Homemade Pumpkin Ravioli


I realize that recipe posting has been especially light here on Poor Little Rich Cook, but it’s not because I have decided I no longer like food. It’s also not because I decided I no longer like food blogging. It’s really quite the contrary! I love food (too much), I love talking about food, and I love posting recipes and taking photos of the things I cook. I promise you I’ll keep doing it until the day I croak. Or at least the week before I croak.

The truth is that the last 18 months of my life have been a bit hectic. Allow me to recap: three drastically different jobs, one (false) health scare, a few traumatic personal experiences, one stressful move across town and over TEN trips around the world. Both my inbox and my passport are full and I’m starting to wish my dog could double as a personal assistant. I don’t mean to moan but I simply haven’t had time to breathe let alone find time for creative outlets.

Unfortunately my day job does not afford much of an opportunity to leverage my artistic side, and as I’ve gotten older it has become more and more clear how important it is to me. I am not a professional chef, author, or trained artist by any means. Activities like cooking, writing, decorating and being a generally “crafty” person make me genuinely happy. So here is my commitment – I am going to try and write at least one post per week, but I do apologize if I fall short on this promise. Life will most likely get in the way again…sigh.

Ok enough complaining about problems that are relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Let’s talk about pumpkins. Tis the season. I will admit that the pumpkin craze annoys me a bit. When October hits you will immediately find 18 to 32 year old females flock to Starbucks for Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and to Bath and Body Works for pumpkin scented candles. See meme below:


You see… one bad thing that well-intentioned foodies do is get bored with things that are intensely popular. Because there’s this constant stream of food media coming in, with time the “hot new takes” on Brussels Sprouts begin to feel monotonous, the “cool new thing to do with cauliflower” can cause immediate, inward groans… and pumpkin spiced things? Woof, I’ll let them tell you: “America has gone entirely too far in its pumpkin spice devotion,” says Eater. “Pumpkin spice has ruined pumpkins,” says Alton Brown. The Washington Post has likened pumpkin spice lattes to “liquefied fall-scented potpourri.”

Despite all of this…despite my intense desire to break free of the Autumn- induced pumpkin spiced mold…I still love it. There- I said it. I love pumpkins. I love fall. I love Halloween, I love Thanksgiving, and I love everything that reminds me of pumpkins. So lets all rejoice in pumpkin praise and eat pasta filled with its delectable puree. Enjoy!


  • 2 Tbs Butter $.20
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Minced $.20
  • 1 15 oz can Organic Pumpkin Puree $2
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup Pine Nuts $3
  • 1 stick Butter $.75
  • 32 whole Wonton Wrappers $6  – This is a huge timesaver and pasta hack guys!!
  • 1 Egg, Beaten $.25
  • Pepper To Taste
  • Fresh Parmesan (optional) $.50
  • 1 tbs Fresh Sage, Sliced thin $1

Total: $13.90


Melt 2 tbs butter, add garlic and cook a few minutes. Add the pumpkin puree, salt and chili powder. Stir and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

Toast pine nuts in a small skillet over low heat until golden. Remove from heat and pour the pine nuts onto a plate.

In the same skillet brown the stick of butter by melting it over medium heat, then letting it cook and bubble for an additional minute or so until the foam is golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assemble the ravioli: Lay out half the wonton wrappers and put 1/2 teaspoon of the pumpkin mixture in the center. Beat the egg a splash of water. Using your finger, smear the egg mixture all over the surface of one of the wrappers surrounding the pumpkin. Place a clean wrapper on top, matching up the edges. Press the edges together and get rid of any air pockets, Repeat with the rest of the wrappers. Do this quickly as the wonton wrappers can dry out quickly.

Bring a pot of water to a boil. 3 at a time, drop the ravioli into the water and cook for about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and put the ravioli on a plate. Continue cooking the ravioli in batches of 3.

To serve, spoon a little browned butter onto each plate. Place 3 ravioli on each plate, then spoon a little more browned butter over the top. Sprinkle on toasted pine nuts, black pepper, parmesan, and a tiny bit of sliced sage. Voila!

