• Tommy Centola

Host a smaller game day experience

Football season is underway. Unfortunately, this season has been a challenge. One of the best reasons to attend a football game is tailgating. The gathering of good food and good friends makes for a more enjoyable experience. While we can’t tailgate these days, we can still enjoy a smaller game day experience.

Gather a small group of friends to watch the game. Put together a scaled down version of a tailgating menu using these recipes: Shrimp Salsa, Vegetable and Rice Salad and Chocolate Pound Cake. Watch the game and try to bring a little normalcy to your life. For your starting lineup, here are the recipes.

Here is a great appetizer to get the game started. It is also a great addition to any meal. In my opinion, it is a better alternative to the traditional cheese dip that can be found everywhere. This Mexican inspired dish is a sure touchdown.

Shrimp Salsa

1 1/2 pounds boiled shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 ripe medium avocados, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

3 cups coarsely chopped tomatoes

1 1/2 cups chopped green onions

1/4 up chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeños

Pinch ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Coarsely chop the shrimp and set aside.

Combine the avocados with the lime juice and toss gently to coat. Set aside.

Combine the shrimp, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, garlic, jalapeños, cumin, salt, black pepper, and hot sauce in a large bowl and toss to mix. Add the avocados and mix gently. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving with tortilla chips.

This quick and easy dish is a wonderful alternative to a garden salad. It will also double as a side dish for whatever the main entree is. It’s a great dish year-round. Serve it the next time you have a chance to get together in a group.

Vegetable and Rice Salad

2 (6 ounce) boxes wild and long-grain rice, cooked to package directions and cooled to room temperature

1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms

1 cup Italian dressing

1/4 cup chopped green bell peppers

1/4 cup chopped red bell peppers

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped green onions

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Creole seasoning to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

Now for dessert. This recipe leads to numerous variations. Top it with your favorite icing. Slice it and top it with ice cream. Let your imagination go wild.

Chocolate Pound Cake

1 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

6 large eggs

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup cocoa powder

8 ounces sour cream

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 ℉. Grease and lightly flour a 10-inch loaf pan.

Beat the butter at medium speed with an electric mixer for about 2 minutes, or until it is soft and creamy. Gradually add the sugars, beating at medium speed for 5-7 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just the yellow disappears.

Combine the flour, baking soda and cocoa and add to the creamed mixture alternating with the sour cream and ending with the flour mixture. Mix at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in the vanilla.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the top springs back when touched. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely before slicing.

Don’t wait for a tailgating opportunity to try these dishes. They go great with almost any meal. I do find that they are better shared with friends. Now for the kickoff.

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