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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

Email: mstark@tampabay.com

Twitter: @MStark17

  1. Five ideas for turning Thanksgiving leftovers into new meals


    For some people, Thanksgiving dinner is merely the preface to a week of hearty leftovers. In my house this year, we're buying a bigger turkey than we really need, specifically so we'll have extra meat on hand. I recommend you do the same, if only to work the leftover poultry into the recipes below. Here are five ideas for turning excess mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, turkey and more into new dinnertime gems. If you can't use leftovers up within four days of putting them in the refrigerator, freeze them (for up to three months), defrost them and then use them as directed....

    Get your protein and veggies with Leftover Turkey Frittata.
  2. Recipes for Thanksgiving side dishes: Green beans, sweet potatoes, biscuits and more


    The turkey generally gets fussed over the most on Thanksgiving, but sometimes the sides are more memorable than the ol' bird. Here are suggestions for ways to round out your feast on Thursday. Michelle Stark, Times food editor

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
  3. A Thanksgiving recipe for cranberry sauce, plus six ways to mix it up


    Canned cranberry sauce plopped onto a plate is a tradition on some Thanksgiving tables. But the jiggly maroon cylinder might disappear more quickly if you make your sauce from scratch, with whole cranberries and sugar. It's one of the easier sides to prepare on the big day, but it also can be made days in advance to save time and stovetop space. Fresh sauce is more customizable, too, the canned jelly bearing little resemblance to the tartness of fresh cranberries, which you can let shine in your homemade sauce or mellow out with a hefty amount of sugar. Adding less sugar will produce a looser, fruitier, less gelatinous sauce....

    Traditional cranberry sauce lends itself to mix-ins, from shallot and cherry to grapefruit and apricot.
  4. Three stuffing recipes for Thanksgiving, from traditional to exotic


    The safest way to make stuffing is outside of the turkey cavity, on its own in a large, glass baking dish. The most delicious way to make stuffing? Well, that's up for continuous debate. We've chosen three recipes than run the gamut from traditional to Southern to Mediterranean-flavored.

    Michelle Stark, Times food editor

    Classic stuffing is a staple at the Thanksgiving table. But there are many ways to add some variety to the dish.
  5. How to avoid these five potential Thanksgiving cooking disasters


    Preparing Thanksgiving dinner is kind of like conducting an orchestra. There are many moving parts that you're responsible for turning into a satisfying meal, and when everything comes together, it is a beautiful thing. Drop your hands for a second, though, and things can quickly turn into a mess. Thankfully, most Thanksgiving trouble spots are predictable. Here are the top five things that could go wrong while you are cooking Thanksgiving dinner, and how to avoid the problems before they even start....

    Regardless of how you cook the turkey, let it sit, undisturbed, on a cutting board or platter for about 30 minutes before carving to ensure succulence.
  6. From the editor: Tips and recipes to help you prepare the big Thanksgiving meal


    Every year, it seems so doable. You've got everything under control the week before: The turkey is thawing in the fridge, canned goods are purchased, meal time is set. Then you're staring down the backside of a raw turkey on Thursday morning and Thanksgiving dinner suddenly feels quite overwhelming.

    There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you're preparing the main feast this week, especially if you have less help in the kitchen than you would like. So we put together a story dedicated to staving off some of those likely Turkey Day problems before they turn into full-blown disasters. We have tips for everything from thawing a turkey to making room in the oven to feeding your guests throughout the day....

    The big day isn’t quite here yet, but we’ve already got a plan for the inevitable leftovers: Apple Cranberry Turkey Salad.
  7. #CookClub recipe: Pumpkin French Toast Bake, perfect for Thanksgiving morning


    If you're hosting a large group of people at your house this Thanksgiving, and especially if they will be there for longer than just the day, it's helpful to have a couple of go-to recipes that can feed a group. This Pumpkin French Toast Bake hits the mark. It will also come in handy during the business of next week because it can be mostly assembled the night before it's baked, making it an ideal Thanksgiving Day breakfast. It's hearty but not too over the top, so your guests should be sated but still hungry for the big meal later on. ...

      Pumpkin French Toast Bake [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  8. From the editor: That's water in my mason jar, not moonshine


    The stranger outside of Starbucks glanced at me as I approached, like he had something to say. On my way out, he did.

    "Is that water, or … something else? Because where I'm from, it'd be …"

    "Moonshine?" I said.

    He flashed me a grin. "Yeah, exactly, moonshine."

    This wasn't my first encounter like this.

    Ever since I took the idea from a clever colleague to start toting my drinking water in a giant mason jar, I've gotten odd looks. From colleagues. From baristas. From strangers. Most of them jokingly suggest it's moonshine. A few throw out "gin" or "vodka." As you can imagine, it gets more hilarious with every comment someone makes....

  9. Cook Hack: another use for cutting boards used for carving meats


    Another use for cutting boards used for carving meats: If you're going to be pulling out your meat carving board for Thanksgiving, keep it on hand for dicing vegetables, too. We're talking about the (usually wooden) ones that have a thin channel around the edge to catch meat juices. These boards are ideal for carving turkey and other large roasts, but they're also good for something else. If you need to cut nuts, cherry tomatoes or anything about the size of a grape, place a handful of them in the cutting board's divot, then run your knife down along all of them. You'll be able to cut them all at once into smaller pieces, and the pieces will stay in one place instead of sliding all over the board. These boards also can be good for prepping carrots and celery, vegetables whose diced pieces tend to roll off flat cutting boards. ...

