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Fall is on its way, and with the shift in seasons comes the kickoff of college football, the autumn activity that occupies a lot of Alabamians’ attention and energy every year. But our tailgating traditions are almost as important as the play on the field, and a focus on food is the fundamental element of any good pregame party. Use these reader-submitted recipes and our expert tips to cook up a football feast that will score big points with your family and friends.

Cook of the month:


VictoriaMotyka

Victoria Motyka, Baldwin EMC

Cook of the month Victoria Motyka is a regular contributor of recipes to Alabama Living, and has had a few published over the years. An avid cook, she looks forward to seeing the recipes section of the magazine each month. “It’s great getting recipes from the area here.”

She says that because she and her husband live in Kentucky full-time, but have a vacation townhome in Gulf Shores, where they receive the magazine as customers of Baldwin EMC.

She didn’t come up with this month’s Sriracha Honey Wings, but she made some tweaks to the recipe she found in Real Simple magazine.

Though the Motykas don’t tailgate at football games, Victoria says the recipe is perfect for any kind of celebration, especially when folks are gathered around the TV for an event. They are really spicy, she says, but she and her husband like the hot stuff – and since their children, now in college, grew up eating spicier foods, they like it, too.

Retirement for the Motykas is looming, and while they’re not sure where they’ll retire, they look forward to moving to Alabama, where they’ve vacationed for more than 30 years.

wings

Sriracha Honey Wings

  • 4 pounds chicken wings
  • 1/3 cup sriracha sauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or olive oil
  • (I use garlic-infused olive oil)
  • Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine in a large, heat-resistant bowl the sriracha, honey and molasses and set aside. Put the wings into a large plastic bag and add oil. Shake the wings until covered. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder and shake again. Pour the coated wings onto two large-rimmed baking pans, being sure not to crowd the wings. Bake, flipping them once, until crispy and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Pour the hot wings into the heat-resistant bowl containing the sauce and toss until well coated. Serve with celery slices and blue cheese dressing to help quench the heat.


Whether you’re tailgating in a tent, behind a truck bed outside the stadium, hosting friends in your backyard or just hanging out in your den, keep these tailgating tips in mind.

Keep it Simple

You can go all out on a main dish, but consider adding a few easy-to-eat treats to the menu too. Small, pick-up items that don’t require utensils (or even plates) work best. Think sliders, skewers with cheese and marinated veggies and small cookies, brownies or mini cupcakes in team-colored liners. Or how about some jazzed up popcorn, with servings already placed in colored paper cups?

Stay Safe!

If you’re tailgating outside, keep highly perishable foods like meats and dishes made with mayonnaise or other dairy products at the correct temperatures at all times. Also keep foods covered as much as possible to prevent contamination from flies and other pests. Have hand sanitizer and wet wipes for easy anti-bacterial clean up that doesn’t require water.


Tiger Corn Dip

  • 2 cans MexiCorn, drained
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 chopped green onions
  • 1 can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • Dash of sugar
  • Mix all ingredients together and let sit overnight in refrigerator. Serve with Frito Dip Chips.

Maria Riego, Wiregrass EC


Jason’s Poppers

  • About 10 jalapeno peppers
  • Two 8-ounce packages of cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 Vidalia onion, chopped,
  • One 12-ounce pack shredded Mexican cheese
  • 2 packs applewood smoked bacon

Split jalapenos lengthwise, devein and seed them with a spoon. In a bowl, mix softened cream cheese, tomato, onion, Worcestershire sauce and Mexican cheese. Put mixture into pepper halves and wrap with bacon. Grill on indirect heat until bacon is done and peppers are soft.

Jason Hollingsworth, Tombigbee EC


Green Chili

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • One 14 ½-ounce can of stewed tomatoes
  • Two 4-ounce cans green chilies
  • 2 cups diced, peeled potatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • pinch of salt, black pepper, garlic salt (to taste)

In a large pot, cook ground beef with onion until no longer pink. Drain. Add all other ingredients and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes.

