. If not, there's no shame in shopping the freezer aisle.

› Take advantage of timeouts. The Super Bowl isn't just a game; it's a daylong event. Pace yourself, and the food, accordingly. Double-team foods that can transition from brunch to late-day noshes (think avocados or deviled eggs). And break up the day with games, trivia or create-your-own themed bingo. The Super Bowl in is Las Vegas, so here's your excuse to play poker and blackjack.

› Research draft picks. Take this opportunity to sample beer from local breweries, or serve batch cocktails or one specialty cocktail to avoid spending the night playing mixologist (unless that's your calling). Don't forget to have spirit-free options.

And don't forget the cardinal rule of entertaining: Have fun. Whether you're rooting for Kansas City or San Francisco, or are in it just for the commercials and entertainment, your pregame preparation has already made you this year's MVP.


Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Makes about 32 meatballs.

Serve these spicy meatballs as is or in wraps, with a salad as an entree, as a pizza topping (cut cooked meatballs in half), or as a Buffalo chicken meatball sub.

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground chicken

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely diced celery

1 green onion, sliced

1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

1 large egg

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespooon Louisiana-style hot sauce (such as Frank's RedHot), divided

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

For serving:

Celery sticks and leaves

Carrot sticks

Crumbled blue cheese

Peppery Ranch Dressing (see recipe) or your favorite ranch or blue cheese dressing

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, garlic, celery, green onion and breadcrumbs. Crack in the egg, add 1 tablespoon of the hot sauce, along with the salt and pepper, and stir until everything is combined.

Using a tablespoon or small scoop, drop portions of the mixture on the prepared sheet pan. Bake meatballs until they're cooked through and browned around the edges, about 15 minutes.

To prepare the sauce, combine the butter and remaining 3/4 cup hot sauce in a deep skillet over medium heat. Heat the mixture until it's just starting to bubble, then turn off the heat. Scrape the baked meatballs into the sauce and toss until they're totally coated.

Transfer the meatballs to a platter and pour any extra pan sauce on top. Serve with celery, carrots, blue cheese crumbles and ranch dressing, and garnish with celery leaves.

— From "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinner's Ready" by Ree Drummond (William Morrow, 2023)


Peppery Ranch Dressing

Makes 2 cups.

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sour cream

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Dash of hot sauce

Pinch of kosher salt

1 tablespoon tricolor peppercorns, crushed

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk, as needed for desired consistency

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sour cream. Add garlic, sprinkle in the parsley, dill and chives, and then add the Worcestershire, hot sauce, salt, crushed peppercorns and ground black pepper. Add 1/4 cup of buttermilk, and stir until everything is combined. Add more buttermilk until you reach the desired consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings (the garlic flavor will deepen as it sits in the fridge).

Transfer the dressing to a lidded jar, and keep in the fridge for up to 10 days.

— From "The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinner's Ready" by Ree Drummond (William Morrow, 2023)


Rye Whiskey-Glazed Wings

This boozy take on a classic serves 4.

For the whiskey glaze:

4 tablespoons Tattersall Rye Whiskey

1 1/2 cups (3/4 pound) brown sugar

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons Sriracha

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons lime juice

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

For the wings:

2 pounds bone-in chicken wings

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blue cheese dressing, for serving

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment.

To prepare the glaze: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat whiskey until it's reduced by roughly 20%. Add brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup, Sriracha, vinegar, garlic, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, honey and lime juice. Heat, stirring frequently, until fully incorporated. Remove from heat, and slowly add in butter until fully incorporated.

To prepare the wings: Season wings with salt and pepper. Bake until the chicken skin is golden brown and crispy and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes. Fully coat wings with whiskey glaze, and serve with blue cheese dressing.

— Chef Corey Picha of Tattersall Distilling, River Falls, Wisconsin


Baked Goat Cheese

Serves 8 to 10.

There is one thing you can count on at parties: small plates featuring melted cheese. Put out a dish of cheesy buffalo dip, a bowl of queso fundido, or a wheel of baked Brie, and guests will cluster around it. This warm goat cheese broiled in a baking dish with a mildly spicy tomato sauce combines tangy cheese with a smoky, sweet sauce. Goat cheese logs come in different sizes. Any size from 8 to 10 ounces will work in this recipe. If you can find only small logs of goat cheese (around 4 ounces), you can press two smaller logs together.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 onion, chopped fine

3/4 teaspoon table salt

3 cloves garlic, sliced thin

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 (8- to 10-ounce) log goat cheese, softened

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, cumin, pepper flakes and pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiler element, and heat broiler. Place goat cheese between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Flatten goat cheese into 1-inch-thick disk, 3 to 4 inches in diameter, cupping your hands around outside of disk as needed to make compact shape.

Transfer tomato sauce to shallow 2-quart broiler-safe dish. Place goat cheese in center. Broil until goat cheese is well browned, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle cilantro and lemon zest over sauce, and drizzle with extra oil. Serve.

— From "The Complete Small Plates Cookbook" by America's Test Kitchen (2023)


Crispy Fried Cauliflower in Korean Chili Sauce

Serves 6 to 8.

Crunchy, sticky, spicy, saucy — what more could you want in a party food? Be sure to have lots of napkins on hand, as this is a deliciously messy treat.

For the cauliflower:

1/2 cup tapioca flour or rice flour for the batter, plus about 1 cup for coating

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Large pinch of pepper

2 small cauliflowers, broken into small-sized florets and leaves

3 tablespoons ice-cold water

4 teaspoons white vinegar

4 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying

For the sauce:

3/4 cup soft light brown sugar

4 1/2 tablespoons gochujang

4 1/2 tablespoons ketchup

4 1/2 tablespoons Sriracha

7 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For garnish:

2 tablespoons toasted mixed black and white sesame seeds

2 spring onions, finely sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together the 1/2 cup tapioca or rice flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower florets and leaves, and mix until well combined. Pour over the measured ice-cold water and vinegar, and mix together to make a batter that coats the cauliflower florets well. If the batter is too thick, add a little more water.

Put the remaining tapioca or rice flour for coating in a separate bowl. Shake the excess batter off each floret, then lightly coat in the flour and place on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to air-dry for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large, deep heavy-based saucepan, making sure there's at least 2 inches between the surface of the oil and the top of the pan, to 350 degrees. Add a small amount of the batter to the oil, and if it sizzles, then the oil is ready.

While the oil is heating, put all the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan, and stir together over a medium heat until the mixture starts bubbling and thickens. Remove from the heat.

Fry the cauliflower florets and leaves in batches for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on the cleaned wire rack set over the tray.

Once all the cauliflower pieces are fried, add to a large bowl with the sauce and toss until they are fully coated. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and spring onions, and serve immediately.

— From "A Very Vegan Christmas," by Sam Dixon (Hamlyn, 2023)


Guacamole

Serves 2 to 4.

Serve with your favorite tortilla chips (or serve on toast for a pregame brunch)

For the guacamole paste:

1 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

2 small jalapeños, seeds and stems removed

3/4 teaspoon salt

For the guacamole:

2 large avocados, diced

1/4 cup guacamole paste

4 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1/4 cup diced onion

1/3 cup diced Roma tomato

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

To prepare the guacamole paste: Place onion, cilantro, jalapeños and salt into the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until green paste forms. Set aside.

To prepare the guacamole: In a large bowl, combine chopped avocado and guacamole paste. Fold together until the paste is evenly distributed on the avocado. Add cilantro, onion, tomato and salt, and fold together (the guacamole should still have nice chunks of avocado). Adjust seasonings to taste before serving.

— From chef Ed McDevitt of Masa & Agave in Minneapolis' Hotel Ivy

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