Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Quarter Break: Fresh Salads Made Simple

Okay, your tailgate is coming along but everyone is still walking around and talking and grabbing bites of food here and there. To move your tailgate along from the dips into the next stop on the menu, serving salads make a great segue.

With that being said, this week's recipes and discussions will be all about salads and the many possibilities they present. Salads can be extremely healthy as well as flavorful so f
eel free to break away from the classic Caesar or pre-mixed salads you can buy in the grocery stores. Get creative and make you own--your friends at your tailgate will appreciate it and so will your taste buds.

I know a few of my friends hate green salads, so offer up a few salads that don't have a lettuce or spinach base as an ingredient to liven things up. Many salads I will provide recipes for will not be your traditional green salads, but I will include a couple that are out of the ordinary as an idea for your tailgate menu. I hope you guys are as excited as I am about this week!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dips and Spreads: "Smokey" Salmon Pâté

This salmon pâté is especially easy to make and doesn't break the bank. With the exception of the smoked salmon, most people have all the other ingredients on hand anyway, which makes your trip to the grocery store that much shorter the week you decide to bring this to your next tailgate. And anything to make cooking easier and fun is fine by me!

I made this recipe with Vol fans specifically in mind. What could be more appropriate than to have a spread with a title to celebrate Tennessee's mascot: Smokey! But this recipe is very versatile--you don't HAVE to used smoked salmon if you would rather use pink salmon for a more natural fresh tasting spread. However, I personally think the smoke flavor of this salmon spread awakens your palate in a way other smoked flavored meats cannot. And paired with the cream cheese and other ingredients, this recipe is a velvety delight to have at any tailgate.

  • 1 lb of smoked salmon (cooked and shredded)
  • lemon juice from 1 large lemon, zest from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 T of fresh, chopped thyme
  • 3 oz of cream cheese
  • 2 T of unsalted butter
  • 1 teas. cayenne pepper
  • 1 teas. paprika
  • pepper to taste
  • salt to taste

Mix salmon, lemon zest and juice and thyme in a bowl with a fork until salmon is evenly coated. (You can choose to use a food processor to make this: add ingredients in the same order but make sure you keep the salmon a little chunky. Not purée.) Next, throw in the paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and mix until salmon is evenly coated. Finally, mix in the cream cheese and butter with a fork until it is all one even consistency--making sure that all of the salmon mixes in with the cream cheese and butter. Toss the pâté into the refrigerator for at least an hour so the flavors can meld together. When you want to serve it, set out at room temperature for 15 minutes before eating.

A note about the smoked salmon itself: I went to Kroger this time for groceries and they did not have canned or bagged smoked salmon, but they did have a thinly-sliced option that you just pop in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees and pull apart when it is done. Super easy and the fact that it was thin strips of salmon made it even more simple for a salmon pâté. I had a lot of fun making this spread and ate mine with Wheat Thins Garden Vegetable crackers and it was delicious. Hope you all support Smokey and enjoy some for yourself!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dips and Spreads: Guacamole

Guacamole is a veggie dip that is jam-packed with vibrant flavor, but can be a bit intimidating for people to make. The all-star ingredient for guacamole is avocado, which is not exactly the most common vegetable to cook with on a weekly basis. However, it is one of my absolute favorites. This dip is a bit more challenging than the first recipe I shared with you--the avocados take a bit of elbow grease to smash but is totally worth it when you're done.

Now for the recipe...Alton Brown is one of the most intellectual chef personalities on Food Network. His show, Good Eats, is filled with food science and facts of ingredients and cooking tools he uses on any given episode. Because I admire him so much, it is only appropriate that I praise one of his favorite dip recipes from the "Dip Madness" episode of Good Eats.


  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced


In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.
Now of course, as with any recipe, you can alter spices to your taste preferences. Back down on the cayenne pepper and ground cumin if you don't like the extra kick this recipe has. Personally, I like a little spicy aftertaste in a guacamole. And a fun idea for serving is to keep your hollowed out avacado peels and place the dip inside like I did in the picutre. Something different as far as presentation goes and is functional in helping you portion the dip out to everyone too! Hope you all enjoy this "good eat!"

Dips and Spreads: Tangy Veggie Bean Dip

My mother shared this recipe with me (one of which she stole from a friend) is now one of my favorite dips to dive white corn chips into when I'm watching the pregame show on ESPN. This recipe takes about 10 minutes of prep time (dicing up some veggies) and absolutely no baking time. Aka: piece of cake and a staple dip when you are "volunteered" last minute to bring an appetizer.


- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 4 oz of diced pimientos
- 30 oz of black-eyed peas (unsalted, without bacon)
- 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
- 1 small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup of diced green onion
- 3/4 cup of Italian dressing (light dressing is an acceptable alternative)


- Dice bell peppers and green onion into bites no larger than your pinky fingernail.
- Chop 1 handful of cilantro and flat leaf parley leaves (discard stems).
- Drain pimientos and black-eyed peas.
- Mix all ingredients into large mixing bowl. Chill for 20 minutes prior to serving.

This is super easy and quick to make. Let me know how you like it!
Keep an eye out for my next post for a killer guacamole dip recipe!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

the pregame to any successful tailgate: dips and spreads

During the tailgate discussions I'll be leading this football season, I will choose a specific type of buffet item or tailgating tip to highlight each week. I hope you are all as excited as I am to tie up your apron and sharpen your knives as this project gets into full swing. It is going to be fun.
This week is all about preparing different dips and spreads--breaking away from the go-to Pace salsa and Tostitos chips.
Now there's nothing wrong with those; they're actually one of my favorite snacks, paired with sour cream of course. However, it is a snack that is overly relied on to appease palates while the rest of the tailgate menu is cooking up.

I have done some research through personal recipes and cookbooks of famous chefs and am going to share some vegetarian bean dips, fish spreads and of course a Mexican dip to replace the staple salsa dip.

The first recipe is on the cutting board tomorrow, so check back for a zesty vegetarian dip from my own kitchen.