Food & Football Week 12 2016: The U vs NCSt

My Beloved Osito,

Week 12 is upon us as The U travels to the state of North Carolina (NC) again to face off with the mr-and-mrs-wufNC State Wolfpack.  Going into the last two games of the season, knowing you don’t have a chance to play for the ACC Championship, can make you think that there is nothing to play for.  I hope this mindset is not the case as The U looks to increase their win streak to 3 games and close out the season on a high note, for a change. Realizing that we play a lot of teams from NC, and in an effort to avoid duplicating a meal, I decided on Carolina pulled pork.  It was basically my only option, given that their mascot, Mr. and Mrs Wuf was a nonstarter and I needed a break from the sweet potatoes, state veggie, trend, but I’m sure it will be back though.

Admittedly, I did not cook the “game meal” on game day, but on Sunday.  I was in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the Air Force lab overseeing testing for one of our experiments.  One of the tests was to make one of the cells in the satellite’s battery burn-up to see if the heat would spread and destroy the other cells. This is called thermal runaway and we were going to create this by drilling a screw into one of the battery cells.

The other test was called vibration (vibe) testing. In simple terms we shake the experiment very hard to see if anything breaks.  Unexpectedly during this trip, I govib-testt some parenting tips. Prior to the start of Vibe Testing, we were delayed for about 10 minutes as one of the Doctors brought his kids in to watch. I thought to myself, how cool is this…not many kids get to see things like this and I need to expose you to things like this. You may like it and you may not, but at least you will know it’s an option because I never thought I would be doing this.

Despite cooking the meal after the fact, the game meal and the actual game were both very similar.  The game started off slow, and as a purely defensive battle, as both teams were only able to score 3 points in the first half.  For the meal, it was a slow process, since low and slow is the best when cooking pulled pork. I used smoke and indirect heat on the grill.  I left the pork on the grill for a few hours as we went to church, but upon our return, things began to pick up pace.  The pace picked up for The U as well after they returned from halftime with some much needed offensive adjustments scoring 14 points in the 3rd quarter.

I picked up tpressure-cookerhe pace for the game meal by transferring it from the grill to the pressure cooker. The U completed the game by outscoring NCST 24-10 in the second half on their way to a third straight victory winning 27-13.  After removing the pork from the pressure pot and pulling it, Mami voted to have loaded baked potatoes. The meal rated out at a 7 out of 10 because the grilled (baked) potato just wasn’t the best, but the pork was really good. Next week in the regular season finale, The U hosts the Duke Blue Devils.

Meat Prep:
1. Fully unthaw pork butt and place in a large pan. Pour a bottle of beer into pan
2. With a sharp knife cut small slits (aka season pockets) all around the meat
3. Coat with olive oil, then cover and stuff season pockets with dry rub and minced garlic
4. Let marinate for at least 24 hours turning the butt over half way through the process

Dry rub:
1. In a bowl mix brown sugar, Cajun, dried onion flakes,
adobo, parsley, thyme and black pepper

Cook Prep:
1. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry
2. Lightly coat with soy sauce and add another layer of the dryer rub

Grill Prep:
1. Soak wood chips (I used cherry wood) according to packet instructions
2. Light the grill using the indirect heat method with fire on opposite side of chimney
3. Place the pan with liquid marinade under the rack where the meat will be placed

1. Place meat on grill for ~5 hours rotating the meat on all sides
2. Make sure to keep the heat going by adding coal and soaked wood chips as needed
– The flames died out a little when we went to church
3. Remove meat and cut into chunks
4. Place meat in pressure cooker with some of the liquid marinade from the pan
5. Place on high ~15mins depending on pressure cooker
– Ensure meat is done and it should easily pull apart

1. Take baking potato and cut a few slits into it and coat with olive oil
2. Place the potato in foil with a slice of butter, salt and pepper and seal completely
3. Cook until soft, turning to ensure even cooking


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”

