A Super Bowl Recipe that scores extra points

Sweet and Southern Ground Turkey Meatball Sliders on whole grain and pumpernickel dinner rolls.

The fix is in for Super Bowl 54.

It’s going down on Sunday, February 2, 2020 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Demi Lovato will belt out the national anthem and Jennifer Lopez and Shakira will dazzle us with halftime show performances.

It’s gonna be a helluva game with the San Francisco 49ers going up against the Kansas City Chiefs who have not made a Super Bowl appearance in 50 years.

About 100 million people will be watching the game, along with the New England Patriots organization whose run as the Super Bowl “usual suspects” was interrupted this year by the Tennessee Titans.

Are the Chiefs hungry? You better believe they are.

And this game will require some good grub to take you from the opening coin toss to the final touchdown.

Sweet and Southern Ground Turkey Meat Balls in Sassy Sauce.

My Sweet and Southern Ground Turkey Meatballs are just the addition you need for your Super Bowl menu line up.

The grated sweet potatoes and fresh chopped spinach makes them super moist and a healthy choice. The homemade Sassy Sauce recipe is rich and flavorful with a lovely sweetness. These tasty little meatballs can be served as appetizers or as sliders on your favorite dinner rolls.

Sweet and Southern Ground Turkey Meatball plated as an appetizer.

Keep them warm on the sideline in a Crockpot. Keep some grated Parmesan cheese, chopped Pepperoncini peppers, fresh chopped parsley and scallions at the end zone and there will be no delay of game.

This recipe is a touchdown with extra points.

Sweet and Southern Ground Turkey Meatballs

  • Servings: 28 to 30 meatballs
  • Difficulty: you can do it
  • Print

Moist and tasty turkey meatballs in a delicious sauce.


Ingredients

Meat Balls
2 pounds ground turkey room temperature
½ teaspoon Chipotle Chili pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½  teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dried chopped onion
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ cup fresh chopped spinach, firmly packed
½ cup fresh grated sweet potato, firmly packed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg

Directions

Chopped spinach and grated sweet potatoes.

  1. Gather all your ingredients.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, add ground turkey and all listed ingredients. Using a fork or your hands, gently mix until all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Form into 28 to 30 balls and place on to a parchment lined baking sheet.

    Sweet and Southern Ground Turkey Meatballs hot out of the oven and ready for Sassy Sauce.

  6. Place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove and add to Sassy Sauce.
  7. Serve as appetizer or as sliders. Garnish with grated Parmesan and fresh chopped parsley.

Sassy Sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped bell pepper
½ cup chopped red onion
1 clove chopped garlic
29 ounce can tomato sauce
8 ounce can crushed pineapple
2 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 ½ teaspoons salt
3 tablespoon molasses

Directions

  1. Gather all your ingredients.
  2. To a sauce pan set on medium heat, add olive. Once heated, add bell pepper and onion.
  3. Sauté the mixture 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until lightly brown. Add chopped garlic to mixture and sauté 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
  4. Cover sauce pan and simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add meat balls.

Note: sauce and meatballs can be kept warm by placing them in a Crockpot set on warm setting.

 

 

 

Three variations and one wish for a Happy New Year

My traditional New Year’s Dinner: Black-eyed peas, sauteed greens with corn, oven fried chicken. Not shown: cornbread – but it’s a must have.

Au revoir 2019.

This past decade has been head spinning.

Here’s a trip down memory lane of a few events and advances I remember most from the decade of the 10’s:

  • Rideshare services, music streaming services and Amazon (Prime) changed our lives.
  • Barack Obama was elected the first African American President.
  • The Real Housewives franchise dominated reality TV.
  • Pot legalization began and cannabis became the hot, new economy.
  • Domestic terrorism became part of the American lexicon.
  • The Ebola virus emerged and measles made a raging comeback.
  • American’s favorite dad fell from grace and the phase “me to” became a call to action.
  • The nexus between climate change and natural disasters became analogous.
  • Smart phones outsmarted us and controlled our lives.
  • Two royal weddings took place.
  • Lady Gaga wore a meat dress to the Video Music Awards.
  • Same sex marriage became legal.
  • DNA services connected our ancestry dots.
  • Lebron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in dramatic fashion.
  • Kobe Bryant retired from basketball.
  • Some of my favorite music icons left
    • Amy Winehouse
    • Whitney Houston
    • Prince
    • David Bowie
    • Tom Petty
    • Aretha Franklin
    • Natalie Cole
    • Donna Summer
    • Dick Clark, everyone’s favorite “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” countdown host

Of course there has been so much more of greater significance that has happened, but just riffing off the top of my head, these are the things that came immediately to mind.

It’s been a helluva a ride and we must lean in, press forward and bid this decade ado.

Tradition matters

So now –  let the 20’s roar!

But you know you can’t enter the new year and brand new decade without partaking in the most essential and hallowed new year’s tradition – eating your lucky black-eyed peas.

The folklore of eating black-eyed peas dates back to 500 A.D.  Steeped in the ritual of the eating the little black-eyed legume is the promise of prosperity. And that sentiment and belief has remained throughout the ages.

