Autumn is a time of transformation. The changing of the leaves, the harvesting of produce from planted seeds, the time when otherwise sane adults turn into face-painted, screaming banshees in tribute to their favorite football teams. (That sorta rhymed. I guess autumn has also transformed me into a poet?) Parking lots are no longer industrial arenas for parking space pole position and graveyards for abandoned shopping carts, but become places of worship; temples of ceremony and camaraderie and celebration.
healthy eating habits you may have employed toward the acquisition of a summer body. Tailgating season transforms all manner of snacks and dips into something they were not perhaps intended to be: sustenance for an entire day.Also transformed, now that I’ve mentioned it, are the
However! With help from those titans of fall, the Washington Wizards, your leftover weekend tailgate snacks can be also transfigured into all manner of sit-down worthy meals. Yes, even the dips! (What’s that? The Wizards are a basketball team? Well…nevermind.) Turns out sorcery is less needed here anyway, since plain old resourcefulness will do, for these 12 recipes that offer ways to use up all your favorite tailgating snacks.
Snacks Into Breakfast
Just because it’s the most important meal of the day doesn’t mean it can’t include an errant tortilla chip. I’d even argue the reverse—how can it be the most important meal of the day without one?
Traditional chilaquiles is a tremendous Mexican brunch made from fresh corn tortillas stewed in salsa or mole. A quick-fix version employing conventional tortilla chips lends itself an almost breakfast nacho flair, but what better way to celebrate your team’s weekend success than with BREAKFAST NACHOS? Get the Tortilla Chip Chilaquiles recipe.
Snacks Into Salad
Giving an almost crouton-like character into salads of all varieties, anything you mindlessly feasted upon on Sunday for its salty, crunchy nature, can make its way into the holy grail of health on Monday: the almighty salad.
Did your heart just flutter? It did, didn’t it. That’s the Frito salad effect. Now as a salad, this one is a little decadent, redolent of Mexican street corn with a little added crunch, but at the end of the day you’ve still combined Fritos with vegetables, ergo: health. Get the Frito Salad recipe.
Step one: eat all of the chocolate chips or M&Ms out of your trail mix (or begin with a chocolate-free version); step two: combine remaining dried fruits, nuts, and seeds with rice and a light lemon vinaigrette that just might be classy enough to erase any memory of your weekend parking lot antics. Get the Trail Mix Salad recipe.
Here’s a vibrant traditional green salad that shows how to incorporate homemade pita chips for crunch and pizzazz rather than conventional croutons. The recipe calls for making your own pita chips, but there’s nothing to say that the last third of the bag of Stacy’s won’t do just as well, which you could certainly dress up with a little sumac if you are so inclined. Get the Fattoush Crumbled Pita Chip Salad recipe.
Dips Into…Not Dip
Some would argue that dip is a valid food item unto itself, perhaps worthy of its own mealtime. I am one of those people. Think like a hobbit for a second: breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, lunch, dip o’clock…it fits, right? Or you can just hide your favorite dip in something that requires a fork and a knife, you know, for when you have company.
Like its brethren (or sistren?) pita chips above, hummus is not just for mindless snacking anymore. You’ll hardly recognize it in this form as a creamy and umami spaghetti sauce, thinned with a little pasta water and spiked with the brightness of spinach, red pepper flakes, and lemon zest. Get the Hummus Pasta recipe.
Okay, I realize that this one requires a little suspension of disbelief, as neither you nor I live in a world where queso is ever…leftover. But let’s pretend for a moment that you took it up as a challenge to yourself to try to make a batch of queso so large, so epic, that even your rowdiest of friends couldn’t take it down in a day. On the following day, make queso chicken. Get the Queso Baked Chicken recipe.
Ditto for Spinach and Artichoke Dip, but these elegant stuffed peppers are so worthwhile, such an excellent combination of sensible and sinful, that perhaps you can conceive of intentionally setting a bit of dip aside to reward yourself later in the week. Get the Spinach and Artichoke Dip Stuffed Peppers recipe.
Snacks Into Mains
Yes, your tailgate snacks can become a respectable, weekday main event. (Please insert motivational coach locker room pep-talk here, replete with separating “men from boys” trope and other myriad motivational imagery.)
Okay, we’re talking about repurposing as crust here, not exactly transforming Doritos into croquettes or patties unto themselves, but nonetheless not only can a Cool Ranch chicken strip happen in the comfort of your own home, arguably, it should happen. Get the Doritos Crusted Chicken Tenders recipe.
I’ll say it: pretzels are almost too classy to really count as a shocking repurposing of snacks into mains, but will you look at that plating? This is some major league transformation. I realize that’s not even the correct sports metaphor to employ during fall tailgating season, but let that be a metaphor unto itself for how in-another-league this pretzel move is. Get David Burke’s Pretzel Crusted Crab Cakes recipe.
Snacks Into Dessert
When all else fails, salt can always find companionship with its true soulmate, sugar.
Whoever the first person was to figure out that potato chips belonged in cookies almost as much as chocolate chips did, can we please bring that person out at halftime and make the marching band do a big ordeal about them? Get Jessie Sheehan’s Potato Chip Cookies recipe.
The one where salt holds sugar within its crunchy embrace. Appropriate for both winning and losing weekends. Get the Pretzel Pie Crust recipe.
Header image courtesy of Karen M. Romanko / Getty Images