Hope’s Vegan Dirty Rice

Hope Buhl

Food & Culture

Dr. Annemarie Perez


Final Project Cookbook Entry:

Dirty Rice-Vegan Style


My dirty rice dish is a recipe that always brings back childhood memories when I prepare it. My childhood was very humble but it was also full of love and great food. I am the youngest of six children whom my Mother raised and because there were so many mouths to feed my Mother always had to be creative to make food last and also to create what we thought were these grand dishes but really it was just my Mother being creative to make ends meet. This dish has always been unique to me because it was different every time and every time my Mother made it, it was delicious. The reason it was different every time was because my Mother would always cook dirty rice when our food got low and so she would use the ingredients that we had in the fridge and cabinet and she would create a master piece out of nothing.

I now prepare the many variations of this dish for my daughter and my family. It is the only dish that I have come to master; my family loves it and often request for me to make it for them. I love to make it for breakfast for my daughter because it’s quick and tasty. I scramble eggs, cheese, white onion, green onion, sausage salt, pepper and rice and she just loves it. I also make a soup out of this by preparing my own broth with tomato paste, water or vegetable stock and seasonings and just add the rice (a photo of this is attached and you can see how red and thick the sauce is).

Now that I have become a working Mom myself, I realize that rice is actually “a saving grace staple food” and what I mean by that is that rice is one of the most inexpensive foods and being that it is so cheap it keeps many bellies full across the world without breaking the bank. It made me emotional writing this paper because as a single working Mother myself of one child, I realized how hard it must have been for my Mother to have to feed six children and at the time and three grandchildren was also added to our family. I couldn’t even imagine having to do that on the income she had. So when I think of it I am both sad and proud of my Mother for having the strength and courage to even attempt such a great task. I am sad because I know it must have been very difficult for her and I can remember that a lot of the times all we had was rice and she would prepare a “sweet rice”, which was boiled and she would add sugar, butter, salt and pepper and it was just devine!

Rice is a staple food around the world and I thought it was so beautiful to research and experience the way people around the world enjoys rice as I did when I was younger and as I continue to enjoy.

Rice is typically rinsed before cooking to remove excess starch. Rice produced in the US is usually fortified with vitamins and minerals, and rinsing will result in a loss of nutrients. Rice may be rinsed repeatedly until the rinse water is clear to improve the texture and taste.

Rice is the staple food of over half the world’s population. It is the predominant dietary energy source for 17 countries in Asia and the Pacific, 9 countries in North and South America and 8 countries in Africa. Rice provides 20% of the world’s dietary energy supply, while wheat supplies 19% and maize (corn) 5%.

A detailed analysis of nutrient content of rice suggests that the nutrition value of rice varies based on a number of factors. It depends on the strain of rice, that is between white, brown, red, and black (or purple) varieties of rice – each prevalent in different parts of the world. It also depends on nutrient quality of the soil rice is grown in, whether and how the rice is polished or processed, the manner it is enriched, and how it is prepared before consumption.

An illustrative comparison between white and brown rice of protein quality, mineral and vitamin quality, carbohydrate and fat quality suggests that neither is a complete nutrition source. Between the two, there is a significant difference in fiber content and minor differences in other nutrients.

Riceland Foods, Inc., is a farmer-owned agricultural marketing cooperative and the world’s largest miller and marketer of rice. The company was founded in 1921 with headquarters in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Riceland owns and operates seven rice mills, including the largest rice mill in the world, located in Jonesboro, Arkansas. More than two-thirds of Riceland’s business is delivering, milling, storing, marketing and distributing rice. The core mission of this farmer-owned cooperative is to generate enhanced revenue and services for its members.

Some commercially available products under the Riceland Rice label include milled white, brown and parboiled rice, and Rice ‘N Easy Flavored Rice. The co-op also sells products to retailers, food service, and food manufacturing companies globally. Riceland also produces rice bran oil and rice flour and offers rice bran and hulls to pet food makers and livestock farmers as feed ingredients and bedding.

Riceland is also a major soybean processor in the Mississippi Delta region of the United States where milling, pressing, packaging and distribution occurs. It refines soybean and other vegetable oils for food service and food manufacturing companies. Soybean meal products are sold primarily to the poultry and catfish industries. In addition, winter wheat and limited quantities of corn are handled, depending on the needs of farmer-members. Bi-products that are commercially marketed include organic gardening amenities like PBH (pasteurized rice hulls) and rice hull ash which are bio-degradable and bio-renewable soil supplement replacements for perlite and vermiculite.

Each year, more than 1,500 employees receive, store, transport, process, and market more than 125 million total bushels of grain produced by its 5,500 farmer/owner members in Arkansas and Missouri.



Vegan Dirty Rice:


  • Jasmine rice (brand-Goya 2 cups)
  • Pinapple (1 can of dole chopped)
  • Serrano peppers (5 sliced)
  • Garlic-fresh (half clove)
  • Onion (1 white finely chopped)
  • Parsley (half cup) mix at the end of preparation.
  • Green onion (half stalk) chop finely
  • Broccoli florets (fresh stalk 2) chop small
  • Veggie bouillon, chicken bouillon or tomato bouillon for flavor and taste (2 table spoons)
  • Grape seed oil (4 table spoons)
  • Garlic powder (1 tablespoon)



  • Cook two cups of Goya Jasmine rice in a medium sized pot with two cups of water and two cups of rice: I cook it until it is almost done because you don’t want it to be mushy when you fry it at the end. Set the rice aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
  • Chop onion, garlic, green onion and broccoli florets add to a few tablespoons of grape seed oil and sauté until tender and golden.
  • Sauté the Serrano peppers in separate skillet with a tea spoon of grape seed oil until golden or until your desired texture.
  • In the same skillet you just sautéed the Serrano peppers in add six tablespoons of grape seed oil and add in the rice and veggies
  • As you mix in all the rice and veggies, add the 2 table spoons of the bouillon of your choice and also add in the 1 table spoon of garlic powder
  • Add in the parsley (half cup and mix in).
  • Mix really well so that all the veggies and seasonings are mixed evenly throughout the rice.Dirty Rice Photo

Cookbook Entry – Spam Musubi By: Matt Ord

Spam Musubi

As a kid it’s so important what your mom packed in your lunch when you went to school. I remember at school we would all open our lunches together comparing what each of our mothers had carefully packaged in our brown paper bags for lunch. To start, if you had a lunch pail you were already winning the food comparison between friends. I used to be so ashamed because my mother and father would always write, “Matty” on the front of my lunch bag which of course in grade school was death by embarrassment, not only that but they wrote cute notes on my napkins too. After a while I was able to convince her that a Spiderman lunch pail was much needed and my lunch bag problem was solved. After we all opened our lunches we looked at what we got and oftentimes would exchange food items. Food was traded and bartered for amongst friends, for example a bag of grapes and a cheese stick could be trades for a small bag of Lay’s Potato Chips or one Oreo packet could buy you a whole sandwich and something else because the sweets always were one of the most sought after snacks. Although sweets were very popular, the number one thing everyone wanted to trade for was my mom’s Spam Musubi. Nothing hits your taste palate quite like the flavor of Spam Musubi, in my opinion its one of the best things in life. Perfectly cut Spam grilled until golden brown and slightly crunchy, with teriyaki sauce layered in between a ball of freshly cooked rice, all of which is wrapped in toasted seaweed (nori), bringing together a medley of saltiness and sweetness. For as much Spam that I ate growing up, I’m surprised I still love it just as much as the first day I tried it. Now that i think of it, I’ve ate it for so long and so early in my life that it’s impossible to remember the first time that I tried Spam. I would eat scrambled eggs, Spam, portuguese sausage and rice for breakfast, Spam and egg sandwiches or Spam Musubi for lunch, not all in one day but every other day.  My Grandpa, a Hawaiian Filipino cook and jack of all trades, grew up on the Hawaiian Islands where Spam influenced his life and what he cooked greatly. He also fought in the Korean War, during a common  staple in all military branches because it was cheap, easily canned, and had a long shelf life.

Spam Musubi Recipe:


  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 (12 ounce) container of Spam
  • 5 sheets sushi nori (dry seaweed)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preparation Time: 25 Minutes

Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Ready In: As soon as you’re done or refrigerated to served chilled


  1. Soak uncooked rice for 4 hours; drain and rinse.
  2. In a saucepan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in rice vinegar, and set aside to cool.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved. Slice SPAM lengthwise into 10 slices, or to desired thickness, and marinate in sauce for 5 minutes.
  4. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Cook slices for 2 minutes per side, or until lightly browned. Cut nori sheets in half and lay on a flat work surface. Place a rice press in the center of the sheet, and press rice tightly inside. Top with a slice of SPAM, and remove press. Wrap nori around rice mold, sealing edges with a small amount of water. (Rice may also be formed by hand in the shape of the meat slices, 1 inch thick.) Musubi may be served warm or chilled.