Food & Football Week 11 2016: The U vs UVa

My Beloved Osito,

After getting back into the winners column in week 10, The U looked to start a new winning streak against the Virginia Cavaliers, UVa, on the road in Charlottesville.  UVa’s football team has been one of the worse teams in the ACC, statistically, the past decade winning 2 to 3 (2.6 average) of their 8 conference games a year.  Virginia Cavaliers NCAA Football Vs William & MaryDespite their woes, UVa has been a tricky opponent for The U winning 6 of the last 10 games.  Speaking of tricky, the game meal almost caused me to lose my mind trying to figure out a plan.  For this
meal, the mascot route was a dead end.  UVa’s mascot, a Cavalier, is a mounted horseman named CavMan and through research, I found that this was the name given to supporters of King Charles I in England’s Civil War ( in 1642.  After the mascot route, I started down the road of UVa’s nickname, Wahoos.  However, the nickname was apparently derived from the schools rally cry in the 1890s.  So, here I was, with no good leads, and game day quickly approaching.  As Mami and I laid in bed, she asked me what my plan was for the game and I told her that I had nothing but information about King Charles’ supporters and a rally cry.  As I told her about the rally cry, she looked over and calmly stated “isn’t a Wahoo a type of fish?” (it is!).  And so the game meal was set.

The game did fish-marketnot start off well at all.  After a solid defensive stand on the opening drive, on The U’s first offensive play, UVa snatched the ball out of the receiver’s hands for an interception.  It appeared that The U’s bad luck with UVa was go to continue for another year.  My luck with the game meal did not start out well either.  Living in Houston, we are close to the bay where there are a ton of fish markets.  After doing my due diligence online, I found a fish market in Kemah that I thought had exactly what I needed (  However, I was living the reality that you can’t believe everything you see on the internet.  After visiting 5 other markets in the area, with no luck, and talking to one of the owners, I realized that none of them sold Wahoo fish because it was mostly found in the Pacific and Caribbean waters.


Needing to adjust to this sudden bad fortune, I remembered that Mami was having pregnancy cravings for tuna salad so I decided to make grilled tuna.  Much like my quick adjustment, The U changed the course of the game by scoring the next 17 points of the game, but after another UVa TD, The U had a slim 3 point lead at halftime.  The U completely dominated the second half and with a 34-14 win started a 2 game winning streak.  The grilled tuna was amazing as well with a 9 out 10 rating.  This rating was despite the fact that half way through the cooking process Mami informed me that she was craving canned tuna and not fresh tuna steaks.  Next week, The U faces the Wolf Pack of North Carolina State.


  1. Take tuna and clean and cut into 2-3 in cuts of
    not done by the market
  2.  Coat the tuna in olive oil (so it will not stick on the grill) and place in the m
  3. On direct heat, cook for 3-4 minutes on each side
  • It is safe to eat under cooked tuna (like sushi), but I cooked this one thoroughly because Mami was pregnant with Deuce


  1. Add two table spoons of mayonnaise (also helps sticking) and 1 table spoon of Greek yogurt in a food processor
  2. Add minced garlic, dried onions, cajun seasoning, lemon juice and a pinch of black pepper
  3. Add a handful of lightly chopped dill and mix well
  • Note: I marinade the tuna in this mixture and I also used it as a sauce with the fish and air fryer fries (yea again)


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”


Food & Football Week 10 2016: The U vs Pitt

My Beloved Osito,

As we turn the page to week 10 of the college football season, and the first week of November, we can only hope that the football nightmare that was the month of October is behind us.  During October, we saw The U go from 4-0 and #10 in the Associated Press and Coaches Polls with Championship dreams to sitting at 4-4 with little, to no chance, of winning the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Coastal division.  However, in life and on the football field, when things get difficult and don’t go according to plan, you have to make a decision on how you will respond.  This week, we will see how The U responds at home against the Pittsburgh (Pitt) Panthers.

For us, the month of November brings back a sense of normalcy and calm.  This was the first Saturday since September that I didn’t leave home to help with our church’s Pumpkin Patch or ensure everything for the Fall Festival was going as planned.  We (you and I) spent this relaxing morning prepping the game meal as Mami got a much needed break to leave home and treat herself.


The gamemascot meal for this week was derived in a sort of roundabout way. Let me explain.  As I mentioned earlier, the mascot for Pitt is the Panthers, so that was an automatic dead end given we don’t eat cats and I am 70% sure it’s illegal to hunt cats.  So that left me with the city, Pittsburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania (PA).  PA’s capital is Philadelphia (aka Philly) and if you ask anybody what food they think of when they hear Philly, about 8.5 out of 10 will say Philly cheese steak.  So that was the plan.