A recipe recap

I have opined about the history of this sacred pea of promise and over the years,  I have posted three variations of preparing them with this one intention – that you and yours have a beautiful and prosperous new year. Below you will find these posts. Just click on the bolded text and that will take you to the recipe.

Cali-fied Caviar picture

Cali-fied Caviar is a new spin on Texas Caviar

Move Over Texas Caviar, time to get “Cali-fied”– this post features a California spin on Texas caviar which was created by Helen Corbitt for her guests at a New Year’s Eve event in Houston, Texas. It is served cold and can be a side salad or appetizer.

picture of Easy black-eyed peas seasoned with sesame seed oil and butter.

Easy black-eyed peas seasoned with sesame seed oil and butter.

Your lucky pot of peas 2.0 Hacked – this post outlines a black-eyed pea hack that is easy and quick to make. It is  served warm and has a delicious and unexpected delicate flavor.

picture of A traditional pot of black-eyed peas with summer savory.

A traditional black-eyed peas recipe with smoked turkey and summer savory.

Get your lucky pot of peas simmering for the New Year – this post is all about that traditional pot of peas. But it gets a little help from summer savory, better known as the “bean” herb.

My hope for you

It’s going to be a bright and gleaming 2020 decade. Here’s hoping the new year brings you:

  • clarity in your purpose
  • sharpness in your thinking
  • acuity in your intentions and actions
  • range of sight for good health and meaningful relationships

Now  that’s 2020 vision.

Happy New Year my foodie friends.  May you cook fearlessly and eat well!

Merry Rice Krispie Treats Christmas

My grandson Eli, holding his trove of Cranberry Rice Krispie Treats.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

This holiday missive is less about cooking but more about connecting with our loved ones through food, and in this case dessert.

Who doesn’t love desserts?

My six-year-old grandson Elijah loves a sweet treat. And more than that, he loves hanging out with me in the kitchen because he knows he will get a chance to pour ingredients into a mixing bowl or better yet, stir a pot on the stove top.

Simple ingredients make these treats easy to make. Not show vanilla and salt.

Mixing it up with Eli

Our time is the kitchen is magical. We talk, giggle, make messes and always end up with something amazing to eat. Like Rice Krispie Treats with cranberries.

Why cranberries? Because they are one of Eli’s favorite snacks when he visits me. So when I asked him what special ingredient he wanted to mix into his Rice Krispie Treats, the answer was so obvious – cranberries!

But you might ask, did I anticipate he’d say cranberries? Yup I did and had been working on the recipe before he pulled a step stool up to the kitchen counter.

Eli calls these Cranberry Rice Krispie Treats “happy bars.”

The happiest bars on earth

The cranberries are such a tasty and delightful addition to these gooey, chewy, marshmallow bars.   To make the bars a bit more festive, I dusted the top with rainbow sugar sprinkles.

“They look like happy bars,” said Eli.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because when you see them they make you smile and they taste really good!” said Eli.

I think the real happiness is in making them together and inviting his creativity into the mix, literally.

Happy holidays my foodie friends. May your Cranberry Rice Krispie Treats bring you as much joy when you make them with your children or grandchildren as they have brought Eli and I.

Cranberry Rice Krispie Treats

  • Servings: 16 bars
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Enjoy these happy bars.


Ingredients


6 tablespoons unsalted butter
16-ounce package of mini marshmallows
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 cups Rice Krispie cereal
½ cup dried cranberries
salt
Rainbow sugar sprinkles

Directions

  1. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large, non-stick saucepan or non-stick Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.
  3. Once the butter is melted, add the marshmallows.
  4. Reduce heat to low and stir mixture with a heat-resistant spatula until the marshmallows are completely melted.
  5. Remove pan from heat and stir in the vanilla and a pinch of salt.
  6. Add the cereal and mix well. Then mix in the cranberries.
  7. Pour mixture into a parchment lined baking dish.
  8. Wet your hand with water and with your fingertips press the mixture into the pan until completely spread out.
  9. Dust the top with rainbow sugar sprinkles. Be generous!
  10. Cover baking dish with plastic wrap. Allow to set about 2 hours. Cut into 16 squares.

Spactchcock that bird!

A spatchcocked, 12-pound turkey with backbone removed.

Spatchcock.

What an odd word. If you didn’t know what it meant, your imagination would lace up and take off running. Before that happens let me break it down for you.

What is it?

Spatchcock:  a method of preparing poultry for cooking. The method involves removing the backbone from tail to neck so that the bird can be opened out flat (also referred to as butterflying). When oven roasting a bird, this method results in a shorter cooking time.

Butterflying – that’s essentially what spatchcock means. With the backbone removed and the bird pressed out flat, it creates the perfect condition to roast a bird that cooks more evenly and allows the breast to cook in about the same time as the leg and thigh.

It’s a technique that is widely used in preparing chicken and is said to date back to the 18th century. The results have been quite succulent. If you are not a fan of breast meat because it tends to be dry, this process might change your mind.

