At-home tailgate


When you can't tailgate in The Junction or The Grove, make the best of it with an in-house tailgate spread on game day. These blue cheese potato chips take about 15 minutes to prepare.

When you can't tailgate in The Junction or The Grove, make the best of it with an in-house tailgate spread on game day. These blue cheese potato chips take about 15 minutes to prepare. Photo by:


Jan Swoope



After what feels like an interminably long dry spell, football fans are finally getting a taste of what the 2020 season will look like. I'm not sure which is more jarring: the sight of empty stands, or the sight of stands peppered with sparse clumps of people spaced well apart. In any case, just being able to see action on the field in the fall, as is traditional, is welcome after so many traditions of spring and summer -- graduations to vacations -- fell by the wayside.


My diehard tailgating friends are feeling the loss, however. Football, for many of them, is all about setting up in The Junction or The Grove, socializing and snacking, then socializing some more. They enjoy the prep and the packing, the hunt for team-themed serving dishes and disposable dinnerware. They relish menu-planning and decorating.


"I'm not sure I'll know what to do with myself on game days," said Bulldog tailgater Paula Bennett of Oktibbeha County. "This whole season is going to be such an adjustment."



An alternative for most will be what might be called an at-home tailgate. Whether it's just for family, or whatever Gov. Reeves' maximum number of people indoors is this week, food is still an important part of game day.


Today's compiled recipes offer up quick appetizers to fuel the fans in your house. A recipe for Cowboy Caviar is included because, well, you know, Dak. (Perhaps you saw the photo of the Dallas Cowboys QB and former Mississippi State stand-out arriving for Sunday's Week 1 NFL game wearing a Bulldog face mask?)


Fall is knocking on our door; football confirms it. It provides a bit of encouragement that "life," as we've come to expect it, is hopefully a little closer to righting itself. So, here's to your team, whoever it may be.





Prep/total time: 15 minutes


Makes 10 servings



1 package (8-1/2 ounces) kettle-cooked potato chips


2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped


8 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled


6 green onions, chopped


1 cup crumbled blue cheese



  • Preheat broiler. In a 15-by-10-by-1-inch baking pan, arrange potato chips in an even layer. Top with remaining ingredients.


  • Broil 4-5 inches from heat until cheese begins to melt, 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.


    (Source: Hawkins)





    Makes 6 servings



    1 (12-ounce) package reduced-fat mozzarella string cheese


    1 egg


    1 teaspoon Italian seasoning


    8 tablespoons panko (Japanese) bread crumbs


    1/2 cup prepared spaghetti sauce, warmed (optional)



  • Position rack in upper-third of oven and preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.


  • Remove cheese from packaging and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk egg until foamy. In a small nonstick skillet, mix Italian seasoning with bread crumbs and place over medium heat. Cook and stir bread crumbs until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.


  • Dip one piece of string cheese in egg until coated and then into toasted bread crumbs, coating completely. Redip the string cheese in egg and again into the bread crumbs, if desired. Place on baking sheet.


  • Repeat with remaining string cheese and place on baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart. Spray string cheese lightly with cooking spray. Bake 5-6 minutes until heated through.


    (Note: The cheese may melt slightly and lose shape. Simply press it back into place. Serve immediately. Pair with warmed spaghetti sauce as a dip.)


    (Source: NDSU Extension Service,






    1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, or vegetable)


    1 tablespoon cider vinegar


    1 tablespoon lemon juice


    1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard


    1 can (15 ounces) beans (drained and rinsed)


    3/4 cup frozen corn, thawed


    1/2 cup onion, diced (1/2 medium onion)


    1/2 cup bell pepper, diced (1/2 medium bell pepper)


    1 cup tomatoes, chopped (1 medium tomato)


    1 avocado, chopped



  • Whisk oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl.


  • Stir beans, corn, onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes in a medium bowl.


  • Pour liquids over bean mixture. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.


  • Add avocado just before serving. Gently stir to combine. Serve with tortilla chips, or serve as a filling for tortilla or lettuce wraps. Change up flavors by adding different ingredients like salt and pepper, garlic powder, cilantro or chili powder.)








    2 pounds or 4 8-ounce packages cream cheese


    1 (8.5 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained well


    1 1/2 cups finely chopped green pepper


    2 tablespoons chopped green onion


    1 tablespoon seasoning salt


    Chopped nuts



  • Mix all ingredients and shape into ball. Roll in 1 cup of chopped nuts.


    (Source: "A Taste of Grace," Grace Baptist Church, Columbus; Eleanor King)






    2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature


    1 cup mayonnaise


    1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese


    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


    1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies


    1 (4 ounce) can diced jalapenos or 4 fresh jalapenos, seeded and chopped


    1 cup Panko crumbs


    1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


    1/4 cup butter, melted



  • Mix first six ingredients, put into a 2-quart greased baking dish. Mix Panko, remaining Parmesan and melted butter, sprinkle over cheese and pepper mixture.


  • Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Serve warm with chips, crackers or baguette slices.





  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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