Don’t talk to me. It’s OK to read me, but don’t talk to me just yet. I’m grouchy because even though I always have a 50/50 chance of picking a winner in any sporting event, I have a losing record of about 99 out of 100. I was hoping the Jaguars would go to Super Bowl just because I don’t like Tom Brady. I cheered for Minnesota because, even though I am a Packers fan, I thought it would be neat for them to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium. And let’s face it, it would have been amazing to see them accomplish another first by winning their first Super Bowl. Ever.

Next week is one of the craziest of the year, at least in the city hosting Super Bowl, which this year is in U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I miss the days when stadium names were fun and had character, and were not just another advertising medium for large corporations.

In addition to January being national oatmeal, soup and crock pot cooking month, individual days celebrate things as well. In case you are interested, Jan. 12 was National Doughnut Day. And while I respect everyone’s resolve to eat healthy these days, I found a couple of really simple recipes that I decided to share with you. Don’t worry. You can work off the calories skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, sledding (walking up the hill, not riding down), and of course, shoveling the driveway and sidewalk, or guiding the snow blower back and forth.

Incidentally, it is estimated that more than 192 million Americans (statista.com) consume about 10 billion doughnuts annually (answers.com).

Not to be outdone by doughnuts, Jan. 19 was popcorn day. I found a recipe for rocky road popcorn balls that are quick and easy, and who doesn’t love popcorn? Not many, considering Americans consume about 16 billion quarts annually.

Back to Super Bowl, I suspect there still will be plenty of partying going on, albeit a bit more subdued than if the Packers or Vikings were there. You can’t go wrong with a big batch of crock pot chili with a Cheddar cheese surprise in the bottom of the bowl, accompanied by lots of crackers. If you are interested in trying something new, check out the following antipasto squares recipe. Those popcorn balls would also make a nice game time treat.

Right on the heels of Super Bowl is Mardi Gras 2018, culminating on Tuesday, Feb. 13, but festivities begin long before that date. Parades begin in January. I’ll try to find a recipe or two to celebrate that big occasion, too.

Once we get past Super Bowl and Mardi Gras, it will be time to start searching in earnest for recipes in response to our current requests.

Remember, the Exchange is running twice a month now, on the second and fourth Sundays each month. Please keep sharing your favorite recipes any time, with or without a request. GO EAGLES, I guess!

Polish Paczkis

1¾ cups flour

¼ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons yeast

⅔ cup warmed milk (100 to 110 degrees)

3 tablespoons canola oil

2 egg yolks

½ teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon melted butter

⅓ cup confectioners’ sugar

1 cup jam or custard, optional

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place 1½ cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a bowl; stir in milk, canola oil, egg yolks, one at a time, and vanilla. Beat 2 minutes with an electric mixer on high speed; add more flour if needed. On a floured surface, knead dough for 50 turns. Cover with plastic wrap; allow to rest 10 minutes. Roll dough out ½-inch thick; cut 2½-inch circles. Place mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover with a towel and let rise 1 hour. Bake paczki 10 minutes. Remove from oven; brush with melted butter and coat in confectioners’ sugar while warm. Use a pastry bag to fill with jam or custard if desired. (nicolecarullo; betterrecipes.com)

Devil’s Food Cake Doughnuts

2¾ cups devil’s food cake mix

¾ cup buttermilk

2 eggs

2 tablespoons melted butter

Topping:

1 cup chocolate chips

½ cup heavy cream

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

⅛ teaspoon granulated sugar

½ cup chocolate sprinkles

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 2 doughnut pans with nonstick spray. In a large bowl combine cake mix, buttermilk, eggs, and butter until smooth; pour into doughnut pans. Bake 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool in pan 4 minutes; turn out on wire rack until cool. Melt chocolate; mix in heavy cream, sugar and butter. Dip top of each doughnut in glaze. Let excess drip off. Set doughnuts on a plate, top with sprinkles, and let glaze set. 12 servings (dank26660; betterrecipes.com)

Rocky Road Popcorn Balls

3 cups miniature marshmallows

¼ cup butter

8 cups freshly popped popcorn

½ cup dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

½ cup miniature chocolate chips

Melt marshmallows and butter in large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often. Cook until blended and smooth, about 5 minutes; remove from heat. Stir in popcorn and peanuts; stir gently to thoroughly coat them with marshmallow mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. With greased hands, shape mixture into 3-inch balls; wrap in plastic wrap. (sweeetbasil; allrecipes.com)

Antipasto Squares

2 (8-ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls or sheets

¼ pound thinly sliced deli ham

¼ pound thinly sliced salami

¼ pound thinly sliced pepperoni

¼ pound provolone slices

¼ pound Cheddar or Swiss cheese slices

1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, well-drained and cut into strips

Italian dressing

3 eggs

3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon basil pesto

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9-x13-inch pan with cooking spray. Unroll one package of refrigerated crescent roll and press into bottom of pan. Layer ham, swiss cheese, salami, provolone cheese, pepperoni, and red peppers, on top of dough. Drizzle lightly with Italian dressing if desired. Unroll remaining rolls; carefully place on top of peppers. Press seams to seal. Whisk together eggs, parmesan cheese and pesto; pour over crescent rolls. Cover with sprayed aluminum foil. Bake 30 minutes; uncover and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until nicely browned and a bit crisp. Cut into squares. (plainchicken.com)

Liven up your Thursday mornings by tuning in to Coulee Region Cooks from 10 to 11 a.m. on WIZM-AM radio, 1410 on the dial. Spend an hour with Mike Hayes and a different guest(s) each week in his studio kitchen, sharing recipes and cooking tips, along with a generous serving of fun.

Send requests, recipes and/or cooking tips and techniques to Alice P. Clark at: Reader Exchange, c/o La Crosse Tribune, 401 N. Third St., La Crosse, Wis. 54601; e-mail: readerexchange@lacrossetribune.com; or send a fax to 608.782.9723, attn: Reader Exchange.

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