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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cooking Through the Football Season – Week 2

If you’re not aware of my little personal challenge this fall, I’m cooking my way through the college football season using the Southern Living “Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook.”

The Challenge
Week 1

This week, the Aggies played Sam Houston State University.  It was televised via Pay-Per-View and we joined some of our best friends and fellow Aggies as we do several times every football season to watch the game and just spend some time in Aggie togetherness.  It always proves to be a great time when we can just enjoy being around others who have, like us, “drunk the Kool-Aid” so to speak.

Now, I’m not going to talk too much trash about Sam Houston State.  I mean, when I applied to Texas A&M, I felt like it was a long shot for me to get in and SHSU was one of my fall-backs.  Besides, their football team has made appearances in their division championship game the last several years.  You can’t just overlook a team like that.

For this game, I made a couple of things since we were going to our friends’ house.  From the Texas A&M tailgate menu, I made the Spicy Queso Dip and I also made the Nutter Butter Banana Pudding because… well… doesn’t that just sound wonderful?

I’ll give you a hint… it was! 

And, tell me, how could I break apart all these Nutter Butter cookies…

nutter butter banana pudding 4

… and not eat at least one?!?

nutter butter banana pudding 5

Shhhh.  Don’t tell!

One thing I’ve realized about myself over the years is that it is physically impossible for me to just make a recipe as written.  I mean, I have to fiddle with it… tweak it… mess around with it and make it better (in my opinion).  This was so obvious today as I made each of these recipes.  I felt bad because I thought I had challenged myself to make the recipes as they were written in the book.  However, as my husband reminded me… the Southern Living people that wrote these recipes likely didn’t attend Texas A&M.  Clearly their judgment could be called into question and it can be assumed that they are prone to mistakes based upon that fact alone.  How could it be wrong for me to correct any potential mistakes they made in the recipes and tweak them for my family’s preferences?

For instance,  for the Spicy Queso, the recipe starts out with sautéing some onion in oil.  As a good Southern woman, why would I use oil when there is always bacon grease around?  WHY?  Everything is better when cooked in bacon grease.  Period.  And with Hatch Green Chilies.  Being a good Texan, I happened to have some roasted Hatch Green Chiles on hand so I chopped up some of those and threw them in as well. 

They tested their recipe using Pepper Jack Velveeta and what I had in my fridge already was Mexican Velveeta.  Okay, no big deal.  Well, I also knew that using the whole block of it would make it too spicy for my kiddos, so I cut it in half with regular Velveeta.  And based upon my extensive experience in queso making (I am a Texan after all) and knowledge of how it can tend to seize up on you pretty quick as it cools, I added a milk/chicken stock thickened with a little flour to the recipe to try to add a soup-like component.  Sometimes, this will help it keep a liquid texture for a little longer as it cools. 

spicy queso Oh and for any of you non-Aggie SEC people who may read this, Queso isn’t Queso without Ro*Tel.


No other diced tomatoes & green chilies will do.

As written in the book it is a basic queso recipe of Velveeta and Ro*Tel with the addition of some sautéed onion and garlic and then some minced fresh cilantro at the end. Certainly easy and a must-have for any tailgate, in my opinion.

On to dessert!

I have a delicious banana pudding recipe that I usually make, so it was a stretch for me to make a different one.  I took one look at the Nutter Butter Banana Pudding recipe, saw several problems and almost reverted to my favorite recipe.  But I stuck with it and decided to just tinker with this one a bit.

1) It called for 3 eggs.  Not egg yolks.  Eggs.  I have never it my life seen a custard or pudding recipe that called for whole eggs.  It’s always egg yolks.  So that’s what I used.  3 egg yolks.

2) For the banana pudding I usually make, I roast a few bananas and add them to the pudding itself.  I mean, we are making banana pudding, not just vanilla pudding topped with some sliced bananas.   So rather than roast bananas to add to the pudding, I just mashed one of the 5 the recipe calls for and added it to the pudding at the beginning as it was cooking on the stove. 

3) The thickener it called for was flour. I much prefer to use corn starch, but I went with the flour just to give it a try.  As it was cooking, I knew it wasn’t getting thick enough (possibly because of the added banana) so instead of using more flour I added about 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and finally got it to the thickness I wanted.

The end result was actually a very good banana pudding with pretty good flavor.  As the cookbook says, the Nutter Butters just sent it over the top.

nutter butter banana pudding 1

nutter butter banana pudding 3

That’s a wrap for this week’s installment of Cooking Through the Football Season.  On to the Alabama game next week.  I have something special planned for that game.  A special SEC inspired pie that is not in the cookbook but probably should be.  Stay tuned! 

Gig ‘em and God bless the Aggies!