Tailgating in the South is an event and a work of art. It has become a thriving niche industry, and I would guess that it employs hundreds of people each football weekend in very every college town in America hosting games at the local stadium. Tailgating is BIG business, but it is also BIG fun. I love football but would be more than happy to skip the game and stay with the food and the tent at the tailgate party.
Whatever your school or sport, food is always a big part of the day. Whether its tailgating in the morning, the afternoon, or the evening, people like to put out a spread and celebrate the day.
These are some recipe ideas to add to your tailgate party. We all want food that will hold up through a day of travel and be easy to serve. I have tried to think of some sturdy recipes that do not require a lot of prep on gameday.
For the early games, tailgating might be more of a breakfast event. I know it might sound silly but sausage balls are a simple but favorite tailgate treat. Do not overlook the obvious choices trying to find a new and different thing. Sometimes simple is the best. Truthfully, I have never brought home a single sausage ball from any event. Add a little OJ and Bloody Mary’s and you have a championship breakfast.
1 lb. mild or hot sausage
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 cups baking mix, such a Bisquick
Combine all ingredients and scoop out by tablespoons. Shape into balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 375 for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely and store in refrigerator until ready to eat. These can be reheated or served at room temperature.
I have also had good luck freezing them and warming when needed.
Mini Sausage Quiches
These can be made the day before and served at room temperature.
1 roll of regular or spicy pork sausage
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup sliced green onions
Cook sausage, mushrooms and bell pepper in a large skillet over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes or until sausage is thoroughly cooked. Drain.
Mix eggs, milk and seasonings in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Stir in sausage mixture, cheese and green onions. Line cupcake pans with baking liners and spoon mixture into each cup.
Bake in a 350° oven for about 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If using mini muffin tins, reduce the time to about 12 minutes.
Allow to cool for about five minutes before removing from pans. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Banana and Coconut Muffins
Several years ago, I was delivering dinner to a good friend, Sally Williams, who had a newborn. When I arrived, she had just made a batch of these muffins and the house smelled divine. That day, I think I left with more food than I brought her. I felt terrible taking her family’s food, but these muffins are truly delicious. They are easy to make and serve.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 stick butter, melted
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 375°. Line muffin cups with liners.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together bananas, butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and 1/2 cup of coconut, until well combined.
Fold flour mixture into wet mixture until flour is just moistened. Divide batter among lined muffin cups and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup coconut.
Bake until muffins are puffed and golden, about 25 minutes for regular sized muffins and about 12 to 15 for mini muffins. Transfer to a wire rack and cool slightly.
Pumpkin Butterscotch Mini Muffins
I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of pumpkin bread, but Tanya Robinson brought these muffins to a teacher breakfast years ago, and it has remained one of my favorite fall recipes. They are like a dessert muffin.
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix these dry ingredients together in a bowl.
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup melted butter
1 cup butter butterscotch morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl and then fold into dry ingredients. Do not overmix but combine until just moist. Line mini muffin tins with liners. Fill 2/3 full with batter. Bake in a 350° oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
I went through a phase several years ago, when I made these about once a week. They are delicious can be made with a savory topping or sweet. Consider making both.
1 package Club buttery crackers
1 pound thinly sliced bacon, (more or less depending on the number of crackers)
3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil (This will make cleanup much easier) and insert a cooling rack on the tray.
Cut each slice of bacon in half and carefully wrap each cracker with bacon, completely covering cracker. Place on rack about ½ inch apart. Repeat with remaining crackers and bacon until you have made as many as you would like.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of half, and sprinkle a good amount of brown sugar on the other half. (You can also add a few dashes of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to the brown sugar if you want a sweet and spicy flavor.)
Bake in a 250° oven for about two hours. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.
For afternoon games, consider the lunch theme and go with an afternoon picnic.
Caprese Salad Kebabs
These are so simple and delicious and most of the ingredients can be found at any grocery store. Consider drizzling with balsamic syrup and olive oil immediately before serving.
Bamboo skewers trimmed to about 6 inches in length
About 2 cups grape tomatoes or about 30
8 ounces of fresh mozzarella pearls or about 30 cubes of fresh mozzarella
1 cup fresh basil leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Balsamic Syrup and Olive oil
Thread the skewers with tomato, cheese, and basil, alternating for color.
Once assembled, place all in a plastic container until ready to serve. To serve, drizzle with a little olive oil, balsamic syrup, salt and fresh ground pepper. They are ready to go!
