It’s that time of the year again! Tailgate time!


We drove all the way to Miami (that’s 729 looong but totally worth it miles) for the University of Miami v. University of Florida game. Now, if you’re not a football fan, you may not understand how big this game was to the fans… but the UM v. UF rivalry is pretty intense.  We haven’t played each other in a few years, and there were some major bragging rights on the line. You could tell the teams were pumped, the fans were mental, and the atmosphere was out of control. I lost my voice from screaming so much!


Click through to read the rest of the post. Don’t worry, the ‘click through’ feature isn’t a regular thing – it’s just for reviews.

I know my international readers are thinking, “Tailgate? What’s a tailgate?” And let me just say… you all are seriously missing out by not having tailgates.  I went to a Manchester United soccer/football game in England a couple of years ago, and I was so sadden by the lack of tailgating!  This is one American tradition that you’ve got to bring across the pond.


Tailgating consists of arriving to the stadium hours and hours prior to the start of the game. You pop open your trunk (hence the ‘tailgate’ name), set up tents and chairs, grill food, and drink a little (or, um, a lot) before heading in.  And you play games!


My husband and I take tailgating extremely seriously.  And – lucky for us – so do our Miami friends!  We spent the night at Lisette and Danny’s, and then we all woke up at the absolutely insane hour of 3:30 AM. By 4:10, we were joining other friends for a large caravan to the stadium (so we could get the best spot), and when the gates opened up at 5:00 AM, we were right there, waiting and ready to go!


We set up in the dark.



And I promptly slammed two coffees. Smile 


Slowly but surely, the sun began to rise!



This year, we expanded our tailgate to two tents, a long beer pong table, a card table, more chairs, two big branded rugs, and a sweet 18-foot flagpole, which makes it easier for friends to find us in the crowd (side note: if you’re a Canes fan, too, much of our gear and clothes came from the very awesome All Canes store – please support this amazing small business if you plan to do some tailgate shoppin’!). We’ve also figured out a way to use a marine battery, inverter, and our phone’s hot spot abilities to beam in TV!  Gotta watch ESPN, of course.


If you could believe it, shortly after we got everything set up (which takes about 45 minutes), we heard a crack of thunder!  Growing up in Miami… I knew what that meant.  A big time thunderstorm of tropical proportions.  We hustled to juggle our mimosas while we simuntaneously threw a ton of stuff back into the car.  And then it began to pour.

photo 4 (7) photo 3 (12)

If was disappointing, but also a little funny.  It would happen immediately after we set everything up, right?!

photo 5 (2)

We also ended up blowing our inverter by plugging in a griddle to make pancakes… so our breakfast and lunch wasn’t as fabulous as it’s been in years past.  We ended up begging off grill space from our neighbors so we could cook our food.  Luckily, everyone was really nice and didn’t mind sharing!


I planned for a huge spread of eggs, pancakes, cheese sandwiches, grilled veggies and more for breakfast… but we ended up settling on eggs and chips.  Not bad. Smile


The rain eventually stopped and the festivities resumed.




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By 9 AM, the parking lot was packed, and the madness truly began!



That’s when I broke out a special treat for my fellow tailgaters.  I’ve been working hard on a delicious tailgate-inspired Chex Mix. I wanted something sweet, salty, and satisfying.  Eight versions of this recipe later, I have something truly mouth-watering to share with you.


Presenting… Chocolate-Covered Potato Chip Chex Mix!


It’s a mix of Rice Chex, kettle-style potato chips, raisins, almonds, and – of course – chocolate!



