Recipes From The Heart XXVI

These recipes are geared for tailgating. I’ve written and broadcast about this great, very American outdoor feast for decades, visiting college campuses throughout the South on gamedays. The memories of laughter, flavors and aromas are priceless. Sure, football is different for now, but what a welcome diversion. Fans are staying home, tailgating this season on the patio and celebrating while observing safety protocols. The games are fun, the food and beverages delicious and spirits are high.

The flavors and excitement of Tailgating are living memories.

This is a season when goodwill and generosity fills the air. And, if you are concerned about having too much fun and dancing on the patio, remember the wisdom of the late humor writer Lewis Grizzard who advised us to think about location: “It’s hard to fall off a back yard.”

Tennessee Gameday Punch

From Country Music Superstar Trisha Yearwood, Nashville

Trisha Yearwood, a country music superstar, is an acclaimed cook.

1-quart blood orange soda, chilled
2 cups lemonade, chilled 
Two 12-ounce cans peach nectar, chilled 
1 1/2 cups vodka 

In a half-gallon pitcher, mix the blood orange soda, lemonade and peach nectar and vodka.

Abby’s Chicken Chili Cheese

Abby Jackson’s Black Hawk Fly Fishing facility on the Soque River near Clarksville, Georgia is also home to AbbyJ’s Gourmet, her line of highly-regarded condiments and sauces.

Abby Jackson hosts an outdoor feast at Black Hawk.


1 cup Srpinger Mtn. Chicken cooked & shredded
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup sour cream
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
Juice on one lime
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.ground cumin
1/2 cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup Abby J’s Bean & Jalapeno Salsa
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
2 cups os sharp cheddar cheese
1/3 cup diced red peppers
1 (14.5 oz. can) white beans, drained


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Brush olive oil onto bottom of a 10 inch cast iron skillet

Reserve 1/4 cup of the drained beans, set aside.

Add the rest of the beans, sour cream, garlic, lime juice,

cumin, and salt to a food processor .

Puree until smooth.

Taste and add salt if needed. Stir in chicken, corn, cilantro, and 1 cup of cheese.

Spread onto bottom of skillet, then evenly sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup white beans,

red peppers, and Abby J’s salsa on top of the mixture.

Cover with remaining cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes or until dip is bubbling.

Enjoy this game day favorite!

Pimento Cheese and Andouille Sausage Corn Dog Bites

Irby’s Tavern, Atlanta

Yield: 15 corn dog bites


Andouille sausage
1 lb. andouille sausage

Pimento cheese preparation:

1 small can of diced roasted red peppers      
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
½ cup mayo
1 tblspn minced garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1 tblspn sriracha

S&P to taste.

Thoroughly combine:

Corn Dog batter
2 cup yellow cornmeal
2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
½ cup sugar
3 tblspn baking powder
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup milk

Cut Andouille sausage in half, going the length of the sausage. Then with each half make a V-cut removing the inner meat. When the 2 halves are put back together there should be an hollow center. Using the Pimento cheese fill the void area in each half of the sausage and then put them back together. The cheese will act as an adhesive for the 2 halves. Once all your sausages have been filled with Pimento cheese place them in a freezer to firm up. About an hour. After the composed sausages have firmed up cut them into 1 inch pieces. Using skewers stick the cut pieces making sure the skewers go all the way through. Take each skewered bite and dip in the corn dog batter, thoroughly coating the bites. Lastly take each coated bite and fry at 350 degrees for 4-5 mins.

AbbyJ’s Gourmet Chili Chicken Cheese Dip.

Collard Green Dolmades

Holly Chute, Georgia Grown Executive Chef, Georgia Department of Agriculture

Serves 8

12-16 Collard green leaves, stems removed
½ Cup rice
6 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
¾ Cup onion, fine dice
1 Cup chicken stock or broth + more for cooking
Juice of 1 lemon, divided + more for serving
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped dill
¼ Cup fresh chopped parsley

Salt & pepper

1. Blanche collard green leaves in boiling water for about 1 minute.  Shock in ice water to stop cooking and to maintain color.  Drain.  Tear blanched collard leaves into 4 x 4 inch or 5 x 5 inch pieces.

2. Sauté rice in 2 tablespoons olive oil with onions in medium skillet.  Add 1 cup chicken stock and half of the lemon juice.  Cook until liquid is absorbed and par cooked.   Season rice with herbs, salt and pepper.

3. In same skillet that rice was cooked in, line bottom of pan with pieces of collard green leaves too small to roll with filling.  Place torn collard green leaf on cutting board.  Place about 1 tablespoon filling on bottom third of leaf. Fold upper third over the filling, fold sides in like a burrito and continue rolling until sealed.  Be careful not to overfill or roll too tight as rice will expand as it cooks. Place rolls seam side down in prepared pan.  Continue until all leaves and or filling are used.

4. Place rolls close together to prevent them from opening.  Drizzle with remaining olive oil and lemon juice.  Cover with inverted plate then add enough stock to just cover.  Simmer 30-40 minutes until stock is absorbed.  The rolls should have an olive oil sheen.  Cool 30 minutes.  Serve with a squeeze of lemon.

Island Ginger Skirt Steak Sliders

Another original from Holly Chute, Georgia Grown Executive Chef

1 lb skirt steak (made 14 sliders), enough left for about 8 more sliders = 22 possible sliders total


2 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup canola oil
2 cloves roughly chopped garlic
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 24-pack Kings Hawaiian rolls
1 cup Kings Hawaiian sweet island ginger sauce (14 oz sauce in bottle),
2 cups sliced peppers (1/2 each of small green, yellow, red peppers)
1 c sliced onions
1 tbsp canola oil


Combine oil, lime juice, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper, and skirt steak in gallon-size ziplock bag. Leave to marinate at least 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat an electric or gas grill, grill pan on stovetop, or prepare charcoal grill. Grill skirt steak over high heat until steak reaches 140 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 6 minutes per side. Remove steak from the heat, cover with aluminum foil, and rest for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, check temperature to make sure steak has carried over to 145 degrees (medium rare).

Slice steak on bias with sharp knife into ¼ inch pieces. Transfer steak to medium bowl. Heat 1 cup of KH sauce in microwave for about 15 seconds. Toss steak in half the KH sauce, set aside rest of sauce for finishing sliders.

Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp canola oil over medium heat, on grill or stovetop. Sauté onions and peppers until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, tossing occasionally. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Preheat a griddle or large skillet on the stovetop, or use residual heat on the grill to toast rolls. Slice KH rolls in half and place cut side down to toast until golden, in batches if needed.

Top the rolls with 1 slice of steak (about 0.5 – 1 oz), peppers and onions, and about a teaspoonful of warm sauce. Serve sliders immediately.

Makes 24 sliders

Wine Suggestion: Let’s mix things up with two food friendly crowd pleasers, a 2018 Knotty Vines Chardonnay and its red companion, 2018 Knotty Vines Pinot Noir.

 Stay Safe. Eat Well. Love One Another.

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