Saturday, September 26, 2009

Football Brownies

These brownies are perfect for any football occasion because you can customize them for whichever team you are cheering! Next time I think I'll make them specific for the razorbacks and write "Go Hogs" or maybe "Go Lynx" for my college's team (but let's be serious, when did I ever go to a Rhodes game?).

I made these brownies for the Arkansas v. Georgia game last Saturday (we won't talk about the score...depressing). I was going to make the Razorback cookies again, but on Wednesday decided I wanted to try something different. So I started my search for a football cookie cutter. I called two stores who both told me that they did not have football cookie cutters, but did have Easter egg cookie cutters. I have an Easter egg cookie cutter and knew that it DID NOT look like a football, so I said sorry I'll call somewhere else. I was about to give up hope when I called Vanness. I should have called this store in the first place because they always have what I need. Remember the fish cake I made for Ben's birthday? This is where I got the cake mold after searching and searching other stores.

These brownies are totally semi-homemade. Sandra Lee would be proud. I used box mix (dun dun dun). Two boxes of Duncan Hines to be exact. I was in a rush to buy the chocolate icing, so I grabbed a container only to later find out that what I thought said "Triple Fudge Chocolate" was actually "Triple Fudge Chocolate Chip", so those are not air bubbles in the icing, but chocolate chips! The white icing is also store bought. I will be honest, if I had unlimited amounts of time, then I would have made everything from scratch, but sometimes things just don't work out.

Since brownies tend to crumble when trying to ice them, I put the chocolate icing in the microwave for 15-20 seconds, then more or less poured the icing over the brownies and let it spill over the sides (yummy). I put the white icing in an icing bag and used a small-ish tip to make the stitch marks. These were a huge hit at the tailgate and I will definitely be making them again!

Oh and just for kicks...

This is an Easter egg. ------------------------ This is a football.*
Obviously not the same thing!


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange Salad

Oh my goodness, this meal was so good! Ben might be the best griller I know. He always does a great grilled pork tenderloin, whether it's bacon-wrapped or has an orange juice-honey-butter glaze. However, this particular night we had pork with orange salad, steamed broccoli, and homemade cornbread.

Ben got the recipe from Food Network. Well, he actually stumbled upon it when we were trying to figure out what to cook on Labor Day. The original recipe did not call for a glaze, but Ben is a big fan of them and he usually makes them up on his own.

The orange juice-honey-butter glaze is Ben's secret recipe and because I'm a nice person, I'm going to share it with you, but shhhh don't tell him. The glaze is essential to keeping the pork moist and makes the outside taste delish. Combine freshly squeezed orange juice from 2 oranges, 3 tablespoons of butter, and 3-4 tablespoons of honey - but as I'm typing this Ben is telling me that it doesn't matter how much of each, just eyeball it. Abbie, if you're reading this I'm trying to get exact measurements for you because I know how much you like to have them :)

Back to the pork. Ben grilled the pork for 30 minutes total. After initially cooking the tenderloin all the way around, he started applying the glaze with a brush at 2-3 minute increments.

The recipe calls for an orange salad to eat with the pork. This salad complements Ben's glaze quite nicely. The salad is oranges, parsley, red onions, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Very fresh.

This was my first time to make homemade cornbread (shocking, I know). But let me tell you, I will never be going back to the box mix (sorry Jiffy). Ben was also kind enough to tell me that Jiffy cornbread is "Northern" cornbread - uses sugar - whereas Southern cornbread does not. Well I can't make Northern cornbread being from the South and living in the South!

I hope everyone is so excited about the brownies that will be in my next post. But until then, I'll leave you with a hint about them: if you're a fan of football (not just Razorback football) then these will be a must-have for your next tailgate!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Homemade Pretzels

mmmmm...I can just smell the homemade pretzels. Actually what I smell right now are freshly baked brownies (don't worry, you'll get a post about them this week). But very recently I did smell and taste fresh out-of-the-oven, homemade pretzels and let me tell you, they were delicious!

I am not the biggest fan of Alton Brown (sorry Ben and those of you who love him). While watching his show, "Good Eats", I have found myself saying,"come on, Alton, get on with it. Stop these silly side shows and show me how to cook!" Some people like that though. Nonetheless, he does know what he's talking about and he is a great cook! Ben and I got the recipe for the homemade pretzels from Alton and it is definitely one we will be using again.