Braised Short Ribs


Ok so this recipe doesn’t exactly fit the theme of my blog. I hate to start off my posts with an apology, but really… I’m sorry. You probably came here looking for a cheap, simple, yet gourmet tasting dish. This checks one of those boxes but not all three. If you’re looking for something satisfying yet inexpensive you can take a look at this recipe…or this one. I’m also sorry about the length of this post. This isn’t exactly an amateur recipe and I want to offer enough detail for you to be successful. I don’t want to fry your brain or your retinas but please just continue to read. Oh and I have one more apology. This recipe doesn’t exactly fit the current season – this is more of a Fall or Winter dish but honestly it’s so darn tasty that I’m ok with having it for breakfast, lunch and/or dinner any time of year.

The first time I made short ribs I freaked out. I will never forget opening the lid 15 minutes before my guests arrived and discovering a huge mess in my red Le Creuset dutch oven. The short ribs had lost their bones and were just floating in a reddish/ brown broth with some fancy herbs in it! I wanted to cry. Not only did I take off work early and slave over these slabs of meat but I made a huge mistake and violated one of Julia Child’s number one cooking rules. In general, she always advised not to serve guests something you’ve never tried or made before. You should never experiment when you’re having a dinner party unless you know what you’re doing. I’m all for taking risks in the kitchen but this just isn’t the time.

Luckily my fairy God Mother was looking out for me that day and these turned out AMAZING—I mean really, really good. It turns out that you want the beef to literally fall off the bone. I know that you don’t actually need or want to eat the bone, but I think its nice for presentation—a little Fred Flintstone flair never hurts a dish! I think I’ve pulled this off about 50% of the time and unfortunately I don’t have any secret tips for making the beef adhere to the bone completely. You should buy a lotto ticket that day if you can make it happen.

Before I took and initial stab at these I researched all sorts of recipes for beef short ribs – traditional, Asian, barbeque, you name it. I finally settled on a classic recipe for braised short ribs and I came to find out that braising is a beautiful thing. It requires very little effort, and once you get the hang of it you can get creative and adjust to your own palate. You can doctor up the braise with one or several herbs and spices, and you can simmer them in almost anything– from wine or beer to stock to hoisin or any combination thereof and the result is always magical.

These babies are best served with something creamy on the side and a nice green vegetable. I usually whip up some decadent, cheesy polenta or simple mashed potatoes. I suggest asparagus or Brussels sprouts on the side as well. Hungry yet?


  • 8 Bone-in Beef Short Ribs – $22.00
  • Coarse Salt and Pepper To Taste
  • 1/4 cup flour $.10
  • 5 pieces Pancetta, Diced (I buy the boars head pre diced kind) $5.00
  • 2 Tbs EVOO $.25
  • 1 Medium white Onion, Diced $1.00
  • 2 Shallots, Peeled And Finely Minced   $1.00
  • 5 whole Carrots, Diced (don’t peel, keep it rustic)   $1.00
  • 2 whole cloves garlic – peeled, not chopped $.10
  • 2 cups Beef Broth (enough To cover Ribs)   $3.00
  • 2 cups dry red wine $8.00
  • 3 sprigs Thyme   $2.00
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary   $2.00

Total: $47.25


Cut all your veggies and get the pre-work out of the way. Preheat oven to 350.

Salt and pepper ribs, dredge in plenty of flour (I put the flour on a large cutting board so I have plenty of room to work). Set aside.

In dutch oven, cook pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy. Remove pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease (leave it in the pot).

Add EVOO to pot with the grease, and raise heat to high. Brown ribs on all sides, about 30-45 seconds per side. You want a nice sear but don’t overdo it. Remove ribs and set aside. Bring heat down to medium.

Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the brown bits. Bring to a boil and cook 3 minutes. Add in the garlic cloves.

Add broth, 1 teaspoon salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add more salt if needed. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole, not chopped) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 40- 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and either off or falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 15-20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid. Serve immediately on a bed of polenta or mashed potatoes and spoon some of the broth, carrot, onion mixture on top.