The game was very refreshing as the offense was able to move the ball on the first drive to score a TD.  However, on the ensuing kickoff, Pitt returned it to tie the game and I just knew The U was in for a fight.  Like the offense, I wanted something refreshing and instead of doing a traditional Philly cheese steak sandwich, I decided on loaded Philly cheese steak fries.  I mean after the success of the air fryer in week 9 I had to put the fryer back in the game.

Much to my surprise, given the previous 4 games, The U settled in after the Pitt TD and took control of the game.  On the field, the game was full of highlights from every position as The U coasted to a 51-21 victory and maintained a winning record.  The loaded fries were also good, but I left plenty of room for improvement.  My lack of execution caused the meal to suffer.  The main mistake was not setting the air fryer to 400 degrees causing the fries to take forever to cook and become soggy.  The next issue was the cheese.  While a traditional Philly cheese steak uses provolone or cheddar cheese, which I did, I should have made a cheese sauce because the meal was dry in my opinion.  However, the ribeye was cooked amazingly and kept the rating at a decent 6 out 10.  Next week’s match up will be against the Virginia Cavaliers.

1. Take two ribeye steaks and flatten with a meat tenderizer
2. Season with Dale’s steak seasoning and a dash of Cajun seasoning
3. Grill for 3-4 min on each side


1. Slice a whole purple or white onion and a green bell pepper (mushrooms are optional)
2. Place in foil and lightly coat in olive oil and season with Cajun, Adobo and crushed garlic
3. Cook on the grill for ~10-12 min flipping halfway through the process

1. See Food & Football Week 9 2016: The U vs Notre Dame cheese-and-fries
Note: Ensure you check the temperature before cooking

What I did:
1. Took slices of provolone from the deli, cut them into smaller slices, and placed them on the hot fries
2. Covered fries with the steak and veggies and then added shredded cheddar cheese

What I should have done:
1. Take a small saucepan and place on med-high and coat with butter or cooking spray
2. Add 1/4 cup of milk and sit until bubbles start form on the edges
3. Add slices/chunks of American cheese (white or yellow) and stir until thickens (season as desired)


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”

Food & Football Week 9 2016: The U vs Notre Dame

My Beloved Osito,

Week 9 is finally here and with it brings the opportunity to snap a 3 game losing streak.  The team traveled to South Bend, Indiana this week to face the Notre Dame (ND) Fighting Irish.  There is a long history between The U and ND with its peak in the late 1980s.  While it may be enjoyable to take a look at the history of these teams facing off, especially with classics like 3rd down and 34 play (, I am not going to touch on that this year.  While the current state of each program, ND (2-5) and The U (4-3), doesn’t make for a nationally captivating game has a little to do with it, the main reason I am not talking about the history is because this game was the chosen one that fell on Halloween weekend.  While we don’t “celebrate” Halloween and I don’t take joy out of being scared or spreading fear (I will get into this on a later post), I do enjoy…ok fine, I am downplaying how much I actually LOOOOOVE devising humorous and clever costumes.  This week we temporarily put Gameday on hold, well on DVR, and went on a infamous “Hutchins’ Weekend Adventure” to Boo at the Zoo here in Houston.  Given this was the first time I had to explore the family costume spectrum, it took me some time to come up with an idea.  It also took some back and forth with your Mami because some of my ideas were immediately rejected since she was pregnant with your li
ttle brother and her bump was evident.  We settled on characters familyfrom the classic video game Super Mario Brothers.  There was a lot of juggling of which characters to choose and who should be who, but I think it came out well.
The zoo, in my opinion, was O.K. We got there a little after kickoff, 1:30CT, which meant it was hot outside (I know, it’s October…but we’re in Houston, so yea…) and all the animals were napping and hiding in the shade. Despite the fact none of the cool (ha I wasn’t even trying) animals were out, you enjoyed running around.


