The pre-season. Supposedly “meaningless” games are spent trying to impress the coaches, shaking the rust off of the joints, and players doing their goddamn best not to get hurt.
Well do you think you, the football fan, are any different? Are you ready for at least one – if not two – days spent entirely on your sofa? After a summer’s harvest of nothing but the freshest fruits and vegetables are you ready to settle in and allow yourself the unhealthy snack foods that are best enjoyed with copious amounts of booze and yelling? Can you whip-up something besides the number for Domino’s, (GOD HELP ME DO NOT TELL ME YOU ORDER DOMINO’S), that will feed you and your crew?
I doubt it.
If you go into September without at least one or two practice runs, you’re going to find yourself sad and lonely with just your box of Bugles and six-pack of Natty Light come kick-off.
We’ll work our way up to the 9-layer dips, Four Cheese Quiche with Roasted Red Pepper (good for the PST crowd since games start at brunch time), and Pumpkin Spice cookies. But for now, we’ll start with something easy that is more about assembling than it is actual cooking, because the making of a championship year does not happen overnight.
(Let this guide not only be a review for what to eat at home, but snacks that a host would like to have when you show up at their front door because your cheap ass still has not ordered NFL Sunday Ticket. Or cable. Or replaced the 13-inch TV you’ve had since college.)
Week One of Football Foodie Training Camp: Pizza Loaf, Watermelon Slushes, and Snack Review of the Week: Snyder’s New Pretzel Bit Flavor: Garlic Bread.
You will need:
1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded low-fat, part skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup – shredded parmigiano reggiano cheese (Not the stuff in the green Kraft can!)
sliced pepperoni (quantity depends on how much pepperoni you like)
1 can of Pillsbury French bread dough (I have made this with homemade dough, but this is the pre-season, and we’re not quite up to that yet. DO NOT use the pizza dough in a can, as it yields tougher crust.)
One jar of pizza sauce, or homemade sauce of your choosing
Garlic powder and dried oregano (Most of the time I prefer fresh herbs, but there are times and places where dried works better and this is one of them.)
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
Dust your clean counter top with flour. Once you’ve popped open your can of bread dough, you’ll see there is a small seam on the roll. Gently pull open that seam and unroll the dough.
Lightly brush about a tablespoon, tablespoon and half of olive oil over the dough. If you do not have a pastry brush, use your clean hands to massage the oil over the dough. (You washed your hands, didn’t you, mister?)
Cover the dough with a layer of pepperoni. (If you are like me, you might have already eaten half the pack just working towards this step. With luck, you still have enough left for this project.)
Now, I just put the pepperoni on uncooked, but the person who taught me this recipe would microwave the pepperoni between paper towels for a minute to pre-cook it and get rid of some of the excess oil. Depending on how much you drink you might want that oil, so I leave that decision up to you.
Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly over the pepperoni, followed by a little of the parmigiano reggiano. 1 1/2 cups will be more than enough, but since packages of shredded cheese come in 2 cup sizes, I will not judge if you use the whole bag.
Give a couple of shakes of the garlic powder to the top. Be sure to crush the dried oregano between your fingers before putting it on the loaf as to release the oils from the leaves. (This also makes for smaller pieces that are less likely to get caught in your teeth.)
Carefully roll the dough back up, thinner end to wider end. (When you unroll the dough, you will notice one end is wider than the other. Why this is, I do not know, but it seals the loaf better to roll from skinny to fat.)
Crimp the ends together and place on your baking sheet. (Save yourself some clean-up time later by lining your pan with either parchment paper or foil. Halftime is for worrying about why the offensive line isn’t doing a better job blocking, not dishes.) Brush with a small amount of olive oil.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The oven will get quite hot, so do not let over-eager pizza loafers sit like this for too long lest they burn their noses.
The pizza loaf should take on this golden brown color when done.
Let cool for a few minutes, then slice into 1-2 inch wide sections.
Serve with pizza sauce of your choosing. (Although I generally enjoy my slices plain.)
Anyone who knows me, knows I love slushees, Slurpees, and dream of someday having the water-only Slurpee; The Turpee.
You will need:
3+ cups cut up watermelon
1+ cup of ice
1/2 cup vodka OR water if you do not want a boozy drink. Works either way.
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
Straws (Oh shit! I forgot straws! Is there time to run up to the corner market and get straws while the pizza loaf is still in the oven and before the game starts?!?!?! DAMMIT THIS IS THE TYPE OF MISTAKE YOU CANNOT MAKE ONCE THE SEASON STARTS! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!)
Very important: ICE FIRST into the blender, then watermelon, and finally the sugar and liquid ingredients. As you can see here, I used a little extra watermelon and ice.
Blend. Do not “ice crush,” do not “liquefy,” but blend. Those higher settings will give you soup and not slushee. (You can also add more ice if you want a slushier drink after the first blending.)
Pour into glasses.
Garnish with watermelon. (Add more vodka if you like, but you’ve just put a 1/4 cup into each cup as it is and the sugar and fruit is going to make sure you feel it within minutes of the first sip. Trust me.)
And enjoy! You’re drunk before the kick-off!
New Snack Review: Synder’s Pretzel Bits: Garlic Bread
If you are anything like me, the snack food aisle is a dangerous place. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent each year developing corn, potato, and flour based items that are even better than the corn, potato, and flour based items that are already available. Come football season, I am tempted to try each one as I wander the grocery store stocking up to entertain for each week’s games.
Do you love croutons, but find that all those meddlesome vegetables and leafy green things get in the way of your crouton enjoyment? Then this is the perfect snack for you.
How good are they? They are so wonderfully glorious, I will never buy them again. Ever. Really.
It took all of my willpower not to eat the entire bag in one sitting, and with 140 calories (60 from fat), 7 grams of fat (3 of them saturated) and 160mg of salt in a 1/3 cup serving size — pictured here — they are just too dangerous to keep around the house. Buy them if you know you can share them, and by sharing, I mean there has to be at least two other people around who can prevent you from doing any real harm to yourself when you first open the bag. (You may however accidentally get scraped in the melee to get the last bits from the bottom of the bag.)
Next Week: Sweet and Salty Honey Roasted Pecans, The Wonders of Blueberri Stoli, and whatever Frito-Lay comes up with between now and then.
UPDATE – Steve/Athletic Supporter decided to try out the Pizza Loaf tonight! He said his was done within 30 minutes, so please keep an eye on your loaves people! Here are the pics he took –