If You Can’t Win the Game, Win the Tailgate

By: Stacy Thompson

As football fans, we like to believe that we have control over the ultimate outcome of a game — gotta wear that lucky shirt, lucky hat or lucky socks; if watching on TV, gotta sit in the lucky seat. Obviously, the actions or inactions of the fans have little to do with the play on the field, but that knowledge doesn’t make losing a game any easier or tolerable. On the flip side, there are those that don’t really follow football or care whether the home team wins or loses but simply enjoy the great southern tradition of football tailgating. So whether you are an ardent fan or dedicated socializer, I hope you enjoy these quick and easy tailgate recipes to make your Saturday a blast. Just add burgers, dogs or BBQ and you’ll easily win the day regardless of the score of the game!

Southern Caviar

  • 2 cans black-eyed peas
  • 2 cans shoe peg corn
  • 2 cans Ro-tel tomatoes
  • 2 large bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can black beans
  • 12 small green onions, chopped
  • 3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp parsley flakes
  • 16-ounce bottle Zesty Italian dressing

Mix all ingredients and chill overnight. Serve with Tostitos scoops.

 

Sweet Southern Slaw

  • 1 (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix (finely shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced onion
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon poppy seeds

Mix coleslaw and onion. Whisk remaining ingredients and toss well. Chill before serving.

 

Southern Deviled Eggs

  • 7 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  • 1 pinch each of salt and pepper

Cut eggs lengthwise. Place yolks in a small bowl, mash, and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Fill egg whites with mixture and garnish with paprika or pimientos.

 

Krispy Kreme Casserole

  • 9 Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts, day old
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 2-quart baking dish. Cut donuts into 1/2 inch pieces. Whisk together remaining ingredients and pour over donuts. Let sit for 2 hours. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes until middle is firm.

Tailgate Withdrawal

By: Stacy Thompson

For those that may be concerned about my lack of recent posts and a lack of sports-related themes…fear not!! I am merely a victim of TWS (Tailgate Withdrawal Syndrome) — a very real affliction that will likely play itself out in 120 days (or so). If you think someone you know may suffer from this same illness, read the warning signs below and have them contact me to assist in my endeavor to form a meaningful support group…

  1. You watch the sun come up over Williams-Brice Stadium from your tailgating spot and wonder why your friends are running so late…in May.
  1. You sit in your fold-out chair under your Gamecock tent on Saturday morning drinking a cold one and eating chili…at 8:00 a.m.
  1. You begin purchasing family-sized bags of Tostitos scoops during the week…and large quantities of mayo…and jumbo-sized bags of shredded cheese…
  1. You begin to tear up and jump up and down when you hear Sandstorm or cry like a baby and break out in goose-bumps when you hear 2001.
  1. You obsessively troll the food.com, recipes.com and cook.com websites for new ideas to fit with your tailgate theme menus for the upcoming season (which you already have marked on your calendar with the preceding day off to execute your masterpiece of a menu).
  1. You view utensils, food receptacles and serving ware at Target only for their value in terms of tailgate utility and aesthetic.
  1. You pack and unpack your car with tailgate gear, with the same rhythm and grace as a Nascar pit crew…while timing yourself to achieve maximum efficiency and speed.
  1. Your ears perk instantly when you hear the words “tail” and “gate”…even when used in a derogatory fashion to describe your rear-end’s inability to pass through an entryway (you may have to talk this one through, but eventually you’ll get it).
  1. You make large quantities of appetizers and sweets…just because.
  1. You watch and re-watch most every game from the 2011, 2012 and 2013 football seasons…remembering not only the grandeur that is college football but the amazing food and camaraderie that was had by all.

See you all soon!

Superbowl Snacks

By: Stacy Thompson

Football

At the writing of this blog, I may be really, really happy about the competitors involved in Super Bowl LI (if it’s the Packers/Patriots) or just looking forward to a good game. But for many people, the biggest game in the National Football League doesn’t signify the game between the two best teams, but something much greater, much more lasting. Not just the commercials, my friends, but the food served before, during and after the big event!

