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Tailgating foods are the real winners for fall football games

Regardless of what a thermometer says, it feels like it is 100 degrees outside, and on most days the humidity makes it feel worse.

But as August first approaches all thoughts in my kitchen turn to football and, most importantly, what will we serve in the Grove this year. We have a few things that are non-negotiable as far as my Rebels are concerned. This includes the chicken tenders from Abner’s in Oxford. Every year I try to find a few new things to bring, and I have to start early in the decision making.

My Friday night treks to Oxford are decided by where the Cathedral Green Wave is playing. So early in the week I see where Emily has to be to cheer, and where will we be leaving from. Then I check to see what time the Saturday game is.

Menus are often changed when I realize I am making a five-hour drive on Friday night after a football game and the Saturday game is at 11 a.m., which translates to very little sleep and very little time to prep before tailgating.

These two new recipes are going to be winners this fall for those gathering in my tent. They come together easily, are best made ahead and all travel well. For me that translates to tailgating favorites.

The first should look very familiar to most Southern cooks. I took a cheese wafer recipe and replaced it with blue cheese because sometimes all an old favorite needs is a new twist.

Blue cheese-pecan wafers

12 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecan

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the blue cheese and butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; add flour, pecans and pepper, beating well.

Shape the dough into two separate 10-inch rolls, chill 2 to 3 hours or until firm.

Cut the dough into 1/4 inch slices and place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, remove and let cool. (I put parchment paper on my pans for easy cleanup)

The first few games are usually still in the warm weather time frame. And while I prefer my games with little chill in the air, in Mississippi you never know what you are in for.

I try to always have some fresh or blanched veggies for the girls. For some reason they think if they alternate a celery stick with those chocolate chip cookies it really makes a difference. I finally got tired of Ranch dressing as a dip and have been looking for something new that will hold up outside and this dip fits the bill.

Thai veggie dip

1 tablespoon minced green onion

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced finely

2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

Fresh vegetables

In a large skillet sauté the onions in the sesame oil. Add the peanut butter, lemon juice, soy sauce, water, red pepper and garlic. Cook over low heat for four minutes, stirring constantly. Add the brown sugar, cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add very small amounts of additional water if needed to thin.

Christina Hall writes a weekly columns for The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.

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