Tailgate Tips for the Win
I am fortunate enough to live in Athens, GA and even more fortunate to live so close to the University of Georgia’s campus. There’s nothing like a Saturday in Athens during football season! From the Dawg Walk to the last play of the game, there is an energy in the air that leaves Bulldog fans biting at the chance to cheer on their team— and then do it all again week after week and year after year. When it’s time to fuel up before you cheer on your local favorite or your alma mater, kick-off your tailgate with these easy-to-prepare (and always appreciated) fan favorites! Here, I used red and black infused recipes and ideas, but you can add nods to your team’s colors in a variety of ways!
Here, I decided to cover the tailgate table with a white tablecloth and then add a red and black plaid blanket. A white tablecloth is always an easy starting point- and you can find inexpensive options so that you don’t have to fret over spills. Find a smaller topper that reflects your team’s colors, and place it over the white tablecloth. For a centerpiece, I used a potted plant with white blooms and put it inside a vintage ice bucket. You can also use cut stems if those are easier to find. I also think it is a great idea to add shakers, footballs, helmets, etc. to the table for a little extra team spirit.
You will also want to provide a spirited spread for your guests with these recipes and food ideas…
My favorite recipe to serve to a crowd is Black Bean Cowboy Caviar. You can rename it “Bulldawg Caviar”, “Tiger Caviar”, “Crimson Caviar”, you get the idea! Also, in this tailgate spread I topped the bean dip caviar with mini red peppers. To make it in your team colors, switch out the garnish and use orange, green, or yellow pepper slices. Any veggie that you like works- find one that suits your tastes and have fun showing your school spirit.
BLACK BEAN COWBOY CAVIAR
8 oz. block of cream cheese (softened)
15 oz. can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
4 oz. chopped black olives
1/2 small onion minced
1 clove of garlic minced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 crushed red pepper
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all ingredients (except cream cheese) together in a bowl.
Spread cream cheese on a serving platter.
Add bean mixture to the top of cream cheese and spread evenly to cover.
Garnish with mini red peppers/ lime slices/ cilantro.
Serve with blue corn chips or tortilla chips.
To serve individual bites, use mini crisp pastry shells. Use a small spoon and spread cream cheese in shell. Top with black bean mixture. Garnish with mini red pepper. Tip: do not refrigerate pastry shells as they will lose their crispness.
Another favorite way to feed a crowd is with a Grazing Board. The options are endless, and it is easy to add in red and black colors in healthy and/or delicious ways. The trick to creating an appealing board is to group like foods together. I personally like to use whole fruits and vegetables or large chips and pretzels around the edges of the board and then add in smaller items in the middle. Put fruits together, veggies together, cheeses and dips can be added throughout, and then stack or wind crackers around the other foods. Sliced meats are also popular on grazing boards. Be creative when you shop for ingredients for a grazing board and offer a variety of options.
Some of my favorites are…
Red, Green, Yellow, Orange Peppers
Sliced Deli Meats
Dips (homemade or store-bought)
Another Fan (and Family) Favorite…
A healthy option is always a winner at a tailgate. Try this Chickpea Salad and watch your guests enjoy every bite!
This can be served in a large serving bowl or placed in individual serving sizes.
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 (15-oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 small cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 can small black olives
10-15 grape tomatoes sliced in half
8 oz. mozzarella cheese pearls
1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley
Whisk together the first 4 ingredients in a large bowl.
Add all other ingredients to bowl and gently toss to ensure salad is coated with olive oil mixture. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
For a sweet treat, my go-to tailgate hack is Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Muffins or Double Chocolate Brownies. I usually purchase 2 boxes and bake them in muffin tins with cupcake liners in the team colors. Bake the muffins in one color cupcake liner and then place them in an unbaked liner on a serving platter in a coordinating color.
Here, I was excited to collaborate with fellow TSC Alum Amanda Eldridge of Oconee Printing to create a UGA-inspired tailgating set of cupcake toppers. I wanted to use the traditional school cheers but also add in a fresh and fun element with UGA quarterback Jake Fromm’s name. Amanda suggested a watercolor bulldog and I loved how the image turned out. Because of licensing regulations, we were sure to stay within rules and let our creative sides go to work!
I also like to order customized cookies for the big games as a special treat! Here in Athens, I recommend Baylee Bakes. I am so impressed with Baylee’s decorating skills and cookie flavor— and she is currently a student at UGA! You can find Baylee Bakes on Instagram, Facebook, and the web!
TAILGATE COCKTAIL: THE RED AND BLACK
Every good tailgate deserves a signature cocktail…serve up this red and black for a twist on the traditional!
1 ounce Bulleit Bourbon
3 1/2 ounces Blackberry Izze
Raspberries, blackberries for garnish
Smash 5-6 blackberries in the bottom of a glass.
Add ice and then pour in bourbon and soda.
Place raspberries and blackberries on a skewer and add to glass.
I hope these tailgate ideas inspire you for the next time you cheer on your team or simply host a group for any occasion. They may even be perfect for a TSC meet up among your area group! Let’s keep connecting, collaborating, and creating! Cheers!