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Article posted: 1/28/2014 11:30 AM

Super snacks for Super Bowl noshing as close as your pantry

By Deborah Pankey

Sure the gridiron action between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos on Sunday is going to be exciting, but I'm not sure it can compare to the match up between myself and 2013 Cook of Year Dan Rich as we tackled a shelf full of pantry staples and assembled a team of recipes for Super Bowl snacking.

The folks at the Northern Illinois Food Bank invited us to their Geneva warehouse the other day and challenged us to cook up football-friendly foods using commonly donated items like canned tuna, peanut butter, potatoes and beans. We could add other ingredients while keeping the recipes approachable and affordable.

Rich, superintendent of public works for Elgin who won the Daily Herald's Cook of the Week Challenge, turned canned white beans into a hummus-inspired spread and double teamed ground beef (who doesn't have that in the freezer?) for meatballs and knishes.

"The recipes that I created are great party foods for several reasons; I love the variation in color, texture and taste. There is a little something there for everybody." Rich said.

He also likes the work-ahead aspect of his recipes so he can be cheering on Peyton Manning and not tied to the kitchen.

"It's also important to make foods that can be prepared ahead of time. The hummus can be refrigerated, the veggies chopped a day early, and the meatballs and chicken wings can go right into a crock pot," he said. "The knishes can simply be reheated at halftime to allow an aspiring home cook the opportunity to catch all of the great Super Bowl action -- and of course, the commercials."

My recipes have work-ahead appeal as well. The salsa for Loaded Nacho Potato Skins can be tossed together the day before or the morning of, and the potatoes can be pre-baked.

If the filling for the Mediterranean Tuna Turnovers is made the day before, the flavors will mingle better. You can even fill and fold the refrigerated biscuit dough before guests arrive and pop the turnovers into the oven.

How's that for a game plan?

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