September 3, 2010

Fall = Football

At least, in our house that's how it works. Josh and I are both avid professional (of different teams: Steelers for me, Falcons for him) and college football fans. Consequently, a good number of our fall activities revolve around the pigskin. This weekend, we kick off our second season with a local football team...ODU's Monarchs. Admittedly, as much as I enjoy football, these games are much more about the tailgating than the score to me, especially since this year I am no longer knocked up and can actually participate in the fun that is tailgating...YAY! We have our regular tailgate crew, and to say these guys take this seriously, is probably an understatement. Each week of the season we have a new menu theme...this week's is your basic tailgate fare, starting with hamburgers, hot dogs, and grilled sausage. But you can't stop there, right? You need sides, starters, least in my world this is how it works, so here are some of my favorite ideas for this basic tailgate (or cookout for that matter):

Baked Potato Salad: my favorite cookout/tailgate side...absolutely DELISH and a hit every time

Ramen Coleslaw: so easy, light, and actually really good (and I don't even typically like coleslaw!)

Brocoli Salad: I've never tried this, but I think I just may have to this weekend...what do you all think?

Above all, our tailgating (and most other parties for that matter) essential is Buffalo Chicken Dip. My brother, a member of our tailgating team, has requested, even insisted that this dip be at EVERY tailgate all season long. So without further ado, here is the super simple recipe:

2 10 ounce cans chicken, drained

2 8 oz. cream cheese, softened

8 oz. Ranch dressing (Hidden Valley, of course)

3/4 cup hot sauce

1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar

Heat chicken and hot sauce in skillet until heated through. Stir in cream cheese and Ranch dressing until cream cheese melted. Mix in half of the cheddar cheese, and stir until cheese is melted. At this point, you can either transfer the mixture to a slow cooker, add the rest of the cheese, and leave it on low to serve OR transfer it to a baking dish, top with remaining cheese, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes (obviously you would need to preheat the oven). Serve with celery sticks, chicken-flavored crackers, or your good-old Tostitos.

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