The history of Spam is really interesting for how it gained popularity and how it came about. The article The History of Spam Musubi written by Vanessa Benoit, sums up Spam’s origin well, “The history of spam began with Hormel Foods, in 1937. Jay Hormel, with plans to enhance and build on his father’s company, was not the only SPAMcompany in town. He introduced canned ham in 1926 and it was swiftly imitated. In the 30’s many companies were working on canning ham and pork products. But his competition allowed for pig ears, lips, and snouts in their meat. This gave Hormel an “in” or an advantage over what he could do better. He insisted in not using those parts and decided to instead use the shoulder meat of a pig, which was more time consuming. But now he also needed ways to make his product visibly distinct. He wanted to reduce the size of the can but kept running into an issue where the canned meat would release too much excess juice. He finally decided that the meat needed to be also mixed in a vacuum, to reduce leftover juices. No one really knows why the meat was called “spam”. Many speculate it was an amalgam of the words “spiced ham”, even though actual ham was not added to the concoction until later. Some people like to come up with comical acronyms such as “Spiced Processed Assorted Meat” or “Sciencey Pork and Meat”. The product did not take off by any means, not at first. But it was known for being economical. And in some cases, it was something housewives could throw together for an easy meal.” It started as an economical means of feeding your family, a cheap way of getting your protein, meat could get expensive and during the recession SPAM was the go to product.

More specifically the history of how Spam became so popular in Hawaii (where my family is from) is very interesting. There is some great information about it in this article on Musubi Boy’s website, “In Hawaii during World War II fishing was prohibited and other meat was scarce, which prompted creativity in local recipe selections. This adaptation happily led to the creation of various forms of musubi. When fresh meat was in short supply in these remote islands, resourceful Hawaiian inhabitants were initially introduced to Spam, the lovable meat product in a can and one of the components of some musubi. During the following years, the local populace invented numerous culinary creations utilizing this canned wonder, however musubi will always be first in their hearts… When Hawaii food historian Arnold Hiura traveled to California to talk about his book, Kau Kau: Cuisine & Culture in the Hawaiian Islands (Watermark Publishing, 2009), he was surprised to find many Japanese-Americans staking ethnicity claims on the quintessential Island snack favorite: the Spam musubi. “They feel they invented the Spam musubi,” he says. “They actually trace it to the internment camps.” Following the December 1941 Japanese attack on Oahu’s Pearl Harbor, more than 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry living on the U.S. mainland West Coast were imprisoned in remote internment camps in multiple states for the duration of World War II. With the pink canned meat prevalent, they crafted a sort-of Spam sushi, placing seasoned slices of it on white rice in a baking pan. Says Hiura, “They’d cut it, serve it and that was the forerunner to what we know as the Spam musubi.” Served to soldiers stationed here, Spam was omnipresent in World War II-era Hawaii, too. Today, Island residents consume almost 7 million cans of Spam annually—the nation’s highest per capita consumption—much of it in musubi. The modern Spam musubi, however, is typically crafted individually, sans baking pan, its slice of salty meat further seasoned with a shoyu-sugar sauce and placed on a block of white rice with the same surface area as the Spam slice, then wrapped in nori (dry seaweed). Offered pretty much everywhere prepared foods are sold in Hawaii, they’re our perfect portable, eat-anywhere snack”. Since early 1937, Minnesota-based Hormel Foods, the home of Spam, has sold over 7 billion cans throughout the world. Annually there are about 100 million cans sold just in the US in Hawaii alone, approximately six cans per person annually are consumed or about 5 million pounds per year for the whole state combined.

During World War II there was need for a product that could be sent to troops far away on the front lines, something that didn’t need to be refrigerated, could be shipped easily, survive wet tropical conditions and was high in protein, SPAM was that product. During the war over 100 Million pounds of SPAM was sent to feed troops. Hawaii’s population was 423,000 and out of that total 158,000 were of Japanese descent, that’s over one third of the population. Since they logistically couldn’t send that many Japanese to internment camps like the government was doing along the west coast of the US, they had to put restrictions on them. It was illegal to fish if you were Japanese for fear of leaving the island and conspiring with the Japanese Imperial Army. Since they couldn’t fish their main source of protein was depleted, people turned to SPAM instead. There was even a mascot invented called Slammin’ Spammy who GI’s painted onto the sides of their Airplanes as well as the Hormel Girls that would tour the country selling the canned meat and promoting it through song and dance. SPAM can be found in McDonald’s and Burger Kings in the Hawaiian Islands and are even sold at 7/11 stores. There are 22 different flavors and types of SPAM available for consumption, and in 2007, Hormel says, it shipped off its 7 billionth can. It took 22 years to break the billion-tin mark, at which point the sales ramped up exponentially.

I’m so glad that Hawaii helped make SPAM popular through musubi’s. It’s kind of crazy that a product that was originally made for the low income families has turned into such a big deal. There’s a Spam Museum, a festival cook-off in Waikiki, National SPAM olympics and even high end SPAM dishes in famous restaurants in Los Angeles. Who would’ve thought there was so much history behind some canned meat made for the poor.





























Work Cited Page

Vanessa Benoit. (2016, June 26). The history of the Spam Musubi. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://www.tabelog.us/articles/the-history-of-the-spam-musubi

Fulton, A. (2015, April 13). How Spam helped shape Hawaii. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/13/how-spam-helped-shape-hawaii/

Lamar, E. (2015, April 1). There’s a lot more to Musubi than just Spam. Retrieved November 30, 2016, from https://munchies.vice.com/en/articles/theres-a-lot-more-to-musubi-than-just-spam

Musubi boy. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from http://maework21.wixsite.com/musubiboy/musubi-history

Onigiri (2016). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onigiri

Toth, C. (2016, August 22). The history of Five local grinds. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://www.hawaiimagazine.com/content/history-five-local-grinds

Hartley, M. (2016, January 27). Episode 30: Spam, Hawaii, & Japanese internment – the hidden history of business Podcast. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from Food, http://hiddenhistoryofbusiness.com/index.php/2016/01/27/episode-30-spam-hawaii-japanese-internment/

Carbone, N. (2012, July 9). How much Spam? | Spam turns 75: 10 things you didn’t know about the canned meat | TIME.Com. Retrieved December 14, 2016, from http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/07/10/spam-turns-75-10-things-you-didnt-know-about-the-canned-meat/slide/more-than-seven-billion-cans-have-been-sold/

New York Times Magazine (2007, June 11). International Business. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/11/business/worldbusiness/11iht-spam.1.6089119.html?_r=0

Turner, W. (1984, September 9). MILK WAR POINTS UP HAWAIIAN INSULARITY. Week in Review. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1984/09/09/weekinreview/milk-war-points-up-hawaiian-insularity.html

Cookbook Entry – Pasta: Gnocchi with Grandma’s Sauce


Cookbook Entry – Pasta: Gnocchi with Grandma’s Sauce

If one were to be asked to define food, it would most often be defined as sustenance or something that holds some kind of nutritional value and allows for our survival. Although this is true, food is so much more than merely fuel for our bodies. It may be seen as an art form that allows for creativity and self-expression. It is also something cultural, that tells a story, feeds our soul, and for some, inspires emotion. Emotional ties to food vary from person to person. For some, certain foods are tied to particular memories and trigger very particular emotions. Of these various emotions, the one that resonates the most within us is nostalgia. For me, pasta has this effect. Pasta is a very versatile food with many different preparations. It also has a very rich history and can be considered one of the original fusion foods. In my writing, I will attempt to illustrate my emotional connection to pasta, as well as, sharing ways my family prepares it, while touching on the history and culture surrounding it.

Pasta has always been a significant food in my life. Some of my earliest memories include gathering at my Grandmother’s dinner table with my family and eating pasta. Typically, this would take place every Sunday afternoon after mass. Pasta would also be at the center of any celebratory meal, but usually, in a more elaborate preparation such as lasagna, gnocchi, or freshly made fettuccini. Although pasta is delicious, its taste alone is not the reason why it is my favorite food, nor is the reason for its significance in my life; there are many foods I find equally delicious to pasta but do not hold the same significance or emotional connection. I went to high school in the San Gabriel Valley and many of my friends lived in the area. We would at times go out to eat foods such as ramen, hot pot, or dim sum since they were locally available. Today, I still enjoy eating these foods as well as many others and although I find them to be equally delicious to pasta, I am not transported back to my childhood; I am transported to a different time and place with my friends from high school. So then, it not necessarily just the taste of the food that I enjoy so much, but more so, reliving the memories and emotions that the food triggers.

As a child, I did not care much for vegetables. However, I loved pasta. Because of this, my Grandmother would always try to find new ways to get me to eat my vegetables. This was more often than not a futile effort until she thought of sneaking vegetables into the pasta sauce. Prior to this, we would usually eat pasta al Pomodoro, also known as, pasta with a simple tomato sauce on Sunday afternoons. This sauce consisted of olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, tomatoes which she grew and canned herself, and fresh basil. One day she decided to grind up some carrots, celery, and onion and throw the mixture into the sauce to try and get me to eat some extra vegetables. In Italian cuisine, this combination of carrots, celery, and onion is referred to as the “holy trinity” or “soffritto.” However, my grandmother was not a classically trained chef nor was she attempting to elevate her recipe or make it more sophisticated in any way; she was simply being sneaky and trying to get me to eat my vegetables. I remember my Grandmother eagerly watched to see if I had noticed a change when she brought the food to the table. When I took my first bite I instantly noticed a change. However, it was a change for the better. I told her the sauce tasted really good that day and asked if she had made it differently. She was quick to deny any changes in fear that I would stop eating. Week after week, I continued noticing this new taste, so I continued asking her about the sauce until the day she revealed her secret ingredients. At first, I didn’t believe her but I eventually did, and realized that vegetables could indeed make something taste better. Over the next few years she spiced up her recipe a bit with the addition of bay leaves, nutmeg, and pepper. This came to be known as my grandma’s sauce and my family has been making it ever since.

