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Tailgating Tips and Recipes that Score

Whether you are parking yourself in front of a big-screen TV or headed to the stadium, here are several surefire winners to satisfy your snacking mood.

Grilled Chicken Wings with White BBQ Dipping Sauce

1 stick butter
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons “milder” hot sauce, such as Frank’s
1 teaspoon salt
3 pounds chicken wings, cut into thirds, tips discarded Assorted raw vegetables
Green onions, sliced for garnish

In a small saucepan, melt butter, and whisk in next 3 ingredients. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place wings on a sheet pan, and brush both sides of the wings with the butter mixture. Grill for 8 to 10 minutes; turn and baste with melted butter, and grill for 6 more minutes or until done. Serve with White BBQ Dipping Sauce (recipe below) and assorted raw vegetables. Garnish with green onion slices. Makes approximately 16 wings.

White BBQ Dipping Sauce

1 1⁄2 cups mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup water
1⁄4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons horseradish

Combine all ingredients in a medium-size bowl. Store in refrigerator. This can be made ahead. It will keep up to 1 week. Makes 2 cups.

Stadium Pups with Everything Relish

1⁄2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups sauerkraut, drained
1⁄4 cup sweet pickle cubes, plus 2 tablespoons juice
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon coarse ground mustard
1 (16-ounce) smoked sausage, grilled, such as Conecuh
1 (12- to 15-ounce) package Hawaiian-style rolls

Combine first 6 ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until thoroughly and evenly chopped, stopping 2 to 3 times to scrape sides of the bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use. (This Everything Relish can be made up to 2 days in advance.) Grill sausage on medium to medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Cut grilled sausage into 12 (2- to 3-inch) pieces. (There will be a couple extra pieces for tasting or a couple more buns.) With a bread knife, cut a slit into the top of each roll, stopping halfway through. Place sausage pieces in slits in rolls, and top with Everything Relish. Makes 12. 

Sheet Pan Beefy Nachos

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1⁄4 cup water
1 (12.5-ounce) bag tortilla chips
4 cups Mexican blend cheese, finely grated, divided
1 (12-ounce) jar sliced jalapeños
4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Garnish with cherry tomatoes and cilantro
Serve with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream

Heat oil in a medium skillet; add ground beef, and cook until brown and thoroughly cooked. With a paper towel, carefully remove any excess grease from the pan. Add garlic powder and next 3 ingredients, and allow to simmer for 5 minutes. On an approximate 13- x 17 1⁄2-inch sheet pan, layer half of the chips, half of the ground beef, and half of the cheese and jalapeños. Repeat with remaining chips, ground beef, and cheese for the second layer. Bake at 350° for 6 to 8 minutes. Broil for 1 to 3 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly and chips are slightly brown. Top with tomatoes, green onions, and remaining jalapeños. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and cilantro, if desired. Serve immediately with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Feeds 12 +. 

5 Layer Dip

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon cumin
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
1 (1-ounce) taco seasoning mix packet
1 cup guacamole (your favorite recipe or store-bought)
1 cup pico de gallo
1 cup Cheddar cheese
Jalapeño slices and cilantro
Tortilla chips

Rinse and drain black beans thoroughly, mashing slightly with your fingers or a fork to break up some of the beans, and then place into a small saucepan over medium heat. Add lime juice and cumin; simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool while preparing the remaining layers. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and taco seasoning mix packet. In a 1-quart dish, layer beans, sour cream mixture, guacamole, pico de gallo, and cheese, in that order. Refrigerate for several hours. Before serving, garnish with jalapeño slices and cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 6 - 8. For a larger crowd, this recipe can easily be doubled.

Learn from Leslie: For a quick homemade guacamole, combine 2 mashed avocados, juice of 1 lemon or lime, 2 tablespoons pico de gallo, and 1 tablespoon cilantro.

Tailgating Tips

  • Pack a “Cocktail Caddy” that includes bottle openers, stirrers, napkins, cups, and, of course, your favorite beverages and mixers.
  • Devote an inexpensive, washable quilt or tablecloth to dress up your tailgate. If you are using it on a table in a parking lot, it creates a great hiding place underneath for handbags and extra provisions.
  • Mason jars make handy serving pieces. Use them to store lemon and lime wedges for the bar. They are also great for dips and sauces. They pack neatly in the cooler and look nicer than plastic containers.
  • Dress up your bar or table with a recycled liquor bottle and a single stem of your favorite flower. Place in an empty cup holder in your car for easy transportation.

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