Gopher fans: We may not win the game, but we'll win the tailgate

  • Blog Post by: Nadine Babu
  • November 12, 2011 - 3:58 AM


People always ask me how I've been so dedicated to this Gopher football team for the past 15 years...and I have one response, it's the entire game day experience.  I think this is something overlooked at the U, and is incredibly important to the loyalty of fans, because even if the team loses (which has happened a lot in the past few years) you can still have a good game day experience. 


I get knocked from being from Wisconsin all the time, but you can take a lesson from Packer and Badger fans, they're loyal.  Even when I was growing up and the Packers were one of the worst teams in the nation, there was still a 60 year waiting list to get season tickets, and that's because the game day experience entailed much more than the game, it was an entire day of activities. 


My favorite part of game day (until we start winning) is the tailgate.  Some people just grab their 12 pack of Natty Light, and call it a tailgate if they're sitting on the back of their pick-up. That does nothing for me.  Granted, we're not Notre Dame, but I feel like the Ski-U-Mah lot puts on a pretty good tailgate, and that all starts with great food and drinks, which is what I wanted to share with you. 


I always get asked about my recipes, and for great tailgating ones, so I thought I'd share some recipes for you as we embark on our border battle against Wisconsin.  Our group divides up the food, so we only have to cook for one game each season.  My game is the Badger game, and due to a forecasted chilly day, I decided to go with crockpot cuisine.  I will be serving 40-50 people during our 6 hour tailgate.  


If I could find the link to recipes, I included them. The recipes that just have ingredients are me just throwing things together.  The one thing I will encourage, is to always taste your food.  I have a lot of type A friends who only follow a recipe, please don't do that.  Trust your taste buds and adjust accordingly!


Breakfast Burritos


We're starting with some breakfast burritos, and a simple recipe I received from my fellow tailgaters two weekends ago:

  • Eggs
  • Sausage
  • Cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tatar Tots
  • Flour tortillas

This one's great because you can make it the night before and just wrap each on up in tin foil, and heat them up in the oven while you're getting ready in the morning.


Crockpot brie


This is so easy, and it's oozy goodness.  Serve it with sliced baguettes and crackers:

  • Round of brie
  • Craisens or any dried cranberries
  • Walnuts (or you could use any nut of your choice)


Chicken Corn Chowder


6 pieces bacon- cut into small pieces (I actually used 10 pieces)

1 tsp. Butter

1 medium onion-diced

2 celery stalks-chopped

2 carrots-chopped

2 medium sized red potatoes- diced

1 tsp. Garlic

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

2 TB flour

1 tsp turmeric

4 C corn (use fresh or canned, just be sure to get "crispy" corn w/no sugar added to it. )

1 1/2 C chicken stock (I thought this was too thick, so I added another cup)

1 smoked chicken - cut or pulled to bite sized pieces

1 C white cheddar cheese

1/4 C fresh parsley-chopped

1/2 C cream (I used an entire cup of cream)

1 can corn + liquid in can

Additional yellow cheddar cheese grated for garnish.


In a 12 inch sauté pan cook bacon over medium heat. When crispy remove from pan and place on a paper towel to drain. Add butter to pan, add onion and sauté 5 minutes. Add onion, celery, carrots and potatoes. Sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and about 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir in flour and turmeric and cook 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 C of the chicken stock and cook about 1 additional minute while scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits.

Pour mixture into Crock pot vessel. Then add 4 C corn, a pinch of kosher salt and pepper and remaining chicken stock. Stir. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3.5 hours.

After cook time, remove lid and use immersion blender to puree 1/3 of soup.* Add smoked chicken, 1 C cheddar cheese, parsley, cream and entire can of corn (including liquid) Turn to high and cook 1 additional hour. Stir, adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve in bowl garnished with bacon and shredded yellow cheddar and a fresh baguette.


Baked Mashed potatoes


  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill.

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.


