Sweet Barbecue Sauce

Teaching a tested subject has turned me into a crazy teacher. With the DC CAS drawing closer, hours at school are becoming longer. Remediation and pull out groups are taking the place of planning periods, meaning math lessons are being created after-school on the couch. With the work load increasing, labor intensive meals have to be saved for the weekend. Grilled chicken and roasted vegetables will likely be making a regular appearance on my weeknight menu. Making my own barbecue sauce over the weekend acts not only as my flavor enhancer, but as my compromise to simple meals during the week. This sauce adds delicious flavor to roasted or grilled chicken, can take the place of tomato sauce on a pizza, and livens up a sandwich. I’ve adapted this sauce from the Neely family recipe, and what I am most looking forward to is making their barbecue spaghetti featuring this sauce.

2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
4 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, for at least 1 hour. 

Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti

Mama, Carmen and I all received Barefoot Contessa’s newest cookbook for Christmas. We decided it would be fun to work through the book together, preparing the same recipes on a given week. Jim’s drooling over a picture of meatballs in How Easy Is That!? helped us decide that Spicy Turkey Meatballs and Spaghetti would be next. Our kitchens in New York, Washington DC and Michigan were messy mixing and rolling out these delicious meatballs. The combination of meats, Asiago cheese, and spicy red pepper flakes made for a blog-worthy meal.

3 cups bread cubes from a round rustic bread, crusts removed
2/3 cup milk
2 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 lb sweet Italian pork or turkey sausage, casing removed
4 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, finely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp good olive oil plus, extra for brushing meatballs
2 extra large eggs, lightly beaten
3 (24-oz) jars good marinara sauce
2 lbs dried whole wheat spaghetti (or whatever you have lying around)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
Place the bread in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Process until the bread is in medium crumbs.  Transfer the crumbs to a small bowl and add the milk.  Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the turkey, sausage, prosciutto, bread mixture, Asiago, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.  Lightly combine the ingredients with your hands.  Add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the eggs, and stir lightly with a fork to combine.
With your hands, lightly roll the mixture into 2-inch-round meatballs and place them on the prepared sheet pans. Brush the meatballs with olive oil.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops are browned and the centers are completely cooked.
Pour the marinara into a large, low pot, add the meatballs, and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water according to the directions on the package.  Drain and place the spaghetti in individual bowls, and top with meatballs and lots of sauce.  Serve with Parmesan cheese on the side.

Spinach and Sausage Pie

Don’t be fooled by the spinach and turkey sausage. This dish is not healthy and is quite heavy, so it’s best paired with a salad loaded with fresh vegetables. The combination of cheese, sausage, spinach and a crumbly crust is perfect. A few tips though, before you get started. Make sure you bake the pie for at least 50 minutes. Depending on your oven, it might need more time. The first time I baked this pie for our KIPP Thanksgiving potluck, I took it out of the oven too soon. Although the filling was yummy, the pie crust wasn’t cooked all the way through. Sorry AIM staff! Second, make sure you mix your egg wash well, otherwise you’ll end up with funny looking yellow spots on your top pie crust (see below). Also, depending on the size of your pie crust, you may have enough filling to make two smaller pies, or Cornish pasties too! 


1 pound Italian Turkey Sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
6 eggs, beaten 
2 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pastry for two-crust pie
1 tablespoon water


Using a skillet, brown the sausage and onion until the sausage is cooked through and onion is tender. Drain. Separate 1 egg and set aside the yolk. In a bowl, beat the remaining egg white and whole eggs. Stir in the sausage and onion, spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, garlic powder and pepper. Line a pie plate with bottom pastry. Add filling. Top with upper crust; seal and flute edges. Cut slits in top crust. Combine water with reserved egg yolk; brush over top crust. Bake at 375° for 50 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.