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Michelle Stark, Times Food Editor

Michelle Stark

Michelle Stark is the Food Editor for the Tampa Bay Times, overseeing the food content online and in print, including cooking and restaurants. She also manages social media accounts for the Entertainment department, including food. Previously, she was part of the Things to Do crew and co-host of Play Tampa Bay. She has designed and edited the Times' daily entertainment page, and wrote weekly about television at The Feed blog. Stark joined the Times after graduating from the University of South Florida in 2010 with degrees in mass communications and international relations.

Phone: (727) 893-8829


Twitter: @MStark17

  1. There are now Pumpkin Spice Latte-flavored M&M's


    Brace yourselves. There is yet another salacious layer to the recent Pumpkin Spice Latte news that sent the Internet into a pumpkin-spiced frenzy.

    M&M's is releasing a Pumpkin Spice Latte flavor of its candy, set to be available exclusively in Target stores some time this week. The official M&M's Twitter account confirmed the news, via its Green M&M character, a brassy broad who is, no surprise, really into the seasonal coffee drink....

  2. My Outfit Monday: The Monday blues


    Somehow, my busiest day of the work week is Monday. Hence the blues. For days like these when I need to be out of the house and into productivity fast, I gravitate toward reliable outfits that I know will a) fit b) look decent c) be at least somewhat comfortable. This outfit hits all the marks. Unfortunately, I spent 20 minutes trying on four other outfits first before landing on this one, but hey, it wouldn't be Monday without some struggle....

  3. Recipes for a fall garden bounty: radishes, peas and Swiss chard


    Not exactly sure what to do with your garden bounty? You don't have to work too hard to make any of these fresh, right-from-the-ground veggies taste good, but here are some ways to jazz them up.

    Radishes are commonly eaten raw, and have a delicious zingy, peppery quality that way. But the flavor mellows a bit if you roast or saute them, giving off more of a turnip vibe. Below is a recipe for sauteed radishes, though if you don't want to cook them, you cannot go wrong by slicing them thinly and placing them atop a buttered baguette, then sprinkling with sea salt. ...

    A story on gardening in Florida for Taste is highlighted with a radish dish.
  4. From the food editor: a warning about working with peppers


    This is a tale of how I spent six hours soaking my hands in a bowl of ice water thanks to a stuffed pepper craving.

    I didn't expect this to happen. Just a week before, I had cooked a stuffed poblano pepper recipe from the meal delivery service Blue Apron. The method was standard: Char peppers, split peppers in half, scoop seeds and innards out, stuff with goodness. Everything went according to plan, and in less than 30 minutes my boyfriend and I were enjoying dinner....

  5. #CookClub recipe: Stuffed Poblano Peppers (with how-to video)


    If you can't get your hands on chorizo, you can sub in ground beef. Or, to make it a vegetarian meal, try using cubed and roasted sweet potato. And click here to join our Lunchtime Chats at 12:30 p.m. today and every Monday to talk about all things food.


    Stuffed Poblano Peppers [MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  6. Five ideas for using peanut butter: sauce, granola bars, smoothies and more


    Forget using peanut butter in kids' lunch boxes this week. We have five ideas for the nutty spread beyond PB&J sandwiches.

    Michelle Stark, Times food editor

    Granola bars

    Homemade granola bars are simple to make and convenient to have on hand for on-the-go cravings or less sinful desserts. This one is especially filling, with protein from the peanut butter and lots of fiber from oats. To make: In a large bowl, mix 3 cups old-fashioned oats, ½ cup chopped walnuts and ½ cup ground flaxseed. In saucepan, heat 1 cup peanut butter and ½ cup maple syrup until smooth, then stir into oat mixture. Press into 9- by 13-inch pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes or until set. Recipe from First....

    Peanut butter blends in well with a smoothie.
  7. Cook Hack: Tips for picking a ripe pineapple


    Tips for picking a ripe pineapple: There are a couple of fresh fruits that you take a gamble on. Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew melon — it's tough to know what's going on inside, and sometimes the flesh is too soft or too hard to be enjoyed. Add pineapple to that list. This is the one that we tend to have the most trouble with, so we set out to perfect some tips for choosing a ripe pineapple. First, look for a dark green top and shiny skin. Next, pick it up and make sure it feels heavy for its size. Large, soft spots are a red flag. If the pineapple gives off a potent fragrance, it is probably overripe, though it should smell lightly of pineapple at its base. And just because it's green doesn't mean it's not yet ripe; a pineapple's skin can have a variety of colors when it's ready to eat. ...

  8. Three lemonade recipes for National Lemonade Day


    National Lemonade Day is Aug. 20. Here are three homemade lemonade recipes to try — we can't think of a better way to beat the heat this time of year.


    Old-Fashioned Lemonade


    • For the sugar syrup:
    • Grated zest of 2 lemons
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups water
    • For the lemonade:
    • 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 12 lemons), with half of the rinds reserved and roughly chopped
    • 3 cups cold water


    1. To make the sugar syrup, combine the zest, sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Transfer the syrup to a 2-quart pitcher. Let cool.
    2. Add the lemon juice, chopped lemon rinds and cold water. Stir. Chill. Serve over ice. Makes 2 quarts.
    Source: Lemonade by Fred Thompson (Harvard Common Press, 2002)

    What says summer more than a lemonade stand? [Jupiterimages]
  9. Make a day of it at Hyde Park Village's pop-up market on Sunday


    Have you been to Hyde Park Village lately? If you said yes, we sympathize with your empty bank account. If you said no, Sunday is the time to make a trip.