Chocolate-Covered Potato Chip Chex Mix


Ingredients (for 25 1-cup servings):


  • 8 cups Rice Chex
  • 6 cups kettle-style potato chips, loosely packed as not to crush chips
  • 1 cup almond silvers
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup + 1 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: sprinkles in team colors




  • In a large bowl, thoroughly mix Chex, potato chips, almonds, raisins and 1 cup of milk chocolate chips.
  • In a small microwavable bowl, heat butter for 30 seconds. Remove from microwave and add in 1/2 cup chocolate chips, corn syrup, and salt. Heat for another 30 – 45 seconds, remove, and mix until a smooth liquid forms.
  • Slowly pour chocolate mix over the cereal mix, constantly stirring the cereal to coat everything equally.
  • Continue to stir cereal for several minutes to ensure chocolate is well-distributed.
  • Add sprinkles, stir a few times more, and pour mix out on parchment paper or paper towels to cool.
  • Store in air-tight container until ready to eat.


This recipe was a HUGE hit!  Everyone who walked by grabbed a cup and inhaled it. A few people doubted the flavor combo upon hearing the name… but once they tasted it, they were sold!


I even let the Gator fans have some. Smile


Speaking of Gator fans, I ran into my uncle Paul and his buddies at the tailgate!  They were on a guys’ weekend.  And they proceeded to crush us all at every single tailgate game we challenged them to. Hmph.


Soon… it was time for lunch.  Again, since our grill was busted, lunch wasn’t as delicious as it could’ve been. I did manage to find a spot the grill some veggies.  Yum.


And, hey, here’s always Chex Mix and pie.


We broke down our tailgate, finished our drinks, and changed our outfits (too sweaty at that point!). And then we headed into the game.

photo 3 (11) photo 5 (3)

The very best part of our Ultimate Tailgate?  The fact that WE WON THE GAME!  Holy heck – it was so  exciting.  I thought the Husband’s head was going to explode.  Go Canes!

photo 1 (14)

We drove home sunburnt, sweaty, and extremely happy.  We forced ourselves to stay up until 9 PM to get back onto a normal schedule, and then I crashed hard.


On Sunday, we drove to my in-laws’ house and picked up Henry, who had his first vacation away from both Mom and Dad. He loved hanging out with his grandma and learned two new words while we were gone – ‘cheese’ and ‘shoes!’  He also got another tooth.  Lucky grandma.  I personally only had one crying meltdown about us both being away from him, so I consider it a success all around.


We ended up driving back to Charlotte that night – all in one swoop.


He was not amused by that photo.


It was a lot, and very exhausting, but it felt so worth it when we woke up in my own bed this morning.  And – hey! – my voice has returned!  Wahoo.


Are you a tailgater? What’s your favorite part?  My favorite part is the games. I love playing beer pong, flip cup, cornhole… even if I switch to playing with water eventually. Winking smile


Our Ultimate Tailgate and this post was sponsored by General Mills.



  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun September 9, 2013, 12:29 pm

    Oh i miss tailgating so much!! My husband went to North Carolina State and I remember being out at 5:00 am to get set up for an early game with our biggest rival UNC! I would give anything to move back and relive those again. Hopefully soon!!

  • Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac September 9, 2013, 12:30 pm

    Your tailgate looks awesome!!! My boyfriend is a Miami alumni and I was showing him your instagram pics all weekend!!! Can’t wait to show him the post — he’s very jealous!!

    I’m super intrigued by your chex mix! I’ve had chocolate covered potato chips before, so I’m sure I would love it!

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats September 9, 2013, 12:37 pm

    ah I am so jealous! I LOVE tailgating but have rarely had the opportunity to do it! Guess I just better marry a big football fan/tailgater! Haha

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs September 9, 2013, 12:57 pm

    I’ve never tailgated before, but it looks like so much fun! Way to be creative with the food / power issues!

  • Sara @ Zero to Sixty September 9, 2013, 1:07 pm

    Wow that looks like so much fun! The only tailgating I can do is for Patriots games… Up North we are not big college football fans and the rest of the stadiums are in the city with like zero parking lots that are good for tailgating. It always makes me feel better when people my age are still playing beer pong! I love playing the games as well! 🙂

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed September 9, 2013, 1:33 pm

    This makes me miss Penn State so much! I haven’t been back for a game in a few years… but I have done some serious tailgating at Jimmy Buffet, Zac Brown Band, and a few other concerts! We also do some serious camping at the Philadelphia Folk Festival… it’s like tailgating for a 4 day weekend 🙂

  • Ashlee@HisnHers September 9, 2013, 1:36 pm

    I LOVE tailgating! We go to a few each year, some in town and some out of town, and always have a blast! I’m looking forward to tailgating the Dallas Cowboys game this Fall!

