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Try these game-winning appetizers

By Stephanie Williams Dean

Bless Your Spoon

Today’s recipes were inspired by some of the best wings ever ordered – and eaten at a country store and grill in Harmony,. With football season in mind, I put together some party favorites worth cheering for.

You might miss fan-filled stadiums but won’t feel compromised when watching replays in your home recliner – while enjoying these appetizer favorites. Your family and friends will give you high fives for tasty helmet hits – win-wins for your game day get-togethers.

Like field goals, recipes score extra points with make-ahead success. This way, you can relax and enjoy the game. Or do what I sometimes do – and just order take-out.

But, either way, there’s a disclaimer to be made– I have no recipes for chicken wings as good as Gunter’s at Turkeyfoot.

My favorite is the hot red chili.

HOT BEER-CHEESE DIP

2 lbs. grated Monterey Jack cheese

¼ cup all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cup beer

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

4 tsp. minced jalapeno chilies

Salt and pepper, to taste

Corn tortilla chips

In a bowl, combine cheese and flour. Toss to coat. In a heavy saucepan, bring beer to a boil Reduce heat and add handfuls of cheese to beer while stirring constantly until melted. Repeat melting all cheese. While keeping warm, stir until thick and creamy. Fold in cilantro and chilies. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in a flameproof baking dish. You will need to place dish over a sterno burner to keep cheese warm and melted. Serve with tortilla chips.

CRAB STUFFED MUSHROOMS

2 dozen large mushroom caps

1 beaten egg

1 heaping Tbsp.  mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. dry mustard

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. creole or seafood seasoning

¼ cup dry breadcrumbs

1 lb. fresh crabmeat

paprika

Wash mushrooms, remove stems, and dry. In a mixer, beat egg. Add mayonnaise, lemon juice, Worcestershire, salt and seasoning. Fold in breadcrumbs and crabmeat and gently mix. Fill mushroom caps with crab mix. Sprinkle with paprika. Arrange mushrooms in a butter greased baking dish. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 18 minutes and mushrooms are tender.  These can be made a day ahead.

CHEESY BACON & ONION QUESADILLAS

3 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

1 thinly sliced onion

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

¼ tsp. white wine vinegar

1 ½ cups grated, smoked Gouda cheese

4 10-inch flour tortillas

6 oz. cooked, drained, crumbled bacon

2 Tbsp. melted, salted butter

Add onion, sugar, and vinegar to melted butter. Sauté onion for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool. Sprinkle cheese, crumbled bacon and sautéed onion over half of each tortilla, dividing equally. Fold other half of tortillas over the cheese mixture. Brush each with melted butter. In a heavy skillet, melt butter. Cook each quesadilla over medium heat for 2 minutes on each side and until it begins to brown. Add more butter to skillet between them. Transfer all to a large baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes and all cheese has melted. Cut into 6 triangles.

POTATO SKINS WITH PROSCUITTO

3 medium russet potatoes

Olive oil

Salt and freshly grated black pepper

6 oz. cooked, chopped prosciutto

1 ½ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese

1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 cup chopped green onions

Bowl of sour cream

Rub clean potato skins with olive oil. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 1 hour. Cool. Cut each potato lengthwise into quarters. Scoop out centers but leave ¼-inch potato on skins. Place skins on greased baking sheet with skin side down. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook prosciutto (or bacon) in a heavy iron skillet until crisp. Drain and chop. To a bowl, add chopped prosciutto, cheeses, parsley, and pepper. Sprinkle mixture on the skins. Bake for 25 minutes or until cheese mixture melts. Sprinkle with green onions, and serve on a platter with a bowl of sour cream for topping.

TOMATO MEATBALL SLIDERS

1 ½ lb. lean ground beef

¾ cup panko breadcrumbs

6 Tbsp. grated Romano cheese

2 beaten egg yolks

¼ cup chopped parsley

½ cup water, plus if needed

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup vegetable oil

Sauce for Meatballs

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

6 chopped cloves garlic

28 oz. undrained, whole peeled tomatoes

14.5 oz. drained, whole peeled tomatoes

18 lightly toasted small, square rolls

In a bowl, combine meat, panko crumbs, cheese, yolks, parsley, salt, and pepper. Add ½ cup water or more for meatballs to hold together.  Form into 1-inch meatballs. In a heavy skillet, heat oil. Fry meatballs in batches until brown all over. Transfer to a plate. Pour off drippings. Deglaze skillet scraping up and saving any browned bits. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add all tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Puree sauce in processor until smooth. Return to skillet and add meatballs. Cook on low until meatballs are warmed. Cut rolls, top with 2 meatballs and sauce.

LEMON CHICKEN DRUMETTES

2 lbs. chicken wings

2 minced cloves garlic

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. dried thyme

¼ cup salad oil

½ cup lemon juice

2 Tbsp. grated onion

In a bowl, mix garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, oil, lemon juice, and onion together, and chill 24 hours. Pour over wings and refrigerate 1 hour.  Bake in a 350-degree oven in a covered dish for approx. 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and done. Pour off excess liquid and serve.

CRAB AND CHEESE MELTS

½ lb. lump crabmeat

1 stick salted butter

8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp. mayonnaise

½ tsp seasoned salt

½ tsp garlic salt

6 English muffins

In a mixer, combine crab butter, cheese, mayonnaise, and salts. Use Old English sharp cheddar if you can find it in your grocery. Cut muffins in half and spread mixture on each half. Cut each half into quarters. Place on cookie sheet. Broil until they are puff up, are bubbly, and golden brown. Double the recipe if you want to use the entire half of the muffin, which is more filling. Easy to make but so delicious.

FAVORITE TEXAS CAVIAR

3 cans black eyed peas

2 cans shoepeg corn

8 oz. Italian salad dressing

½ cup chopped sweet onion

4 chopped green onions with tops

1 tsp. fresh minced garlic

1 chopped orange pepper

3 chopped jalapeno peppers

½ cup chopped parsley

4 seeded, chopped tomatoes

Scoops tortilla chips

Wash corn and peas and drain well. In a bowl, mix all ingredients except tomatoes. Chill overnight or for at least 8 hours. Mix in tomatoes right before serving. Serve with scoops tortilla chips.