Over the years we have eaten this sauce on many types of pasta. The most common preparation of pasta in my family is dried pasta boiled in salted water to an “al dente” texture. The literal translation of “al dente” is “to the tooth” and basically means that the pasta is cooked through but is not mushy; you should feel some resistance on the tooth when biting into it, hence the term “al dente.” Once the pasta is cooked and drained, it is tossed with my grandma’s sauce, extra virgin olive oil, and butter. This process is referred to in Italian as “mantecare.” Once it is tossed, it is time to plate. The pasta is served in a shallow bowl and topped with more sauce, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, basil, and either Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese; the type of cheese we used would just depend on what type we had at home. Ideally, this dish would be paired with a Montepulciano from the Abruzzo region of Italy but really any dry red wine would be great. Growing up in an Italian household, there were never any drink restrictions I had to follow as a child, so drinking wine with this meal truly adds to the nostalgic experience. Of course, growing up we couldn’t afford something as fancy as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo on a regular basis, so we would usually drink Carlo Rossi wine. At six bucks a gallon it was delicious! On more special occasions, we would enjoy this sauce on other types of pasta such as homemade gnocchi, lasagna, or fettuccini. Making homemade pasta with the right consistency can be quite tricky; especially gnocchi. To make proper gnocchi, it is crucial to start with piping hot cooked and peeled potatoes; if not, the gnocchi will not have the right texture. Once the potatoes are out of the water, it is important to work quickly to ensure they remain hot. The first step is to dump the potatoes out onto a board and smash them. After that, sprinkle a couple of fistfuls of flour and a pinch of salt over the smashed potatoes. Next, make a well in the center of the potatoes and flour. Into this well, crack in an egg and start kneading the potatoes and flour into it until forming a dough. The dough should be firm but not too firm. Once the dough is formed, roll it into a thick rope, cut it in half, and repeat this with each piece until you have thinner ropes about three quarters of an inch in diameter and chop into bite size pieces. By the end of this process, the gnocchi should still be warm. Place the gnocchi into trays ensuring that they are not touching one another and freeze. Once the gnocchi have frozen, they can be dropped into boiling salted water. If the gnocchi were made correctly, they should float to the top after about five minutes. This means it is time to take them out of the water and toss with my grandma’s sauce. To plate, scoop into shallow bowls and once again top with more sauce, extra virgin olive oil, cheese, and fresh basil.

Today, pasta is eaten worldwide and many countries even have their own variations of it. Greece has orzo, Poland has pierogi, Germany has spaetzle, etc. Many believe pasta originated in Italy. Although, its origins are not clear, some believe it is of Chinese origin and that Marco Polo was the first to introduce pasta to Italy. In Marco Polo’s book, “The Travels of Marco Polo,” he mentions a plant that produced something similar to flour. Today, there are speculations of that being breadfruit. However, since this text no longer exists in its original form, there is no way to know for sure.  Although the Chinese did produce something similar to wheat flour with breadfruit, there was already documentation of pasta consumption during the 13th century and prior to Polo’s trip to China, making it very unlikely that he was the first to introduce pasta to Italy. However, the notion of pasta originating in China is most likely true because China is the country that has the earliest documentation of noodles and furthermore, archeologists also believe that noodles originated in central Asia. These ancient Chinese noodles were not made with wheat; it is speculated that once pasta reached the Mediterranean, it was refined and made with durum wheat due to its availability and high gluten content. This process of refinement along with the use of durum wheat gave us what we know today as pasta. Over time, pasta grew in popularity worldwide, including overseas to the Americas. Although Spanish settlers were the first to bring pasta to the Americas, Thomas Jefferson was actually the one who catalyzed its popularity. During a trip to Paris in 1784, he ate pasta for the first time; he called it macaroni. He enjoyed it so much that he brought some back with him and it has been growing in popularity since.

Today, there are quintessentially American pasta based dishes such as macaroni and cheese and some that were created in America, fusing traditional Italian recipes with local ingredients. One example of this is penne with vodka crème sauce. This took the traditional recipe of penne all’Arrabbita and fused it with vodka and crème. Usually, I am a purist when it comes to pasta, but this is one nontraditional preparation of it that I find quite enjoyable. Besides, the story of pasta is the story of fusing cultures and ingredients. I like to refer to pasta as the original fusion food because of recipes like this one but also because of its history. It took various different cultures as well as ingredients from all over the world to create a recipe that we think of today as traditionally Italian. Pasta al pomodoro is the most quintessentially traditional preparation of pasta there is. However, if we trace each ingredient back to its origin we will find that this dish is truly a fusion of many different cultures. Noodles originated in china; tomatoes were brought back to Europe by Spanish conquistadors returning from the Americas; cheese and olive oil was used throughout the Mediterranean, and basil along with other spices made its way to Europe through the Indian spice trade. Therefore, pasta can safely be referred to as a fusion food. This is the story of pasta but really, it is the story of food in general; there is not one cuisine where all of the ingredients used come from that same location. This is part of the beauty of food; it is intrinsically fluid and constantly evolving. Besides, what else has the power to marry cultures and bring people together in the same way food does?


Recipe: Gnocchi with my grandma’s sauce

Grandma’s sauce

  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 7 tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
  • 1 pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 sprig of basil
  1. Start by cooking olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes together in a large pot. Be careful, these ingredients cook fast. This should only take about 15 seconds on high heat.
  2. Blend tomatoes, onion, celery, and carrots and add to the pot. You want to add these immediately to the oil to avoid burning the garlic and red pepper.
  3. Add a pinch of nutmeg and the 2 bay leaves. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper taking into consideration that the gnocchi is cooked in salted water.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and basil.


  • 5 russet potatoes
  • 2 ½ cups of all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 large egg
  1. Boil the potatoes for about 20 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Drain and peel the potatoes. It is important to peel the potatoes immediately after they have been boiled to ensure they remain hot throughout the process.
  3. Place the cooked and peeled potatoes onto a board and smash.
  4. Sprinkle the flour and salt on top of the potatoes.
  5. Make a well in the middle of the potatoes, flour, and salt.
  6. Crack an egg into the well.
  7. Kneed the potato and flour mixture into the egg until forming a dough.
  8. Flour the board to ensure the dough does not stick to it.
  9. Roll and cut the dough until you are left with ¾ inch thick strands.
  10. Chop into bite sized pieces, place on a tray, and freeze.
  11. Once the Gnocchi are frozen, remove them from the freezer and drop them into boiling salted water.
  12. After about 5 minutes the gnocchi should rise to the surface of the water. When they do, take them out of the water carefully.
  13. Place the gnocchi into a large serving bowl and mix with my grandma’s sauce.
  14. Serve into shallow bowls and top with more sauce, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and either Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano.
  15. Enjoy!


















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Sonkin, Loren. “Montepulciano D’Abruzzo: A Wonderful Red Wine from the Region of Abruzzo.” Montepulciano D’Abruzzo: A Wonderful Red Wine from the Region of Abruzzo Into Wine. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2016.



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From the Folks Who Brought You Overpriced Cuisine

As a kid, I knew it.  We. Were. Poor.  How poor?  Rationed-milk poor; Rationed-everything, poor.  Sometimes, our meals were comprised entirely from government issued food products.  And, for some odd reason, we didn’t qualify for food stamps or any other social assistance.  But, my Mom figured it out; She had to.  Sometimes, for dinner, we’d have an avocado and two tortillas each, period.  I remember one Christmas, the only reason we had any type of holiday dinner is because the Police dropped off a box of food—some sort of neighbor outreach program.  We were thankful, but I remember sitting there with my immigrant mother, wondering what you could POSSIBLY use cranberry sauce or stuffing for; it just made no sense, why not send a bag of beans instead?

It is from this struggle that my mother’s tostadas were born.  Like all overpriced cuisine, it was born from desperation and brought to you by the poor.  My Mother could make a meal out of nothing.  I don’t remember the specific date, but the memory always starts the same:  I was hungry and all we had in the refrigerator was a take-home-plate from a party we had attended over the weekend.  The plate was composed of two or three pieces of chicken, rice, salad and some hardened tortillas.  For Latinos growing up in Los Angeles, this was a common food given at parties, because it was cheap to make.  Other times, it could have been what looked like a bare-bone chicken on a plate.  Whatever the set up, my mother would pluck the remaining poultry meat from the bones, and add whatever veggies she could.  She would deep fry the tortillas, once crisp, she would smother a teaspoon of fried beans over them.  The chicken layer would be next, and it would all be topped with shredded lettuce, chile and a sprinkle of cheese.  The result:  The world famous Crenshaw Tostada.  It was perfect.  It was warm.  The flavors of freshness would explode in your mouth.  If we were doing well, it would include Guacamole.  The tostada is perfect, no matter what the occasion.  As I bit through the warm crunchy awesomeness, using my hand to hold it together as my teeth created a cracked fault line through the middle of the deep fried tortilla, I knew we would be okay.  I have continued the tradition of the Tostada and have renamed it the Bell Gardens tostada.  It costs about .80 cents to make, but you can get one at Broken Spanish in Downtown L.A. for $13.00.

