Joe Drozda and Bob Bley are writing the third edition of The Tailgater’s Handbook which will be published in 2014. Drozda is considered the “Father of American Tailgating” by many including The Wall Street Journal. Drozda and Bley both grew up in NW Indiana and attended Indiana University together.
It feels like the season is changing, doesn’t it? Just lay back on your chaise lounge and look way up into the tree tops and you’ll notice an active, leaf-moving breeze that wasn’t there during those heavy, humid summer “dog days”. The nights and mornings are cooler and it’s evident that fall is finally approaching to give us relief. The spent fields and brown roadsides have given us all they have for this year; now we can look forward to the change of season and the fall colors.
These days, fall brings more than pretty leaves - it brings football and tailgating. There’s high school, college and our favorite pro football team that are starting their seasons and realizing a need to be more and more into their fans' tailgating experience. After all, tailgate parties are America’s chance to eat rich foods that add to the game night/day experience. They provide a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere to socialize with friends.
We should add that they are relaxing and enjoyable if you follow a few simple food safety rules to keep your guests from experiencing problems.
Here are some simple tips to have a healthy tailgate season:
Always start with USDA meats and check the their freshness dates.
Wash your hands, your utensils and cutting boards prior to and after each use.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold (below 40 degrees).
Use at least two coolers on game day. Have one cooler for cold drinks so people can frequently open it to retrieve a canned or bottled beverage without contaminating foods. In the other coolers store perishable foods in re-sealable plastic containers and/or bags.
To get you started, here’s a heart-healthy recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms that is sure to please your tailgaters.
20 medium Mushrooms
3 Tbs Butter
2 Tbs finely chopped onion
2 Tbs finely chopped red pepper
14 Ritz crackers, finely crushed
2 Tsp grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp Italian Seasoning
Preheat oven to 400. Remove and chop mushroom stems, setting a side 1/4 cup. Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add the 1/4 cup chopped stems, onions and peppers; cook and stir until all are tender. Stir in cracker crumbs, cheese and Italian seasonings. Spoon mixture into mushroom caps. Place on ungreased baking sheet or parchment. Bake 15 minutes or until heated through.
Nutrition Info: 35 Calories, 45 mg sodium, 1g protein, 2.5 g fat, 2g carbohydrates, 1g sat. fat, 5 mg cholesterol.