Football and tailgating season is here, and we’re a nation of football enthusiast who live for this time of year when fans gather together with the common interests of good times, good eats and victorious scores.
PTO days have been building, work schedules cleared, weekend honey-do-list put on after football season hold, supplies gathered, parking passes purchased, hotel rooms, campground sites and flights booked, menus planned, grills and smokers cleaned, the ESPN college football app downloaded.
Now comes tailgating time.
Saturday kicks off this year’s college football and tailgating season.
Tailgating is the pass a good time prelude to the game where tablescape ideas, menu suggestions and recipes run the field of creativity.
Homegating works too!
Proper tailgating and/or homegating takes time to plan, and everyone has a method to their tailgating madness.
Decoratively successful tailgating times is defined in different ways, but festive camaraderie is the common ground game goal of all.
We’re geared up and good to geaux for the fall afternoon into evening Louisiana Saturday night tailgating season.
There’s no way to eloquently put it- the Deep South is one hot bowl of summer heat and humidity until it decides it’s not.
We don’t let it discourage us; we simply dress cool, decorate even cooler, and forge on the football faithful.
Orange Bushel Basket
Late in the year holidays and celebrations can be the inspiration to guide your tailgating/homegating theme of the week.
Repeat after me: affordable and reusable.
Initial costs sting the wallet at first, but grant a good deal of bang for your party buck satisfaction from season to season.
To this day I find burlap a neutral and inexpensive choice of table covering. Burlap does come in a good selection of colors allowing you to go with team colors game to game.
Seasonal local fruits and vegetables make excellent table and centerpiece decorations. Scatter about or stack on a pedestal in groups. I’m never disappointed with the outcome and the response fellow tailgaters have to the seemingly effortless placement details.
Stems, leaves, and branches denoting regional and seasonal beauty in varying heights and colors gathered together in vases or free form vignettes achieve the look of effortless style and casual elegance.
Finish the look with ribbon, fabric, figurines, and embellishments in team colors to tie it all together.
Doesn’t this wrapped candle favor a football?
Stitched Leatherette Wrap Band Apple Chai Woodwick Candle Clear
Same with this faux leather plate charger.
Faux Leather Plate Charger
Fall fabulous faux leather pumpkin.
Decoristas have never met an end of summer retail markdown, sale, and clearance aisle they didn’t at the very least pay attention to, and at the very best pay a little for a big decorating score.
Always amazed sums up the impression left on my designing and decorating heart at some of the tailgating soirées we’ve attended over the years.
Tablescapes impress, menus rival five star restaurants, and the drinks flow like the Mississippi River.
Tailgaters bring their A-game ready to party, revel, and impress.
Perhaps too warm at the moment, but when the temps dip a hot chocolate bar is a big hit on cool fall game day afternoons and evenings.
Set up the “bar” with decorative buckets, planters or baskets.
Fill each with an array of instant hot cocoa packets, marshmallows, chocolate and toffee chips, cinnamon sticks, pretzel rods, Pirouette cookies, candy canes or peppermint sticks.
Ground nutmeg and chilled cans of whipped cream top it off.
For the over 21 crowd, spike the hot chocolate flavor into the Southern Comfort zone.
Tailgating Tunes Gotta Have It List
Orange Bushel Basket
Recipes in this tailgating post give a spirited and seasoned tip of the hat to Louisiana.
LSU Spiked Blueberry Lemonade Recipe
2 oz. vodka
1 handful blueberries
1 pinch sugar
12 oz. lemonade
Add the vodka, blueberries and sugar to the bottom of the glass and use a spoon to muddle (or mash) everything, just until the sugar has dissolved and the blueberries are broken up. Add ice and lemonade, stirring to mix in the vodka-soaked blueberries.
Cinnamon water is my go-to option for an inexpensive and delicious alternative to leaded libations.
This stove top method brings out the flavor and color of the cinnamon.
Begin by adding 2 cinnamon sticks to 2 cups of water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
Simple one cinnamon stick to one cup of water math for increasing the amount. To prepare a gallon of cinnamon water you’ll use 16 cups of water and 16 cinnamon sticks.
Allow concentrate/starter to cool before adding to cold water and ice to desired strength.
Who wants a Bloody Mary?
Game Time Bloody Mary
6 ounces of chilled Clamato
1 ounce vodka
generous sprinkle celery salt
fresh lemon juice
Louisiana spicy beans
Pour Clamato and vodka into glass.
Add to that several splashes of Pickapeppa sauce, celery salt, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir well.
Garnish with a spicy bean garnish and it’s game time!
Louisiana persimmons, seasoned pecans, and charcuterie boards score big points with the tailgating and/or homegating crowd.
This c’est si bon recipe for Creole Sugar ‘N’ Spice Pecans from The Farm Girl Cooks is a delicious stand alone appetizer or complement to a cheese board spread.
I invite you to visit The Farm Girl Cooks for more farm fresh delicious recipes.
Creole Sugar ‘N’ Spice Pecans
Add as much cayenne or other spicy chile powder as you like. Pure ancho or chipotle powder are especially good here.
1 egg white
⅓ cup sugar
2 T Creole seasoning purchased or make your own
10 oz pecan halves
Preheat oven to 300° and place a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet. Alternatively, use a silicone baking pan liner.*
In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until frothy. Whisk in sugar and creole seasoning. Using a spatula, stir in pecan halves, making sure to coat them evenly and completely.
Pour the nuts onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, ensuring they are in a single layer. There shouldn’t be much gooey eggy spicy liquid, but if there is, don’t scrape it all out of the bowl and onto the pan. It will just stick to the parchment and will make for more difficult nut removal.
