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By Katie Workman The Associated Press

Want easy elegance for an Oscars party? Go with crostini

They sound simple. Crostini, that is. Slices of bread that have been brushed with olive oil and toasted, then topped with something that need be no more complex than a sprinkle of salt and a generous rub with a fresh garlic clove. Of course, something more complex is nice, too. I’m talking to you, tomato and Parmesan and anchovy.

Like some heat with your sweet? Try Mexican-spiced brownies

Mexican hot chocolate is a beloved beverage made from chocolate (no surprise there) combined with cinnamon and another spice or two to bring up the heat. The combination of spicy and chocolate just plain works, and I wanted to see how it would translate into another beloved treat, the good old American brownie. Again, it just plain worked.

Slow cooker chili chicken

One of the greatest secret weapon ingredients I know is chipotles in adobo sauce. These are smoked jalapeno peppers that have been stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt and various spices, such as cumin, oregano and paprika. Imagine doing all that yourself! No thanks! Luckily, the whole thing — peppers and sauce — is sold in tiny cans at just about every grocer.

Of chipotles, chicken and slow cookers. Weeknights are easy!

One of the greatest secret weapon ingredients I know is chipotles in adobo sauce. These are smoked jalapeno peppers that have been stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt and various spices, such as cumin, oregano and paprika. Imagine doing all that yourself! No thanks! Luckily, the whole thing — peppers and sauce — is sold in tiny cans at just about every grocer.