I was feeling a bit sour about football after the Ravens didn't make it to the playoffs this year and was going to skip the Super Bowl, but then I thought about all the great food at Super Bowl parties and changed my mind.

Before my husband and I started following the Ravens, we used to go to "Un-Super Bowl" parties where you play board games and hang out with other non-football fans so you didn't feel pressured into watching the game or left out by staying at home and doing nothing.

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But I've got to tell you, even though there was some good food at those parties, the overall spread wasn't nearly as good as the food at a Super Bowl party. Too much healthy stuff and nothing that said, "It's time to pig out while watching some pigskin."

The Super Bowl used to be about the game and the commercials. I think the dot-com revolution killed commercials, because they aren't nearly as inventive or entertaining as they were two decades ago.

But food has taken over as the new non-game centerpiece of the Super Bowl. The first Sunday in February has become almost as much of a foodie holiday as the fourth Thursday in November. And it may be even more precious because it's the reward that comes after a month of dieting to lose the weight you put on during the holidays. I've been good for four weeks - it's time to celebrate!

And so, I will not be skipping the Super Bowl this year. I'll be getting together with friends where we have a potluck approach, everyone bringing an appetizer or dessert to share. Last year I made mini corn dogs that were amazing, but were kind of overshadowed by some great pulled pork and Buffalo chicken dip. However, that meant that I and the other corn dog lovers got to make the corn dogs the main protein of our plates without the guilt of not leaving any for others.

Since this is kind of the last minute, I've pulled together three easy appetizers that you can put together in less than an hour in case this column has changed your mind and you've decided to attend a Super Bowl party after all.

The first is for cilantro lime shrimp. Shrimp cook really fast, and if you serve them pre-peeled, they are easy to eat and not so messy. The cilantro and lime juice used here will give them a refreshing taste, making them a palate cleanser between the heavier foods you may get to sample.

The second recipe is for a rice and bean dip with a Mexican flair, but not the usual Mexican seven-layer dip that someone else may already be making. And all of these ingredients may be in your fridge or pantry if you keep them well-stocked.

The third recipe is for loaded potato pinwheels, which won a $1 million bake-off for Pillsbury in November. The winner was Glori Spriggs from Henderson, Nev., and her recipe made my mouth water just reading it. I'm a sucker for carbs in the winter, so the idea of making a baked potato crescent roll sounds dreamy.

I don't care about either team in the game today, but that's not going to keep me from enjoying this American holiday. Enjoy!

Cilantro lime shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 clove)

1 pound medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 lime, juice only, 2 tablespoons or more to taste

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped, or more to taste

¼ teaspoon salt

à teaspoon black pepper

In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil.

Add the garlic and cook it for 30 seconds or so until it is fragrant, then add the shrimp and cook it, turning once, until the shrimp are pink and cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the shrimp to a bowl, and combine it with the lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper.

Serve it immediately or refrigerate it for up to 2 days and serve it cold.

Source: http://www.pbs.org/food

Cheesy baked rice 'n' beans dip

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can navy beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups cooked rice (yellow, white or brown)

2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup pickled jalapeno slices, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 cup of salsa, for topping

1 scoop of sour cream, for topping

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the salsa and sour cream, reserving about ¼ cup of each type of shredded cheese for later.

Spray a large baking dish with nonstick spray and pour or scoop the mixture into the dish. Cover the top with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, carefully remove the dish from the oven, discard the aluminum foil and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Place the dish back into the oven and bake 3 to 5 more minutes, or until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven and top with salsa and sour cream. Serve immediately with corn tortilla chips.

Source: http://blog.hostthetoast.com

Loaded potato pinwheels

1 bag (11.8 ounces) Green Giant Steamers frozen backyard grilled potatoes

1¼ cups finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese (5 ounces)

½ cup cooked real bacon bits (from a jar or package)

3 tablespoons milk

1 can Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet

Ï cup sour cream

2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion tops (3 medium)

Heat oven 350 degrees. Spray large cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

Microwave frozen potatoes 3 to 4 minutes to thaw. In medium bowl, with fork, mash potatoes, leaving some small pieces. Stir in cheese, Ï cup of the bacon bits and the milk until well blended.

Unroll dough on cutting board; press into 14-by-8-inch rectangle. Cut into 2 rectangles, 14 by 4 inches each. Spread half of the potato mixture on one rectangle to within ¼ inch of long edges. Starting at one long side, tightly roll up dough; pinch seams to seal.

Using serrated knife, cut roll into 14 slices. Place slices, cut side up, on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bake 17 to 21 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheets to serving plate. Top each pinwheel with sour cream, remaining bacon bits and the green onions. Serve warm.

Makes 28 pieces.

Source: http://www.parade.com

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