Food & Football: Miami Hurricanes vs Bethune-Cookman Week 1 Pre-Game

Canes Fans! Everything you need from tailgating dishes to keys to the game for week 1’s kickoff with Bethune-Cookman


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Canes Fans!  At 12:30PM ET on Saturday the Miami Hurricanes’ football season officially starts.  The U opens the season bolstering their highest preseason ranking since my senior year (2010) at #18 in the Associated Press and Coaches Poll.  The season kicks off with a ton of optimism and buzz within the team and fans across the nation.  In week 1, the Canes will welcome Bethune-Cookman (B-CU) to Hard Rock Stadium for their annual Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) matchup.

Before we get into the Food & Football, let’s clear the air on FCS matchups.  ::steps on soapbox::  Every year there’s a select group of fans that complain about playing an FCS team and how “back in the day we played anyone, anywhere”.  Newsflash!  Almost every Power 5 team plays an FCS team.  Last year Bama played Chattanooga and Clemson played South Carolina State and then met in the CFP Championship.  They both play FCS teams this year.  And, our beloved 2001 National Championship Team (best college team ever!) played Division 1-A (now FCS) Troy State.  So, save it!  The U gets a practice game, and the FCS school gets funding for their Athletic Department which doesn’t have the revenue of Power-5 schools.  ::steps off soapbox::  Now to the good stuff, Food & Football.



The Food: 
B-CU is a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) that began as a co-ed high school in 1904, when Daytona Education and Industrial Training School (founded by Mary Bethune) merged with the Cookman Institute.  The now university, as of 2007, is located in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Their nickname is the Wildcats and their mascot goes by “Wil IMG_2568D Cat.”

Since we cannot use the mascot for “Game Meal” inspiration, like we try to do, we will have to focus on the location.  When I think of B-CU, I think of two things: attending the Florida Classic and Black College Reunion Weekend.  While you’re in Daytona Beach, like most beach towns, you’ll find a lot of seafood restaurants and because of this, having seafood at your tailgate will best represents B-CU.

The Football:
Like all FCS matchups, this is a pseudo practice game.  While the ‘W’ is virtually guaranteed by showing up, this time should be used to get better as they finally lineup against an opponent.  This is especially true for the 2s and 3s.  Expect to see them starting in the 2nd quarter as Coach Richt tries to get game experience at needed positions. While the score might not be the typical 56 or even 70 to 3, the game experience will payoff down the road.  As an added bonus, Canes fans expect to see the highly touted freshmen QB N’kosi Perry (#5) in action, even if it’s just running the option in the 4th.  Here are the 3 Things to Watch and 3 Keys to the Game:

3 Things to Watch

ahmmon1. WR Play:  With All-American, Ahmmon Richards (#82) doubtful for this game with a hamstring, this will open up reps for others.  (If he was 100% he wouldn’t have played more than a few series.)  While there is a lot of depth at WR, it hasn’t been proven on Game Day.  This will be their time to get their feet wet and adjusted to game speed.  I know everyone is eager to see freshmen Jeff Thomas (#4) and Mike Hartley (#3) aka “4.3” because of their speed.  Let’s not forget those other players that were once the big craze like Dionte Mullins (84#), or returning from an injury like the big guy, 6’ 5, 220lb, Lawrence Cager (#18).  If Cager develops, he will be vital in goal line offense given his frame and the questions at TE behind Chris Herndon (#23) to run 2-TE sets.

2. 2nd String Run Game:  The O-line took a major hit when Odogwu and Linder transferred.  While the 1st string is solid, they can’t play the whole game.  Building a quality rotation will be key these first 2 weeks.  The RBs had a similar summer with Yearby entering the draft and Edwards transferring.  Worsening the situation, The Canes waltonhad a RB flip at the last minute in recruiting and 2 of the 4 current RBs are coming off of injury.  After Mark Walton (#1), Travis Homer (#24) will need to get ready in a hurry as the backup.

3. Secondary:  The secondary is expected to be the defense’s weakest link, with two transfers at DB, and one DB that was converted to Safety and a host of 1st and 2nd year players with limited game action.  While they should be able to overwhelm B-CU off of pure talent, they need to work on the little things like communication since this will be their first game action as a unit.

3 Keys to the Game

flag1. Play to the Hurricane standard, not the competition level.

2. Work on the fundamentals. While The U will be bigger, stronger and faster than B-CU, don’t rely on athleticism. Perfect your technique.