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

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  • 3/4 lb ground beef (I prefer organic / grass fed) $8
  • 3 bell peppers (any color will do, green is least expensive) $3
  • 1 half yellow onion, chopped $.75
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped  $.10
  • 1 10 oz can red enchilada sauce  $2.50
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • Dash of black pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 packet taco seasoning low sodium  $1
  • 1 box mexican rice low sodium  $1.50
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 cup Colby jack cheese  $1
  • 1 tbs cilantro (optional)  $.10

Total: $17.95


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Cook rice according to instructions on box, set aside
  2. While rice is cooking, brown the ground beef, onion and garlic. Make sure you break the beef into very fine pieces. Add in taco seasoning, chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Stir 3 minutes
  3. Add in water and stir 1 minute. Add half of a 10 oz can of enchilada sauce and stir. Combine with ¾ cup cooked rice. Bring to bowl then let simmer on low for 20 minutes.
  4. While mixture is cooking cut off the tops of each bell pepper and pull out seeds / stems. Place in a baking dish and microwave for 5 minutes. You may notice they produce some “water” after cooking, I just dumped this in the sink.
  5. Now you’re ready to stuff—fill up each pepper halfway with beef and rice mixture and put a tablespoon of cheese, then fill to top with beef and rice mixture. Top each pepper with a mound of cheese then put 1 tablespoon or so of enchilada sauce on top.
  6. Baked covered with foil for 25 minutes. During the last 2 minutes uncover turn the heat up to broil to brown the cheese a little. Top with sprinkled cilantro if you please!

Based on my previous post (which was far too long ago, I apologize), can you tell what my favorite genre of food is? That’s right- Mexican. Unfortunately it’s never easy to find Mexican recipes that are easy on the waistline yet still satisfying at the same time. Well..search no longer because I think I made one up last night!

I was seriously craving comforting, cheesy enchiladas but I didn’t want my hard work at barre class to be completely cancelled out. I had some leftover ground beef in my fridge that I needed to use up along with some shredded Colby jack cheese. With this in mind I headed down to the store and pushed myself to be creative. It would have been too easy to head straight for the flour tortillas but instead I went to the produce section and saw tons of green bell peppers on sale. If you were having company I would get a variety of colors but honestly, don’t they all pretty much taste the same? Green bell peppers are so much cheaper! I guess if you’re seeking a wow factor though, go with multicolor.

In this recipe I used a box of Knorr Mexican rice and I would strongly suggest looking for a variety that is low sodium. When you combine this with all the other ingredients such as taco seasoning you will find that you definitely don’t need to add extra salt! Also, remember that cheese often has plenty of that salty taste you love.

I nuked my peppers in the microwave for about five minutes in the same pyrex I baked them in – this is a crucial step to ensure the peppers are edible and not too hard. These are super irresistible and filling on your own but you could definitely do a side such as canned vegetarian refried beans (less cals in these) OR chips and homemade guac! I can also tell you these keep well in the fridge for the next day—I would know, I ate mine cold the next day for lunch!

Kickin’ Chicken Pasta

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This pasta really is the total package: Hearty, spicy, full of cheese, and bursting with carbs! All the qualities I look for in a friend.

That made no sense.

Anyway, you really will love this pasta, as you get a bunch of spicy deliciousness without a whole lot of effort. Actually all the kick from this dish comes from the blackening seasoning that you’ll use on the chicken.

Full disclaimer: this isn’t the best pre-bikini recipe so make this on your “cheat day”. ‘There’s nothing good about it, except for how good it is. It’s evil, ridiculous, and an affront to good sense…but look at the bright side: I did you a favor in lightening up a bit by adding half & half. If you’re feeling extra decadent use 3 cups of heavy cream and omit the half & half — up to you! You could probably add a few more veggies such as asparagus or frozen peas, or even a sprinkle of parsley, but this recipe can stand on its own.

