Autumn in the Northeast is a miraculous experience. The crisp air, the vibrant color of the leaves, and the ultimate sense of renewal as a fresh school year begins and anything is possible. It is also the last chance for a picnic before winter sends the earth to sleep until spring. A tailgate is the perfect way to celebrate this spectacular time of year. Whether you tailgate outside the football stadium, in a field to watch horse races, at Parents’ Weekend, or simply in a spot that has a beautiful view of the colorful landscape, this Partybluprints’ Tailgating Party is as delicious as it is easy to pack up.
Invite your family, old friends or new ones and share an afternoon of good food, fun and fresh air. There are always too many reasons not to stop and smell the roses, make this party one that gives everyone a reason to celebrate the season.
The menu for this party needs to be both delicious and filling. All the fresh fall air will make your guests hungry. Petite plates of gourmet food is not the way to go with this party, however we never give up on making a statement. Instead of throwing out the chips and pretzels, be unique and make your guests feel special. Flat pretzels with honey mustard, Pita Crisps with red pepper hummus and Blue Corn Chips with a Mango or Peach Salsa is the ticket to this tailgate. Noshing food is great and everything should be bite size and easy to eat while standing.
TAILGATING MENU TIPS
- Be creative and practical with your menu.
- Don’t make your guests balance a beverage, a dish, utensils, etc. Serve an all-in-one dish, such as our Balsamic Chicken and Pasta Primavera Salad (recipe below), which includes your meat, veggies and salad/side dish. It’s quick and easy to serve and eat.
- Make all ingredients bite size, prepare ahead and pre-pack in fun containers which can be easily held in one hand. Attach a festively patterned napkin and a fork to the container and display attractively as your focal point so guests can literally grab their meal in 2 seconds and get right back to the party.
- The bonus for you, no messy clean up. Store any leftover containers in a cooler, when it’s time to pack up, you’re all ready to go. Better yet, offer as a “boxed snack” to guests with a long car ride home.
- Pita Crisps and Red Pepper Hummas
- Blue Corn Chips with Mango Salsa
- Flat Pretzels with Honey Mustard
- Butternut Squash Soup Shots
- Balsamic Chicken & Pasta Primavera Salad
- Artisan Foccacia Bread
- Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Triple Chocolate Brownies
- Seasonal Candy
Capture the spirit of a fall favorite in your signature cocktail. Welcome guests with a Candy Apple Cocktail. This simple combination of apple cider and butterscotch schnapps served up (warm or cold depending upon the temperature of the day) in a cup or mug signals the start of the fall festivities. Cider can be served alone as an alternative beverage.
Welcome guests with a drink. Once everyone has had a chance to relax, offer warm soup shots to your guests. Keep soup warm in a thermal container and serve in shot size disposable cups. Arrange soup shots on a tray with breadsticks and personally serve your guests, giving you the opportunity to connect again with each guest.Your guests are sure to appreciate this personal touch.
Have your buffet fully set prior to your guests’ arrival. Stack Chinese food takeout containers in a picnic basket or simply in a pyramid. After your guests have enjoyed a cocktail and appetizers,prompt them to help themselves to the main fare by opening a container or two and displaying with a piece of focaccia bread topper.
In this case we’ll call it a “Tailgatescape”. Light your “tailgatescape” on fire by drawing from autumn’s natural beauty. Start with nature’s palate, using shades of red, orange, yellow, brown and green and introduce autumnal elements gathered from nature. Your “tailgatescape” will complement your surroundings, naturally enhancing the beauty of your party. Design or buy a centerpiece featuring flowers from this same autumnal palate, stick with the more natural (muted) shades – branches dotted with berries, magnolia leaves and other greens further capture the essence of autumn.
Remember, even though you are not entertaining at home, a tailgate really is an extension of your home so provide your guests with a few “creature” comforts. Wrap up Hotties (hand warmers) as a favor, your guests can break them open if it’s a cool day. Offer a basket filled with some outdoor necessities: hand sanitizer, hand wipes, bug spray, suntan lotion, and, yes, a roll or two of toilet paper. For an added special touch, display some blankets, wraps, pashminas so your guests can feel cozy on a fall day.