My Mom's cheesy potatoes


  • 2 pounds of hash browns - cubed not shredded
  • 1 pint light sour cream
  • 1 cam cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 stick of melted oleo (yes, Mom calls it oleo :)
  • 8 ounces of grated cheddar cheese (feel free to add more)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup chopped onions
  • Salt and pepper
  • Crushed corn flakes to cover top


Mix everything except corn flakes, makes a 9 by 13 pan (no need to grease pan).  Cover with corn flakes.  Bake at 350 for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer to crock pot if tailgating. 


Italian Beef


  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 1 (5 pound) rump roast


  1. Combine water with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil.
  1. Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat.
  1. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours, or on High for 4 to 5 hours. When done, remove bay leaf, and shred meat with a fork.


Note - I did use all beef broth and no water.  I also used 3 packets of Italian seasoning.  I am also serving this with cheese, and grilled peppers.  I cut up red, green, orange and yellow peppers and drizzled them with olive oil and salt and pepper, and grilled them.


Grilled Asparagus


I break off the ends of my asparagus, and place them into a large Ziploc bag.  I then add:

  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • Fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper


Then I just throw the directly on the grill, so they get that nice flavor.  You may lose a few, but it's so good.  Be sure to not overcook, no one wants the mushy, you want the crisp.


Pulled Pork Awesomeness


The Mysterious Pulled Pork Recipe

2 onions, sliced thin

2 Tbs brown sugar

1 Tbs paprika

2 tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 (4-6 lb) boneless pork butt or shoulder

¾ cup cider vinegar

4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 ½tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 ½tsp sugar

½ tsp dry mustard

½ tsp garlic salt

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Place onions in crock-pot. Combine brown sugar, paprika, salt and pepper; rub over roast. Place roast on top of onions.

Combine vinegar, Worcestershire, red pepper flakes, sugar, mustard, garlic salt and cayenne; stir to mix well. Drizzle about 1/3 of vinegar mixture over roast. Cover and refrigerate remaining vinegar mixture.

Cover crock-pot; cook on low 12-14 hours. Drizzle about 1/3 of reserved vinegar mixture over roast during last ½ hour of cooking.

Remove meat and onions; drain. Chop or shred meat and onions. Serve with remaining vinegar mixture.


Note - I actually doubled the amount of spices in the rub, so I could get a nice coating on it.  I also let it site with the rub for about an hour first. 


Cole slaw to top the Pulled Pork

This is the classic coleslaw used for topping pulled pork sandwiches. The sweetness of the slaw goes perfectly with the tartness of good pulled pork.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Makes enough for 8 sandwiches


  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least an hour. Place a generous portion on each pulled pork sandwich.


Crockpot Apple Crisp


8 apples peeled and sliced (I recommend these for best taste and crispness:  Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Jonathan, Jonagold, Winesap or Pippin)

2 teaspoons of Golden Fig Apple Pie Spice or 1 ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon allspice, and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

¾ cup whole milk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

1 ½ cups Bisquick, divided

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold

Butter flavored cooking spray

1. Lightly spray bottom and sides with slow cooker.  Toss apples in a large mixing bowl with Apple Pie Spice.  Gently spoon apple mixture into slow cooker. 

2. In a medium mixing bowl combine milk, softened butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, and ½ cup of the Bisquick. Spoon over apples.

3. Combine the remaining Bisquick with the brown sugar. Cut cold butter into Bisquick mixture with a pastry cutter until crumbly. Sprinkle this mixture on top.

4. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until apples are soft.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. 


It's approaching 4am, and if I wasn't running out of steam, I would also make these easy stuffed mushrooms for an appetizer:


Bacon and Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms



  • 3 slices bacon
  • 8 crimini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese


  1. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, dice and set aside.
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  1. Remove mushroom stems. Set aside caps. Chop the stems.
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Slowly cook and stir the chopped stems and onion until the onion is soft. Remove from heat.
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the mushroom stem mixture, bacon and 1/2 cup Cheddar. Mix well and scoop the mixture into the mushroom caps.
  1. Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted.
  2. Remove the mushrooms from the oven, and sprinkle with the remaining cheese


Alright, time to get a few hours of sleep.  I hope my group likes the food I prepared, they are so good to me, and I want to return the favors! Happy tailgating :)

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