I’ve gotta be honest. I’m not ready for some football. I’m not much of a sports fan, never have been. But, I do LOVE football food. Game day treats and tailgating recipes are some of the best indulgence foods out there. What’s better than gooey cheese dip, spicy chili, and every variety of sausages and hot dogs imaginable? I love going to Super Bowl parties just for the food – and the beverages, of course. I have no idea who the two competing teams are for this year’s biggest football game. I do know however, that these three game day foods are definitely touchdown worthy. I hope you’ll give them a try. I also hope that YOUR favorite team wins. Happy Super Bowl!

Pepperoni Football Cheese Ball

This delicious cheese ball is a cinch to make. Super easy and a total showstopper, it’s sure to make a touchdown at your next game day celebration!

2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 (5-ounce) package mini pepperoni slices, divided

3 green onions, thinly sliced

½ cup cooked chopped bacon

1 (4-ounce) jar pimentos, drained

1 slice mozzarella cheese, to make the laces

Mix the cream cheese with the Italian seasoning, mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Add 1/3 package of mini pepperoni slices, green onions, bacon, and pimentos. Mix well to combine. Form cheese mixture into a ball and place on a large piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to make the cheeseball firm. While wrapped, form the cheese into the shape of a football. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Remove cheeseball from plastic and wrap and place on a serving dish. Use remaining mini pepperoni slices to cover cheeseball, pressing gently to adhere. For the laces, use a sharp knife the cut slice of mozzarella cheese into thin slices. Cut one long slice for the center of the football and smaller slices for the laces. Place the long slice horizontally along the center of the cheeseball then arrange the shorter slices horizontally on top. Serve with crostini, crackers, pretzels, and veggie dippers. Serves 10.

Sausage, Pepper and Onion Hoagies

For friends with sensitive tummies, I prefer to use a white sauce instead of tomato sauce. Not an alfredo fan? Substitute with your favorite marinara. What’s a football game without a hoagie?! (For a detailed demonstration, please visit the Lowcountry Weekly website or @chefdebbicovington on YouTube to watch this short cooking video.)

1 (20-ounce) package hot Italian sausages

2 bell peppers (green, red, yellow, orange, or a combination)

1 medium sweet onion

1 teaspoon dried oregano

4 hoagie rolls

1 cup alfredo sauce

1½ cups shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese

Dried oregano, to garnish

Slice each sausage into 6 or 7 pieces. Seed and slice bell peppers into thin strips. Halve onion and slice into thin pieces. In a large, dry skillet, over medium heat, cook sausage pieces for 7 to 8 minutes or until they’re browned and cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Leave about 1 tablespoon sausage drippings in skillet. Add peppers and onion and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1 teaspoon dried oregano while cooking. Remove peppers and onions and set aside. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread alfredo sauce on both sides of hoagie rolls. Add sausage pieces, onions and peppers and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle with shredded parmesan and garnish with a pinch of dried oregano. Place hoagies in oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until cheese is melted and sandwiches are warmed through. Serve immediately. Makes 4 large hoagies.

Loaded Tater Tot Skewers

My trick for extra-crispy tater tots is to overcook them. Spray a foil-lined baking sheet with cooking spray. (If you’re cooking the whole bag, use 2 baking sheets.) Add the frozen tater tots to the prepared pan and then spray them with additional cooking spray. Season with salt and bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes to make sure all sides are getting crispy. Keep cooking them until they reach your desired crispness. You’ll never know that they weren’t fried.

1 (16-ounce) package frozen tater tots

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Grape tomatoes, diced

Green onions, chopped

6-inch wooded skewers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place tots on prepared baking sheet, spray with cooking spray and season with salt. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, or until desired crispiness is reached. Remove from oven. Load 4 tots onto each skewer and place back on baking sheet. Arrange loaded skewers closely to each other and sprinkle with cheese. Return baking sheet to the oven and bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and arrange on a serving platter. Place sour cream into a small zip-top back and snip one corner. Drizzle sour cream over skewers. Garnish with diced grape tomatoes and chopped green onions. Serve immediately with additional sour cream on the side. Makes approximately 20 skewers.

The writer owns Catering by Debbi Covington and is the author of three cookbooks, Celebrate Beaufort, Celebrate Everything! and Dining Under the Carolina Moon. For more great recipes and to view her cooking demonstrations, visit and subscribe to Debbi’s YouTube channel. Debbi’s website address is www.cateringbydebbicovington.com. She may be reached at 843-525-0350 or by email at dbc@cateringbydebbicovington.com.