Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tailgating Season

Tailgating is in full swing as we just finished the 2nd week of college football and the opening weekend of the pros.  I'm sure there are some fans delighted with their team's start while still others have already given up the season.  Many may be happy that their team have won so far but are concerned about the future because of the way they played.  That's all part of the football season with the ups, downs and uncertainties of what can happen each week.  Well, at least we can sit back and enjoy the tailgating that comes with football.

When it comes to tailgating, you have to decide whether you cook everything onsite, at home or some combination of both.  I'm going to try and remind you of recipes both from the cookbook and this blog that you can use to enjoy those pregame festivities.  I'm also going to give you some ideas for hot and cold finger foods to devour as you wait for the main course.  Remember that weather will play a part in planning your menu.  Certain items make more sense in the warmer weekends at the beginning of the season as apposed to those colder weekends of November and December.

Some recipes from the cookbook, More Than Your First Cookbook, that would be appropriate are as follows: Barry's Chili (No Beans), Chili (Ground Beef & Beans), Beef Stew, Dave's Green Chile and Robinson's Hearty Hodgepodge just from the soup chapter.  From the sandwich chapter comes: Bacon Dogs, Hamburger/Cheeseburger, Italian Sausage with Peppers & Onions, Meatball Subs and Taverns (Sloppy Joes).  In the entree chapter we have: BBQ Pork Back Ribs, Jambalaya, Mac & Cheese and Oven Smoked Brisket.  The sides chapter offers: Baked Beans (Vegetarian), Baked Beans with Bacon, Connie's Hash Brown Casserole, Cornbread Salad and Rosie's Potato Salad.  The last recipe chapter in the cookbook is Odds & Ends and here we have a few more good ones.  They include: Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp, Candee's Salsa, a Dry Rub for BBQ, Hot Crab Dip, Mexican Hot Dip, Nadine's Corn & Black Salsa and Spinach & Artichoke Dip.

That's not a bad list a variety to get you through the football season.  But there are more from this blog.  Try some of these such as: Pan Fried Chicken (warm or cold), Chicken Burgers, Chicken Wild Rice Soup, Grilled Portobello Mushrooms, Bleu Bacon Burgers, Spicy  Cream Corn, Crab Cakes (try grilling them), Pulled Pork, Pineapple & Kielbasa Kebabs and Buffalo Chicken Burgers (recipe this week).

Then there are a few ideas that really don't need a recipe.  Here you just do your own thing.  Bacon wrapped anything for starters.  Take thin bacon strips and cut to the length you need for the item you're wrapping.  A few ideas include: hot dogs or other precooked sausages cut about the width of the bacon.  You can smear the bacon with BBQ sauce, flavored mustard, hot sauce or a bottled marinade before wrapping it around the dog or sausage.  You could even use a soft cheese to spread on the bacon strip.  I like using the Laughing Cow little wedges and they come in several different flavors.  Depending on the heat level wanted, try some spicy sausages.  When the grill is ready just throw them on and cook until the bacon meets your doneness requirements.  Remember you'll need to use toothpicks to hold the bacon on.

Stuffed peppers of some kind with a stuffing of some kind.  I do Jalapeno peppers stuffed with a mixture of cream cheese, fresh cilantro, lime juice and cumin.  I just cut the end off, remove seeds and use a pastry bag to fill them.  Depending on what I want for a result, I'll leave them fresh or blanch them.  You can serve these hot or cold.  Grill just before eating for hot ones.  Each Jalapeno pepper will have varying heat levels.  You can't tell until you take a bite.  It's kind of like Russian Roulette for the heat.  You can use milder peppers if you desire or even wrap these in bacon before grilling.

Have fun tailgating and I hope your team wins all their games (unless they are playing mine).  Be sure to check out the Buffalo Chicken Burgers which is tomorrow's recipe.  Happy Cooking!

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