Check each week for our tailgating column.

posted 11-30-16

Tailgater Christmas Shopping Part Two
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

Writing a column about tailgating requires more than giving recipes.  It also obligates us to try-out all kinds of equipment so that we can make recommendations to our readers of what to own to make their tailgating experiences better.  Over the years we’ve tried three types of flag poles, two types of ovens, scores of coolers, a dozen types of grills, different stoves, six different types of chairs, and an almost endless number of other things like cushions with bladders so that you can sneak a beverage into the stadium. Also, we observe what other tailgaters use for their equipment and gadgets. We get their opinions on gadgets we think could be useful.
This past season, as always, we experienced fellow tailgaters looking at our tailgate equipment as they would pass our parking space.  Some even stop to ask us about a particular pieces of equipment.  One item that drew extra attention was our Coleman Portable Stove Oven Combo.  It looks just like a kitchen range, only a bit smaller. The neat thing is that it functions exactly the same as one you may have in your kitchen.
Its two 6,000 BTU burners and can hold up to one 12" pot and one 10" pot. We use them to hold things like a pot of chili or skillets for eggs and sausages. Its oven has an output of 15,000 BTU with a temperature gauge. It bakes just like one’s kitchen oven with a view-through door and two shelves that can hold two 12" pizzas. We use it to heat breakfast casseroles, pizza and breads.  But we also use it to completely bake biscuits, corn bread, or cookies. This oven and stove are stainless steel and run for more than 90 minutes with all burners on high using a simple 16 oz. propane cylinder.  
To compare this appliance to an average kitchen range, we turned to SFGATE’s home guide and found that the non-commercial kitchen range’s small burners operate at 5,000 BTU and their all burner average is 7,000 BTU. Their ovens heat on average from 5,000 to 10,000BTU.  So this Coleman model compares well to those in most home kitchens.
The reason we bring all these benefits up now, is that this stove oven combo will make a great Christmas gift for your favorite tailgater.  Coleman has it available on their web site ( starting at $324.99 reduced to $259.99 and with a pop-up Instant offer of $218.95.  It is also available at Amazon and EBay and if you are lucky, at a local hardware, sporting goods, or big box outlet.  Just go online and find one of these appliances and check out where to buy it.  Your tailgater will love it, and so will you!



posted 11-25-16

Tailgater Christmas Shopping
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Since 1932, the Thanksgiving weekend has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S.  This is the best time to think of tailgating equipment and gear, because tailgate stuff is a group of items greatly reduced, in price, to clear store shelves of goods not needed until next spring’s camping season.  Usually football fans miss Black Friday events due to scheduling of games important to them.  That’s OK, however because there’s more to tailgate bargains than just on one day, they last at least a whole week.  Forbes “Entrepreneurs reported in 2013 that Cyber Monday, the online counterpart to Black Friday, has been gaining unprecedented popularity - to the point where Cyber Sales are continuing on throughout the week, earning the name cyber Week.  Here is our short guide for shopping for the tailgater:
Make a list of things you have found that you need.
Exclude cutesy things like:
Spatulas with school logos.
Odd shaped tables.
Games you don’t need.
Grills with built-in coolers.
Things the wind will blow away.
Find the items you want online
Check the availability of your items with local store with online shopping.
Compare the online prices with those at your local stores.
Always ask for a price match if the local price is higher.
Don’t pay shipping unless there is no other option.
Christmas shopping season can be an ordeal so to make sure you have energy to stay out and make one more stop, try these Chex bars.  Make a good supply to carry on your trip.

