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Culinary kickoff

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Beth Zdeblick, Kate Zdeblick, William Zdeblick

For writer Beth Zdeblick (pictured, with children Kate and William), attending Rice Owls’ home games is a family tradition.

Cooking Buzz is produced in partnership with the Junior League of Houston, a women’s charitable and education organization founded in 1925.

October is the perfect time to reunite with friends for a “homecoming” party, and what better backdrop than college football.

Living near Rice Stadium, we mark each of the Owls’ home games on our calendar with red ink. At times, it seems the Owls’ glory days (1954 Cotton Bowl champs!) are in the past; therefore, a carefully crafted menu may be needed to attract hardcore football fans.

The perfect tailgate foods are indulgent, special-occasion treats that don’t require a host to be three places at once. Advance preparation is the ultimate gameplan. The Steak and Arugula Sandwiches from Peace Meals, with grilled filet mignon, are a crowd pleaser. The recipe is easy to scale up for lots of guests, and all the toppings can be prepared well before opening the first bottle of Cab.

The Best B.L.T. with Hill Country Basil Mayonnaise from Stop and Smell the Rosemary is another favorite, taking a classic sandwich to the next level with homemade mayonnaise. Add avocado for another upgrade.

Every sandwich needs a good side. Both the steak sandwich and B.LT. pair with Sweet Potato Fries with Asian Dipping Sauce from Peace Meals. Even if you think you’ve consumed a lifetime’s worth of sweet potato fries from your kids’ uneaten plates, you owe it to yourself to try the Chinese five-spice-infused dipping sauce that accompanies the oven-baked sweet potato fries. Both the fries and the sauce can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. To serve, bring the sauce to room temperature and reheat the fries for five minutes at 400 degrees. (You might even make a double batch and use the extra with the kids’ leftover fish sticks.)

The Caramel Brownies from The Star of Texas Cookbook are perfect before or after the game, when you’re celebrating a win or comforting yourself after a loss.

Having these recipes in your playbook guarantees a successful Saturday, no matter the outcome on the field. Peck ’em, Owls!

Editor’s note: See “One Giant Party: College-football tailgating” in this issue for more on tailgating fun.

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