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10 Food-Ball Thunks About The Super Bowl

ImageTwo weeks ago in the Mile High City, Peyton Manning “Omaha-ed” the Denver Broncos to a victory over the Walking Talking Touchdown Tossing Ken Doll (who is now paddleboarding in Costa Rica with Barbie) & the New England Patriots in the American Food-Ball Conference Championship Game. While up in the louder than an airplane taking off home of “The 12th Man”, Richard Sherman deflected away Colin Kaepernick’s final pass in the Seahawks’ end zone and sparked a controversy when his mouth began to celebrate before his head could catch up with it in National Food-Ball Conference Championship Game. What that all means is that it’s “Mann vs Mouth” (with credit to the New York Post) in Super Bowl XLVIII – The Denver Broncos vs The Seattle Seahawks.


As a longtime Denver Broncos fan, I remember when the Seattle Seahawks played in the AFC West. I was never a fan of Jim Zorn, Steve Largent, Dave Krieg, Curt Warner or least of all Brian Bosworth. (Does he still have Bo Jackson’s footprint on his chest ?) I didn’t hate the the Seahawks like I did the Raiders, Chiefs & Chargers, they just annoyed me. I have to admit I was glad when they were moved to the NFC in the most recent expansion realignment. My disdain for the franchise had remained dormant until now. Now the Seahawks are my mortal enemy again and they are all that is standing in the way of a Denver Broncos Super Bowl victory on Sunday. So with a tip of the chef’s toque to the Monday Morning Quarterback himself, Peter King @SI_PeterKing on Twitter, let’s get to 10 Food-Ball Thunks About The Super Bowl.


1. Every year I try to come up with dishes to represent the two teams playing in the Super Bowl. In the earlier rounds of the playoffs I pick more whimsical recipes in part to spark controversy & to play on stereotypes. Come Super Bowl however, I pick recipes that I am actually going to make & eat so I try to come up with something good. When I first moved to Denver in 1982 the closest I came to Mexican food was driving past Taco Bell. The guys in my office used to take me to The Riv off of Colorado Boulevard once a week just to see me sweat. So for the Denver Broncos I am thinking of taking a Phyllo Cup and filling it with first a scoop of a Spicy Denver Omelet, then topping that with a scoop of Buffalo Burger, some Mexican 3 Cheese Mix and then tossing the whole tray under the broiler. Maybe top it with a scoop of guacamole at the end.

2. When people stereotypically think of Seattle, they think of throwing & catching salmon, starbucks & coffee, McDreamy & McSteamy and the color Black but Seattle and the state of Washington are so much more. The food scene is over the top and don’t forget about the incredible apple & cheery crops growing out in the eastern part of the state. With all that in mind and far too much time on a train in the morning to think, I have decided to roast chunks of salmon on a wire rack and to marinate & glaze them in a Cherry & Wine sauce using a chardonnay (white with fish) from a local Washington vineyard like Chateau St. Michelle. In a tribute to the “Legion of Boom”, I will have to kick it up just a notch at the end….but not too much.

3. Other Super Bowl menu items will include standards like Chicken Wings, Ribs, Deviled Eggs with Cheddar & Bacon, some sort of dip and of course, Alligator Chili. I did have someone review my Coconut Conch Chowder recipe the other day and while I don’t have any conch this year in the freezer, I did just get 10lbs of frozen crawfish tails sent to me from Louisiana. Of course I will be making a few items from the RITZ Recipe Collection and there will be other items too that I will reveal on Game Day as I make them.

4. You heard it here first. The Polar Vortex is moving out and the weather will not be a factor in this game. The only thing the two teams may have to worry about are the swirling winds in Giants Stadium but both quarterbacks played here this year (both beat the Giants handily) so that shouldn’t be much of a factor. Both kickers have guns for legs so I am not worried about them either.

