Ever since I made my spinach lasagna roll ups a few weeks ago, my kids cannot stop asking for them again. Since I’m always making different things, I didn’t want to make the exact same meal again . . . at least for a few more weeks.
So, I decided that I could adapt the recipe a bit to showcase a different (and not as healthy) ingredient: pepperoni. Spinach is much healthier, but pepperoni is so comforting and yummy. Let’s face it: sometimes you just need comfort food and you’re not worried about it being healthy. There’s pretty much nothing more comforting than pizza and lasagna morphed into one dish. Try it, and you’ll definitely agree!
10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles
3 c. marinara sauce
16 oz. whole milk ricotta
¾ c. shredded mozzarella
½ c. Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 5 oz package of pepperoni slices
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Cook lasagna according to package directions and drain. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce into the bottom of a large baking dish.
Mix together the ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
Lay out the dry noodles flat on a clean surface, such as wax paper on the counter. Spread the cheese mixture evenly over the noodles in a thin layer. Place pepperoni slices along the length of the noodles on top of the cheese mixture and roll up carefully. Then, place the roll ups seam-side down in the baking dish. Leave a little space between the roll ups. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the roll ups and then top with mozzarella. Bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese melts.
A few years ago, my parents took us on a family vacation to Spain and the cuisine we experienced, both high-brow and low-brow, was unparalleled. The Spanish embrace community cuisine and every town seems to have its signature dish. One of the best signature dishes I tried was in Segovia: judiones de la granja de San Ildefonso. These enormous, creamy white beans are unlike any other beans I have ever tasted. And when they are cooked with Spanish chorizo, ham bones, and paprika, they are indescribably comforting and delicious.
During our travels, we spent some time in a parador in Segovia and what a magical experience that was. Segovia, a World Heritage City, is a magnificent spanish town that is full of history and is crowned at the top of its tallest hill by the Alcazar de Segovia, a royal Spanish castle that dates back to at least the 12th century. Everything about Segovia is extraordinary, and I have such fond memories of this special place.
While we were in Segovia, we enjoyed a special dinner at the parador and our first course was judiones de la Granja de San Ildefonso. I was blown away by this simple dish rumored to have been first created at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso right outside of Segovia. It is said that these beans were first brought to the palace from the Americas and fed to the royal animals. Apparently, at some point, the royals themselves tried the beans and loved them. This dish has been wildly popular in Segovia ever since, and it’s pretty obvious why these giant beans are so loved once you taste them.
1 lb. dried judion beans
3 Spanish chorizo, sliced
1 serrano ham bone (or a regular ham bone will work)
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, mined
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. Spanish paprika
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a large stock pot with the bay leaves, ham bone, and chorizo. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for about 3 hours, or until beans are creamy and tender, but still intact. You will probably need to add water as the beans cook, as it will evaporate.
At this point, you will need to heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onion until golden brown, about 7-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the paprika and flour and stir until fragrant. Add to the beans and continue to cook for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Tonkotsu ramen is the god of all ramens. The depth and complexity of the tonkotsu broth provide the foundation for the earth-shatteringly delectable bowl of happiness that is tonkotsu ramen. It’s the ultimate comfort food for winter. The unbelievably savory broth, toothsome noodles, silky, jammy eggs, melt-in-your-mouth pork, and fresh vegetables will make you feel like you’re sitting in an authentic ramen house somewhere in Japan.
This isn’t an easy 30-minute recipe, though. This beautiful meal takes time, patience, and love to create. It takes a minimum of two days to make and definitely takes effort . But the end result is 100 percent worth it. In fact, as soon as you finish this, you’ll probably be planning for the next adventure in home ramen making.
Heat the ramen broth over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, add the miso paste and soy sauce and reduce to a simmer. Whisk together completely and simmer for 2 more minutes.
Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package and drain.
To assemble the ramen, place noodles equally between four bowls. Add broth on top. Drop in the chashu, mushrooms, green onion and nori so that they become warm in the broth. Top with ramen eggs and nori.
Many ramen lovers adore a couple of slices of chashu pork atop their steaming bowls of deliciousness. The caramelized outside layer and tender inside layer is just the most perfect union for creating the ultimate ramen trophy. There’s probably nothing more perfect in a ramen lover’s mind than a rich bowl of ramen topped with chashu pork and a ramen egg (ajitsuke tamago).
