Pork Shoulder Ragu


I tried this recipe after a recommendation from our friends Lindsey and Bethany. It’s a good one! Getting it in the oven on time was my biggest challenge, but after that, it’s SO SO simple. Great flavor & hard to mess up, this one’s a winner.

2 to 2 1/2-pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small pat butter
1 large can whole tomatoes, with juice
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh thyme
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 tablespoon hot sauce, for smokiness (I used Trader Joe’s Hot Chili Sauce)
Freshly grated Parmesean

Preheat oven to 325°F. Liberally salt and pepper the pork roast. Add olive oil and butter to large Dutch oven and heat over medium-high until butter melts, but does not burn. Add pork roast to pan and brown on all sides, about 8-10 minutes in all.

Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel, and hot sauce and bring to a boil. Cover, and put in oven. Braise for 3-4 hours, turning every hour or so. Add more liquid (water, wine, or tomato sauce) if needed. (The liquid should come to about 1/3 of the way up the pork.) Meat is done when it’s practically falling apart. Put on a cutting board and pull it apart with two forks, then add back to pot and stir. Cook 1 to 2 pounds pasta according to package directions. When it’s is ready, put into individual bowls and top with ragu and lots of Parm.

**I try to always include the recipe as its creator intended, and then share my own changes below. I used sriracha for the hot sauce (and estimated rather than measured), and replaced pappardelle with egg noodles. No fresh herbs, used dried instead. Other thoughts are recorded at www.tredways.org.

Broccoli Cheese Soup


This recipe provides a great baseline for a delicious broccoli cheese soup to share among friends. Suggestions on the Allrecipes.com page included increasing the broccoli and the cheese, and using half and half instead of milk. Mess with the ingredients on your own to come up with a combo that suits you!


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food, cubed
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water


  1. In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion in butter until softened. Stir in broccoli, and cover with chicken broth. Simmer until broccoli is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat, and stir in cheese cubes until melted. Mix in milk and garlic powder.
  3. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into water until dissolved. Stir into soup; cook, stirring frequently, until thick.


**My alterations: 2 T butter + olive oil for softening the onions, then add a handful of chopped carrots in and some garlic. Chop up about 30oz broccoli florets keeping in mind they will decrease significantly in size while cooking. Use 1 pound Velveeta + grated sharp white cheddar. Skip cornstarch in favor of 1/4 C Wondera (flour) for thickening.

Chicken in Coconut Milk with Lemongrass


Another recipe in the Koselig Cooking series, this is a good one if you’re a fan of Thai flavors. 

Serves 4 to 6

1 whole roasting chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro stems
juice of one lemon + zest, discard rind
1 stalk lemongrass, 5 inches of white part only, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can coconut milk
3 cups torn greens (spinach, kale, chard, mizuna, etc.)
2 green onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Cooked rice, to serve

Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. Put the chicken, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, or if you’re going to cook it right away, set it aside while you prepare remaining ingredients.

When ready to bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the oil. Put in the chicken, breast-side up, and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds. Carefully flip the bird and crisp the other side for another 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and pour off the fat in the pot.

Transfer the chicken back into the pot, breast-side up, and add the cinnamon stick, star anise, chopped cilantro stems, lemon, lemongrass, garlic, and coconut milk. Cook, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Spoon the sauce over the top of the bird to baste every 20 minutes or so. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F.

Remove chicken from the pot and put it on a plate. Pull out and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise. Put the pot with the sauce back on the stovetop over medium heat, add the spinach and stir until just wilted, about 10 seconds.

Carve the chicken and serve each piece over rice with sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro leaves.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

IMG_5255This recipe is endlessly adaptable. Your family likes their tacos hot? Add more red pepper flakes (we like it mild, so I only add half). Like it salty? Double the salt. Don’t like cumin? Use less or leave it out. You get the idea. The base amounts here makes about 3 tablespoons. In tacos, I like to use about 3 tablespoons per pound of meat, so when I make a batch, I usually double or triple the spices (pictured is a quadruple batch).


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (I use flakes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon flour (optional)


  1. Stir all ingredients together until combined.
  2. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

One Pot Pasta Bolognese


This recipe is a keeper (thanks, Morgan at Host the Toast!) and is particularly well-suited to hosting a larger gathering of friends or family. Or, if you’re like my family of three, it will serve leftovers for a few days afterwards. If you’re replacing the tagliatelle noodles with fettucine—heads up—you might add a few minutes to your cooking time. The al dente was a step or two shy of al dente-ness, though that meant the reheating process the next day yielded a perfect noodle.

