Friday, December 18, 2009

Upcoming events

Friday Dec. 18

Friday Night is Family Night
Aerospace Education Center
Show time varies.

Get free museum entry, a small popcorn and coke with each movie ticket purchase at our special family night price of $5.75 per ticket!

Cost: Free museum admission $5.75 per ticket for movie
Contact: For more information, call 501-376-4629 or visit

Saturday Dec. 19

A Huntin' We Will Go
10-11:30am at Pinnacle Mountain Rocky Valley Trailhead

Dress in camouflage! Join a park interpreter as we hunt with our eyes for some very special park animals. Be prepared to hike off trail and bring some water or hot chocolate.

Cost: Free!
Address: Pinnacle Mountain State Park
11901 Pinnacle Valley Road
Little Rock, AR 72223
Contact: (501) 868-5806

Caroling in the Forest
7-8:30pm at Pinnacle Mountain

We’ll meet at the Kingfisher Trailhead and stroll into the forest to sing your favorite holiday carols along a paved path. Wear warm clothes and bring a flashlight and your best singing voice. Visit with everybody afterwards as we serve hot chocolate around a campfire at the pavilion.

Cost: FREE!
Address: 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road
Little Rock, AR 72223
Contact: Ph: (501) 868-5806

Sunday Dec. 20

Winter Wandering Hike
1-4pm at Pinnacle Mountain (meet at Visitor's Center)

Celebrate the arrival of winter and explore the park on this guided off-trail hike. Meet the park interpreter at the visitor center to begin. Wear layered clothing and sturdy shoes. This is a great opportunity for families to enjoy an outdoor challenge together.
Cost: Free!
Address: 11901 Pinnacle Valley Road
Little Rock, AR 72223
Contact: (501) 868-5806

Monday Dec. 21

Snakes Program
9-9:30am at Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Meet a park interpreter to delve into the fascinating world of snakes. What snakes would you expect to inhabit the park? See if you can figure out what each one is.

Cost: FREE!
Address:Pinnacle Mountain State Park
11901 Pinnacle Valley Road
Little Rock, AR 72223
Contact: (501) 868-5806


December 17, 2009 - January 3, 2010

41st Collectors Show & Sale
Arkansas Arts Center

An Arkansas Arts Center tradition, this exhibition brings a taste of the New York gallery scene to Little Rock, presenting a variety of works on paper from more than 20 galleries.
Contact: For more information, call 501-372-4000, e-mail or visit

December 17, 2009 - March 31, 2010
"Backyard Science"
Museum of Discovery

Schools, youth groups, and other organizations interested in group reservations should call Beth Nelsen at 501-396-7061 for more information.

Admission fees to the Museum of Discovery are $7.00 for children 1-12, $8.00 for adults and $7.00 for adults 65 and older. Annual memberships are available for as low as $45.00.

For more information on the Museum of Discovery, visit

Friday, December 11, 2009

If I am MIA...

My laptop has decided to expire. Pieces of the plastic are literally disintegrating inside it. Buttons are popping off like mad. The screen flashes random colors and the keyboard stopped working, but never fear, I will still be blogging. On a much older and slower computer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

CLOSED-Southern Tailgating Expert Interview and Prize Pack Giveaway-ends 12/8

I had the opportunity to interview Bryan Foods Expert and Southern Tailgating Specialist, Chef Catherine DeOrio. Bryan Foods carries many grilling and cooking favorites such as Smoked Sausage and Cocktail Smokies. My kids especially like Pigs In A Blanket, which I will share a recipe for following the interview! Also, In the Rock is giving away a Tailgating Prize Pack at the end of this post!

Interview with Chef Catherine:

I read that you were an attorney prior to becoming a chef. That is a huge leap. What made you decided to change careers?

Yes, I was an attorney, but I was always feeding my office, trading recipes with colleagues and throwing elaborate parties on the weekends. The running question from fellow attorneys at the courthouse was “when are you going to quit the law and start catering so we can hire you?!” I was actually called by a producer from The Oprah Show because someone had submitted me as a real-life Martha Stewart and they were considering using me in a show. The episode was reconcepted, but it made me consider whether I was in the right career. I realized I much preferred feeding people to fighting with them! Needless to say, I enrolled in culinary school a few months later and never looked back!

How long have you been a chef?

I’ve been a trained chef for about 4 years, but I have been cooking since I was a child. I always joke that my nana didn’t care if I learned to read or write, but I needed to learn to cook.

What is your favorite type of cuisine?

Italian…no surprise there I suppose. However, Thai and Vietnamese are a very close second.

What is your favorite Bryan product?

The bologna of course!! What’s great about it is that it is an authentic southern style bologna that comes with the rind still on. It is a high-quality product that truly is the flavor of the south!

Do you cook often at home, or prefer to eat out?