Let’s not forget that there was food and football this weekend.  I knew the outcome of the game since Brother P and A were texting me about it, but I still watched it with the luxury of fast forwarding.  For the game meal, I took an Irish bar staple and made Guinness Beer Battered Fish and Chips.  The game was a roller-coaster starting with The U not being able to do anything and ND doing everything they wanted on offense and defense, leading to a 20-0 deficit.  The game did turnaround, however, and the free fall of the coaster started as The U scored 27 unanswered points to take a 4th quarter lead.  That excitement came to a sudden halt as The U had the opportunity to recover a ND fumble with 2 minutes left with the game tied, but was unable to secure it.  The fish and chips were also a roller coaster ride of their own given I was using one of Mami’s “spur of the moment pregnancy purchases.” In the early weeks of being pregnant with your brother, when cravings and emotions are all over the place, she got sucked in by an infomercial for an Air Fryer and bought it instantly. So I used said fryer to cook the fries, and on top of that it was my first shot at beer battered fish.  The game ended with a score of 27-30 on a sack after ND hit a go-ahead field goal with 30 seconds left.  The air fryer “Chips” turned out amazingly and the fish was good as well.  However, I am not a fan of all the crust the beer batter creates.  I am more of a traditional flour and cornmeal kinda guy.  Overall, I gave the meal a 7 out 10 with the fries doing most of the heavy lifting.  Next week, The U is back home to face the Pittsburgh Panthers.



  1. Take a cleaned Cod fillet and cut it into manageable piecesraw
  2. Coat in olive oil and season with pepper, cajun and Italian salad dressing and marinate
  3. Batter: In a bowl, mix a Guinness Beer, egg and 1 teaspoon of baking soda
    1. Slowly add flour until it is a thickens to the point it can stick on a wooden spoon
    2. Season the batter with all-purpose seasoning and dried parsley
  4. Preheat pan fryer with corn oil and heat to ~345 degrees
  5. Coat fish in the batter and place in the oil carefully
    1. Cook ~4/6 minutes until golden brown and flip and repeat or until done


  1. Take 2 large potatoes and peel them and cut them into your desired French Fry size
  2. Rinse them and lightly coat in olive oil. Season with cajun, dried parsley and Adoboraw-fries
  3. Place in the air fryer, ensure you set the temp to 350 degrees and cook for ~12 minutes
    1. Pull the pan out of the fryer and toss fries to ensure they cook evenly
    2. Place back in the fryer and cook additional ~12 minutes or until desired crispiness

Cocktail Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, mix together, ketchup, worcestershire sauce and horseradish sauce (add more to make it spicy)
  2. Never, ever, forget the tartar sauce for Mami


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”


Food & Football Week 8 2016: The U vs VT


My Beloved Osito,

Following a week that brought great food and hard to swallow football, we turn the focus to week 8 and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech aka VT) Hokies.  Back in the day, during my peak video game playing days, VT was my favorite team to play with in NCAA football.  The primary reason was for something I like to call the “Michael Vick effect”.  He was a dynamic QB that could run and throw with accuracy and strength and make plays like no other before him.  Then, the icing on the cake, the home team, Atlanta Falcons, drafted him as the #1 overall pick in 2001 and he became a “thrill ride” in the NFL (  His career was derailed due to an ill-fated dog fighting incident.  The NFL’s response was harsh in my opinion given that players charged with crimes against humans like manslaughter, domestic violence and assault were punished less (, but wrong is wrong.  While he did come back to the NFL, things were never the same.  My apologies for another tangent, but The U’s play on the field hasn’t been something I’ve been eager to talk about lately.

This week’s game is unique in that it was played on Thursday night instead of Saturday.  I’m not a huge fan of Thursday games because work always “gets in the way” of meal prep and without a ‘bye week’ prior, I and The U had only 4 days instead 6 to get ready for game day.  For Tmascothe U, the shortened week seemed to take a huge toll as players were not physically ready with a lot of them out with injuries.  Me on the other hand, I opted for a meal that I will admittedly say lacked creativity centered on VT’s ‘Turkey like’ mascot the
“Hokie Bird”.  The U ended the second half with a manageable 9 – 16 deficit and my manageable meal was stuffed chicken breast.  The wheels fell off in the second half for The U and the final score ended up being a disheartening 37 -16 loss.  The stuffed chicken, while really delicious (assumption I made from your eagerness to have some more) I rated it a 5 out of 10, for a lack of originality.


