Vanessa, also known as Chefdruck, is a foodie, writer and mom living in Chicago with her husband and four children. Whether you're planning a holiday dinner party or small impromptu get together with friends, Vanessa has easy menu ideas and helpful tips to minimize your time in the kitchen so you have more time to spend with your friends and family. Vanessa's personal blog can be found at chefdruck.com
Before I moved to Ohio, I had never been to a tailgate party. I pictured a handful of friends hanging out by portable grills next to their SUVs, enjoying a few hot dogs. I had no idea that tailgating could involve trailers with fancy kitchens, and long tables laden with elaborate buffets with dozens of dishes. I was blown away when I attended my first game last fall in Columbus, but quickly came up to speed, developing my own repertoire of tailgating dishes that I can whip up at a moment's notice.
My favorite tailgating recipes are flavorful and not overly sensitive to temperature. I don't like serving things that might spoil in the heat or might congeal in an unappealing fashion if I can't find an outlet for my crockpot. The ideal tailgate dishes are easy to make and leave me worry-free once I place them on the table for everyone. Then I can spend the rest of pre-game socializing and having fun.
I love the freshness and color of these Bruschetta Bites on Town House crackers. In the early fall months, when the tomatoes are still in season, I barely have to do anything to make the tomatoes sing. In the winter and fall, I turn to fire roasted canned tomatoes to get that lovely tomato flavor. And as they take less than 10 minutes to assemble, you can't really beat the ease of preparation.
So often most of the tailgating menu is so focused on savory items, and dessert is made up of supermarket bakery cookies. That's why I love to knock the crowd's socks off with this dark chocolate hazelnut dip with Town House Flipsides. These pretzel crackers are the perfect pairing with chocolate. Seeing grown men dip their Flipsides into the chocolate over and over again with a little kid smile on their faces is worth fussing with toasting hazelnuts.