My Thanksgiving mission

Every Thanksgiving I look for a way to zhuzh up my turkey game. Building a better bird is a perpetual pilgrimage for me and I would dare say for many Thanksgiving turkey preparers.   No one wants a dry bird. Moisture is queen. The spatchcock method seems to be king in making a more moist and succulent bird. I’ve tried the technique for chicken with excellent results.  This year I tired the technique on my Thanksgiving bird. The results? An amazingly moist and flavorful turkey.

Za’atar and Sumac gifted to me by the folks at Yes Chef

A bit of umami

I upped the flavor of my bird by using an herb butter I made with fresh chopped flat leaf parsley, chopped garlic, fresh orange zest and ground Za’atar spice from the folks at Yes Chef.  Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend that includes ingredients such as ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, sumac, cumin and coriander. It is so aromatic and reminiscent of many of the spices I use during Thanksgiving, I decided to give it a go.  And the simple addition of orange zest to the herb butter was just the umami twist I was looking for.  By the way, you can find Za’atar at most markets and organic food stores. Thanks Chef Nancy Silverton for the inspiration!

My notes

Should you spatchcock your Thanksgiving turkey? As one home cook to another, you should totally go for it.  Here are a few notes from my experience:

  • My bird was just over 12-pounds and was about the maximum size my small, built-in oven could handle.
  • Spatchcocking requires the turkey to be on a surface large enough in dimensions to contain the entire bird. I didn’t have a roasting pan large enough. Instead I used a large baking sheet I covered with 18-inch wide heavy duty foil that was long enough to fold up the edges around the bird to create a little cooking container.
  • Spatchcocking is said to reduce the cooking time. My 12-pound foil covered turkey took two hours to roast in an oven set at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The final minutes of cooking I removed the foil tent to allow it to brown.
  • No matter how long it takes to roast, when the turkey breast meat reaches a temperature of 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the oven and cover with foil and it will continue to cook outside the oven. Don’t rely on the pop up thermometer that may come with your bird. Relying on that as an indicator will result in a bird that is overcooked. Invest in a food thermometer for best results. I purchased mine from my local market in the food gadget section.

Now, go forth and spatchcock that bird!

Spatchcock Turkey

  • Servings: 8 to 10
  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Spatchcock turkey cut, sliced, plated and ready to serve.

Ingredients

For turkey
1 12-pound turkey (fresh, natural turkey used here)
Sea salt
Garlic powder
Ground pepper

For herb butter
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons Za’atar spice (I put the spice in a coffee grinder to blend the sesame seeds)
¼ teaspoon salt
1 clove finely chopped garlic
Zest from one large orange

Directions

Herb butter

  • In a medium bowl, add butter, chopped parsley, Za’atar spice, salt, finely chopped garlic, and zest from one large orange.
  • Blend with a fork to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients. Set aside.

Turkey Preparation

Spatchcock turkey with herbed butter, in foil ready for the oven. Note how foil is folded up along the edges to form a cooking container.

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. You can reserve for soup or gravy.
  • Place the turkey breast side down on a work surface. With a sturdy pair of poultry sheers, cut out the backbone of the turkey by cutting along both sides of the spine. You could possibly do this with a really sharp knife.
  • Spread the turkey’s legs apart and flip it over so it’s breast side up.
  • Press down firmly on the turkey’s breastbone until you hear a crack—that’s the wishbone breaking – you can also remove the wishbone by cutting it out with a paring knife. If you don’t have enough strength to firmly press down on the breastbone, use a rubber mallet or perhaps a rolling pen as I did.
  • Season generously the inside and outside of the turkey with salt, garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Tuck the wings behind the breasts. Transfer the turkey to a large baking sheet covered with 18-inch heavy duty foil breast side up. Make sure the foil is long enough to fold up the edges around the bird to create a little cooking container.
  • Spread the herb butter under the skin, concentrating on the breast and down into the legs, thighs and over the outside of the bird.

In the oven

  • Place turkey in heated oven uncovered. After 30 minutes of roasting, baste bird and loosely tent turkey with foil.
  • Cook another hour, basting at least two more times.
  • Remove foil and check temperature of thickest part of breast meat. If it has reached a temperature of 155 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit, allow the bird to brown uncovered. Keep any eye on it. It may take 15 minutes or perhaps more.
  • Remove from oven once you achieve the desired brownness. Loosely cover with foil and let it rest. It will remain cooking.  This will take about 30 minutes.
  • If it the breast meat has not reached a temperature of 155 to160 degrees Fahrenheit, cover the turkey and cook until it does, perhaps up to 30 more minutes. Then remove foil and allow to the bird to brown about 15 minutes or until you achieve the desired brownness. Remove from the oven,  cover and let it rest.

When turkey is done

Spatchcock turkey hot out of the oven.

  • Transfer the turkey to a cutting board after resting 30 minutes. Carefully pour pan drippings into a heat resistant cup or container. Use to make gravy or pour over plated turkey if you like.
  • Carve the turkey by removing the legs and splitting the thighs from the drumsticks.
  • Remove the wings from the breast.
  • Split the breast into two halves, and remove the breast meat from each lobe. Slice the breast meat of each lobe into your desired thickness.
  • Place turkey pieces on a large serving platter. Garnish with fresh herbs, orange slices and serve.