  10. How to dress for fall when it does not feel like fall


    I am not sure where you live, but in Florida, where we live, it has not been feeling like fall. In fact, not only does it not feel like fall, it actively feels like summer, with highs that have been hovering around 90 degrees. And with this stubborn weather comes a fashion dilemma: When do we get to wear our cute fall clothes? 

    If you're sick of all the clothes you rotated through during the summer months, here are some tips for bringing some fall flair to your warbdrobe. Maybe the weather will follow suit soon enough. (Hark! I see highs in the 70s in the distance!)...

    Rock this Lea Michele look now to bring some fall flair to these warm days. Just make sure to wear a shirt under that blazer if you're wearing this outfit to work.
  11. Five ideas for one-pot pastas: Classic, primavera, pumpkin and more


    Can you feel it? That frenzied, urgent energy in the air that creeps up around this time of year, when two major holidays are crammed into the last two months? It is during these times that we need fast, simple, comforting meals. It is when I turn to one-pot pastas. It's one of those dishes that, once you discover it, you can't believe you haven't been making it your whole life. Somehow even easier than the classic boil-water-and-drop-pasta-in method, one-pot pastas take about 20 minutes from the time the burner gets hot to the time you're spooning a finished dish onto a plate. The trick is to combine all of the ingredients in a pot with dry pasta, then cook everything at the same time until the pasta is al dente and the ingredients have formed a sauce. And cleanup is even easier than that. ...

    Martha Stewart’s one-pot pasta includes tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil.
  12. #CookClub recipe: How to make Slow Cooker Ramen



    Slow Cooker Ramen

    Slow Cooker Ramen


    • 2 to 3 pounds pork shoulder roast (or butt)
    • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth, plus more if needed
    • ½ cup plus 2 to 4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
    • ¼ cup plus 2 to 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
    • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
    • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
    • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (chili paste)
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
    • 2 cups wild mushrooms, left whole
    • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (optional)
    • Ramen noodles
    • 4 soft-boiled or fried eggs, for serving
    • Chopped carrots, sliced jalapenos, cilantro and green onions, for serving


    1. Add the pork to the bowl of a slow cooker. Pour the chicken broth, ½ cup soy sauce, ¼ cup rice vinegar and fish sauce over the pork. Add the Thai red curry paste, ginger, sambal oelek, juice of 1 lime, Chinese five spice powder, black pepper and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 4 to 6 hours. (I recommend going low and slow.)
    2. Remove the pork from the slow cooker and add the mushrooms. Cover the slow cooker and crank the heat up to high. Lightly shred the pork with two forks.
    3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sesame oil. Once hot, add enough pork to cover just the surface of your skillet; do not over crowd the skillet. Sprinkle a little brown sugar over the pork, add 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and toss. Allow the pork to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir and allow the pork to continue to caramelize, about 3 to 5 minutes total. Remove the pork from the skillet and repeat with remaining pork. Keep the pork warm.
    4. Add the ramen noodles to the slow cooker and allow them to cook 5 minutes. Once the noodles are cooked, stir in half the pork. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with extra caramelized pork and an egg. Season the egg with salt and pepper. Add the carrots, jalapenos, green onions and cilantro. Serves 4 to 6.
    Source: Adapted from halfbakedharvest.com

    Slow Cooker Ramen [Monica Herndon, TIMES]
  13. From the food editor: Fire up the slow cooker for this ramen recipe


    Is Tampa Bay on the precipice of a ramen revolution? The Japanese noodle bowls are already vastly popular in places like New York City, but as food critic Laura Reiley tells us in this week's cover story, ramen is now coming to this area in full force.

    Laura visited three new restaurants from Tampa to St. Petersburg, including the bustling Ichicoro Ramen in Seminole Heights, which opened a few weeks ago. In the reviews here, Laura tells us why this hip new spot in particular may be paving the way for more authentic ramen in Tampa Bay....

    Slow Cooker Ramen uses pork shoulder to flavor the broth. It also serves as an ingredient.
  14. Cook Hack: an easier way to peel a potato


    An easier way to peel a potato: Fresh mashed potatoes from scratch? A must for Thanksgiving. But that means lots of potato work: washing, peeling, dicing. We found a trick to help with one part of the process. Potatoes in particular can get slimy and squirmy once you start peeling them with a vegetable peeler, so try this: Peel one end of the potato, just a small part, then plant a fork into that end, holding it as you run your peeler down the rest of the potato. Your grip on the potato will be more firm, resulting in less of a slippery mess....

    Spice up dinner with this recipe for shrimp fra diavolo.
  15. Five ideas for jazzing up freshly popped popcorn


    Popcorn is having a moment. No longer confined to movie theater buckets, the puffed kernels are showing up in gourmet shops, restaurant dishes, desserts and more.

    This week, we're devoting our 5 Ideas For ... feature to the popped snack, with suggestions for ways to bolster the plain grain. We'll also show you how to make your own at home, so you can ditch for good the nasty trans fats still lurking in some microwavable popcorn bags. ...

    A few words of caution: Candy Bar Popcorn can be addictive.