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Let’s go team and win this thing

Let’s go team and win this thing
Let’s go team and win this thing
Suetta Tingler

Rah, rah, rah! It’s tailgating season. The concept of tailgating has been evolving for decades. Some historians believe pre-sport partying first took off when civilians packed picnic baskets with plans to sit the day to witness the Battle of Bull Run during the Civil War even though there were no pick-up trucks, station wagons or SUV tailgates to pull down and perch.

Die-hard football fans are likely to credit the Green Bay Packers for coining the term “tailgating” in 1919 as it became associated with fans who would drive pickups into grassy fields to fold down tailgates to sit and watch the game.

Fast forward to the post-World War II era when the popularity of the station wagon was gaining momentum and pre-game partying was taking off. The station wagon was quick to become the choice vehicle for football tailgating because it was large enough to transport everything but the kitchen sink to a stadium parking lot. The back of the station wagon was large enough to serve as a buffet table or provide seating.

Once coolers “grew” wheels and gas grills became portable, fans screamed for more than a bucket of fried chicken and a bowl of chips. Tailgating parties took on a culture of their own. What’s to be expected on a tailgating menu these days can be as exciting as the game score.

An example of today’s elevated partying fare could give reason for fans to drool over lamb chops with chimichurri, corn crab pudding, chicken satay and cornbread waffle sliders, all proudly served under a canopy from which a chandelier might hang. While most fans aren’t willing to go this far for food in a parking lot, some will. The extra attention being paid to building team spirit in terms of atmosphere, food, drink and accessories makes game day a big deal. Today’s fans are limited only by their imagination and budget.

Kick-off your own tailgating party for either the stadium or arena parking lot or less complicated plans for watching the game from your own television at home. Either way, grab a few good friends and start making plans. You might find it surprising, but it’s estimated that 10% to 30% of football fans never make it from the parking lot party to inside the stadium.

Here’s a compiled playbook of things to consider for a winning time:

Don’t forget to take the game tickets.

Know the rules and regulations of the location where you’re tailgating.

Depending upon the timing, dress in layers; don’t forget rain gear and an umbrella.

Discuss with friends beforehand what each is to bring on game day. Think: extra ice, sunscreen, bug spray, garbage bags, hand sanitizer, paper towels/napkins. Select foods that travel well.

Chop, cook, dice and slice the night before and assemble the day of the game.

Don’t grill if you’d rather be chatting. Consider using slow cookers (consider the need for electrical cords and outlets).

Have a plan for leftovers.

Freeze water bottles to use in place of ice in coolers so you have cold water to  drink after it melts.

Arrive four hours prior to game time with plans to eat two hours before the game to allow time for set up and clean up.

Set up a tent to serve as “command center” and to protect from sunburn or frostbite. Anchor tent well to avoid weather-related mishaps.

It’s important to “make nice” with those near you; introduce yourself to the neighbors. Gently define your space.

Float a big helium balloon on a long string from your car so friends can find you. Best not to use team colors since they’ll blend in with all the others doing so. Try using a bunch of all white balloons.

Consider wind direction when positioning a grill.

Label coolers to find drinks and food easily.

Take along a large plastic tub to haul back dirty dishes. Line tub with garbage bag and then put dirty dishes inside or use paper/plastic products.

Don’t forget the “queen of the day”: aluminum foil. Paper toweling reigns as well.

If using paper plates, make sure they are sturdy and coated to prevent leaks. Plastic utensils work, but most prefer metal. If taking along metal tableware, know the count of pieces and count while cleaning up so nothing goes into the trash.

Pack a mini first-aid kit into an old prescription bottle or an Altoids tin.

Take along a tool box; include corkscrew, matches, bottle opener.

Attach magnets to your koozies so you can attach them to your car when you need two free hands.

Create a hand-washing station; surface space will be scarce.

Serve a specialty drink in team colors. Limit bar options; set out soda, beer and pitchers of specialty drink.

Prepare what you can before game day. For sandwiches, pack in zip-top plastic bags and refrigerate overnight.

Finger food rules. They allow you to eat standing up and make less trash. Suggestions: hot dogs, deviled eggs, chicken wings, quesadillas, chips, cut-up veggies and dip.

Skewer and marinate kabobs the night before. Shape/pack burger patties between sheets of wax paper before leaving home. Clean and pack burger toppings in advance.

If grilling, don’t forget utensils to do so and charcoal unless it’s a gas grill.

Set up a Bloody Mary bar, a hot dog bar or a walking taco station.

Serve chili in bread bowls. Prepare one-pot dishes.

Use plastic disposable cups to layer taco dip for make-ahead individual servings.

During colder weather, take soup in thermoses.

After the game, avoid traffic jams by staying on in the parking lot to enjoy a touch of sweet by eating cookies, brownies or cupcakes after the game.

Touchdown cheers for these game-day eats.



1 dozen eggs, hard boiled, peeled

Juice from 2 (15-ounce) cans of red beets (use beets later)

1 cup vinegar

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon red food coloring

1/2 teaspoon salt

Bring beet juice, vinegar, sugar, red food coloring and salt to a rolling boil; pour over eggs. Marinate eggs for a full day or overnight; turn eggs a few times for even color.


1 tablespoon butter, more if needed

1 tablespoon olive oil, more if needed

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)

1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste

2 large onions, chopped

8 tablespoons butter, divided

1/4 cup flour

3/4 cup chicken broth

2 cups half and half

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1-1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin or to taste

1 (15- to 16-ounce) can of white beans

2 (4-ounce cans) whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped

1-1/ 2 cups grated Monterey Jack

1/2 cup sour cream

Heat a large skillet over moderately high heat; put in butter and oil. Meanwhile, coat chicken with salt, pepper and some chili powder. Place chicken breasts in skillet and resist the urge to turn them over. Leave for 5 minutes or until nicely browned, then flip. Brown the other side, then flip them every few minutes until cooked through, no pink remains. Remove the chicken from the pan; shred when cool. Cook the onion in the same pan with 2 tablespoons of butter. In a heavy pot large enough to hold all ingredients, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter over low heat and whisk in flour. Cook the roux, whisking constantly for 3 minutes. Stir in the onion and gradually add the broth and half and half, whisking the whole time. Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Tabasco sauce, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add beans, chilies, chicken and cheese, and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Add sour cream. Can be served immediately or the next day. Serves 8 to 10.

This crowd pleaser can be stirred up just before the game kicks off because it’s so easy.



2 cups orange juice

1 cup (8 ounces) tequila

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from two lemons)

1-1/2 ounces grenadine

Ice, for serving

3 cups club soda

8 strips lemon zest for garnish

Pour orange juice, tequila and lemon juice into a large pitcher. Tip pitcher at a slight angle and carefully pour grenadine down side. Divide mixture among 8 ice-filled glasses and top off each with club soda. Stir, garnish each with zest and serve immediately.


3 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed


1/3 cup fresh ginger peeled, chopped into small pieces

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup chopped shallots

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/3 cup canola oil

Whisk together the ginger, soy sauce, shallots, honey, sesame oil, garlic, black pepper, red pepper flakes and Tabasco sauce. While whisking, pour in the canola oil. Place the tenderloin in a large, sealable plastic bag; pour in marinade. Seal and refrigerate overnight. Transport to your tailgate in a cooler. Place tenderloin on an oiled grill and cook covered over medium-high heat, turning occasionally until an internal temperature of 145 degrees is reached (about 20 minutes). Remove from grill, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes before slicing. Makes 8 servings.