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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Kicking off a Busy Labor Day in the High Country

By Sherrie Norris

In case you haven’t been paying attention to local media recently, this Labor Day weekend is expected to be one for the books. Around 40,000 people will be heading to Kidd Brewer Stadium on the campus of Appalachian State University on Saturday for the sold-out game between Appalachian State Mountaineers and the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. While some of us will be watching remotely, there’s sure to be epic tailgating taking place in close proximity to the football stadium —and early, at that, with a noon kick-off.

At the same time, with the last official holiday weekend of the season comes typical picnics, cookouts and gatherings to celebrate a break from the routine and mundane. 

For these events to fall on the calendar at the same time has stirred up quite a frenzy in and around the High Country. Whether you are preparing for your tailgate party, packing a picnic for the parkway or for the blues festival in Ashe County, inviting the neighbors over for a backyard barbecue, or just simply enjoying a quiet day at home without all the hoopla, you will need food.

Here’s hoping we can help with a few ideas  to help you to the other side of the holiday.

And, please, if you are eating out or otherwise doing business locally, be patient and kind. Many places are still short-staffed and those who do show up for work deserve our gratitude and respect. 

Bacon and Cheddar Muffins

Easy to make and take for your mid-morning tailgate party

2 cup Bisquick baking mix

2/3 cup mil

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup (4 oz.) Cheddar cheese, shredded

½ lb. bacon, crisp and crumbled (about 2/3 cup)

Heat oven to 400. Line 12 medium muffin cups, with paper baking cups. Mix all ingredients, except cheese and bacon, just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Fold in cheese and bacon. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes; cool 15 minutes.


 Easy Meat, Seafood, Poultry Choices:

Beef cubes                                                       




Oysters wrapped in bacon

Chicken cubes

Chicken livers

Turkey cubes

Pork Cubes


Peppers (green, red or yellow)

Mushroom caps

Onion wedges

Cherry tomatoes

Zucchini or yellow squash chunks

Simply thread chunks of your favorite meat and vegetables on a couple of skewers, throw them on the grill and with little effort, your meal is prepared.

Note: Use tender cuts of meat or allow extra time to marinate beforehand.  Everything should be cut into bite-size chunks, but not too small. It’s always a good idea to marinate your ingredients ahead of time.  Place your meat and veggies into separate gallon-size Ziplock bags with your favorite marinade for at least an hour. If you’re traveling, put them in a cooler until you reach your  grilling destination.

When ready to grill, thread items on skewers with others that require same length of time to cook. 

Touchdown Taco Casserole

1 lb. ground beef

½ cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, pressed or minced

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

½ cup tomato juice or beef broth

1 Tbs. chili powder

¼ tsp. oregano

1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, undrained

Tortilla chips

2 cups shredded lettuce

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped

Sour cream


 One large onion, chopped

In a heavy skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef and ½ cup onion. Drain off excess grease. Add garlic, tomato sauce, tomato juice or broth, chili powder and oregano. Simmer mixture for 2 minutes. Layer beef mixture with beans and corn chips in a greased 2-quart baking dish, ending with corn chips. Cover and bake at 350° oven for 40 minutes. 

Just before serving top with a few dollops of sour cream or guacamole (or both) and sprinkle with lettuce, tomato and chopped onions.

Peanut Butter Footballs

1 lb. box powdered sugar

3 oz. pkg. cream cheese

12 oz. jar peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

½ stick butter

Mix ingredients well with clean hands. Shape into footballs and place on cookie sheet covered with wax paper. Chill for ½ hour.


12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

½ bar of paraffin

Melt paraffin and chocolate in a double boiler or a large pan filled with boiling water and a smaller one inside of it. (Careful not to let water get in chocolate.) Coat footballs with chocolate and chill.

 Football “stitching” may be added by using a small tube of decorator’s icing or gel in color of your choice. 

Miniature Ham Balls

3 cups Bisquick

1½ cups finely chopped cooked ham

4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 Tbs. parsley flakes

2 tsp. spicy mustard

2/3 cup milk

Heat oven to 350-degrees. Lightly grease jelly roll pan. Mix all ingredients well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place about 2 inches apart on pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until brown. Remove from pan and serve warm. Makes about 7 dozen.

Game Day Squares

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup peanut butter

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 cup butterscotch chips

 Prepare a 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large pot, over medium heat, cook syrup and sugar together until sugar is dissolved and mixture begins to boil.  Stir frequently. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, mixing well.  Add cereal and stir until coated evenly. Press mixture into prepared  9 x 13-inch pan and set aside. In a small pan, over low heat, melt all the chips together, stirring constantly.  Spread melted chips over cereal mixture and let sit until firm. Cool and cut into bars. Makes about 48 squares.