Classic Deviled Eggs
One of the most popular dishes on a tailgate table is always a platter of chicken nuggets or chicken tenders. I think they are perfect to order and pick them up on game day. To go along with the fried chicken, consider serving deviled eggs. Sometimes these can be a pain to transport but they are worth the effort and normally are gobbled up before you have to worry about keeping them cold.
8 eggs, hard cooked, peeled and halved
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons sweet pickle juice (juice from sweet and spicy bread and butter pickles is excellent)
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 to 3 drops of Tabasco
Paprika, fresh parsley, or fresh chives for garnish.
Cook eggs by placing them in a large saucepan and filling the pan with cold water. Cover the pan and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils turn off the heat and let the eggs stand covered for 13 minutes.
Drain the eggs and add very cold water to stop the cooking. Carefully peel eggs and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove yolk and transfer to a mixing bowl. Mash yolks, mayonnaise, sugar, pickle juice, mustard, vinegar, and dry mustard with fork until smooth. Add a little more mayonnaise if mixture is too thick. Season with salt and pepper and a dash of Tabasco.
Spoon or pipe egg mixture into the halves and garnish with paprika, parsley, or chives. Store in the refrigerator overnight and in a cooler until ready to serve.
Classic Corn Dip
2 cans Mexican corn, drained
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise, less if you prefer
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
4 ounces of pickled jalapeño peppers, chopped
2 Tablespoons of the jalapeño juice, more or less depending on your taste
2 Tablespoons vinegar
Juice from 1/2 half of a lemon
4 cups mild or sharp shredded cheddar cheese
Mix all ingredients together and store in the refrigerator. Serve with Frito Scoops.
This makes a large amount. Perfect for a large tailgate party.
Mini Muffulettas with Homemade Olive Salad
A muffuletta is the perfect sandwich to take to a tailgate. It does not need to be refrigerated and gets better if it sits a while. You can use whatever type of small dinner roll you would prefer, but be sure it is pretty dense so it will hold up to the olive salad.
Split rolls and a half and top each with one piece of deli ham, one piece of salami, one slice of provolone cheese and about a tablespoon of olive salad.
Wrap all the sandwiches in a large foil pack until ready to serve.
Homemade Olive Salad
1 large head of cauliflower, cleaned and coarsely chopped
1 - 8-ounce jar of capers
1 - 14 ounce can of black olives, sliced
1 - 12-ounce jar green olives with pimento, drained
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1 -16-ounce jar of sliced Greek pepperoncini peppers, drained
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped or 2 Teaspoons dried
Chop everything, except capers, relatively fine (feel free to pulse small amounts in the food processor.) Add capers and the caper juice from the jar. Mix well, add herbs and seasonings, and put into mason jars. Cover mixture with olive oil. Store in the refrigerator for at least one week before serving.
Grilled Chicken Club with Pesto
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, grilled or pre-grilled chicken breast from the grocery
Jar or homemade pesto
1 pound thinly sliced bacon, cooked and drained
About 10 to 15 oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, thoroughly drained
1 small bag of baby arugula or baby spinach
1 loaf a sturdy ciabatta bread or focaccia bread
Cut bread and a half long ways and spread with a thin layer of pesto. Top with sun-dried tomatoes, sliced grilled chicken breast, bacon slices, and arugula or baby spinach.
Cut sandwiches into thin slices and then wrap the entire loaf tightly in foil until ready to serve.
An evening football game makes me think of an early dinner. I do not think any tailgate in the State of Mississippi would be complete without cheese straws or these savory cheese crispies. Pick some up, or make your own but they are the perfect tailgate treat.
1 cup butter, softened
1/2-pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups toasted rice cereal
In a bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and the cheese. Beat until light and fluffy. Add in the flour a little bit a time, beating well. Add the salt and cayenne and beat the mixture until it as well combined. Add the cereal and pulse to make sure mixture is just combined.
Form heaping teaspoons of the mixture into balls. Arrange these about two inches apart on a well-greased cookie sheet or one that has been lined with parchment paper. With a fork that has been dipped in flour, flatten each ball with the back of the fork.
Bake the crispies in a preheated 350° oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. These will keep in an airtight container for about one week.
Asparagus Blue Cheese Rolls
I am not sure where I first got this recipe but I have always been a fan of recipes that require a slice of white bread that has been rolled flat. It seems old-fashioned and reminds me of so many things that my mom made when I was growing up.
1 loaf or 12 slices of soft white bread, crusts removed (I have found that the cheaper sandwich loaf works best.)
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese, at room temperature
About 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
12 asparagus spears, cooked al dente and dried on a paper towel
1/3 cup to 1/2 cup melted butter
Flatten each slice of bread with a rolling pin until you have 12 thin flat squares. In a separate small bowl, mix blue cheese and mayonnaise until it is spreadable. Spread each slice of bread with about a teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Place an asparagus spear on one end of the bread and roll it up.