This melt-in-your-mouth pork is seared and then braised in a sweet and savory sauce for hours. Most people assume chashu pork is difficult to make and don’t even attempt to replicate it at home. The truth though (sorry, ramen joints) is that it is really quite simple to make yourself. It does take a while to cook, but the actual prep time is minimal. So skip the restaurant and make your own chashu. I promise it’ll be better anyway.
1 lb. pork belly
1 c. water
½ c. soy sauce
½ c. sake
½ c. mirin
¼ c. sugar
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
3 inch piece of ginger, sliced
5 green onions, sliced into 2 inch sections
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Roll the pork belly as tightly as you can, leaving the skin side out. Using butcher’s twine, tie up the roll so that the pork belly will stay rolled up during cooking. This is important because rolling a pork belly allows it to cook more evenly.
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and sear the pork belly until it is browned on all sides. In the meantime, mix together the soy sauce, sake, mirin, and sugar in an oven safe pan or dutch oven. Add in the garlic, ginger, and green onions. Add the browned pork belly and cover. Place in the oven.
Braise in the oven for about 2 hours, flip the pork belly and braise for 2 more hours. If you would like to caramelize the outside even more, you can broil the chashu for a few minutes.
Let the chashu cool completely and then refrigerate it overnight. It will be much easier to cut if it’s cool. To reheat, just simply slice and add it to your hot bowl of ramen.
This rich, delicious broth adds so much depth to just about anything that uses broth as a base. My favorite way to use this is in tonkotsu ramen. When this tonkotsu broth is combined with all of the other ingredients in a good bowl of ramen, the umami taste is mind-blowingly good.
This version of tonkotsu broth is made in a slow cooker. While the initial part of the process must be done in a stockpot and skillet, the actual broth cooking time of 16 hours is done in a slow cooker. For me, this is much more convenient and safe because I like to cook the broth overnight while I sleep. You will definitely need a large slow cooker to fit all of these ingredients in. If you don’t have a slow cooker, this can be cooked in a stock pot on low for 16 hours.
4 lb. pork bones
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, quartered
10 cloves garlic, smashed
2-3 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
3 leeks, cleaned and halved
2 cups of shiitake mushrooms, halved
Salt and pepper
Place the pork bones in a large stockpot and cover in water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Let the bones cool and then scrub them clean, making sure to remove any fragments of bone.
While the bones are cooling, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and cook the onions, garlic, and ginger until they are slightly charred. This will only take a few minutes, about 5.
Add the pork bones, cooked vegetables, leeks, and mushrooms to a large slow cooker. Cover with 2 inches of water. Set to low and cook for 16 hours.
Remove the large items with tongs and a slotted spoon and discard. Then strain the broth through a strainer to remove finer particles from the broth. Place the broth in the refrigerator overnight and skim off the layer of fat before reheating it. The broth is now ready to use!
A few years ago, my parents took us on a once-in-a-lifetime vacation to Spain. Some of the very best memories of my life were made on that trip that we spent exploring through the northern part of that amazing country.
I found that I had a particular fondness for the Pais Vasco region of Spain due to the beauty, culture, kindness of the people, and the ridiculously awesome pintxos bars. Pintxos are similar to tapas, but they are always served on top of bread and include a toothpick, or “spike,” through them. They are displayed all along the bar and almost call out to people to be social and chat with their neighbors over these lovely little snacks. My family had more fun than was reasonable eating our way through the social, lively pintxos bars. We even made some random, new friends along the way.
As I was plowing my way through all of the pintxos – anything from anchovies to stuffed peppers, there was always one constant on my plate: tortilla de patatas. When I returned home, I wanted to continue eating these bites of yumminess, so now I make tortillas for meals instead of served on bread and spiked. Tortillas are perfect for any meal and are well-balanced when served with a salad. But admittedly, all of this writing about pintxos has me wishing for a social event. Pintxos party, anyone?
½ spanish chorizo, sliced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, sliced
1 c. manchego cheese, shredded
1 yellow onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
Green onion, as garnish
Heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chorizo and cook until lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl. Reduce the heat to medium low and add potatoes and onions to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and cook until the potatoes are tender, stirring frequently. This will probably take 20 minutes or so. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Spoon the potato mixture into the large bowl with the chorizo.