Ideal Super Bowl commercials generally include a monkey, kid or Clydesdales (Career Builder/Monkey Office, The Force/Mean Joe Green/Like a Girl, and pretty much every Budweiser commercial ever, most of all the post-911 tribute). The commercials keep us in our seats through the breaks in play and sometimes are more entertaining than the game itself. Regardless, the food can bring a good game home or take minds off of the fact that the next football competition is many, many Sundays away…

So, without further ado, here are some suggestions for your Super Bowl menu:

CRISP AND SPICY SNACK MIX

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups crisscross of corn and rice cereal (such as Crispix)
  • 1 cup tiny pretzel twists or sticks
  • 1/2 cup wheat crackers (such as Wheat Thins)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar crackers (such as Cheez-It)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon ginger stir-fry sauce (such as Lawry’s)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 250º.
  2. Combine the first 4 ingredients in a bowl. Combine butter, stir-fry sauce, powder, cumin, and salt; drizzle over cereal mixture, tossing to coat. Spread mixture into a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 250º for 30 minutes or until crisp, stirring twice.

HOT ARTICHOKE – CHILI DIP

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14 oz.) can artichoke hearts, drained & chopped
  • 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chili peppers, drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Triscuit crackers or tortilla chips for dipping

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl stir together artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise and chopped chili peppers. Transfer artichoke mixture to a casserole dish.
  2. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven about 20 minutes. Top with shredded parmesan cheese and broil until browned.
  3. Serve warm with crackers or tortilla chips.

CHILI RECIPE

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (season with salt/pepper)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 large green pepper diced
  • 1/2 large red pepper diced
  • 1 can rotel – Mexican flavored diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1 can dark beer
  • 4 tablespoons ground chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 square Bakers unsweetend chocolate
  • Garnish—sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, green onions
  • Serve with or without rice

Directions:

  1. Brown beef, peppers, and onion. Drain off any grease.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. Add the beans last.
  3. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat to VERY low.
  4. Cook with the lid off for an hour. Then cook 1 hour with the lid on. Can be cooked in a slow cooker on low heat for 2 hours.

Cheering On the Underdogs

By: Stacy Thompson

chicago-cubs

Once a year this Gamecock fan goes on a local radio program with an equally-passionate female Clemson fan to talk about the year ahead for our respective football teams. My cohort and I don’t speak of uniform colors, discuss what to wear to games or swap tailgate recipes (though I love a good dip or three!), but instead tout the strength of our lines, critique coaching staffs and herald our playmakers on either side of the ball. We relish the opportunity to give guidance to our non-football-lovin’ (male or female) listeners as we pass along phrases to repeat during the game that will convince all armchair Monday-morning quarterbacks that you know your stuff, including:

“The game is won or lost at the line of scrimmage.”

“The coach should utilize the tight ends more.”

“That player (after an astounding catch or run) just has incredible vision and a motor that won’t quit.”

“The ref clearly swallowed the whistle” (on a big play by the other team) or “good non-call” (if the play goes your way).

I love football, and frankly, all sports and sporting competitions. For this reason, although I am not a dedicated enthusiast of Major League Baseball (or even much of a casual fan beyond the World Series), I was immersed in the battle between two long-suffering franchises, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs. Part of me was rooting for Ricky ‘Wild Thing’ Vaughn and Willie Mayes Hayes (see the movie ‘Major League’ to get the reference) to appear for the Indians, but mostly I was holding my breath with countless long-suffering Cubbies to end the 108 year drought and win a title.

In sports, we always love an underdog–a David vs. Goliath face off, nerd vs. popular jock showdown, a lovable loser. We root for the little guy not because we don’t want to see one overwhelming and dominating force, but because we feel like, hey, if that team/competitor with a clear disadvantage can overcome the odds to win, so can we. This year the Cubs were the best in baseball, both during the season and ultimately in the post-season, but they still had to overcome a supposed ‘curse’ to prevail–a curse that was, by most accounts, uttered by a slighted tavern owner who was turned away at the gate because he couldn’t bring his smelly goat into the ballpark. Yes, you read that right–a dude couldn’t bring an odorous farm animal into a public place and the end result was a team that could not win the final prize for 108 years. Whether the story was truth or fiction, it was the scapegoat (pun intended) for many near-misses and missed opportunities. Well, regardless, the curse is done and now most fans are now seeking out that next ‘best-to-never-win-it-all’ to cheer on.

