All hosts know that a Super Bowl party isn't just about the game — it's about the food.

While many football fans might be perfectly content with run-of-the-mill fare, consider this a cook's time to shine, too, and elevate your game-day offerings with these three recipes.

Cauliflower "wings" are lighter but just as addictive as their meaty counterpart, jalapeño poppers get an added kick from cranberries, and sheet-pan nachos that have a bacon-fueled meaty mixture will make you the night's MVP.

Cauliflower Buffalo Wings

Serves 4 to 6.

Buffalo wings are a Super Bowl classic, but this vegetarian spin will please everyone, not just those who don't eat meat.

• 1/2 c. hot sauce, such as Frank's Red Hot

• 1/4 c. butter

• 1 tbsp. white vinegar

• Salt, to taste

• Vegetable oil

• 1/2 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets

• 1/4 c. flour

• 1/4 tsp. garlic powder

• 3 tbsp. milk

• 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs, finely crushed

• Dressings, such as ranch and blue cheese, for serving

• Carrots and celery sticks, for serving


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place oven rack in center position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small pan over medium-low heat, combine the hot sauce, butter and vinegar. Whisk until sauce comes to a simmer and butter is completely melted. Salt to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, toss cauliflower florets with a little vegetable oil. Set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the flour and garlic powder. Add milk and breadcrumbs, stirring until combined.

Add the batter to the cauliflower and mix well. Place cauliflower pieces on the prepared baking sheet and cook for about 20 minutes, until starting to crisp. Remove from oven and transfer cauliflower to a clean large bowl; add hot sauce and gently stir until combined. Return to baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes.

Serve with a ranch or blue cheese dressing, carrots and celery sticks.

Kickin' Cranberry Jalapeño Poppers

Makes about 30 poppers.

Note: Cranberries offer a new twist on this popular recipe. Cooking the poppers on a grill (but still on a baking sheet) will add a welcome smoky flavor. Use crackers such as Ritz or Club for the coating. Recipe from Ocean Spray.

• Olive oil

• 1 lb. fresh jalapeño peppers, sliced lengthwise and seeded

• 12 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

• 1 (10-oz.) pkg. dried cranberries

• 1 c. whole-berry cranberry sauce

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 1 tsp. salt

• 8 to 10 buttery crackers, crushed (see Note)

• 1 (12-oz.) pkg. apple-smoked bacon, slices cut in half


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease baking sheet with sides with olive oil or line with aluminum foil. Place jalapeño halves on baking sheet.

Combine cream cheese, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce, garlic and salt in large bowl; mix well. Spoon filling into jalapeño halves. Coat cream cheese mixture with crushed crackers.

Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each filled jalapeño half. Secure with toothpick, if desired.

Place baking sheet in oven and bake until bacon is done to desired crispiness. For added char on the jalapeños, finish under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes.

Bricklayer-style Nachos

Serves 6 to 8.

Mexican chef Pati Jinich brilliantly builds her nachos in a sheet pan so that each chip ends up evenly smothered with saucy meat, two kinds of cheese (stretchy and melted, crumbled and fresh), creamy avocado and crisp green onions. At the heart of this dish is bricklayer-style beef, or puntas al albañil, a beloved taco filling made with tender beef, salty bacon and sometimes chorizo in a chunky fire-roasted salsa. Once a common snack available near construction sites in central Mexico, it saw its popularity extend beyond those street food stands into homes and restaurants. One taste and you'll understand why. From the New York Times.

• 8 oz. thick-cut bacon, thinly sliced

• 8 oz. fresh Mexican chorizo, casing removed, coarsely chopped

• 1 1/2 lb. beef sirloin, excess fat removed, meat cut into 1/2-in. pieces

• Kosher or sea salt and black pepper

• 1 medium white onion, halved and slivered (about 1 1/2 c.)

• 1 to 2 jalapeños or serrano chiles, halved, deseeded if desired, and sliced

• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

• 2 (15-oz.) cans fire-roasted tomatoes

• 1 to 1 1/2 lb. tortilla chips

• 3 c. shredded Mexican melty cheese, like Oaxaca, quesadilla, or even Monterey Jack

• 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and finely chopped

• 1 c. crumbled queso fresco

• 8 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced


Heat a large (12-inch) skillet over medium-high. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until it browns slightly and renders some of its fat, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the chorizo to the bacon, and cook, breaking the sausage into smaller pieces using a wooden spoon as it begins to brown and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the beef, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring a couple of times, until it begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Incorporate the onion and jalapeño and cook until they begin to wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant but not browned, less than 1 minute.

Stir in the tomatoes with their juices and cook over high, stirring occasionally, until saucy, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

Set the rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400 degrees. Place all the tortilla chips in a half sheet pan or large baking sheet in an even layer. Cover the chips with the bricklayer meat mixture and all of its chunky salsa. Cover with the shredded cheese. Bake until cheese has completely melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

Garnish with the avocado, crumbled queso fresco and green onions, and serve hot.