3. Make each rep a quality rep!

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The Hurricane Standard Checklist  
◻ Beat FSU – If Miami had a 1 win season, it better be this game
◻ Beat Other Rivals on Schedule – 2017: Notre Dame and VT
◻ Win 10+ Games – Double digit wins (for most teams) starts the convo of a “good year”
◻ Win Conference Division – ACC Coastal: includes Duke, UNC, VT, GT, Pitt and UVA
◻ Win Conference Championship – ACC: vs winner of Atlantic Division
◻ Win Bowl Game – Hopefully the CFP Playoff semifinals or New Year’s Six Bowl
◻ Win National Championship – Why they play the game
◻ Undefeated Season – The icing on the cake


Food & Football: Miami Hurricanes Kickoff 2017

Whether you’re here to find new recipes, check out the family adventures, or hear my take on Miami Hurricanes Football, thank you for taking this journey with us.

Welcome to the kickoff for the 2017 edition of the “Food and Football” blog.  The 2016 football season was the blogs inaugural year and there were a lot of lessons learned on and off the field that will make this year even better.  For the new recruits to “Food and Football’, let me catch you up!  Being from the south, (Georgia), Summer does not precede Fall or Autumn. The only season that we recognize after Summer is football season.  When this season comes around, there is a perfect storm of the 3 Fs of Family, Food and Football.  This blog captures the good food and great family moments with our two sons, “Osito” and “Deuce”, as we follow my wife (Mami) and I’s alma mater, The University of Miami Hurricanes aka The U.  So whether you’re here to find new recipes, check out the family adventures, or hear my take on Miami Hurricanes Football, thank you for taking this journey with us.

The Food: 

Shttle U (close)
Space Shuttle Discovery (STS- 133) on the Launch Pad (2011)

The food is inspired by the Hurricanes’ football schedule.  Since the Air Force has moved us to Texas, we aren’t able to attend games like we did as students or at my first duty station in Cape Canaveral, FL.  With the location change and the added challenge of traveling with two kids under 2, every Saturday we bring the tailgate into our home.  The idea is to create a “Game Meal” that represents The U’s opponent that week and as we feast, hopefully, the canes are feasting on the field.  The primary influences on the meals are the opponent’s mascot, school name/nickname, or a signature dish from the location of the school, like I did for the Pitt Panthers.  However, the meal inspiration can have a petty aspect to it, but that is usually reserved for rivalry games like FSU.

Coming up with game meals last year did become challenging since a lot of the school’s mascots or names had nothing to do with food.  I found myself relying heavily on school location, which is fine, except the majority of opponents were in the state of North Carolina (App State Mountaineer, Duke Blue Devils and NC State Wolf Pack).  This limited the game meals to either sweet potatoes (state vegetable) or Carolina style BBQ.  But on the positive side, with some loose interpretation of mascots, we had the opportunity to explore some meals that aren’t a staple in our diet like lamb (UNC Tar heels), quail (FAU Owls) and tuna steaks (UVA Cavaliers).  This year, the plan is to expand the game meal inspiration to include the opponent, the home team and our family adventures.

The Family: 
Second only to my faith in Jesus, my family is everything to me.  Nothing makes me happier than spending time, sharing a meal, and watching football with them.  This could be the family I was born into, married into, or those friends that have become family.  In this blog, family serves an important role for two reasons.  First, without family you can’t have weekend adventures.  This is the perfect time for us to explore the city and surrounding areas of our current duty station, Houston.

Photo from our Maternity Shoot around Houston.

Last year we saw trips to the Houston Zoo, College Station, Tx and Miami.  This football season holds our last few months in the Houston area, and there are a few adventures we need to check off the list before leaving.  As an added bonus, this will be Deuce’s first season, so it has to be a memorable one off the field and hopefully on.  Second, without family how can the “Game Meal” be rated?  As it is on the field, so must it be in the kitchen, where there are losers and winner.  The rating is a standard 1-10 on presentation but mostly taste, but the true litmus test is when people go back for more.  My regular panel includes Mami and Osito, but special guests will show from time to time.

The Football:Sleep
While the food has been good and family is always great, the football, well, it has been
“a snooze fest” dating back to my college days.  I was going to use this time to talk about the past and everything The U hasn’t done, like play for an Conference Championship (in 14 years), beat FSU (in 8 years) or won 10+ games (in 14 years), which is a far cry from being relevant, much less a contender like in the glory days.  But no sense in crying over spilled whiskey.  Plus, if Mark Richt’s first year as HC is a sign, the future is bright and the “swag” appears to be returning.  Like with the food, the football will also receive a rating and throughout the year we will gauge the team against my predictions and the Hurricane Standard Checklist (see below).  I don’t call out individuals, because as a father, I don’t think it’s fair to criticize these kids that are playing a game.  However, I will highlight position groups, but remember football is the ultimate team sport.

