Stepping Out

Game on

Score big on Super Sunday with zesty game day flavors

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Those gridiron warriors will be the focus next Sunday, Feb. 4, when most of us will huddle up at our TVs to watch the 52nd battle for that championship ring.

Whether your gang includes football fanatics or those mostly interested in the half-time show and the commercials, the big game is an occasion for some casual winter entertaining. Even non-fans often spend at least some time with an eye on the game — so a good party can make the game that much more enjoyable (even for the less interested among us).

Besides the game, the day is also about food — and plenty of it.

The key to hosting a successful Super Sunday gathering, is to serve never-miss, crowd-pleasing dishes that can be made in quantity.

Of course, Buffalo flavor-inspired foods and football always seem to go together, but think beyond those traditional flavors for a new twist on your game day cuisine.

Bruschetta-Topped Hummus

2 cups multi-colored cherry tomatoes

1 clove garlic, minced

10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional (optional)

salt, to taste

1 container hummus (10 ounces)

To make bruschetta: Cut cherry tomatoes into quarters or eighths, if large. Place in small mixing bowl. Stir in garlic, basil and olive oil, and season with salt, to taste.

Scoop hummus out of container and swirl onto serving plate. Top with bruschetta and drizzle with touch of olive oil, if desired. Serve with fresh vegetables or pita chips.

Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings

4 pounds chicken wings

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Nonstick cooking spray

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup Buffalo-style hot sauce

½ cup Chunky Blue Cheese or Ranch dressing

1/3 cup Blue Cheese Crumbles

Carrots and celery

Lay wings on rack on rimmed baking tray and let dry in refrigerator overnight, or pat dry with paper towels.

Heat oven to 250 F. Put one oven shelf in lower quarter of oven and one in top quarter.

Place wings in large resealable bag. Add baking powder and salt. Shake bag to coat wings evenly.

Line tray with foil. Spray rack on baking tray with nonstick spray. Place wings skin side up on rack. Bake on lower shelf 30 minutes.

Move tray to higher shelf and turn oven up to 425 F.

Bake 40-50 minutes, rotating tray halfway through. Wings are done when they are dark, golden brown and skin is crispy.

While wings bake, whisk together butter and hot sauce; keep warm.

Remove wings from oven and toss with hot sauce; sprinkle immediately with blue cheese crumbles. Serve with blue cheese or ranch dressing, carrots and celery sticks.

Brat Sausage Nachos

1 pound bratwurst sausages, sliced

1 tablespoon butter

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion, sliced

1 (14.5 ounce) package tortilla chips

1 (16 ounce) can refried beans

2 tablespoons pickled jalapeno pepper slices

1 (8 ounce) package shredded Mexican cheese blend

1/4 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1/8 teaspoon onion powder, or to taste

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Brown the bratwurst slices in a skillet over medium heat, 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often; drain excess grease and set the sausage aside.

Melt the butter with olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; cook the onions in the butter and oil mixture, stirring often, until soft and brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Spread the tortilla chips onto a baking sheet in an even layer.

Spread the bratwurst slices, caramelized onions, dollops of refried beans, jalapeno pepper slices, and Mexican cheese blend over the chips.

Sprinkle with chili powder, cayenne pepper, and onion powder.

Bake the nachos until hot and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes.