Life’s Questions

In this country, football is as much a part of Thanksgiving as is the turkey. Since I always cared more about eating than playing sports, the televised games were always background noise to me. It was something that the “guys” would watch while my sister and I hung out with the ladies sneaking tastes of all the delicious food in the kitchen.

I didn’t realize that watching Thanksgiving Day football was so deeply rooted in our culture until my kids learned about this tradition at school. Having three boys I decided I should brush up on this phenomenon so I could answer the inevitable question; “Why do we watch football on Thanksgiving?” I am sure it will be right up there in importance to them as “Is there a God”? “Is there really a Tooth fairy” “Where do babies come from”- so I thought I should be prepared.

I was surprised to learn that the tradition of playing football on Thanksgiving dates back to the 1800’s. The first Thanksgiving Day game was played in Philadelphia in 1869 and the tradition has continued yearly to this day. And the football is not limited to the TV. Apparently, there is modern day tradition called the “Turkey Day Bowl” which is played by families and friends on their own lawns. I know Brian can’t wait to get our little football team on the field and partake in this ritual. He has been coaching the boys for months now and they can definitely catch a football better than I can. Although that is not saying too much…

And another one of life’s questions: “Why do people like to eat chicken wings when they watch football?” I did some preliminary research into this but was unable to come up with much on that one.

Parmesan Chicken

– This recipe works great for wings or drumsticks, whichever is your family’s preference.

Ingredients:

2-3 lbs chicken drumsticks (about 10 pcs.)

Salt & pepper

1-cup flour

2 eggs, plus a few Tbsp water

2 cups seasoned panko breadcrumbs

1 cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

Method:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet with foil and a baking rack. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Set-up breading station: Place flour in a shallow dish. In a second dish, whisk the eggs with a few tablespoons of water. In a third dish, combine the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, and the garlic.

Coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Next dip in the egg.

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And lastly, place in the breadcrumb mixture. Press the crumbs firmly to the chicken and place on baking rack.

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Bake for approximately 30-45 minutes until crispy and chicken is cooked through. Let rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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And the VERDICT is:

Mattthew (age 6): “The breadcrumbs ruin the taste of the chicken – not a big fan”

Liam (age 4): “I like the breadcrumbs and the chicken A LOT”

Dylan (age 4): “The breadcrumbs are good but I don’t like the chicken”

Not a touchdown with this one, although there were only 2 pieces left after dinner!

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Till next season…

After much anticipation Super Bowl Sunday has come and gone. To mark the occasion the boys wanted to have a football party.  Since bedtime coincides with halftime, I was not sure how much game watching would take place. But I knew it would be quite the celebration as the build-up has been BIG around here leading up to game day.

A typical football party for all intents and purposes would be watching the game and having some great food but not at our house. Our party was three little boys running around screaming, jumping off furniture, tackling each other, and throwing footballs. Come to think of it, this is a typical day around here … Mostly this goes on until someone starts crying or gets is a bloody nose.

And while that is exactly what occurred the boys also surprised us by expressing interest in watching the game! To hear them discuss which team was going to score, the potential to win our boxes, cheering for the coin toss was hysterical. It must be instinctual because they were talking as if they have been watching football for years; there was even some trash-talking going on as they cheered for their teams. I was half expecting them to ask me to get them a beer!

On the menu for the party were turkey sliders. I wanted to stay true to typical football party fare but come up with something a little healthier. Easy to make, fun to eat, a formula for success (hopefully) I also planned on getting a lot of vegetables into this recipe – sweet potatoes, onions, AND tomatoes.

I am dedicating this recipe to our friend Becca who has recently become a sweet potato fiend!

Sweet Potato Turkey Sliders

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 onion, peeled and diced

2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing

1 lb. Ground turkey, preferably dark meat

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cumin

Mini buns (Martin’s potato rolls are perfect)

Optional topping:

“ Ketchup “– puree can of diced tomatoes, add salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Toss sweet potato and onion with olive oil and spread in single layer on baking sheet. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Roast, stirring once, for approx. 30 minutes until caramelized. Set aside and let cool. Dice vegetable mixture into very small pieces before adding to turkey.

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In a large mixing bowl add turkey, sweet potato, onion, salt and cumin. Mix together, but do not overwork. Form between 12-14 small patties, about 2” in diameter. Place patties on baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook patties until browned and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side.

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Add the buns to the skillet during the last minute of cooking to slightly toast them. Assemble burgers with your choice of toppings.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: “Mommy, I like it, but it is not your best”

Liam: “ I can’t wait to try my Crabby Patty!”

Dylan: “Real ketchup please! I am digging those orange things out….”

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE GAME:

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Rites of Passage

As much as my husband would love it, the boys are just not ready to hang around on a Sunday afternoon watching football. I have absolutely no doubt it is our future but for now Brian patiently waits and surrenders the TV to the latest Kung Fu Panda episode.

With the Super Bowl on the horizon we thought it would be fun to take the boys out to one of the local wings joints. Our plan was to watch the playoffs and the boys could eat wings to their hearts delight. They were so excited to be partaking in this manly Sunday ritual. In retrospect, perhaps our expectations were a bit too high.

The boys were all swagger walking up to the restaurant but upon entering were completely overwhelmed by the noise and crowds. Once we adjusted to the decibel level and placed our wing order things started looking up. And when they got a juice box things got better and better… until the wings arrived. Piping hot and smothered in sauce – the boys eagerly went to try them. Although we ordered the mildest version, you could almost see smoke coming out of their ears. All three simultaneously started crying and yelling for water. Disaster – but happily an order of hot dogs and fries fixed the situation fairly quickly.

To restore their love of chicken wings, I decided to make a very UNspicy, sweet version of wings this week. We can ease into the spicy stuff down the road a bit!

Sweet Honey Balsamic Wings

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 lbs chicken wings (split at joints, tips removed)

1 Tbsp melted butter

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup honey

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with vegetable oil.  In a large bowl mix the flour with the salt and pepper. And the wings and toss to coat. Place the chicken on the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast for about 45 minutes, turning once.

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In a large bowl, whisk melted butter, balsamic vinegar and honey; toss with the roasted wings.

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Serve with carrots – hold the blue cheese sauce!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew: These are deeeelicious!

Liam: Yeah, these are deeeelicious! What happens if you eat a bone?

Dylan: These are deeeeyummy! I’m giving the bones to Mackie (our cat)

And order is restored. The boys ate the entire 2 lbs of wings – when I suggested saving some for Daddy they told me to make another batch for him – they were eating them all!