Glenda Weigel, Baldwin EMC


Chinese Slaw

  • 1 package angel hair slaw
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup almonds, slivered or sliced
  • 2 packages beef Ramen noodles
  • Dressing:
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 package beef flavoring from the noodles
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar

Mix together and add dressing about 30 minutes before serving. Pair with chicken fingers or barbecue for Saturday football games.

Susan McConnell, Black Warrior EMC


Beef and Bacon Chili

  • ¼ pound bacon
  • 1 ¼ pounds ground beef
  • Two 15-ounce cans chili beans in sauce
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ½ of a 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 ½ stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green chili pepper, chopped
  • 2 cubes beef bouillon
  • ¼ cup beer
  • 1/8 cup chili powder
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

In a large pot, brown ground beef and bacon. Do not drain. Add chili beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste. Stir. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, chili pepper, bouillon cubes, and beer. Stir. Add chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, oregano, cumin, Tabasco, basil, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and sugar. Stir. Cover and simmer on low heat at least 2 hours, or cook 8-10 hours in crockpot on low. Adjust salt, black pepper, and chili powder to taste.

Maryann Littlejohn, Wiregrass EC


Vidalia Onion Dip

  • 3 large vidalia onions
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • Saute onions with the butter. Mix remaining ingredients in 1 ½-quart casserole dish. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Fabulous with crackers!

Carla Gwin, Clarke-Washington EMC


Hot Spinach and Tomato Dip

  • Two 10-ounce boxes of frozen, creamed spinach, thawed
  • One 28-ounce can of Italian-style diced tomatoes, drained
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1-pound round rye bread loaves (or bread of your choice)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine spinach, tomatoes, garlic, black pepper and cheese. Set aside. Hollow out both bread loaves, tearing insides to bite-sized chunks. Bake bread loaves and pieces on cookie sheet for 15 minutes. Divide dip evenly into both bowls. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes. Serve warm with pieces.

Rachel Bostic, Central Alabama EC


Mexican Black Bean

  • Pinwheels
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (your choice)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon onion salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup salsa
  • 8 medium-sized flour tortillas

In a mixing bowl, blend cream cheese, sour cream, onion salt, garlic powder, shredded cheese and salsa. Set aside. In a small bowl, crush black beans into a paste. Take each tortilla and spread a thin layer of the black beans. Top with the cream cheese mixture (about 1-2 tablespoons) and spread evenly almost to the sides. Roll up each tortilla and secure, individually, with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, remove from plastic wrap, cut the ends off tortillas and discard, and slice into 1-2” rings. Makes 35-50+ appetizers, depending on how you cut them.

Amethyst Spear, South Alabama EC


Ask the Expert!

Chris Lilly
Chris Lilly

When it comes to good football food, Alabama restaurateur and a member of our state’s barbecue royalty, Chris Lilly, the pit master at Big Bob Gibson BBQ in Decatur, is the go-to guy for grilling and smoking advice. He shared his tips for creating a fun, friendly and stomach satisfying tailgate experience.

  • Remember, rivalries are for the games, but around the grill we’re all friends.
  • Begin with a clean grill. Scrub the grill grates with a stiff wire brush and then apply a thin coat of oil with a paper towel.
  • Start with a charcoal base and think of adding wood chips as a seasoning as opposed to a main fuel source.
  • Build a 2-zone fire by situating the hot coals on only one side of the grill and leaving the other side void creating an area for both direct and indirect cooking.
  • Keep the grill lid closed for thick cuts of meat and open for thin cuts.
  • Decide how much backyard cooking time you have and then choose the cut of meat.
  • Apply sweet sauces the last 5-10 minutes of cook time.
  • For optimum juiciness, let meat rest after grilling. The thicker the cut, the longer the rest time.
  • Barbecue is more than the meat off the grill; it is an occasion that should always involve your friends and family.