For almost 30 years, the Tailgate Ladies have been gathering together on the Plains prior to Auburn football games to share their favorite dishes. Over the years, they have created themes for each game. Alice Bell, Julie Waugh, Anne Lee, Donna Goodlett, Mary Winkler, Karen Parker, Betsy Windle and Janet Phelps are sharing their favorite recipes they have prepared over the years.

Most of the ladies met when their children were at Wrights Mill Road Elementary School in Auburn, and they were actively involved in PTA. Now, they have raised their children who have graduated from college and are parents themselves.

“For years, our tailgate was the place for the children and adults to meet up with friends on game day,” Phelps said. “During their college years, we were so happy to meet their new college buddies. There was always enough food to accommodate whoever showed up. We now enjoy each other’s grandchildren and have started back at square one.”

The ladies take turns organizing the tailgate menu for the games.

“We like to have a theme for our tailgate,” Phelps said. “Which usually centers around the location of the team that we are playing. We have Cajun food for LSU, and more tasteful setup with silver candlesticks and elegant dishes for hotty toddy Ole Miss. For the Arkansas game this Saturday, we will serve barbecue.”

For the last home game of the season, the ladies will serve a “Friendsgiving” meal featuring turkey, dressing and traditional seasonal sides. Another tradition they celebrate is getting together for a pre-Christmas dinner at someone’s home. They exchange gifts and reflect on their many years together.

This football season, the tailgate group has started providing bottled water for AU band members as needed.

“On one especially hot day,” Phelps said, “we noticed a couple of band members had fainted while waiting in their heavy uniforms to perform. The bottled water has been much appreciated, and we have enjoyed interacting with these amazing, dedicated students.”

Among the Tailgate Ladies’ recipes, look for Parker’s Crispix Mix embellished with pecans and cashews. The snack can be prepared a day ahead and stored in airtight containers. Save this recipe to serve at a tailgate, and also to prepare for Christmas gifts.

Bell is sharing a recipe for Spicy Pimento Cheese Appetizers that is an easy way to serve the popular cheese spread without using crackers or making into sandwiches. Pimento cheese is placed in phyllo pastry cups, topped with tomato preserves and garnished with bacon. Alice says there are never leftovers. If you have problems finding the tomato preserves, try another preserve or pepper jelly.

Sliders are popular for tailgating since they are small and easy to eat. Windle makes Sloppy Joe Sliders in a flavorful sauce and serves the filling with cheese in dinner rolls. Goodlett and Phelps both prepare tasty Ham Rolls with a sauce that is drizzled on top before baking.

Choose from several dessert recipes. Three recipes featuring fall flavors are Phelps’s Apple Brownies with a cinnamon and sugar topping, Bell’s Pumpkin Crisp Squares and Winkler’s Caramel Brownies, a recipe she received from Alyssa Northcutt.

Other good dessert choices are Chocolate Toffee Bars and Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce.

“We all enjoy cooking and sharing recipes,” Phelps said. “We joke that our group could put together a large catered event in a matter of a day by just making a few phone calls. We look forward to many more years of tailgating.”

Apple Brownies

Janet Phelps

½ cup butter or margarine, room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup chopped Granny Smith apples

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Topping For After Baking:

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix topping ingredients together. I half the topping to ¼ cup sugar and 3/4 tsp. cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until fluffy. Blend in dry ingredients, then apples and nuts. Spread mixture in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs or dry (no dough). Remove from oven and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Cool and cut into bars. These bars freeze well.

Crispix Mix

Karen Parker

8 cups Crispix cereal

2 cups pecans

10 oz. can cashew pieces (I use regular, not low salt)

½ cup butter

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

½ cup light Karo syrup

½ tsp. vanilla extract

¼ tsp. baking soda

Line two baking pans (half-size pans) with non-stick foil. Preheat oven(s) to 250 degrees

Mix cereal and nuts in a very large mixing bowl.

Bring butter, sugar, and Karo to a boil in a medium saucepan (1-1/2 or 2 quart), stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer 1 minute. Add vanilla and soda, stirring constantly, and continue to simmer 1 minute.

Pour syrup over cereal mixture and gently stir to coat thoroughly.

Spread mixture evenly into prepared pans. If you have double ovens, put pans on center rack in oven. If you have a single oven, place pans on upper-middle and lower-middle racks.

Bake at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove pans from oven and stir mixture; redistribute evenly on pan. Rotate pans in oven so that the pan that was on top is now on the bottom.

Repeat stirring and rotating every 15 minutes until mixture has baked a total of one hour.

Remove pans from oven. Carefully remove foil (with mixture still spread on it) and slide it onto a flat surface to cool. Cool completely, break up big pieces, and store in an air-tight container. Can be made a day in advance.