  • Amanda K. September 9, 2013, 1:38 pm

    my husband and i are both hokies and we LOVE a good virginia tech tailgate.
    we have a newborn right now, so it’s hard to make it to blacksburg, but i can’t wait to take our kids to a big tailgate, watch them throwing the football, and pigging out…(and hopefully celebrating a win!

  • Ali September 9, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Oh gosh, you have not lived until you go to a GB Packers game and tailgate! Amazing. Nothing like amazing chili and hot chocolate while being surrounded by the most intense fans on earth. 😀 Funny enough, I went to UTenn so you’d think I would have tailgated all through grad school but I never made one tailgate! :/

  • Kendra September 9, 2013, 1:42 pm

    So much fun!! I LOVE tailgating! Although, the last time I went I was pregnant so this year I have some catching up to do! 😉

  • Dana September 9, 2013, 1:55 pm

    I went to Virginia Tech and I live in Baltimore (Ravens), so we are def tailgaters!! My brother-in-law is from England and his family came over to the states for the holidays. We took them (including his 75 y/o grandfather) to a 100+ person Ravens tailgate when they visited. They were in awe and had so much fun. His grandfather commented that it was so nice to see people having fun at a sporting event AND that it was one of the best days he’s had in a long time!

    That chex mix sounds amazing!

  • Stacey September 9, 2013, 2:28 pm

    We love tailgating, but live in Iowa so the weather can be a problem. By November, it will be 30 degrees outside… so our group tailgates with campers. There are 3 couples who each have a camper and we park them in a horseshoe. This way when it rains, snows (it will), gets too hot or too cold we just move the party indoors 🙂 Then we camp overnight in the parking lot so no one has to drive home.
    My favorite part is walking around visiting people before the game! Love to walk through all the tailgaters.

  • Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution September 9, 2013, 3:18 pm

    I love tailgating so much! It’s my favorite fall activity. Ok, one of my favorites (along with all other fall activities, ha!)

    Did Henry get a haircut!? He looks so grown up!

  • Whitney September 9, 2013, 3:29 pm

    My brother in law is a huge Miami fan and was at the game as well! To say he was excited about the win was an understatement! 🙂

    I am extremely jealous you have been to a ManU game in England. Hubs and I have big plans to make it over and watch them play a couple of games. We have seen them in DC but obvi the atmosphere is not the same in the US!

    Glad you had a fun time! 🙂

  • Kath September 9, 2013, 3:48 pm

    It’s Duke v. UNC basketball that I grew up with! My food connection was getting peanut M&Ms with my dad! Section 2 baby : )

  • Jessica R @ FromtheKitchentotheRoad September 9, 2013, 5:18 pm

    Tailgating is big here in Wisconsin, too. I don’t think I’m hard core enough to go at 5am! That is serious stuff. Looks like you had fun!

  • Sarah September 9, 2013, 6:28 pm

    I’m a Canadian tailgater (I know this is rare!) and I got my chops on family roadtrips to South Bend, Indiana for Notre Dame games over the years. We were always the random family set up in the parking lot with our Ontario license plates, tailgating away like we were Americans. I’ve tried to explain the concept to my hockey loving Canadian friends without much luck; I don’t think it’s truly understood until it’s done, and done well. Loved your photos Caitlin. Great post and looked like a great time!

  • Angela September 9, 2013, 6:38 pm

    Yikes its chaotic enough outside Old Trafford on a match day never mind sticking a load of tailgaters in there as well! Think I’ll stick to the over priced twix bars and terrible coffee 🙂

    • Caitlin September 9, 2013, 7:01 pm

      Haha good point.

