There is never a shortage of options when it comes to tailgating in the fall, but some things work better than others. Gina Ferwerda is a tailgating champion, and she shared some of her on-the-go secrets with us so you can be ready for the Michigan-Michigan State game on Nov. 16. Kickoff is at noon, so you'll want to start the party early. 

Gina also shared some recipes to make your tailgate go off without a hitch. 

MESQUITE LIME CHICKEN TACOS (SERVES 6-8)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tablespoon house seasoning 
  • 1 teaspoon mesquite seasoning 
  • Juice of 1 lime

SLAW DRESSING 

  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise 
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper 

SLAW

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage 
  • 1/2 cup matchstick carrots  
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes 

CREAMY HARISSA

  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons harissa  

You'll also need 

  • 16-ounce package corn tortillas, warmed 
  • 2 cups crumbled Cojita cheese
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges 

PREPARE SLAW

Whisk together mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add cabbage, carrots and radishes to dressing and toss together. Refrigerate until ready to assemble. 

MAKE CREAMY HARISSA 

Whisk together sour cream and harissa in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to assemble. 

PREPARE CHICKEN

Heat a large skillet or grill to medium high heat. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with house seasoning and mesquite seasoning. Cook thighs for 3-4 minutes each side, or until thoroughly cooked. Let rest, then shred or cube meat. Add meat back and juices back into skillet, to keep warm, and add the freshly lime juice to the meat. 

ASSEMBLE

Add chicken, slaw and creamy harissa on corn tortillas and garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges. 

GUACAMOLE 

  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled 
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon grated jalapeno 
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

MAKE GUACAMOLE 

Add the avocado to a bowl and mash until desired consistency, then fold in the remaining ingredients. 

SALSA 

  • 6 vine-ripened tomatoes, cored (or 28 ounces canned tomatoes) 
  • ½ small onion, peeled (¼ cup) 
  • 1 small jalapeno, trimmed and seeded 
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

MAKE SALSA

Add all Salsa ingredients to a food processor. Process the salsa ingredients for 20 to 30 seconds. Pour the salsa into a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until assembly. 

SALTED CARAMEL PEANUT BUTTER TOFFEE DIP (Serves 4 - 6)

  • ¼ cup toffee pieces 
  • 1 (8-ounce) package softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup peanut butter 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup chocolate milk, chocolate cashew milk or espresso cold brew coffee 
  • ¼ cup caramel
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon sea salt 
  • Dark chocolate pretzels
  • Shortbread cookies 

MAKING THE DIP

Grind toffee pieces in a food processor. 

In a large bowl, add all remaining ingredients except the sea salt, and mix together to thoroughly combine. (This can be done by hand or by using an electric mixer on medium speed.) Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. When ready to serve, sprinkle dip with sea salt. 

Serve with dark chocolate pretzels or shortbread cookies.

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