Special Feature: Thanksgiving Game Plan


Tailgate in the kitchen before kick-off

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"Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home" by Debbie Moose (Harvard Common Press)

Thursday, November, 15 By Emily Young
Staff writer

The players on the field aren't the only ones looking to bulk up before the big game. Many hungry fans also need a good breakfast before heading to their seats in the bleachers.

Those at home who would like to dine in the spirit of tailgating before the 10 a.m. kickoff can try the following recipes from "Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home" (Harvard Common Press, 2007).

"I looked for as many do-ahead recipes as possible so that tailgaters don't have to do so much rushing around at the last minute. You can just grab the food out of the fridge and go," said author Debbie Moose.

Her strategy will be especially helpful for cooks who also are preparing the Thanksgiving feast.

“Punkin’” Mini-Muffins

"The 'Punkin'' Mini-Muffins are just a great all-around munchie. You can bake them up to a month ahead of time and freeze them, they're a nice little bite each, good for breakfast or as a not-too-sweet dessert. I just love them. I have them ready when I host my annual brunch to watch the Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Tournament in March," Moose said.

Makes about 5 dozen mini-muffins.


3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/8 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
11/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 large eggs
One 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Coat mini-muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray. (You may need to bake in batches.)

  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. In a medium-size bowl, combine the sugar, vegetable oil, eggs, pumpkin puree, water, and vanilla extract. Stir with a whisk to blend well, or use an electric mixer. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined and smooth, and no lumps remain.

  3. Spoon about a heaping tablespoon of batter into each muffin well, so that the wells are about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then remove.

Extra points: These muffins freeze beautifully. Cool them completely, then seal in zipper-top plastic freezer bags. You can also make loaves, if you prefer. Pour the batter into two 5-by-9-inch loaf pans and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Sweet Potato Ham Biscuits

"Here in the South, we have to have our ham biscuits at every tailgate, and the Sweet Potato Ham Biscuits add a little sweet twist. You can even make the biscuits more of a breakfast food by adding the topping I mention and omitting the ham," Moose said.

Makes about 15.


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (<1/2> stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes, cooled to room temperature
1 cup buttermilk
10 ounces country ham

  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter cubes until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

  3. In a medium-size bowl, combine the sweet potatoes and buttermilk. Stir the potato-buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, stirring just until the dough begins to come together. Add a little more buttermilk if the dough is dry and not holding together. The dough should be very moist.

  4. Lightly flour your hands and a clean work surface. Turn the dough out onto the floured surface and knead lightly to combine; do not use too much flour (not more than about 1/2 cup additional flour). Press or roll out the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a 2- or 2 1/2 -inch biscuit or round cookie cutter. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet, very close together but not touching, about 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown; watch carefully near the end for burning. Remove the biscuits to a rack and let cool.

  5. Prepare the ham according to the package directions and drain well. Slice thinly, if necessary.

  6. To serve, slice the biscuits in half, cut the ham slices to fit the biscuits, and insert the ham into the middle of each biscuit.

Extra points: The biscuits can be made several hours ahead or the day before. If you don’t want to use ham, make the biscuits into a sweet breakfast treat: Combine 2 tablespoons unsalted butter with 1/4 to 1/2 cup orange juice in a small saucepan and heat until the butter melts and mixes with the juice. Brush the biscuits with the mixture before baking.

Clota’s Mountain Man Breakfast

"The Mountain Man breakfast came from a Va. Tech football fan, and it's good for those noon kickoffs when it's still chilly | plenty of stuff in there to keep you warm in the early morning," Moose said.

Serves 12.

1 pound bacon
2 medium-size onions, diced
1 1/2 cups sliced white mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 to 12 medium-size potatoes, peeled and sliced <1/2>-inch thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 dozen large eggs, beaten
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Bottled picante sauce for garnish

  1. Heat a large, cast-iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot. Cut the bacon into 1-inch pieces and fry until brown. Add the onions, mushrooms, bell pepper, and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

  2. Pour the beaten eggs over the mixture. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and set.

  3. Remove from the heat, sprinkle the cheese over top, cover, and let stand until the cheese melts. Serve hot, topped with picante sauce.

Extra points: You can prepare the recipe the night before, up to the point of adding the eggs in Step 2. Put the mixture in an airtight container and refrigerate. For finishing at the tailgate, add the eggs and cook in the Dutch oven, covered, on a hot grill or burner.

Recipes excerpted from "Fan Fare: A Playbook of Great Recipes for Tailgating or Watching the Game at Home," by Debbie Moose. (c) 2007, used by permission from The Harvard Common Press.

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