Back To School Means Tailgating

Ok so I know most of you think of cute little cookies and lunchbox sandwiches when you think of back to school, but to me when I think about back to school – I think about football games, homecoming, and tailgating!

Fall is my favorite time of year and those last precious sunny days followed by cool nights make us savor those last opportunities to enjoy cooking and eating in the outdoors.  The trick to great tailgate food is to not make it complicated.  I want tasty hearty food that holds up well, is not too messy to eat, and is easily cooked or reheated on a grill or portable burner.  For me, it also has to pair well with cold beer!

I found a couple of perfect tailgate recipes on  If you make these tasty treats for your next tailgating party I guarantee you will score a culinary touchdown with your family and friends.  The first is one a take on a classic sandwich:

Tailgate Sausages



  • 1/2 cup giardiniera
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 cooked Italian sausage links
  • 4 slices provolone cheese, cut into strips
  • 4 brat buns or hot dog buns, split


  • In a small food processor, combine giardiniera and sugar; cover and
  • process until blended. Make a lengthwise slit three-fourths of the
  • way through each sausage to within 1/2 in. of each end. Fill with
  • giardiniera mixture and cheese.
  • Place sausages in buns; wrap individually in a double thickness of
  • heavy-duty foil (about 12 in. x 10 in.). Grill, uncovered, over
  • medium-hot heat for 8-10 minutes or until heated through and cheese
  • is melted. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Yield: 4
  • servings.
Editor’s Note: Giardiniera, a pickled vegetable mixture, is available in mild and hot varieties and can be found in the Italian or pickle section of your grocery store.

The second is one of my favorite finger foods – Empanadas.  They are so versatile and easy to eat without a mess.

Football Fest Empanadas



  • 1 jar (16 ounces) black bean and corn salsa
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro, divided
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 package (9 ounces) ready-to-use Southwestern chicken strips, chopped
  • 2 packages (14.1 ounces each) refrigerated pie pastry
  • 4 ounces quesadilla cheese, shredded
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten


  • In a large bowl, combine the salsa, corn, jalapenos, 2 tablespoons
  • cilantro and lime juice. In another bowl, combine the chicken,
  • remaining cilantro and 1/2 cup salsa mixture; set aside. Reserve
  • remaining salsa for serving.
  • Unroll a pastry sheet onto a lightly floured surface. Using a floured
  • 4-in. round cookie cutter placed halfway on edge of pastry, cut
  • 4-in. x 3-in. football shapes. Repeat with remaining dough, chilling
  • and  rerolling scraps as needed.
  • Transfer half of the cutouts to greased baking sheets. Place 1
  • tablespoon chicken mixture in the center of each; top each with
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cheese. Brush edges of pastry with egg. Top with
  • remaining cutouts; press edges with a fork to seal. Cut slits in the
  • tops to resemble football laces. Brush tops with egg.
  • Bake at 450° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm
  • with reserved salsa mixture. Refrigerate leftovers. Yield: 2 dozen.

So enjoy those last days of nice weather with these delicious recipes and may your favorite team win!

Happy Cooking!

One thought on “Back To School Means Tailgating

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