|Photo courtesy of Christopher Morgan Photography|
With September and October around the bend, it’s time to start planning your NFL football season! Just let the scent of honey maple BBQ and fresh corn on the cob, roasting in its husk beckon you down the street (or out to your own backyard!) for the next great tailgate or block party. A sports fan or not, the beginning of fall is all the motivation you need to plan a party or wax nostalgic.
Who doesn’t remember their high school football games, circling the track and watching the field, cup of hot chocolate in one hand and hotdog in the other? Now you’re ready for something more sophisticated than those concession stand snacks you grew up with. Relax, I’ve got you covered.
When a fan and editor at Woman’s World got in touch with me last week, it was to ask for advice on tailgate food. I gave her a mouthful, and took to my blog to share the love. Whether it’s in a parking lot or someone’s backyard, outdoor parties are the perfect excuse to get to know your neighbors better, swap cobbler and nacho recipes, or simply give the kids an excuse to throw water balloons at each other.
Personally, I like to use tailgates as a method of sharing everything I’ve learned in my decades of being a Dolphins fan. When the current draft picks were toddlers, I was already making a science out of cooler contents. This is a cheat sheet to get you started:
· Sophisticated, Filling, Ooey Gooey Sandwiches that Pack Up Neat! Braised short ribs covered in melting munster cheese turn out awesome on a Panini grill. While the sandwich is still warm, wrap in Reynolds combo parchment/aluminum foil with the foil on the outside. Stack the sammies on top of each other and place into a thermal container. Serve when the tailgaters get their hungry on. Hero sized subs are a great idea, too! My favorites incorporate cobb or grilled chicken caesar salad, with anchovy laced caesar dressing. Alternatively, I like to utilize leftovers, like my barbecued salmon hoagie with apple cider slaw. Whatever the filling, take the insides out of a long baguette. Stuff the bread and place the top back on. Wrap tightly in parchment paper. When it's tailgating time, slice the sub into sections (right through the paper) and hand out to your fans.
· Done with stale boring nuts? Me too! Toast your favorite nuts on a baking sheet. Make it your own by adding your favorite spice, like chili powder. Place the nuts into a bowl and add raisins or dried cranberries. Toss in brown paper lunch sacks; roll over the tops and seal with chip clips. For the party, remove the clips and roll back the tops so that the bags make their own nut bowls.
· You can't go wrong with friend chicken. Think outside the KFC bucket and prepare your own buttermilk fried chicken before you trek to the game. Place the pieces into a napkin lined basket and make it the star on your tailgating table.
· Burgers, burgers, burgers. Earn the blue ribbon by stuffing your burgers before you put them on the grill. Stuffers include sautéed veggies like peppers and onions, and melting cheeses like provolone and mozzarella. Don't forget to butter the buns for toasting as you grill the burgers.
· Sides That’ll Get You Tailgated: My favorite salad sides are purple potato salad, toasted corn and poblano slaw and pasta primavera salad.
· Bring a Pinwheel Platter: If you are bringing the dish to the tailgating party make a huge platter of bite size picnic pinwheels. Wrap 10-inch tortilla around your favorite fillings. My favorites are smoked salmon with cream cheese and capers; provolone, roasted turkey and avocado with cornichons, and my Ruben inspiration which is filled with sauerkraut, corn beef, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing – Yumm!
· Stuffed Cupcakes: Make your favorite cake batter and bake the cupcakes. When they are cooled uses a squeeze bottle to stuff the insides with your favorite filling, like peanut butter and jelly, chocolate ganache, marshmallow fluff or my favorite – Nutella! Don't have a squeeze bottle – don't worry. Cut the tops from the cupcakes, use a melon baller or spoon to remove some of the insides, and scoop your filling into the cupcake. Top and frost!
It’ll all be so good you won't remember the score ; ). Let’s swap recipes before the season’s done!