Gopher Tailgate

I am a proud alumni (alumna?) of the University of Minnesota.  We have the super fierce mascot of Goldy the Gopher (he looks suspiciously like a chipmunk but we don’t talk about it).  Luke and I have had season tickets for the last 4 years with a FABULOUS group of friends, family, family friends, friends-of-friends, and fellow Detroit Lakes folk.  Needless to say it is a welcoming crew that makes the experience for us!

Left: Our tailgate group, Upper right: Luke and I, Lower Right: My cousins joined for this tailgate!

We are lucky enough to tailgate with the tailgate master Dave (and his wife Janine and their son Adam) who get up SUPER early to secure us the best spot in the tailgate lot.  We rotate who provides the food, and this past weekend it was our turn to host!

Picking things that are easy to carry, heat-up, and doesn’t leave a lot of clean-up is key.  MN weather can also be super sketchy in late October so we try to pick things that can be consumed while rocking mittens.

I have been on a slider kick lately so for the main course we opted for two different types of sliders.  I had made these AWESOME cheesy hamburger sliders for a bachelorette party and after a few drinks the ladies thought they were the best thing ever.  I figured the crowd was somewhat similar so I made two pans (40) of those and two pans (40) of ham, bacon, swiss, and spinach sliders.  Both went over well!

I am really big on trying to not be rushed the day-of and prefer to do everything in advance (especially since we try to leave by 8am at the latest to tailgate).  I made the hamburger mixture and bacon in advance but assembled everything the day-of.  Next time I’ll assemble the night before because it took longer than I thought it would.  I made-up the ham/swiss/bacon/spinach sliders and just used the same awesome mustard topping from the cheesy hamburger recipe and it worked great!

I couldn’t figure out a good side so went with two types of soup thinking it would be good for a cool fall day.  I’ve made this recipe for Tomato Basil Soup before and really liked it so I made that only skipped the sausage and traded the kale for spinach (a more tailgate friendly leaf?).  I thought beer cheese soup would be fitting for the occasion as well, so a Pinterest search brought me to this recipe.  Both were a hit and the beauty was I could make them in advance, heat them up the day of, then transfer them to disposable pans to heat-up on the grill at the game!


I kind of went all-out in the dessert department.  My grandma has the most amazing sugar cookie recipe that we have been making since I was a kid (note it has some Brandy in it, so if you make them on a Sunday be sure to buy the ingredients in ahead of time).  I made the cookies in advance, froze them, and frosted them the night before.  I added some meringue powder to the frosting per my mom’s recommendation which hardened it and made them easier to transport.  You can use any powdered sugar frosting, this one is similar to the one I used.

Outside of homecoming it is also the closest game to Halloween so I also threw-in some fun white chocolate-covered “mummy” and “pumpkin” pretzels I found online here (got the candy eyes at Michael’s – of course mine didn’t turn out that cute but not quite a Pinterest fail).


Finally what is a tailgate party without jello shots?!  To stick with the Halloween theme I used a layer of orange and lime jello.  I subbed the cold water for vodka (the full 2 cups on the orange layer, and only 1 cup on the lime layer).  It is homecoming after all so why not act like a college student?!


I finished it off with some chips, taco dip, and maroon/gold labels – it was a hit and to top it off the Gophers won.  Ski U Mah!


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