Pay attention to the opening credits, it lists some of the players and coaches I believe. At first I thought it was the names of the tailgate krewe members scrolling by, but then I saw John Paul Losman scroll across the screen. JP was our wonder boy QB at Tulane who was still playing with the Bills back then. He used to lob these heart attack inducing air balls out to Jajuan Dawson or Mewelde Moore for these insane touchdowns. Man, those games were fun.
Anyways, so in homage to the mancav-ey nature of a Soprano's tailgate I present to you, this fabulous Tulane Grilling Spatula/Tong set, which Coach Hullabaloo will love because I bought it for him.
How fab, right? You can purchase it here on Amazon.
So as you can see, I've been whiling away the dead period of summer with more shopping and more menu planning for a change (oh but you love it! admit it!).
Fall practices don't start for another month and the only drama left to ponder is what level of petulance the "save our neighborhood" nimbys will roll out at the next community forum over the stadium. The next forum is about gameday arrangements and tailgating, right up Mrs. Hullabaloo's alley. According to Preacherman and Booty, the nimbys have just been out the box obnoxious at these forums. Well, the only thing that they have left in their arsenal is to remain immature and petulant. Their last gasp.
Which honestly, between these nimbys and the LSU types who ruin perfectly lovely dinner parties (another story for another day) because of their infantile brains - it keeps me laser focused on busying myself with tailgating preparations. If only as a passive aggressive gesture to keep them completely annoyed while I fly above. eeehh, minor distractions....
One of the things I came up with was how cu-te some "Bada Bing!" printed koozies would be the Rutgers game, right?
Or how about a poker card game during tailgate?
Check out these poker card guards on Ebay.....
So while I brainstorm through this Sopranos angle, I was inspired to add stuffed artichokes and Peggy's delicious red pepper dip to the line up. Cannolis might be fun too, or amaretto cheesecake with almond crust if I can gently coax Red into making it. Red is such an awesome tailbaketress. ......we shall see how carried away Coach Hullabaloo and my fellow tailgatresses will actually allow me to get.
So with Rutgers coming together nicely, I christened our Rice tailgate, as "Greek-Mex." Yes, a nod to the hellenic culture of the city of expressways. Our adorable Ta'Molly has wanted to generously reciprocate for all our tailgate hostessing by offering to bring in Omaha steaks to one of our tailgates. We are SO excited about the possibility - so I thought a make-ahead Omaha brisket would be perfect. and then I thought to expanded our Greek-Mex theme tailgate menu with Lamb sausage (or some kinda sausage) and BBQ sauce, because Texans just love their BBQd sausages.
I also thought about this fantastic cilantro dressing to go with a green salad. Nell made this dressing for a visit we paid recently and I can attest is awesome and the instructions are fool-proof easy.
NELL'S CREAMY CILANTRO DRESSING
Packet of Ranch Dressing Mix
halfa bunch head of Cilantro, minus stalks
one jalapeno, minus rib and seeds
Salsa verde sauce (love this semi-homemade shortcut in lieu of worrying about lime, garlic and tomatillo preparations)
Whiz everything together in a blender. You will want to sip this from a straw, because it is muy delicioso.
Finally I thought about easy menu items like dips, that won't frighten my fellow tailgatresses for difficulty: how about warm spinach dip that can be greek-ified and topped with feta? Almost like spanakopita. Because who doesn't like spinach dip? Especially with salsa and corn chips like how they serve it at Houston's. Yum-o.
And then I hit the motherlode when I ran across this idea: Greek Layered Dip. Totally genius.
So just some background, about this layered dip inspiration. It is no secret that Mrs. Hullabaloo is anti-layer dip. Yes, I am and I don't care who knows it. It's sold pre-packaged at the grocery and honestly, they're gross - usually either gritty tasting from the cheese being fridge burned or watery and mushy from the vegs being cut up and sitting around too long. Gag me. I have yet to try a store-bought layer dip that tastes worthy of calorie consumption in my admittedly snobby opinion. One of the most epic fights of Coach and Mrs. Hullabaloo's storied marriage was over layered dip.
