These recipes originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of HomeLife Magazine.
Ah, September. The kids are back in school as a new semester begins, while the rest of us are finding a resurgence in schedules and routines. Ready or not, fall is underway with cooler air and a welcome dryness that seems to whisper, “Who’s ready for some football?” It’s the time of year I flip my recipe binder to the back and dig out all my tried and true tailgating menus. If you’re not a big fan of the game, feel free to join my team and become a fan of the food, social life, and festivities.
I cut my teeth picnicking with my littles ones at the beach; then I tried my hand at tailgating as the first of our brood entered high school. It’s there I witnessed alfresco dining under a new sub-category, often becoming its own form of competition among the parents. After four years of high school band tailgating, we stepped it up to SEC Football tailgating, congregating and feeding crowds on the Auburn lawn. Over the years, I’ve learned the topic of college rivalries can get a little dicey, so I’m going to retract my tiger claws and focus on the grub and gifts to be gained from this beloved past time.
Aside from the food and love of the game, teams, and halftime show, I came to realize a very special element to tailgating with our children. It was a great opportunity to be part of our teenagers’ lives without hovering. We supported our students by providing the food and a comfortable respite during game day outings, while maintaining a safe distance as our children navigated new social territory.
As an extra bonus, just being present created a very natural opportunity to meet and get to know our kids’ friend groups. It was a way in without prying. We learned we were a source of comfort for them without them needing us. And gathering around on the school lawn was less intimidating than inviting friends over to our home.
The younger siblings loved tagging along as they always found friends and a sense of freedom. In turn, as they entered high school, they were already comfortable with our involvement in their lives. As an added bonus, being active in a parent club extended our circle of friends by getting to know other involved parents. This created a community of trusted adults for our students.
Let tailgating become a way to support your students, bring the whole family together, and share a meal with new friends. I wish you a safe and happy fall, y’all.
Peanutty Drumsticks ▶ Makes 6 serving
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/3 c. honey
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. curry powder
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 1/2 lbs. chicken drumsticks
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, and oil. Stir in curry powder till combined well. Peel and mince garlic and combine with mixture. Place drumsticks in a large plastic bag and pour mixture over. Seal bag and turn until all drumsticks are coated. Store in refrigerator for two hours. Place drumsticks on 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet. Bake chicken for 30 minutes or until juices run clear. Serve warm or chilled.
“The drumsticks can be baked ahead and travel well!” — Laura
Asian Slaw ▶ Makes 6 servings
1 lb. cabbage (chopped)
1 c. sunflower kernels (roasted and shelled)
2 packages Ramen noodles (oriental flavor)
3 green onions (sliced)
1 c. almonds (sliced)
1 c. oil
1/2 c. white vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1 package of Ramen noodle seasoning packet
In a large bowl, layer the first five ingredients from first to last. Cover bowl and chill (optional). In a separate container, mix the remaining ingredients and shake vigorously in a closed container to combine. The dressing is best if chilled but it doesn’t have to be. Pour over slaw just before serving.
“Plums are the perfect fruit for a late summer, early fall dessert and pair well with the Asian Slaw.” — Laura
Chewy Plum Bars ▶ Makes 6-9 servings
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 c. butter (cold)
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. plums (chopped)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch-by-8-inch baking dish with butter, then set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. With a pastry cutter or fork, cut in butter until small peas form. Add brown sugar, egg, and vanilla and mix until well combined. Reserve 1/3 of the mixture. With your hands, press the other 2/3 of the dough, into bottom of the pan. Place the chopped plums in a medium bowl and toss with sugar and cornstarch. Pour the fruit mixture over the pressed dough forming an even layer. Top the fruit with the reserved dough, sprinkling evenly. Bake for 35 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and topping is lightly golden browned. Let cool completely before cutting into bars, or serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
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Laura Schupp is the author of Our Newlywed Kitchen: The Art of Cooking, Gathering & Creating Traditions. Learn more about Laura at OurNewlywedKitchen.com.