I’m not sure where the past 4 years went? But, our daughter graduated from Auburn University in May, and we hosted a little tailgate style party for 15 people, on the eve of her graduation.

Cake and Photo courtesy of Loulu’s Bake Shop (loulusbakeshop@gmail.com, website: loulusbakeshop.blogspot.com)


(Adapted from Closet Cooking)

A hot cheese based dip with all of the flavors of a reuben sandwich! 
I’m doubling the recipe for my crowd.

1/2 cup cooked corned beef, diced or shredded
1/4 cup sauerkraut, squeezed and drained
1/4 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Mix everything in a large bowl.

Pour the mixture into a baking dish.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven until bubbling on the sides and 
golden brown on top, about 20 minutes. Serve with toasted bread 
points or crackers.  It is sooooo good!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


(Adapted from Savour the Senses)

Photo Credit: Savour the Senses

Will double this recipe to serve our party of 15.

1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup tequila
7 garlic cloves (minced)
2 tsp lime zest
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground black pepper

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

1 (3lb) loin tri-tip roast

1 tbsp sour cream
1 ripe avocado
1/3 cup fresh cilantro (minced)
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
salt and pepper (to taste)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 lime (juiced)

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Combine 1/2 lime juice, 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup olive oil, soy 
sauce, tequila, 7 cloves garlic, lime zest, cumin, oregano and 
pepper in a bowl. 

Photo Credit:  Cate Bogue

Place the tri-tip(s) in a casserole dish and pour the marinade to 
cover both sides. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Marinate at least 4 hours – better if overnight.  Turn occasionally.
Grill the tri-tip over med-high heat until cooked to your desire ~ 
8 minutes per side for med-rare.  Cover and allow to rest for 
10 minutes before slicing.

For the sauce, combine the sour cream, avocado and remaining 
ingredients and whip with a fork. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Top steak with sauce to serve along with rolls.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

(Adapted from Plain Chicken)

Photo Credit: Plain Chicken blog

I’ll make these the day before, and simply reheat either on the grill 
or the microwave before serving.
They’re fine at room temperature as well.
2 large potatoes, scrubbed
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

Dipping Sauce:
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp fresh chives
Lemon Pepper to taste
Tabasco, to taste

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Slice potatoes into very thin slices (1/4 inch). 

Toss potatoes with olive oil, Italian seasoning and salt in a ziplock 
bag to coat.

Place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. 

Bake at 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until lightly brown.

Top with Parmesan cheese and bake an 

additional 5 -7 minutes.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

(Adapted from Jamie Oliver)

2 large heads broccoli, chop into florets and slice stalks
6 thick slices of bacon, chopped
olive oil
3 firm red tomatoes, halved and sliced
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
crumbled feta cheese

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

1/2 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp Dijon mustard
6 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
2 TBSP white wine vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the broccoli florets and sliced stalks quickly in boiling salted
water for 60 seconds. Drain.

Spread it around a clean tea towel to steam dry. 

Once dry, transfer to a serving dish.
Fry the bacon on medium heat with a small splash of olive oil until 
crisp and golden.  The spoon the bacon over the broccoli. Pour the 
bacon fat into a mixing bowl and add other dressing ingredients. 

Add the tomatoes and chives to the broccoli and bacon. Pour dressing over and
adjust seasonings – add more vinegar if necessary.  Top with feta cheese.

(Adapted from Fantastic Family Favorites)
I’ll be making these with orange and navy M&Ms that I purchased in bulk from www.mymms.com.

Photo Credit: Fantastic FamilyFavorites

2 1/8 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
12 TBSPs butter (1 1/2 sticks), melted and cooled slightly
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 6oz bag orange M&Ms, divided PLUS 1 6oz bag navy M&Ms, divided
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position. Line a 9X13-inch baking pan with foil, letting 
the excess hang over the edges of the pan by about 1 inch so you can grab those edges and pull the bars from the pan after they have baked. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Spray the foil-lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Whisk the melted butter and sugars in a large bowl until combined.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. 

Using a rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture until just combined; do not overmix. 

Fold in 1 cup of M&M’s.

and turn the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the spatula. Sprinkle remaining M&Ms on top and press in slightly.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bake until the top of the bars is light golden brown, slightly firm to the touch, and edges start pulling away from sides of pan, 24-28 minutes. 