I love to cook at home, but sometimes my busy schedule doesn’t always allow it. Luckily, I also really enjoy going out and trying new restaurants and seeing what other chefs are doing. In this profession you are always learning. So, sampling other chef’s food is a vital part of that education.

I see that you have worked with several well known chefs. Which chef(s) were you most excited to work with?

Gosh, I have been very lucky to work with and/or observe so many talented people. I am constantly humbled. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to work with Grant Achatz, I can’t think of anything more exciting than meeting him and observing his kitchen at Alinea. He is such a visionary and a true inspiration to anyone in the culinary arena. Watching the kitchen in action was awe-inspiring—he is a true artist and I was able to observe the creation of his edible masterpieces!

Some traditional tailgating drinks are beer or soda. Can you suggest another accompanying beverage?

A bourbon-spiked lemonade is refreshing and has a nice kick to get you in the proper spirit for the game!

Can you share some tailgating recipes?

Spicy Sausage Packet

Serves 4

Ingredients Quantity

Bryan Smoked Sausage 1 pkg.

Onion, sliced 1

BBQ sauce ¼ cup

Chopped Cilantro 2 tbsp.

Ground black pepper ½ tsp

Sausage buns 4

  1. Cut sausage on an angle into ½” slices. Place sausage in center of a large sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil; top with sliced onions.

  2. Combine barbecue sauce, cilantro and pepper in small bowl. Spread over top of onions and sausage. Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal, making one large packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside.

  3. Grill packet 12-14 minutes over medium coals or until sausages are hot, turning 3-4 times during cooking. Open pouch carefully; place sausage slices in buns and top with onions.

Sideline Italian Sliders

Serves 6 (four sliders each)

Ingredients Quantity

Bryan Smoked Sausage 1pkg

Marinara Sauce 1 cup

Shredded mozzarella cheese ½ cup

Hawaiian sweet rolls 24 rolls

*e.g. King’s Hawaiian 1 oz. rolls, or substitute any whole wheat silver dollar rolls

  1. Pre-heat grill to medium/high for 10 minutes

  2. Slice each Bryan Smoked Sausage into eight pieces. Slice on the bias to create elongated ovals.

  3. Grill sausage 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly browned and heated through, set aside to cool.

  4. To build the sliders, Slice the rolls in half and spread 1 tablespoon of marinara on the top half of each. Sprinkle the bottom half of the roll with a little cheese, followed by two slices of Bryan Sausage. Top with the top half of the bun.

*Note: slice the Bryan Smoked Sausages and the rolls the day before, and get the guys to help you build your own sliders!

Football-Friendly Fondue

Serves 6

Ingredients Quantity

Garlic 1 clove

Your favorite beer ½ can or bottle

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese 3 cups

Cornstarch 1 tbsp

Dry mustard (optional) pinch

Hot sauce (optional) dash


Bryan Smoked Sausage 1 pkg., cut into 1-inch pieces

Pretzel rolls 1 pkg., cut into cubes

Apples Several, sliced

  1. Rub inside of a foil pie pan with garlic and discard garlic. Combine rest of ingredients in pie pan. Cover and refrigerate or place in cooler until ready to use.

  2. Pre-heat grill to medium. Remove cover from foil pan and place on grill. Heat, stirring occasionally until cheese is melted. Serve warm right from a cooler corner of the grill.


Traditional Pigs in a Blanket


32 cocktail links - Bryan Cocktail Smokies

1 can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls


Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut each dinner roll in quarters. Wrap each Bryan Cocktail Smokies cocktail link in one quarter roll. Place wrapped sausages on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ketchup and mustard, if desired.

Triple Cheese Dip


1 Pound Bryan Cocktail Smokies

¼ cup shredded Swiss cheese

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 (1.5-oz.) pkg dried onion soup mix

2 tsp. chopped parsley

½ cup mayonnaise

½ cup sour cream

2 cups cottage cheese


Mix sour cream and mayonnaise in 2-quart bowl. Stir in cottage cheese, onion soup mix, and parsley. Add cheddar and Swiss cheese; mix well. Serve with Bryan Cocktail Smokies, fresh veggies and bread.

Serving size:

50 servings

Big Game Snackers


45 links - Bryan Cocktail Smokies

2 pkgs. fresh bacon slices

Mustard or barbecue sauce


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Wrap each sausage with 1 slice bacon. Place wrapped sausages on shallow baking pan. Bake for about 15 minutes or until bacon is crisply cooked. Dip in mustard or BBQ sauce.