Holiday Shopping Snacks - Chex Bars

5 3/4 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal
3/4 cup salted peanuts
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup M&M's™ chocolate candies and/or Reece’s Pieces™

Spray the bottom and sides of 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, mix cereal and peanuts.  In a saucepan, heat corn syrup and sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly until it first boils.  Remove from heat; add peanut butter and stir until smooth.  Pour over cereal mixture in bowl, stirring until evenly coated.  Stir in candies and press firmly in pan; then allow one hour to cool.  Cut into rows of your desired size and store loosely in covered container.

posted 11-19-16

Thanksgiving Weekend Tailgate

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

Thanksgiving Day has been an annual holiday in the United States since 1863.  Many people trace the origins of the modern Thanksgiving Day to the harvest celebration that the Pilgrims held in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621. However, their first true Thanksgiving was in 1623, when they gave thanks for rain that ended a drought.  In the second half of the 1600s, Thanksgivings after the harvest became more common and started to become an annual event. However, it was celebrated on different days in different communities and in some places there were more than one Thanksgiving each year.  George Washington, the first president of the United States, proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving Day in 1789.
Thanksgiving Day is traditionally a day for families and friends to get together for a special meal.  The meal often includes a turkey, stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, gravy, pumpkin pie, and vegetables.  Thanksgiving Day is a time for many people to give thanks for what they have.  It is also a time for parades that open the Christmas shopping season and even more importantly, it is rivalry week in football, when cross town or cross state rivals meet.  It’s usually the last big tailgate of the year.
So let’s talk about the menu for the Thanksgiving tailgate.  Why not serve all the good things from the Thursday dinner?  Or, you could make a turkey soup for the people chilled by late November temperatures.  The last couple of years, for Thanksgiving weekend, we have featured turkey soups, and the recipes are on our website at This year we have a new bar recipe to go with any leftover items from Thursday’s feast.

Pumpkin Bars
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs lightly beaten
1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup vegetable oil

6 oz. low fat cream cheese
1/3 cup softened butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
4 ½ cups powdered sugar

On the day before, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Stir together in a large bowl: flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and cloves.  Then stir in the eggs, pumpkin and oil.  Mix until well combined and then pour mixture into an ungreased 15”x10” baking pan and spread evenly.  Bake 25-30 minutes until a toothpick, inserted, comes out clean.  Cool the pan on a wire rack.

            To finish the presentation, make the frosting by combining the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Then gradually add in 4 ½ to 5 cups powdered sugar and beat to make the mixture spreadable.  Frost the cooled un-cut bars and then cut them into 36 peices.  Top the bars with candy pumpkins and cover the bars with a lid or foil and refrigerate overnight.

            On game day take the bars to your tailgate in a cooler packed with ice.

Posted 11-11-16

Layers In Late Fall
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
            Tailgating in the late fall has its temperature challenges.  Sometimes we tailgate in the cold morning and then sit in the stadium in the hot sun.  Sometimes we tailgate in the afternoon sun and experience a fall in the temperature as the game proceeds into the night.  So the question is, “How should we dress for the weather?”  The answer is to consider the wicking process.
            Wicking is the process whereby the fibers in a cloth garment draw perspiration away from the skin and up to the surface of the fabric, allowing the moisture to evaporate quickly.  The name of this capillary action is derived from wicks, as used in lamps.
            The use of layers is the best strategy.  One should have a base clothing layer to regulate body temperature and to move moisture away from his or her skin to a second layer where it spreads along a larger surface area where it can dry more effectively.  More layers can be added to provide insulation and protection from the cold and wind as needed.  So what are the layers to be?

For warming nutrition, try this great recipe:
Very Simple Tailgate Turkey Chili 5 ways
This chili avoids a little of the fat of ground beef without losing any of the flavor we require for pre-game and post-game meals.  You’ll find that the whole tomatoes are very soothing to your throat on a cold day.
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 lb. Spaghetti
3 pkgs. McCormick's Chili Mix (or your favorite)
3 28oz. cans whole peeled tomatoes (un-drained)
4 15oz. cans dark red kidney beans (un-drained)
Olive Oil

