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This Sunday, try super bowls

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By Julianne Munn

A battle is brewing for football fans, with the San Francisco 49ers vying for the Lombardi Trophy with the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans — a contest that demands a super lunch or supper.

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What could be better than hunkering down with your favorite beverages and snacks and the anticipation of an easy dinner in a bread bowl to complement the biggest game of the year?

Super soups and snacks should keep football fans fueled throughout the big game at the Super Dome at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3.

Serving game-day meals in bowls is a natural, and you can be very inventive with the type of filling you use, from spicy chili to seafood gumbo and chowder.

Shoppers can find bread bowls ready-made or ready for baking at supermarkets, but if you want to make your own, it’s not difficult with the following recipe courtesy of Fleischmann’s Yeast:

BOWL-GAME BREAD BOWLS
(Makes 4 bread bowls to fill with your favorite soup or chili)
* 5 1/2 to 6 cups all-purpose flour
* 2 tablespoon sugar
* 2 envelopes Fleischmann’s RapidRise Yeast
* 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
* 1 cup water
* 1 cup milk
* 2 tablespoons butter or margarine

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, undissolved yeast and salt. Heat water, milk and butter until very warm (120 to 130 degrees). Gradually add to flour mixture. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Cover; let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into four equal portions; shape each into a ball. Place on greased baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

With a sharp knife, make four 1/4-inch deep slashes in a crisscross fashion on top of loaves.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 25 minutes or until done. Remove from baking sheets; cool on wire rack. Cut off one-third of loaf; hollow out loaf to form 1/4-inch thick bowl. Fill with soup.

NOTE: Alternatively, use your bread machine on the dough setting to eliminate much of the kneading work and then follow the remaining recipe instructions.

Do take advantage of Florida’s excellent seafood to fill your bowls with chowders and bisques, such as this delicious gumbo courtesy of the State of Florida Department of cuisine and most appropriate for watching the game in New Orleans:

FANCY FLORIDA SEAFOOD GUMBO
* 12 ounces oysters, drained
* 8 ounces blue crab claw meat
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1 teaspoon anise seeds
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* 1 teaspoon crushed red peppers
* 1 10-ounce package frozen okra
* 2 20-ounce cans diced tomatoes

Remove remaining shell or cartilage from oysters and crab and set aside. Cook onion, celery and garlic in butter until tender. Add anise, salt, sugar, peppers, okra and tomatoes. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add oysters and simmer an additional 15 minutes. Add crab and heat thoroughly. Serve over rice in crusty bread bowls. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

More in the mood for finger food? Try these crostini.

PROSCIUTTO AND AVOCADO CROSTINI
* 4 ounces prosciutto, torn into 3-inch pieces
* 1 medium baguette, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds
* Extra virgin olive oil for brushing
* 2 cloves garlic
* 2 avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
* Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange prosciutto in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp; let cool. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake until light golden brown around edges. Rub bread with garlic cloves. Mash avocados with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Spread avocado on baguette slices. Top each with a piece of prosciutto and serve. Makes 24 servings.

If you are like many cooks, you probably have a good amount of roast turkey left over from holiday dinners. Put it to good use with this recipe for chili:

SPICY TURKEY CHILI
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
* 2 cloves garlic, minced
* 1 pound turkey, chopped
* 2 tablespoons chili powder (or Mexican or Chipotle chili powder)
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 3 tablespoons tomato paste
* 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
* 1 16-ounce can chili beans (Bush brand recommended)
* 2 cups chicken broth (or equivalent chicken granules)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon pepper
* 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

In a large pot, saute the onion in hot oil until tender. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add turkey, chili powder, and cumin, and cook, stirring often until hot. Stir in tomato paste, diced tomatoes, chili beans, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and cook 2 minutes. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If desired, stir in cilantro prior to serving or use cilantro as a garnish with sour cream, cheese, or fresh chopped chives. Makes 8 servings. Serve in bread bowls.

Hot French onion soup with a floating slice of French bread topped with melting Gruyere cheese is a natural for bread bowls:

CROCKPOT FRENCH ONION SOUP WITH GRUYERE
* 1/4 cup butter, cubed
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
* 6 large sweet onions, thinly sliced (about 12 cups)
* 6 cups beef broth
* 1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
* 1 bay leaf
* Pepper to taste
* 9 slices French bread (1 inch thick)
* 8 ounces Gruyere cheese (or other soft cheese of choice, such as brie)
* 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

In Dutch oven over medium heat, melt butter with 1/4 cup oil; add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Cook 45 minutes longer or until onions are golden and well caramelized, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the broth, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes.

Place bread slices on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Top each slice with Gruyere cheese.

Discard bay leaf from soup; ladle 1 cup each into nine ovenproof bowls. Top with one slice of toast; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place bowls on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Makes 9 servings. Serve in crusty French bread bowls.