5. The Seahawks & Broncos have actually already played this season. They met back in the very first week of preseason when the guys the Seahawks were going to cut beat the guys the Broncos were going to cut by a score of 40-10. It meant nothing then and it means nothing now.

6. No one cared about the Super Bowl commercials until 1984 when Apple made a commercial that never mentioned their product but is still talked about today. Now you can see teasers for commercials on every social media outlet known to mankind before the game. Can’t say that I am looking forward to any one commercial in particular but I am sure there will be more than few that will make me say, “$4 million for that ?”

7. When I first moved to Denver, John Elway still belonged to the Baltimore Colts and was playing baseball in the minor leagues for the Yankees and George Steinbrenner. I wasn’t an Elway fan at all. He went to Stanford & my Mom went to Cal. (Go Bears !) Now I believe in “Elwayism”. When I die, I believe that John Elway himself will throw my soul into heaven.

8. Yes, I will be wearing my John Elway apron when I am cook on Sunday.

9. I can’t wear my jersey on Game Day. Bad Luck. I can only wear team colors. This year the lucky shirt & shorts have been a blue & orange tee shirt from Maui and orange running shorts. I have only worn them during games and have yet to wash them. Superstition – it’s only crazy if it doesn’t work.

10. I flew last week for the first time this year. The only thing that has changed is that more people who have no clue what they are doing have been granted TSA Pre-Check status. This hasn’t made the process of flying any easier, faster or safer for frequent fliers like me. I also learned last week that if a “deadheading” pilot has to sit in a middle seat, he gets paid 50% of his hourly wage as compensation. I offered to change seats with the disgruntled pilot in the middle seat for half of his 50% but he said no. Guess sitting in the middle isn’t so bad after all. Speaking of middle seats, based on their commercial, Expedia can get you the middle seat in the last row of coach and you have to pay for your bag to be checked. Is this really an ad for orbitz or Travelocity.

11. (because I can’t count) Back in 1990 I flew on Alaska Airlines from Oakland to Seattle. My plane was called Seahawk One and I sat in a seat that was reserved for the Linebackers Coach. The flight was on time but it may have been the most miserable flight of my life.

12. (why not an even dozen) If it hadn’t been for a recent basement remodel and three bathrooms needing to be redone, I might have tried to get tickets for the Super Bowl. To be honest, I would rather my first Super Bowl be somewhere warm like New Orleans or San Diego. I have been to Giants Stadium and it doesn’t excite me. Neither does an average ticket price of $3,600 and rising with the temperature.

13. (a Baker’s Dozen is even better & 13 is our family’s lucky number) My prediction for the game – It’s the best offense against the best defense and in most cases, the best defense usually wins. However, the Seahawks haven’t faced a team with as many offensive weapons as the Broncos have. The Broncos not only have Peyton Manning calling the plays/audibles at the line of scrimmage but they also have four receivers who all scored 10 or more touchdowns and they also have two running backs who can ground & pound as well as catch the ball. The Legion of Boom is going to have their hands full trying to cover everyone. When the Seahawks have the ball, quarterback Russell Wilson has Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch to hand off to and a nice collection of receivers to throw to. The Broncos have to contain Wilson when he drops back to pass because he can scramble. The Broncos weakness has been their defensive secondary so if Wilson can evade the pass rush and find his receivers downfield, it could be long game for my Broncos. However I see it coming down to late in the game and Steven Hauschka kicks a long field goal to take a 26-24 lead but hold on, here comes Peyton Manning and with less than 2 minutes to go he finds Julius Thomas in the end zone for a 31-26 lead. The final Hail Mary pass from the Seahawks will get knocked down in the end zone and the Broncos will win their third Super Bowl.

So give me your menu & prediction if you want and next time we can all talk about how right I was.

Go Broncos !