The night before, cook pasta according to package directions, then drain and set it aside. Brown the turkey in a large pot with some olive oil. Then add everything else to the pot. Bring the mixture to a low boil and then reduce the heat to allow the chili to simmer for one hour. Stir the mixture occasionally. Allow the chili to cool on your deck or balcony.  Then refrigerate it overnight. Put pasta into paper cups with drain holes punched in the bottom to allow water to drain away or on game day, pass through.  Refrigerate the spaghetti cups overnight.
On game day heat the pot of chili to a boil, then remove from heat and place the pot onto a pad in your Coleman powerchill™ thermoelectric cooler to keep it hot on your trip to the game.  You can also add the paper cups of pasta to this heated cooler. Or you can place the chili in a room temperature cooler surrounded with insulating towels and use your grill to heat it at the game.  You can heat water at the game or from a thermos and pour it through the cups of pasta before you add them to your individual chili bowls.  Serve chili over the spaghetti and add onions and cheese.
If asked, “5-way” means:  1.Spaghetti 2.Chili 3.Beans 4.Onion 5.Cheese.

Posted 11-1-16

Lost Cheeseburger Soup
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
For those of you that have read The Tailgater’s Handbook (first edition) you might remember this story.  While traversing the Big Giver’s Parking Lot at Penn State way back in 1995, a lady hailed us to offer a bowl of her soup.  It was “life changing!”  She called the soup “Lost Cheeseburger Soup” and it tasted exactly like a country club cheeseburger.  It was beefy, cheesy, chewy, and just plain delicious.  It was so good and has garnered so many favorable emails and letters from readers of this column and visitors to our web site ( that we feel obligated to rerun this recipe every few years.  You may ask, “Why was this soup referred to as lost?”
As was our practice, we asked the lady to send us the recipe and she promised she would, but it never came.  When the book went to press we still didn’t have her recipe even though a whole chapter was planned for the Lost Cheeseburger Soup.  Alas, a sumptuous hearty meal we would never taste again!
Several years later a nephew of this woman (Joyce Massetti) emailed us.  He was at that infamous tailgate party and read about the lost soup (minus recipe) in the book.  He thought to himself, “That was us.”  He contacted Aunt Joyce and was able to furnish us with her name and the recipe.  Hence we have added this great recipe to our site, and write about it often.  You need to try this exceptional cold weather soup.
Cheeseburger Soup
One pound ground beef
One medium carrot chopped
One medium Onion chopped
Two cans Campbell's Cheddar Cheese Soup
One can Water
Salt and Pepper

Brown ground beef, drain, then add carrots and onion (chopped).  Cook entire mixture until soft and season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper.  Add soup and water and heat well.
This soup is great for a substitute for that old favorite - chili.  Serve with dill pickle chips and rolls for dipping.  Add shredded cheddar cheese to thicken to soup to your liking.
This recipe makes four to six servings and we usually double the recipe.

Posted 10-27-16

Halloween Tailgate
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Not that we saw it first hand but it’s said that trick-or-treating has been a Halloween tradition in America since the late 1920’s.  In the British Isles the tradition of going from house-to-house, in costume and collecting treats at Halloween, can be traced as far back as the 16th century.  Why not do your part to keep this tradition alive by staging your own Halloween Tailgate?  Besides helping to keep the tradition alive you could also rid your house of those scores of little candies you buy every year on sale, for trick or treaters that never seem to show up in sufficient numbers to even put a dent in your candy cache.
Here’s how to dress-up your tailgate with the Halloween spirit.  Start with decorations for the season, like corn stalks or orange and black streamers (unless your opponent has the school color of orange).  Have orange and black Jell-O shots for the adults.  Carve a pumpkin with your school logo.  Have a tub full of leftover candy for passers bye. Have simple lone ranger type masks for your guests.
Today chocolate chip cookie cakes are extremely popular in supermarket birthday areas because they can be decorated like a cake.  If you consider the sugar excesses of Halloween season, no one among us should fear the calories of icing and chocolate chips in their system?  Here is a cookie bar recipe that can use up a lot of those little packs of Reece’s Pieces and has perfect Halloween colors. 

