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Joni Woolf: Snack foods for Super Bowl watchers (and the rest of us)

Last weekend I was in Chattanooga, visiting my granddaughter, Grace Wooten, and an old friend from Macon days, Lauren Benedict. The night we arrived, Lauren had prepared welcoming snacks and drinks, and invited several of her new friends to join us. It was a lovely evening, and I came away with at least one new, very simple hors d’oeuvres (and a few new friends). At first glance, I thought the tidbit was a kind of sausage ball — about that size, but a different color. What it WAS was a lowly potato. But what a potato!

Bacon Wrapped Potato
Buy approximately 1 pound of new potatoes — if available, get the variety pack in many colors
Potatoes should be 1 to2 inches round. Wash and dry.
Wrap each potato in one half slice of uncooked bacon.
Place on baking sheet, with side where bacon comes together facing down.
Bake in a 375-degree F. oven until bacon is done. Drain on paper towels. Easy. Serve.

Knowing the coming weekend will be the annual Super Bowl extravaganza, when folks eat too much of not very healthy foods, I was pleased to get a couple of new recipes from my Silver Sneakers foodie friend, Susan Guynn. She was explaining the relatively new Keto Low-Carb Diet to me, and told me about a couple of recipes that met those qualifications. One is a Keto recipe; the other bears resemblance. Both sound good, and I plan to try at least one of them this weekend. I hope you will, too.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Casserole (Keto, Low-Carb)
1 ½ lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 4) cut into 1-inch chunks
4 strips bacon
12 oz. broccoli florets
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
4 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Ranch Dressing Recipe
4 oz. mayonnaise (1/2 cup)
4 oz. sour cream (1/2 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 tablespoon white vinegar
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch casserole baking dish. In a mixing bowl, combine all ranch dressing ingredients and stir until smooth. Set aside. In a wide pan over medium heat, cook bacon slices for 5 to 10 minutes until crispy, turning them occasionally. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, reserving bacon grease in the pan. When cool, crumble into small pieces. Add chopped chicken to the pan with bacon grease. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes over medium to medium-high heat until cooked through, flipping and stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and set aside. While waiting for the bacon and chicken to cook, microwave the broccoli for 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Place directly into the baking dish the chicken, broccoli, ranch dressing, about 2/3 of each cheese, and about 2/3 of the bacon. Stir everything until well-mixed. Top with remaining cheese and bacon. Bake at 375 degrees F. until heated through and bubbling, about 25 minutes.

Low Carb Spicy Dry Rub Chicken Wings — Oven Baked
2 pounds chicken wings-about 20 wingettes and drumettes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon sweet smoked paprika
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (more for hotter wings)
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
Dry wing pieces with paper towel to remove excess liquid. Place wings in a large bowl and rub olive oil evenly into each piece. Combine all seasonings in a bowl. Sprinkle half the seasoning mix onto the chicken wings and rub in. Flip wings and sprinkle remaining half onto wings and rub in. Place rack over shallow baking pan with sides (line pan with foil for easy clean-up). Place seasoned wings on rack. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes; flip each wing, then bake an additional 10 minutes. Turn oven broiler on low and broil for 10 minutes. Remove from oven; serve with celery and blue cheese dressing if desired. (Note: for crispier wings, the wings can be steamed for about 30 minutes, then cooled and dried in the fridge before using. Steaming renders off some of the fat, resulting in crispier wings.

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at indigojoni@windstream.net