The best and the worst thing about sports competition is that there has to be a winner, which naturally means there also has to be a loser. Learning to do either gracefully is the real takeaway in life, but watching the battle unfold can be reality TV at its best. Seeing players giving “110 percent” and “leaving it all on the field” may be cliche, but reminds us all that efforts don’t go unrewarded–even with the curse of a rejected smelly goat.

Congrats Chicago, and congrats Cleveland–you guys provided entertainment and hope for all us long-suffering fans of the underdog!

What Is It About Football Season?

By: Shannon Shull

I am not a college football fanatic, never really have been. Yes, I grew up a Gamecock – it was a bit inevitable, seeing as how I grew up in Gamecock country and over half of my family graduated from the University of South Carolina. But I admit, unless it’s a USC game, Gamecock FootballI could give a flip what happens in any football game. I mean absolutely no offense, I just have no major connection nor the time to invest in college football.

But, by golly, there’s just something about being in an environment with a bunch of hardcore football fans – especially college football fans! The connection to their schools – oh the pride! It’s fantastic! So, between the great food, festivities and excitement in the air, if you’re with the right people, it can be electric and such fun! When it’s a Gamecock game, I go nuts and get into it – so I’m REALLY hoping the ole Gamecocks have a great season this year. 😉 But even if it’s not a USC game, it’s contagious watching a group of people on the edge of their seats, jumping up and down with the intensity of the game. Whether you have any clue what teams are playing or not, if you let yourself, you can really have a great time. Football games bring people together and create an atmosphere of camaraderie and competition that can be a blast.

Of course, that’s as long as you’re with logical, cool people who don’t take it too seriously and get too stupid! You know, the fools who scream and curse at the TV and anyone around them…you know those people. Sorry, but I cannot and will not tolerate those kind of football fans. Those supposed “know-it-alls” who act as if they could do better and actually would have made that touchdown had they been on the field. Yea, I’d just love to literally throw those fans out on the field and let them just try to do better! But I won’t go that route with my blog entry here, as I want to focus on the positive fun of football watchin’.

I’ve written an entry in the past sharing some amazing football-watching appetizers. Sometimes, the food is the highlight of any football gathering. I mean, any gathering that’s truly awesome has good food, right!? So pair that yummy food with great company and you’ve got a recipe for a dang good time.

College Football Map

Being an artistic person who teaches drama, I tend to people watch. It’s actually great fun to watch someone who is so invested in their team and see how they react as they cheer on the players throughout the game. Talk about a character study! Some folks are so dedicated that when their team experiences a loss of any sort, you can almost see their spirit literally break. It’s quite unbelievable at times. Yet the joy that overcomes their bodies when their beloved team does something right… watch out! It really is an experience. You don’t just watch, you feel. I’ve grown to love it – to see people happy is always a lovely thing.

I think that as I get older, I’ve really grown to appreciate this thing called football season. It’s wonderful to see good people come together to cheer on their team and truly enjoy their time together as they dive into the world of football and become so invested in their dear teams. Bless them all. Hey, if a bunch of dudes tossing a ball and smashing into each other creates this environment of fellowship and fun, then I am all for it!

So what is it about football season, after all? If we could harness the focus, energy, time and money spent on the sport of football, then we could certainly cure cancer, save the world or something along those lines, I’d think. There are many other events that are also overdone that that I could rant about, but instead I will keep it positive and focus on the basic truth that football season can truly be a lot of fun, if you let it. Even if you’re like me and you secretly couldn’t care less about who wins or loses, I think we can all appreciate any excuse for some positive “togetherness.”

GO COCKS!

The big world of college football is something that we can all look forward to for many reasons. And it’s ok if we don’t all have the same reasons, as long as we keep it positive, enjoy the electricity in the air, enjoy our time together and celebrate the game!

Hip Hip Hooray for Football Season and GO COCKS!!!  🙂

 

Pasta with Roasted Balsamic Vegetables

By: Brady Evans

It is football season! That means a couple of things.