Sticky Asian Plum Wings

Betsy Windle

Rachael Ray

3 to 4 lbs. wings, split, tips removed, or drummers

1½ cups plum preserves

Zest and fruit of 1 orange

⅓ cups Tamari soy sauce

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 two-inch piece ginger root, peeled & grated

Pinch of salt

5-6 scallions, whites & greens, thinly sliced on bias

3 Tbsp. sesame seeds, toasted

1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Bring a large pot of water up to bubble and par-cook chicken for about 5 minutes.

Whisk together preserves, orange juice and zest, Tamari, sesame oil, ginger and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until sauce is reduced and is syrupy with a glaze, about 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place wings on a baking pan and roast for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Transfer wings to a large bowl. Pour sauce over the top and toss.

Sprinkle coated wings with scallions and sesame seeds to garnish.

Serve with lime wedges.

Serves 6 to 8 as a snack. For tailgate, I tripled the recipe.

Sloppy Joe Sliders

Betsy Windle

Alix Traeger

1 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

½ white onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

¾ cup ketchup

2 tsp. mustard

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. brown sugar

1 pack dinner rolls

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a saucepan over medium heat, add ground beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Using a spoon, break up the meat and stir until browned.

Add onion and garlic and continue to cook until onions are translucent.

Add ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire and brown sugar.

Stir until meat is fully cooked and sauce is evenly combined. Set aside.

Cut the dinner rolls in half horizontally and place the bottom half in a baking pan.

Top with meat and sprinkle with cheese, then place tops of rolls over filling.

Brush rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake for 10 minutes, or until rolls are toasted and cheese is melted. Cut into individual sliders.

Serves 6. For Tailgate, I tripled the recipe.

Miniature Tomato Sandwiches

Janet Phelps

1 French baguette (Panera Bread has the best, and I have them slice it.)

1/4 cup mayonnaise

3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

2 tsp. chopped fresh basil or dill

1/4 tsp. salt, divided

1/4 tsp. pepper, divided

4 plum tomatoes, sliced

Cut baguette into 16 slices.

Stir together mayonnaise, cream cheese, basil, 1/8 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Cover and chill 8 hours, if desired.

Spread cheese mixture on 1 side of each baguette slice. Top evenly with tomatoes.

Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Makes 16 appetizer servings.

Pumpkin Crisp Squares

Alice Bell


15-16 oz. canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

3 eggs, slightly beaten

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon


1 box yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped peans

2 sticks butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Coat a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients for the filling. Pour into prepared dish.

Mix dry cake mix with nuts. Sprinkle evenly over pumpkin filling.

Pour melted and cooled butter over cake mix.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes.

Remove from oven and cool for 15 minutes on rack.

Carefully invert onto a cookie sheet. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate.

The next day cut into squares. Great as they are, but you may top with a dollop of whipped cream and or a pecan half to “dress up” presentation.

Spicy Pimento Cheese Appetizer

Alice Bell

Phyllo pastry shells 3 boxes with 15 per box

1 lb. or qt. of your preferred spicy pimento cheese

Tomato preserves (Hornsby Farms is best, but hard to find so try others.)

Crisp bacon strips, 1 per serving; each about 1.5 inches long

Crisp shells per package directions and cool to room temperature. Spoon about 1 tsp. pimento cheese into each shell. Top cheese with dollop of tomato preserves.

Insert bacon strip vertically into each shell.

Note: Bacon is your choice. I use pre-cooked bacon and crisp it in the microwave. I cut oft ends that are not crisp and only use the part of the strips that is crisp and will hold its shape. Folding a strip in half also gives it “body.”

Serve within a couple of hours of preparing so shells remain crisp once filled.

Goes together easily and there is never any leftover!

Fried Okra

Karen Parker

Peanut oil

24 oz. bag Pic-Sweet cut okra, completely thawed

White Lily Buttermilk Self-Rising Cornmeal Mix


Use a Dutch oven. Pour enough peanut oil in Dutch oven to be at least 3-inches deep. (Used oil can be strained when cool and reused.) Heat oil to 350-375 degrees.

Place a wire rack in a large sheet pan. Cover wire rack with one layer of paper towels.

Pour thawed okra into a large bowl. Add a generous amount of cornmeal mix and stir with a slotted spoon. Okra should be thoroughly coated. (Continue to toss this mixture occasionally throughout cooking process making sure there is enough coating; you may need to add more cornmeal.) Cook okra in three batches, using slotted spoon to shake excess cornmeal back into the bowl before you transfer it to the hot oil.

