EASY TAILGATING SERVING SUGGESTIONS, RECIPES AND GAME DAY TIPS!

IT'S FOOTBALL SEASON... FOUR MONTHS OF GAME DAY TAILGATES, PARTIES, AND TEAM PRIDE. HERE ARE SOME IDEAS TO KEEP IT FRESH, FUN, AND EASY!

tailgate and game day football season tips

VARIATIONS ON A THEME: MIX IT UP…one week Mexican with hats and decor, the next week you can take it to New Orleans with a Mardi Gras menu, the following week make it a Lowcountry crab boil, Italian, Pirate Party, Chili cook-off, beach party, etc. You don't have to go with BBQ, wings, or typical tailgate food every weekend.

MULTI-PURPOSE FOOD: For example, chili works for a variety of different foods... chili pie, tacos, hot dogs, nachos, and more. You can host a chili throwdown where everyone brings a Crock-Pot with their favorite recipe. Add a condiment and hot sauce bar so everyone can add their favorite toppings. Serve chili in individual Fritos or Doritos bags.... yes, serving right in the bag makes yummy Frito chili pie or nachos! This is so good and makes clean up a breeze. Best of all, no dirty dishes to take home.

 Serve your chili in individual Frito or Dorito bags... delish and no dishes!

Serve your chili in individual Frito or Dorito bags... delish and no dishes!

MY TOP 12 TAILGATING AND GAME DAY TIPS

1. When it is still hot outside, make sure to take an extra cooler filled with ice so you can keep drinks and food items cold and have plenty of clean ice for drinks.

2. Use multi-purpose glasses like the insulated glasses from Tervis Tumblers – they keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. LOVE THEM... especially when I have a party inside. No condensation rings and no broken glass. Plus they go right in the dishwasher.

3. A great way to keep hot food hot is to wrap and store them in a cheap Styrofoam cooler and pack it with newspaper. This will keep it hot until you are ready to serve.

4. Do most of the prep at home so you just have simple assembly or grilling when you get to the stadium.

5. If you don’t want to take a cooler- get a case of your favorite drinks, empty it and line with a white or clear garbage bag and put the drinks back and fill with ice. Afterwards, put the whole thing in the trash. I always double the bag so I don't have any leaks. You can also use a beer carton as a condiment holder. Works great! Save the carton from your next 6-pack!

6. Another use for a cardboard drink carrier- is to use it for a condiment carrier or a dip holder. Next time you go to Starbucks, save the carrier. Keeps dips and dippers organized and neat.

7. Pre-cook what you can. You can even pre-cook ribs and finish them on the grill. Just make sure to keep them well chilled.

8. Get in on the Crock-Pot craze…. Plug it in before you go to bed the night before and you’ve got a good start on lunch when you get there. My super easy Fire Roasted Tomato Chipotle Chili is one of my all-time favorite chili recipes and I've had great reviews from people who have made it. Get the recipe....

9. One of the most frustrating things about going to the game is not being able to find your friends or their tailgate! Use a cluster of helium balloons and fly them way over the top of your tent so your friends can spot you from a distance! I got huge balloons and wrote on them with a marker to define our tailgate and help friends locate us easily. Don't use team colors; use pink or something easy to spot.

10. You don’t have to buy special football items or tableware- you can easily make a football field runner from placemats or some other item. I used a green chenille kitchen rug I got on sale for $4 at Target and lined it with white plastic electrician's tape. I got the numbers at Wal-Mart in the mailbox section but you can get stick-on numbers where you get scrapbook supplies also.

 A chenille bath rug is a great, cheap table covering... this one was $4 on sale. Stripe with electrician's tape. Afterwards you can wash it and reuse.

A chenille bath rug is a great, cheap table covering... this one was $4 on sale. Stripe with electrician's tape. Afterwards you can wash it and reuse.

11. Bring items in a large plastic tub. When you are ready to pack up, line the tub with a garbage bag and then put your dirty dishes inside. Makes for super easy clean up when you get home!

 I love making a few big sandwiches rather than lots of little ones. This is a New Orleans style Muffuletta with lots of cured meats, cheese, and olive salad... it isn't a Central Grocery Muffuletta but really good and perfect for game day.

I love making a few big sandwiches rather than lots of little ones. This is a New Orleans style Muffuletta with lots of cured meats, cheese, and olive salad... it isn't a Central Grocery Muffuletta but really good and perfect for game day.

12. Make giant sandwiches instead of lots of small sandwiches. Just take a large loaf of bread and make one large sandwich. Slice it up and you are good to go! If you make hot sandwiches, make sure to double the foil on the bottom so you do not burn the bread. Open up the top of the foil for the last few minutes to get the bread toasty. Add a little cheese on top and toast it for some extra yum.

