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Cooks Exchange: Kick off big game with tempting dishes

Andrea Yeager

The party's on, and it is time for reveling in all things Mardi Gras and watching the biggest game on the biggest football day, the Super Bowl.

The two have much in common: yelling, cheering, partying and, yes, eating. Both Mardi Gras and Super Bowl parties include dips, appetizers, main meat dishes and desserts. It's king cake for the purple, green and gold festivities, and cakes, cookies and bars or easy-eating sweets for the big game.

Crawfish works for either bash, but grilled foods and pots of beans and stews also are good for the entrees.

Folks tailgate at Mardi Gras just like they tailgate at football games. Tents and grills can be found along the parade route, the same at homes for the Super Bowl.

The Super Bowl is Feb. 7 and three parades roll that Sunday on the Coast: the 86th annual Pass Christian Parade, 8th annual Krewe of Little Rascals Children's Parade in Pascagoula and the 28th Annual North Bay Area Parade that begins in St. Martin and rolls through D'Iberville.

Whether in the home kitchen or along a parade route, here are some main dish ideas.

Black beans are not typical Mardi Gras food, but they make a nice change from red beans and rice.

I like the firmness of these beans, to which I add spice and chorizo instead of smoked sausage or ham. Cooked in a slow cooker, the beans are served with white rice accompanied by flour tortillas.

BLACK BEANS WITH CHORIZO

1 pound black beans

Water for soaking beans overnight

4 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 can tomatoes and chilies, original recipe

1 onion, chopped fine

3-4 tablespoons cilantro

1 teaspoon cumin

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fajita or taco seasoning

6 ounces beef or pork chorizo, ground and cooked

Salt and pepper (I don't use much salt or pepper since the broth has some salt and the tomatoes have spice)

Soak beans in water overnight. Pick through beans for any pebbles or bad beans. Place in slow cooker. Add broth, tomatoes and chilies, cooked chorizo, onion, cilantro, cumin, garlic, seasoning and salt and pepper. Cook on high for 6 hours and on low for 8-10 hours.

Note: I serve over rice with a dollop of low-fat sour cream in center topped with avocado slices and grated cheese. Flour tortillas or Mexican cornbread are tasty accompaniments.

Mary Foreman's No Bean Beef Chili would be perfect for Denver Broncos fans.

NO BEAN BEEF CHILI

Dry seasonings:

1 tablespoon each: ground cumin, dried oregano and chili powder

1/2 teaspoon each: ground cinnamon and Cajun seasoning

1 tablespoon sugar

Wet seasoning:

2 tablespoons each: browning and seasoning sauce and Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste

Chili:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 medium red bell pepper, diced

Up to1/4 cup chopped jalapenos

2 pounds ground chuck

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups beef stock or broth

2 bay leaves

Salt and black pepper to taste

Garnishes: sour cream, grated Cheddar cheese, sliced green onion

Combine dry seasonings; set aside. Combine wet seasonings and set aside.

Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers and jalapenos; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook about 10 minutes or until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Drain off excess fat.

Add dry seasoning mixture to beef and cook 5 minutes longer. Add wet seasoning mixture and cook 4 minutes longer. Add stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour. Seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish as desired.

-- From Mary Foreman's "Deep South Dish: Homestyle Southern Recipes"

For a grab-and-go for the parade or game, try pulled pork sandwiches. These take minutes to prep and about 10 hours cooking time in the slow cooker.

SPICY SLOW COOKER BBQ PULLED PORK

1 large Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced

All-Purpose Rub (recipe follows)

1 (6- to 9-pound) pork shoulder

1- 1/2 cups homemade or commercial barbecue sauce

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup yellow mustard

2 teaspoons hot sauce

Couple dashes liquid smoke, optional

Scatter onion in bottom of 6-quart slow cooker. Apply rub to all sides of roast and place on top of onion, fat side up.

In a separate bowl, whisk together barbecue sauce, broth, mustard, hot sauce and liquid smoke; pour over and around pork. Cover, and cook on low 10 hours, or until pork is cooked through, 160-170 degrees on instant read thermometer.

Transfer pork to a platter and let rest 5-10 minutes.

Carefully pour sauce from slow cooker into a saucepan; spoon off as much fat as possible. Boil until reduced by half and thickened, stirring regularly.

Shred or chop pork, and toss with some sauce; serve remaining sauce on the side. Serve on warmed buns and with coleslaw, if desired.

-- From Mary Foreman's "Deep South Dish: Homestyle Southern Recipes"

ALL-PURPOSE RUB

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

Mix all rub ingredients with a fork until well combined.

-- From Mary Foreman's "Deep South Dish: Homestyle Southern Recipes"

Apple bread found

Betty Bailey of Bradenton, Fla., found an apple bread recipe that was requested about a month or so ago.

"I hope the reader likes it," she said.

APPLE BREAD

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

4- 1/2 teaspoons evaporated milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil (Bailey uses canola oil)

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped, unpeeled apples

2 teaspoons sugar and cinnamon, mixed

Grease and flour 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Combine sugar, eggs, milk and oil. Beat until combined. Add flour, soda and salt. Mix well. Stir in chopped apple and pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle cinnamon-sugar mix on top. Bake 1 hour.

-- Submitted by Betty Bailey

Cabbage rolls with meat

"Could you please find me a recipe for cabbage rolls that have meat in them?" Lynette Faul asked. "The only one I have calls for only vegetables. I had a great one, but somehow it went missing."

Readers, please send me your cabbage roll recipes. I know there are some good ones in your recipe files.

Sausage recipe search

Norma Shiero of Parrish, Fla., needs a recipe for breakfast sausage that uses poultry seasoning. She wants to make her own like she used to make in the school cafeteria for students.

Readers, if you have a recipe, please send it to me.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and at Cook's Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567

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