After okra has been in the oil for a few minutes, carefully stir to separate pieces. Continue to stir occasionally so that all pieces cook evenly. Using a spider or clean slotted spoon, remove okra to prepared pan. Immediately, sprinkle with salt.

Allow to cool until next batch is ready. Remove to serving bowl and replace paper towels on wire rack. Continue to cook remaining batches.

This makes enough for most tailgates.

Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Mary Winkler (from Tracy Hill)

10 white bread slices (remove crust and cut into cubes)

1 lb. mild pork sausage, cooked and crumbled

1 lb. hot pork sausage, cooked and crumbled

8 large eggs

2 ½ cups half and half

8 oz. whipping cream

3 cups grated cheddar cheese

2 cups hand grated mozzarella cheese

2 Tbsp. dry mustard

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

Grease 9×13 Pyrex dish. Place bread in dish. Top with sausage and cheeses.

Beat together eggs, half and half, whipping cream and dry mustard.

Season with salt and pepper. Pour over sausage mixture.

Prepare one day ahead and chill.

Cook at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done.

Caramel Brownies

Mary Winkler from Alyssa Northcutt

1 box German chocolate cake mix

1 ½ sticks butter

1 can evaporated milk

1 bag caramels

1 small bag chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter. Mix German chocolate cake mix, butter and 2/3 cup evaporated milk. Spread half of mixture on bottom of 9 x 13 pan. Bake 8 minutes.

Melt caramels and 1/3 cup evaporated milk in microwave. Stir caramel mixture. Pour bag of chocolate chips on top of baked brownies.

Pour caramel mixture on top of chocolate chips, and then “plop” the rest of cake mixture on top of caramels.

Bake 20 minutes.

Let cool if you want to cut squares or serve hot with ice cream. Good cold from refrigerator too.

Chocolate Toffee Bars

Janet Phelps

Donna Goodlett

½ cup butter or margarine

2 cups crushed chocolate Teddy Grahams (or chocolate graham crackers)

1 pkg. Heath Brickle Bits

1 pkg. Heath Milk Chocolate Brickle Bits

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 to ½ cups chopped pecans/walnuts

14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Line a 9×13 dish with non-stick foil. Pour melted butter in bottom of dish; stir in chocolate crumbs and press firmly for bottom layer. Bake at 325 degrees for 5 minutes.

Layer next 4 ingredients, pressing down. Pour condensed milk over top. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 30 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown. Cool completely in pan. Lift by foil out of pan. Cut into small bars (1 to 2 inch squares)

These can be easily frozen. Makes approximately 4 dozen.

Ham Rolls

Janet Phelps

Donna Goodlett

1 pkg. dinner rolls (in aluminum pans)

8 oz. ham slices

12 oz. sliced Swiss cheese

½ cup margarine or butter, melted

1 ½ Tbsp. poppy seeds

1 ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 ½ tsp. prepared mustard

1 tsp onion flakes

Sesame Seeds

Do not separate rolls; slice tops in one piece and place bottoms in pans. Layer ham and cheese and replace tops. Combine next 5 ingredients; mix well; drizzle over rolls. Refrigerate until firm; best if refrigerated overnight. Sprinkle with sesame seeds; bake covered with foil at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Cut into desired pieces; serve hot or cold.

Olympia Salad

Janet Phelps

1 package broccoli slaw

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 packages chicken flavored Ramen Noodles

1 cup sunflower seeds

1 cup slivered almonds

½ cup sugar

1/3 cup white vinegar

½ cup salad oil

1 package dried cranberries

Break noodles into small pieces and mix with almonds. Bake on cookie sheet for 5 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool. Then mix with broccoli slaw, red pepper, onions, sunflower seeds and cranberries.

Mix sugar, chicken-flavored packets from noodles, vinegar and oil. Pour over broccoli mix.

Refrigerate. (Best if it is served soon after mixing as the noodles get soggy.) Serves 10 to 12.

Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

Janet Phelps

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1½ cups sugar

2 Tbsp. light brown sugar

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

2 ¾ cups whipping cream

¼ cup butter, melted

4 cups French bread cubes

3/4 cup raisins

Vanilla Sauce

Combine first 4 ingredients; stir in whipping cream and butter. Gently stir in bread cubes and raisins. Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart soufflé or deep baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, at 375 for 50 to 55 minutes, shielding with aluminum foil after 30 minutes to prevent excessive browning. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Vanilla Sauce:

1 cup whole milk

½ cup light brown sugar

2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 egg

1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1 pinch ground cinnamon

1 pinch salt

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Whisk together milk, brown sugar, butter, egg, flour, cinnamon and salt in a heavy saucepan until smooth. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a soon, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in vanilla extract.

Pour sauce over warm bread pudding or serve on the side.