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Are you ready for some...overindulging on appetizers?

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By Kara Kimbrough

The countdown is on to Super Bowl LVII, scheduled for Feb. 12 in Arizona. If you’re a die-hard football fan, you’ll undoubtedly agree it’s the most important NFL game of the year. If you couldn't care less about the game, Super Bowl Sunday is still a great opportunity to indulge on one of my favorite food groups – appetizers, of course...the saltier and more sauce-doused, the better.

From Little Smokies to sliders to chips and dips, I love ‘em all. Speaking of dips, here’s my tip of the day: Kroger brand dips are simply amazing. With flavors like Cajun-style crab, smoked salmon, French onion, ranch and Monterey jack queso, they’re priced right and taste delicious.

But back to SB LVII. Whether you're hosting a party, will be a guest at one or plan to watch the “to be determined” teams from the comfort of your recliner, here are a few of my favorite football appetizers and decorating ideas. More will follow before the big game arrives.

1. Game-Winning Wings – More wings are bought and consumed during Super Bowl weekend than at any other time of the year. For easy Crockpot wings, whisk together 1/3 cup each of soy sauce, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar with a ¼ cup of honey, teaspoon each of ginger powder and ground pepper and ½ teaspoon of onion powder. Place three pounds of chicken wings in a slow cooker and stir in the soy sauce mixture, coating well. Cook on high heat for about two hours, adding a little honey barbecue sauce as needed to keep wings from sticking. Just before serving, line a baking sheet with foil and place cooked wings on the baking sheet under an oven broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until caramelized and slightly charred. Serve with dipping sauce.

2. One Sauce Fits All –In a food processor or blender, add a cup of sour cream, small bottle of blue cheese dressing, teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and a sprinkle of seasoning salt. Add a dash of hot sauce if you like it hot. Process about two minutes, then chill for an hour and serve with wings or tenders.

3. Ball Bling - Purchase an inexpensive football (can be kid’s size or a Nerf football) and spray with gold glitter paint or hot-glue gold ornaments from the craft store all over the ball. Paint or glue the numbers “57” on the ball. Elevate the blinged-out ball by placing it on top of a stackable cake plate covered with a gold cloth or your favorite team’s colors. When guests arrive, have them write down their guess on the final score. Whoever gets closest to the score wins the football as a souvenir of Super Bowl LVII.

4. Ultimate Game Day Sliders – Mix one pound of ground beef with a packet of ranch dressing mix and form into small patties. Place on foil-lined baking sheet and bake in 400-degree oven for 20 minutes, flipping once. Five minutes before removing from oven, top each slider with Cheddar cheese and finish baking. Place patties in mini slider buns or King’s Hawaiian rolls, then add a Super Bowl cupcake toothpick (most supermarkets or party stores will have them) to each one to keep sliders together. Serve with burger condiments, grilled onions, pickles and dipping sauces.

5. Personal Pigs in Blankets - Put cocktail sausages or regular hot dogs on a wooden craft or Popsicle stick. Using crescent rolls or puff pastry, wrap thin dough strips around the sausage or hot dog, Brush with butter and bake in 350-degree oven for 12-15 minutes until browned. Serve with Dijon mustard and dipping sauces.

6. Super Bowl Snack Mix - Pop eight cups of popcorn. In a large bowl, mix popcorn with one cup each of peanuts and mini pretzels, a stick of melted butter, and half teaspoon each of cinnamon and salt. Bake on foil-lined baking sheet in 350-degree oven for 20 minutes; let cool. When cooled, mix in colored M&Ms. (I found Broncos-orange M&Ms at a party store). Recipe doubles easily.

7. “Don’t Forget the Vegetarians” Dip – Finely chop a cup of fresh vegetables - red or yellow bell peppers or fresh tomatoes, then add to 16 ounces of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Stir in a packet of ranch dressing mix and top with a quarter cup of chopped green olives. Serve with sliced vegetables.

8. Baked Muffalettas – Slice a large loaf of French bread lengthwise, then pile sandwiches fixings on the bottom layer: salami, ham, Swiss cheese and provolone cheese, repeating layers. Top with Italian olive salad mix, then wrap bread in foil and place on baking sheet in 350-degree oven. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.

9. Football Tablescape, Part II – Decorate your main food table with a green and white “football” cloth purchased from a party store, or use a green tablecloth (I found one at Goodwill). Cover with white streamers to resemble lines on a football field. Or, cover your table with a cloth in your favorite team’s colors. Tip: I shop at closeout stores or Goodwill before special events to look for gently-used cloths to decorate my tables.

10. Spicy Football Spread – With mixer, combine three 8-ounce packages of softened cream cheese, three cups Cheddar, cup of grated Romano cheese, cup of sour cream, teaspoon of Worcestershire and dash of hot sauce. Place mixture on piece of plastic wrap and use hands to mold mixture into football shape or place in medium-size plastic football dish covered with plastic wrap to mold into football shape. Place football on serving dish and cover with toasted pecans and dried cranberries that have been chopped in food processor. Serve with chips or crackers.

Stay tuned next week for even more Super Bowl recipes and ideas. In the meantime, practice your app-making skills on one of my favorite dips. If you can’t find Kroger’s version, mine is the next best thing.

Super Bowl LVII Smoked Salmon Dip

16-ounce can salmon, drained and chopped (or equal amount of frozen salmon, defrosted)

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

¼ cup milk

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Several drops liquid smoke, to taste

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon seasoning salt

Dill weed, to taste

Stir together salmon with cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, liquid smoke, pepper and seasoning salt. Add dill and serve with crackers or chips.

Kara Kimbrough is a food and travel writer from Mississippi. Email her at kkprco@yahoo.com.