By MATT CRANE
Thanks to Southern Living Magazine, Southeastern Conference Football is claiming yet another spotlight with the release of the Official SEC Tailgating Cookbook.
Filled with recipes from all 14 SEC schools, Southern Living Test Kitchen Director Rebecca Gordon said her team of football fans has thoroughly enjoyed creating the featured dishes.
"It's not every day that dreams come true, and that's what this book means to me," she said. "I'm a huge SEC football fanatic and lover of delicious eats, especially on game day."
Gordon said collaboration was key to offering readers a diverse mix of recipes and information for the current football season.
"I knew I wanted to offer some of my Southern Living favorites as well as create menus and custom recipes for each of the SEC schools," she said. "I also wanted to the book to be something the fans would really use, so you'll find all the valuable travel information for each college campus … when they visit other teams throughout the season."
Gordon has been with the magazine for 13 years and working in the test kitchen for 11 years, and said creating dishes for each issue has been a fun ride.
"Your imaginations can really go wild sometimes so it's nice to have an editorial outline to follow and a clear idea of the end result you're looking to achieve," she said. "Typically, our vices tend to inspire us so sugar and caffeine are favorites in the recipes I like to develop."
Gordon said tapping into the team's culinary memories helps develop recipes along before debuting them to the public.
"Collaboration is a key part of the process as well, so we'll give a recipe a test run and evaluate it at one of our daily taste testings," she said. "Before it's all said and done, we will have created something quite spectacular for our readers which is so rewarding."
Gordon said some of her favorite recipes from the book include: the Mississippi State Bulldog Bloody Mary, Mississippi Mud Cookies, Mississippi Mud Cake (her mother's recipe), the Lightning Fast Turtle Cupcakes and the Cowbell Deviled Eggs.
Gordon said the joy of creating a cookbook like this comes from fans' love of the entire game day experience, pairing an intense sport with good food and even relating the event's atmosphere to food.
"The SEC football atmosphere is a lot like mashed potatoes — full of heartiness and substance," she's said. "I think of tailgating as the gravy."
Mississippi Mud Cookies
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose baking mix
2/3 cup almond toffee bits
2/3 cup coarsely chopped peanuts
2/3 cup milk chocolate morsels
10 oz. vanilla caramels
2 to 3 tbsp. whipping cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk chocolate morsels, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup milk chocolate morsels
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. miniature marshmallows
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit. Microwave semisweet chocolate morsels in a small microwave-safe glass bowl at high 1 minute or until smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Beat in vanilla and melted chocolate. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; gradually add to chocolate mixture, beating until well blended. Stir in chopped pecans and 1⁄2 cup milk chocolate morsels. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Press 3 marshmallows into each portion of dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Transfer to wire racks, and cool completely (about 20 minutes).