Yes, indeed. It was my very first attempt to host Thanksgiving dinner chez Hullabaloo. So I composed a very elegant dinner menu and Coach Hullabaloo, being a man and prone to reverting to primal behavior, springs it on me that he wanted - wait for it - green bean casserole and seven layer dip. His thanksgiving memories would be dashed and incomplete with out it. Quelle trashy, right? I just could not bear the thought of opening up a can of cream of mushroom soup and soggy and limp canned green beans as a once a year treat.
So here we were in the middle of Winn Dixie and I absoloute drew the line in the sand at seven layer dip. How declassé. Not At My Thanksgiving Dinner Table merci beaucoup. Coach and Mrs. Hullabalo had quite the row in the middle of the store let me tell you. I was not embarassed to be standing my ground amidst frenzied Thanksgiving shoppers. Strangers could look at us all they wanted, over my dead and lifeless body was I serving canned refried beans with my Waterford china, thank. you. So to make a long story short (because this story took another tragic turn), after our battle royale we came home to find that the cats had feasted on our defrosting turkey. OMG, right? Well in the end, as a stalemate over the green beans portion of the menu, I found this amazing recipe for made from scratch green beans with frizzled leeks and portabella sherry sauce from the Hearty Boys, a gay couple from Chicago. It is awe-some and Coach Hullabaloo humors me every year by devouring it at Thanksgiving. And now we have an interesting story to share. Anyways the moral of all of this is that, once you cook something properly, store bought layered dip is insulting. That, and don't leave poultry unattended.
So before you all think I'm completely terrible to Coach Hullabaloo by denying his mancav-ey urges for layered dip: for his fourtieth birthday celebration I made traditional seven layered dip for him that was "as from scratch" as possible. and it was good. so there.
Now, here, a greek layered dip that is Mrs. Hullabaloo-worthy
LAYERED GREEK DIP
a 10 ounce container of roasted red pepper hummus
cuppa fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped
halfa cuppa sundried tomaters, reconstituted and roughly chopped
cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
halfa red onion, chopped
quarter cup crumbled feta cheese
quarter cup crumbled chevre goat cheese
handful sliced and pitted kalamata olives
if you are adventurous, some chopped peperoncini peppers or chopped fresh parsley
quarter cup toasted pine nuts
layer hummus at the bottom of your dish or platter and then sprinkle remaining ingredients by layer with pine nuts at top. Make ahead and keep cool til serving.
2 cups sliced almonds, toasted
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
3 1/2 (8 oz) packs of cream cheese, room temp and soft
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup amaretto
garnish with extra chopped toasted almonds
This is definitely a make a few days beforehand dish, cause the oven instructions will drive you nuts.
Preheat your oven to 400 and remember to leave out the packages of cream cheese (I forget ALL the time). Whiz up almonds in a food processor until roughly chopped (not like fine sandy flour, still chunky). Add 1/4 cuppa sugar and melted butter, and then give it a few more whizzes until the mixture comes together. Press, mush and continue to press the almond butter mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan and mush up the sides of the pan about an inch and a half up. Even it out so that there's not super thick portions here or there.
Bake the almond crust at 400° for 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Meanwhile beat your room temp cream cheese, the remaining 3/4 cup sugar, and vanilla at a medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth, but don't over beat. One at a time, add eggs and yolks, making sure to beat well after each addition (this may be a bit anal retentive chef, but I have trouble with pockets of cream cheese in my cheesecakes so you may actually have to do this). Add flour; and mix until smooth. Add whipping cream and amaretto; and mix until blended. Spoon cream cheese mixture into your cooled crust.
Bake at 400° for 10 minutes, enough time to enjoy some coffee and open your latest issue of Vanity Fair. Then reduce temperature to 350°, and bake another 30 minutes (set the timer!) or until center is firm or you just can't stand it anymore. Continue perusing the pictures from the socialite parties in Vanity Fair. Then turn off the oven and without opening up the door (!), let cheesecake stand in oven, with oven door closed (no peeking!) for yet another 30 minutes. Seriously, busy yourself with the long Vanity Fair articles now. Remove from oven; let cool on a wire rack 30 minutes. Finally, cover and chill overnight before serving. And cover up any Quality Control testing spots with some slivered almonds as garnish.