NORTHWOODS COOKS: Game day snacks for the family

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Homemade Deep Fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds
Whether heading to a high school football game or watching a game on TV, homemade deep-fried Wisconsin cheese curds with dipping sauce and other portable snacks will be a hit.
Adobe Stock
We are part of The Trust Project.

Football season is underway. Whether tailgating or watching at home, here are some snacks from “15 best bite size snacks for your tailgate buffet” to sample during halftime.

Real Wisconsin Cheese Curds

2 quarts corn oil for frying

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup beer


1/4 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp. salt

2 pounds cheese curds, broken apart

Heat corn oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Whisk together flour, beer, milk, eggs, and salt to form a smooth, rather thin batter.

Place cheese curds, about 6 or 8 at a time, into the batter, stir to coat, and remove with a wire strainer. Shake the curds a time or two to remove excess batter.

Deep fry curds in hot oil until golden brown, 1 or 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels; serve hot.


Tater Tot Sliders

32 frozen potato rounds (such as Ore-Ida® Crispy Crowns®)

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

8 oz. ground beef (85% lean)

1/4 pinch kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 slices American cheese

1 Tbsp. ketchup, or to taste


1 Tbsp. mustard, or to taste

16 pickled gherkins, drained

16 toothpicks

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss tots with oil on a 10-by-15-inch baking pan, then spread into a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven, turning once halfway through, until browned and crisp, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, put ground beef on a sheet of waxed paper. Top with another sheet and press beef into a 4-by-6-inch rectangle. Remove the top sheet. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper, then cut into sixteen 1-by-1.5-inch rectangles.

Break each cheese slice into quarters; fold quarters over to make 16 pieces of double-layered cheese.

Cook beef in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn burgers over, top with cheese; cook, covered, until beef is no longer pink in centers and cheese has melted, about 3 minutes.

Top each tater tot with a cheeseburger, ketchup, mustard, pickle, and another tot; spear stack with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Slow Cooker Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken 

3 pounds chicken breast

12-oz. bottle hot pepper sauce

1-oz. package dry ranch dressing mix (such as Hidden Valley Ranch®)

2 (4 roll) packages Hawaiian buns, or as needed

Combine chicken, hot sauce, and ranch dressing mix together in a slow cooker. Cook on Medium for 6 hours. Shred chicken and serve on buns.

Mini Southwestern Fiesta Corn Pup Muffins

With Fiesta Dipping Sauce

 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup white sugar

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. chili powder

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 cup milk

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp. canola oil

1/3 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese

4 hot dogs, cut into 1 inch pieces

Fiesta Dipping Sauce:

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 1/2 Tbsp. dry taco seasoning mix

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat two 12-cup muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

In a large bowl, stir together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg and oil. Stir until well blended, then gently stir in the cheese. Drop a small spoonful of the batter into the bottom of each muffin cup. Place a piece of hot dog on top of this batter. Fill cups with enough additional batter to cover the hot dog pieces.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until muffins are lightly browned and spring back when lightly pressed. Cool slightly before removing from the muffin pans. Serve warm with the Fiesta Dipping Sauce.

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Readers are invited to submit their favorite recipes to enjoy, along with a note about what makes them special. Send recipes to

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
What to read next
The Tom and Jerry was invented in London, but 200 years later, it's Wisconsin and Minnesota that carry the torch for this sweet and rich drink. The hot-batter cocktail remains a regional obsession.
Faith briefs from area churches.
Columnist Sarah Nasello shares recipes for Horseradish-encrusted roasted beef tenderloin, Christmas brunch strata and Pookie’s Christmas ice cream cake.
Ann Bailey explains why she's thankful for agriculture in professional and personal life.