                    2016 Recap: 
Last year, in my opinion, was a great start to the Richt era.  After a 4-0 start to the season,Kaden 2017.JPG the team faced some turbulence and had a 0-4 stretch that included losses against the eventual division winner, VT, and FSU.  In years past, the team would implode after facing this type of adversity, but not this team, not this coach.  They rallied and finished the season strong with a 5 game win streak capped off by the first bowl win in 10 years.  The streak and bowl victory will serve as momentum into the 2017 season and inch them closer to upholding the standard set by the Godfather of Miami football, Coach Schnellenberger, who coached Richt during his college days.  Overall, it is easy to see the potential of the canes as we saw a complete turnaround in defense from being ranked 69th under the old regime to 20th last year.  On offense, though things were slow at times, you could see the influx of young talent.

                    2017 Prediction: 
Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF), the 2017 Miami Hurricanes will have a 10-2 regular season.  I’m not a gambler but Vegas has them at 9 wins (cough cough take the over).  My process of prediction is broken down into 3 areas: internal analysis, external analysis and scheduling.

                              Internal Analysis:
The foundation for success this year will start with a defense that gives “unbelievable effort”.  The entire front 7 is returning and the staff did a great job of reloading at CB with help from the grad transfer and junior college transfers after 2 departed for the NFL.  Offensively, the story line for the entire off season has been who will be the quarterback.  While everyone knows the QB position is important, it has been proven in college football that you can win with just a “game manager” as long as you have a strong run game and defense, see Alabama Crimson Tide.  These are two things the Canes should have and then you add in the talented WRs and you have the making of a solid team.  However, if you don’t have a solid O-Line, it wouldn’t matter if you had Peyton Manning at QB.  Over the past few years, poor blocking resulting in limited time for the QB and no space to run has plagued the Canes.  The consistent play of the O-line will determine how far The U goes this year regardless of which of the 4 candidates win the starting job.

Don’t sleep on the Canes

     External analysis: 
Once the schedule is released, I will break it down into the following sections: Should Win, Toss Up and Probably Lose.

Should Win:  This section is comprised of your annual cupcake game, non-Power 5 teams, and teams that have been struggling lately or doesn’t match up well against the Canes.  There are 7 teams that fit this category, Bethune-Cookman, Arkansas State, Toledo, Duke, GT, Syracuse and UVA. While we should win these games, any given Saturday, if you don’t bring it you will take an L.  GT can be tricky with their triple option especially if they get a QB that can throw.

Toss Up:  This section is mostly filled with rivalry games, but there are some wild cards that can go in this section.  In rivalry games, records don’t matter and one inch or the bounce of the ball can be the difference.  This year, I see 5 toss up games, FSU, VT, UNC, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh.  While FSU is a given, there may be some “side eye” on the other 4 games.  Three of them, UNC, ND and VT, will be breaking in new QBs and Pitt hasn’t had much of an offense. However, VT always has a solid defense and between them and UNC, the Canes have found a way to lose to at least one of them.  ND had a terrible 4-8 season last year, but I expect them to be much better with their HC on the hot seat.  By the way, one of their 4 wins was against the Canes.  I will explain the Pitt game during the scheduling section.Schedule

Scheduling:  The U’s schedule is very favorable and most of the key games are late in the year which bodes well for breaking in a new QB.  The exception is a week 3 match up in Tallahassee (Talla-trash-see) vs FSU.  Note that FSU will be one week removed from playing Bama in week 1 so there could be some hangover from that depending the outcome.  Looking at the other toss-up games, ND and VT are at home. They are on the road at UNC, but they will be coming off a tough trip to VT.  The “at” Pittsburgh game in late November will be intriguing if the cold weather plays a role.

When it’s all said and done, I see the Hurricanes checking off the following from the Standard Checklist: 10+ wins, beat other rivals, win division, and win bowl game.  The wild card is beating FSU. If they win in week 3 the Canes will take a higher trajectory for the season, but if not they may get another shot in the ACC championship.  This means winning the ACC can get checked off and keep in mind it’s hard to beat a team twice.  But if everyone stays healthy and solid QB play after being eased into college football the first half of the season, the sky is the limit.