Here’s how to make it:


  • Four chicken breasts, slightly pounded (I prefer organic and air chilled) $9.00
  • 1/4 C Blackening spice ($1.00)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil ($.10)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic ($.10)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine ($.75)
  • 2 cups heavy cream ($2.00)
  • 1 cup half and half ($.75)
  • 1 cup roughly chopped marinated sun-dried tomatoes ($1.50)
  • 1 pound fettuccine ($2.00)
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan ($1.50)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion, for garnish ($.25)

Total: $18.95


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Heat cast iron skillet over high heat Dredge the chicken breasts in the Blackening Spice Rub. Place in the cast-iron skillet. Blacken both sides of the chicken, 3 min per side
  3. Transfer the cast iron skillet to oven and bake 10 minutes
  4. While chicken bakes, In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic and lightly brown it, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the wine. Pour in the heavy cream, bring to a simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced by half.
  5. Remove chicken from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. After cooling, slice it on the bias
  6. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and chicken slices.
  7. Cook the fettuccine al dente, about 10 minutes or until al dente, Drain.
  8. When the cream sauce is at the desired consistency, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, the sea salt, pepper and pasta.
  9. Fold in pasta and garnish with extra cheese and sliced green onions

Spicy Skinny Chili


It is getting cold and windy and shivery and frigid in DC, and to psychologically withstand such things, I had to make a big pot of something warm and comforting today. It’s also Sunday. Ahhh Sundays. It’s the one day where its perfectly acceptable to watch a marathon of Netflix and just relax in your PJs all day long. Sundays also = football. So, cold weather + Sunday + Football = CHILI. Yum. I love chili. Not only because of that familiar taste but because there are so many different variations and methods for cooking it. You can really get creative. I’ve been on a bit of a health kick so for this recipe I’m going with ground turkey. To make up for not using ground beef (which has more flavor in my opinion), I decided to kick up the heat.

Just like your standard beef chili, there are as many incarnations as there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. I know that everyone has an opinion on chili, especially people from Texas, and some will even claim that your chili isn’t chili if you add or omit certain things. If you really want a laugh check out some of the comments on chili recipes on sites like Epicurious. “No TEXAN would ever call this chili!” and “This recipe is blasphemous!” Then again, if you are from Texas you’ve likely got a recipe you were making since you were old enough to stand at a stove and don’t need my chili recipe, so there.

2 lbs 7% fat ground turkey ($5)
1 yellow onion, chopped finely ($.75)
5 cloves garlic, minced ($.25)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes ($1.50)
3 Tbsp tomato paste ($.50)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. Texas Pete hot sauce ($.05)
1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed ($1)
1 red bell pepper, chopped ($1.50)
2 jalapenos, chopped and de-seeded ($.75)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
Pinch of pepper
1 packet Stevia or Splenda
3 Tbsp chili powder ($1)
2 tsp. oregano ($.20)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper ($.05)
Total: $13.05

1. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until fragrant. Add bell pepper and jalapeños.
2. Add ground turkey and browned. Once cooked, poor off excess fat.
3. Add crushed tomatoes, hot sauce, spices, stevia and beans. Stir together and turn heat on low.
3. Mix tomato paste and water until combined and then pour in chili pot.
4. Let simmer on low for 60-90 minutes. Add more tomato paste/ water mixture if you want it less thick.
5. Serve with your favorite toppings– I like chopped green onions sour cream or cheese

*I cooked my chili in a dutch oven but you can easily do this in a crock pot and get the same result*

Busy Girl Breakfast


Breakfast has never been my forte. It’s embarrassing to admit but I have never really mastered the perfect scrambled eggs. Even bacon is never as good as my mom makes it, and my omelets
end up looking like a pile of ingredients all mixed togerher.  Maybe it’s a skill I should try and work on, but to be honest I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. I go through phases where I can’t walk out the door unless I have a big bowl of cereal, a smoothie, or a bagel. At the moment I get by on coffee for breakfast… by the time 11 am rolls by I am absolutely ravenous– a ticking time bomb.  

Now, there are some occasions when whipping up a large breakfast is an absolute must. Maybe you’re having company for the weekend or maybe you’re just feeling an extra breakfast-y sort of morning. The perfect solution is a breakfast casserole. I know what you’re thinking. Casseroles seems so Brady Bunch and passé don’t they? I think it’s just the name– CASSEROLE. Sounds gross…I bet you if someone changed the name they would become en vogue again.  

