5 Tips for a Tasty Weekend Holiday Tailgate

5 Tips for a Tasty Weekend Holiday Tailgate

Casual and diehard sports fans alike can all agree one of the best parts of game day is the tailgate. Whether you're heading to the game to take part in the action or tuning in on the big screen, you can light up the scoreboard this season with these tips for a fun, easy and downright tasty tailgate (or home-gate).

1 Start early. There's likely no easier way to send a tailgate spiraling out of control than to get a late start, which puts the party in a rush ahead of game time. Prepare early, and if you're heading to the stadium, leave yourself plenty of time to find the ultimate parking spot, light the grill and enjoy the atmosphere.

2 Keep it simple. A true tailgate experience starts with flavorful foods fit for a crowd, crafted with just the right blend of spices for a rich, savory and smoky taste.

3 Share the responsibility. Preparing shouldn't fall on one person's shoulders. Instead, ask each attendee to bring something useful for the entire group, such as plasticware, trash bags, napkins, cups, drinks and games.

4 Make it customizable. Especially if you're bringing a large group, creating a spread that allows for personalization can help ensure everyone leaves happy.

5 Ensure an easy cleanup. When the tailgate is winding down and the game is about to start, it's almost inevitable there'll be a rush to pack up and head to the stadium (or the couch). Make things simpler and quicker by using disposable plasticware, plates and cups, and strategically placing trash bags in easily visible areas for everyone to clean up as the party continues, rather than scrambling to pick everything up at once.

Grilled Smoked Sausage and Pepper Hoagies
Cook time: 22 minutes
Servings: 4

1 package Smoked Sausage
1 red or green bell pepper, halved and seeded
4 slices (1/2-inch thick) large red onion
1/4 cup bottled hickory or spicy barbecue sauce
4 hoagie rolls or 8-inch French bread rolls, split

Heat grill to medium-high heat and oil cooking grates. Cut each sausage link in half crosswise.

Grill sausage, peppers and onions, covered, 5 minutes. Turn; continue grilling, covered, 5 minutes, or until sausage is heated through and vegetables are crisp-tender.

Brush barbecue sauce over both sides of sausage and vegetables. Arrange rolls, cut-sides down, around edges of grill. Continue grilling, covered, 2 minutes, or until rolls are lightly toasted. Cut bell peppers into strips; separate onion slices into rings.

Serve sausage and vegetables in rolls.

Deluxe Nacho Dogs
Prep time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

1 head lettuce
1 tomato
1 red onion
2 jalapeno peppers
chives
1 package (8 beef hot dogs)
cheese sauce
1 package hot dog buns
sour cream

Heat grill to medium-high heat.

Wash and dry lettuce, tomato, red onion, jalapeno peppers and chives. Chop lettuce. Dice tomato and red onion. Remove jalapeno stems then slice. Chop chives.

Grill hot dogs 4 minutes, turning once halfway to warm through.

Heat cheese sauce according to package directions.

Personalize hot dogs with desired toppings. Spoon cheese sauce over entire dog then layer lettuce, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos. Add sour cream and garnish with chives.

Tip: To add heat, slice jalapenos and fry in skillet over medium heat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook until slices begin to blacken.

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