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   The Hurricane Standard Checklist  
◻ Beat FSU – If Miami had a 1 win season, it better be this game
◻ Beat Other Rivals on Schedule – 2017: Notre Dame and VT
◻ Win 10+ Games – Double digit wins (for most teams) starts the convo of a “good year”
◻ Win Conference Division – ACC Coastal: includes Duke, UNC, VT, GT, Pitt and UVA
◻ Win Conference Championship – ACC: vs winner of Atlantic Division
◻ Win Bowl Game – Hopefully the CFP Playoff semifinals or New Year’s Six Bowl
◻ Win National Championship – Why they play the game
◻ Undefeated Season – The icing on the cake

U at night

Food & Football Bowl Week 14 2016: The U vs West Virginia

My Beloved Osito,

After a month long hiatus from Miami football, The U is back in action for bowl season.  This time of year is bittersweet for all college football fans.  While you get a month of nonstop action with some intriguing match ups across conferences and the College Football Playoffs, it signals the end.  The U’s final game will take place at the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando against an old foe from their Big East days, the West Virginia Mountaineers.  Just like the The U, we also spent the end of our “season” in Florida.  We traveled to Miami to be with your grandmother (Wella) and Aunt (Titi) and the rest of Mami’s family for the holidays.

The game meal for this match up, honestly, had nothing to do with the game.  Partly because their mascot, a Mountaineer, and the state aka the Mountain State, did not intrigue me to explore food possibilities.  However, the main reason was because your Jonathan KimbleTiti made a request.  With that request, Chicken and Waffles were on the menu and a brunch style game meal felt right being in Miami.

The U came into the game on a 4 game win streak and it felt like they were intent on earning their first bowl win in 10 years.  Sadly, I was a freshman the last time The U won a bowl game.  For us, game day began with a Miami style “Weekend Adventure” to South Beach for your Wella’s birthday.  The game was on a Wednesday, but it falls under the theme.

To start the game, there were some good and bad moments.  The bad revolved around the offense’s inability to do anything and they were out of sync in every aspect going Brunch pose“3 and out” on most of their drives.  However, the good part was an impressive defensive effort, despite no help from the offense.  They were able to hold a high powered offense, ~490 yards and 31 points a game, to 7 in the half.  The adventure started with brunch at the “Local House”, picked by Mami.  It was a really nice and intimate spot, but sitting intimately with an 18 month child that wants to touch everything makes for an adventure in itself (looking at you).  Despite having to remove utensils, cups and the flower center piece out of your reach and you trying to throw your toys into Titi’s coffee, you embraced the Miami brunch life effortlessly.

Bike view BayThings finally turned around for the offense when they exploded for 21 straight points with 6:30 left in the 2nd quarter.  The U went into the half leading 21 to 7.  Following brunch, we made our way to the beach through the breathtaking South Pointe Park.  Watching you on the beach for the first time was, well, hilariously memorable.  Initially, you refused to put your feet in the sand, but by the end you didn’t want leave.  Add in cruising around in your ‘Smartrike’ bike and running through the splash pad to remove the sand and you have the making of an epic weekend adventure.

Splash Pad 1

The second half of the game was pure bliss.  The U was able to dominate in all three phases of the game and cruised to a 31 to 14 win.  While the victory was very nice and The U finally ended the season on a high note, the victory meant a great deal more to the future of the program.  For the first time in a long time, it feels like “The U is Back!” (::inhales::) Let me not get ahead of myself, this game showed that there is a real possibility that The U is on the right track to being relevant in the ACC and on the national stage for years to come.  Much like the game, the weekend adventure ended on a high note with a game meal that rates a 7 out 10 and this time there were more judges.  It wasn’t higher because I couldn’t get YOU to eat the waffle, instead you would put it in your mouth and then throw it on the floor.  My guess was because it didn’t have syrup on it.

Waffle on the floor

This marks the end of the 2017 season of “Food & Football”.  This year’s season we saw 4 Facesthe good, the bad and the ugly both on and off the field and it showed.  From teeth getting knocked out and win streaks (on the field) to weekend adventures, quality family time and good and not so good food (off the field).  Next year we’ll be praying and working towards better things on but most importantly off the field.  The countdown begins to September 2018.

1. While holding a shifter over a large bowl, add 2 cups of flour, 1 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder, ½ tsp baking soda, 3 tablespoon (TBS) sugar and another cup of flour on top.
2. In another bowl melt 2 oz (= 4 TBS = 1/2 stick) of butter and mix together 15 oz of milk or buttermilk, 3 eggs and splash of vanilla.
3. Pour the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and mix slightly. (I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I pour the liquid in so I don’t make a bigger mess with the flour lest your Mami chop my head off).
4. Let the batter set for ~5 min and then spoon/pour into a hot waffle iron. Cover with nonstick spray if needed, and cook for specified time.