Overpriced cuisine, inspired by necessity

The Burrito.  $12.87 for the Quesarito Burrito (Chipotle secret menu).  Neither Taco Bell or El Cholo are responsible for the Burrito’s creation.  Though there are cultural references of the Burrito since 1848, it made the Oxford English Dictionary in 1934.  The visual we get of a Burrito is a modern model, it is the “Mission style” burrito.  Though people have been putting food inside a tortilla since the creation of the tortilla, we understand that the burrito is a product of the labor force.  Poor workers would wrap meat and whatever other leftovers they had into a large tortilla to-go, only to unwrap it many miles later, perhaps while sitting under a tree.  Without access to refrigeration and too far from the farm house for a quick trip back for lunch, the Burrito became the most efficient way to “take your lunch” with you.

Fried Chicken.  $200 for a fried chicken meal, Ad Hoc, Yountville, CA.  Scottish-Irish Immigrants to the United States introduced their motherland cooking tricks to the Southern States, where African slaves were able to incorporate American seasonings to make it, well, American.  Think about it, how do you feed an entire family with one chicken?  You bread it.  Increasing the calorie count and obviously flavor.  The same recipe was given to Catfish, creating a separate famous southern dish.


Gumbo. $18 a bowl, Harold and Belle’s.  According to Dr. Carl A. Brasseaux, expert on all things Cajun, the first documented references to gumbo appeared in the 19th century. In 1803, gumbo was served at a Gubernatorial reception in New Orleans, and in 1804 gumbo was served at a Cajun gathering on the Acadian Coast.  Today’s Gumbo however, is very different from what was served in the 1800’s.  Most people associate Gumbo with seafood gumbo; it isn’t rare for it to also include chicken, ham, bacon, oysters, crab, shrimp and beef.  The modern version of Gumbo is a result of the poor getting together trying to have a good time with everybody bringing a little something to the party and throwing it “in the pot”.  Everybody eats.

Chile con Carne.  International Chili Cookoff First-place prize: $25,000.  Historians agree that J.C. Clopper, from Texas, was the first to document the phenomenon. In his visit to San Antonio in 1828, he documented his observations and wrote “When they [poor families of San Antonio] have to lay for their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat–this is all stewed together.”  Like most things in Texas (cowboys, spurs and music) Chili con Carne is Mexican influenced.  Before the dividing lines of border politics, poor Mexican and poor American cowboys met along what is now the border, to discuss topography and ranching.  It was not rare for a witch’s plot full of hash meat, chili peppers and beans to be sitting over a fire.

 Lobster.  $16.29 for one Maine Lobster Tail, Red Lobster.  Seafood is supposed to be a poorman’s food.  So as long as you have a hook and some string, you can catch and cook your own seafood.  During peak season, Lobster was approximately $3.69 a pound, in Maine.

Modern day Tostada Ingridients:

6 crunchy Tostadas

Two boiled chicken breast

Frozen Vegetables

1 can of tomato sauce

1 garlic clove

Half a chopped onion

Half a head of lettuce

One chopped tomato

Shredded Parmesan cheese

1 can of beans (any color of beans)

Sour Cream


The Bell Gardens Tostada Ingredients:

Chicken.  Restaurant left-over chicken is the best.  It is seasoned differently than you would.  The local food bank would provide us with a box of produce occasionally.  This allowed for my mother to sautee the chicken meat with carrots, onion, potatoes, carrots, celery and tomato.

Beans.  We always had boiled beans in the house.  Tostadas require the beans be mashed and fried; with pork fat, or Manteca.  Throwing in a little chile and/or Cotija cheese in the frying process was always an option.

Side Sauce.  Tomatoes are blended and poured into a deep, hot pan, where garlic and onion have been caramelized.  This is your topping sauce.

Tostadas.  Tostadas must be served hot, so they are the last to be prepared.  Day-old tortillas are preferred.  Once you decide if you will be dipping them in enchilada sauce or not, put them in hot oil until crispy.

Please reference paragraph two for preparation instructions.

















“The Mexican Food Revolution.” National Museum of American History. N.p., 30 May 2014.

Web. 26 Nov. 2016. <http://americanhistory.si.edu/food/resetting-table/mexican-food-revolution>.


“Four Big Facts The Daily Got Wrong In Its History of the Burrito.” OC Weekly. N.p., 27 May

  1. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. <http://www.ocweekly.com/restaurants/four-big-facts-the-daily-got-wrong-in-its-history-of-the-burrito-6627691>.


“History of Fried Chicken & Spotlight on Chef Duff Goldman…” Ergo Chef Blog. N.p., 15 July

  1. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. <http://ergochef.com/blog/history-of-fried-chicken-spotlight-on-chef-duff-goldman/>.


“Where Did Southern Fried Chicken Come From?” United States – Where Did Southern Fried

Chicken Come From? – History Stack Exchange. Stack Exchange, 28 Sept. 2014. Web. 01 Dec. 2016. http://history.stackexchange.com/questions/15364/where-did-southern-fried-chicken-come-from.


“Chili History.” National Chili Day. ICS, 23 Feb. 2016. Web. 01 Dec. 2016.



The Sopa Verde, which is translated as the green soup, is not really a green soup; it is pasta with a creamy green chile sauce and cheese.  It is a dish that my family and I have enjoyed since I can remember.  This dish was always prepared during the holidays during Thanksgiving and Christmas, it is a side dish but we love it and we enjoy it often as a main dish.  I asked my mother where this recipe came from and she said she was 99% sure that it came from one of my father’s sisters.  My dad came from a big family of 12 siblings, the aunt that made the Sopa Verde was Tere short for Teresa, and she passed away 8 years ago.  All of my aunts, there are 6 six of them, are all good at cooking.  I have tasted everyone’s cooking and it has all been delicious.  Which makes sense because they all grew up learning to cook in the same kitchen from my Grandmother, but when you ask each of my aunts who cooks the best out of all the sisters they will all have the same answer “tu tia Tere,” translation, “ your aunt Tere.”

During the holidays when I was a little girl one of the things I looked forward to was eating that Sopa Verde, we would look forward to it all year long.  For the longest time I thought I was the only who loved the dish the most, but as I got older I learned that all of my cousins and aunts and uncles were thinking the same thing.  For Christmas every year we would go to Ensenada, Mexico.  Ensenada is about 2 hours away from the Tijuana Border.  It is a beautiful trip during the day and even more beautiful if the sun is setting, you have the ocean view all the way to Ensenada.  As you arrive to Ensenada you can see all the fishing boats, this always makes me think of my dad and my Grandfather.  My Grandfather owned a few of the fishing boats and my dad was one of the fishermen so they used be out fishing for months at a time.   My parents are both from Ensenada and we would always stay at my mother’s only sisters’ house through our Christmas Vacation.  We would celebrate with my mother’s family on Christmas Eve, and then on Christmas day we would go to my father’s parent’s house.  We would get there at around 4 or 5 in the evening by that time most of the family was there.   The house was so full of people at least 50 people, all immediate family.  I was always so overwhelmed with my dad’s huge family but also happy to see them all.  The kitchen always seemed to be the most popular room.  My aunts were always there forming an assembly line to be able to feed the whole family, my mother would always join in and help.  It was fun watching all the sisters together helping each other cook and the interesting part to me was that even though it was a lot of hard work cooking all that food and serving everybody they always looked so happy and enjoying themselves laughing and talking the whole time.  For Christmas the Sopa Verde accompanied the Tamales, beans, and a carrot salad and it was first introduced to the family (dad’s side) on Christmas Eve dinner by my aunt Tere.  For Thanksgiving the Sopa Verde became part of our Turkey dinner and it goes great with everything.  When I asked my mother and my aunts where my aunt discovered this recipe, none of them were too sure or could remember, but they said that she must have picked it up from one of the parties she attended.  My aunt was notorious for attending parties, birthdays, wedding, etc. at least one every weekend.  My aunt was the wife of a principle to a middle school, so she was invited to many events.   She must have picked up the recipe from one of the thousands of parties she attended.  My aunt had given my mother the recipe, and my mother introduced it to her side of the family, and now they are all obsessed with this dish, having no Sopa Verde for Thanksgiving dinner would be like having no turkey, in our family it is very important.  My mom’s sister and cousins have all learned how to make Sopa Verde.  I’m pretty sure other families make this dish on for the holidays as well. Although, I have never seen it in anybody else’s home for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, but my says she has over heard someone in the market saying “don’t forget the green noodles to make the green pasta,” this could mean anything just because they said green doesn’t mean it was our Sopa Verde, they could have meant a pesto pasta or maybe they use green food coloring, I just don’t think it was our Sopa Verde, but my mother seems to think so.  Another time I was describing it to a co-worker and she said she thought her family makes it too, she said the ingredients sounded familiar.  It’s possible, but I don’t think so.

