Football + Farmers Markets = Tailgating Treats

Football season is in full effect. Whether you love it, hate it, or feel totally indifferent towards it, you must admit that there is some really great food surrounding it.

I was weaned on football and learned at a very young age that food and football go hand-in-hand, with the food often coming out on top! As I got older, I discovered that there was a huge difference between the foods you could buy in the football stadiums and the food experience you got by bringing your own food and cooking it in the stadium parking lots, or tailgating. Tailgating allows you to cook whatever your heart desires, from traditional stadium foods to more adventurous fare. Imagine enjoying spicy grilled jerk chicken wings, vegetable kabobs with herb butter, or smoky bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with cheese, all while watching the game.

farmers market

A trip to your local farmers market makes picking up your ingredients easy and affordable. Plus, you’ll be eating seasonally (which is always best) and supporting Georgia family farmers. So, grab your shopping list, head to your farmers market and pick out some local ingredients that will make your tailgating menu a winner!

Looking for something new to try at the next game? Here is one of my favorite tailgating treats.

Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos
Makes 6 servings
Recipe by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker

Smoky Bacon-Wrapped Jalapenos by Chef Jennifer Hill Booker

Ingredients:
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 jalapeno peppers
12 slices bacon, thin sliced bacon works better
24 wooden toothpicks

Directions:
1. Preheat grill to hot – 400 degrees.
2. Mix cream cheese and cheddar cheese together in a bowl until evenly blended.
3. Cut a small opening, about the size of a penny, in each jalapeno. Save the pieces of jalapeno you remove, and leave the stems intact. (For a less spicy jalapeno, use a small spoon to scrape out the seeds and membrane.)
4. Fill each jalapeno with the cheese mixture.
5. Put the penny-sized piece of jalapeno skin back in place, and wrap each stuffed pepper with a slice of bacon. Secure the bacon with a toothpick.
6. Arrange bacon-wrapped peppers on the prepared grill.
7. Grill until bacon is crispy, about 10 minutes, turning throughout the grilling process.

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

Cooking in Savannah with Chef Joe Randall

This month, Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School in Savannah celebrates its 15-year anniversary, and a series of special classes are scheduled to mark the occasion.

Chef Joe Randall's Cooking School in Savannah

Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School in Savannah

Chef Joe Randall is an expert on Southern cuisine and a food service veteran with more than 50 years in the hospitality and food service industry. Years of working in the restaurant field have given Chef Joe the knowledge, expertise (and patience) to run his own cooking school for the last 15 years. With the motto of “Put a little South in your mouth,” he shares his extensive culinary knowledge with an emphasis on Southern, Low Country, and Atlantic Georgia Coastal cuisines in a comfortable, yet practical, setting.

Black-eyed pea cake with grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon and roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Black-eyed pea cake with grilled shrimp wrapped in bacon and roasted red pepper vinaigrette

Located on Waters Street in Savannah, Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School offers nightly classes of dinner and a show. Choose from either a hands-on or a chef demonstration-style class. During the hands-on class, you cook your own dinner under the watchful eye of Chef Joe, who is there with a guiding hand to the proper cooking techniques. If you’re not interested in working, then the demonstration dinner is for you! Just sit back, watch Chef Joe in action, and enjoy a delicious meal.

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker and her former student Kyle Petrucelli with Chef Joe.

Chef Jennifer Hill Booker and her former student Kyle Petrucelli with Chef Joe.

To celebrate the school’s 15-year anniversary, Chef Joe is calling in an impressive list of Southern celebrity chefs to teach classes Sept. 14-19, 2015, with the show stopper prepared by the man himself on Saturday, Sept. 19.  As you can well imagine, these classes are very popular with guests from around the globe interested in meeting Chef Joe, trying their hand at Southern cuisine, and enjoying a great meal. Make your reservations early!

jennifer-hill-booker-1436890751-thumb-230-230-438-151-820-444-90Jennifer is Georgia’s official Culinary Explorer and the author of “Your Resident Gourmet,” full of innovative recipes, cooking trends and fun kitchen gadgets. She is the guest chef at Chef Joe Randall’s Cooking School Sept. 17, 2015. Click here for more content from Jennifer.

A Guide to Georgia’s Homestyle Restaurants

The Dillard House

The Dillard House

For Breakfast

Not all homestyle restaurants in Georgia serve breakfast, but when you’re looking for the combination of the two, you’ll need to visit the Dillard House in Dillard. The Dillard House serves up a bountiful breakfast of meats, eggs, potato hash, fresh fruits, homemade preserves, freshly baked pastries and so much more. My favorites are the proteins, and I always have to have seconds of the pork tenderloin. The Dillard House is one of those “food for the soul” kinds of places, and besides breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so start your day right by feeding your soul well here. Go with high expectations because you’re sure not to be disappointed.

Buckner's

Buckner’s Family Restaurant

For Fried Chicken and Dessert

One common menu item at all homestyle restaurants in the South is fried chicken. I doubt it’s written law that they have to have fried chicken (and lots of it) on the table, but I’m pretty sure it’s understood. Believe me, I’ve eaten a lot of fried chicken at a lot of great restaurants, but the best fried chicken I’ve eaten in Georgia to date is at Buckner’s in Jackson. Buckner’s is just off I-75 exit 201, and they serve up some of the most delicious Southern classics you can find. While normally I’d go for a leg or thigh, you’ll only find breast on the table at Buckner’s. Breast meat tends to be dry, but Buckner’s keeps its white meat juicy, tender and perfectly crispy. There’s a slight sweetness to it that I’ve not found duplicated anywhere else in Georgia. To top it all off, their dessert is fantastic, too. They only serve one dessert, but they do it right. Buckner’s Georgia peach cobbler is the perfect finish to one tasty meal.

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room

For Sides

You can expect a wide array of incredible veggies and carbs at the homestyle table, but no one cooks sides as well as Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room in Savannah. Mrs. Wilkes’ showcases all sorts of fresh veggies like green beans, rutabagas, butter beans, peas and more. They’re even getting cornbread dressing right; it’s incredibly moist and super delicious. Mrs. Wilkes’ cabbage was some of the finest I’ve ever eaten. This homestyle restaurant is one of those places where you could definitely fill up on sides alone. Expect to wait in line for up to a couple of hours, but you and your taste buds will be glad you did.

For Extras

Once you’ve had the best breakfast, the best chicken and dessert, and the best sides, what’s left on the table? Well, the Smith House in Dahlonega is taking the table extras to a whole new level. You’re going to consistently get great chicken, great sides and dessert, but you’re also going to get some great extras. One of my favorite accompaniments to Southern fare is relishes and pickles. The Smith house makes and serves up the best pickled squash you’ll find. It perfectly pairs with the savory veggies and offers a slightly tangy, sweet crunch that you just can’t find elsewhere. You’ll want to take some home, too. Look in the gift shop before you leave to make sure you can have this “secret” treasure at your home table.

Head shotLori Hennesy is a self-proclaimed foodie and author of delisghga.com, a Georgia only food blog.  Lori is on a constant search for unique eats, great Georgia products, delicious restaurants and anything food related.  For Lori it’s all about the bottom line, “what’s the next meal going to be?”