1. Take washed chicken wings and/or breast and cut the breast in half and (if desired) the drumette from the flat. I’m not sure if those are official terms, but that’s what I’ve always heard
2. Marinate in Italian salad dressing, Cajun seasoning, Adobo and a little pepper. The longer the better.
3. Preheat oil to 400 degrees in a skillet. I use an electric skillet and take it outside. (The first time Mami made me, but now I do it because I prefer to not have the house wreak of fried food smell for days.
4. Take two bowls and add flour, Cajun seasoning and dried parsley to one and in the other bowl add an egg, a splash of milk, and hot sauce.
5. Take the chicken and dredge it in the flour and then in the egg mixture, then back in the flour.
6. When you have a few place them in the oil until cooked thoroughly and golden.

Bike Trick

Love you to “Infinity…and Beyond”

Food & Football Week 13 2016: The U vs Duke

My Beloved Osito,

It’s week 13 and with this being the last game of the regular season, we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel of the 2016 NCAA Football season.  The grand finale will be a match up against the Duke Blue Devils in Durham, North Carolina.  This is an intmiracleriguing game solely based on how last year’s game ended with the “miracle“. It was a crazy last second play that ended with some officiating controversy.  The wildest thing about this game was not the play, but the backlash from the media after the game.  Many across the country were calling for The U to forfeit the game or for the ACC to give the win to Duke.  Anyone who has played sports or been around sports knows that you can’t focus on one play or call and ignore all the other calls throughout the game.  The U isn’t the first team to win (or lose) on a controversial call, yet this is the first time I’ve seen the ‘mob’ calling for a team to void a win.  It just feeds the narrative that the NCAA and the media is not very fond of The U, but I digress.

For the game meal, I explored a few options. The first was the “Devil” aspect of Duke’s mascotmascot named after the French soldiers of WWI, “Les Diables Bleus”.  This led me to explore devil’s food cake or maybe even loaded deviled eggs, but that didn’t intrigue me.  I reverted back to the state vegetable of North Carolina, the good ole sweet potato.  The game was right after Thanksgiving and everyone was shifting into the Christmas mood and I was craving a homemade pie.  It was a perfect match because I really wanted a sweet potato pie like I used to have at your great grandmother’s during the holidays.  The icing on the cake, or pie if you will, was that we also had a Weekend Adventure planned to Santa’s Wonderland in College Station, TX.

The game, with all the intrigue leading up to kickoff, was basic fundamental football.  You could tell The U had no intentions of putting the game in the hands of the referees again and took care of business.  Despite a very tight game in the first half, 16 -14 UM, The U ran away with it in the 3rd  quarter which gave more playing time to 2nd and 3rd string players in the last quarter.

The pie was very basic in execution as well.  I thought it was a complicated endkaden-patatoeeavor, but after talking with my mom, it is a simple dessert to make.  The game ended with a score of 40 to 21 and the U closed the regular season on a 4 game win streak.  The pie, coupled with all the nostalgia, ranked an 8 of 10 for me and it was Mami’s first time having sweet potato pie.  Next time I make a sweet potato pie, there will be a few tweaks I would like to make to enhance the experience.  For example, making the crust from scratch and adding a crunchy element of some type on top. But overall, this one was really good.  The U’s next game is a few weeks away as we wait for the start of the “College Football Bowl Season”.



1.  Take two sweet potatoes and place them in the oven at 350 degrees until the peel starts to blacken and pull away from the flesh of the potatocooked-patatoe

2.  After the potatoes cool, peel and place in a mixing bowl

3.  Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg

4.  In a separate bowl, mix a cup of milk, two eggs, melted butter, and vanilla

5.  With the mixer on, slowly add liquid mixture into the potatoes and mix thoroughly

6.  Add mixture into the pie crust and sprinkle the top with a little cinnamon


7.  Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for ~30 min or until filling is set and the crust is brown

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”


Dad vs GM: Why I will never buy GM again

My Beloved Osito,

High school, in Dr. H’s marketing class, is where my love for business started.  It even led me to become the President of our school’s Distributive Education Clubs of001 America (DECA) chapter.   During this time, I learned the philosophies of how to treat customers and the importance of establishing repeat customers.  I would even say I had a great comprehension of these and other business lessons given I made it to multiple National
DECA competitions, winning region and state, and then graduated from one of the top business schools at The U ( Because of this, I was completely blindsided when GM not only refused to remedy an issue they caused, but made it extremely disheartening to be a customer.  Since I don’t believe in blind following let me explain what happened.

