What to serve at a tailgate at the beginning of the season in the DEEP SOUTH!?
Got to keep it cool! Some days are just not conducive to grilling, and hearing meat sizzling is just unappetizing when it’s over 90 degrees and humid out. These are the times my husband thanks me for NOT including him in the food prep.
Here are some sample menus for when the sun is scorching and the humidity is high:

Menu 1
Marinated Shrimp
Mini roast beef sandwiches
Couscous salad
Gazpacho dip
My salsa and chips
Key Lime Pie Squares
DRINK OF THE DAY: Tipsy Arnold Palmers (Iced tea, lemonade and vodka)

Menu 2
Smoky Sun-dried tomato/Cheese Finger Sandwiches
Caprese salad
Store-bought chicken wings
Bacon-Onion Dip with crudites and crackers
Shortbread Cookies
DRINK OF THE DAY: Sailor’s Punch


Marinated Shrimp
2 lbs medium shrimp, unpeeled, fresh
6 cups salted water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup capers
1/2-1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp celery salt
1 medium onion, cut into rings

Peel and devein shrimp. Bring 6 cups salted water to boil; add shrimp.

Cook 3 minutes or until shrimp turn pink. Drain and rinse with cold water; then chill.
Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients in shallow dish.

Add chilled shrimp and onion rings, and chill at least 6 hours (turning occassionally). When ready to serve, drain and discard onion.

(Adapted from Southern Living)

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

8 oz container of cream cheese spread, softened
2 TBSP prepared horseradish
Small rolls
4-6 large green leaf lettuce leaves, torn
3/4 lb thinly sliced deli roast beef
1/2 small red onion (optional)
1 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Stir together cream cheese and horseradish until blended.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Spread cream cheese mix evenly inside rolls halves (~2 tsp ea). Stuff roll halves evenly with lettuce, roast beef, onion (optional) and avocado. Can prepare up to 8 hours in advance except the avocado – add just before serving.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Courtesy of Bev and Katie Nord

2 cups water
2 tsp salt, plus more as needed
1 cup (6oz) dry couscous
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 med red onion, finely chopped
4 scallions (green part) finely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 TBSP ground ginger
2 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 TBSP ground cumin
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
ground black pepper

Bring the water and 2 tsp salt to a boil. Add the couscous and stir once.

As soon as the water returns to a boil, remove the pan from the heat; cover it and let rest for 5 minutes. Then transfer the couscous to a sheet pan and spread it out to cool for 10 minutes.

Transfer the couscous to a medium bowl and break up any clumps. Add the celery, onion, scallions, cranberries, chickpeas, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, olive oil and pepper to taste. 

Toss till combined. Transfer to a sealable container and refrigerate up to 2 hours. Let salad come to room temperature before serving.

3 medium tomatoes, seeds removed
1 red onion
1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed
1 red bell pepper, seeds removed
1 cucumber (I prefer hothouse)
2 (6oz) pkgs baby spinach
Red Wine Vinaigrette

Dice tomatoes, red onion, peppers and cucumber. Place in a medium bowl and mix. Alternate a layer of vegetables and spinach into a larger bowl and drizzle with the vinaigrette right before serving.

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1 TBSP Creole mustard
1 TBSP honey
3/4 cup olive oil
pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium bowl, add red wine vinegar, creole mustard and honey. Whisk together. Slowly whisk in olive oil, to allow mixture to blend. Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes and S & P to taste.

My Salsa with Good Seasons Italian Dressing and Cheese
1 can rotel tomatoes
fresh cilantro, chopped
3 scallions, white and green, chopped
1 small can chopped black olives
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 pkg Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix (mixed according to the package – although I always use less oil)

Mix all together and chill. Can turn the heat up a bit if you want to use hot Rotel. Serve with tortilla chips or Fritos – it’ll go fast!


1 cup graham cracker crumbs plus
2 1/2 TBSP finely ground graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
5 TBSP unsalted butter, melted
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime zest
2/3 cup key lime juice (23 key limes in total)
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup heavy cream

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in small bowl.

Press evenly into 8″ square baking dish.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

 Bake until dry and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

Put egg yolks and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.

Mix on high speed until thick, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium.

Add condensed milk in a slow stream, mixing constantly. Raise speed to high; mix till thick, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add lime juice; mix till combined.

Spread filling evenly over crust.

Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

Bake until filling is set – about 10-12 minutes (rotating once). Let cool completely on wire rack; then refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
Cut into 2″ bars.

Beat cream until stiff peaks form, and dollop on the bars. Makes about 16 bars.

Muffuletta (Easy version)

1 cup jarred mixed pickled vegetables, rinsed and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped green olives stuffed with pimento
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/3 lb thinly sliced salami
1/3 lb sliced provolone
1/3 lb thinly sliced pepperoni or ham
1 large round Italian bread loaf

Stir together pickled veggies, green olives, olive oil and cayenne.

Cut bread loaf in half horizontally and scoop out the bottom, leaving a 1/2 inch thick shell.

Spoon half of olive mixture into bread shell.

Layer with salami, cheese, pepperoni or ham and remaining olive mix. Cover with bread top. Wrap loaf tightly with plastic wrap, and chill 8-24 hours. Transport to tailgate and cut into wedges.

Smoky sun-dried tomato Cheese
1 3oz pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonaise
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups (8oz) shredded smoked cheddar cheese
2 cups (8oz) shredded smoked gouda cheese
1/2 (8.5oz jar) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
bread slices (I use sourdough and dark wheat)

Stir together cream cheese, mayo, paprika and salt in a bowl.

Add in cheeses and sun-dried tomatoes and mix until combined.

Spread mix (~1/3 cup) on half of bread slices and top with a bread slice. Serves 7-8 people, but you can easily double or triple or whatever. Can cut in half again for finger sandwich size.

Bacon-Onion Dip
1 8oz container sour cream
1/2 cup cooked and crumbled bacon
2 TBSP scallions (green onion) sliced
3 TBSP buttermilk
1 TBSP horseradish
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Stir together ingredients. Cover and chill until ready to serve – up to 24 hours.


Photo Credit: Cate Bogue

1 lb fresh mozzarella, cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
1 lb roma tomatoes, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup pesto
3-4 TBSP red wine vinegar
S & P to taste

Mix and season (and adjust). Eat immediately or keep in fridge for a few days. So so good!

Shortbread Cookies
2 cups butter
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
2 TSBP sugar OR 6oz semi-sweet chocolate morsels and 1 TBSP water melted together over double boiler

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Beat butter at medium speed until creamy.

Slowly add 1 cup sugar, and then add flour beating until mixture forms a ball.

Press dough into a 14×10 inch jelly roll pan with floured hands.

Bake 30-35 minutes til golden.

Cut immediately into 35 (2″) bars. Then either sprinkle with sugar or dip into melted chocolate and place on waxed paper.


12 oz light beer
6 oz vodka
6 oz frozen limeade concentrate

Blend all together in an electric blender with ice and serve immediately. Plan to make alot, as these are always a HUGE hit!


Throw all the ingredients in a blender.  Note: the game is on in the background ;)!


Add ice and puree to slushee consistency. Imbibe.