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Tailgate Time

September 20, 2016

Summer has wrapped up,(although it hasn’t felt like it lately), and we’re headed into fall with pumpkin spice-flavored everything. If you enjoy it, like I do, you’re in for some great seasonal treats and smells, even though some taste and smell better than others.  If you don’t enjoy it, you might be “holding your breath” until Christmas season brings more traditional flavors and smells to enjoy.


One of the best treats of the fall season is football, and with football comes time-honored tailgating. In many regards, the social aspect of tailgating outweighs what happens on the field during the game. That’s where memories are made with friends and family.


It’s the place to see and be seen. The low hum of music and pre-game talk shows are drowned out by laughter and chatter. The heavy scent of charcoal rivals that of gunpowder and cut grass as the manliest of smells. 


Whether your crew has the usual spot to tailgate or likes to roam the parking lot to find friends, just about everyone is friendly and welcoming. At a recent home game we stopped by a fellow fan’s truck to ask about the contraption in the truck’s bed. It was a homemade margarita machine constructed with a garbage disposal, PVC pipe and a trash can. He even offered a sample of his prized beverage and willingly explaining in-depth how he constructed it and what he would do different if building it again. Hospitality is at its finest in the parking lot before a football game.


Our tailgating menus are at the mercy of the game-time kickoff.  A pre-noon kickoff typically means getting creative with the breakfast items. We find the menu very similar to when we go camping–heavy on eggs and sausage.

Afternoon and evening games really provide the most flexibility when it comes to variety. 


The workload of preparation to tailgate can be as much or as little as you like. Those living closer to the venue will do the heavy lifting with dishes that need refrigeration or don’t transport well. Those living farther away bring the more portable items such as condiments, snacks and paper goods.



3 Corn Treat

Submitted by Abby Johnson; Dexter, Kansas.


2 bags popped popcorn

1 (16-oz.) pkg. corn-popped cereal

1 (15-oz.) pkg. corn chips

2 (10 to12-oz. each) pkgs. vanilla or white chocolate chips


1. In several large bowls, combine the popcorn, corn-popped cereal and corn chips.

2. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt chocolate chips and stir until smooth. 

3. Pour melted chocolate over popcorn mixture and toss to evenly coat.

4. Spread onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking pans (15x10x1) or onto a large counter top covered with parchment paper. Cool. Store in an airtight container.


Wil’s Award Winning Chili

Submitted by Wil Raynor, Gulf Breeze, Florida.


2 lbs. lean ground beef

2 pkgs. French’s Original Chili-O mix

2 (16-oz. each) cans pinto beans

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 half (10-oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies

1 c. salsa

1 (16-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes

6 oz. beer

1 (46-oz.) can tomato juice


1. Brown hamburger, adding diced green pepper and onion to the meat mixture about halfway through and stir constantly till meat is lightly browned and vegetables are tender but not soggy.

2. Drain meat, if necessary. Reduce heat to low and add the beer to the meat mixture and stir for 1 minute.

3. Add one of the packages of Chili-O and stir.

4. Add the tomato juice and all of the rest of the ingredients and stir well over medium high heat continuing until the mixture just starts to bubble. Stir constantly for 15 minutes more.

5. Continue to simmer over low heat or transfer to a slow cooker on low until ready to serve.

Apron Strings Tips: Wil likes to serve this with shredded cheddar cheese to top it off. Goes well with oyster crackers and carrot sticks at a tailgate!


Chicken and Waffles Mini Burgers


1 lb. ground chicken

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

 Salt & pepper to season

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 box mini homestyle frozen waffles


Garnish with lettuce and tomatoes


1. Mix together ground chicken and maple syrup. Season the meat with salt & pepper. Shape the chicken into tablespoon-sized balls.

2. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Using your hands, flatten the balls into patties and place in the skillet. Cook until slightly brown on one side and then flip and cook the other side until cooked through and no longer pink, about 5 minutes per side. Repeat for each patty. Alternately, you can grill the chicken over medium heat for about 5 minutes per side or until preferred doneness.

3. Thaw two mini waffles per chicken patty. Lightly butter one side of each waffle and then toast until just golden.

4. Place one cooked chicken patty on top of one waffle. Top the chicken with your favorite burger fixings. Top the burger with a second waffle.


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