  1. Take clean chicken breasts and cut a horizontal slit into it
  2. Season the chicken breast with Cajun, Adobo, dried parsley, and Italian salad dressing. Place in refrigerator to marinate 
  3. Sauté in olive oil. Add a pack of spinach, 5-6 oz., a quarter of a diced onion, and a
    tablespoon of garlic
  4. Open the chicken breast and insert a slice of mozzarella cheese. Add a spoonful of the spinach mixture and close the chicken breast
  5. Place on the grill until done (internal temp 160 degrees). Be careful flipping the chicken on the grill as the stuffing can fall out. If necessary, use cooking ties


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”


Food & Football Week 7 2016: The U vs UNC

My Beloved Osito,

Week 7 of the college football season is here and this week’s challenge brings the University of North Carolina (UNC).  When I was in 9th-10th grade and my hoop dreams were in full effect, I dreamed of playing basketball in the baby blue unis.  However, my 8-9 inch growth spurt never happened and my basketball handles and jump shot never quite developed like I hoped, but I digress.  UNC’s sports teams are known as the Tar Heels which is based on two things.  First, North Carolina, the Tar and Turpentine State, was known for exporting Tar and Turpentine from its pine forests used to build wooden naval battleships. The second basis for the Tar Heel name has deep rootstar-heel in the Civil War.  It was noted in a letter dated August 24, 1864 that General Robert E. Lee (commander of the, thankfully, losing Confederate forces) made the statement “God bless the Tar Heel
boys!”  This statement was made in reference to Carolina soldiers after a battle where they continued to fight despite their supporting troops fleeing.  They stood firm “as if they [had] tar on their heels.”(

However, this week’s game meal has nothing to do with tar, Civil War or battleships, but instead their mascot, Rameses the Dorset Ram.  As The U looked to bounce back into the win column, I looked to take a shot at grilling a rack of lamb for the first time.  I figured lamb was close enough to ram, and for all I know the rack of lamb I selected could have been a young ram based on what I learned from Sheep 101,

For the second week in a row, the game day meal came out with a ‘W’ while The U did not fare as well on the field.  Getting off to a slow start is not the ideal way to start a football game or grilling.  With my slow start, I was able to offset time by finishing the lamb in the oven, while The U was never able to overcome theirs.  With a 20-3 deficit at halftime, they ended up losing 20-10.  The lamb, I would rate a 7.5 out 10.  It could have used more time to marinate and I wish I could have finished it on the grill, but no sense on dwelling on the past when you can’t change it. Consider it a lesson learned because tomorrow has its own challenges.  Speaking of challenges, week 8 brings the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Hokies (¿Hokie? I know. I’ll explain).

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  1. Marinade: in a food processor add olive oil, juice from half a lime, Italian salad dressing, dried thyme, dried parsley, garlic clove, chopped onion, dried Italian seasoning, black pepper and Cajun
  2. Clean lamb rack, coat with marinade, and place in refrigerator. Preferably 24 hours, but mine was only a few hours
  3. Set up your grill for indirect heat, but first sear the lamb for ~5 minutes on both sides
  4. Place on indirect heat for ~20 minutes on the top and bottom with the rack facing the heat
  5. Place back over the heat, bone side down with the tips closer to the heat to get the blackened tips for ~8 minutes.
  6. Cook until an internal temp of ~135-140 for medium (no pink on the inside as your mom likes to say)
  7. I served with creamy mashed red potatoes


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”


Food & Football Week 6 2016: The U vs. FSU

My Beloved Osito,

It’s week 6, but this week is not like any other on the The U’s schedule because this week we play Florida State University (FSU).  Every year when the schedule is released, this is the game that every player, fan, coach and alumni circles.  I believe, for some, we could lose every game on our schedule, but if we beat FSU it was a good year.  In my admittedly biased opinion, this is the greatest rivalry in college football, but when many of the games are instant classics, and historically the winner is competing for a title, and you add that many of the players were (and will become) football legends in college and in the NFL, you can understand my bias.  As with any rivalry, the gloves come off, everything is fai
r game and honestly things can get a little petty.  Speaking of petty, this leads me toimg_4881 the game meal.  The FSU Seminoles’ mascot is Osceola (one of the Florida Seminole leaders)
and Renegade (an Appaloosa horse which is known for their spotted coats), but this meal has nothing to do with the rich Native American culture.  This meal is inspired by an incident that occurred in 2014 involving their Heisman winning (award for best player) and #1 overall NFL pick QB.  In summary, he was cited for ‘shoplifting’ crab legs from a grocery store, but according to him, the guy at the store “hooked him up” (  Be careful with the “hook up” because unless they’re the rightful owner of the store or item, it’s stealing.