(Sorry Seattle)


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RITZ Country Fried Ribs with Zesty Buttermilk Dressing #RITZNYBlitz


I almost never fry food. It’s not that I don’t like fried food, everyone does. (It’s just that I am not very good at frying anything other than a couple of eggs and if you have seen any of my recent egg flipping VINE videos you may even question whether I can do that correctly. When it comes to Ribs, I am low & slow cook in the oven and then eat them with sauce all over your fingers & face kind of guy. So the concept of RITZ Country Fried Ribs both scared me a little & confused me…a lot.

Now when RITZ decided to get involved with the Big Game coming to New York City in the first weekend of February, they partnered with various iconic restaurants in the New York area and asked them, like they did with the Allrecipes Allstars, to come up with a spin on one of their dishes. Then each of the Allrecipes Allstars was paired with one of the restaurants. I got the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Restaurant (started in Syracuse, NY and now here in NYC) and their recipe for RITZ Country Fried Ribs with Zesty Buttermilk Dressing.

I have to say that I was more than pleasantly surprised by my results with these ribs and not just because I didn’t mess up the frying for once. The RITZ Cracker coating was light & very flavorful. If anything, you could have actually added the Cajun seasoning to the coating instead of dusting it like the recipe calls for you to do. The coating held well to the ribs during the frying process and its coloring was rich golden brown. I think the Zesty Buttermilk Dressing could have been a little thicker & a little zestier but those are both changes that the home cook can make without having to think about it too much. I know that the next time that I make these particular ribs, I am going to add a little chipotle seasoning to the dipping sauce since I like a little more kick.

So RITZ Country Fried Ribs with Zesty Buttermilk Dressing are now a part of my GAME DAY MENU repertoire and now you can make them part of yours too. You can watch the video on how to make them right here. Fried Ribs aren’t really as different as they may seem.

You can see all of the #RITZNYBlitz recipes by visiting the RITZ Recipe Collection or Game Day Hub on Allrecipes.com


and you can read about & find more RITZ Cracker recipes from the Allrecipes Allstars by clicking on the blog links below (and I will update the links as the blogs get written):

RITZ “Everything” Bites with Lox & Schmear


RITZ Steakhouse Bites


RITZ Cuban Minis


RITZ Spicy Asian Wings


RITZ Push-Cart Hot Dog Bites



RITZ Fried Ravioli


RITZ New York-style Mini Crumb Cheesecakes


and RITZ Hazelnut Gelato Sandwich


I participated in a campaign on behalf of RITZ Crackers. I received a sample to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

I am an Allrecipes Allstar brand ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not
compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com.

Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews
on Behind The Shades. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of DOUG MATTHEWS.


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ImageNot many people today can picture going to or watching a football game without thinking about the food that goes with the game. The Game Day or Tailgate Spread for any game (and especially for me) is usually a well thought out menu that combines local flavors & preferences with a healthy dose of Game Day traditions. That is why when RITZ asked Allrecipes.com for help in coming up with New York inspired Game Day recipes for the biggest Game Day of the year, I jumped at the chance.

I may live in New Jersey but I have worked in New York for most of my professional life and one constant has always been that when a client comes to visit from out of town, we all go eat at a steakhouse. New York has some of the finest steakhouses in the country so with that in mind, it made sense to me to see what kind of a steakhouse inspired Game Day Bite we could come up with using RITZ Crackers. It was then that I suddenly remembered an ad I used to hear on the radio every morning as I drove to the train where the owner of a very famous steakhouse said that you could always find him in the kitchen with his spoon in the creamed spinach. It was in that instant that the concept for RITZ Steakhouse Bites was born, a RITZ Cracker with a spoonful of creamed spinach on it, topped by a slice of steak & a drizzle of Béarnaise Sauce. It’s a classic New York steakhouse taste in just a single bite.

Now when it comes to cooking, I have always been a fairly straightforward kind of cook who does well with the basics. To put it into football terminology, I am a “3 yards & a cloud of dust” kind of chef so putting a little razzle dazzle into my kitchen playbook could have been somewhat daunting but it wasn’t and if I can make them, so can you. First I’ll give you recipe and then I’ll give you a few tips on how to make it so you’ll be dancing in the end zone with your guests on Game Day.

