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Super Snacks 

Take a local chef's advice: Serve something less traditional during the big game

click to enlarge Football and nacho cheese are a perfect match, but you can do better. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Football and nacho cheese are a perfect match, but you can do better.

Chances are, most of us won't be paying much attention to what we're shoveling into our mouths as the Seahawks take to the field against the Denver Broncos this Sunday. But watching our beloved team play in this year's Super Bowl is reason enough to go all out with the snacks served, too.

Instead of the standard football-watching fare of pizza, chips and beer, local chef Laurie Faloon suggests preparing several make-ahead, savory finger foods that also look nice on a party platter. You might be tempted to allow yourself the once-a-year helping of Velveeta dip (and that's OK, too), but Faloon thinks you can step up your culinary chops for a game of this magnitude.

Earlier this month, Faloon, a part-time instructor at Spokane Community College's Inland Northwest Culinary Academy, led an evening class for the public teaching how to make her top Super Bowl snacks. She called the class "There's an 'App' for That."

While Faloon has other snack plans for the game-watching party she and her boyfriend are hosting this year — a luau-themed menu inspired by the couple's vacation in Hawaii the past two weeks — she promises the appetizers developed for her class are crowd pleasers. And just because the names may sound fancy, don't worry — Faloon's suggestions also pair well with just about any beverage of choice.

"People are always looking for something different," Faloon says from her hotel room overlooking the Pacific Ocean. "I always try to up the ante and give an alternative from the everyday food people are so used to." ♦

Artichoke and Spinach Swirls

1 pkg. (17.3 oz.; 2 sheets) of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets, thawed

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. ground black pepper

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained

1 can (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Stir mayonnaise, cheese, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, spinach and artichoke hearts in a medium-size bowl. Unfold one pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Spread half of the mixture on the pastry to within 1 inch of the edge. Roll up sheet like a jelly roll and press seam to seal. Repeat with remaining pastry sheet. For best slicing, freeze each roll for 1 hour or more prior to slicing and cut each frozen roll into 20 half-inch thick slices. Place the slices, cut side down, onto three baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Remove from sheet and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Yield: 40 swirls

Spicy Black Bean Empanadas

2 pkg. (17.3 oz.; 4 sheets) Pepperidge Farm puff pastry sheets, thawed

1 egg

1 tbsp. water

½ lb. ground pork

1 small red pepper, diced ( cup)

4 medium green onions, chopped (½ cup)

1 clove garlic, minced

½ cup tomato sauce

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

tsp. crushed red pepper

1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (6 oz.)

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained (15 oz.)

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 cup sour cream

1 cup guacamole

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Beat egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk. Cook pork in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until well browned, stirring often to separate meat. Stir in diced red pepper, onions and garlic and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and crushed red pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in cheese, 1 cup of beans and cilantro. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

Unfold pastry sheet onto lightly floured surface. Roll the sheet into a 16-by-12-inch rectangle and cut into 10 (2½-inch thick) pieces. Repeat with remaining pastry sheets to make 40 pieces of dough. Spoon 1 teaspoon of pork mixture onto half of each pastry circle and brush edges with water. Fold pastry over filling and crimp with a fork to seal. Place pastries onto baking sheet and brush with egg mixture. Bake for 15 minutes or until pastries are golden brown. Serve with sour cream, guacamole and remaining beans.

Make-ahead tip: Place unbaked empanadas on baking sheet, cover and freeze until firm. Store in resealable plastic bag for up to one month. Bake frozen empanadas as instructed above.

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