NATIONAL S'MORES DAY: MAKE INDOOR S'MORES, S'MORES POPS, S'MORES BAR AND MORE!

August 10th is National S'mores Day... and in celebration of that summertime treat, here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy them and you won't even need to build a fire for some of these versions!

 Create a S'mores Bar for a party, wedding, or simple backyard fun...

Create a S'mores Bar for a party, wedding, or simple backyard fun...

 Make Indoor S'mores for any occasion: family game night, movie night, or an overnight party for the kids. They keep well once cooled and wrapped and make a great gift.

Make Indoor S'mores for any occasion: family game night, movie night, or an overnight party for the kids. They keep well once cooled and wrapped and make a great gift.

INDOOR S'MORES

Why wait for a campfire or fire for that matter to make up a batch of S'mores? I have perfected Indoor S'mores and I could not wait to share them with you! Perfect for a party or even just a night in front of the tv, make some of these up for the best-ever comfort food treat. They don't go soggy so you can make them for a picnic or take them to a party as long as you keep them in a cool spot. Make some up and let me know what you think!

INGREDIENTS

1 box of Graham crackers

1 bag of mini-marshmallows

Nutella Chocolate Hazelnut spread

Fill up sheet pans with Graham crackers. Spread each with a thin layer of Nutella. Put 6-7 mini marshmallows on top of each. Put under the broiler for about 2 minutes. Watch to make sure they get golden brown. Take them out and let them cool slightly. Make sandwiches by pressing two together. Eat right that moment or let them cool completely and wrap each with plastic wrap. Keep cool until serving time but do not chill them in the fridge or the cracker will get soggy.

S'MORES POPSICLES

Fudgey-Choco Pops recipe below*

20 mini-marshmallows

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs

Small plastic or paper cups

Popsicle sticks

In the bottom of a plastic cup, put a small amount of the graham cracker crumbs, about 1 teaspoon for each cup. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of the chocolate mixture and 4 marshmallows, top with another  teaspoon of the chocolate and use a spoon to press the chocolate into the marshmallows. Tap the cup on the counter to make a dense layer. Continue layers as necessary to fill the cup, leaving 1/4" at the top. Allow to set up for at least 30 minutes and add a popsicle stick to each cup. Allow to freeze for at least 4 hours.

 These S'mores Popsicles are very simple to make and taste just like their namesake!

These S'mores Popsicles are very simple to make and taste just like their namesake!

FUDGEY CHOCO POPS

1 cup water

2.5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped ( you can sub cocoa- just add 1 tablespoon butter if you do)

1/3 cup sugar

pinch salt

1/3 cup milk (use whole or 2%)

1 T. heavy cream (or you can use half and half)

1/2 t. vanilla

1/8 t. instant coffee (or you can use leftover strong coffee)

Put the chopped chocolate, sugar, and salt in a saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the water, a little at a time as the chocolate melts and the sugar dissolves. Once the chocolate has completely melted, remove from heat. Whisk in the coffee, vanilla, milk, and cream. Chill and cool completely.

And if you want to build a campfire, offer your guests lots of options with my S'MORES BAR!

 Simple and delicious... make a S'mores bar for your next get-together so guests can create their own special dessert!

Simple and delicious... make a S'mores bar for your next get-together so guests can create their own special dessert!

WEDDINGS: BLACK AND WHITE REHEARSAL DINNER

When my friends Scott and Cam's son Jeremy got married, I helped Cam implement her party plan for the after rehearsal dinner--- a casual shrimp boil on the lake.  The party was touching tribute complete with speeches and sentimental moments--- a perfect kick-off for a busy wedding weekend. The theme for the party was black and white and all of the guests dressed in black and white attire.

ideas for a rehearsal dinner Martie Duncan

We created a casual yet elegant setting which allowed the perfect opportunity for everyone to relax and catch up. All of the out-of-town family and friends were included in the after rehearsal dinner festivities.  

party at the lake Martie Duncan

We were able to borrow tables and chairs from the family's church to avoid having to rent them. White tablecloths were not actually tablecloths but twin sheets Cam found for a few dollars each. They were topped with a black and white topper or runner. Lanterns with an antique feel were used along with vases of white flowers and photos of the couple throughout their relationship.

We greeted guests at poolside with cold glasses of iced tea and traditional Southern favorites like Black-Eye Pea dip, cheese straws, bacon and cheese muffins, and fresh fruit.

Family and friends all pitched in to help with the food. The Shrimp Boil was cooked on the dock and served in a huge wooden boat. Tables were set with cocktail sauce and melted butter for dipping. Homemade bread with sweet butter rounded out the menu.

black and white rehearsal dinner plan Martie Duncan