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Just in time for the big game ... Super Bowl appetizer recipes

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Super Bowl Sunday is not a national holiday -- though Americans sure eat like it is.

After Thanksgiving, the Super Bowl is the second-biggest food consumption event, according to a recent

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National Public Radio report.

When it comes to preparing appetizers for this year's big game, we've brought in a couple pros willing to share their recipes to help you think beyond the block of Velveeta cheese and can of Hormel chili. Grant Huisinga, owner of Heglund Catering in Willmar, and Isreal Medina, owner of El Conquistador in Spicer, share their culinary expertise with appetizer recipes sure to make the crowd forget about the pigs in a blanket baking in the oven.

Prepared by the pros, these appetizers can be mastered by any "Average Joe" in time for Sunday's big game pitting the Green Bay Packers against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Turkey Pot Stickers

In his six years as owner of Heglund Catering, Grant Huisinga said appetizer requests are fairly predictable: chicken wings and meat and cheese platters are consistently Heglund Catering's top-requested party foods.

"People want to go with what they know," Huisinga said.

The same might be said for Super Bowl Party fare, where it's not uncommon to see multiple pans of the same taco dip.

Huisinga's Turkey Pot Stickers are a sure way to guarantee your game day appetizer won't be duplicated. The recipe's wonton wrappers and sesame oil may require a trip down the Asian aisle at the local grocery store, but Huisinga said his recipe is simple.

"They're basically a meatball wrapped in dough," Huisinga said of his Asian-inspired recipe.

But it's a world of difference from the Swedish meatballs at least year's Super Bowl party: soy sauce, celery, carrot and crushed red pepper give the meat mixture inside the wonton wrapper a flavorful kick.

"They are sweet, salty and savory all at the same time," Huisinga said. "That's what makes Asian food so good."

Any remaining meat mixture from the recipe can be cooked and wrapped in cabbage for a lettuce wrap. Otherwise, Huisinga said the pot stickers are good enough to stand on their own.

"You don't need to prepare an entire Chinese buffet to go with them," Huisinga said.

To alleviate stress on game day, Huisinga recommends preparing the meat mixture days in advance. Pot stickers can be assembled moments before guests arrive -- a process which involves wetting the edges of the wonton wrapper to seal the meat mixture inside. Once in the frying pan, the goal is to achieve a sticky top without burning the bottom.

Huisinga said pot stickers are best served right out of the pan, though it's likely these Asian delights won't have a chance to cool before they're gone.

El Conquistador Nachos

El Conquistador owners Isreal and Adriana Medina are used to serving to sports fans at their Spicer establishment, and the couple said one of their most requested "botana" is their own El Conquistador nacho platter.

The secret to the restaurant's popular nachos could be in the chips, prepared fresh every morning by Adriana.

Homemade tortilla chips provide the base to the nacho platter. The next layer fuels the Medinas' nachos with enough protein and fiber to satisfy any football player: a hearty helping of warm refried beans and seasoned ground beef.

Next, Adriana melts a bowl full of La Feria cubed cheese with three-quarter cup milk in the microwave for about two minutes. The white creamy cheese mixture is poured over the warm crispy chips after being mixed with a fork.

Pico de gallo, made fresh at the restaurant, is scooped atop the platter along with a dollop of sour cream. The nachos are also garnished with lettuce and tomato.

"The recipe is very simple, but people keep coming back for it," Isreal said of the nachos.

The Medinas, who opened El Conquistador more than two years ago, said they can easily customize nachos to anyone's liking: chicken can replace beef, and jalapenos can be added for those who can handle the heat. Isreal recommends preparing a nacho bar for football fans on the day of the big game.

Reader's choice:

Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls

Submitted on facebook by Jim and Becky Hoffmann of Holloway

Jim says the hardest part of the entire recipe is not burning your tongue waiting for the egg rolls to cool.

Buffalo Chicken Wing Eggrolls

Ingredients:

3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (approx. 3-3½ cups)

Zc cup celery, diced very small

¾ cup Frank's Red Hot Wing Buffalo sauce (Refer to Note 1)

1 package eggroll wrappers

4 to 6 cups peanut or vegetable oil for deep fat frying

Condiments:

Bleu cheese salad dressing

Ranch salad dressing

Beverage of choice

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, add water and chicken breasts. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until done, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Remove chicken and let stand for 10 minutes to cool.

3. Using 2 forks shred the chicken and place in a medium-size bowl.

4. Add celery and Frank's Red Hot Wing Buffalo sauce; mix well.

5. On each eggroll wrapper, place 1½ to 2 tablespoons of the chicken mixture.

6. Roll up the eggroll using the instructions on the package. Dab the last edge with water to help seal the eggroll.

7. In a deep fat fryer or deep sauce pan, heat the peanut/vegetable oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.

8. Deep fry the eggrolls, 3 to 4 at a time, until golden brown.

9. Place eggrolls on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any excess oil.

10. Enjoy. (Refer to Note 2).

Number of Servings: 12 to 15

Note 1: If you like a little sweeter/smoky taste, substitute Frank's Red Hot Wings Sweet Heat BBQ sauce for the buffalo sauce.

Note 2: Use caution when biting into eggroll, contents are hot and juicy; individuals are subject to being squirted on.

El Conquistador Nachos:

Tortilla chips

Refried beans

Seasoned ground beef

Pico de gallo

¾ cup milk

Le Feria American Cheese

Sour cream

Directions:

Fill plate with layer of tortilla chips.

Add refried beans, and seasoned taco meat.

In a mixing bowl, melt La Feria cheese and ¾ cup milk in microwave for two minutes; stir.

Pour cheese over nachos.

Add lettuce, tomatoes and pico de gallo.

Garnish with sour cream.

Turkey Pot Stickers

Courtesy of Heglund Catering

Meat filling:

1 pound ground turkey

¼ cup finely chopped carrot

¼ cup finely chopped celery

¼ cup finely chopped mushroom

2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion

1 egg

1 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Black pepper to taste

Dipping sauce:

¼ cup soy sauce

½ teaspoon sesame oil

Garnish with chives or green onion

Wonton wrappers OR pot sticker wrappers

To fill:

Incorporate all filling ingredients into bowl.

Take roughly one-half tablespoon of raw meat filling and place it in the center of a wrapper. Brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Take the four corners and fold to the middle to shape a diamond, making sure to seal the filling inside.

Cooking:

Place 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon water in a sauté pan.

Over medium heat, place pot stickers in pan, frying only one side.

Cover pan, steaming the pot stickers for 5 to 6 minutes.

*The goal is to have a crispy bottom and a sticky top.

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