Saturday is a big day for college football! MSU takes on Northwestern, Western plays Akron and Central plays Northern Illinois. All the kickoffs happen at 3:30PM. Tailgating extraordinaire Gina Ferwerda joined the Weekend Morning News team to get you geared up for Saturday's games and the rest of football season.

Gina recommends doing a lot of your tailgating preparation in advance. Like packing coolers with ice and labeling them. She suggests prepping food at home and packaging it in zip lock bags for easy set up and clean up as well.

When it comes to set up, Gina offers this list of must haves:

Tailgating Checklist -
Coolers - If you have more than 1 cooler, label them
Ice and a few frozen water bottles
Tent or canopy
Chairs - folding tables - extension cords
Portable grill and accessories
Food - labeled - I like to use disposable containers for quick and easy clean up
Condiments - I use muffin tins with cupcake liners to hold the condiments
Drinks - labeled
Paper plates, napkins, plastic ware, cups, zip lock containers
Cook ware and utensils (don't forget knives and cutting boards)
Blankets - Music
Clean-up supplies in a labeled bag (trash bags)

"The easiest way to incorporate a lot of these items is to have a great cooler. I have a cooler called the "Coolest Cooler" and some of the great features include a cutting board, 2 separate compartments, ceramic knife, plates, wine opener, bottle opener, tie down bungee cord, waterproof USB charger, LED light switch, Bluetooth speakers, a blender and a rechargeable battery. I recommend finding a cooler that has tons of features so you have less items to pack for your tailgating adventure," suggests Gina.

Gina also brings with her a tailgating box to keep lots of necessities in one place. Hers includes: tape, scissors, pens and markers, a sharp knife, flashlight, can opener/bottle opener/wine opener, toothpicks, matches, napkins, coozies, flask/shot glass, rain gear, sunglasses, sun block, insect repellent, plastic disposable gloves, a first aid kit, lanyard with money/ID/tickets, business cards for networking, hat, gloves, trash bags/ziplock bags.

And you can't forget about the food: "I like to use items that have a double purpose, such as beer and/or blood mary mix. If you are bringing beer to your tailgate, then make a beer cheese dip. If you are bringing blood mary's, then make a bloody mary vinaigrette for salads or antipasto skewers or make a bloody mary chili," explains Gina.

She shares her recipes here:

Apple Fritter Dip:

For the dip-
1 stick butter, softened
8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/3 cup condensed milk
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely diced apples

1 loaf apple fritter bread

Apple slices, pretzels, chocolate pretzels, donut holes - all are great choices for dipping
Optional - candy pieces (chocolate, peanut butter, toffee...any chopped candy pieces)


In a medium size bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Then add the sugars and mix well. Add milk, corn syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and apples and thoroughly combine. Set aside.

Slice top off apple fritter bread and set aside. Hollow out the soft inner bread and keep the crust as a shell. Cut up the inside bread into bite size pieces and set aside. These pieces will be used for dipping.

Add the dip to the inside of the apple fritter bread and garnish with some diced apples and/or candy pieces.

Serve this dip with the leftover apple fritter pieces, donut holes, apple slices and/or pretzels. Enjoy!

Keep this dip cold until ready to serve.

Beer Cheese Dip with Pretzel Sticks -
Two 8- ounce packages cream cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bottle beer
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Add all ingredients to a slow cooker for 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. Stir together and serve.

Serve with pretzels sticks or tortilla chips

Antipasto Skewers with Bloody Mary Vinaigrette -
One 10- ounce package tortelloni (I used Giovanni Rana Prosciutto and Cheese Tortelloni)
One 14 - ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup medium or large pitted ripe olives, drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1 cup fresh mozzarella balls - bocconcini or pearls
1 cup salami sausage, cut into chucks ( I used chorizo sausage nuggets)
Fresh basil leaves
Balsamic glaze
1 cup Bloody Mary Mix ( I used Brewt's Bloody Mary Mix)
1/4 cup pomegranate red wine vinegar (or regular red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup oil (your favorite oil - olive, avocado, canola, soybean)
Wooden skewers

Cook the tortelloni according to the package until al dente, then drain and let cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together bloody mary mix, red wine vinegar and oil.

Add tortelloni, artichokes, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella balls, and salami to a large bowl, then add the vinaigrette and gently fold it all together. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, then add to skewers.

Drizzle with balsamic glaze and serve.

Scotchie Squash Cheesecake Bars -
For the butternut squash-
1 cup diced butternut squash, peeled (similar in size to the butterscotch morsels)
1 teaspoon oil
Pinch of salt, sugar and pumpkin pie spice
For the chocolate crust -
2 cups chocolate graham crackers or oreo cookies, finely-ground in a food processor
3/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
For the butterbeer cheesecake -
2 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
3 eggs
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon artificial butter flavoring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the scotchie squash cookie bars-
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups oats
1 cup butterscotch morsels, plus extra for topping
Optional - hot fudge, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce and/or butterscotch sauce to serve


Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, add squash, oil, salt, sugar and pumpkin pie spice and toss together. Add butternut squash to a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. (Easiest way to peel a butternut squash is to cut the ends off the squash and microwave for 5 minutes. Let cool, then peel and dice.)

Add the finely ground graham crackers to a bowl and then stir in the melted butter and sugar. Press the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from heat and set aside. Lower heat to 325 degrees.

In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy, then add the sour cream, eggs, flour, salt, butter flavoring and vanilla extract. Mix together well. Add the cheesecake mixture over the cooled graham cracker crust.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Next add the eggs and vanilla extract. Add the sifted flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon until well combined. Then gently add the oats and butterscotch morsels. Fold in the roasted butternut squash and then drop spoonfuls of this mixture to the top of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or at least 3 hours), then cut into bars and serve.

Optional - drizzle with hot fudge, chocolate sauce, caramel and/or butterscotch topping and serve.

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