Cathie Campbell

Game day finger foods

by cathie campbell

I call these Sugar-bacon Smokies, and they are a big hit as a game-day appetizer.
I call these Sugar-bacon Smokies, and they are a big hit as a game-day appetizer. Lindsey Carter

Even if you are not planning to watch this year’s Super Bowl on Feb. 5, you might still enjoy some delicious snacks. Luckily, we don’t need a reason or a celebration to enjoy good food. So football fans and non-football fans alike, here are some recipes for tasty finger foods that I hope will be to your liking. Enjoy your game, enjoy your company and by all means, enjoy your snacks.

Spiced up crab dip

You can use real or imitation (surimi) crab for this recipe, but my own preference is for real crab meat.

1/3 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons dried minced onion

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons white wine (or use white grape juice)

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, optional

2 packages (8-oz. each) cream cheese, cubed

1 pound crab meat or imitation crab meat, chopped

Assorted crackers or fresh vegetables

1. In a food processor, combine the first eight ingredients. Cover and process until smooth. Transfer to a large microwave-safe bowl. Stir in crab; mix well.

2. Cover and microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until bubbly. Serve warm with crackers or vegetables. (This recipe was tested in a 1100-watt microwave.) Makes 4 cups.

Artichoke French bread

1 loaf (about 1 pound) unsliced French bread

1 1/2 cups (12-oz.) sour cream

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 cups (8-oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup (4-oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 jar (6 1/2-oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning (I don’t care for this, so I leave it out)

1. Cut bread in half lengthwise; hollow out, leaving 1/2-inch shells. Set aside. Place removed bread in a food processor; cover and process until crumbly.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, sour cream, butter and sesame seeds; spread onto a baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Turn oven temperature down to 350.

3. In a large bowl, combine the crumb mixture, cheeses, artichokes, garlic, parsley and lemon-pepper, if using. Spoon into bread shells.

4. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and serve warm. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Soft pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F (or according to the yeast package) water

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 package active dry yeast

4 1/2 cups flour (about)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Vegetable oil, for pan

10 cups water

2/3 cup baking soda

1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Pretzel salt

1. Combine the 1 1/2 cups warm water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

2. Preheat oven to 450. Line two half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

3. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

4. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.Makes 8 soft pretzels.

Sugar-bacon smokies

Couldn’t resist including this one. I prefer to roll the bacon-wrapped sausages in the sugar rather than shake them in a bag, as they are much less likely to fall apart. Also, try some maple-flavored bacon if you like.

1 package (16-oz.) small smoked, cooked, sausage links

15 slices bacon, each cut crosswise into thirds

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan with foil; lightly coat with cooking spray and set aside.

2. Wrap each sausage link with a bacon piece, overlapping the bacon piece at the end. Press the end of the bacon piece to seal or secure it with a wooden toothpick.

3. Place brown sugar in a large plastic storage bag. Add several bacon-wrapped sausages to bag and seal. Shake bag gently to coat sausages with brown sugar; place sausages in prepared pan. Repeat with remaining bacon-wrapped sausages and brown sugar.

4. Bake in preheated oven about 30 minutes or until the bacon is browned. Serve immediately. Makes about 45 appetizers. Note: You can make these ahead of time, up until the baking part, then pop them into the oven closer to serving time. Makes about 45 servings.