PREP TIME: 10 mins, COOK TIME: 40 mins, TOTAL TIME: 50 mins

Serves: 6 servings


  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1.5 lb ground chuck
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups reduced sodium chicken stock (or 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup wine)
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 pound tagliatelle or spaghetti
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves



  1. In a dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until lightly crisped. Mix in the onion, celery, and garlic, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Mix in ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, adding slightly more if you prefer more heat in your sauce. Cook together until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the ground chuck. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Once browned, stir in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and thyme.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, uncover, remove the thyme sprigs, stir the pasta in, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the milk, parmesan cheese, and shredded basil, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with additional basil, to garnish.

The Best Chicken Soup


A quick recipe search for cold-fighting chicken soups yielded this one. I used it as a guideline in my Koselig Cooking series and the flavor was absolutely perfect. I skipped the alcohol and greens this time around and instead included almost a cup of rice. It’s easily adaptable.

2 Tbsp coconut oil
Salt and pepper
1 whole chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds
3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced thin
3 carrots, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
3 celery sticks, chopped 1/4-inch
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 whole sprigs fresh rosemary, 1 (about 1 tsp) minced
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup white wine, sherry or vermouth
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 cups winter greens, chard, kale, beet greens, sliced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1. In a 6 quart Dutch oven or comparable heavy-bottomed pot heat coconut oil or other high-heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not yet smoking. Season chicken with salt and pepper inside and out. Place chicken in pot and sear on all sides until golden brown, turn when each side removes easily from the bottom of the pot. Remove to a plate, and reduce heat to medium.
2. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil in pot, you can reserve the drippings and rendered chicken fat for dumplings or just discard. Saute leeks, carrots and celery until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add half of the thinly sliced garlic and minced herbs, stirring for another 30 seconds. Sprinkle with flour and stir for another minute.
3. Using a heave wooden spoon, scrape of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you add the wine. As the bottom becomes clean add chicken stock. Return chicken and any accumulated drippings to pot. Cover and cook until chicken is tender and will easily pull apart, about 40-50 minutes. If using chopped potatoes, turnips, parsnips or sweet potatoes, add after 20 minutes.
4. Remove chicken and whole herbs from pot, discard herbs. Remove meat from chicken, discarding bones. Return chicken meat to pot and stir in along with the rest of the garlic, greens and parsley. Cook until greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve hot, alone, with noodles, or wild rice.


A few years ago when I dislocated my shoulder, my friend Chris brought us these carnitas. Now, it’s perfectly, perfectly welcome and wonderful when you are bringing someone a meal to drop it off at their home with directions on how to heat it up or freeze and prepare it later or the like. In times of trouble or transition, meals that people don’t have to cook themselves are so high on the list of ways to help and love them. Every single meal that has ever been brought to us has tasted like love.

But Chris not only prepared such good food for us; she did something I had never even thought to do. She stayed. She stayed and fed my kids and fed me and Jason and sent me up to my room to rest while she cleaned up and packed the leftovers away for later. It still brings tears to remember how loved and cared for I felt that afternoon.   

So whenever I make these carnitas I remember, and they still taste like love. As far as the recipe itself goes, I think it’s the citrus juice and the cinnamon that makes it special, but I admit I’ve never had “true” carnitas before. These are the real deal as far as I’m concerned.


  • 3-5 pounds pork roast, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 white onion, coarsely chopped


  1. In a large bowl or Ziplock bag, mix the spices, then add the pork and toss until coated (these quantities of spices were just enough to coat 3 1/2 pounds of pork; if you have a bigger roast, you will want to double the spice mixture).
  2. Add pork to a slow cooker along with the orange and lime juices, bay leaves, and onion. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high 4-6 hours.
  3. To crisp the meat (optional, but really tasty): remove the meat from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer to a large baking sheet. Preheat the broiler to high. While the broiler is heating, pull the pork into shreds with two forks. Broil the meat 4 minutes or until the top layer is crisped. Remove from oven and flip meat and then broil for another 2-3 minutes until the new layer is crisped as well. Transfer to a serving dish and add back about 1 cup of the cooking broth for moistness.
  4. Serve as a taco filling or over lettuce with your choice of salsa, pico de gallo, avocado, cheese, and so on.