Meaty Tailgate Snacks | News, Sports, Jobs

Football season is in full swing and so is our passion for food and game day fun. Whether it’s a tailgate party at the stadium or a table full of snacks placed next to the big screen TV in the man cave, food and football go together like pigskin and passes.

With that in mind, the key to tailgate success is choosing recipes that are tasty but not overly complicated and can be made ahead, ready to go in the oven or microwave, or stage on the portable grill for reheating, if needed . Thermal pans and aluminum foil are also useful for keeping food warm during transport, as long as it is served soon after arrival.

If on-the-spot prep is necessary, such as with meatball skewers, remember to pack soap and water or a container of wet wipes for cleaning hands and prepping utensils.

Hot Sausage Dip

1 pound hot pork sausage, casings removed

1 can (10 ounces) diced tomatoes and green chiles

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided

Corn Chips (Scoops) for Dipping

Directions: In a large skillet, brown the sausage, stirring, until the meat crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain well.

Drain tomatoes, reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Combine sausage, tomatoes and reserved jus, cream cheese and 1/3 cup cheddar cheese. Pour into a lightly greased 1 liter baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining 2/3 cup of cheddar cheese on top. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbly. Transport to game in a thermal carrier or wrap the dish in foil and reheat on the grill, if necessary. Serve hot with corn chips.

BBQ muffins

1 pound cooked pulled pork or chicken

1 cup favorite barbecue sauce

2 boxes Large cookies

Directions: Combine pulled pork or chicken and barbecue sauce.

Separate cookies. Using 2 standard-size 12-cup muffin pans, line the pans with a cookie, stretching as necessary to line the bottom and sides of each pan. Spoon 2-3 tablespoons of meat mixture into the center of each cookie pan, pressing down gently.

Bake in preheated 400 degree F oven for about 20 minutes, or until cookies are puffed and golden. Remove cookies from muffin tins and let cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes before serving. For tailgating, cool completely and wrap in foil for transport. Reheat on grill over indirect or low heat until hot. Give 24.

Cheese-stuffed meatball skewers

(Finish them on the spot for a unique and tasty treat.)

12 bamboo skewers

1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup milk

1 pound ground beef

1 small yellow onion

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1 C. italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. salt

6 mozzarella cheese sticks

Olive oil or grill spray

Marinara sauce for dipping, if desired

Instructions: In a large bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, egg and milk. Leave to soak for about 5 minutes. Add beef, onion, Parmesan and seasonings. Mix gently to combine. At this point, the mix can be boxed up and refrigerated, ready to be transported to the game.

Before grilling, soak the skewers in water for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, cut each cheese stick in half to make 12 small pieces. Carefully thread each piece of cheese lengthwise onto the tip of a skewer, pressing gently so that there is about 1 inch of skewer visible at the tip. Carefully shape 2-3 tablespoons of the meat mixture around each piece of cheese, covering completely without making the meatball too thick.

Preheat grill to medium heat then brush grill with olive oil or non-stick grill spray. Place the skewers on the grill and grill over direct heat for about 10 minutes, turning them several times to prevent them from blackening. Serve with marinara sauce, if desired. Makes 12 skewers.

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Edward L. Robinett