My Sunday night love of watching 60 Minutes on CBS will be inevitably delayed an indeterminate amount of time each week.  The football games ALWAYS run over the alotted time but NEVER by the same amount, so I find myself dashing in and out, checking the football clock not because I care about the game, but trying to see if I can fit one more chore in before the tick tock tick tock of my favorite show.

It is football season! That means I can’t accidentally wear orange or the locals will think I’m pulling for the rival, and I’ll be blacklisted.

It is football season! Gameday traffic and the TV on during Thanksgiving dinner, and friends being unavailable because they watch football and I don’t.

It isn’t that I hate football.  I just hate how my non-football oriented life is interrupted.  In case you’re like me and you’re trying to delay the season little by little, then put away your chili recipe and your hot wing cravings and enjoy this meal of waning summer produce.  It is loaded with veggies and seasoned simply with high quality balsamic vinegars and olive oils.
Pasta with Balsamic Roasted Vegetables (adapted from Epicurious)

Ingredients

6 ounces pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 yellow squash or zucchini, sliced
1 onion, sliced
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T basil infused olive oil
salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Whisk together garlic, olive oil, and vinegar.
  3. In a large bowl, toss vegetables with balsamic mixture until completely coated.
  4. Spread vegetables on a roasted pan and cook 20-25 minutes until browned.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Toss with warm pasta.

Amazing Appetizers for Football Season

By: Shannon Shull

Woo Hooo!!! It’s Football Season!!! Yummy finger foods are an absolute requirement for tailgating or watching football at home! No matter what team you’re rootin’ for, amazing appetizers are sure to please as you cheer on your home team.

One of my dearest friends gave me a fabulous cookbook several years ago and it quickly became one of my absolute favorites. It’s Taste of Home’s “The New Appetizer: The Best Recipes For Today’s Party Starters.”  I just have to share some of my favorite recipes with you all. All of these have been total hits every time I’ve made them!

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

1 pound sliced bacon (I use turkey bacon!)

2 cans whole water chestnuts, drained

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup mayo

¼ cup chili sauce (I use Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce – this stuff rocks!)

Toothpicks

Cut the turkey bacon strips in half, cook them in skillet – but don’t let them get too crispy! Wrap each water chestnut with a strip of bacon and secure with toothpick. Place in an ungreased baking dish. Combine the brown sugar, mayo and chili sauce (I add more chili sauce if I know my Dad or anyone else who LOVES hot stuff will be partaking of this dish!) Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

You will find that it is impossible to eat only one!

Mozzarella Puffs

*These tasty things are super easy to make! And even my pickiest child eats them!

1 tube of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1 teaspoon of seasoning – can use Oregano or I like to use Lawry’s seasoning salt & pepper

1 block of mozzarella cheese

Pizza Sauce (or I’ve even used good ole’ Ragu Spaghetti Sauce)

Make an indention in the center of each biscuit, sprinkle with your seasoning of choice. Cut the mozzarella into cubes and place cube in center of biscuit. Sometimes I add a small spot of the sauce before pinching the dough tightly around the cheese to seal. Place seam side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread pizza sauce over tops. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

These yummy puffs are so easy and filling for any gathering!

Veggie Spiral Sticks

*These appetizers look pretty and provide a bit healthier munching option!

Carrots

Asparagus – fresh and trimmed

Tube of refrigerated breadsticks

Egg whites, beaten

Parmesan Cheese

Oregano or other Seasoning Choice – (again, I love to use Lawry’s & Pepper)

Cut carrots lengthwise into quarters. In large skillet, bring 2 inches of water to boil. Add carrots; cook for 3 minutes. Add fresh asparagus; cook 2-3 minutes longer. Drain and rinse with cold water; pat dry.  Cut each piece of breadstick dough in half. Roll each piece into a 7 inch rope. Wrap one rope in a spiral around each veggie. Place on baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray; tuck ends of dough under the veggies to secure.  Brush with egg white. Combine the parmesan cheese and your seasoning, then sprinkle over the sticks. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  I like to offer BBQ sauce for dipping – or of course can offer ranch dressing, which you can dip anything into!

Let me know if you try any of these recipes out.  And please do share any fabulous football season appetizers you’ve scored with!  Here’s to a college football season full of fantastic foods!