My name is Thomas Lott. I am a proud husband and father of two. Two of my favorite things are football and cooking. I'm no expert in either, but I certainly like to fool around with both. I’ve been a home cook for about 10 years, and been around football since I was 4 years old. This fall, perhaps I’ll find out which one I know better! So I'll be checking in periodically to make a pick - or picks (even I'm allowed a bye week here and there!). Again, I'm no expert, so please don’t go betting the mortgage on my humble picks! From that, I’ll make a dish that has something to do with the game - who I think will win, a star/key player, or other story line. Don’t worry - I’m a home cook so it won’t be anything you can’t do - I promise. I’m still learning so most of these will come from my stash of cookbooks or another recipe floating around the internet. I won’t pawn anything off as my own or pretend there’s some super-secret family recipe that I can't share. Most of these I will probably have made before, others might be an experiment. I hope all will go well, but some may go from stovetop right to the dumpster! I'll be sharing my successes, mishaps, and maybe even a few gratuitous shots of my crew of sous chefs and tasters :-)

I'm always a work in progress, so my food won't *always* be pretty (or healthy!), but it's going to taste good--and if it doesn't I'll tell you that, too. And just so you know, it's also a mathematical certainty that I'll whiff on some of my football picks, too. The whole point is to get better at both! So I hope you keep up with me this fall as I have some fun with the kitchen and the pigskin! I welcome all comments, suggestions, requests and discussions on all things pigskin and kitchen!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Week 11 - Sticky Buns

It sure has become high drama between the #2 and #3 spots with Florida State and Oregon flip flopping each week. This is going to be a very interesting race down the stretch. The thought seems to be who is going to play Bama in the national championship, but I don’t even feel like Alabama is invincible. Not to mention they’ve got a huge target on their back and will continue to get everyone’s best game every week. While I highly doubt it will actually play out this way, the leaders of the SEC, Pac 12, Big 12, Big 10, and ACC are arguably on an undefeated trajectory. Wouldn’t that be a fitting send off for the BCS?

So game day comes early this week with the two biggest games happening Thursday night. First, we have the Oregon Ducks traveling to Stanford to take on the Cardinal. I am of the opinion that the Thursday game is always a trap game for the visiting team. I don't care what anyone says - playing on Thursday really throws off a team’s routine and can affect the entire group. So if both teams are going to be out of their element and they are somewhat evenly matched, I usually always like the home team because there is at least some semblance of normalcy for them. That being said, even though undefeated Oregon is coming off a bye, I'm going to take Stanford to knock off the Ducks. I like Oregon a lot and I LOVE Marcus Mariota, but Stanford plays a physical style that clashes with everything Oregon is trying to do. Stanford is probably the only team that Oregon will face this year that won't try to outgun them in a shootout. I don’t see Oregon putting up 50/60 points like they have been most of the season, especially on a natural surface.

Another surprise team this year has been the Baylor Bears. Art Briles has this team lighting up scoreboards everywhere. If you haven’t had a chance to see them they are really something to see. Oklahoma is very quietly a decent team, but they certainly aren’t setting the world on fire. They don’t seem to have an identity on offense and as a result, their defense is on the field A LOT. More importantly, I’ve been around long enough to know that a Stoops team on the road in prime time? No thanks. I’m taking the Bears in a big statement win.
And finally we’ve got LSU versus Bama. Alabama has had some “lighter” contests since the big win in College Station, and this will be the biggest test since. Of course Nick Saban treats the Kentuckys of the world the same way he treats the LSUs so they won't prepare for this game any differently than they have the past few contests. LSU is going to throw everything they have at them, but I just don’t think it will be enough to dethrone Alabama this Saturday. Plus I just can't justify going against Nick Saban right now! I like Bama in a close one.

And since I expect the tide to roll I think we will do some cinnamon rolls. I must be honest that I love LOVE cinnamon rolls, but am terrified of using yeast for some reason. I’ve never used it and don’t really know what I’m afraid of, but if I see yeast in a recipe, I turn the page. This particular recipe comes from Epicurious and doesn’t have yeast so I had to give it a try.

Jean's Sticky Biscuits - from Epicurious
Grease an 8 inch square pan and preheat the oven to 450.

Start out by making the glaze. Bring butter, orange juice, and light brown sugar to a boil. The original recipe calls for orange rind, but I don't care for too much of an orange-y flavor in my cinnamon rolls so I left it out. Spoon the mixture into the square pan so it completely covers the bottom and set aside.

For the biscuit dough, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Make  a well in the center.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together oil and milk and pour into the well and stir until a dough forms. Transfer the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll the dough into an 18" x 10" rectangle.

In a small mixing bowl mix the filling ingredients: brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice, and sprinkle evenly over the rectangle.
This next part is a little tricky. Because you have to stretch the dough so thin to make the 18" x 10" rectangle you really have to use gentle hands. Roll the rectangle up into an 18" log and slice into nine 2" thick biscuits. Place them cut side down into the pan on top of the glaze. You should have three rows of three.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until they've puffed and turn golden brown. Invert the pan onto a large platter and let the glaze run down. Delicious!

These were a huge hit. It's not hard for only nine rolls to disappear, but nevertheless, those of us around my house eating solid food made quick work of them. I didn't miss the orange rind one bit. Aside from the tedious spreading of the dough and rolling, they are pretty easy. And most importantly - no fooling around with any yeast! So any of you yeastaphobes like me will surely love this recipe!

Have a great week!

Jean's Sticky Buns
Courtesy of Epicurious

¼ C (half stick) butter
½ C orange juice
½ C firmly packed light brown sugar
1 Tbsp finely grated orange rind.
2 C all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ Tsp salt
¼ C vegetable oil
¾ C whole milk

¼ C firmly packed light brown sugar
½ Tsp ground cinnamon
¼ Tsp ground allspice

1) Grease an 8-inch square baking pan. In a small, heavy saucepan, bring the glaze ingredients to a boil, spoon the mixture into the prepared pan so it completely covers the bottom, and set aside.

2) Preheat the oven to 450°F.
3) To make the biscuits, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the oil and milk till well blended, pour into the well, and stir just till a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 18 x 10-inch rectangle.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together the filling ingredients, then sprinkle evenly over the rectangle. Starting from the short side, roll up the rectangle jelly-roll style into an 18-inch-long log, slice into 9 biscuits 2 inches thick, arrange the biscuits cut side down in 3 rows in the glazed pan, and bake till puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

5) Invert the pan immediately onto a large platter so the glaze runs down over the biscuits and serve hot.

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