Five Game Day Snacks for your Living Room Tailgate Party

Football season is in full swing. To me, the best part about game-day are all the yummy finger foods. You know what I’m talking about – Little Burger Sliders, Chicken Wings galore, plenty of chips and dips and all the other little bite-size flavor explosions to pop into our mouths as we cheer on our favorite team. I especially love tail-gating on the sofa – all the food of a tailgate party with all the comforts of home. If I had it my way, we’d be nibbling on Portobello Mushroom Napoleon or Pork Tenderloin Crostini with a Béarnaise Sauce but that’s just me.  I’m one of those crazy people who subscribes to the notion that “casual” entertaining need not mean “casual” food.

Case in point – boating. Water, sand, sun – great fun! Years ago, we took our adult son out on the lake for a day of fun in the sun. When we beached our ski-boat and took a break to eat, I set a beautiful table with yummy “finger” foods. We had an assortment of cheeses, beautiful fruits, crackers, pate and marinated chicken wings. My table was set just as you would a dinner table at home. My son looked at me and laughed. “You know, Mom, boating usually doesn’t involve dishes to wash later.” Hey, I have an espresso maker designed for camping – what can I say?

Anyway, here are five of my favorite “game day” snacks that aren’t over the top, yet are a little different – with a bit of flair and style.

Snack Menu
Buffalo Chicken Puffs
Burger-Waffle Potato Bites
Margarita Chicken Wings
Mini Tostada Bites
Spanish Sausage Coins

In my humble opinion, just about anything wrapped in puff pastry tastes better. I love the flakiness of the pastry. These little gems from Pepperidge Farms are no exception.

Buffalo Chicken Puffs
1 Package Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1 Package Fully Cooked Buffalo Chicken Strips
1 cup Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing for Dip
12 Celery Sticks or as needed

Heat the oven to 375-degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Unfold 1 pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14×12-inch rectangle.

Cut into 3 (14×4-inch) strips. Cut each strip in half to make 6 (7×4-inch) pieces. Repeat with remaining pastry sheet.

Cut the chicken strips into 3-inch pieces. Place 1 chicken piece on each pastry strip. Fold the short sides of the pastry to the center over the chicken and roll up like a jelly roll. Press the ends to seal.

Place the filled pastries, seam-side down, onto the baking sheet. Reserve the remaining chicken for another use. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and “puffed”. Place chicken on a serving platter with dressing and celery sticks. Serve hot.

Recipe Note: Parchment paper keeps the pastry from sticking to the baking sheet and also makes for easier cleanup. If you don’t have parchment paper, you can spray the baking sheet with cooking spray instead. However, cooking spray may cause the bottoms of the pastries to brown more quickly, so begin checking for doneness 5 minutes early.

I know, all those little burger sliders are the rage – cute and yummy. I love this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens. These little burgers are just as “cute” with a beautiful presentation. Besides, you get your burger and fries all in one little bite.

Burger-Waffle Potato Bites
16 large frozen French-fried waffle-cut potatoes
1 pound ground beef
2 teaspoons grilling seasoning blend
4 slices cheddar cheese, cut into quarters (4 oz.)
4 cherry tomatoes, sliced
Mustard, ketchup, dairy sour cream, and/or dill pickle slices

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Evenly space potatoes on baking sheet. Bake potatoes for 18 to 20 minutes or until crisp and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Adjust oven racks and preheat broiler.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine meat and seasoning. Form into sixteen 1-ounce mini burgers (about 2 tablespoons). In a 12-inch skillet cook burgers, uncovered, over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or cooked through, turning burgers once halfway through cooking. Drain fat. Top each potato with a burger, cheese quarter, and tomato slice. Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and tomato begins to brown. Serve with mustard, ketchup, sour cream, and/or pickles. Makes 16 bite-size snacks.

What tail-gate party would be complete without a few chicken wings? I love these little drunken wings – but then I’m a huge fan of lime and chicken combinations. Although the recipe calls for a soak of about three hours minimum, the longer the better.

Margarita Chicken Wings
Ingredients – Margarita Marinade
3/4 cup tequila
3/4 cup triple sec
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt

Ingredients – Chicken Wings
10 chicken wings (about 2 lbs.)
Lime wedges

MARGARITA MARINADE: In a bowl, whisk together tequila and triple sec. Stir in lime juice and salt. Stir until salt dissolves.

CHICKEN WINGS: Rinse wings, pat dry, and cut apart at joints. Put in a resealable plastic bag with marinade. Seal and refrigerate, turning occasionally, at least 3 hours and up to overnight. Remove wings; reserve marinade.

Preheat oven to 500-degrees. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil and coat lightly with oil. Arrange wings skin side up and brush with reserved marinade.

Bake wings until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Turn over, brush with marinade, and bake another 5 to 6 minutes. Turn once more, brush with marinade, and bake until skin is brown and glossy, 2 to 4 minutes.

Serve warm, with lime wedges.

The first time I had these spicy little bites was more than 30 years ago. I loved them so much that I made them every chance I got. There was something about the saltness of the chip, the flavor of the bean dip and the melted cheese that was almost addictive. Over the years, the original recipe has evolved. I use a better quality cheese (originally made with Kraft American Cheese Slices); and sometimes like to add a good quality chorizo for a little extra “zip”.

Mini Tostada Bites
Ingredients – Bean Dip Variety
1 Bag Round Tortilla Chips
2 Cans Bean Dip (or refried beans warmed, thinned with a little bacon dripping)
Nacho Jalapeno Peppers (optional)
2 Cups Mexican Cheese Blend, shredded
8 Green Onions, chopped
2/3 Cup Sour Cream

Ingredients – Spicy Meat Variety
1/2 lb Chorizo, browned and drained well.

On baking sheet, place tortilla chip rounds. CAREFULLY spread bean dip on each, then top with

Mexican cheese blend. (Kraft American Sliced Cheese works well, too.) If desired, place a small piece of Jalapeno pepper on top.

Heat broiler of oven. Place tostadas under broiler just long enough to melt cheese.

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped green onions. Serve immediately.

Meat Option: Brown chorizo, drain well and set aside. Spread bean dip or refried beans on tortilla chip round. Sprinkle with chorizo, then top with Mexican cheese blend. Proceed as above for broiler and garnish as desired.

Who doesn’t like those little smoky cocktail sausages simmering in barbecue sauce? Kiddo could live on them. These coin-cut smoked sausages are a great alternative. You can cook them on the stove-top in no time at all, then transfer them to a crock pot to stay nice and hot all day.

Spanish Sausage Coins in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup finely chopped onion
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb Smoked Beef, Polish or Kielbasa sausage, coin-cut into ½-inch thick rounds
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon coriander
Dash Cayenne pepper
1 (8 oz) Can tomato sauce
¼ cup Red wine

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Add onion; cook 4-5 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic, cook 30-60 seconds or until fragrant. Add sausage slices, cook until lightly browned, turning once.

Sprinkle with paprika, coriander and cayenne pepper. Add tomato sauce and wine; cook until sauce thickens and is reduced, stirring occasionally.

Serve warm sausage mixture with cocktail toothpicks. If possible, look for sword toothpicks at a party supply store.

Here’s to many game days to come, to good friends and a fun-filled season!

Author: Rosemarie's Kitchen

I'm a wife, mother, grandmother and avid home cook.I believe in eating healthy whenever possible, while still managing to indulge in life's pleasures.

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