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Cheer on the Bucs at home with these tailgate foods

Ideas for a delicious playoffs spread.
Times (2009)
All kinds of freshly prepared chili will be served Saturday at E.G. Simmons Park, where a dozen or so cooks will vie for $500 in cash prizes.   ORG XMIT: T0902251039588071
Times (2009) All kinds of freshly prepared chili will be served Saturday at E.G. Simmons Park, where a dozen or so cooks will vie for $500 in cash prizes. ORG XMIT: T0902251039588071 [ Times (2009) ]
Published Jan. 6
Updated Jan. 6

Preparing a spread of food at home for festive occasions has never been more alluring, or necessary. As the pandemic continues to make gathering in public with lots of people unsafe, celebrating the things we love requires some creativity.

So while you may feel uneasy celebrating a local playoff game at your favorite sports bar this year, there are still ways you can make it special. Mainly: Make a bunch of food at home.

Plus, if half your household cares more about the Bucs taking on Washington Saturday, and the other half cares more about beef skewers, everyone still wins.

One easy route is a DIY situation, where each person makes their own snack from a buffet of options. Times staff writer Sharon Kennedy Wynne shares some ideas:

Taco bar: Set out the tortillas and have fillings such as beef, shredded chicken and black beans. (Have some salad bowls and dressings ready if guests would prefer taco salads.) Then lay out a few different salsas, guacamole, peppers and onions, shredded cheeses, corn, lettuces, tomatoes and sour cream.

Related: Foods to make for an at-home tailgate

Shrimp boil: It only takes about a half-hour to heat up a flavorful pot of water with potatoes, corn, sausage, shrimp and more. Drain and dump the whole mess of food onto a newspaper-lined table and let the guests grab what they like. Have melted butter and cocktail sauce ready in small bowls. See the recipe here.

Rice bowls: With a large pot (or two) of rice, there’s a world of choices on what to set out: Korean beef, pork, mushrooms, cucumbers, green onions, carrots, kimchi. Or go Mexican with grilled steak, chicken, shrimp or black beans. Have things like cilantro, sesame seeds and lime wedges and a variety of sauces to drizzle on top.

Chili

It’s actually seasonably cool this year, so something warm for your playoff feast would be appropriate. My go-to is beef chili. Get a large pot going on the stovetop, and set out lots of toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped scallions, corn chips.

Here’s a recipe.

Sliders

A classic game-day food, consider sliders miniature versions of any sandwich you love. Burgers are a classic; I love a crunchy bit of fried chicken on a soft bun with some mayo and pickles. Sloppy Joe’s would be fun, too.

Here is a recipe for pulled barbecue chicken sliders that make for an ideal tailgate food. You can make the chicken in advance, then warm it the day of. And you can fancy it up with an apple slaw, or just serve with plenty of extra barbecue sauce.

Related: Recipe for barbecue chicken sliders