I was so busy to notice the recent season changers of school starting and summer easing into fall that I forgot another major sign of it being a new season: football has started!

Some years I commit to watching every Ravens game. Others, I tend to just hear my neighbors shouting from inside their homes and I remember, “Oh yeah, the Ravens game is on.” This year is one of the latter, although because of some early season joyous shouting, I have made the effort to listen to the end of the games on the radio and thus take part in Ravens fans’ collective celebrating (and free coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts the next morning).

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I haven’t been invited to a football party yet, but I’m sure it will happen when the Ravens play the Steelers next weekend. I hope it’s a good game and that the Ravens do us proud. But if they don’t, I hope I get to eat some really indulgent football party food.

Why do we eat such heavy food while watching football? Is it that watching all that activity gives us sympathy hunger? Or is it just we know that winter’s coming and our bodies are telling us to save up fat stores for the long, cold nights ahead of us? Or is football just a convenient excuse for social gathering and pigging out and if it wasn’t football, it would just be something else?

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I don’t have a football party every week, but the times I do partake, I never regret it. So this week I chose three recipes that I thought I would like to see at a football party.

First up, buffalo chicken dip. You might already have a recipe you use for buffalo chicken dip, but does it use canned chicken? Once I learned that that was the standard for most buffalo chicken dips, I stopped eating it. I know, how different is it than canned tuna, which is generally widely accepted. I just can’t do it. This recipe uses a store-bought rotisserie chicken instead, which you can pull off the carcass in about five minutes, and it tastes delicious.

Next, I liked these potato skin bites because they’re a little more presentable and neater than potato skins. Here you slice raw russet potatoes into half-inch slices, bake them in the oven (which will go much faster than baking them whole) and then top them with the pre-cooked bacon, cheese, sour cream and green onions. These should be sturdy enough to be finger food, but make sure your guests have little plates or napkins available to catch them if they crumble.

And finally, bacon and queso “frachos,” which is French fries being used as nachos. I love the idea of using French fries — and seasoned curly fries at that! — as a base for queso. This author also crunched jalapeno-flavored kettle-cooked potato chips on top, which is brilliant. I want to go to HIS football party! I would love to see what he might do with deviled eggs. He also puts on bacon and sliced jalapenos on his fries, though I think I would use the jarred jalapenos because they have a little less bite and that pickley flavor might be nice.

I hope you have a good football party in your near future, and go Ravens!

Buffalo chicken dip

1 rotisserie chicken, bones/skin removed, shredded

1 rib celery, finely diced

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon salt

8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature

½ cup mayonnaise

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1/3 cup hot wing sauce such as Frank’s

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and gently combine to coat the chicken in the seasonings.

Taste, and add more hot sauce or salt to your preference. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Serve with veggies, crackers, or with bread for sandwiches.

Potato skin bites

3 large russet potatoes

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt

⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 slices bacon

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

4 green onions, sliced

½ cup sour cream

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse, scrub, and dry potatoes. Slice into coins, about 1/2-inch thick. Don't make them too thin or they will crisp too much while baking.

Add potato coins to a large bowl. Add olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne. Toss together until potato coins are coated evenly.

Place potato coins on one or two baking sheets in one even layer. Coins can touch but should not overlap one another. Bake in preheated oven for 35 minutes, flipping halfway through.

While the potatoes are baking, prepare the bacon. Dice the bacon and add to a large skillet over medium heat. Cook until crispy. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Once the potatoes are done, remove from the oven and top each coin with about a teaspoon of cheese. Then, top each coin with three or four pieces of bacon. Place back into oven to melt the cheese, about 2 minutes.

Remove potatoes from oven and transfer to a serving platter. Top each with ½ teaspoon of sour cream. Sprinkle with sliced green onions. Serve immediately.

Crunchy bacon and queso “frachos”

2 cups of curly fries, store-bought or homemade

2 ounces Kettle Brand Jalapeno Chips, roughly crushed

2 cups queso

8 strips cooked bacon, crumbled

⅓ cup sliced jalapeños

⅓ cup ranch dressing

Bake curly fries according to instructions on bag.

Evenly divide fries by four and layer each a quarter of the queso, crushed chips, bacon, jalapeños and drizzle with ranch dressing. Serve immediately.

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