There is no doubt that Lexi and I grew up under the Friday Night Lights. We were raised in not-such-a-small-town-anymore Frisco, Texas, just north of Dallas, and would go watch Frisco High School football games every Friday growing up – a tradition that carried throughout our high school years.
There really isn’t anything like Texas high school football, especially in a small town. The entire community comes together – from tailgating before the game, to post-victory celebrations at local restaurants, it’s one of my favorite memories of growing up. Plus, Lexi and I were both involved in one way or another during football games (hint: she was a cheerleader… and I was in.. band), so we never missed a Friday night game.
Almost synonymous with those Friday Night Lights is Ozarka – OZARKA Brand 100% Natural Spring Water, a brand with more than 100 years of Texas heritage, has always played an integral role in the fabric of Texas communities, and high school football is no different. I vividly remember chugging bottles of OZARKA when at games in the 100-degree Texas heat.
This season, OZARKA will be celebrating the three main facets of Texas high school football – community pride, homecoming and tailgating: we’ve partnered with OZARKA to bring tailgating to life and share our favorite recipes. We all know that tailgating is just as important as the game (and sometimes, more important). Also, tailgating food = the best food.
So, let’s talk about this artichoke dip with soft pretzel sticks. It’s what tailgating dreams are made of. When going to a tailgate or watch party, dips are my go-to, specifically this one, which has been in our family for years. The dip is creamy and cheesy, with a little added kick from the lemon pepper and green chiles. Soft pretzels are a classic game day treat, too, so combining the two just made sense.
The dip is so easy to throw together and can be easily transported to a tailgate. And despite what you may think, the soft pretzel sticks are easy, too. Although there’s nothing quite like warm pretzel sticks dipping into a pool of ooey, gooey cheese and artichokes – both of these are just as good at room temperature. Fair warning: this dip will disappear within minutes, so feel free to make a double batch.
Check out how OZARKA teamed up with Lockhart Smokehouse to show how Friday night football and Texas barbecue bring people together!
What are some of your favorite tailgating traditions and recipes? We'd love to hear 'em!
- 1 1/2 C warm water
- 1 packet instant or active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
- 1 Tblsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 3/4 - 4 1/4 C all-purpose flour (plus more for work surface)
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Flaky sea salt (we used Maldon)
- 9 C water
- 1/2 C baking soda
- 8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 cans quartered artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
- 1/2 C butter, softened
- 3/4 C parmesan cheese, divided
- 1.5 oz green chiles
- 1 jar freeze dried chives (0.16 oz.)
- 1 Tblsp. lemon pepper (or to taste, we normally add a little more)
- Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water, stirring for about a minute until mixed (there still might be clumps of yeast). Add in sugar and salt, stirring until both are dissolved. Slowly add 3 cups of flour - one cup at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add 3/4 C more flour until dough is no longer sticky, adding more if necessary (we never have to).
- Turn out dough onto floured surface, kneading into a ball until smooth, about 3 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut little sections of dough out and roll into a ropes that are about 3-4" long (this is totally up to you what size the sticks are).
- In a large pot, bring 9 cups of water and 1/2 cup of baking soda to boil (this is for the "bath" the pretzels take, which give them that classic soft pretzel crust). Using a slotted spoon, place the sticks into the boiling water for about 20-30 seconds (don't go longer!).
- Pour the beaten egg into a shallow dish/bowl. Place pretzel sticks in the bath, coating all sides in the egg wash. Place sticks on parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and top with flaky sea salt.
- Bake the sticks for 10 minutes. Turn on the broiler on high, and broil pretzels for up to 5 minutes - being careful not to burn them.
- Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, artichoke hearts, butter, 1/2 C of the parmesan cheese, green chiles, chives and lemon pepper, mixing until combined.
- Pour mixture into casserole dish (we used a 9" round), top with remaining parmesan cheese.
- Bake dip for 20 - 25 minutes until the top is golden and bubbly. We popped it under the broiler for a minute or two, too.
- Serve immediately with pretzel sticks, or at room temperature!
- *Soft pretzel sticks adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction
- **We only used HALF of the pretzel dough, because it made so much. The dough will freeze in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.