Melt butter in a small skillet and dip each asparagus roll in the melted butter to coat all services. Place seam side down on a cookie sheet and bake at 375° for about 10 to 12 minutes until crisp and brown.
Allow to cool for about five minutes. Cut each roll into four pieces and serve at room temperature.
Irene‘s Stuffed Mushrooms
This is a recipe that I have enjoyed for many years. While they are good hot, they can also be served at room temperature or slightly warmed. You can make them ahead and heat them before serving.
3/4-pound hot Italian sausage
1-pound small fresh mushrooms
Pop stems off clean mushrooms and stuff Italian sausage inside. Put mushrooms sausage side up on a cookie sheet and bake for 350° for 30 minutes.
Remove cooked mushrooms to a bowl and scrape all the juices from the cookie sheet into a sauce pan. Add 16 ounces of tomato sauce, about 3/4 cup of dry white wine and a generous sprinkle of dried oregano. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add cooked mushrooms to the sauce and heat for a few more minutes.
with Old Bay Crackers
This is a recipe originated from one of my favorite Julia Reed cookbooks. It is best to make the day before and she recommends that you pack the shrimp in large mason jars and serve with these delicious crackers flavored with Old Bay Season. The combination of flavors is spectacular.
2 pounds large shrimp, shelled and shells reserved for shrimp stock*
6 cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns or coarsely ground fresh black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
In a small bowl, combined chopped or pressed garlic cloves and kosher salt. Smash together until you have a paste. Add coarsely cracked black peppercorns, lime juice, and three tablespoons of the reserve shrimp stock (in a bind, you can substitute three tablespoons of clam juice but the taste will not be the same.)
In a large skillet heat 1/4 cup olive oil. When oil is hot, add the bay leaves and the garlic mixture and cook for about two minutes, stirring often. Add the shrimp and cook for an additional two to three minutes making sure the shrimp are pink on both sides.
Remove the pan from the heat and taste shrimp and correct for seasoning. Add more salt, if necessary. You may add an additional squeeze of lime or one tablespoon more of stock in order to get a good consistency. If necessary, cook shrimp an additional minute, but do not ever cook the shrimp.
Allow to cool and pack in a jar. Store in the refrigerator and serve them at room temperature with Old Bay Saltines.
* To make shrimp stock: remove shrimp shells and heads if available and sauté on medium heat in a large pot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir frequently for three or four minutes until the shells turn a deep pink. Add about 8 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for about one hour.
Strain the stock into a small pot and cook to reduce the liquid by at least one cup.
Old Bay Saltines
1 sleeve saltine crackers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
Old Bay Seasoning for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350°. Place crackers in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the crackers with the melted butter and sprinkle with Old Bay to taste. (I like a lot.)
Bake for five to seven minutes until golden. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Build Your Own Barbecue Nachos
The first time I ever tasted barbecued nachos was at an Ole Miss game about 25 years ago. I think Corkys barbecue may have had a stand at the game. It remains one of my favorite things to eat and if barbecued nachos are on the menu, you can be assured that is what I will order.
They are pretty easy to assemble and you can bring all the different components separately. The meat can be purchased or homemade as well as many of the other ingredients. Lay them out at your tailgate and allow everyone to assemble and build their own nachos.
1 pound smoked pulled pork
1 pound smoked chicken
1 pound barbecue beef brisket, thinly sliced or chopped
1 recipe homemade or 1 large can baked beans (We use Bush’s Maple with Brown Sugar.)
1 container sour cream
1 large container salsa or pico de gallo
1 cup sliced pickled jalapeños
2 cups smoked provolone cheese, shredded
2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Several bottles of your favorite barbecue sauce
Barbecue dry rub seasoning, optional
3 to 4 bags of tortilla chips
Lots of napkins
Assemble all ingredients separately and allow guests to make their own nachos.
Choco-Chewy Peanut Bars
These chewy chocolate peanut bars are so good. They are easy to make and serve a crowd.
1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 cup peanut butter, chunky or regular
6 cups rice crispy cereal
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
And a very large sauce pan, heat one cup sugar and one cup of syrup until boiling, stir in one cup peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined. Stir in rice cereal. Mix to combine, press into a well-greased 9 x 13 inch pan.
In a microwave safe dish, combine chocolate chip morsels and butterscotch chips. Microwave for about one minute until melted. Spread over bars. Allow to cool and cut into small squares.
Food before, during, and after the game. What can be better??