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“Homemade Crackers, Friday Night Lights & A Giveaway”

Scroll to the bottom to enter the second giveaway of the week… we’re on a roll baby.

I’ve been bewitched by Friday Night Lights. The show and the real life fantasy of mine. It is partly because I want to be as cool as Tim Riggins when I grow up, minus the jail bait, but also because I’m enamored by the football culture, and the tailgating culture that can bring a small town together in one epic moment of glory or defeat.

I’ve spent time at a high school football game or two, and even a pro game or two… but I missed out on that All American experience that exists in so many towns around this country. For that I have pangs of regret, especially after last weekend.

I was driving down to the Arkansas delta for a book signing, through towns that disappeared as I blinked. There were more empty buildings than not, hazy air, and fluffy cotton on the fields, hot fried catfish signs, and a baptist church every few miles. As the pink sky darkened over the railroad tracks and things turned gray, I passed through a town called McGehee and suddenly there was a flash of light.

On the left far back in a field was a football stadium so big and so polished that you would think it was the most gentrified city in the south. It was completely full, containing what looked like all 3,881 people in McGehee, and all of its pride. And then on the right I saw a rough hewn wooden sign, hand painted and crooked, proudly announcing that in these thirty seconds, I was passing through the home of the Owls, the State Champions of Arkansas.

There is something special in this kind of pride, something pure and productive. I imagine it would be fun to tailgate with the town of McGehee and gleefully fawn over their Owls.

To eat cheese dip and crackers and a corn dog or two. That’s the kind of honest fun that gives me pangs of nostalgia and a bit of regret. But it’s never too late, right? Maybe you’ll find me lurking in the parking lots of a small town this fall… I’ll be the wide-eyed girl carrying a bowl of cheese dip.

In honor of that noble fantasy of mine, I’m giving away two pounds of Jarlsberg cheese today. You heard me!

And two recipes below, perfect for tailgating. All you have to do is answer the question: What’s your favorite tailgating food? Or if you don’t tailgate you can tell me your favorite party food. Or you can just say “hi.” I’ll randomly select a winner after Monday at 5 pm PST.

"Homemade Jarlsberg Crackers"

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 20 medium-sized crackers


  • 1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 – 10 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup Jarlsberg cheese, grated
  • 1 pinch paprika
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, paprika, cayenne, and thyme along with the olive oil in a medium-sized bowl and stir to mix.
  3. Add the cheese, then the water and mix just until combined.
  4. Divide into four equal parts and let rest about 30 minutes at room temperature.
  5. Roll out the dough to about 1/16th of an inch thick. Place on the baking sheet and prick all over with a fork.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes until evenly browned and crisped.

"Jarlsberg Cheese Dip"

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 1 1/2 cups


  • 1 cup grated Jarlsberg cheese
  • 3/4 cup silken tofu
  • 1/2 chipotle pepper
  • 6 pieces bacon, fried until crisp
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup green onion
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup fresh herbs, such as sage and thyme
  • Salt to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust with salt.
  2. Refrigerate overnight or for at least several hours before serving. Serve with Jarlsberg crackers.

Here is a step-by-step photo slide show to help you along:


This post was sponsored by Jarlsberg and Kitchen Play.

Leave a Comment



  1. Oh my goodness that looks yum!!!

    Oh, the tailgating food? Wings of course with cold beer.

  2. This cheese dip recipe sounds absolutely killer. I have recently discovered that tofu makes great texture and filler for all sorts of things, and completely takes on whatever flavors you mix with it. I think I might have to try this recipe for the next Dallas Cowboys game with the Hubby and friends ;o)

    My favorite tailgating food…well, I've been known to make two fantastic things, both get asked for repeatedly by all my friends, Sausage Cheese Balls, and Smokey Jalepeno Bacon Poppers. The former, must be baked ahead of time and brought warm to the tailgate, but the latter can be prepped ahead of time, and brought to the tailgate party to be grilled on whomevers makeshift grill is closest to you! I tend to use a cream cheese/cheddar/spice mixture for the filling, and hickory smoked bacon as the outside wrapper.