Set oven to broil and clean and dry the skillet. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy and add a dash of salt and pepper. Pour the eggs into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and toss to mix together. Add the cheese and mix again.
Heat the remaining olive oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add the egg mixture and stir to scramble. Smooth out the egg mixture so that it settles evenly and then run a spatula around the edges so that the tortilla doesn’t stick to the pan. Increase heat to medium high and cook until the edges are set. Transfer skillet to the oven and broil until the eggs are cooked through, or about 2 minutes. Gently transfer the tortilla to a plate, slice, top with green onions and serve!
For many Mexicans and Americans alike, nothing represents Christmas more than sitting around a table making batches and batches of tamales with loved ones. The tamalada, or tamale making party, has long been a Christmastime tradition of bringing together large groups of family and friends to spend the whole day making tamales. The process of making tamales isn’t difficult, but it is time and labor-intensive, so it’s important that the tamalada is fun and festive, complete with snacks, drinks, holiday music and laughter.
While the prize of the tamalada is often seen as the tamales, I believe the ultimate reward is the happy memories made and togetherness of family while creating these amazing little bundles of joy. These tasty tamales are memory-making in their own right, though, because this recipe is truly unforgettable. Happy holidays!
3-4 lb. pork shoulder
8 c. water
2 onions, quartered
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. oregano
3 tsp. cumin
Salt and pepper
Red chile sauce ingredients:
15-20 large dried guajillo chiles
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. shortening
1 Tbsp. flour
Salt and pepper
6 c. pork broth (reserved from the cooked pork)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. salt
¾ c. shortening
6 c. masa harina
Dried corn husks, 50-60 ct.
Start by making the pork the night before you plan on assembling the tamales. Add the pork shoulder, onions, garlic, water, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper to a slow cooker. Set on low and cook overnight for 10-12 hours.
In the morning, take the pork out of the slow cooker. Do not throw away the liquid in the slow cooker. Shred the pork with two forks and discard fat. Set aside in a large bowl. Strain the broth and set aside the broth.
To make the red chile sauce, remove stems and seeds from the dried peppers. Place them on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350 degrees for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant. Remove from the oven and soak in a large bowl of hot water for about 30 minutes. Do NOT throw away the soaking water. Place the peppers, garlic, cumin and 2 ½ c. of the soaking water into a food processor until smooth.
Make a roux in a saucepan over medium heat by melting the shortening and whisking in the flour until the mixture is smooth. Pour in the chile mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more soaking water until desired consistency is achieved. Add salt to taste.
Add shredded pork to the saucepan and simmer in the red chile sauce for 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Set aside.
Soak corn husks in hot water for about 20 minutes to soften while you make the masa. To make the masa, add shortening to the bowl of an electric mixture. Beat on medium for about 1 minute or until fluffy. Add one cup of masa harina, salt and baking powder while continuing to mix. Then add one cup of pork broth, alternating until 6 cups of each have been mixed together. The masa should have the consistency of a thick, creamy paste.
To assemble the tamales, spread about 2 Tbsp. of masa on the center of the husk into a thin layer. Place about 1 Tbsp. of the pork in the center of the masa. Fold the sides of the husk together until the masa comes together (like a taco). Then fold the button up and wrap. Tie with extra pieces of corn husks.
Now it’s time to steam the tamales. Bring water to boil in a large pot with a steamer insert. Place a layer of leftover corn husks at the bottom of the steamer and then place the tamales on top of the husks, open side up, and somewhat tightly packed. Reduce heat to medium low and steam for 40 minutes. Add water as necessary during the steaming process.
Unwrap tamales and serve with red chile sauce, green chile sauce or just plain!
Sometimes a hearty soup is all you need to feel happy on a cold winter’s night. This no-fuss navy bean soup with ham and spinach will warm the members of your family from the inside out and is perfect for either lunch or dinner.
This cozy-feeling soup is perfect for this time of year because it’s easy on the wallet AND on the waistline. So go ahead, buy the presents and eat the party foods. This is one meal that won’t count as a strike against you in either area.