This is the way my mother prepares it;

  • She boils thin curly egg noodles which she changed since last year, she used the thicker noodles before, in my opinion the thinner ones are better
  • Then she drains the noodles once their cooked, and starts making the sauce.
  • For the sauce she uses canned green chiles, and it is the quicker version of the recipe. The original recipe calls for fresh roasted peppers.  My aunt always took the time to roast the green chile peppers on an open flame, then peel them and deseed them (just like chile rellenos) It does come out a bit spicier, which I prefer and it of course it does the fresh peppers do give more flavor, but if you don’t like spice then go with the canned version or you can add a little more sour cream it will still come out good.
  • Next you put the roasted chiles in the blender along with about one cup of sour cream, 1 table spoon Knorr bouillon powder a little salt, and pepper, and blend.   My mother never uses measurements, she’s been making it forever so she just knows the right amount, and she’s constantly tasting just see to if she needs to add a little more of anything, that is very important.
  • You put your noodles in your baking bowl, we usually use the big disposable aluminum pans since were making a big portion. Before you add the sauce you cut pieces of one stick of butter, you don’t have to use the entire stick, and put them on top of the past.  Once the sauce tastes perfect to your liking you pour the green chile creamy sauce all over the noodles.
  • Finally you sprinkle your, either mozzarella, or jack cheese, we always mix both cheeses, but either one will come out good. Cover with foil and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cheese has melted.        

I tried to find a recipe online to see if there was one out there, but I really couldn’t find anything.  The closest recipe I found was one from a restaurant called Pinto Restaurant & Salsa Company, the recipe calls for green roasted chiles, but they add chicken, parmesan cheese and garlic which make it in my opinion a little more Italian style.  Another recipe I found was a Green Chile-Cilantro Pesto Sauce (Pasta), I love a pesto sauce and it looks really good but not the same.

The history of pasta is not very easy to trace.  I looked up some of the origins of pasta and most would think that it originated in Italy since they are famous for it.  Historians claim that it was the Arabs, especially from Libya, that were the first to bring pasta along with spinach, eggplant and sugar cane.  Pasta was introduced to Italy during the Arabs conquest in Sicily, which also influenced Italian dishes.  A common belief about pasta is that it was brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo during the 13th century.  Since Polo’s original work doesn’t exist anymore, the book relies on stories retold by various authors.  Oh and did you know there  are over 500 different types of pasta from shapes to colors, I found a list of the pasta variations that I thought was pretty interesting to see.

The history of the green chile is the pepper, member of the genus Capsicum part of the night shade family of flowering plants.  It is related to the tomato and the potato, that’s strange they are so different.  The red and green peppers are fruits from the same plant picked at different times.  Most chiles come from New Mexico; it is considered the Chile capitol of the world.  Chile peppers are good sources of vitamin A, B, and C.  They are high in fiber, phytonutrients, and Capsaicin.  They also help boost your metabolism and the nutrients help stimulate weight loss.

Chiles were said to have originated back in 7000 B.C.  Mexicans used the chiles to spice up and give their food flavor.  The green chile was brought to the U.S by none other than Christopher Columbus, the very same Columbus who discovered America in 1493.  Christopher mistook the chile for black pepper and that is how the name “chile pepper” came to be.  Chile seeds were brought to North America for cultivation.  Cross breeding of chile peppers started in 1888 and peppers evolved into a variety of chile peppers.

They say mozzarella cheese was first made when cheese curds accidentally fell into a pail of hot water in a cheese factory near Naples and thereafter the first pizza was made.  The truth is that new cheeses are often created when mistakes happen, so there may be truth.

Mozzarella originated in Italy near Naples from the milk of water buffalos, because it was not made from pasteurized milk and because there was little or no refrigeration the cheese would go bad very quickly therefore, it did not leave the southern region of Italy near Naples where it was made.  As cheese technology, refrigeration systems developed the cheese spread to other areas of Italy.  Today two types of mozzarella are produced in the U.S, low moisture and high moisture.

David Jacks is the man said to have been responsible for the name Monterey Jack cheese.  David Jacks was a Monterey, California, businessman in the 1800s.  However, history shows that it actually was based on a recipe for queso del país “country cheese”, brought to California by Franciscan monks in the 1700s.  David Jacks did increase the popularity and demand for the cheese when he began shipping it to San Francisco.  The name Monterey Jack came about because production was based in Monterey County, California.  Eventually other areas named the cheese for their region, as with Sonoma Jack (Sonoma County, California), and now Monterey Jack cheese is made in other parts of the United States.



El Pinto Restaurant, Green Chile Chicken recipe,

http://www.elpinto.com/recipes/green-chile-chicken- pasta, accessed on 12/6/16

By Ihvhope, Green Chile-Cilantro Pesto Sauce (Pasta) recipe,

http://www.food.com/recipe/green-chile-cilantro-pesto-sauce-pasta-301899, accessed on 6 Dec. 2016

Julia, “Pasta Is Not Originally From Italy”, Today I Found Out, June 3, 2011

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/06/pasta-is-not-originally-from-italy/, accessed on 6 Dec. 2016

Avey, Tori, “Uncover the History of Pasta”, The History Kitchen, July 26, 2012

http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/uncover-the-history-of-pasta/, accessed 7 Dec. 2016

Maister, Kathy, “Different Types of Past” Start Cooking,

http://startcooking.com/different-types-of-pasta, accessed on 7 Dec. 2016

From Wikipedia,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_pasta, accessed on 7 Dec. 2016

Diaz, Eddie, “The History of Green Chile”, Diaz Farms, May 25, 2013

http://diazfarms.com/chile-history/the-history-of-green-chile, accessed on 7 Dec. 2016

Origin of Chili,

http://www.chilly.in/origin_of_chili.htm,  accessed on 7 Dec. 2016

Mozzarella History, La Bella Mozzarella, 5/15/2012

http://www.labellamozzarella.com/MozzarellaHistory.htm, accessed on 7 Dec. 2016

Tyler-Herbst, Sharon and Herbst, Ron,” Monterey Jack”, The Food Lover’s Companion, Barron’s Educational Series, Inc. 2007, http://www.foodterms.com/encyclopedia/monterey-jack/index.html, accessed on 7 Dec. 2016

Cajun Chicken Macaroni and Cheese



Pasta and cheese casseroles can be dated back to the 14th century. A dish known as makerouns was recorded in the famous medieval cookbook, the Forme of Cury. The recipe was “ Take and make a thynne foyle of dowh, and kerve it on peces, and cast hem on boillying water & seep it wele, take chese and grate it and butter cast bynethen and above as losyns, and serue forth.” This translates to “ Make a thin foil of dough and cit it in pieces. Put them in boiling water and seethe them well. Grate cheese and add it with butter beneath and above as with losyns [ a dish similar to lasagna], and serve”(Gutenberg).

The history of macaroni and cheese in the United States is credited to President Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson came into contact with the pasta dish while in Italy. He ordered a machine to make the pasta and imported the macaroni and Parmesean cheese to America. “In 1802, Jefferson served “a pie called macaroni” at a state dinner. Since then, baked macaroni and cheese has remained popular in the United States.

“ In the South, mac & cheese, even as a charity food, got caught up in racial politics. American history shows that macaroni pasta was given away as rations through government funded programming. Economic status would soon be associated with macaroni and cheese. Boxes were given away to both white and black families but black families were not given macaroni and cheese. Through President Johnson’s Great Society plan , macaroni would soon be associated with  “poor people food”. Macaroni and cheese became a convenient comfort food that working families could make for their kids. It is inexpensive and sticks to your stomach.

“Today macaroni and cheese can be considered a “black thing” because African Americans adopted the dish so successfully that its ethnic origins were completely forgotten” (Miller). As an African American I know the importance of serving a delicious dish at family functions. “In the African American kitchen, mac and cheese has attained hallowed status. In the black community if your macaroni and cheese is not, as the kids say, off the hook, you can’t cook” (Philips). In the black community, macaroni and cheese is dish that is anticipated. Macaroni and cheese was associated with holidays, special occasions, or Sunday dinners. Everyone has to make sure to have some on their plate.  Macaroni is a simple dish that, if done properly, has so much flair and flavor. Have fun with it. There are a million different delicious cheese varieties in the world so one can’t go wrong by using a mixture of a few different cheeses in macaroni and cheese. I love Smoked Gouda! It’s like bacon flavored cheese. It smells delicious. Macaroni and cheese can be baked in the oven or some people like to cook it on the stovetop with creamy cheese.

Macaroni and cheese can be a side dish or a complete meal. It goes great with every meat option possible. Try adding it to a hamburger. It is amazing. Or add some chicken or shrimp or both into the pan. Lobster macaroni and cheese is great as well. In my opinion, the lobster does not hold as much flavor as the shrimp or chicken but it still tastes great. Macaroni and cheese is also referred to as a ziti. Ruth Chris restaurant used to serve a great ziti. I am so upset that it is no longer on their menu. There are few places that have great macaroni and cheese. Most places, when cooked in bulk, water down the flavor. Most high end restaurants have pretty good macaroni and cheese but they are using some great blends of cheeses. It won’t be your grandma’s macaroni and cheese but it definitely has a great taste of its own. Most soul food restaurants are water down as well. The best macaroni and cheese is always homemade. I love to pair it with fried chicken wings, a side salad, and a nice glass of juice.

I grew up eating my grandma’s mac and cheese. I thought it was the best in the world until I tasted my aunt’s mac and cheese. Every Sunday, we had family dinner and mac & cheese was definitely a staple at the dinner table. My younger brother never ate my grandma’s mac & cheese and we thought he was crazy. Why would anyone choose box mac & cheese over a homemade dish that was oozing with real cheese? The key to make this a great tasting dish, is to use a mixture of cheeses. In addition, real butter adds extra flavor.