RITZ Steakhouse Bites


Creamed Spinach:

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 (6 ounce) package baby spinach leaves

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon minced shallots

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1/8 teaspoon salt

Pinch of black pepper


Béarnaise Sauce:

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons minced shallots

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup melted butter

18 RITZ Crackers

3 ounces thinly sliced, cooked beef tenderloin, but into bite-sized pieces



Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add spinach and cover for 1 minute to steam. Uncover and stir spinach until it is wilted. Drain spinach, dry between paper towels, and chop. Melt butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for a minute. Add heavy cream and nutmeg; stir to combine. Add chopped spinach and combine thoroughly. Remove from heat when spinach is creamy. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.


Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a separate sauté pan; add shallots and white wine vinegar. Cook until all liquid has evaporated, about a minute. Remove from the pan; set aside to cool.


Add egg yolk and lemon juice to blender; slowly blend in half cup of melted butter until mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into shallots mixture. Stir in chopped fresh tarragon.


To assemble bites, place about 1-1/2 teaspoons creamed spinach on top of a RITZ Cracker. Place a slice of steak on top of the creamed spinach, then drizzle with about 1-1/2 teaspoon béarnaise sauce over the steak

Now for some of those tips I promised. Creamed Spinach is really quite easy and the baby spinach leaves will wilt quickly. Do pat dry the spinach after you have let it drain for a little while in order to make sure you don’t have too much excess moisture. If you don’t have fresh spinach, frozen will work but it really needs to drain. You can always add more butter or cream and keep a lemon handy to brighten it a little with a quick squeeze rather than adding more salt.

Trust me, Béarnaise Sauce is easier to make than it is to spell. The hardest part is separating the eggs. I have found that despite the small batch being made, that it is much better to use a blender than it is to use a small food processor. The one time I used a food processor, the sauce came out a little thin.

Tenderloin or Filet Mignon are the true New York Steakhouse steaks that you want to use for these Game Day Bites on the biggest of Game Days but slices of any cut of steak will actually do if you make sure the slices are thin enough to chew easily.

Now there are a great many more New York inspired RITZ Game Day Bites recipes by other Allrecipes Allstars and by RITZ for you to try & enjoy. They can all be accessed by visiting the RITZ Recipe Collection or Game Day Hub on Allrecipes.com


And in my next blog we are going to do just that. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que has come up with one of their own RITZ inspired Game Day Bites recipe (RITZ Country Fried Ribs with Zesty Buttermilk Ranch Dressing) and I am going to make them because BBQ was made for Football and Football was made for BBQ.

Bring a taste of New York to your Game Day parties with RITZ Crackers and be sure to follow all of the RITZ Game Day Bites action on Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest by using & following the hashtag #RITZNYBlitz

I participated in a campaign on behalf of RITZ Crackers. I received a sample to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item as a thank-you for participating.

I am an Allrecipes Allstar brand ambassador (a voluntary position) and I’m not
compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com.

Products received from advertiser are only used for experienced-based reviews
on Behind The Shades. The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of DOUG MATTHEWS.


January 8, 2014 · 2:21 pm

I Am In A Culinary Rut

I am in a culinary rut.

I love to cook. I always have. My family loves it when I cook and I love to cook for them. It’s just that recently I haven’t felt the fire that I need to finish off some of the half baked ideas I used to have almost every time I walked into the kitchen. I have a 9 foot by 4 foot spice rack that is full to overflowing and when I look at it, I see nothing. When I open the fridge, I see jars & bottle of different sauces & spreads and I yawn. When I look in the fridge or freezer, I see cut after cut of meat or fish and I think about takeout. The Super Bowl is a little over 17 days away and I haven’t even begun to think about my game day menu and if you know me, you know that is bad. I’m not even sure if I have the alligator in the freezer that I will need for my mandatory & much requested alligator chili. So yeah, I am in a culinary rut.