Most of the ingredients are things that you'll already have, so no extra trip to the store!
1 1/2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 oz. all-purpose (about 4 1/2 cups)
2 oz. melted butter
vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water

The above picture is Ben rolling out the dough. This is the hardest part, because the dough would not stay stretched out (too elastic). Ben started adding a little flour to it which seemed to work. It's supposed to be 24 inches long before you start twisting and it is easier to make the pretzel shape if you can get it that long. As you can tell, we didn't do any fancy twists in the middle, because we're just pretzel beginners (below picture). Next time, though!

We made salted pretzels and cinnamon/sugar pretzels. One tip would be to wait to put the cinnamon on until they are almost done baking, because the cinnamon did not have as much taste when we put it on before it went into the oven. Plus they look somewhat burned and that's just not very cute.

These are a great snack and if you're a fan of The Office you know that you can add just about any topping, just don't cut in line in front of Stanley.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Woo Pig Sooie!

I finally think I've perfected red icing. It took years for me to figure out how to make the icing bright red, not pink. Luckily for you, I've come to share the secret.

I made these cookies for Arkansas' first football game against Missouri State. We beat them 48-10 - not too shabby. This weekend we take on the University of Georgia in Fayetteville and a big THANK YOU to Sarah for getting us tickets, so Ben and I will be there to cheer on the Hogs!

Like many times before, I used my favorite cookie and icing recipe from this blog post. After I cut the razorbacks out and put them on the cookie sheet, I stuck them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes before baking them. This way the dough can harden a little bit so the details of the cookies show up better. I cooked them for about 6 minutes each. As soon as their little snouts started to get brown I took them out.

As I mentioned in one of my first posts, I purchased the Razorback cookie cutter from Eggshells Kitchen Co. in Little Rock. They are handmade by a man in Arkansas (pretty neat). For all of the Arkansas Razorback fans out there that have been searching for razorback cookies cutters, you can order it from Eggshells online. Here's the direct website!

Ok ok ok, I promised the secret to real red icing, so here it is. After trying all sorts of red dye, I finally stumbled upon Wilton's icing gel. This works like magic! I can't wait to use it to make Christmas cookies! I just gradually added a little bit until I got the color I wanted, which was Razorback Red, of course.*

If anyone needs any Razorback cookies made for their tailgate, just let me know, because I love making these! I also have a football helmet cookie cutter which makes HUGE cookies!


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Grilled Pizzas

I feel like I should rename this the Ben and Jennifer cooking blog, because lately Ben has been cooking more than me! One of his most recent meals was grilled pizzas, grilled lettuce and homemade pita chips with hummus.

He got the pizza recipe from Men's Health. Here's the link. We made cheese only pizzas (for me) and cheese and onions pizzas (for those that like onions), both topped with fresh basil leaves. (Tip: do not put the basil on before putting the pizzas on the grill. Grilled basil tastes very different from fresh basil...and not in a good way.)

To make the grilled lettuce, slice a head of Romaine in half and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Add some kosher salt and ground pepper. Place these on the grill for 3-5 minutes (make sure you don't burn them!) Remove them from the grill and sprinkle with feta cheese and balsamic dressing. Ben also added cherry tomatoes and sliced onions to the lettuce before serving.

To make the homemade pita chips, Ben cut pita bread into triangles and brushed them with olive oil. You can add whatever spices you want (garlic or something spicier) and bake on 400 until slightly crispy (about 9 minutes).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Football Season

When the crisp, cool fall air makes its way into the South, that means only one thing: (no, not my birthday, even though that is important and occurs in the fall)...FOOTBALL SEASON! College football is finally upon us, especially SEC football and especially especially Arkansas Razorback football!!!

Our first kickoff is this Saturday at 6pm. We play Missouri State (who?) at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock*. This game is one of two home games that the Razorbacks will play in LR, the other home games are played at Reynolds Stadium** in Fayetteville.

War Memorial Stadium

Donald W. Reynolds Stadium

Games at War Memorial are the best. Well, let me rephrase that. Tailgates at War Memorial are the best. Everyone gets up early and parks right on a golf course next to the stadium and tailgates all day. The one thing that's better than tailgating at War Memorial is beating LSU in the last 22 seconds of a game being played at War Memorial! WOOOO PIG SOOIE!

Of course, with any tailgate there's great food and that's what I'm here to talk about. I'm making my semi-famous Razorback sugar cookies :). You've seen them on the blog before, and you're going to see them again next week (hopefully new and improved)! I'll also post pictures of other foods perfect for tailgating.

*Thank you for excellent picture of War Memorial -
** Thank you for the picture of Reynolds -