Cooks Exchange

Turn ordinary tailgate fare into extraordinary

Good food before a big game brings folks to a tailgate party.

Tailgating offers a taste treat, offering friends and family a smorgasbord of one-dish meals, chicken nuggets, sandwiches, fruit kabobs, cookies or bars, chips and dip, hot dogs, corn dogs and more.

When I was in high school or even college, we didn’t have tailgate parties, nor did any of my friends. We ate food from the concession stand: hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and sodas.

Last week, my family and I tailgated at Christian Collegiate Academy in Gulfport. Parents and grandparents brought all sorts of dishes from spaghetti casseroles to nuggets to sandwiches to barbecued meatballs and sausage. One mom even decorated cookies in CCA’s colors of blue and white.

At the next home game, we will all do it again. The amount of food filled four 6-foot tables. It was fun; we ate and visited, getting to know each other a little better.

Since football is in full swing, I offer recipes that work for tailgating that might even be good for a home football party in front of a 52-inch television and not wear out the host or hostess.

I love jalapeno and cheese link sausage, and it makes the best sausage dogs topped with sautéed onions and bell pepper. A crusty hoagie roll is just right for the sausage. It’s spicy good.

Pull out the Instant Pot, slow cooker or grill and get the party started.

The website collected what the editors thought were the best tailgating recipes of the 50 states. It claims Mississippi is known for its pimiento cheese. The best pimiento cheese that I have had topped a juicy burger at one of Chef Patrick Heim’s popup restaurants. If I remember correctly, he even added a topping of fried onion strings.

At any game party, the host or hostess should offer crudités and a healthy dip for those not wanting to chow down on sausage dogs or burgers or potato skins. Don’t forget those doing Keto or low-carb diets either.


1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated

1 pound Monterey Jack cheese, grated

1 (4-ounce) jar pimientos, drain juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon garlic (mashed garlic in a jar)

Mix all ingredients until well-blended. Serve on crackers or use for sandwiches.



4 cups waffle-shaped French fries

1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) steak seasoning

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

2 tablespoons chopped green onions

2 tablespoons bacon bits

Arrange waffle fries in a greased 15-by-10-inch baking pan. Bake at 450 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Sprinkle with steak seasoning; toss to coat. Top with cheese, onions and bacon bits. Bake 2-3 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.



(Keto friendly)

10 ounces raw medium shrimp, deveined and peeled

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 avocado, diced

2 Roma tomatoes, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

4 green onions, diced

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon coriander

2 avocados, halved and pitted for serving

Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add raw shrimp and boil for 2 minutes. Drain shrimp and chop into small pieces.

Combine lime and lemon juices in a bowl and add shrimp and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.

Mix remaining ingredients (except avocado halves) together. Drain juices from shrimp and add to tomato mixture. Spoon ceviche into avocado halves and serve. Also, delicious with tortilla chips.

Note: Diced cucumbers can be added for extra crunch.



Put small flour tortillas in the cups of a muffin tin and bake for about 10 minutes, until crispy.

Then mix enchilada sauce, black beans, green chiles, shredded rotisserie chicken and corn, and fill each tortilla with mixture. Top with cheese and bake for another 15 minutes for a delicious and impressive dish.

— Recipe by Ali Martin of Give Me Some Oven blog

Andrea Yeager can be reached at and Cooks Exchange, 205 DeBuys Road, Gulfport, MS 39507.