Two 7.2 oz. Packages of Betty Crocker Peanut Butter Cookie Mix
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons water
½ Cup peanut butter
1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
1 Cup Reece’s Pieces (11 trick-or-treat size 4.9 oz. bags)

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Cover inside of a 10 x 13 baking dish with parchment paper and lightly spray the paper with no-stick spray.  Chop about ¾ of the Reese’s Pieces to expose the insides.  In a bowl, mix the cookie mix packs with the oil, water, peanut butter, flour and chopped Reece’s Pieces.  Place the dough into the baking dish and by using your fingers, gently press the dough to fit evenly in the middle and against the sides.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining, un-chopped Reece’s Pieces.                                                                                

            Bake for 18-20 minutes or until light golden brown.  At first the center will
be a little soft.  Cool the cookie sheet on a wire rack for at least an hour or until           the sheet is room temperature on its bottom.  The longer you wait the more solid the bars will become. Next, grasping the parchment paper,  slide the big bar rectangle onto a cutting board.  Be careful because the large cookie/bar will be fragile at this point.  Slide the parchment out from under the large cookie and cut it into 24 bars with four rows of six bars per row.

            On game day, box the bars into a plastic sealable container for transport to
the game and wait for the complements.

Posted 10-16-16

Feel Good with Soup
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
            Cold weather seems to bring on our emotional need for hot soup.  In the 19th century, Lewis Carroll, besides writing Alice in Wonderland, Jabberwocky and other classics, was so driven by his love for soup that he wrote a poem about it.  In his poem BEAUTIFUL SOUP he begins with, “Beautiful Soup, so rich and green, Waiting in a hot tureen!” …
Since one can look up hundreds of other written tributes to soup there must be a reason.  Research shows that what you eat during cold game days can help you survive cold blasts.  There are nutritious options — like soups that trick your body into thinking it's July.  Here are four easy cold weather tailgate foods to leave you feeling your best— even when the weather is at its worst.

In today’s trendy sports bars and pubs the rage is Tortilla Soup.  Here’s a great recipe for your tailgate:

Tortilla Soup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion
4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth
1 cup roasted tomatoes with garlic, canned
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 can (14 ounces) green chilies, diced
1/2 lime, juiced
1 link Johnsonville Andouille Premium Cooking Sausage, diced (this is half of a 13.5 ounce package)
2 cups tortilla chips or corn chips, broken
Chopped cilantro and green onion for topping
The night before the game, use a large saucepan to heat oil over medium to high heat.  Add onion, red pepper, sausage and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes, salt, chilies and lime juice.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.  Allow the soup to cool outside on your deck or balcony so that you can refrigerate it overnight. 
On game day reheat the soup and pack it into a Coleman Powerchill™ hot/cold thermoelectric cooler for transport to the game.  Another option is to place the soup pot onto a towel in a room temperature insulated cooler.  Cover the pot with more towels to keep it warm during your drive to the game.  As you ladle the soup into bowls or mugs top each with tortilla chips and serve with cilantro and green onion.

Posted 10-8

Seasons Change
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

“O hushed October morning mild, Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild, Should waste them all.”

This is Robert Frost’s opening of a poem about the peace and pleasure of October.  He writes about how we are beguiled.  Defined, this can mean “to cause time to pass pleasantly.”
And for anyone traveling to a football game there is no secret that the season has changed.  The lush wet summer green leaves have turned to brown.  The harvesting machines bring in corn and beans and farmers are cutting hay.  The mornings and evenings are cool while the days are mild and warm.  The trees are beautiful, making the drive to the game more enjoyable.  Some families are even stopping at roadside stands to buy apples, cider and pumpkins on their way home from the game.  There is a smell of burning leaves in the air.
If we give an exam to tailgaters about why they love the Fall?  They will check the box for “all of the above.”  Here are the top six reasons why tailgaters love the Fall season:

Keeping with the season, here is a great seasonal recipe to give you pleasure.  This Apple Crisp recipe is a delicious way to use fresh apples in the fall.

