Game Day Southern Style


Morning Kickoff

Bourbon Sriracha Bloody Marys

For a twist on this typical early morning cocktail, substitute bourbon for the vodka. If that’s not enough to wake you up for the early game, a spicy Sriracha sauce and horseradish combo is sure to do the trick. Adjust amounts for more or less spice. This savory sip is sure to please a crowd, and it’s perfect paired with a few brunch-style appetizers. 

8 cups tomato juice 
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 teaspoons horseradish
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
black pepper, to taste
1 – 1 1/2 cups bourbon
celery stalks, for garnish
lemon slices, for garnish

1. In a large pitcher, combine first 9 ingredients. Stir well. Adjust seasonings to taste. 
2. Refrigerate for about 6 hours until well chilled. Serve over ice. Garnish with a fresh celery stalk and lemon slice. Makes about 1/2 gallon.

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Tomato Pie Tartlets 

These simple, pretty pickups are a cinch to throw together for a last-minute crowd. 

1 box cherry tomatoes
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar
1/2 cup chopped green onions
salt and pepper, to taste
2 packages mini fillo shells
fresh basil, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Dice half of the tomatoes. 
Chop remaining tomatoes in half. Drain on paper towels.
3. In a small bowl, combine next 4 ingredients. Gently fold in diced tomatoes. 
4. Place fillo shells on a baking sheet. Spoon mixture into each shell. Top each tartlet with a cherry tomato half,  cut side up. 
5. Bake about 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Makes 24 tartlets.

Bacon Parmesan Puffs

Fluffy, savory pâte à choux, adapted from Donald Link’s version in “Down South, ” makes a perfect brunch pickup or an excellent dinner side.

5 – 6 slices of bacon
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/4 cups bread flour
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups freshly grated Parmesan, divided

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
2. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, cook bacon until crispy. Drain bacon on paper towels. Reserve 1/4 cup of the rendered fat. Once bacon is cool, chop into small pieces.
3. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the milk, water, butter and reserved bacon fat to a simmer. Add in salt, onion powder, sugar and cayenne. Stir to combine. Add in flour, 1/2 cup at a time. Continually stir with a wooden spoon in one direction to form a dough. Keep stirring 1 – 2 minutes until dough pulls away from the sides of the pan. 
4. Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on medium until each is incorporated.
5. Stir 1 1/4 cups Parmesan and chopped bacon into dough until just combined. 
6. Spoon dough onto greased baking sheets in 2-inch balls. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of cheese over tops of dough. 
7. Bake until puffs are risen and golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 1 dozen puffs.

Spicy Cheeseburger Sliders 

These sliders, the heartiest mini burgers you’ll ever eat,  will most definitely be gone by halftime. And here’s the kicker: kids and adults alike approve.

1 pound ground beef
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups diced onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (10-ounce) can Rotel Diced Tomatoes, drained
12 dinner rolls or Hawaiian mini rolls, halved
6 slices pepper jack cheese
6 slices cheddar cheese
1 stick butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. In a large skillet over high heat, add the beef and season with cumin, mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Cook meat until browned. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden. Stir in tomatoes until combined.
3. Layer bottom halves of buns in baking dish. Spread ground beef mixture over top. Layer cheese slices next. Lightly spread mayonnaise on the top halves of the buns. Then layer over the cheese.
4. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine remaining ingredients to make a glaze. Stir until mixture is smooth. Pour over assembled sliders.
5. Bake 25 minutes, until cheese is melted. Makes 12 sliders.


Afternoon Kickoff

Bourbon Mint Sweet Tea

What could be more Southern than mint sweet tea? An ice-cold glassful with a splash of bourbon! 

handful of fresh mint leaves
juice of 1 lemon
1 – 2 tablespoons sugar
8 cups cold sweet tea (We used Milo’s Famous Sweet Tea.)
2 cups bourbon, or to taste
fresh mint, for garnish
lemon slices, for garnish

1. In a large pitcher,  combine the first 3 ingredients. Muddle the mint leaves with a wooden spoon to release flavor. 
2. Stir in sweet tea and bourbon. Serve over ice. Garnish with extra mint and lemon slices, if desired. Serves 10. 

Beer Cheese Dip 

Creamy, rich and bold, this dip packs a punch to please a large party of fans.

2 (8-ounce) packages low fat cream cheese
5 ounces shredded Parmesan cheese
1 1/4 cups amber beer (We used Fairhope Brewing Co.’s I Drink Therefore I Amber.)
2 cups shredded Italian blend cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (11-ounce) can corn,  drained and rinsed
1 1/4 cups cooked bacon crumbles, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro,  plus more for garnish
tortilla chips, for dipping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Add the cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, beer, 1 cup Italian blend cheese, pepper, paprika and garlic powder into a blender. Blend until well combined. (Mixture should be a little bit runny at this point.) 
3. Pour the cheese mixture into a large bowl. Stir in corn, crumbled bacon, cilantro and remaining Italian blend cheese until well combined.
4. Spoon the mixture into a 9-by-9-inch glass baking dish.Sprinkle extra bacon over top for garnish.

5. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until mixture is hot and bubbly.
6. Sprinkle with extra cilantro. Serve with tortilla chips alongside for dipping. Serves 8 – 10.


Evening Kickoff

Yellow Hammer 

This is a variation on Bama grads’ favorite – a fruity, potent punch, synonymous with Galette’s Bar in Tuscaloosa. 

3 cups orange juice
3 cups pineapple juice
1/2 cup light rum
1/2 cup vodka
1/2 cup amaretto
splash of grenadine,  to taste
maraschino cherries, for garnish

1. In a pitcher, combine first 5 ingredients. Chill for 2 hours. 
2. Pour over ice. Add grenadine. Garnish with a cherry. Makes 3 – 4 servings.

Conecuh Spinach Artichoke French Bread 

As a hearty app or delicious side, it will become your gridiron entertaining go-to.

1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts,  drained well and chopped
3 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
​Conecuh sausage,  cooked and diced
1 French bread loaf,  cut in half crosswise

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine first 8 ingredients. Stir in 1 cup mozzarella cheese and Parmesan. Fold in Conecuh.
3. Place bread, cut-sides up, onto a baking sheet. Spread the artichoke mixture over top of the bread; top with remaining shredded mozzarella cheese.
4. Bake for approximately 10 – 12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Slice and serve immediately. Serves 4. 

Buffalo Chicken Crostini  

A classic game day dip is elevated when layered atop crispy, zesty Alabama-made Mamie’s Cheese Wafers. Add more or less wing sauce to adjust the heat level. Serve any remaining buffalo chicken mixture with corn chips for dipping.

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese,  softened
1 (8-ounce) bottle Hidden Valley Ranch dressing
1/2 cup Texas Wing Sauce
1 rotisserie chicken,  meat pulled
1 (14-ounce) roll Mamie’s Cheese Wafers (available at Old Shell Market), sliced and baked
sour cream
chopped green onions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and ranch. Stir in wing sauce, then fold in pulled chicken.
3. Pour mixture into a 9-by-9-inch glass baking dish. Place in oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes until bubbly. 
4. Meanwhile, prepare Mamie’s Cheese Wafers according to package instructions. 
5. Layer a spoonful of buffalo chicken mixture on top of each cooked cheese wafer. Top with a small dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped green onions for garnish. Serve immediately. Serves 6 – 8. 

text by Lawren largue • photos by elizabeth gelineau • styling by laurie Kilpatrick

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