Anyway, this dish is disturbingly easy to make. Seriously anyone can do it. The best part is it can be made up to 24 hours in advance, allowing you to get plenty of stress-free beauty rest. Guests will literally think you slaved all morning in the kitchen, especially with the unexpected flavor from the onion rolls and chives. You can sashay into the kitchen one hour before guests arrive, and while it cooks work on more important things…like making Bloody Mary’s and mimosas.     


  • 6 Onion Rolls ($4)
  • 1 C Cheddar cheese, grated ($2)
  • 8 oz cream cheese ($1.50)
  • 1 1/2 stick butter ($1.50)
  • 10 eggs ($3)
  • 1 tsp chives, chopped ($.25)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper 

Total: $12.25


Butter a 9×13 dish

Tear onion rolls, place in bottom of dish. Top with cheddar then dot with cream cheese

Cut butter and place pats all over top of dish. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over top. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.   

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Remove foil, increase temp to 350 and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve!

Baked Buffalo Wings


Well, first off let me say that I’m deeply sorry for my month-long hiatus. In case you’re wondering why I fell off the face of the earth, my own little world has been completely turned upside down. Between traveling to the Far East (work, not pleasure), a quick, unexpected move, and taking on another job– lets just say I’ve been a bit preoccupied. Things are starting to reach some level of normalcy, so I’m back in the kitchen and ready to cook. I even have a new and improved kitchen!  Photo below…please excuse the mess. We are still unpacking.


So, in honor of football season and stress eating, I thought I’d try my hand at buffalo wings tonight. I am a very picky wing eater. I think ever since I discovered that most restaurants use frozen, year-old chicken wings packed with hormones and other unnatural substances I’ve been a bit turned off by this classic American fare. Not to be a wing snob, but they need to be fresh, light(ish) and free of fat and chemicals for me to enjoy them.

Ok, I will make an exception. I’m probably one of five girls that actually enjoys going to Hooters. Not for the hooters themselves, but for the wings. I highly doubt that Hooters uses farm fresh organic chicken wings, but I’m willing to make an exception.

Funny story- when I was in Japan last month (home of the world’s most Michelin Star restaurants), I was DYING for buffalo wings. I know that sounds crazy, but come talk to me after eating sushi for a week straight. If you’re ever in Tokyo, you have to check out the Hooters in Ginza. Not only was I the only female in the restaurant, but the food is actually better than what we get stateside and the waitresses are hilarious. They totally play in to the stereotypes and I love it. Not to go off on a tangent, but I think anyone that sees Hooters as being “degrading to women” should take a flying leap. It’s a business. It’s successful. And oh by the way, nobody is FORCED to work there. Most importantly their wings and curly fries rock.

The next best thing to Hooters is to make wings yourself. Tonight I wasn’t in the mood for deep-fried anything, so I decided to bake these suckers. The trick is to coat them in plenty of flour and spice to ensure a nice crisp texture. The result? Fantastic.


  • 10 Chicken pieces (drumsticks and wings) ($5.00)
  • 3/4 C flour ($.50)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($.05)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter ($.25)
  • 1/2 c hot sauce (I use Texas Pete) ($.50)

Total: $6.35


Preheat oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

Combine flour, cayenne, garlic powder and salt. Rinse and pat dry chicken wings. In large bag, shake and coat wings with flour mixture. Place wings in refrigerator (on cookie sheet) for 45 minutes.

Whisk 1/4 c melted butter and 1/4 c hot sauce. Dredge chilled wings in buffalo sauce then bake for 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

Combine leftover (melted) butter and hot sauce. Once wings are done, drizzle more hot sauce on them. Serve with celery stick and ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

So anyway,

Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas


It’s almost fall. Can you believe it!? Where on earth has 2013 gone? I’m very sad about saying farewell to rosé wine, white jeans and tank tops, but am so looking forward to the delicious delicacies of the season. I can almost taste Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. In celebration of the slight change in temperature, I thought I would offer a transitional recipe combining some of my favorite ingredients: cheese, kale and butternut squash.