Apple Crisp
8 to 10 apples
2 cups flour
1 cup white sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1 1/4 cups butter

In a large bowl mix the together the flour, sugar, butter, oatmeal, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 2 tsps. of cinnamon.  Mix everything together using your hands until it's turned into small pebble sized clumps of dough.  Peel and core the apples, slicing them into thin strips.  Once you have enough to fill a 9 by 13 glass pan to just under the rim, mix the apples with 1 tsp of cinnamon and the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  After you've mixed the apples and brown sugar together, spread the flour mixture over the top, making sure to smooth it evenly across the entire pan.  Bake in a 350 oven for 50 to 60 minutes or until the crisp mixture turns a nice golden brown and the apples have lost their crispness, but still have some body. Refrigerate overnight. Then cut into manageable size pieces. Place these into a plastic sealable 9 by 13 container (the kind that can be burped). 
This crisp is delicious on its own, served with whip cream, or if you want to have some dry ice in your cooler, with ice cream. 

Posted 10-4

Remember to KISS
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Surely everyone in our modern and enlightened audience knows the acronym KISS for Keep It Simple Stupid!  But this isn’t a new saying and probably goes back 50 years.  It is often attributed to Kelly Johnson, an aircraft engineer.  In 1960 the US Navy adopted his KISS principle to keep engineers from over complicating aircraft engineering manuals.  According to Pit and Quarry the stone industry’s design and engineering magazine, the term became widely used in all America by 1970.  So what’s this got to do with us tailgaters?
As enlightened tailgaters, we need to remember that tailgating is a social event, where good, tasty, food and drinks are served.  It is a social event to relax and enjoy intercourse of congenial spirits.  Tailgating is not an opportunity to overdo cooking and grilling.   When you see a tow-behind grill/smoker and a man feeding upwards to two dozen guests you are seeing a person that spent too much money and too much effort to accomplish something that any homemaker knows, is not that hard!
When planning your tailgating menu think of using items that take very little time to prepare and grill, but still taste like food from that huge grill setup.  Here are a few rules that we are repeating to follow for more tailgating fun.

Here is an easy way to make great sandwiches that will amaze onlookers and satisfy all guests!

Tailgate Kabobs
1 green bell pepper cut into one-inch chunks
1 red bell pepper cut into one-inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper cut into one-inch chunks
One large sweet onion cut into one-inch chunks
1 1/2 Ib. bag Johnsonville pre-cooked Meatballs
1 1/2 Ib. bag Johnsonville pre-cooked Italian Sausage Slices
11 oz. pack of Johnsonville uncooked Kabobs (4 flavors to choose from)
12 French bread sub buns from the bakery
Skewer each kabob individually as pictured.  Or KISS and make up individual skewers of meatballs, sausage slices, and veggie chunks.  Pack these into a seal and serve container and refrigerate overnight.  On game day put the skewered items in your food cooler for transport to the tailgate.  Also add the package of chicken kabobs, unopened, to the cooler.
Pack the sub buns in a paper bag with other items that don’t need to be in a cooler.
As guests arrive place kabobs and other skewered items onto your hot grill.  Drizzle olive oil onto the veggies first. Everything will be ready in about 12 to 15 minutes.  Using a pot holder remove the skewers and strip them onto four separate paper plates.  Keep the meatballs on one plate, the sausages on another, and the chicken on a third plate and the veggies on their own plate.  Each guest can fix his or her own sub from the four plates.  Serve with your favorite French’s mustard or other appropriate sauces preferred by the guests like pizza sauce or even a teriyaki sauce.

