Cooks Corner: Simple recipes make tailgating meals easy

Published 5:40 am Wednesday, August 27, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell
Football and food just seem to together. When I think of football I naturally think of things like hamburgers, hot dogs, boiled peanuts and a cool drink.
Since football season is getting into swing, I thought I might share some recipes this week that would be great for a tailgate party before the big game.
Although, Brewton doesn't have a big college team to watch locally, there are a lot of people who do go to games in Tuscaloosa, Auburn and Tallahassee and even on down to Gainesville. When you make the effort to travel to those games, you might as well enjoy the whole weekend by having a tailgate party with your friends.
Even if you don't travel to big games, it's still fun to have friends gather for some great food at home around the big-screen television on a Saturday afternoon.
If getting together with friends before the game, at home or away, the recipes found here may give you a little something to look forward to along with touchdowns.
The best kinds of foods for any party are ones that can be prepared ahead of time and served with minimal fuss. That means that appetizers, sandwiches or other hand-held foods are the best selections for just such an event.
To start things off, this appetizer might be one of the best combinations I've ever seen. And, to make it even better, this version of Buffalo wings isn't messy and doesn't require a lot of clean up afterwards. I've made this recipe several times and everyone seems to enjoy it pretty well. Although I've only served it with crackers and vegetables, I think it might make a pretty good sandwich. I'll let you be the judge.
Buffalo Chicken Dip
2 (10 ounce) cans chunk chicken, drained
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup ranch dressing
3/4 cup pepper sauce, such as Franks Red Hot
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 bunch celery, cleaned and cut into 4-inch pieces
1 (8 ounce) box chicken-flavored crackers
Heat chicken and hot sauce in a skillet over medium heat, until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and ranch dressing. Cook, stirring until well blended and warm. Mix in half of the shredded cheese, and transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, cover, and cook on Low setting until hot and bubbly. Serve with celery sticks and crackers.
Another good dip or spread that I've made several times is one that brings the elements of a BLT together in one dish. The serving tip says to serve the dip with toast points, but I'm thinking a good buttery cracker is perfect for this one. Again, it might be okay as a sandwich if you go easy on the spread. I've experimented with this recipe a couple of times with pretty good success. Instead of freshly cooked bacon, I've used a jar of real bacon bits (not the crunchy kind). Also, when tomatoes are not at their best, I've actually used a can of very well drained diced tomatoes. If you do use the canned tomatoes, let me warn you that draining them very well is extremely important.
1 pound bacon
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 tomato – peeled, seeded and diced
Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain on paper towels. In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise and sour cream. Crumble bacon into the sour cream and mayonnaise mixture. Mix in tomatoes just before serving.
Some sandwiches hold up pretty well on their own when prepared ahead of time. One of my favorite sandwiches is made with pimento cheese. The store bought kind is good and is simple to use, but there's nothing like homemade pimento cheese. If you've never made pimento cheese at home, it's something worth considering. It takes a little time, but when you buy the cheeses grated, it cuts down on time and effort and is well worth the work.
Basic Pimento Cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
2 (4 ounce) jars diced pimento peppers, drained
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper, to taste
In a medium bowl combine cheese, pimentos, mayonnaise, salt and pepper. Add more or less mayonnaise to achieve desired texture. Mix well.
To add a little zip to a basic pimento cheese recipe, there are some things you can put in that will make your spread even better.
Additions to basic pimento cheese: a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 1/3 cup feta cheese, 1/2 tsp. onion salt, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, a dash of cayenne pepper.
Sandwiches are always a good idea, but they are a little difficult to prepare ahead of time with success.
A lot of sandwiches are made with tomato and end up being soggy before they can be eaten. Some moist spreads, like chicken salad, can also cause the bread to get a little gooey as well.
I've found some tips that might help prevent the problem of soggy or gooey bread when planning your sandwiches for the party.

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