    Thanks for the giveaway, I hope I win!

  3. sindaan68 says:

    Yeah Ill have to go with Wings and a beer like Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

  4. My favorite tailgate food are brats….of course I am from Wisconsin and what is a Packer game without a brat!

  5. aweome giveaway! Chips & homemade guacamole are my favorite party food!

  6. MMMmmm cheese…..I'm not from the South, but I can tell you that Friday night football, and Saturday morning tailgating are alive and well in the Northern US! We would get the coals started in the old Weber and start with scrambled eggs, my special homemade banana bread if I was ambitious the day before, and on at least one occasion 2 very nice venison loins. Burgers and dogs when we weren't lucky enough to have fresh venison handy :)

  7. Mellybrown says:

    The dip looks great — but I am scared of the tofu. I've never tried it, but with free cheese, I'd be willing to give it a go!

    Not a tailgater, but my husband swears by what we call "Big Butt Cheesy Dip" — the jar of queso made by Frito Lay. Yours looks far superior :)

  8. I've taken part in only a handful of tailgate parties over the years at college and pro football games. I'm not a huge football fan, but the parties are fun! Best tailgate food I've had: grilled bacon-wrapped prawns. Oh, yeah baby!

    Your cracker recipe is very similar to one I tried a few months ago, but with the addition of cheese. Sounds and looks delicious. :)

  9. I love dip of any kind – spinach, bean, cheese. Love it all! But I really love cheese. In everything.

  10. My family was never into football, but in my small town childhood we feasted at the church tureen dinner or potluck. My favorite dish was what we called calico beans, but I've since seen them referred to as cowboy beans. it's a mix of several different beans (usually pinto, butter beans, and kidney beans) in a sort of spicy red barbecue type sauce with hamburger or bacon chunks thrown in as well. As with most childhood delicacies, I've never been able to find a recipe that lives up to my memory.

  11. I don't do much (any) tailgating, but I'm a sucker for homemade jalapeño artichoke dip and kalamata olive tapenade!

  12. I don't do any tailgating either (almost embarrassing considering I live in a college football town) but it would have to be a good ol' fashioned burger and an ice cold beer. However, I do enjoy eating tailgating food while watching a Rocky marathon (or a Star Wars marathon, or James Bond, or Top Chef, LOL!).

  13. I'm a Florida Gator so I tailgate every Saturday in the Fall! My favorite food to eat is either burgers or wings! Hard to beat. :)

  14. I'd have to say brats for food – 6 years in Minnesota will do that to you but bourbon and coke to drink – 6 years in Kentucky will do that to you. Even though most of the time I've graduated to bourbon on the rocks my college years of bourbon and cokes come back for watching games. Though I've spent most of my sports time watching basketball games – Kentucky you know!

  15. bostongal81 says:

    Wings, wings, wings

  16. Fried chicken like my Mom makes!

  17. Chips and any type of dip!

  18. Friday Night Lights is hands down the best show on television. And it never gets the credit that it deserves. I can't wait for it to start at the end of October and for the season premiere I plan on making "Football food." Can't wait!

  19. For Seahawks games, smoked salmon. A really good dip is whipped cream cheese spread out on a tray with cocktail sauce and bay shrimp layered on top.

  20. Just found your blog! Since you're in Berkeley, if you ever want to see a small town NORCAL team play come up to Benicia and watch the Panthers. Went to HomeComing last weekend and it was an amazing experience, great town, great people, great football. and your crackers and dip look amazing! I made a cheddar bacon dip for the pre-game this week and it was gone before we knew what to do!

  21. Fred Simms says:

    "Hi". I Just heard your interview on iwine. l looked for you on the web and… Voila! I found you. Great stories looks/sounds like great food, and love your attitude. Next step, Amazon to consider your book! My son-in-law is French, my daughter-in-law is Suisse. As a result, the mundane foods and kraft cheeses that were the mainstay of our tailgate parties, have been replaced by more cultured and refined fare… wine instead of beer and Val Bagner (raclette), Appenseller, Beauforts, Camembert, Rooquefort… Whoops, I just drooled on my keyboard!

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