I thought my grandma’s macaroni and cheese was the best until I tasted Auntie Cheryl’s macaroni and cheese. OMG!! I swear to the heavens that this was the best macaroni and cheese ever. She made it for my high school graduation party and every guest in the party raved how amazing it was. Auntie Cheryl gave me the recipe but I have tried soooo many times to make her recipe and never has it tasted like hers. What I learned from Auntie Cheryl is you have to season your macaroni and cheese. Season the noodles. Season to your liking. She seasoned her macaroni and cheese and that is the step of the process that I can’t quite master like her. I have not tried to make her macaroni and cheese in a few years because I make the Cajun macaroni and cheese but I should give her recipe a try. Now that I am a little seasoned as a cook now, maybe I can do her recipe some justice. Auntie Cheryl passed away a couple of years ago so she never got to taste my macaroni and cheese.

Finally, I have my own recipe that I have perfected. Everyone loves it. After a visit to Stacked restaurant, I knew that there must be a better recipe out there for Cajun Shrimp Macaroni and Cheese. I first cooked this recipe for my mom, brother, and my boyfriend. At the time we were not together. We were in our dating phase so you know this is the time that you do all the impressing. I knew cooking for him, like most men or anyone who just loves great food being cooked for them, would reel him in. I would try recipes all the time, trying to figure out what seasonings I liked and how they blended with others. After trying this macaroni and cheese, he was hooked. This is his favorite dish that I cook. Everyone in my family raves about it. Hearing the compliments make me stick my chest out more and walk with my head held high. Being able to cook a delicious mac and cheese from scratch and not from the box is an achievement that I am definitely proud of. My grandma and aunt would be proud. If anyone decides to make the following recipe, I hope it brings to you as much joy that it brings to me and my family. When I make this mac & cheese, it is made with so much love and care. “I put my feet in it!”

Now it’s time to dive right in!!


Large Elbow Macaroni

1 – red bell pepper

1 – red onion

1 tbsp of minced garlic

Parsley( season to your taste buds. I don’t like a lot of parsley.)

1 lb of chicken or chicken tenderloins

Cream cheese

1 lb – Extra sharp cheddar cheese

1 lb – Pepper jack cheese

Panko breadcrumbs

Garlic powder, garlic salt, pepper (season to your liken)

1 stick of unsalted butter (I love Tillamook)



Emerald’s Cajun Seasoning

13 * 9 pan


  1. Cut up parsley, red onion, and red bell pepper. Cut chicken into chunks. Place to the side. Grate both packages of cheese. Set to the side.
  2. Season chicken with Cajun seasoning. You can have a heavy wrist with the seasoning.
  3. Prepare a boiling pot of water for the macaroni. Cook noodles per directions on box.
  4.  Heat a pan with olive oil on medium/high heat. Place garlic into pan with red onion, and bell peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add seasoned chicken to the pan. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. When done set to the side. Add parsley and stir. * Make sure to not over cook the chicken so that it does not dry out. The chicken will continue to cook in the oven.
  5.  In a small sauce pan, melt a stick of butter. When butter is melted, take off heat and place the cream cheese into pan. Whip cream cheese and butter until smooth in consistency.

    Step 5.

  6. Transfer noodles into pan. Season with garlic powder, garlic salt, and fresh ground pepper. Toss macaroni to make sure all noodles are seasoned.
  7. Add cream cheese to noodles and mix well. Make sure all noodles are coated with cream cheese.
  8. Add chicken to macaroni and mix well. Add ½ sharp cheddar and ½ pepper jack to macaroni and mix well.
  9. Add milk. You want to see milk covering the bottom of the pan. You want your macaroni to be wet. Now sprinkle some flour over the top of the macaroni and mix well.
  10. Sprinkle the remaining of both cheeses over the macaroni. Sprinkle Panko over the top. Place in the over 30- 35 minutes over until the cheese is melted and the Panko is crispy on top.
  11. Cool for 5 minutes and be prepared to have your taste buds dancing!!!



  1. Miller, Adriane. Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at Time. Chapel Hill. University of North Carolina Press, 2013
  2. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6455615
  3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macaroni_and_cheese
  4. “The Forme of Cury”. Gutenburg.org. Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  5. http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/food/entries/display.php/topic_id/16/id/105/
  6. Ellis-Christensen, Tricia. “What is Macaroni and Cheese Loaf?”.wiseGEEK.
  7. “Kraft Macaroni & Cheese: A History”. Chicago Tribune. August 14, 2010.
  8. “Perfect Macaroni and Cheese”. Martha Stewart Living. 66 (February 1999).
  9. http://www.eatliverun.com/stove-top-cajun-chicken-mac-n-cheese/
  10. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/cajun-mac-and-cheese-recipe.html



Personal Experience to the Dish (Birria): Before I tell this recipe, I think it is important that I give you all my personal history with this dish. When I first moved with my biological mom, I was introduced to so many Mexican dishes. Like most people who are not familiar with Mexican culture, I had only known of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. I was not allowed to eat Mexican food when I was younger because my adopted mother hated it and did not allow it in the house. But, when I moved with my biological mother I was able to indulge in so many dishes. I was introduced to a new dish every day. My mom and her boyfriend were food critics. We would eat out three times a day. In the morning we would eat simple breakfast food from ihop, Denny’s or someplace similar. For lunch we would eat Mexican food and for dinner my mom’s boyfriend would take us to a fancy dinner. This was our daily routine. Although I enjoyed all the meals very much, my favorite was always lunch because I had acquired this immensely strong love for Mexican food. That said, when I tied birria for the first time that love turned into an addiction. My neighbors were the people who told my mom about the place with the birria. They worked in the store at one point and had known the owners very well. When we first arrived at the place, it was a hole in the wall store. I remember asking my mom if she had gotten the right address. When we actually stepped into the store it was very empty. It reminded me of those archetypical gas stations in a nearly desolate town that you see in movies. It was scarcely supplied and had random items sporadically placed on the shelves. There was one of everything. One pack of razors, one pack of pads, one toothbrush, one pack of assorted chips. It was extremely strange, yet I was intrigued to know how this place sustained its business with such unreliable and inadequate inventory. In the center of the store there were about six tables arranged into two rows. There was nothing on the tables- I would have expected hot sauce, napkins, or eating utensils at least. It was kind of funny because my mom looked just as bewildered as me. She broke her silence by asking someone where to order birria. We were directed to the back of the store, near the sinks where they would wash their dishes. I recall there not being a tasty smell in the place. It was just hot and stuffy. I sat down while my mom ordered the food. She came back with a small cup of oil chile. At the time I thought nothing much of it- but it would soon be the beginning of a tedious journey for my mom trying to recreate the recipe. About ten minutes later the cashier arrived with our food. It smelled amazing! I could not wait to start eating. The birria was served with oil chile, cilantro, limes, minced onions and really thick fresh homemade tortillas. Around this time, I was pretty new to Mexican dishes, so I followed everything my mom did. She added a lot of onions, a small amount of cilantro and about three tablespoons of chile. She then rolled up a tortilla and dipped it in the birria. She bit into the tortilla after eating a spoonful of meat. Her eyes lit up! She paused and said “Oh my god, I have never in my life tasted birria better than this. How do they make this chilito?!” It was my turn to try now. I took my first bite and was amazed as well. I could not believe such a simple looking dish could taste so amazing. And of course she was right about the chilito. While I initially only added 3 tablespoons, I quickly realized that I needed much more. It was addicting! We sat there amazed while eating. Every Saturday after that day, my mom woke up early just to make sure she could get a large bowl of birria. One day she came home with nearly a liter of their chilito. She would add it to just about everything she cooked so it ran out very fast. It was the finishing touch to dishes like her fried shrimp tacos, fried potato tacos, menudo or even chicken tostadas. Birria became one of my top five favorite dishes (but only when it is cooked good, I have had some really terrible birria). My mom became obsessed with recreating the whole dish, but she focused on the chilito first because it was the ingredient that made the birria what it was. After she perfected the chilito, the birria came naturally. Today, I cannot tell the difference between her birria and the store’s birria. It is a dish she loves making and is quite proud of.

Photo Credit Masa Assassin

I went to Mexico for the first time in June of this year. I thought it was only right that I tried birria. I was expecting so much from the birria because I was in Mexico. However, I was sadly let down. I ordered tacos and birria. The tacos were good, but overwhelmed with mediocre guacamole. The barrio was good because it tasted similar to my mom’s recipe but not as good. The meat in the stew was very fatty and it was a tad bit bland. As for the chilito, it was like any other chile. There was nothing special about the birria. I knew it was not that great because I did not see that light in my mom’s eyes. We did not complain in front of my auntie and uncle about the food because it was actually good, but we could not help but compare it to my mom’s dish. When me and my mom finally got alone we did agree that she made it better. To this day, my mom (and the store) makes the best birria ever. I recently read an article that explained that LA is home to the most diverse adaptations of birria. It is becoming a very famous dish out here and with good reason. I would recommend this dish to anyone because I know they would love it. Since there are so many variations to the recipe, it can be altered for people who have specific meat preferences.

Photo Credit Masa Assassin


Chile Marinade

  • 5 Pounds of beef.
  • 12 Dried Guajillo chiles, seeded and deveined.
  • 6 Garlic gloves (unpeeled).
  • 2 Teaspoons of lightly toasted sesame seeds.
  • 1/4 teaspoon of whole cloves.
  • 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar.
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of ground cumin.
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of black peppercorns (3/4 teaspoon ground).
  • 1 Teaspoon of salt.
  • 2 Teaspoons of sugar.