  • Liza September 9, 2013, 7:00 pm

    I was so happy that Miami beat Florida!!! I <3 tailgating. Sounds like a great weekend!

  • Stephanie September 9, 2013, 7:32 pm

    Soooo yeaaahhhh, I was tailgating and at the game too, but I don’t think I had quite as awesome a day as you guys did, considering my husband and I are die-hard Gators!! Oh well, enjoy the win, and at least tailgating was fun!

  • Mom-HTP September 9, 2013, 7:33 pm

    What an incredible journey and fun time! Can’t believe how awesome your tailgate tent system turned out. I’m in for the Chocolate-Covered Potato Chip Chex Mix…

  • Amber K September 9, 2013, 8:12 pm

    I’ve never been to one, but it looks like a blast!

  • Sarah September 9, 2013, 9:04 pm

    I am impressed! 3:30 AM is early by anyone’s standards. I went to OSU, and we think we know how to tailgate pretty hard too 🙂 Our big tailgate this year is for a night game vs. Penn State, and we watch the game AT the tailgate – TV’s and all!

  • Elizabeth @ Positive Change September 9, 2013, 9:10 pm

    I love tailgating! Brings back so many memories of college on Saturday mornings! So glad Miami won! Being a Buckeye fan I am always glad to see Florida lose! 😉

  • C. September 10, 2013, 8:56 am

    So thrilled for the canes “W”… We love the U of M a great school! Our son just graduated from med school there — received a great education! We miss goin to Miami for visiting. Think I will make this chex mix! Really enjoy your blog. Am always encouraged by you for my own workouts/runs.

  • Alice September 10, 2013, 9:31 am

    I got SO confused when you said you were doing a tailgait, because it has a totally different meaning in the UK, haha! I don’t know whether it applies in the States too, but to tailgate here means driving too close to the vehicle in front of you, which would mean if they stopped suddenly you’d probably slam into the back of them… I couldn’t imagine how that would have been fun, unless you’re looking for an adrenaline rush! 😉

  • SpaceySteph September 10, 2013, 11:43 am

    My parents met at Miami (although my mom transferred to Alabama in her Jr year) so they are big fans. Plus, basically everyone who grows up in Florida and doesn’t go to UF hates the Gators.

    That game was amazing. And the best part? Pure silence afterwards on my FB feed from all my Gator friends.

  • Alicia September 10, 2013, 1:38 pm

    Ha ha! That photo of Henry looks like the photos of my son when he’s teething!!! Have you gotten molars yet? I think that’s what we’re facing now (12.5 months).

    • Caitlin September 10, 2013, 1:49 pm

      No I don’t think so. He has four now up top and three on the bottom. So exciting. I love chompers.

  • Steph September 10, 2013, 3:46 pm

    Everyone should take tailgating seriously!!! Talk about my favorite time of year! Absolutely loved seeing y’all go all out with your canes spread! … and ps AWESOME win this past weekend!

    Tailgate Queen – game day dresses

  • Runner Girl Eats September 10, 2013, 5:01 pm

    I LOVE tailgating which is good thing considering I live in Tallahassee! I grew up in Miami loving the Canes so I was SUPER pumped when they beat UF. But in a few months I will be back on the Cane hating train 😉

  • Rachel September 13, 2013, 9:22 pm

    I’m flying back to Tallahassee for the FSU vs. Miami game in November. Looking forward to that match up and the all weekend party 🙂

  • Charise September 16, 2013, 10:30 am

    We get season tickets at our alma mater. I love tailgating so much that after getting home at 10:30 pm Friday from 24 hours of being awake traveling home from 2 weeks in Germany, we turned around and drove 4 hours Saturday morning for a full day of tailgating before a night game this weekend. That is dedication. 😉

    My favorite part is the food – we pick a theme each week and everyone brings dishes around that. This week was our annual fiesta – tacos, rice, beans, guac, seven layer dip, etc. We also do a chili cookoff, Italian, Southern/BBQ, and Oktoberfest/German themes most years.

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