With crab legs, I, with the Creole influences ever present in Houston, decided to do a Seafood Gumbo.  Seafood Gumbo has three main parts, the broth, the meat and vegetables and the roux, and ironically this game came down, in my opinion, to three main plays.  The broth is a simple concept and if poorly executed you can recover from it.  The U’s in-zone interception at the start of the third quarter flipped the momentum of the game, but it was salvageable.  The meat and vegetables in your gumbo is critical. It is the game changer.  The game changer in this game occurred in the fourth quarter when a holding penalty negated a go ahead TD run.  The last critical part of gumbo is the roux which is all about technique.  This leads me to the blocked extra point which would have tied the game with 1:38 left.  The technique was not executed properly and made for a bad kick (could have easily been my roux, but I could just start over).     Overall, it was a hard fought game and with classics like “wide-right I, II and II” and “wide-left” it’s not unimaginable that this game came down to the kicking game.  Unfortunately with a 20-19 loss we were on the wrong side of history this time.  However, the Seafood Gumbo was my best to date with a rating of 9.5 of 10.  Next week we have the North Carolina Tar Heels.



  1. Fill a pot up with w
    ater and add the shells of shrimp (I had 1.5 lbsbroth
    but the more the merrier)
  2. Then add whole carrots and the tops of celery (I had a bag of each)
  3. Add some creole seasoning and boil until the shrimp peels turn pink
  4. Strain the liquid into a larger pot saving the carrots and leave on the stove on medium heat


*I say Seafood Gumbo, but there is more than seafood. More life a Surf and Turf Gumbo

  1. Crab Legs: Take your crab leg clusters (I had 2 snow crab clusters, but again the more the merrier) and rinse them and break them at the joints and add them to your broth
  2. Andouille Sausage: Take a pack of sausage and place them on the grill (it’s still game day so the grill is involved) until done and then cut into pieces and set aside
  3. Chicken Thighs: (I used 4) take your seasoned thighs and place them on the grill for chickenabout 10 minutes each side (don’t cook through)
  4. After you take them off the grill place a cup of water and some Italian dressing into a pressure pot and finish the chicken until you can shred it with a fork (about 14 minutes on high) and set aside


  1. Using the boiled carrots from the broth, slice into pieces
  2. Chop/slice the following: celery, pack of mushrooms (do not pay extra for the pre-sliced mushrooms, do it yourself), dice a whole onion.
  3. Take the celery, onion and mushrooms and wrap them in foil adding some crushed garlic and olive oil and place them on the grill for about 10-12 minutes (you can sauté them on the stove)
  4. Take a whole bell pepper and roast it on the grill and then slice into pieces


  1. Take equal parts vegetable oil and all-purpose flour (I used 1.5 cups because I needed extra to make it thicker since I used too much
  2. Place the oil in a pan and let it heat up and then add the flour
  3. Using a wooden spoon make sure you are continuously stirring (this is the same way you make gravy. Honestly I don’t know the difference)
  4. For your gumbo you want a dark brown roux so you will need to cook/stir for about 15-20 minutes depending on your stove
  5. Add the veggies to the roux and season using Adobo and creole seasoning to taste


  1. Take the roux and veggie mixture and add it to the broth and stir until mixed
  2. Add the sausage and shredded grilled chicken and stir until mixed
  3. Shrimp: take the seasoned raw shrimp and add it to the completed gumbo and let them cook
  4. Add bay leaves and parsley flakes and simmer for at least an hour. I finished this one around 2:30 pm and since The U didn’t play until 7 pm all the flavors had plenty of time to combine
  5. Serve with rice. Your mom used her usual Dominican magic to make amazing white rice to compliment the gumbo.


Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”