Posted 9-30-16

Breakfast Tailgating
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
It was a sad day when the powers of college football yielded to the viewer numbers of television networks and eliminated the traditional 1pm, Saturday start for virtually all games.  Now we have Thursday and Friday night games and some 11am games on Saturday.  There is nothing we can do about it but mourn but there may be there is a benefit for tailgaters.
Those early games allow us to serve breakfast before the game.  If one has multiple burners on their grill, it isn’t hard to cook omelets with all sorts of ingredients, set out for the guests to choose their favorite.  Suggestions are chopped onion, sausage, peppers, cheese, and on and on.  Then the cook can heat a flour tortilla on a burner and assemble a great breakfast burrito.  But, what if one doesn’t have burners?
For those tailgaters that don’t want to cook at the tailgate there is always the breakfast casserole.  Here is a great recipe that we have tweaked over the past several years to improve the taste.  Please, if you are a regular reader, don’t send us emails about how we have repeated a recipe.  We’ve had plenty of them in the past.

Sausage Pastry Bake II
Prep: 30 min. Bake: 30 min.
•          2 pkgs. (12 oz. each) Johnsonville Original Breakfast Sausage Links
•          1 4 oz. can chopped green chilies
•          4 cups frozen shredded hash browns
•          1 medium red onion, chopped
•          2 Tbsp. butter
•          1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
•          1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
•          1 8oz pkg. cream cheese cut into 12 even size chunks
•          ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
•          10 eggs
•          1 cup milk
•          ¼ tsp. salt
•          ¼ tsp. pepper
•          1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
•          1 egg, lightly beaten
•          1 Tbsp. water
Cook sausage according to package directions and cool slightly; cut into ¼-in. slices and set aside.  In a large skillet, sauté hash browns and onion in butter for 6-8 minutes, or until tender.  Press hash browns and butter to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish.  Top with cooked sausage, cheeses, chilies, and parsley.   In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, salt and pepper; then pour mixture over cheese.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold pastry sheet; roll into a 13-in. x 9-in. rectangle.  Place pastry over egg mixture in a small bowl; combine egg and water and brush over pastry.  Cut slits in top of pastry.
Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes or until set and golden brown.  Take this to the game and heat it on any grill with a foil tent.  Serve with a side sauce of French’s Dijon mustard mixed with mayonnaise.



Posted 9-17-16

The New Face of Wings
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
If you’re planning to tailgate with people younger than 40, and you ask them what they would like to eat, they will invariably say Buffalo wings.  That’s because they went to school in the 90’s when everyone discovered those famous wings from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo with Frank’s Red Hot sauce and butter.  Today, however, wings are evolving.
At first wings were reasonably hot, and with ranch dip were palatable by even the old folks.  But like all things we Americans do, the spice heat levels progress from hot to hotter.  Some people now demand wings and other foods that will make your eyes water, your ears ring, and your lips go numb.  Their faces turn red and they sweat profusely.  We don’t want to deal with that at a tailgate. 
Our suggestion for serving oven baked wings at your tailgate is to avoid the real hot stuff and let each tailgater select his own spice.  Frank’s has several great new sauces that will turn heads and satisfy every tailgater you have at your party. These are Rajili Sweet Ginger Sauce, Slammin' Sriracha Chili Sauce, Spicy Sweet & Sour Sauce, and Stingin' Honey Garlic Sauce.  When tailgaters see this array of neat sauces they feel the food is extra special.

Tailgate Wings
10 chicken wings with tips removed
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. baking powder
1 bottle Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce
1 squeeze bottle each of Rajili Sweet Ginger Sauce, Slammin' Sriracha Chili
Sauce, Spicy Sweet & Sour Sauce, and Stingin' Honey Garlic Sauce
1 bottle of good ranch salad dressing for squirting onto wing plates
6 Celery stalks

The night before - Clean the wings, then place them into a mixing bowl.  Sprinkle with the salt and baking powder.  Use your hands to mix the wings and seasonings.  The powder is to change the ph of the wings so they’ll brown.  It’s not to make a coating, so rub it in. Bake on a rack over parchment in a baking pan. For 30 minutes at 250 degrees to render some of the fat and reduce the moisture.  Then raise the temperature to 425 degrees bake 40 minutes or until the wings are brown.  Let the wings cool before wrapping them in two layers of heavy-duty aluminum foil and refrigerate them over night.  Clean the celery and cut into three shorter pieces each.  Place celery into a sealable bag or container and refrigerate overnight.
On game day - Place the foil pack of wings onto your grill and open the top to let moisture out.  If you want, you can place wings right on the grill for more browning. When the wings are warmed place a serving into a stainless bowl for saucing and serving.  Have each guest choose their own sauce from the five bottles.  Have celery and ranch dressing for each to add to their plate.  You’ll please each of your guests and impress onlookers.  This recipe serves four.