Serving Size:

Makes 45 servings

Bryan Cocktail Smokies in Peach Barbecue Sauce


1 can (15 oz.) peaches in juice

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

2 pkgs. Bryan Cocktail Smokes


Place un-drained peaches, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, garlic, cinnamon and ginger in blender container. Cover and process until smooth. Open package of Bryan Cocktail Smokies and drain off any liquid. Place peach sauce and Cocktail Smokies in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer over low heat 5 minutes. Carefully pour mixture into a 3-4 quart slow cooker. Cover, heat on low for 30-40 minutes or until flavors are blended.


Bryan Smoked Sausage and Potato Bake


8 oz. Bryan Smoked Sausage-cut into round slices, about 1/4" thick

4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes-large dice

1/2 cup yellow onion-med dice

1/2 cup green pepper-med dice

1/2 cup red pepper-med dice

2 TBL Canola Oil

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

Serves 6-8 people


Place the sausage, potatoes, onion and peppers in a large bowl, along with the oil. Mix together making sure that all ingredients are evenly distributed, then sprinkle in the salt and pepper. For easy clean up, create a foil pouch for the food before placing on the grill. Place the mixed ingredients down the center of a long piece of foil (about 2 ft. in length). Fold in half length-wise bringing the bottom side up towards the top side of the foil. Next, fold the left and right sides inward, sealing all ingredients inside. To make sure you don’t lose any juice, double line the pouch with two sheets of aluminum foil. Place on the top rack of your grill, over medium heat, for 18-20 minutes. To check doneness, unfold one of the shorter side to see if potatoes are fork tender (potatoes should be soft enough that a fork can pierce easily). If you don't have a top rack on your grill, turn down the heat to low and make sure to rotate the foil pouch once or twice, in order to avoid direct heat and burning. Alternately, this can be done in an oven inside a casserole dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

*As an option, top with sour cream and or salsa and garnish with oregano

Classic Jambalaya


2 oz. (1/4 cup) Vegetable Oil

1 lb (2 1/2 cups) Onions, small diced

2 oz (4-6 cloves) Garlic, minced

4 cups Rice, Converted

2 1/2 qt Chicken Broth (base and water can be sub)

1 can Diced Tomatoes, canned, liquid reserved

1 1/2 lb (75 slices) Bryan Smoked Sausage

1/2 lb (1 cup Bryan) 1/4” Diced Ham

Salt, kosher to taste

White Pepper to taste

Yields 24 portions


In a heavy saucepan over medium high flame, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and reserve tomato liquid. Cover the pan and lower the flame to low cooking this for 20 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, Bryan Smoked Sausage, Bryan Ham and stir well. Return the cover and simmer on low heat until much of the cooking liquid has been absorbed. Season liberally with salt and white pepper

Bryan Smoked Sausage Holiday Hoagie


1 package of Sara Lee Deli Rolls

Bryan Beef Smoked Sausage

1 package of Sara Lee® Pre-sliced Smoked Provolone Cheese

1 jar of marinara sauce


Warm marinara sauce according to instructions. Place Bryan Smoked Sausage inside a Sara Lee Deli Roll. Top with 1 slice of Sara Lee Smoked Provolone Cheese and pour warm marinara sauce (about 2 tablespoons) over the sandwich. Place into an oven set at 450 degrees to toast the bread then serve

Bryan Smoked Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya


2 pounds Bryan Smoked Sausage, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

2 cups chopped onions

2 celery ribs, chopped

2 cups chopped green bell peppers

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon dried thyme

¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more if you prefer a spicier jambalaya)

3 cups long-grain white rice

6 cups chicken stock or broth

1 (14- to 16-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped

1 cup thinly sliced scallion greens


Rinse chicken well and pat dry with paper towels. Season on all sides with salt. . Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a 10- to 12-inch heavy skillet. When oil is hot, brown chicken on all sides, about 4-5 minutes per side. Work in batches so that you don’t crowd the pan, and add remaining oil as needed. As each piece is brown on both sides, transfer to a platter. In the same pan, brown Bryan Smoked Sausage on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. When brown on each side, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.


In the Rock and Bryan will be giving away an Ultimate Tailgating Prize Pack to one lucky winner! To enter leave a comment below (w/email in case you win!) about your favorite tailgating or holiday foods.

Giveaway Rules (read carefully):

One entry per person. Giveaway ends December 8, 2009 at 11:59pm, unless there are not enough entries, in which case the deadline will be extended. Odds of winning depend on the number of entries. If you win you will be expected to submit contact information for prize delivery. Winner's address information will be sent to sponsor for prize delivery. Sorry international residents this giveaway is for the USA only!

*I was not compensated monetarily for this interview or post.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Cheerios® and First Book® Challenge

Win 20,000 books for your state with the Cheerios® and First Book® Challenge!
Answer questions about children's books to participate Each correct answer will earn you a vote for the state of your choice.
The five states receiving the highest number of votes will each receive 20,000 new books for local kids!

Come on guys, Arkansas is ranked 33 right now. We can win this!

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