I am sure that I can put some of the blame on the lifestyle change I was forced to make last spring when my doctor sent me to my room without dessert and I am sure I can put some of the blame on the DIE-t I went on to go with that lifestyle change. Sure I lost 48 lbs and now I can eat just about anything I want any time I want (within reason) but even that hasn’t inspired me to get wild & crazy in the kitchen. I guess I feel like a part of me has an out of order sign hanging on me and the service person keeps having to re-schedule.

Slow cooker recipes bore me. Cookies were fun for a while but the holidays are over. I can only justify cookies as donations to food banks and I can’t justify them for myself. I haven’t been traveling anywhere new so I haven’t had a chance to try some new dishes that I can try to spin at home. I haven’t tried out for CHOPPED or had my wife & kids hit me with a mystery basket full of bizarre ingredients. I was hoping that the NFL playoffs would inspire me but most of the teams with interesting cuisines got eliminated already and I am not all that inspired by the food of Baltimore, New England & New York though I can most certainly play with San Francisco. Even my writing feels a bit like limp overcooked pasta to me.

So what do I do ? What do you do when you are stuck in a culinary rut ? How do you get excited about being in the kitchen again. I generally hate blogs that ask a question but I am tuck so I am all ears, eyes & tastebuds for any idea you may have no matter how outlandish. If you know me, you know I will try most anything (within reason).

So come back next time when hopefully I will be out of my culinary (and literary) rut and we will be discussing the incredible Super Bowl Menu that you all have inspired me to create.


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Chapter 1 of a longtime work in progress

There was an electricity in the air that even a jaded New Yorker like myself could feel as I stood there on the corner of 36th Street & 7th Avenue. The passing crowd almost crackled with anticipation. I was just about jumping out of my skin myself. I looked down at my watch for the thousandth time since I had arrived on the corner and the hands were moving both as slowly as a DMV employee on a Friday afternoon and as fast as a sprinter hopped up on steroids. I mean come on, this was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals we were about to go see and Amy was late. Again.

Amy is my fiancé and is going to be late for her own funeral. It doesn’t matter what time you tell her, she will always be 5 minutes late. Normally I found it to be one of those endearing traits in your soul mate that you overlook but this was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals for God’s sake. Can’t she be on time just this once ???

As I fidgeted on the corner like I had five too many triple espressos, I finally caught a glimpse of Amy coming down the sidewalk on the other side of 7th Ave. She hadn’t seen me yet and I could tell that she was happy in her own world. She had a bounce in her step and her honey brown hair shimmered in the early evening lights. As I watched her walk, my heart skipped the extra beat that it did every time I saw her and I forgot about the game for a moment. She finally seemed to sense my presence as she looked over to the corner where we first met and her eyes locked with mine. The smile on her face lit up her eyes like two twinkling stars and she waved to me as she stepped off the corner where she was about to die.

What ? Wait a minute ? Die ? Where did that thought come from ?

And just then I saw the cab shoot out from behind the truck that had stopped for the yellow light rather than gunning through it. The driver was looking into the back seat as the cab lurched forward right at Amy as she stepped out from in front of the truck. I tried to scream but nothing came out. I tried to run but my legs were both stuck and moving at the same time. I began to sink into the pavement as the scene in front of me slowed to a crawl. My hands hit the pavement as I sunk deeper into the street. Amy didn’t seem to notice. She kept waving as she stepped out into the street. I looked down to see why I couldn’t move my legs & arms and found that I now couldn’t lift my head. It was like someone was holding it down. Not letting me lift it to witness the scene I knew was playing out just feet from my helplessness. I heard the engine gun. I heard the crowd scream. I heard the thud. I fell face first to the ground unable to move. A red high heel came to a stop on it’s side just inches from my face. I could hear sirens in the background approaching fast. They sounded like a mockingbird.

