No it’s not the holiday season. It’s August in the South, and that can only mean one thing – – – FOOTBALL SEASON! It’s August.  The anticipation is similar every year. All of my favorite teams are undefeated, and there is hope in the air of bowl games, SEC and ACC titles and potential National Championships!

To go along with the excitement and hope of what lies ahead, I’m inspired to create new tantalizing menus:

Let’s start with these appetizers:

Beer Cheese Dip

1 (2-lb.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (12-oz.) bottle amber beer, at room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat together first 5 ingredients at low speed with a electric stand mixer until blended. Gradually add beer, beating until blended after each addition. Beat at medium-high speed 1 minute or until blended and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill 2 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. This spread can be frozen up to 1 month; thaw overnight in refrigerator.
Grilled Beer-Cheese Sandwich: Spread 1 tsp. softened butter evenly on 1 side of 2 bread slices. Place bread slices, buttered sides down, on wax paper. Spread 1/4 cup Beer-Cheese Spread onto 1 side of 1 bread slice. Top with remaining bread slice, buttered side up. Cook sandwich in a nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue


This spread is one of my all time favorites. It has all my favorite ingredients, and I could probably just eat the entire thing without stopping. But I won’t. It’s really good though.

1/2 pound pitted kalamata olives
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
2 to 3 fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Thoroughly rinse the olives in cool water. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until the mixture becomes a coarse paste, approximately 1 to 2 minutes total. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Have a platter of fresh vegies and crackers to go with the dips. I love it with belgian endive and radicchio sliced.

For the main course:

Platter of Chicken fingers from Chick-Fil-A and

(Adapted from

Photo Credit:

1 (3 1/2-pound) eye-of-round roast (can cut in half)
2 teaspoons salt, divided
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 (10-ounce) can condensed beef broth
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons steak sauce
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

12 Kaiser rolls or sandwich buns
Dill pickle slices
Cole slaw

Sprinkle beef evenly with 1 teaspoon salt.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Stir together remaining 1 teaspoon salt, garlic, and next 7 ingredients.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Pour half of mixture into a 5 1/2-quart slow cooker.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Place beef in slow cooker, and pour remaining mixture over beef.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue
Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Cover and cook on HIGH 7 hours.
Shred beef in slow cooker with two forks. Serve in rolls or buns with dill pickle slices and cole slaw.


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 large shallot, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 9 large ears – or a large bag or two of frozen Silver Queen corn)
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped assorted fresh herbs (such as basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot and cumin seeds.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Sauté until shallot is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add corn kernels, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Sauté until corn is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in all herbs.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Season to taste with salt. Transfer corn to bowl and serve

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

And I seem to have more and more vegetarian (or at least non-meat eating) friends, so I’m including on each menu delicious items for them as well.


I have 3 recipes to choose from – both equally delicious, just choose your the ingredients to suit your taste. The 3rd one is the easiest.

4 cups torn pieces of sourdough or rustic peasant bread, 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon drained capers
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
5 assorted ripe heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size and shape
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced, fronds reserved
1/2 cup pitted and halved Niçoise olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 7 to 10 minutes, until slightly crisp. (The pieces should not be as crispy as croutons.) Alternatively, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and let them dry, uncovered, for about 24 hours.
In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, capers, zest, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisking constantly, add the extra virgin olive oil in a stream until well incorporated.
Add the onion, tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumber, fennel, and olives and toss with the vinaigrette. Adjust the salt and pepper.
Tear the fennel fronds and add them to the bowl along with the basil and bread. Toss to coat. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Garnish with shaved cheese and serve.

Panzanella with Artichokes

1/2 pound ciabatta, French or sourdough loaves, cubed
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 jar (6.5 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, coarsely chopped
1 can (5-1/2 oz) water-packed tuna, drained and flaked
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted; sliced
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic; minced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In bowl soak bread in 1/2 cup water for 5 minutes; squeeze out excess water. Add tomatoes, onions, artichoke hearts, tuna, olives, basil, garlic, vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Serve at room temperature.

Yields: 6 cups

Easy Peasy Panzanella

As you cut the tomatoes, remove some of the seeds and liquid. Your panzanella will be juicy enough. Leave the crusts on the bread chunks; they will stay chewier and give the panzanella more substance.
4 cups tomatoes, cut into large chunks
4 cups day old (somewhat dry and hard) crusty bread (Italian or French loaf), cut into chunks the same size as the tomatoes*
1 cucumber, skinned and seeded, cut into large chunks
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil, torn into little pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
* If you don’t have hard old bread sitting around, you can take fresh crusty bread, cut it into big cubes, lay the cubes out on a baking sheet, and put in a 300°F oven for 5-10 minutes, until the outer edges have dried out a bit (not toasted, just dried). If you use fresh bread without doing this, the bread may disintegrate into mush in the salad.
Mix everything together and let marinate, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, up to 12 hours. Do not refrigerate or you will destroy the texture of the tomatoes.
Serve at room temperature.
Yield: Serves 6-8.

Portobello Burgers with Pesto, Provolone, and Roasted Peppers

1/2 cup purchased pesto
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 sourdough, whole grain, or ciabatta rolls, split horizontally
4 portobello mushrooms, stemmed, dark gills scraped out
Olive oil
Roasted red peppers from jar, drained
4 cups arugula (about 2 ounces)
4 slices provolone cheese

Stir pesto and mayonnaise in small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill rolls, cut side down, until lightly toasted. Transfer to plates. Spread grilled side of rolls with pesto mayonnaise.
Brush mushrooms on both sides with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill, rounded side up, 4 minutes. Turn mushrooms over. Cover and grill until mushrooms are tender, about 4 minutes. Place 1 mushroom on each roll bottom. Top each with enough red pepper pieces to cover, then with arugula and cheese. Press roll tops over and serve.

And we’ll follow up with an absolutely yummy dessert:

(Adapted from Epicurious)

Photo Credit: Epicurious

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour

7 to 8 ounces milk chocolate, broken into pieces, or 1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped almonds, toasted
***NOTE – can substitute toffee baking bits for 1/2 of the almonds to heighten the toffee flavor!

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment.
Prepare the crust. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt. On low speed, gradually beat in the flour just until mixed. The dough will be stiff. Pat the dough evenly over the bottom of the baking pan.
Bake in the center of the oven until pale gold on top, about 20 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and scatter the chocolate pieces evenly over the crust. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute. Remove the pan again and, using a knife, spread the chocolate evenly over the crust. Sprinkle evenly with the almonds.
Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack. Using a sharp knife, cut into small squares, then carefully remove from the pan with a small offset spatula or an icing spatula.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Now for that signature drink…After spending years in Kentucky tailgating, I HAVE to include a kickoff menu that includes bourbon. But I’ll also have a vodka one for us non-bourbonites.  Funny enough I got these recipes on a Delta Airlines flight – they were their “special drinks” of the month!


Woodford Reserve Small Batch Bourbon
Cranberry & Apple Juice
Splash Orange Juice
Lime Wedge Garnish


cranberry apple juice
a splash of orange juice
a squeeze of lime