Everyone who follows this blog is aware of my kale obsession. I didn’t jump on the kale bandwagon two years ago when some Iron Chef decided to make it popular. I’ve been eating the stuff since college. Besides being cheap and easy to cook its also incredibly good for you. Packed with nutrients, it’s rich in vitamins C and K as well as beta carotene. Kale also contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which has potent anti-cancer properties.

Let’s talk about squash. If you don’t like butternut squash, or any squash for that matter, then I think you are crazy. Butternut and Spaghetti are my favorite varieties, but I’d rank B-nut as number one. If it exists, I think I could eat a Gerber baby food jar of butternut squash, I’m not kidding. Is that weird? No but seriously, I think butternut squash contains some sort of dopamine-elevating drug similar to chocolate.

Finally, there’s cheese. I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll just stop here…some things are just better left unsaid.


Serves 4

  • 1/2 whole Butternut Squash, seeded, peeled, chopped ($2.50)
  • 1 tbs olive oil ($.10)
  • 2 tbs butter ($.10)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder ($.05)
  • 1 bunch Kale leaves, torn ($2.00)
  • 8 flour tortillas ($2.00)
  • 1 tbs Butter For Frying
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese ($2.50)
  • Sour Cream For Serving ($.50)

Total: $9.75


Heat 1 tbs butter and oil. Add B-nut squash and season with chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until squash is deep golden brown and tender. Remove and set aside.

Melt 1tbs butter over medium-high heat and add in the kale. Toss and cook it for 4 minutes. Add in the cooked squash and gently toss together. Set aside.

In a separate skillet, melt additional butter and lightly brown 1 quesadilla. Add a layer of cheese topped with a layer of the squash/kale mixture, topped with a second tortilla.

Brown the quesadilla on both sides, adding more butter to the pan if needed to ensure the proper crunch and golden color.

When the cheese is melted, remove each quesadilla from the skillet and cut it into four wedges.

You will end up with four quesadillas. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.



Tebasaki Chicken Wings


I travel to Japan quite frequently for work and am fortunate enough to enjoy the some of the most amazing food on earth. Sushi, tempura, Kobe beef, you name it. While my travels normally take me to Tokyo, last year I had business trip in Nagoya, which is in central Japan. You can find most typical Japanese dishes in every city, but there are some delicacies that can only be found in certain regions of Japan.

My first Japan trip was actually to Nagoya a little over a year ago. It took about 16 hours to get there and I think I landed around 10 pm. By the time I made it through customs, took a taxi to the hotel and checked in it was almost midnight. And I was STARVING. I set out to find anything that was open and wound up in a quaint little restaurant with servers and chefs that didn’t speak a lick of English and menus written completely in Japanese. With no pictures!

The server luckily knew two words- “Ramen” and “Pork”. At this point I would’ve eaten the menu so I nodded and muttered “Hai”, which is Japanese for yes.

I was expecting a bowl of noodles in some sort of broth and maybe a piece of bacon or a pork chop? Well I got the first one—a bowl of noodles. But do you know what the pork dish was? A PIG’S BRAIN! WHY would I want to eat the brain of a pig! They aren’t even smart! I felt bad, so I cut it up and moved it around on my plate so it looked like I at least tried it. I’ll tell you one thing—the sight of that meal cured my hunger.

So anyway, I was very hesitant to break out and try anything crazy after that experience. I ended up speaking with the concierge and telling him about my run in with the brain. He laughed, and said the chefs were probably trying to play a joke on me. He told me if there’s one thing I should try in Nagoya it’s Tebasaki chicken wings. Chicken wings sounded safe to me so I was on my way to the nearest place that served them- Yamachan.

Yamachan is actually a chain with most branches in Nagoya, 34 to be exact. Based on my three visits to this joint, it’s a quite popular post-work hangout for Japanese businessmen. They serve cold, cheap Kirin or Asahi beer and wings by the dozen. You can’t miss the logo- it’s a cartoonish looking man dressed in a bird suit with a peace sign.