March 2015:  The Letter                        
While everything started in 2013, the best place to begin this story is in the middle.  It was like any other day, I had just gotten home from work and your mom went to check the mailbox.  As she came into the house, among all the junk mail, she noticed I had mail from GM.  She admits she almost threw it in the trash, but something told her to give it to me.  I don’t fault her for almost throwing it away because the letter looked eerily identical to junk mail asking to buy your car because there is a shortage.  While I sat next to her feeling you kick in her stomach (she was 6 months pregnant with you), I read that my ‘08 Chevy (Road Warrior) could experience a loss of 3rd, 5th and reverse gears due to a faulty wave plate in the transmission. The letter also stated that GM would reimburse customers if you have already paid for “REPAIRS” if they submitted a claim ( ).  I was excited and angry upon reading this.  Excited because I knew I had paid for two repairs that fit this description and angry because it opened up an old wound that I thought was healed.  Now, let’s go to the beginning.

June 2013:  The Beginning    
It was a sunny and breezy Friday evening after work in Cape Canaveral, Florida that I remember vividly.  I was driving over the Banana River on HWY 404 headed to Patrick AFB to meet up with your Godfather at the Officers Club to….um… network! Yes, yes, network…over a few beverages.  As I was driving, I felt my car jerk and skip.  I immediately thought I hit something in the road, but when I pressed the gas the car revved without accelerating.  At that point, I knew my transmission was done.  After the long tow truck wait and the long ride to the dealership, I spent the next 6 days in a rental car and bombing rides waiting on Road Warrior to be fixed.  During that time I was also wondering how much this was going to set me back financially.  I had only been in the Air Force for ~2 years and aSAMSUNGfter buying furniture to be a real adult I did not have enough time to create a significant ‘Rainy Day’ fund.  According to the GM report the “engine will not accelerate.  Engine revs and transmission is slipping.  Internal transmission failure” and they “remove[d] and overhaul[ed] transmission”.  It set me back pretty hard, but since I kept up with all my routine maintenance and now had a warranty on my transmission, I thought I was in the clear for a while, but then..

September 2013:  You Took Everything      
Yes, you read that correctly, three months later I found myself in a similar (no no no) the same exact situation, but worse.  Oddly, your Godfather was involved and like before it was on a Friday evening.  It was a calm, cool evening after work and we were making the 2.5 hour drive to Miami to complete the second half of our 2 week ACC vs SEC College Football extravaganza.  The previous week, we road tripped to Clemson, SC, Death Valley, and watched his Tigers take down the University of Ga. and now we were on our way to see The U take on the University of FL which marks the start of Food and Football. (

We made it to Miami and were literally pulling into Abuela’s driveway when I felt that oh so familiar jerk and skip.  Immediately, I knew what was wrong and was beyond upset because I needed Road Warrior to execute the weekend agenda, but I knew it was covered under warranty so I wasn’t stressing.  Thanks to Abuela and Mami for using their cars, we had a great weekend, but after another tow, Road Warrior was back at the dealership, this time in Miami. Talking with the GM rep, Mr. Erickson, I was ensured that if it was the same issue (and I was positive it was) the work would be covered, but they had to look at the transmission first.  A day later I got the call and like a punch to the stomach, the rep told me that it was a different issue and the repair was 1.25 times greater than the first repair.  Knowing that my ‘Rainy Day’ fund was had just taken a devastating hit 3 months earlier, I was stressing trying to figure out how to pay for this repair.  My only realistic choice, without borrowing money, was to withdraw money from my retirement IRA (it is never too early to start planning for that) and deal with the tax penalty during tax season.

Your Godfather and I were able to make it back to Cape Canaveral with a friend I knew from college that was also heading North after attending the UM vs UF game as well.  While Road Warrior spent the week in Miami; for me, it was another 9 days in a rental car and bombing rides.  Back in Miami the following week, the GM report from the dealer stated that the “transmission will not accelerate. Revs and sounds like slipping with an internal transmission fault” and they “remove[d] and rebuilt the transmission”.  Now I am not a mechanic nor did I major in English, but these descriptions are basically identical with the use of a few synonyms.  It felt like the Miami dealership took the report from the Cocoa dealership and scrolled through a synonyms list to edit the report to avoid plagiarism.  Needless to say, I was beyond upset, but I felt like there was nothing I could do.  The dealership said it was different, so despite the reports being basically identical, it was different and my money was gone.  Now that you understand why I had the mixed emotions on receiving the letter let’s go back to the present.

April 2016:  Put the Plan in Motion     
After hunting down proof of payment by contacting the Miami dealership and searching through years of bank statements online, I had everything required to submit the claim.  I started the process with the local dealership in Houston since we had changed duty stations in this time frame.  I submitted the claim for both repairs, but the dealership stated that the report for the June (Cocoa) repair was not detailed enough (mind you, I didn’t write it, the Cocoa dealership did and they could have contacted them to clarify) and suggested that I should work this issue through GM’s Reimbursement Office.  Looking back, I should have got this in writing, but the GM rep, Rodriguez, stated that it shouldn’t be an issue because the repairs look identical and was surprised I had to pay for them both.  After submitting the claim for the September repair, I contacted the GM reimbursement department and opened a case.

