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April 12, 2024

Cookbook Magic at The Madison

Category: Culinary

Author: Teresa Malnovic, Culinary Director

For numerous chefs, there exists a pivotal cookbook that served as the catalyst for their culinary journey. This single book ignited an idea, unlocking a passion for cooking they may not have realized they possessed. Cookbooks transcend mere collections of recipes; they serve as windows into cultures, histories, and personal narratives. With each page turn, a new adventure, tradition, or innovative technique unfolds.

Every recipe and cookbook, whether passed down through generations or reimagined, enriches our culinary culture at The Madison Senior Living. Exploring culinary resources nurtures and evolves our love for food and cooking.

Handwritten recipe on Marinara Sauce

I have amassed over twenty-five books in my current cookbook collection. My favorite cookbook among them is titled GastronoGeek. What I like most about that cookbook is its inclusion of recipes from some of my favorite Sci-Fi movies.

To capture my interest, a cookbook must demonstrate a variety of ways that each ingredient can be prepared.

My mother and grandmother passed down their meat lasagna recipe, which they’ve used for years. Additionally, one of my cherished creations is Chicken Arrabbiata.

This recipe holds a special place among my favorite dishes.

Brain Sliders 

Sliders – 8 brioche slider rolls


  • 1 lb. ground turkey, preferably dark meat 
  • ¼ cup yellow onion, finely diced 
  • 1 large egg 
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt 
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced 


  • ½ cup ketchup 
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce


  • ½ cup shredded low-moisture mozzarella 
  • 8 green olives, small pimiento-stuffed, halved crosswise 
A tantalizing trio of meatball sliders, perfectly placed on a plate with fluffy buns, beckoning you to take a bite.


  1. Use a paring knife to cut out the center of a slider bun, leaving a ¼-inch (6 mm) border around the edge.

    Remove the bread from the center of the bun and place it in a food processor. Use your fingers to press the remaining bread to the bottom or sides of the bun to make a mini bread bowl. Set the bread bowl on a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining buns.

  2. Pulse the bread in the food processor for 20–30 seconds, until it breaks down into fine breadcrumbs.

    Set aside ½ cup (55 G) of the breadcrumbs and transfer the rest, about 1 cup (115 G), to a resealable bag and freeze for another use. 

  3. Make the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

    Grease the foil pieces with nonstick spray. Set aside.

  4. In a medium bowl, combine the ground turkey, reserved ½ cup (55 G) breadcrumbs, onion, egg, pepper, salt, and garlic.

    Gently mix until well combined. 

  5. Using a 2-ounce ice cream scoop, scoop 8 meatballs onto the prepared baking sheet and roll into balls.

    Chill for 30–60 minutes to set.

  6. Make the sauce: In a medium bowl, mix the ketchup and barbeque sauce.

  7. Roll the foil squares into strips. 

  8. Remove the meatballs from the refrigerator.

    Lay a foil strip over the top of each meatball, down the center. Press the foil down the center of the meatball to create an indentation that resembles a brain. 

  9. Brush the meatballs with the sauce. 

  10. Using a toothpick, add some texture to the sides of each meatball by pressing the side of the toothpick into the meat to create grooves and ridges. 

  11. Bake the meatballs for 18–20 minutes, or until the sauce begins to lightly brown on top and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (75°C).

  12. Assemble the sliders: Scoop ½ tablespoon of sauce into the bottom of each prepared slider bun.

    Top the sauce with 1 tablespoon of grated mozzarella cheese. Gently tuck a meatball into the hole in the bun, making sure only a small amount, about ¼ inch (6 mm), of the meatball is inside the bun. Brush the tops with more sauce. 

  13. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has set and the bread is toasted. 

  14. Cut 8 of the toothpicks in half. Insert the ends of the toothpick halves into the rounded side of the halved olives.

    Make sure that the toothpicks do not stick out the front, which should look like eyeballs.

  15. Remove the sliders from the oven and add the eyes by pushing the ends of the toothpicks with the olives into the side of the sliders.

    Serve immediately, being careful to remove the toothpicks before consuming. 

Generational recipes or new culinary creations can spark nostalgia and inspire our cooking journey. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a home cook, we all have that one foolproof recipe. Don’t overlook the power of beloved cookbooks and their stories. Keep sharing and savoring the diverse flavors that await us.

The Madison Senior Living in Kansas City, MO offers independent senior apartments, assisted living, and memory care with a variety of services and a range of floor plan options. Amenities include restaurant dining, 24-hour bistro, concierge service, housekeeping, events and entertainment, personal care, transportation services, and more. Centrally located near St Luke’s South/ Menorah with convenient access to major shopping centers and attractions, including Top Golf, Park Place Shopping Center, Worlds of fun/Oceans of fun, Kansas City Zoo, Union Station/Crown Center, National WWI Museum and Memorial, and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

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