  • 1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes (drained).
  • 1 Teaspoon of fried oregano.
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of salt.
  • 2 Bay leaves.
  • I Dash of ground cinnamon.

To Serve

  • Warm corn tortillas.
  • 1 Medium onion (finely chopped).
  • 2 Tablespoons of dried Mexican oregano.
  • 2 Fresh limes (cut into wedges).

Prep time: 24 hours                 Cook time: 2 hours                  Ready in: 26 hours

Tip: Aluminum foil helps keep food moist, ensures it cooks evenly, keeps leftovers fresh, and makes clean-up easy.

Photo Credit RubyDW

Steps for preparation:

PREPARE THE MEAT: Trim the fat from the meat; cut into 2 large pieces. Put meat into a large non-corrosive baking dish or pan.

PREPARE THE MARINADE/GLAZE: Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Tear chiles into flat pieces and toast a few at a time, pressing them against the hot surface, until they crack and blister; flip them and press down again. Transfer chiles to a large bowl and cover with boiling water; weight down with a plate to keep them submerged, and soak at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the garlic in the same griddle or skillet, turning frequently, until soft inside and blackened outside, about 15 minutes. Cool and peel. Drain chiles, reserving 3/4 cup soaking liquid; put chiles into a blender with garlic, cloves, sesame seeds, vinegar, cumin, peppercorns or ground pepper, and salt. Process/blend until mixture is smooth; then strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl. Remove 1/2 cup of mixture to a small bowl, and stir in the sugar; set aside to use for the final glazing.

MARINATE THE MEAT: Spread the rest of the chile paste thoroughly over the meat. Cover completely and refrigerate at least 18 hours.

COOK (SLOW-STEAM) THE MEAT: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use a deep wide roasting pan that has a tight lid. Put a roasting rack into the bottom of the pan (it must sit at least 1 inch above the bottom of the pan—if not, prop it up with custard cups, tin cans, etc.) Measure in 4 cups of water. Then lay the marinated meat onto the rack and spread any marinade remaining in the marinating pan or dish. Cut a double thickness of heavy-duty foil to cover the roasting pan; place the pan lid over, making sure the pan is covered as tightly as possible. Bake 4 hours.

FINISHING THE BROTH: Remove the pan lid and foil; carefully remove the tender meat to a platter. Take out the rack; spoon the fat off the broth with a ladle. Measure out the broth into a 1-quart container; add water to equal 1-quart liquid if necessary, and pour into a saucepan. Puree the tomato in a blender and add it to the broth along with the oregano and cinnamon. Cover; simmer over medium-low heat 45 minutes. Season with salt.

GLAZE THE MEAT: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove meat from the bones, keeping pieces of meat as large as possible; discard bones, gristle and excess fat. Set meat on a baking sheet; brush lightly with reserved chile paste glaze, and bake 10 minutes to set the glaze.

TO SERVE: Keep tortillas warm in a towel-covered basket. Serve the broth in a tureen. Present the meat on a large platter, or slice meat across the grain to serve it in deep plates, awash in the broth. Combine onion and coriander in a small bowl to pass with the lime at the table.

Photo Credit Masa Assassin

History of the Dish: I think it is important to expound on the actual history of this dish as well. Birria was originated in Jalisco. Interestingly, this spicy stew was originally made from mutton or goat meat. However, people occasionally made it from chicken or beef. Today, it is widely cooked with beef. This dish can be a little expensive and time consuming. Similar to tamales, birria is usually served for special occasions. It is imperative that birria is served with onions, cilantro and tortillas. Homemade tortillas are better than any other, especially for this particular dish. Today, the meat for birria is usually prepared in the oven then the stew is cooked on the stove-top. Places like Zacatecas, Jalisco and Aguascalientes use goat or lamb while other places use various meats. People from Jalisco and Guadalajara best associate with the dish and can culturally identity themselves with it. However, other places have developed their own adaptations to the famous dish.

Photo Credit Masa Assassin


Davin and Kennard. “Birria Recipe – Food.com.” Recipe – Food.com. N.p.,13 Aug. 2007. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

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“Mexico.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

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Esparza, Bill. “Essential T: The State of Regional Birria in L.A.” Los Angeles Magazine. Street Gourmet LA, 24 Feb. 2015. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.


For The Love Of Fried Chicken.

Food and culture always seems to bring people together, allowing those from the outside to gain an understanding and new perspective of how others live, what they eat, and where they come from. Growing up a mixed kid in Los Angeles and w living two different lives almost seemed to be the norm. with a Puerto Rican mother and a  black father at a young age I was able to obtain a certain perspective on the two different cultural backgrounds I come from. I always thought it was interesting to know that on my black side my grandmother loved to cook and she would make a number of traditional dishes, Chicken, collard greens, black eye peas, and mac & cheese just to name a few. I would then go to my Puerto Rican grandmother’s house and it was almost like a whole different world. Puerto Rican dishes are amazing, we ate things like plantains, arroz condules, and drank coquito. I have lived two different lives in a sense. I am very fortunate to come from different backgrounds.  I have always been able to connect and relate to different people mainly because we either came from similar backgrounds or ate similar foods and a lot of the times spoke the same language.


Though I come from two different backgrounds, I can say that I do have a specific dish that I call my very favorite. Fried chicken is one of the first dishes that I fell in love with as a child growing up, and it will always be one of my all-time favorites. Fried chicken gave my taste buds a flavor and fulfillment that I will continue to chase for the rest of my life. One of my first meals I learned how to make was fried chicken. Even though it is not a Puerto Rican dish, my mother learned to make it because the rest of the family loved it. sometimes I would watch my mother make this chicken in amazement, thinking to myself that I would most certainly use that specific recipe for myself and my future family someday. Fried chicken to me is one of those foods where once I see it, I instantly get excited because I just know this specific dish will be everything I could have imagined. Fried chicken is one of those visual foods that I can see even when it’s not around.


Fried chicken is one of my favorite foods and it is a food that most certainly makes me happy when i’m eating it, but most of all fried chickens significance in my life is its power in bring my family together with everyone looking forward to tasting the different versions of fried chicken that were made. The camaraderie of family and friends that one food can bring I think is simply amazing. It’s much bigger than just having some really great chicken which is always a plus in my books, but it’s the bringing of everyone to the table to eat as one family enjoying the moment together as one. I am now out of my mother’s house and every time I am thinking about making chicken or just cooking in general, it always reminds me of her taking the time after a long day to make sure we were fed and fed right. My mother made some great dishes but she knows the way to my heart, and every time I plan to see her or visit her she always has some sort of cake and some freshly cooked fried chicken. Food is for the soul, it can keep you happy and it can also comfort me when I am sad.

 The Scottish immigrated to the southern states within the United States and were one of the first to really start deep frying their chicken as stated by author Mike, Stalib. History of Fried Chicken & Spotlight of Chef duff Goldman. Some of the traditions go back to the earliest of the medieval era, when eating these great and amazing dishes was a luxury and many would have feasted as kings and queens. As slavery began to be a more common thing in the south, slaves were learning how to cook fried chicken, and the slaves would use a lot more seasonings in their foods, which enhanced southern fried chicken into what it is today. Chickens were the least expensive and were the easiest to raise and cook on the estates that they lived on with their owners, so frying and cooking chicken became a very traditional thing for special occasions throughout black communities as stated by Smokey, Fountain. ABrief History of Fried Chiken. That quote explains how black people used the only resources they had and perfected a dish to call their own. now it is a dish that is suitable to any household and that will bring a sense of comfort to those who reminisce on the good times.


I think it’s hilarious and at the same time offensive  to hear about stereotypes of fried chicken and how still to this day it is being associated with the black people in a negative way, when in fact it is a universal dish made with all kinds of different seasons from different cultures around the world.  They draw these funny looking pictures of black people with these big lips eating fried chicken and watermelon as though they have no manners and are just sloppy, inhumane people.  The main reason why blacks are associated with fried chicken and watermelon is, those are foods that you eat with your hands, and they become messy while eating them, giving off the image of dirty and no one respects anyone who is messy and dirty .According to Gene, Demby.. where Did That Fried Chicken Stereo Type Come From  there seems to be a very clear understanding that  racism and discrimination is  the backbone of these very ignorant thoughts.


Since southern fried chicken is such a universal dish. A recipe that I tend to follow on occasions is a recipe by Paula, Deen.. Southern Fried Chicken, Food Network.In order to recreate this tasty dish you will need: 3 eggs, 1/3 water, 2 cups of rising flour, seasons of your preference, and oil preferably peanut oil. You will then beat the eggs together in a medium size bowl along with water and hot sauce if you would like. You then put another bowl to the side and mix your flour and seasoning of your choice together. You will then dip your chicken into the egg and then into the flour. You should make sure your oil is at 350 degrees and ready for frying. Fry your chicken until it is golden brown and it will take up to10 minutes to complete. If it was up to me I would have someone make my fried chicken, but unfortunately in my adulthood I prefer to have my fried chicken a certain way, so I will go out of my way to satisfy those monthly cravings  of this chicken fix I have grown accustomed to needing.


