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A few months ago, when planning columns ahead, I intended today’s recipes to be given for boisterous football fans to enjoy during their tailgating.

On the parking lots. Inside the stadium. In seats. Watching. Rooting for their favorites live and in person.

There will still be tailgates, although maybe more subdued and possibly without your favorite teams on the fields.

The Mexican turnovers are perfect hand pies, made at home to enjoy in front of the TV or easily taken to the location of any game-day party. South-of-the-border flavors from sausage, chilies and salsa are then tucked into an encasement of flaky pastry to complete the taste sensation.

A meatless version can be accomplished by substituting beans, cooked squash, tofu, or any meatless filler in place of the sausage. The mini pies are sturdy travelers and can be savored at room temperature. No need to be straight from the oven or kept chilled.

Cocktail meatballs are always a runaway hit wherever and for whatever. You can make your own, or reach for the delicious frozen varieties. The same is optional for the cocktail sauce for the meatballs. You are faced with the decision of which sauce you want. You can go the route of homemade or frozen meatballs in a spaghetti sauce, supplying toothpicks or party forks for spearing instead of dishing out cooked pasta piled into a bowl, or turn toward a more sweet, hot, or tangy barbecue sauce. Buffalo chicken fans can whip up that sauce to go over meatballs, made from ground chicken, beef or turkey.

Then comes the bottled sauces. Which do you want of the probably 30 varieties on the grocery shelf to make your own? Sweet or savory? Hot or mild? If you already have your favorite nailed down, you are truly blessed. I could never decide which store-bought I would want.

St. Albans resident Amber March held the answer. At a family housewarming given by grandson Trenten and his wife Sarah, to celebrate the purchase of their first home, March brought the standout appetizer of the afternoon. The meatballs were standard issue, but delicious, frozen Kroger home-style. It was the sauce she chose that made them addictive. Turns out it was Kraft Sweet Honey Barbecue Sauce.

I was glad to have had a taste for future reference because I would never have chosen an item that had both “sweet” and “honey” together.

Just to see the label, I would have thought to myself that I wasn’t looking to make baklava. One party-goer immediately adopted the sauce as his secret weapon for his next rib cookout. I threw in a few more sauce ideas today for the time you’re in the meatball mood. I’ll remain quiet if you want to pass them off as your own homemade.

Grocery alert for any interested bakers. Ghirardelli has introduced caramel chips just in time for the sure-to-be upcoming sugar and flour marathons. Kraft has had the packaged bead-like caramel bits for some time, but these newest chips are formed like our familiar chocolate chips. They are stocked in the same section. And while you are ambling through the aisles, watch for something else. You already know that pumpkin and pumpkin spice is starting to be front and center in almost every food category except pet food.

Not to be outdone by anyone in the pumpkin field, Walmart has a new Pumpkin Spice Pancake and Waffle Mix under their brand.

The pancakes should hit just the right note to be resting under a drizzle of warm maple syrup. Just don’t disturb the mound of melting butter when you pour.

Reach Judy Grigoraci at