I actually just got back from Tokyo two days ago and I found a Yamachan! There is only one in Tokyo and it’s smaller than a closet, with standing room only. The atmosphere wasn’t as nice as the Nagoya branches, but it reminded me how much I love these wings. As an added bonus, they even provide you with a 5-step eating guide.

Yes that is Zima on the menu
Yes that is Zima on the menu

I’ll always have my allegiance to the buffalo variation, but these are really REALLY good. Totally different texture than your standard wing (they’re double fried), and the seasoning is unique and tasty. Thanks to a spoonful of pepper and a pinch of sugar, they have a perfect balance of spicy and sweet. Next time I will try a baked variation, but if this is your first time trying these wings—you gotta fry them.


  • 1 lb chicken wings ($4.00)
  • ¼ C flour ($.10)
  • 2 tbs soy sauce ($.20)
  • 1 tbs sugar ($.10)
  • 1 tsp Japanese sake ($.50)
  • 2 tbs Mirin ($.50) – you can find this in the Asian section of most supermarkets
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($.05)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 1 tbs white sesame seeds ($.40)

Total: $5.85


Rinse chicken wings and pat dry. Dredge in flour. Heat oil in cast iron or regular skillet on medium-high. Fry wings for 3 minutes or until light golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Mix soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sake, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Turn skillet to high and fry wings another 5 minutes. While chicken is cooking, microwave glaze for 1 minute.

Drain chicken on paper towels and brush sauce. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper along with sesame seeds.

Serve hot.

Spaghetti Squash Bolognese


Squash. I feel like it’s one of those controversial vegetables like brussels sprouts and broccoli. You either love it or hate it. I don’t understand squash haters and personally, I think they are making a bit mistake. Squash is so versatile. Did you know there are over 50 varieties of squash? You can also cook it just about any way– boiled squash, fried squash, baked squash, sautéed squash, squash casserole, squash pie, squash bread. I feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump. I could really go on and on about squash.

The BEST way to eat squash in my opinion is when it resembles a noodle. Conveniently, the squash king named this variety “Spaghetti Squash”. It’s genius really. A vegetable that can replace pasta! Sure, on it’s own its a little bland and boring but trust me, with the right sauce you will love it. It might even turn squash skeptics into loyal fans.

This was the first time I tried a meaty sauce with my squash noodles. Result? Perfect. Tons of protein, low carb, packed with vegetables and nutrients. It’s also pretty easy on the wallet. You really can’t go wrong. If you are red meat averse, feel free to substitute ground turkey for the beef and omit the pancetta.


Serves 4

  • 1 large spaghetti squash ($3.00)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil ($.10)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped ($.50)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced ($.20)
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced ($2.00)
  • 1 carrot, finely minced ($.10)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped ($.10)
  • 4 oz pancetta, finely chopped ($3.00)
  • 1 pound ground beef ($5.00)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 C cheap dry red wine ($1.00)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes ($1.50)
  • 1/4 cup half and half ($.30)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes ($.03)
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil ($.20)

Total: $17.03


Preheat oven to 400. Poke 4 or 5 holes in spaghetti squash and microwave for 10 minutes in a large microwave safe dish.

Meanwhile, in a dutch oven or stock pot sauté the carrot, onion, celery, garlic and mushrooms over medium-high heat with 1 tbs olive oil. After the veggies are cooked through, add pancetta and cook until crispy, about 4 minutes. Next, add in ground beef and brown.

Once beef is brown, drain off excess grease then add mixture back to pan. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4 C wine and scrape up brown bits, cook 2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, half and half, red pepper flakes and basil. SImmer on low for 35 minutes.

At this point, remove the spaghetti squash. Careful, it’s hot! Cut in half and remove seeds…try and keep in as much pulp as possible. Put both sides cut-side down on a greased cooking sheet and bake 25 minutes. Remove squash, then using two forks, pull out the pulp and separate noodles into a bowl.

To serve, add squash noodles to bowl with a hearty scoop of Bolognese. Feel free to add grated parmesan as well!