USC vs UT Tailgating Tips

Are you planning to use orange in any fashion this weekend? Well if you are, this will be the only time that "tater" color will be welcome near Williams Brice Stadium. Not because the Volunteers are in town, but because it is Halloween! ...

Yes, it is time for the "Orange and Black" game traditionally played during the All Saints weekend where it is acceptable to utilize accessories and centerpieces with hints of orange to compliment garnet and black at your tailgating event.

Have you considered using a pumpkin as the focal point of your table? I found a resin-based carvable pumpkin at a local craft retailer. (Fifty percent off … can you believe that? Sorry to digress, but I love a sale!) Cut out the stemmed top and place an arrangement of fall foliage including colors of garnet, browns and goldens. Adding plumes of feathers and pods will give your arrangement definition, texture and creativity. Other options include a vegetable vase. I found this idea in the current issue of Good Housekeeping (October edition, page 37). I absolutely love this design. Use a butternut squash that has a flat bottom that can stand upright. Cut off the top of the squash, approximately 2" from the crown and scoop out all of the seeds and flesh. Fill the squash with water. Bore holes randomly in the top. Insert branches of harvest colors. Nothing says fall like this autumn arrangement and so easy to accomplish! You will be the "belle of the ball" with this showpiece.

I must tell you I was a little disappointed with this weekend's game time. I planned a hearty menu that should truly be served during crisp autumn weather. Never the less, I am putting you on your own for the morning menu (don't take the easy way out and do the fast food chicken drive thru) and I will focus on the after game spread since evening hours will bring the cooler weather necessary to compliment my menu.

Chili epitomizes the football season and is a favorite in my family. My mother shared this tasty recipe with me that she was given many years ago. She and my father were dining at a Columbia restaurant in the early 1970's and fell in love with their featured chili. The owners were gracious enough to share their coveted recipe and it has been a family tradition every winter for the past 30 years in the Mercer home.

Momma's Restaurant Chili 1 lb of ground beef 1 chopped onion 1 green bell pepper 2 tablespoons of olive oil 1 large can of Campbell's tomato juice (the really big one) 3 can of light red kidney beans 15.5 oz Chili powder (as much as you can stand. I use about 5 Tablespoons) Salt and pepper to taste

Cook onions and peppers in olive oil until onions are transparent. Pour off excess oil and add ground beef and brown. Pour off excess grease and add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour over low heat. Serve with a tablespoon-sized dollop of sour cream and sprinkle cheese. Make sure you have red pepper sauce on hand for the brave ones!

My crew plans to make this ahead of time and will heat with a camping stove after the game. It is great served in individual bread bowls if entertaining at home.

Green Chili Cornbread 1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix 1 small can of green chili's

Prepare corn muffin mix as instructions indicate adding the green chili's to the mixture. Cook as directed.

Mel's Pumpkin Cheese ball Dip 4 oz. Wind & Willow package pumpkin pie cheeseball mix (can be found at local gift shops) 8 oz. cream cheese 4 tablespoons softened butter or margarine 8 oz. whipped topping

Mix above ingredient and place in serving dish. Mel thanks for submitting this wonderful dip. She prepared and placed in a beautiful Gamecock serving piece with ginger snaps. It is a lovely addition to the table. Mel, love the Gamecock! You know I must have one too!

Many of you making Saturday a family event will need to ensure you include a Trick or Treat sweet for the little Gamecock. Good Housekeeping was an excellent resource this edition as they included a great recipe for "cobweb" crisps (October edition, page 226).

"Cobweb" Crisps 4 tablespoons butter 1 bag (10.5 oz) miniature marshmallows 8 cups square rice or corn cereal 1 cup Halloween baking pieces with semisweet chocolate chips

Line 13" x 9" metal baking pan with foil; grease foil. In 4-quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows, and cook until melted, stirring. Remove from heat; stir in cereal, then ½ cup baking pieces. Immediately transfer mixture to prepared pan. With greased spatula, press mixture in pan; sprinkle with remaining baking pieces. Cool. Lift mixture with foil from pan and place on cutting board; peel foil from sides. Cut into 36 pieces. Makes 3 dozen bars.

I asked a good friend to make a recommendation for the Wine of the Week. Deb, a Georgia alum and friend to USC and GamecockNation, recommends the Jacob's Creek Shiraz. Deb did her research and says Wine Spectator refers to the Shiraz as "firm, even chewy, on the lean side, with dark berry and cherry flavors that linger." She indicates this is the absolutely perfect wine to compliment the chili. It scored 86 points and was the Spectator's Wine of the Week April 12, 2004.

Deb really has been creative in the "drink kitchen". A recent trip to the Keys inspired her submission of the "Cock-o-Mojito". This concoction is rather potent but delicious.

Cock-o-Mojito 1.5 oz. Bacardi Rum 12 Spearmint leaves ½ lime-juice 2 tablespoons simple syrup top with club soda

Muddle the mint leaves and lime in a tall glass (Deb uses a Hurricane glass). Top with simple syrup and fill glass with ice. Add club soda and stir well. Garnish with lime wedge and sprig of mint. For the calorie counter, substitute simple syrup for 4 tablespoons of Splenda.

Deb prefers to muddle the mint and lime ahead of time to allow the flavors to properly merge. Thanks Deb for a refreshing drink!

Have you noticed the ribbon belts that are all the rage? Angie Byrd, owner of Trabbey's of Lexington, designed and monogrammed the most precious belt for Rooster's niece, Becca, better known as "Lil' Biddy". Angie created, then customized the ribbon by monogramming "GamecockNation" on the belt. What a great advertisement Becca will be Saturday for her Uncle Russ! Angie is so talented. Her homespun business provides reasonably priced personalized gifts and accessories. Additionally, she can provide monogramming services at a corporate level. Trabbey's is Meredith vendor of choice when it comes to finding the perfect gift. Why don't you email or give Angie a call, I know I will.

Angie Byrd TRABBEY'S Personalized Gifts Monograms & Embroidery 803.996.0732

Last item to cover for the Tennessee game…"Pride of the Southland Band." Now they are a good band, but prepare your ears for Rocky Top, as that's the only song they seem to know. I have already purchased my ear plugs for the game. Don't forget yours! If you do, you will absolutely regret it!

Have fun planning your event and GO COCKS!

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