May 2015: Patience is a Virtue
In accordance with the department’s instructions, I mailed all the required claim documentation for the June (Cocoa) repair and then anxiously awaited the 10 weeks noted in their letter  for them to respond.  There was good news during this time period which was that the September (Miami) repair was reimbursed.  It was very timely given you would be here next month and we were still missing things needed for your arrival.

July 2015: It’s Over, When I Say It’s Over
After the wait period, I called the reimbursement department to get an update on my claim.  I was given a case manager to assist me in the process, but no assistance was given.  Every time I called, one of two things would happen.  First, I would get the voicemail and have to leave a message.  It was upsetting because the voicemail would state that my phone call would be returned in 24 hours, but that never happen.  Second, I would call and get directed to another case manager who would make me explain the whole situation only for them to say they can’t help me because, you guessed it, they aren’t assigned to my case.  I felt like they were trying to wear me down for me to just give up, but despite the fact I would have to leave my office every time I called, I kept at it.  This phone tag game lasted for about a week and then I finally heard from the case manager in a voicemail (I have zero cell phone signal in my office).  To my dismay, the voicemail was not the news I was hoping for.  I was told that “It is only one reimbursement per code, so unfortunately the second reimbursement cannot be reimbursed for”.  Followed by, “if I had any questions I should contact the dealership in Florida”.  Obviously I was blindsided by this statement because nowhere in the official GM notice did it state that they would only reimburse one repair, in fact it said repair[S] (Language Arts 101: the “S” makes it plural which means more than one) and never mentioned anything about a “code”.  I called back immediately to get a detailed explanation, but I was never able to contact the case manager again.  I attempted to elevate the issue, but I was told that I had to work through my case manager whom nobody could locate.  I honestly thought the situation was over and I was just out of luck. I thought it was over, not because the issue was resolved, but rather because GM decided it was over, but then…

Aug 2015: Time for Counsel     
During a routine conversation with Brother A, I told him the story and how GM just ceased all communication with me the month prior without a real resolution.  He switched out of his friend hat and put on his lawyer hat and informed me that I had a good case if I wanted to pursue a resolution through the legal system.  I quickly jumped on the opportunity to get a real resolution and now that I had someone in my corner, I was ready to fight.  Not only for the reimbursement, but to get closure on the wound that was opened in 2013 and the feelings of being ignored, bullied and ran in circles by GM.  However, things got worse…

September 2015:  The Demand    
Over the next month, when we could both find time, we (well Brother A, I just fed him information and drafts and he put his lawyer spin on them and made thdemand-letterem official) worked on our approach.  The first step was a demand letter.  In summary, the letter stated that his client (that would be me ) was wronged and GM was legally obligated to reimburse for the second repair based on the contract established in their letter.  In closing, it stated that if GM did not respond, that legal action would be taken promptly.
After sending the letter to GM the waiting game commenced again.

October 2015: The Counter Punch
Shortly after the demand was sent, we got a response from GM.  I know I have been caught off guard throughout this whole story, but this one took the award for best blindside.  The response from GM’s legal department stated that they had reviewed all the supporting documentation and came to the following conclusion.  First, I would not be reimbursed for the June (Cocoa) repair and second, I should not have been reimbursed for the September (Miami) repair.  The rationale behind this claim was that it did not meet the requirements in their “Special Coverage” policy.  When Brother A asked about this ‘so called’ special policy, we were directed to read the letter they mailed me in March 2015 that started this whole process.

November 2015 – April 2016: Trust the Process 
Given that their response did not resolve the issue, but in fact made it more mystifying, we stayed true to our word and started the process to take legal action.  Trying to feel my way around the Texas court system was not a fun experience.  In fact, multiple times I wonder if this was worth
the time and effort going back and forth to the court house.  Filling out all the court forms was a mission and left me in the middle relaying information between the court and Brother A and at times required me to just give my phone to the clerk and let them just talk.  One thing I did learn, being in the system is not where you want to be even if you are on the right side of the law.

May 2016:  small-claimsYou Got Served
After months of treading water and fighting waves, I had everything to file a small claim lawsuit.  As I walked into the post office to mail the citation, a feeling of excitement and nervousness covered me.  This was such a surreal moment for me.  Like most, I have made off the cuff comments like “yea you do that and I’ll sue you”, but I never thought I would actually be in a situation where I was actually suing someone.  This story that has spanned
3 years was now in motion to officially be concluded for good or for bad.

