Kitchen Focus

As the weather gets cooler and the leaves begin to change colors, thoughts often turn to ... football! And nothing is more traditionally linked to the big game than the big tailgate parties that precede them.

This month, instead of turning to the traditional burgers, hot dogs and chips, I'm offering some options that you can enjoy without having to carry around a grill -- although you certainly can do that. Enjoy them before the game and even during if you can manage to save some for that long!

Roasted Vegetable Medley

These roasted vegetables are great hot or cold, on their own or piled into pita bread for sandwiches.
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 lb. new potatoes
  • 1 small delectica squash, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 12 grape tomatoes, halved

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large baking dish, combine the oil, garlic and seasonings. Add the potatoes, squash and onion and toss well to coat the vegetables with the oil. Place in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and add the eggplant, zucchini and red pepper. Toss well to coat all of the vegetables with the oil. Place in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the baking dish from the oven and add the tomatoes. Toss well to coat all of the vegetables with the oil. Place in the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve hot or cold as desired.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad

This fun chicken salad is great in wraps, on bread or on its own on a plate.
  • 1 lb. cooked, shredded chicken -- I prefer white meat
  • 2/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 c. low fat mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chile powder
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt

Toss the chicken, cranberries, green onions and celery in a large bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients and toss with the chicken mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes

The Snack Mix of Champions

A simple snack mix is great to put together in advance and have on hand for celebrating on the go.
  • 2 quarts popped pop corn
  • 2 cups small pretzels
  • 1 cup dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup butter -- melted
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Mix the popped popcorn, pretzels, and peanuts in a large shallow baking pan. Combine the butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt and seasoned salt. Pour the mixture over the popcorn mixture stirring to mix well. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 50 minutes
If there's a topic that you'd like to see covered in this column, let me know. You can always post comments in the discussion board using the forms provided in the articles or email me directly at .

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