Bake the nuts at 300° for 15 minutes. Give the nuts a stir – I used a large off-set spatula to do the dirty work – then reduce the oven to 250° and bake the nuts for another 10 minutes. Immediately give the nuts another stir to release them from the parchment.
Allow to cool and store in an airtight container (something with a padlock would have been helpful here) for as long as you can stand not eating them.
1/3 cup paprika
3 tablespoons dried oregano
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon granulated onion
4 teaspoons dried thyme
4 teaspoons granulated garlic
In a medium bowl combine paprika, dried oregano, ground black pepper, dried basil, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, granulated onion, dried thyme and granulated garlic. Stir to combine. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to three months.
-Places In The Home
Country Living – Photography by Brian Woodcock
Caramelized Onion Dip with Crispy Shallots
¼ cup olive oil, divided
3 large sweet onions, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 shallots, sliced into thin rings
1 (16-ounce) container sour cream
1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
Pretzels and potato, beet, and sweet potato chips for serving
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are a deep golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon; cool completely.
Combine sour cream and onions in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Top with crispy shallots and chives. Serve with pretzels and chips.
Sweet Potato Cajun Fritters
4 to 5 sweet potatoes (about 3 ½ pounds)
2 large egg yolks
¼ pound tasso ham, finely chopped
7 ounces shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups pastry flour
3 large eggs, beaten
3 cups Japanese bread crumbs (panko)
vegetable oil, for frying
Preheat oven to 400°. On a rimmed baking sheet, roast sweet potatoes until tender, about 1 hour. While sweet potatoes are still warm, peel and pass them through a food mill into a large bowl. Add egg yolks, tasso, cheese, Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Using a spatula, gently combine.
Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Prepare 3 shallow bowls of pastry flour, egg, and panko. Roll each sweet potato ball in flour, egg, and bread crumbs, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze overnight.
In a large Dutch oven, pour oil to a depth of 4 inches, and heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry or candy thermometer reads 325°. Add sweet potato balls, in batches, and cook until golden brown, about 4 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with Creole mustard, if desired.
Mr. B’s Barbecued Shrimp
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, plus 12 tbsp. cut into 1/2″ cubes and chilled
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1⁄2 cup Crystal hot sauce
1⁄4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. Creole seasoning
4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 lb. head-on large shrimp, unpeeled
Kosher salt, to taste
French bread, for serving
Heat 3 tbsp. butter in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook until soft, 1-2 minutes. Add hot sauce, Worcestershire, juice, Creole seasoning, and pepper. Bring to a simmer; cook until sauce is reduced by half, 5-7 minutes.
Add shrimp; cook, flipping once, until cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in chilled butter to make a smooth sauce. Season with salt. Serve with French bread.
2 (9-inch round loaves) muffuletta bread, halved crosswise
½ pound thinly sliced salami, divided
½ pound thinly sliced prosciutto, divided
½ pound thinly sliced mortadella
½ pound thinly sliced soppressata, divided
½ pound thinly sliced provolone
5 cups Four Generation Olive Salad, divided
On bottom halves of muffuletta bread, layer half of salami, prosciutto, mortadella, soppressata, and provolone on each bread half. Top each with 2½ cups olive salad, add top half of the loaves; slice sandwiches into quarters, and serve.
Muffulettas may be made up to a few hours in advance. Cover, and refrigerate until serving.
Four Generation Olive Salad
1 anchovy fillet
2 tablespoons plus ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cups coarsely chopped cured green olives with pimento
2 cups coarsely chopped black olives
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced carrot
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup finely diced cauliflower (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup capers, chopped
10 baby artichokes, boiled and quartered
1 thinly sliced lemon
¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper (optional)
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
In a large bowl, combine anchovy and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mash with a fork until combined. Add olives, celery, carrot, fennel, cauliflower, garlic, capers, artichokes, lemon, and oregano, stirring to combine. Add remaining ¼ cup olive oil to just cover mixture, and stir well. Cover, and refrigerate 1 hour.
Taste mixture, and add lemon juice, salt, and pepper as needed.
***When I can’t find muffuletta bread I use a loaf of Everything Italian Bread from the bakery at Walmart.
Now for something sweet and big easy
Aunt Sally’s Chewy Pralines
When only the original will do, and no recipe I’ve tried quite captures that New Orleans sweetness, place an order for these original creole delights guaranteed to be a sweet hit.
Place your order online or by phoning Aunt Sally’s Original Creole Pralines direct at (800) 642-7257
Talk about the Big Easy!
New Orleans Beignets
1 package (¼ ounce) active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water (110° to 115°)
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup canola oil
¼ cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
4-½ cups self-rising flour
Oil for deep-fat frying
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, oil, sugar, egg and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky). Do not knead. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Punch down dough. Turn onto a floured surface; roll into a 16×12-in. rectangle. Cut into 2-in. squares.
In a deep cast-iron or electric skillet, heat 1 inch oil to 375°. Fry squares, in batches, until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Roll warm beignets in confectioners’ sugar.
Tailgating Season Food Safety Tips
Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs. The temperature should be kept below 40º F.
A cooler placed in the back seat of an air-conditioned vehicle vs. a hot trunk will ensure cooler storage.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
Two hours is the max time foods should be allowed to sit out.
If it’s an exceptionally hot day or evening I would adjust the max time to one hour.
Our tailgating mantra is “chunk it” when the party’s over.
Food poisoning is never a welcomed guest at any party.
Here’s wishing all you football fans a happy tailgating season!