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Sherrie Norris Lovin’ Spoonful Cooking Column: Takin’ It to the Tailgate and Beyond

By Sherrie Norris

Football season is here and tailgating is in full swing.

These seasonal gatherings have grown immensely in recent years and have become quite the sensation leading up to the main event. They can be as simple as sandwiches and chips, or an elaborate and time-consuming spread. While you don’t have to spend days preparing for a tailgate party, we know that competition is a big thing, on and off the field, so it all comes down to personal preference.

Traditionally, these portable parties are held in a stadium parking lot, where it’s not uncommon to see smoke pouring out of the grills for those who opt for the chops, steaks, ribs, wings, burgers and dogs.

Sandwiches and subs score big with reliable sides, like pasta and potato salads, veggies, specialty breads, baked beans, etc.

Cookies, bars and pound cakes are easy to handle; leftover snacks can be packed up and hauled in your bag for game time treats.

Keep in mind food safety: proper storage before and after, as well as thorough cooking.

Have lots of ice available and containers to handle any perishables. Keep cold items cold and hot items hot before eating.

Don’t forget disposable plates, cutlery, napkins, condiments, salt and pepper, bottle and can openers, paper towels, folding tables, seating and trash bags.

And please don’t leave your trash in the parking lot. Most of all, stay safe and have a great time!


Sausage Twists

2 cups biscuit mix

½ cup butter or margarine, softened

1 Tbsp. green jalapeno sauce

½ cup milk

1 roll pork sausage, prepared

¼ cup green onions, finely chopped

Stir biscuit mix, butter, jalapeno sauce and milk together until well-blended. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes and then divide into two sections. Roll each on a well-floured surface into a 1/8- inch thick rectangle.

Spread out half of the sausage evenly onto dough. Sprinkle with half of the onions. Roll lengthwise into even log. Repeat with second half. Wrap logs with plastic wrap, place into freezer for an hour until dough is firm. Thaw until soft enough to slice.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice both logs in ½-inch sections (around 24 per log). Bake on non-stick baking sheets for about 15-20 minutes or until dough is golden brown.

Makes 48 appetizers


Savory Chicken Wings

24 chicken wings

1/3 cup melted margarine

1 small clove finely minced garlic

½ cup Dijon mustard

1/3 cup white wine

Salt and pepper

1½ cups bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange wings on a large cookie sheet. Brush melted margarine onto each wing. In a small bowl mix minced garlic, mustard, and white wine. Brush onto wings. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle bread crumbs over the top of the wings. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until chicken is done. If the wings begin browning too quickly, cover with foil.

Makes 6 servings.


Kick-off Kabobs

Boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1-inch thick

Packet dry ranch salad dressing mix

2 Tsp. water

1 Tsp. vegetable oil

1 med. green or red bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces

1 med. yellow squash or zucchini, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise into ¾ -inch pieces

In small bowl, combine dressing mix, water and oil; mix well. Cut steak into 1-inch pieces. Alternately thread beef and vegetables onto metal or wooden skewers (soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes prior to using).

Brush kabobs with dressing mixture. Place kabobs on grill over medium heated-grill. Grill, uncovered, approximately 10 to 12 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally; longer as needed for desired doneness.

Increase recipe as needed for your crowd.


Grilled Veggie Packets

2 ears corn, each cut into 4 pieces

4 small red potatoes, cut in half

2 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium onion, chopped

¼ cup butter, melted

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

½ tsp. dried thyme

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Combine vegetables in large bowl. Mix butter, mustard and seasonings; add to vegetables, stirring to coat. Divide evenly among four large sheets of heavy duty foil. Seal well by rolling up edges of foil. Grill 4-5 inches from medium high heat for about 25-35 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Serves 4


Easy Chili Recipe

1 lb. hamburger

1 chopped onion

Brown in skillet together and drain; pour into a large pot


1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 can tomatoes

1 Tbs. sugar

1 tsp. garlic

1 tsp. oregano

1½ tsp. salt

1½ tsp. chili powder (or more to suit taste)

2 cans kidney beans with 4 cans of water

Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.


Pretzel Sparklers

Long rod pretzels

White or regular chocolate, melted

Sprinkles, the color of your favorite team

Melt the chocolate. Dip pretzel rod halfway into the melted chocolate then pour sprinkles over the wet chocolate. Lay on waxed paper or place in a cup to dry.


Quick Ritz Cookies

Ritz crackers

Peanut Butter

Candy coating, color of favorite team

Make a sandwich out of the crackers and peanut butter. Melt candy coating and dip crackers. You will be pleasantly surprised at the taste. Take plenty with you – they disappear like magic.


Baby Ruth Brownies

1 pkg. brownie mix

3 (2.1-ounce) Baby Ruth candy bars, chopped

1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese, brought to room temperature

½ cup sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp. milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare brownie mix as directed on package, then stir in chopped candy. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch baking pan.

In a small mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add egg and milk to the cream cheese mixture and blend well. Drizzle cream cheese mixture over brownie batter and swirl with a knife to create a marbled look. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean.

Remove brownies from oven and cool completely in pan, on a wire rack. Cut into bars.