June 2016: A Step in the Right Direction
Per the court, GM had 15 days to “answer” the citation.  While I didn’t really know what would happen if they didn’t “answer” (I assume the court would rule in my favor), part of me hoped this fell through GM’s cracks and this would be over.  However, a few days prior to the ‘answer’ deadline, I got a call from GM legal just like Brother A predicted.  They explained that they wanted to settle the issue without submitting an ‘answer’.  I’ll admit I was excited when I heard this. Not so much for the money, but that this journey was over.  In summary, their settlement was to refund me for the repair.  This would have been great a year ago when I first submitted the claim, but now, now it’s just not enough.  I tried to meet GM halfway for the sake of a resolution.  In addition to the repair cost, all I asked for was court costs and attorney fees.  I took this offer to cover the repair as them admitting to being wrong since they had adamantly said NO over the years, I would expect them to stand their ground unless something had changed?  I know you’re thinking “attorney fees? but that’s Brother A, didn’t he do this for you for free?”!  Yes, attorney fees, I don’t believe in the “friend” hookup because if you believe in your friend’s skills and abilities and happen to need them one day, you should be their best full paying customer, but that’s a story for another day, so I digress.  The rep had to call me back because they needed approval to accept the new conditions.  The call back was prompt and as I listened I quickly realized that this journey was far from over.  I was told that “GM would only pay for the repair and it was against their policy to pay for fees and damages”.  I will admit that the rep seemed sincerely sorry and stated the obvious, that I did not have to accept the offer and that they would submit an answer and that was exactly what happened.  So the story goes on…

July – October 2016:  Lost in the System
After receiving the ‘answer’, the long wait for a “speedy trial” began.  I was honestly disappointed in reading their answer because it basically said nothing.  We sent a 6 page citation with exhibits detailing the entire story and their ‘answer’ was 3 sentences that stated GM wants to settle, but since they are offering less than what I asked for in the citation they request a court date.  Over the next several months, I contacted the court house fairly regularly to get an update.  I was told I would not go to court earlier than 6 months from when the ‘answer’ was submitted which put a resolution possibly in January 2017.  My biggest fear was that I would get a court date after we moved to our next duty station and I would have to fly back to deal with this.  This was only second to me losing, which is a possibility.

November 2016: Light at the end of the Tunnel 
On one of my random visits to the courthouse, I would get better service in person than over the phone. I was told that due to the low cost of my claim I would probably be given court appointed mediation.  True to the clerk’s word, within the week, I received a notice in the mail to contact a local mediator over the next 10 days to schedule a date within the month.  Thinking to myself that the end is near, I quickly tried to contact the mediator.  After a few days of calling, I finally got an answer.  Per the mediator’s request, I supplied dates over the next month that I could meet.  Between work, traveling for work, and the Christmas holidays, I only had 5 free days.  The mediator took my openings and contacted GM for their availability.  I was a little upset assuming GM got the same notice I did and wondered why the mediator had to hound GM for their availability when we were told to do the contacting.  The next day I heard back from the mediator and true to form, GM did not accommodate any of the 5 days I provided.  They only submitted 2 days during that period.  Annoyed and reluctant, I moved things around to accommodate GM’s date.  The mediator gave me the option to delay, but this would have put the appointment in Jan 2017 and if mediation doesn’t work I assume we would be back on the courts waitlist.  Being back on that wait list rebirths the risk that we would move before this is over.

December 2016:  The Last Chapter or Just Another Chapter    
Preparation for mediation has been very nerve wrecking and unsettling given I’m in uncharted territory.  I have been playing out different scenarios in my head and how I would respond to each aspect of the case.  I’ve prepared a cost summary to justify every dime I’ve asked for and it has even got to the point where I am debating my wardrobe.  If one of my days had been selected, my plan was to go in business attire, suit and tie.  I was trying to avoid wearing my Air Force uniform to avoid appearing as if I was looking for the sympathy card because I served in the military.  I don’t believe I am owemediationd anything for choosing to serve, not even a “thank you.” However, now that I will be going to mediation during the work day and have to return to work right after, I have no choice.  But as Mami explained it, “you’re taking time from your job to deal with this mess that was handed to you, meaning you don’t have time to go home and play dress up to ensure that your uniform does not present an unintended bias.” Outside of cost summaries, wardrobe debates, and running scenarios, my mediation prep has also birthed this post.  I felt it best to capture my emotions throughout this 3 year
roller coaster for the mediation and I also wanted to share it with you so you’ll know why I’ll never buy from GM again.  This journey started when Mami was 6 months pregnant with you and you’re now a year and half. Hopefully by the end of the year this will be resolved and I will have a happy ending to share, but until then I will continue to fight for what is mine.


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”