Blame Your Sweet Tooth on Mom and Dad
By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

You've just finished a big, hearty meal, but instead of feeling full and satisfied, you crave something extra.  It isn’t sandwiches or little carrot or celery sticks you yearn for, it’s a sweet desert.  But the question is, why do we hunger for sugary foods, even after a hearty tailgate meal?  While there are several ideas, experts only speculate about the reason.
Our thought, and that of many nutritionists, is that people have been trained since childhood to expect a sugary dessert after a meal.   America’s eating desert is a time-honored tradition (and a way to bribe kids to eat their vegetables).  So your tailgaters deserve to have you continue the tradition of offering a sweet desert after their meal.   Just remember the words of the National Institute for Fitness and Sports cardiac rehab program: “You can eat ANYTHING, in moderation.”
Since most tailgaters serve desert, we asked them, all across America, what makes for a good game day desert.  They replied saying they want something good tasting and easy to eat.   What that means to us is that a bar fits that bill.   A bar is a cookie/cake prepared in a pan cut into squares called bars.   Brownies are bars.  Rice Krispy squares are bars.   We feature a score of bar recipes on our site   The best-known bar aficionado in America is Marie Simmons, columnist for Bon Appe’tite magazine and a prolific cook book author.  Marie’s book, Bar Cookies A to Z is a must for tailgaters.  Here’s one of Marie’s recipes for these warm weather tailgates that will top off any meal (and get everyone to eat their vegetables.)

Lemon Love Notes (Bars)
Batter Ingredients:
1 ¾ cup all unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar sifted
1 large egg
1 cup flaked-sweetened coconut
1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest

Ingredients Glaze:
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
¼ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut

Batter - Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9 by 13 baking pan. Sift the flour together and set them aside.  In a large bowl cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg until blended and gradually add the flour mixture until blended; then stir in the coconut and lemon zest.
Spread the batter in the prepared pan. Bake on the center rack for 20 – 25 minutes, or until the edges pull away from the sides of the pan.  DO NOT overbake.   Cool on a wire rack and glaze the bars while they are still slightly warm.
Glaze – In a bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice until smooth.  Drizzle the mixture over the bars, spreading evenly with a flexible spatula.  Sprinkle the coconut on the top and cool the bars overnight in the fridge.  On game day cut the bars and take them to the tailgate in the top of your food cooler.


By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Annually we survey and observe tailgaters though out this area and the findings have changed only slightly over the last 20 years. The most popular food for tailgaters and Americans in general is the sandwich.  This world-wide culinary favorite is the most popular because of its convenience.  It can be picked up with one’s hands (no fork or other utensil needed) and consumed, while standing without mess or guilt.  Many tailgaters consume more than one sandwich, where if same amount of food were served on a plate, receiving a second helping would be of some trouble to the host as well as lead to guilt of over eating etc. So what kind of sandwich is always a hit?
We have found that the Bratwurst is the favorite hot sandwich with 31% of tailgaters, but it wasn’t always so.  Back in the mid-90s we served a tailgate party to the student staffers for Penn State press box.  Most of them had not even heard of brats.  Today that’s not the case, Johnsonville, the country’s leader in sausage, has brats for sale from Maine to California.  Here’s are the favorite sandwiches of tailgaters:

A great tasting Bratwurst or any other fresh sausage will taste better if it’s tender and juicy.  When you see sausages cooking and there’s smoke and flames flaring up, don’t eat them, just walk away. All those flames and clouds of smoke mean the juices have escaped the sausage’s casing (outer skin) and fallen onto the coals or fire. Those improperly cooked sausages will be tough and dry. 
Here’s an important point, don’t break the sausage casing with anything but your teeth. Put away those metal tongs and forks. So how do you cook brats so that they squirt juice into your mouth? Here is a recipe and directions for the best brats you ever had.