Balsamic Chicken with Pasta Primavera Salad
(Makes 8 Servings)
* 1 lb. mezze penne or gemelli
* 1 lb. grilled balsamic chicken, sliced and cut into bite size pieces
* Assorted Grilled Veggies
* 2 large peppers (any combo of green, red, orange, or yellow) cut into large bite size pieces
* 1 large sweet onion sliced and cut into large bite size pieces
* 2 large carrots, sliced on the diagonal (cut the larger slices in half for bite size pieces)
Ingredients: 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme,
sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in blender or food processor. Set aside.
Thoroughly coat boneless chicken breasts in 1/4 cup balsamic dressing, season additionally with salt and pepper. Marinate 4-6 hours in refrigerator. In separate container, combine all chopped vegetables with 1/4 cup balsamic dressing, salt and pepper, stir to fully coat veggies, marinate for a few hours.
Preheat grill on medium. Grill boneless chicken breasts until juices run clear (cooking time may range from 7- 15 minutes depending on thickness of breasts). Using a nonstick grilling pan or basket, grill veggies until softened but not mushy, about 7 minutes on medium (the veggies can burn quickly, so don’t leave unattended and frequently turn).
While chicken and veggies are grilling, boil pasta according to package directions for al dente pasta (make sure to salt the water for boiling pasta).
When pasta is cooked, drain off 1 cup of pasta water and set aside. Pour pasta into a large mixing bowl (don’t worry about thoroughly draining pasta). Slice and chop grilled chicken into bite size pieces (make sure juices run clear – otherwise put it back on the grill), add chicken along with any juices and small pieces (basically what’s ‘left on your cutting board – this adds further flavor) to the pasta. Add chopped grilled veggies and gently toss.
Add 1/4 cup of reserved pasta water to 1/4 cup remaining balsamic dressing and mix thoroughly. Add 1/2 of this mixture to the pasta salad toss gently. Keep remaining 1/4 cup dressing and reserved pasta water in refrigerator for future use. Cover pasta salad and refrigerate.
When thoroughly chilled removed from refrigerator and toss with remaining dressing and salt and pepper to taste. Pasta absorbs liquid easily so you may also need to add some of the reserved pasta water for additional moisture.
Thoroughly mix and fill Chinese takeout containers with Balsamic Chicken Pasta Primavera, close containers securely, and pack up in cooler.
This dish can be prepared one day in advance, but wait to add the final dose of dressing until you’re ready to pack containers a few hours before leaving.
Butternut Squash Soup Shots
(Makes 8-10 Shots)
3 lb. butternut squash, halved and seeded
4 c. low sodium chicken broth
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray 9″ x 13″ baking sheet with vegetable cooking spray. Arrange squash cut side down on pan. Pierce each squash half with a fork and bake for 45 minutes, or until very tender. Set aside to cool.
When cool, scoop out squash, place in bowl and discard rind. Working in batches, puree even amounts of squash and broth in blender until smooth. Pour into saucepan and repeat process until all squash is pureed.
Grate fresh nutmeg in a bowl, add a pinch to soup along with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and immediately upon boil reduce heat and bring soup to a simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Since soup will be served as a shot, consistency should not be thick. Test consistency by drinking out of shot glass you’ll be serving it in. If soup needs to be thinned, add more chicken broth until desired consistency is reached.
If preparing ahead of time, cool soup and refrigerate. Reheat before packing up for tailgate. Pour into an insulated thermos, pack and go! Don’t forget the disposable shot glasses.
The Candy Apple
Ingredients (Makes 1 Cocktail)
* 6 oz. apple cider
* 1 oz. butterscotch schnapps (or to taste)
If serving cold, simply combine ingredients and serve. If serving warm, warm cider ahead of time and pour into thermal carafes. When ready to serve, serve butterscotch schnapps on the side for those wishing to “spike” their cider.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ITEMS TO PACK
First Aid Kit
Order Hay Bales (doubles as seating)
Plates/ Cups/ Utensils
Water ( to rinse or wash items)