What's Cooking, Leawood?

October officially begins comfort food season, so we asked around town what foods bring out the appetite and the nostalgia in people.

Matt Besler, Defender and Captain, Sporting Kansas City

Q: What is your favorite comfort food?

Steak, baked potato, grilled asparagus, and a cold glass of 2 percent milk.

Q: Do you prefer sweet, savory or spicy?


Q: What’s your favorite spot in town for a quick bite?

SPIN! Pizza

Q:  What’s your favorite local restaurant or locale for a splurge?

Novel.  My wife and I usually order a bunch of small plates and share everything. We could eat their homemade pastas for every meal.

Q: What recipes do people love you to bring to a buffet or potluck?

Slow cooked baby back ribs.

Q: You’ve heard people describe their “spirit animal.” So what’s your spirit food?

People who know me best will say salmon because that’s what I eat and order most frequently. But I also have to get Ranch-flavored Corn Nuts when I stop at gas stations during road trips.

David Kearney, Principal, Nativity Parish School

Q: What is your favorite comfort food or favorite meal?

You can’t beat homemade fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, fresh green beans and homegrown tomatoes as a comfort food. 

Q: Do you prefer sweet, savory or spicy?

I love the combination of both savory and sweet…. A box of Cheez-Its along with a snack size container of Jif-to-Go peanut butter for dipping, served with a Diet Dr. Pepper is the perfect combination. 

Q: What’s your favorite spot in town for a quick bite?

Red Door Grill…..Whether it’s a juicy burger or buttermilk-breaded chicken tenders, Red Door Grill can’t be beat!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant or locale for a splurge and why?

Last year, my wife, Therese, and I started a tradition that we’re eagerly anticipating continuing this year. We attend Christmas Eve mass at Church of the Nativity at 6 p.m. to hear the children’s choir, followed by dinner of the Seafood Mixed Grill at the Bristol.

Q: What recipes do people love you to bring to a holiday buffet or potluck?

At the schools where I’ve been the principal, I’ve had a tradition on the afternoon before school starts. I share an inspirational children’s picture book, and I serve chunky chili, nacho cheese dip, and Grandma Kearney’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies. I often receive requests to bring these to school and for the secret recipes.

Q: Would you be willing to share a recipe or a food memory that is meaningful or nostalgic to you? What is the special meaning or attachment for you? 

One of my favorite childhood memories is making chocolate chip cookies with my grandmother. Although the recipe was never written down and passed on, I’ve spent years recreating the taste and look of her memorable cookies. It’s a few tweaks on Nestle’s Tollhouse recipe that takes me back to her kitchen and the love of cooking she shared. 

Grandma Kearney’s Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • large eggs @ room temperature
  • 3 cups Nestle chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Combine butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla at high speed in large bowl. Beat, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture, beating at low speed after each addition. Stir in chips. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonful onto ungreased air bake cookie sheet. Bake 5 minutes, rotate the pan 180 degrees, as you’re doing so lift the pan 5 inches four times and let the pan drop onto the oven rack. This encourages the dough to spread giving the cookies a thinner crispier texture. Bake an additional 5-6 minutes until cookies are golden brown. Remove from oven, cool two minutes before removing to a wire rack.

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