Football and tailgating season is here, and we’re a nation of football enthusiasts who live for this time of year when fans gather together with the common interests of good times, great eats, and victorious scores.
Photo by Dave Adamson
Saturday, September 2, 2023 is National Tailgating Day.
Tailgating is the pass a good time prelude to the game where tablescape ideas and tasty recipes run the field of creativity.
Can’t make it to the stadium?
Homegating works too!
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.
The 12 seasons of Louisiana:
Spring of deception
Hell’s front porch
Currently we’re between hell’s front porch and false fall, but we don’t let it discourage we the football faithful; we simply dress cool, decorate even cooler, and forge on.
Bringing a festive tailgating-homegating event together requires thought and time to plan, and everyone has a method to their tailgating madness.
Successful tailgating times is defined in may ways, but festive camaraderie in late summer, cozy days of fall, and chill of early winter is the common ground game goal of all.
Great get together tools come in pairs- a fire pit and a pit of fire to get things good and toasty and good and tasty.
Pack and cart wagons and trash plastic college buckets come in handy.
Fall holidays and celebrations can be the inspiration to guide your tailgating-homegating theme of the week.
Repeat after me: affordable and reusable.
Initial costs ding the wallet at first, but grant bang for your party buck satisfaction for tailgating seasons to come.
Burlap fabric remains a great option of neutral and inexpensive for table covering needs. It comes in a good selection of colors allowing you to go with team colors game to game.
In season local fruits and vegetables make excellent table and centerpiece decorations.
Stack on risers and in crates.
Crates turned upside down or stacked on top of each other make great display options while adding height to your tablescape presentation.
Place in baskets.
Stems 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.
Vintage or in the style of vintage football items such as a letter sweater, trademark fashions, programs, books, and figurines become super cute centerpieces.
Simply embellish in team colors to tie it all together.
Pick up inexpensive throws in team colors, patterns, and textures to use as spot accents.
Homecoming turns into a true tailgating extravaganza in true seize the moment to gussy up fashion.
Urns make the trip from patio to tabletop becoming an elegant beverage bucket, a holder packed with LED pillar candles and/or a stunning silverware caddy.
Tailgating treasures tip:
End of season clearance sales result in some mighty fine finds with price points to match. Don’t overlook the aisles and the shelves of big box and resale-vintage-thrift stores.
Home improvement stores hit the nail on the head as sources of complementing pieces such as ceiling medallions, decorative ceiling and floor tiles, and floor model fixtures.
Antique shops come in as hubs of history where unique and eclectic pieces come to live another life as tailgating decor must haves. Flea markets, estate, and garage sales source vintage dinnerware perfect for mix and match presentation, cast iron cookware, copper kitchen wares, cake stands, Tupperware, table linens, cutlery, holiday decorations and the like.
Introduce real or faux garlands, stems, branches, etc… to the tailgating table as fabulous fillers and display accents.
Centerpiece ideas center around grocery store floral departments and my forever go-to, nature’s floral department. It’s always open, and the prices can’t be beat.
Regional and seasonal come together to make a scenes from home tailgating centerpiece statement.
Tailgaters bring their A-game ready to impress.
Traditions impress, menus rival five star restaurants, and the drinks flow like the Mississippi River.
Take the look to next level style with wreaths.
Uses include flanking table ends, candle rings, stunning base for a beverage dispenser(s), and placed on tabletops to complement nickel plated iron serving trays from Dollar Tree.
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.
Shake several splashes of Pickapeppa sauce, celery salt, and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice into mixture. Stir well. Garnish with a spicy bean garnish and it’s game time!
Speaking of sauces…
Louisiana hot sauces kick up the fun and the flavors- two things necessary at a Louisiana tailgating get together.
Pour up hot sauce (or any other type sauce or dressing) into clear disposable plastic cups with lids for individual servings. The deals are better on large containers, and individual servings sizes ?
Pickled Dilly Beans for the tailgating condiment win!
Easy tops the tailgating menu when you pickup items at your local grocery store that put simple and delicious on the table.
Mix it up, spoon it out, and spread it on thick in real-time before game time.
Simple and delicious crowd pleasing appetizer solutions begin with several bricks of cream cheese placed on a lovely plate or platter.
Next, top each brick with a favorite jelly, jam, preserves or spread.
Garnish with fruit, nuts, or fresh herbs.
How deliciously easy is that?
Fit reminders of the season into the game plan.
Charcuterie boards score big points with the tailgating and/or homegating crowd.
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.
Chicken and Sausage Gumbo
8 cups water
traditional roux; see recipe below (or 8 ounces of instant roux from jar)
3 chicken bouillon cubes
4 boneless skinless chicken breast, shredded
**Substitution: deli rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 lb. package smoked sausage, sliced
1 12 ounce bag frozen chopped onions
1 12 ounce bag frozen chopped bell peppers
½ cup celery, chopped
1 Tablespoon celery seed
3 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fine black pepper, or to taste*
**Substitution: 1 teaspoon Créole seasoning for salt and pepper
½ cup white wine or to taste
4 green onions, chopped
1 cup flour
1 cup vegetable oil
Heat oil in a black skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add flour in gradually, stirring well. Reduce heat to low. Stir/whisk the mixture constantly until it reaches a rich brown color, approximately 30-40 minutes. You must stir/whisk constantly to prevent the roux from burning.
Slice sausage into ½ inch pieces. Using a seasoned skillet for optimum taste results, cook the sliced sausage over medium-high heat until browned. Transfer cooked sausage to plate lined with paper towels, allowing excess grease to drain. Set aside.
Place chicken breasts in Dutch oven or stock pot, add water, and bring to a boil. Add celery seed, ½ tsp. salt and ½ tsp. black pepper.
Stir and reduce heat to medium low, cooking chicken breasts until done, about 1 hour. Transfer chicken breasts from pot to large mixing bowl. Shred chicken breasts and return to broth.
Turn heat back to high and bring to boil. Add roux to broth and chicken mixture, whisking until roux dissolves. Reduce heat to medium and add minced garlic, chopped onions, bell pepper and celery, bay leaves, chicken bouillon cubes, remaining salt and black pepper (or Créole seasoning).
Carefully pour in white wine. Stir to blend and incorporate.
Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer uncovered for approximately 2 hours, allowing all flavors to marry. Remove bay leaves and skim any grease that has formed off top of gumbo.
Add chopped green onions and continue to simmer for additional 5 minutes.
Serve gumbo over cooked rice. Top with a sprinkle of filé, more green onions, and hot sauce to taste, if desired.
To the trusty Tiger Bait Recipes we go for Cajun Red Beans and Rice-
Make mine Louisiana strong.
Visit the local grocery store bakery department for fresh treats ready for the tailgating dessert table.
Remember, easy is always the star of the tailgating menu.
Tiger fans making the trek down to Death Valley cross over the Mighty Mississippi River making Mississippi Mud Cake an appropriate sweet treat for tailgating times.
Giving a glance to the recipe below it, I must admit I am intrigued by this recipe for Sausage Cake. It reads like a c’est si bon classic and new fall favorite to include in the recipe box.
Themed tailgating tablescapes along with the perfect decor accessories ensures entertaining success from parking to parting.
Here’s wishing the football faithful a winning and happy tailgating season!