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With the New Year's celebrations over we can now get to the task of planning our Superbowl parties. People love a good Superbowl party, men can grunt while they watch the game and women can chat it up while their mates and friends are well occupi

More often than not, the real fans are in the den or great room watching the action, and everyone else is in the kitchen either drinking or eating. To put your guests in the party mood, start by dressing for the color of the team that most of your guests will be rooting for. Then, fill the room with Mylar balloons from both teams--readily available, I am sure, from your local party store or balloon company. Have the beer iced and ready. Don't forget to provide plenty of non-alcoholic beverages, too. Be a conscious host and don't let your guests drink and drive. Always have designated drivers.

The keys to good party food are ease of preparation, presentation and of course taste. The less time you have to spend in the kitchen the better. You want the food to look festive and inviting and lastly, you want people to rave about how good the food was at your party.

So let's get down to the business of what to serve. In two words..finger foods. No utensils needed and less clean up after the party. Dips are always a hit and of course something sweet to top it all off.

So here are three recipes to get you started.

Creamy Taco Dip
1 lb. ground meat
2 lbs. Velvetta cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes (or sub. salsa)
1 can mushroom soup
1 can evaporated milk
1 small can of green chilies
1 can ranch style beans
1 lb. can tomatoes

Cook and season meat. In a very large pot heat all of the ingredients together. Transfer to a crockpot set on low. Serve with tortilla chips.This makes a very large quantity of cheese dip. Very tasty stuff, and perfect for a large party.

Appetizer Chicken Chunks

6 chicken breasts
1 c. cracker crumbs
1/2 c. freshly grated parmesan
1/3 c. finely chopped walnuts
1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried tarragon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic -- minced
1/2 c. butter melted

Cut chicken into 1 in. cubes. In a small bowl, combine rest of the ingredients except butter. Dip cubes into melted butter, then into crumb mixture. On foil-lined baking sheet arrange pieces 1/2 inch apart. Cover and refrigerate (or freeze in single layer, then package in airtight containers. No need to thaw before baking) Bake uncovered 400 for 15 - 20 min. until golden brown and cooked through. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauce.  Makes 72

Cherry Ripple Cake
1 can cherry pie filling
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk

For Icing:
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Pre-heat oven to 350. Combine filling, almonds and almond extract
and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter or margarine and granulated sugar.
Add eggs one at a time beating thoroughly after each addition.
Add baking powder, salt and 1/2 cup of flour to egg mixture, combining well.
Next add some of the milk, alternating with flour, and finally
ending with flour, mixing well.

Spoon 1/2 batter into a greased and floured 15 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 2 inch jelly roll pan.
Spread cherry mixture over batter, then spoon remaining batter over cherries.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until light brown. Cool completely, then frost, or serve with whipped cream.

To Make Icing: Blend softened butter or margarine, powdered
sugar, and almond extract with enough milk for drizzling consistency
and drizzle over cake.