• A Taste of Down Home

Tailgate Time: Pepper Jelly Dip + Cuban Sandwiches & Chicken Skewers


If you’re like me, you have been eagerly waiting for autumn to arrive because that means cooler days are looming right around the corner. Summer vacations have ended, school has started back, and we all need something to look forward too!

It’s that time of year when the days will become shorter, leaves will begin to change from green to the beautiful colors of Fall, and Saturdays will be spent cheering for our favorite teams.

The weather is just about perfect, which makes it absolutely ideal to enjoy activities with your family such as tailgating. And what better way to bring opposing fans together than by serving food. Technically, tailgating is a fun time where food is served in an informal way form the back of a parked vehicle, particularly at a sports stadium. However, you can tailgate anywhere, even in your own backyard. Fire up the grill, invite some friends over, set out some tables, chairs, and a tent, and watch your favorite game on T.V. right at home!

Below are some crowd-pleasing recipes that you can use at your next tailgate party.

The first one is a Pepper-Jelly Dip recipe that I’ve had for several years. It is a family favorite, and is requested at my tailgate events. I am one of those that would never try pepper jelly, but I am glad that I gave this a try. The mixture of the sweet pepper jelly, the tangy green onions, and the sharp cheeses produces a great tasting dip. I highly recommend ordering ‘Rose & Ivy Southern Pecan Pepper Glaze’ online for this recipe for optimum taste, however, any pepper jelly will work.

The second recipe for Cuban Sandwiches, is one that a friend of mine, Heather Phillips, recently shared with me. She made these for a church potluck, and they were a huge hit! They would be a good choice to serve sliced into smaller sections alongside the pepper jelly dip for your game-day spread. There aren’t any measurements to this recipe. It is basically just assembling the sandwich, but the results are truly amazing! I have the ingredients listed below of what she used. Once the sandwich is assembled, you toast it in a panini press. I highly recommend trying this recipe, it was one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten.

The third recipe is for chicken & steak skewers that my son-in-law, Levi Gamble, grilled, and they were amazing! Chunks of seasoned chicken & steak, with slices of fresh mushrooms, zucchini, squash, and onions grilled to perfection will make for easy, finger type foods for your next tailgate. If you’ve never tried the McCormick brand ‘Grill Mate’ packets, they are truly amazing. We used the ‘Garlic, Herb, & Wine,’ packet for the chicken and the ‘Brown Sugar Bourbon,’ to marinate the steak tips and the vegetables.


Pepper Jelly Dip


8- ounces cream cheese, softened

½ cup mayonnaise

2 cups sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup pepper jelly

2 green onions, chopped

8 slices of cooked and crumbled bacon, or equivalent real bacon pieces

6-8 Ritz crackers, crushed

Ritz crackers for serving


  1. Mix cream cheese, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, ¼ cup pepper jelly, onions and the bacon and pour into a 9” inch pie plate.

  2. Top with crackers.

  3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

  4. Drizzle with remaining ¼ cup pepper jelly. Serve with Ritz crackers.


  • Use freshly grated cheese for optimum taste

  • This makes a small dip, you can double it for a larger crowd

  • Use a high quality pepper jelly, such as “Rose & Ivy Southern Pecan Pepper Glaze.”


Heather’s Tailgate Cuban Sandwiches


Boston Butt (Sliced & Already Smoked)

Spiral Cut Ham (Sliced & Already baked)



Swiss Cheese

Hoagie Rolls


  1. Spread desired amount of mustard on each side of bread.

  2. Layer with Boston butt slices, Ham slices, cheese and pickles.

  3. Toast them in a panini press and serve.


  • You can use deli sliced ham and beef if you don’t have time to smoke the meats

  • The Hoagie rolls we used are from SAMS


Levi’s Tailgate Chicken & Steak Skewers


1- 2lb. pack of boneless chicken fingers, cut into bite sized pieces

1 – 2lb. pack of steak tips, cut into bite sized pieces

1 packet of McCormick “Garlic, Herb, & Wine Marinade” Grill Mates

1 packet of McCormick “Brown Sugar Bourbon Marinade” Grill Mates

2 - pints of fresh whole button mushrooms

2 - whole onions

3 – Zucchini


  1. Follow the directions of the marinade packet and pour into two separate gallon sized zip lock bags.

  2. Put the chicken and some of the veggies in one marinade bag, and put the steak tips and the other veggies in the second marinade bag.

  3. Marinate for 3 hours.

  4. Take ingredients out of bag, discard bag & marinade, and thread the meat and vegetables on a wooden skewer. Meat, onion, mushroom, and zucchini, and repeat until skewer is filled.

  5. Grill the skewers until the meat is done.


  • Soak your skewers before putting meat and veggies on to prevent burning.


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