Game On

It’s that time of year again, and with tailgate season upon us, we’re sharing some stylish ideas and tips to help you up your game.

Tailgating has become such a big part of the football experience that many people are just as excited about the food as they are about the game itself. For those of you who are ready to ditch those red Solo cups, unhealthy snacks and worn out folding chairs, here’s our guide to a stylish southern tailgate party.

Go Hard Or Go Home

Tailgating doesn’t have to mean roughing it. In fact, bringing along a few comforts of home will make the festivities that much more enjoyable. Cozy throw blankets to spread out on the grass, outdoor cushions and pillows, a great tablecloth to cover the bed of the truck, a few chic folding tables and stylish seating options, all bring the comforts of home to the game.

Pro Bowl

Ditch the plastic. It’s harmful to the environment, winds up tumbling out of over-full trash cans and looks cheap. Show that you’re both style conscious and an advocate for the planet by upgrading to reusable dishware, cutlery and cups. Mason jars or glass bottles are a great substitute for plastic cups; vintage enamel campware dishes and cutlery add a rustic feel. Coleman, L.L. Bean and Target are just a few retailers with great options. If you have to use straws, go for the biodegradable paper or hay ones.

Using rustic items, like old picnic baskets or retro serving trays, to carry or display food adds that outdoorsy, on-the-go vibe. They also double as extra storage space while traveling from home to the stadium.

Game Plan

Rule number one for tailgaters is to serve foods that are easy to eat and easy for guests to keep hold of while they mix and mingle. Choose foods that can be made in individual containers or are easy to grab and go. Arrange your buffet on the tailgate for easy access and complement those main dishes with healthy snacks, like popcorn, crudités and trail mix. These can be staged in small individual Mason jars.

Win The Day

The high-scoring crowd pleasers at my tailgating gatherings are my Hot Buffalo Dip, One-Pan Turkey Melt Sliders, Cornbread Casserole and Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies—so I always keep them in the lineup. For a delicious twist on a classic stadium snack, try my Rosemary Buttered Popcorn recipe. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to plain old popcorn again.

All The Right Moves

I like to serve a signature drink in addition to plenty of wine, beer and soft drinks. My Spiked Lemonade is always a hit and can be served either over crushed ice or in chilled individual glass bottles.

One-Pan Turkey

Melt Sliders

  • 12 slider buns, split
  • 24 thin turkey slices
  • 8 thin Swiss cheese slices, ripped into 3–4 pieces each
  • 2 1/2-3 cups coleslaw mix
  • 4 ounces herbed chèvre cheese
  • Dijon mustard (as indicated below)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350˚F. › Place bottoms of slider buns in a 9X13 baking dish. Spread desired amount of Dijon mustard on each bun. › Place 2 slices of turkey and desired amount of Swiss cheese pieces on each bun. Top with desired amount of coleslaw mix (about a 1/4 cup per slider). › Spread chèvre cheese on each cut side of the tops of the buns. Place on top of sandwiches. › Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. › While baking, melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add parsley and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and set aside. › Remove foil from the pan. Brush each bun with butter mixture. Bake, uncovered, for another 10 minutes until tops are golden. Serve immediately.

Cornbread Casserole

  • 1 cup fresh non-GMO kernels of corn (2 ears of corn)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can organic cream-style corn
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter (plus additional to coat pan)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package corn muffin mix
  • 6 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • Pinch of pink Himalayan Salt

In a large bowl, stir together fresh corn, canned corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream and butter. › Pour into a buttered 9-inch square baking pan. Bake at 350 °F for 60 to 75 minutes, or until golden brown. › Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Brownies

  • 2 cups organic cane granulated sugar
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 4 large cage-free eggs
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter plus a 1/4 cup for swirling
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder or Ghirardelli cocoa
  • 1 3/4 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 12 tablespoons (6 ounces) butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees°F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch glass pan and set aside. › In a large bowl, whip the butter and peanut butter together with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy, about one to two minutes. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until combined. Stir in the cocoa until the mixture is smooth and no dry streaks remain. › Add the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir once or twice then add the chocolate chips. Stir until no dry streaks remain; the batter will be thick. › Spread the batter evenly in the pan. With a knife, swirl slightly melted remaining peanut butter and make four straight lines. Then, taking the knife, pull the peanut butter the opposite direction of the lines. › Bake for 20-24 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Don’t overbake! › Let the brownies cool completely in the pan. Cut into squares and serve chilled or at room temperature. The baked and cooled brownies freeze well.

Rosemary Buttered Popcorn

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup unpopped organic popcorn kernels
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt plus more to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Remove leaves from the fresh rosemary and finely chop. › Melt butter in small pan on stovetop, add rosemary, garlic salt and pepper. › Prepare popcorn and add to bowl. › Drizzle butter mixture over the popcorn. › Top with fresh-grated Parmesan Cheese, then toss and serve immediately.

Hot Buffalo Dip

  • 2 cans (12.5 ounces each) Swanson’s Chicken Breast
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened 
  • 1/2 cup Nando’s Garlic Medium Hot sauce or Frank’s Wing Sauce
  • 1/2 cup Ranch dressing 
  • 1/2 cup fresh blue cheese crumbles 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Spoon into shallow 1-quart baking dish. › Bake 20 minutes or until mixture is heated through; stir. Sprinkle with green onions, if desired, and serve with corn chips or veggies.

Spiked Lemonade

  • 2 cups lemon-flavored sparkling water or club soda 
  • 1/2 cup citrus-flavored vodka, chilled 
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, chilled
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur 
  • Crushed ice 
  • Lemon slices

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large pitcher. › Serve over crushed ice. Garnish each serving with a lemon slice.

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