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It's a secret to no one that I just don't get football. Sure I can appreciate a beautiful pass, and I'm always totally impressed that my husband and daughter call every play correctly. But the thrill of the game and all the shouting at the screen, the jumping out of your seat, calling the players' names-it's all just lost on me. That's why I choose to spend football afternoons in the kitchen, making a meal during the big game. (Every game is a big game for true fans, right?)
Last Sunday, the pressure was on. We had one vegetarian in attendance and my daughter, the picky gourmet, called the menu-guacamole and chips, pigs in blankets, pulled pork sandwiches with coleslaw, baked beans, mac ‘n cheese. For the pigs in blankets, I made the classic mini dog version. (Yes, I use store-bought crescent roll dough. Last year's test of five different doughs confirmed that Pillsbury rules; you just have to close your eyes to all the ingredients you can't pronounce.) For the vegetarian, I filled the blankets with oven-roasted thick asparagus and Parmigiano Reggiano. These were surprisingly good; in fact, next time I think I'll drop the cheese and serve them with a garlicky aioli instead-yum. Now for the pulled pork, as much as we love braised-till-tender meat, I don't relish the pulling part, especially if there's more than a couple of pounds worth to pull. (Purists, stop here!) I put large chunks of meat in my standing mixer fitted with the paddle and turned it to low. In less than a minute, I had beautiful shreds of meat.
As for dessert, I've tried many things. We've had football-shaped brownies made by cutting out a sheet of brownies with the cutter formerly known as a biscuit cutter. I've made football-shaped cookies and cupcakes decorated with footballs. We even had a football cake made in an Easter egg mold. All the desserts were delicious, but none can compare to this year's discovery-the football stadium cake. I was browsing in Williams-Sonoma when the NordicWare mold caught my eye. It was so silly and so amusing, I had to buy it. Every football fan who likes to bake should have one. The recipe on the back of the mold works like a dream and the glaze is perfect-the cake tastes like everything there is to love about a perfect glazed cake doughnut. We set the cake on a field of green shredded coconut and filled the stands with mini M&M'S. A little sweetened whipped cream and a bowl of fresh berries turned the cake into a great dessert. Maybe next year we'll serve the cake with vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce instead, for my kind of Super Bowl Sundae.