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Family approved and improved Super Bowl snacks

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Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us and it’s always fun to add new appetizers to our menu and to spark up some family favorites.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade is a recipe that’s so good, you can use it by itself or in many different ways. Serve it on crispy crackers or fold it into goat cheese for an upscale dip that everyone will enjoy. OR put a dab on top of each serving of frittata or toss it with some hot pasta and olive oil. A smear inside a grilled cheese would be a really tasty addition too.

Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade (makes about ¾ cup)

a big handful of parsley
9 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
18 pitted Kalamata olives
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsps. tomato paste
a pinch of dried thyme or the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme
1 garlic clove, peeled with center stalk removed put through a garlic press

Place parsley in bowl of food processor with metal blade. Process until finely chopped. Remove a tablespoon or so of the parsley for garnish and set aside. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Pulse on and off until they're roughly chopped. Add remaining ingredients and pulse until chopped finely. Turn on for one good spin of 5 seconds. Transfer to small bowl and garnish with reserved chopped parsley.

To make a Sun-Dried Tomato and Goat Cheese Spread, simply stir half the recipe of tapenade into a 5 ounce container of room temperature goat cheese. To make a less tangy version, add the entire recipe to an 8 ounce package of room temperature cream cheese AND 5 ounces of goat cheese. Garnish either with the chopped parsley.

An Amazing Trick Improve Your Guacamole

However you make your guacamole, it's bound to have onions (I use red) and lime juice. Here’s an amazing way to get the best out of both.

While you’re prepping your ingredients, chop the onions and squeeze the lime juice first. Mix them together and let them sit for 5 to 10 minutes before you add anything else. It gives the onions a slightly “pickled” quality, which enhances the overall flavor of the guac. See note below for “pickling” shallots.

Try this never-fail recipe. And, ps, I never put garlic in my guacamole, but add some if you wish.

My Guacamole

½ red onion, chopped finely
fresh lime juice, from 1 lime or more, if desired
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
a big handful of chopped cilantro or parsley, if you can’t stand cilantro
2 plum tomatoes, finely chopped
3 ripe avocadoes

Mix together onion, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl. Let sit for 5, or even better, 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro and chopped tomatoes.

Split the avocados in half. Remove the pits. Using a paring knife, cut through the flesh, still in the skin, in parallel lines. Cut through in the other direction. (If you do it at an angle, you’ll be left with diamonds of avocado. It’s pretty to look at, even if it’s going to get mashed anyway.) Using a large soup spoon, scoop out the avocado and add it to the bowl.

Depending on how chunky you like it, you can mash it and mix it with two forks, mash it with a potato masher, stir it with a big spoon or quickly process it in the food processor. Taste for salt and also add more lime juice if you like it really tangy.

Serve with toasted pita bread wedges.

Note: Adding vinegar to shallots is a great trick when you’re using them as a garnish for soups or salads. Slice them thinly and let them sit in a pool of white wine vinegar for at least 5 minutes. They’re still crunchy but they add a wild zing to whatever you’re cooking. Tomato soup with pickled shallots is a winning combination.

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