Many people believe that eating fried chicken is bad for you because of the way it is cooked and prepared, which can be bad for the cholesterol and how it can clog your arteries and be bad for the heart. I have seen a few different opinions on the topic and I believe there are a lot of pros and cons. For example: as stated by author Jacqueline, Leo. Eat All of The Fried Chicken You Want  though many say that all of these bad things come associated with eating fried chicken such as, diabetes, high cholesterol and the clogging of your arteries, there has been many tests done and there is no actually evidence  or link that the two are related to one another.  On the other hand there are plenty of studies that say otherwise.  A serving of chicken is known to have extremely high cholesterol, the same as red meat and it can clog your arteries and very much cause heart disease says author Jill, Ettinger.. 8 Reasons Chicken Is Not a Healthy Food. I think it is a personal preference and I don’t think there is much of a problem as long as I’m eating in moderation and not soaking my chicken in flour or oil.

Throughout history and over the past years fried chicken has grown vastly in popularity and many businesses make a lot of money off of this popular style of meat. I sincerely believe that the United States has the best fried chicken. I have been through numerous of spots that sell fried chicken and I have always had a personal favorite of my own. After doing a lot of research,   I stumbled onto this spot called Honey Kettles in Culver City Ca that is definitely one of my favorite chicken spots in California. Honey kettle is in America’s top 21 fried chicken spots. Vincent Williams is the master chef at honey kettle and it is said that honey kettle makes million pieces of chicken a year; according to Kevin,Alexander. liz Childers. The 21 best fried chicken spots in a America, Vincent is arguably recognized as the best chef in America.,  I am not an expert myself but I do know what great fried chicken tastes  like and I will agree that this fried chicken spot is most certainly the best in California.


Fried chicken is such a popular global food for a lot of different reasons. The idea that chicken is cheap and easy to get a hold of, I believe is one of the main reasons people use it and make it. Around the world people are creating their own styles of the dish, it’s maturing in taste and flavor and there are many different batters being used to create the perfect fried chicken dishes in their country or region. Korean fried chicken is fried twice, making it twice as crunchy and less soaked in oil as much of Americas dishes also no flour is used to ensure there is a thin layer of crust. Emily,Warman.. Come Fry with me this shows that everyone wants to make the dish their own and when you come to their part of town you will want to taste something that is similar but at the same time very different. There are a lot of different foods people eat as side dishes along with their main dish of fried chicken. Some popular things that you may want to try with your fried chicken as stated by Jillian, King. Dishes to that Keep Fried Food Company. Collard greens, elbow mac and cheese, water melon salad and cheddar waffles. A few of those I have had myself but I also did not know there were some combos that would even go together.  Goes to say that food is what you make it, I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to do anything because we are always creating new things every day and have our individual preferences.

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Ettinger., Jill,. “8 Reasons Chicken Is Not A Health Food – Organic Authority.” Organic Authority. 8 Reasons Chicken Is Not a Healthy Food, 10 Nov. 2013. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.


Thrillist. “The 21 Best Fried Chicken Spots in America.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016

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King, Jillian. “The Best Fried Chicken Sides.” Tasting Table. Dishes to That Keep Fried Food Company, 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 07 Dec. 2016.

Gene, Demby “Where Did That Fried Chicken Stereotype Come From?” NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2016


Hungry with a chance of Meatballs

Have you ever been asked as a kid, “If you had to choose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?” Most children and adults for that matter would say Pizza. My answer has always been Spaghetti and Meatballs. I have chosen this as my Final Project Cookbook Entry, as this is my favorite food in the entire world. I love making it, eating it, and finding new ways to experiment with it. It’s one of those dishes that can be made differently by each individual. When I was child, this was made by my mom as a reward for good behavior. As I grew older into my teens, it was always made on my birthday or when I got high grades. As an adult, I have found that this is typically made to persuade me to come back home and visit. Coincidently, I also have five other siblings and unfortunately none of them like spaghetti even a little. Therefore when Spaghetti was made in our house, everyone knew it was especially made for me. This made me feel special and I think actually made me enjoy it more.

The Italian translation of Spaghetti is Spaghetto and diminutive of spago cord. The actual definition means ‘thin string” or “twine.”  Spaghettoni is thicker spaghetti and Spaghettini is a thinner form that would take less time to cook. Typical spaghetti noodles are defined as long, thin, and cylindrical pasta. In our modern era, there is now a variety of more than 50 different types of noodles. Here are a few examples of similar pastas used: Capellini also known as ‘Angel Hair’ (fine, long, and thin noodles), Pappardelle (wide egg noodle), Fettuccine (thick ribbon-like), Fideo (thin but short strands and at a curve), Lasagne (wide and flat), Fusilli (long and spiral shaped), Bucatini (long, thick and hollow inside), Linguine (long, flat, and thin -closely to Fettuccine), Mafalda (flat, wide, more narrow lasagna), and Manicotti (medium, hollow, and rigid). All of these are also cooked the same way as spaghetti noodles, being boiled in water.

Spaghetti Noodles are made with water and wheat that has been milled (we use flour more commonly). The noodles were allegedly brought to Italy from China by Marco Polo (another article noted Arab geographer, Idris) in the late 12th century. They have been specifically originated from the Italian island of Sicily. Normally the dough can be made with a rolling pin and a knife; however modern era has made this simpler with a pasta machine. This is typically dried out afterwards until ready to be cooked. Nowadays most people buy there pasta noodles already dried and packaged from the grocery store. Pasta can interestingly enough last for years, based upon the preparation method or how it was stored (ex. shelf, frozen, etc).Also depending on the thickness of the pasta, will determine how long the pasta will need to be cooked. Angel hair is one of the faster cooking pasta that only takes approximately ten minutes.

The second main ingredient is Marinara sauce. Marinara sauce is made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. Luckily there are many more variations of sauce, as it is based upon one’s owns preferences. Even though there is some speculation, this supposedly originated in Southern Italy in both Naples and Sicily. Marinara also means ‘in the style the sailor’s make” in Italian. Although there is no seafood incorporated with Marinara sauce; there are theories found that this derived from items that sailor’s transported. ­Items such as dried herbs, garlic, tomato paste, and oil were all substances that wouldn’t spoil as easy; and could be prepared quickly for meals on the sea. In addition, dried noodles were also items that could last a long time without expiring. The tomato sauce itself consists of actual crushed tomatoes, the residual juices, olive oil, salt, herbs (ex.bay leaf, oregano, and thyme), sautéed onions, and garlic. This creates a nice tomato paste and/or spread.

One of the components that I later decided was imperative to my spaghetti was the meatballs. The original Italian Meatball is called a Polpette “big meatball”, usually made from beef or veal. When Italian immigrants came to America in 1880-1920, they also began utilizing pork sausage as a meat for the balls. They also normally contain parsley, eggs, and garlic. Aside from traditional pan grilled meat, this was traditionally cooked in an oven on a sheet and/or baking paper. Although in America it is served in tomato sauce; there are also dishes that have it served by itself fried with a small piece of cheese in the center. Some alternative ways of making meatballs would be steaming and braising. Most Italian restaurants now serve meat in Spaghetti in shaped balls (golf ball size), patties, or ground up within the sauce.

I would definitely say that learning to make Spaghetti in the beginning was a small struggle when I was younger. I could never get the noodles cooked and my sauce was never that tasty. With enough practice and developing my own style, I have created the perfect combination of spices and flavor. After researching Spaghetti, I also found that Spaghetti provides nutrition such as carbohydrates, protein, iron, fiber, potassium, and Vitamin B.

My process of making spaghetti begins with placing water in a large pot with a high flame. Once the water begins boiling, the pasta noodles are placed within the pot and brought to a medium flame. I prefer angel hair pasta (normally 25-30cm long) and like to break it in half before putting in the water. I find it easier to eat this way when twirling with my fork. I also normally put a dash of salt in the water and stir to keep the pasta from sticking together. After the pasta has been boiling for approximately eight to ten minutes, it needs to be checked to make sure it loose and fully cooked. I was once told to throw a noodle against the wall and if it sticked, then it was done. I still use this method today and it actually works Once the noodles are done, they need to be strained with a colander (I usually leave in the sink) and/or put in a bowl. I set this aside why I simultaneously begin preparation for the meat sauce.

Now to make the sauce, there will need to be quite a few ingredients to begin: tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, mushrooms, and ground beef. First the meat needs to be cooked in a pan. I prefer ground beef with the lowest amount of fat (my dad used turkey meat as a kid). I usually add a little bit of salt and pepper and slowly begin adding the chopped mushroom and minced garlic. Once the beef is done, I add the tomato sauce in and again, add salt and pepper. Sometimes if I want to make it a little spicier, I add jalapeno juice or Sriracha sauce. Once the sauce is nice and stirred, I pour the sauce over the noodles and garnish with parmesan cheese. I occasionally like to eat my spaghetti with garlic bread on the side as well (Texas Toast is the best).

Spaghetti has not only been a staple in Italian cuisine, but also a representation of love in my life. I always prepare this for my family and friends, as it’s my own signature of food. I had the pleasure of going to Rome, Italy last year and enjoying a plate of pasta. I found it so completely different from any Spaghetti I’ve have thus far, but nonetheless it was delicious. Moving forward, I will continue to experiment and make this a tradition with my own kids. I also found this project to be enlightening, as I’ve never actually researched Spaghetti before and found the information very interesting. Spaghetti and Meatballs is an iconic Italian dish but has become a common American cuisine.


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