Monday, September 3, 2012


By now we've all embraced the concept of having a party pantry-- a hutch, cabinet, or even a carefully curated bar cart filled with stacks of white plates, glass cake stands, rows of delicate stemware, and neutral hemstitched linens you can use to pull together the most fantastic backyard soriees, showers, and christenings. The same concept can easily be applied to tailgating on the Quad, in the Grove, or anywhere you want to host your Saturday shindig.

Anything that can be used for more than one purpose is generally worth the investment. A stack of books on my coffee table not only must have valuable content on the inside but they add visual interest and height to the space they occupy. In my home, you'll find Baking with Julia stacked with other cookbook favorites in my living room, not the kitchen.


1. Mums the Word. Many of you will be getting ready to spruce your front door with a fresh mix of fall color. Choose team colors and tuck into something light and portable such as a weathered wicker container. Before hitting the road trip to campus, simply borrow the arrangement for the day.

2. Tray Chic. We all have a ka-gillion trays around our homes used to organize our knick-knacks. Enamelware is a particularly good choice when ice is needed to keep a platter of The Barbecue Bama Slammer SEC Team Deviled Eggs cold.

3. Silver Wares. Ole Miss, you've been bitten. I don't mind borrowing a good idea when I see it. Long ago are the days of locking away the fine silverware passed down from my grandmother. I want to see it and be reminded of her when I use it. I pull it out for Monday night supper, backyard cookouts, and when tailgating...some rules were meant for breaking which brings me to the next item on the list...

4. You CAN Wear White After Labor Day. Whether you plan to dress yourself or your table, go for it! Who are these rule makers anyway and don't they know it's HOT down here. White cake stands and platters are perfect choices for displaying carefully crafted So-Good Brownies, Tequila-Lime-Coconut Bars (recipe below), and slices of Cream Cheese-Banana-Nut Bread.

5. Think Outside the Box. I have wooden crates all over my house. Stack a few to add height to your table, organize napkins and flatware, or fill with a pretty arrangement of flowing plants.

6. Cover up. Many times folks will ask if they can borrow one of the tablecloths we use for photo shoots at Southern Living...they don't exist! Our prop stylists buy yards and yards of fabric to cover tables. Don't stress out. Fold and iron to make a table runner and let fabric puddle...but neatly. Pins and fasteners come in handy.

7. Pull it Together. Consider organizing items you plan to use all season for tailgating in large plastic bins. Once you arrive to campus, stack them in a Radio Flyer for easy transporting to your spot. Once the wagon is empty either tug your kids around in it for the day or fill with ice and nestle school spirits in it.

8. Paper or Plastic? And yes, it's fine but make it special. Instead of getting just one variety of paper napkins, pick up a variety to use in your school colors. Have fun mixing and matching patterns and prints. Tuck in a few linen ones from your neutral party pantry stash to break up the color and pattern and to instantly elevate the look.

9. Cool it. Transporting food at the proper temperature is essential for keeping your guests safe. Pack several coolers when traveling. One for items that need grill attention when your arrive to your tent such as the Sweet-Hot Baby Back Ribs, one for sides and dips that have been prepared ahead of time that are ready for eating like BLT Potato Salad, and one that will more than likely be opened and closed often for drinks and libations.

10. Keep it Clean. Once everyone has broken bread together, use one of the coolers to soak dirty dishes and silverware. Hold onto the melted ice, drizzle with dish soap, and shake the dickens out of the cooler. And if you're worried about grandma's fine silver flatware, you can place a lock on your cooler or wheel it to the car before heading into the game.

Photo Courtesy of Southern Living
Tequila-Lime-Coconut Bars
Makes 3 dozen
Prep: 2 hrs, 5 min.

The Game Plan: Make up to 2 days ahead of time. Layer in a plastic container with a lid and stack on a pretty cake stand once you arrive at your tent.

2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons tequila
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Garnishes: powdered sugar, lime rind curls
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch pan with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing 2 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil.

2. Stir together 1 3/4 cups flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Press mixture onto bottom of prepared pan.

3. Bake at 350° for 20 to 23 minutes or until lightly browned.

4. Meanwhile, whisk eggs in a medium bowl until smooth; whisk in coconut, next 3 ingredients, and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar. Stir together baking powder, salt, and remaining 1/4 cup flour; whisk into egg mixture. Pour over hot crust.

5. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until filling is set. Let cool 1 hour on a wire rack. Lift from pan, using foil sides as handles. Remove foil, and cut into bars. Garnish, if desired.

Look for the recipes mentioned here in Southern Living The Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook. Available anywhere books are sold.

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