Mess Hall Diaries: Holiday Stuffed Kale…thingies

Well, it’s that time of the year again ladies and gents.

Pumpkin spice fades to peppermint, 40’s on 4 (Sirius XM station) turns from regular old-timey songs to Christmas old-timey songs, and I begin to panic daily about my credit card debt, instead of weekly.

That’s right–it’s the holidays. A time of family gatherings, gift giving, disappointing your parents and eating great food.


In honor of all those great holiday traditions, I decided to make a twist on a classic; stuffed cabbage.

Since Stacey is really smart and told me that I am not super descriptive when it comes to my recipes, I’m putting the ingredient list up at the top…so hold these in your heart as you read on.

Ingredient List:

Turkey Balls (teehee)

  • 1lb ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (chopped)
  • 1 bundle of Lacinto Kale (Steamed)
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 2 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 2 tbsp parsley (dried) / 1/2 cup chopped fresh
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • Goat cheese (buy a bunch and use what you want, the rest is good with crackers)

Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Orange Juice
  • 1 cup cran juice
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Salt/pepper to taste


Got em? Good. Let’s start with the cranberry Sauce…cause it’s easy and you’ll need time to develop the flavors.

In a small saucepan combine your cranberries, OJ, Cranberry juice (I know, in it’s own blood) and wine and bring to a boil. Once that is rolling, drop that bad boy down to a simmer, add your spices and let it ride.



After about an hour hit it with an immersion blender or pour into a regular blender and get it smooth.

The sauce is for the bottom of your baking pan and to drizzle over the finished dish so it can be as chunky or smooth as you like it.


Ok, now that you’re done with the sauce (or at least starting it), let’s talk turkey.

In a bowl, combine your spices, cranberries, and red onion with the turkey.  You’ll want to give this a really nice mix. I use my hands because there are so many different elements that you need to disperse evenly…and because it feels weird and I like it.


Once you’re set, place your kale down on a plate and make your turkey balls. The size of your balls will depend on the size of your kale leaf…too big and your meat will overflow, too small and you’ll have a bad meat to veg ratio.

Once your balls are just right, make a little divot and put a bit of goat cheese in the middle. Seal the meat around the cheese and roll it in your kale.


Once you’ve wrapped your meat up tight, put it in a baking pan with a little bit of your cranberry sauce at the bottom.

P1040402Cover those bad boys up in foil and pop them into a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes.

Take them out, remove the foil, and place them back in, crank the heat up to 425 and give them another 20-30 minutes.

Put the foil over and let them rest a bit before serving.

I served mine with a horseradish sweet potato mash as a side, but you could serve this with anything you’d like.  I just need to figure out new and creative ways to get Stacey to eat sweet potatoes.

In the end, if my recipe made any sense and if your spouse has access to quality photography equipment, you’ll end up with something like this.


I made this after work on a Monday, so while it might seem like a lot, I promise you it’s a really easy and delicious dish to make.

Well, that’s all there is today! Happy Holidays to everyone, I hope that whatever and however you celebrate you find yourself surrounded by the ones you love.

Look forward to sharing more recipes and stories for the rest of this year and throughout the next.

Kisses Yall.


Mess Hall

toddagarcia View All →

I’m an acting/improvising optimizing son of a gun.

I’ve been living and working and performing in Chicago since 2005. I love to eat, travel, talk and make people laugh. So for me this blog stuff is pretty neat.

I also like you. Whoever you are. I like you. For coming to my blog and sharing in my thoughts. I appreciate you. And I think you’re hot. So here’s to you, readers of my blog. Thanks for being awesome. Share and share a like!

Follow me on Twitter @toddawatomi and listen to my podcast with my besticle Ethan at!

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