The arrival of crisp, autumn days means football season is in full swing. It’s time to pack up your family and some game-day goodies and head out for a tailgating party with friends. Fill your menu with foods you can prepare ahead of time and enjoy on the go. Find a great parking spot, put out a winning spread and sit back to enjoy the day’s football and tailgating fun.
Football tailgate food isn’t complete without sandwiches, but don’t give your crowd anything ho-hum. Pulled pork sandwiches with a slab of cheese on top will score winning points, as will southern-style barbecue-beef sandwiches with coleslaw. Offer make-your-own sub fare with rolls, deli meat, cheeses, vegetables and sandwich spreads. No hungry fan will turn down tempting BLTs served on toasted biscuits. If you’re serving warm sandwiches, make them piping hot at home, wrap them tightly in aluminum foil and transport them in an empty cooler to keep them toasty until serving — a cooler minus the ice keeps food warm. If you’re serving chilled sandwiches, keep everything cool in coolers with ice.
A tailgate party wouldn’t be complete without dips and dippers. Homemade guacamole and spicy salsa complement tortilla chips. Hollow out a football-shaped loaf of bread and fill it with a beer-cheese spread for dipping with soft bread chunks. Set out raw vegetables and serve them with homemade hummus or chilled salmon dip. You won’t fumble with warm spinach artichoke dip served with thin and crispy crackers. Keep warm dips warm in insulated containers designed to keep hot foods hot for serving safety.
Take along a platter of deviled eggs decorated to look like footballs and add a staple like potato salad, pasta salad or baked beans to your tailgate spread. Score a touchdown with your little ones when you serve up a hearty layered taco casserole filled with black beans, salsa, sour cream, avocado, olives, crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese on top. Use coolers and insulated serving containers liberally. You don’t want the referee to penalize you for a food-safety violation.
Long before the fourth quarter, put out the sweet treats. Make homemade whoopie pies in the shape of footballs with whipped frosting between the cookie sandwich layers. Decorate cupcakes with green frosting for the game turf with chocolate-frosting footballs on top. Double-chocolate brownies with fudge frosting are a sure score with the youngsters. You’ll keep your crowd happy and fed, even if the game goes into overtime.