One package of five Johnsonville Original (uncooked) Brats
One 12 oz. can of beer (your favorite brand)
Five hot dog or sausage buns
French’s Mustard
One Small onion chopped
Day before - Place the uncooked brats into a sauce pan and cover them with beer.  Drink the beer left over in the can. Bring the beer to a simmer and cook the sausages for 20 minutes.  This process cooks the inside of the sausage without breaking the casings.  After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the heat and cool it with ice and cold water.  When cooled, take the brats out of the water with your bare hands (no metal), and place them into a plastic zip bag and store them overnight in your fridge. 
On game day put the zip bag into your food cooler for transport to the stadium. Spray your grill with cooking spray and then heat it to cook the brats.  Using gloves (clean white cotton work gloves are fine) place the brats onto the grill.  Keep a pot of cold water handy to dip the gloves into to protect your hands. Turn the brats until they are as brown as you want on all sides.  Remember the sausages are already cooked so you don’t have to cook them hard.  Serve the sausages on buns, slathered with mustard and add chopped onions if you want.
This recipe serves five sandwiches and goes well with last week’s pasta salad.

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Posted 8/31/16

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Once again it is important to make a few points about food safety.   We don’t want our tailgaters to become part of the group estimated by the Mayo Clinic to be nearly three million who fall prey to food poisoning.   There’s Salmonella, E coli, and many more that can give you those gas-powered symptoms that make you feel horrible, just about the time you arrive home from the game.  Some can even make you sick for a long time and others can even kill.  Every year we post some simple rules that can be easily found on line by typing food poisoning into a search engine.  Here are some simplified rules we follow.

Here’s a great recipe for a Pasta Salad that all your guests will love.  It is a safer recipe because you keep the food in a serving container at the bottom of your food cooler until you serve it.   You’ll like it because it has a bite but not too much that will overpower the main courses like Johnsonville bratwurst.  For the mixer, you can use about any ingredients you like but we love this chip dip mixer.
One package of ranch flavor party dip (chip dip, not salad dressing) 
One cup of sour cream 
One cup of milk 
One pound your favorite spiral pasta 
Three cups assorted veggies (we like green peppers, radishes,    onions,          celery, red peppers, etc.) 
One cup of large, pitted olives 1/4 cup crisp chopped bacon pieces
Preparation: Prepare the party dip per directions with a wire whisk.  Let the mixture thicken in the refrigerator.
Cook the pasta, al dente (probably eight to ten minutes) and then drain it in a colander.  Using a large plastic re-sealable container, add the pasta and chopped veggies and bacon.  Chill the mixture in the sealed container in the fridge.  On game day, mix in the party dip, and put the container into the bottom of your cooler/ice chest.  It's ready to go and by tailgate time it will be great with any main course.

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Posted 8-23-16

By Joe Drozda and Bob Bley
Ben Franklin, generally considered by many as one of America’s wisest men, is quoted with saying: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.  If you want to take old Ben’s advice here are some things to think about before the tailgate season gets going.

We always try to start our season with special hearty football fan food like sandwiches.  One’s choice of sandwich will however, be influenced by the weather forecast.  If it’s to be 90 degrees, people will need lighter fare.  Here’s a great sandwich recipe for the first game.
Crab Salad
This is a great hot weather sandwich filling.
4 cups fresh crab meat
½ cup sliced celery
¼ cup sliced green onions
1/8 cup mayonnaise (light is OK)
1/8 cup plain Greek yogurt (low fat is OK)

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients. Then pack the salad in a sealable container and store overnight in the fridge. 

On game day place the container in your cooler.  Prepare each serving individually at your tailg


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Holy Cross Dancing Crusader.