A mockingbird ? Since when do ambulances sound like mockingbirds ? Why am I now on my back ? Why can’t I hear the sounds of the city ? Where was Amy ? The mockingbird was getting louder ?

I opened my eyes and saw the bird outside my window. I was drenched in sweat. My legs were hopelessly tangled in my sheets. My throat was dry. My frenzied heart felt like it was about to explode out of my chest. I couldn’t move but I knew it would pass.

Finally, after a minute, I was able to turn my head to the side and see that it was just a little past 5am. I had had the dream again.

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Planning the SuperDuperBowl Menu

The NFL Regular Season came to end last night when the Cincinnati Bengals rather than showing up in the freezing cold for a meaningless game decided to take the night off to go see the tree in Rockefeller Center & to see who survived the plane crash on Desperate Housewives. That’s all well & good but what does that have to do with cooking or food you may ask. Well that’s certainly a good question and I am just the man to answer it for you.

Super Bowl Sunday or as I prefer to refer to the spectacle, SuperDuperBowl Sunday, is virtually an unofficial national holiday. Friends & Family gather in front of large screen TV’s with piles of food in front of them or on the buffet by the kitchen while they watch the game, the commercials and the myriad of illegal 100 square pools & various other sundry sidebets they have going. The game itself is invariably remembered more often for the commercials & food than it is for the final score so it has been my goal ever since I learned how to cook for myself (thanks Mom) to have a more than impressive spread available during the viewing of the game.

Now when it comes to planning the menu, I begin as soon as the SuperDuperBowl is over. What worked ? What didn’t ? What did I hear about in the days after the game that other people had that I want to have ? What have I tried t other parties or restaurants that could be fun to twist ? What city is hosting the SuperDuperBowl ? And of course, which two teams are playing in the big game because we need to make sure that we have some regional respresentation in the cuisine. So let’s look at this year’s teams and let’s see where we might be headed since I need to start planning NOW !!!

NFC Teams

New Orleans Saints – crawfish pies, alligator chili – 2 dishes that have made the menu in the past – we could see some beignets this year too

Minnesota Vikings – hmmmm – deep fried walleye cubes ? deep fried snickers ? Lutefisk ? (I hope the vikings lose)

Dallas Cowboys – something tex-mex or maybe bbq, perhaps the Texas Crabgrass will reappear on the menu

Arizona Cardinals – Phoenix…..ummmmm……I’ll get back to you on this one

Green Bay Packers – Cheese, cheese dip, port wine cheese & crackers, a stilton perchance ?

Philadelphia Eagles – no cheesesteaks, no cream cheese, going to have to think on this one

AFC Teams

Indianapolis Colts – ummmmm – I know they celebrate with Milk at the Indy 500

San Diego Chargers – some hawaiian fusion, seafood, maybe a mexican influence while keeping it light or perhaps a zoo platter of exotic meats

New England Patriots – clam chowder ? a lobster roll ? baked beans ?

Cincinnati Bengals – they tell me that chili is big in Cincy so maybe I tie in my gator chili if they play the Saints

New York J-E-T-S jetsjetsjets – bagels with a schmeer ? hot pastrami sliders ? dirty water dogs ? street meat ?

Baltimore Ravens – Crab cakes or crab dip – could tie in with the Texas Crabgrass though I would shoot myself if I had to sit through Baltimore & Dallas in the SuperDuperBowl.

And of course, since the game is in Miami this year, we need to do something with a cuban influence to it.

I have also already decided that I have to try and recreate the Tennessee Tailpipes from Fat Annie’s Truck Stop in NYC and I will obviously make my honey orange hicken wings too along with a tray or two of corn muffins and mini sundaes in phyllo dough cups (a MUST according to the swamprats). Those are givens.

So that’s What’s Cooking Behind The Shades for now. Please help me fill in my culinary blanks and give me some other suggestions too. I am open to try just about anything…..once.

(this blog also appears at allrecipes.com)


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