Tailgating specialities for the big game

Tailgating has become as much an event as the games for which they prepare.  What started as a few beers and hot dogs before a big game has turned into chili cook off and BB-Q’s in the parking lot, often with up to a third of these participants don’t end up staying for the rumble in the arena.  Even celebrity chefs are raising the bar for tailgate food, I rarely watch Michael Symon or Bobby Flay so excited as when they’re sharing tailgate recipes on their shows.

What I’m sharing with you this week is a reminder that there’s more to the modern tailgate than just a grill.  I’ve got an over-the-top chip dip, pizza bites, and a little something to satisfy the sweet tooth.  These are great to share in a parking lot, or at a viewing party with friends – let’s face it, you have to be a pretty hardcore fan to tailgate in December in Cleveland.  I’ll stick with my living room on those Sundays.

This is not my mom’s bean dip.  When I made it last week, my husband asked if this was my own creation, or something I’d gotten elsewhere.  I explained that it had started as my mom’s, but I made a few changes – much more ketchup than BBQ sauce, no mustard, no tomatoes, no spices, no hot sauce – that’s where he cut me off and declared it my own.  There’s a few ways of making this (choose your own adventure?), depending on how you’re going to eat it.  Naturally, you would eat this on a corn chip, but what I mean is if you’re hosting the party, it would be easiest to throw everything in a crock pot and let it cook itself, whereas if you were tailgating or going to someone else’s party, baking dishes would be the route to go.  The best part about this dip? When you run out of chips, slap the leftovers on a bun and you have a halfway decent sloppy joe.

Deep layers of hearty dip and cheese

Not My Mama’s Bean Dip

  • 1-1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Your favorite hot sauce (optional)
  • 2 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chiles
  • 1 can black  veans (drained and mashed)
  • 1½ tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese.


Brown and drain ground beef, then mix with the remaining ingredients. Spread in a 9×13 dish, sprinkle with shredded cheese. Bake 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Or you can cook in a crock pot and set on low for two hours. Or you can layer one third of mix in the bottom of a deep casserole dish, then sprinkle in a layer of cheese, continuing pattern.  Warm in oven until top layer of cheese is melted.

Serve with corn chips.

These pizza bites are great for a crowd.  You can easily make a ton of these things and they’re cheap to make.  You can make them long before a party and keep them warm in a crock pot – especially if you make them in gross.

Pre-rolled pizza bite

Pizza Bites

  • ½ lb. pepperoni
  • 1 cup stredded mozzarella
  • 1 tube of refrigerated biscuits.

Cut the biscuits into half-circles.  Then curl the half-circles into whole circles, leaving much of the dough in the middle of the round.  From there it is easy to press it out to the edges and stretch it to the size of a pepperoni.

On top, of this smaller biscuit round, place a pepperoni and a big pinch of cheese (about a teaspoon). Fold into balls, and place together on a cookie sheet.  Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top of the pizza bites before baking.

Ready for dipping.

Bake according to the directions on the biscuit tube.  Serve with marinara sauce for dipping, although they taste great on their own.

This recipe isn’t an original at all.  I’ve seen it all over Pinterest, and I’ve been looking for a reason to make it ever since.  Most people think of grills at tailgate parties, and the next thing I think of after the grilling is done is getting a marshmallow on those coals before they go cold.  This route to that end of gooey sweetness, though lacking the toasted flavor, is good because you can make a lot at once, and make it ahead of time.  I took these to my Bible study (because making a pan of these for just two people is a real live diet wrecker) and they got rave reviews.  If you want to kick it up one notch more, I recommend using Cinnamon Toast Crunch (or its generic equivalent) instead of Golden Grahams.


All the S’more flavor without the fire.

S’more Bars

1/4 cup butter
1 (10 oz) bag regular marshmallows
1 box of Golden Graham cereal
1-2 cups chocolate chips

In a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add marshmallows and keep stirring until the marshmallows completely melt and you get a marshmallow sauce.  Remove from heat.

Add Golden Grahams and stir until they are all well coated.  You can chose to crush some up before adding them if you want some smaller pieces.  Next stir in chocolate chips.

Grease a 9×13 pan and press S’mores down.

Tip of the week: Whether you’re making s’more bars or krispie treats, when you grease your pan, use butter instead of nonstick spray or grease.  Because there’s butter already in the recipe, the butter in the pan will be less noticeable than other options.