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Tailgating tips and recipes from ‘America’s Chief Entertaining Officer’

Football’s back–and that means it’s tailgating season!

“America’s Chief Entertaining Officer” Tim Laird joined FOX59 Morning News to share his top tailgating tips and some delicious recipes.

The Tailgater

  • In a rocks glass with ice, add:
  • 1½ ounces Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7
  • 1½ ounces Coca-Cola
  • 1½ ounces Ginger Beer
  • ½ ounce Peach Puree

Stir and garnish with a lemon wedge.

For an alcohol-free version, substitute iced tea for the Jack Daniel’s.

First Down Dip

This non-fat dip works with everything from vegetables to wings to an assortment of chips, or even as a topper on chili in place of the standard sour cream.

  • 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt (preferably Greek-style)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried ancho chili or chipotle chili powder (or a combination of the two)

Combine yogurt, hot sauce, onion powder, garlic powder and chili powder together in a small bowl. This is best made one day ahead so the flavors have time to blend.

BBQ in a Cup

In the bottom of a cup add a large spoonful of your favorite baked beans. Top this with your favorite BBQ such as pulled pork or pulled chicken. Add a dollop of coleslaw, top with chives and/or crumbled pork rinds and serve.

Note: You can use your own recipes to make the baked beans, BBQ and coleslaw or, to save time, buy these items pre-made.

Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes: 5 dozen

  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅔–1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (see Note)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 ounces dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the bacon in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp. Remove the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Pour the bacon grease from the baking sheet into a glass measuring cup and place it in the refrigerator to solidify, about 30 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a cutting board, cut into small dice, and set it aside.

Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

Once the bacon fat is solidified, add just enough of the unsalted butter to make 1 cup. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and bacon fat, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on low speed until combined. Add the bourbon, vanilla, and eggs and beat on low speed until thoroughly mixed. With the machine still running on low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture until completely combined. Stir in the bacon and chocolate chips.

Drop rounded tablespoons of dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat this process (you can reuse the parchment) until you have used up all the dough. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Note: It’s important to use a total of 1 cup of fat in this recipe. The amount of fat rendered from the bacon will tell you how much butter you need to use. For example, if you have ¼ cup bacon fat, you’ll use ¾ cup unsalted butter to equal 1 cup. Generally, 1 pound of bacon renders ⅓ cup fat, in which case you’d add ⅔ cup butter to equal 1 cup total fat. However, all bacon is not the same in terms of thickness, size, fat content, or quality.

Reprinted with permission from The Bourbon Country Cookbook by David Danielson and Tim Laird, Agate Surrey, 2018.

Tim’s Tips for Tailgating:

  • Organize your food and beverage offerings and keep things simple. Plan entrees your guests can assemble and eat with a minimum of utensils and mess.
  • Make a written checklist of items to pack. Do not forget important items such as: trash bags, sunscreen, paper napkins, plastic cups and paper towels.
  • Weather can be a problem. Check the weather report in advance, and be prepared for the worst. Bring pop-up tents and lightweight tarps to cover serving tables in the event of a rain shower.
  • Pack non-perishable items in your vehicle ahead of time and leave room for last-minute coolers.
  • Pack and make as many items as possible in disposable containers so you do not have to bring dirty dishes home.
  • Prepare food ahead of time. When you get to the tailgate site, you do not want to spend time chopping vegetables. Save this time for assembly.
  • Pack plenty of non-alcoholic sodas, juices and waters.
  • Bring games such as cornhole, along with Frisbees and footballs.
  • Plan to arrive at the stadium three hours before the game to allow plenty of time to tailgate and clean up.
  • This is a social occasion, so be sure to meet your tailgating neighbors and share ideas once you arrive.
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