1 lb. bag dried navy beans
2 c. ham, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 c. baby spinach
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. water
2 tsp. oregano
2 tsp. paprika
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
The night before cooking, sort through the beans to make sure there are no rocks Discard any cracked beans or rocks. Add the beans to a large bowl and cover completely with water and soak overnight. The next day, drain the beans and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery and onions and cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, paprika and oregano and stir for 1 minute. Next, add the ham, beans, broth, water and bay leaves. Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir, then cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for an hour, stirring periodically.
Check to see if the beans are cooked through and creamy in consistency. Continue cooking until the beans are cooked to your liking, checking every 15-20 minutes. My total cooking time is usually around two hours. Taste the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach and stir in until it wilts. Remove the bay leaves and serve immediately.
I associate kalua pork with a very funny and fond memory from my childhood. Just the smell of it brings me back to a distinct fourth grade memory that still makes me and my family chuckle. When I was 10, we traveled to Hawaii for a family vacation. We stayed in a really special place with private cottages sprinkled along the oceanfront. These cottages were on the property of a large resort and there were luaus hosted each night outside of our little home away from home.
My sister and I watched the beautiful Hawaiian ladies greet guests each night at the luau and we wanted to be just like them. Our parents had already bought us some cool Hawaiian dresses at the ABC store and had these amazing flower crowns made for us, so we came up with an idea. We were positive that if we dressed up exactly like the ladies hosting the luau, that the guests would believe that we were also pretty Hawaiian girls who worked at the resort.
So one night, we got dressed up in our Hawaiian garb and walked downstairs to the luau line. We confidently stood next to the line of people joining the luau, and welcomed them with a friendly “Aloha!” The guests played along and thanked us, and the people working at the luau didn’t mind that we were hosting. In fact, they thanked us for helping out and so kindly let us live out our fantasy. My sister and I stood there welcoming guests for what seemed like hours while my parents took pictures of us and giggled. We were sure we had everyone fooled and that they all believed we were definitely Hawaiian and that we were definitely old enough to work at the luau.
I don’t think I realized for years that literally nobody believed we worked there, but I smile to think that every person there so kindly played along to make a couple of little girls from Wyoming happy.
It’s memories like these that make food so much fun. Every time I eat this meal, I think of that 10-year-old girl who was so immersed in the experience of Hawaii and its cuisine. I love making this simple meal at home and while it’s not quite the same as eating it on the beach as a wide-eyed fourth grader, it’s still pretty tasty!
1 Tbsp. mesquite liquid smoke
3 lb. pork shoulder
Himalayan pink salt, to taste
2 c jasmine rice
1 can coconut milk
1 c. chicken broth
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 head of cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp. butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
Trim the pork and place into the slow cooker. Pour liquid smoke all over the top of the pork and season with sea salt. Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 10-12 hours. Shred with a fork.
Make sure you rinse the rice thoroughly before cooking. Then, combine all ingredients into a saucepan and stir. Cook on medium heat until the mixture boils. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Stir and serve.
For the cabbage, heat the butter over medium high heat. Add cabbage and cook for about 5 minutes or until cabbage is soft and slightly brown. Season with salt and pepper.
Is there anything more comforting than a big bowl of warm, yummy pasta? I think not. I don’t know about you, but when the leaves start falling off the trees I start craving comforting food that warms me from the inside out. Spaghetti carbonara is literally made up of all of the best things: eggs, bacon, cheese, pasta! What is not to love about this wonderful dish?
While some people prefer carbonara without peas, I think they add a little sweetness and cut the heavy taste, creating a more balanced flavor and visual palette. Carbonara can be made with all types of pasta, but I like to make it with traditional spaghetti.
16 oz. high-quality spaghetti
1 cup fresh shredded Parmesan
6 slices of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, diced
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 c. frozen peas, thawed
Italian parsley leaves, chopped (for garnish)
Makes 4 servings.
Cook pasta according to package directions in boiling salted water.
Separate eggs and yolks from 4 eggs. Set aside the yolks for later. Whisk the egg whites and extra egg together in a bowl. Add Parmesan cheese and whisk until combined.
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add diced bacon and cook until crispy. Set bacon on a plate, leaving the excess grease in the pan. Add garlic and thawed peas to the pan and cook for one minute.
Drain pasta and put the pasta into the skillet. Quickly pour in the egg/Parmesan mixture and add bacon. Stir until combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each bowl with an egg yolk and chopped parsley.