Cool on a wire rack to room temperature. Remove the bars from the pan by lifting the foil overhang and transfer them to a cutting board. Cut into squares.


Perfect for an outdoor party in May in Alabama!
1 cup sugar
1 cup of water
1 pint fresh strawberries
1 cup fresh lemon juice (~8 or so lemons)
4-6 cups cold water (this will vary depending on your taste)
1 cup vodka

Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. 

Place over medium heat and heat until the sugar in completely dissolved; swirl the pan occasionally. Let cool. 

Once the simple syrup has cooled, puree strawberries in a blender with ½ cup water.

In a large pitcher, combine strawberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice. Add the vodka to the pitcher and stir to combine.
Add 4-6 cups of cold water. The amount of water you use will depend on your taste. Serve over ice. 


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

So, we had a bunch of family members coming from all over the southeast, so it was much easier to host a little tailgate brunch than go wait somewhere at a restaurant prior to our daughter’s graduation.  Here’s what we served:


These are absolutely the best! Secret is the Chicken Broth…

6 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 cups regular grits
16 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter
8 oz. grated white cheddar cheese

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bring broth, S & P and garlic powder to a boil. Stir in grits and whisk. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick (8-10 minutes). Add shredded cheddar and milk and stir. Slowly stir in eggs and butter. Pour into casserole dish, and sprinkle with white cheddar. Bake at 350 degrees 35-40 minutes until set.

(Adapted from Pillsbury)
Photo Credit: Beauty and Bedlam

2 cans (8 oz each) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
1lb spicy or mild bulk pork sausage (or use pre-cooked sausage crumbles)
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (8 oz)

Heat oven to 375°F.
Unroll 1 can of dough into 2 long rectangles. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Place in ungreased 13×9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish; press over bottom and 1/2 inch up sides to form crust.
In 12-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink. Remove sausage from skillet; discard drippings (unless you are using pre-cooked sausage). To same skillet, add cream cheese. Cook over low heat until melted. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Add cooked sausage; stir to coat. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Spoon evenly over crust in baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Unroll second can of dough on work surface. Press to form 13×9-inch rectangle; firmly press perforations to seal. Carefully place over cheese. ***NOTE: this part was VERY frustrating!  I was unable to lift the rectangle without destroying it, so I did the best I could to place it on top of the cheese.  

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

I know – ugly, right? We will see what happens in the oven…
Bake 21 to 24 minutes or until golden brown. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

And voila!  It puffed up just enough to cover the gaping holes! I’ll let it cool ~ 15 minutes, then I’ll cut into small squares.  The kitchen smells delicious!!!

And…they turned out amazing!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

These were a huge hit!  I prepared them in advance and simply reheated them in the oven (actually we used a grill since we were tailgating), and they turned out beautifully.  Everyone devoured them!

(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

Photo Credit: Smitten Kitchen

For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.

Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hans or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.

Make the raspberry filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.

Assemble and bake the bars: Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. 

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

(Adapted from Taste of Home)

Photo Credit: Taste of Home
1-1/2 cups green grapes
1-1/2 cups seedless red grapes
1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1-1/2 cups halved fresh strawberries
1 can (8 ounces) pineapple chunks, drained
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1 can (10 ounces) frozen non-alcoholic pina colada mix, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup pineapple-orange juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
fresh mint
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

In a serving bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small

bowl, whisk the pina colada mix, sugar, juice and extracts until
sugar is dissolved.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Pour over fruit; toss to coat. Sprinkle with chopped mint. Chill.

Photo Credit: Stevie McClane


Photo Credit: Garden and Gun

We love Bloody Mary’s.  In our opinion, you HAVE to have Zing Zang.  Beyond that we serve up some of the following:
banana peppers
olives (of all sorts)
lemon juice
pickled green beans, carrots
hot pickled okra 
Tabasco and/or Sriracha 
The possibilities are almost endless.  But, the drink will put a smile on your face for sure….

***Fun party idea!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

I took regular bottled water and added ORANGE duct tape around the label.  Then I wrote in permanent marker, “Congrats Caroline” and more on each one.  But you can, of course, write “Go Team” or whatever you want.  I topped off the basket with orange and white striped straws and orange and navy pompoms, and we are ready for a party!