    Tampa's high-end outdoor shopping plaza is hosting a pop-up market from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. where the emphasis is on locally made goodies. It's taking place at Anthropologie, our favorite overpriced boho-chic store of them all (tip: head for clearance). Vendors include Tahlulah, Sweet Harvest Farms, Squeeze Juice Work, King’s Arms Coffee, Three Sisters Herbal, Your Fortenberry, Green Body / Green Home, The Hyppo and Porch Therapy....

    Shoppers at Anthropologie
  10. Starbucks finally making its Pumpkin Spice Lattes with actual pumpkin


    For some of us, Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte drink is the true harbinger of Florida fall. What else is supposed to signal that the seasons are changing - the weather?

    So Monday's news that the coffee company will start using real pumpkin in its popular seasonal drink, instead of chemicals that taste like what we wished pumpkin tasted like, is relevant to all us basic, boot-wearing Florida-fall lovers....

    Pumpkin Spice Latte in all its homey glory.
  11. Starbucks is adding real pumpkin to its seasonal Pumpkin Spice Lattes

    Food & Dining

    This week, Starbucks finally realized it can no longer get away with not having real pumpkin in its massively popular Pumpkin Spice Latte drink — not when other food companies like General Mills and Panera Bread are taking strides to remove artificial ingredients from their menus. ...

    Starting this year, your Pumpkin Spice Latte will come with a dose of real pumpkin. [Associated Press]
  12. Cook Hack: Use an egg carton to store nearly empty condiments


    Use an egg carton to store nearly empty condiments: I always feel like I should be repurposing empty egg cartons when I throw them out. Those compartments just seem so handy. Here's an idea that could prove useful. Remove the top half of the carton and use the bottom half. It should be the perfect width for the shelves on the door of your refrigerator. Use the carton to store condiments like ketchup, mustard, really any squeezable that is nearly empty nozzle-side down. It's a helpful way to collect the rest of the sauce from that bottle without having bottles sloshing around on the shelf. ...

  13. #CookClub recipe: Burgers with Beer Cheese and Pickled Onions


    These traditional burgers get punched up with some savory beer cheese sauce and quick pickled onions that are simple to make.


    Burgers with Beer Cheese and Pickled Onions

    Burgers with Beer Cheese and Pickled Onions


    • For the quick pickled onions:
    • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
    • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
    • ½ teaspoon sugar
    • ½ cup warm water
    • Salt
    • For the beer cheese sauce:
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 cup milk
    • ½ cup dark beer
    • 1 teaspoon mustard
    • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
    • 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
    • For the hamburgers:
    • 1 pound ground beef
    • 4 soft dinner rolls, split and toasted


    1. For the quick pickled onions: Make these before you make the rest of the meal. Place onion slices in a medium bowl. Pour vinegar and warm water over onion. Stir in sugar and season with salt. Let stand until slightly pickled; at least 30 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the food. Drain. You can make these up to 2 days ahead.
    2. For the beer cheese sauce: In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and beer, increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the mustard, Worcestershire and cook, whisking occasionally, until the mixture begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cheese in large handfuls, whisking until it has completely melted. Season with salt and pepper. Set the saucepan aside while you make the burgers.
    3. For the hamburgers: Form the beef into four round, equal patties. Press down with your thumb in the middle of the patty to make a slight indentation; this helps the burgers stay flat and not puff up during cooking.
    4. Heat a lightly oiled cast iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium-high heat. Once the skillet is hot, add the burgers and cook for 4-5 minutes each side. Remove burgers from heat.
    5. Place cooked burgers on buns. Give the cheese sauce a good whisk, then spoon a couple spoonfuls atop each burger. Top with a couple onion slices. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
    Recipes adapted from and

  14. Back to school: Ideas for packing kids' lunch boxes during the school year


    Ah, the all-important lunch box. When it comes to sending your kid to school with a packed lunch, think less about preparing a full, complete meal and more about preparing individual snack-like components that keep lunch nutritious and whimsical. On this page, we offer ideas for what to pack and personal tips from a mom who makes lunches daily. (Click here for after-school snack ideas from a nutritionist.)...

    Bento lunch box with pasta salad, turkey pinwheels, carrots and celery with yogurt dip and grapes.
  15. Back to school: Five ideas for fast breakfasts during the school year


    It's essential to send kids to school with something in their stomachs, even if it's just a piece of toast. Skipping breakfast can harm children's developing brains and bodies, making it harder for them to focus in class. • Karla Dumas, a dietitian with the Humane Society, says it's important for kids to get their metabolisms going in the morning even if they're not hungry. She often prepares smoothies for her 11-year-old stepdaughter as a way to get something in her system — she, like most young ones, isn't hungry enough to eat a full breakfast first thing. • Smoothies and other to-go foods are a good way to get at this problem. Here are five ideas for fast, easy weekday breakfasts. These meals are good for school-bound kids — and their busy parents, too. ...

    Egg burrito