By Karen Schulz

I don’t know the last time I came across a simpler more delicious dinner than this spaghetti a la carbonara. My maiden name is Napoli and until recently I’d never had spaghetti a la carbonara, granted I am also half Irish, but that’s neither here nor there. This dish has rocketed to the top of my go-to dinner list.

If you are not in the mood to cook, have picky eaters in the house, are very short on time, or did not get to the market, then this recipe is for you. Not only does it take just 15 minutes, start to finish, but odds are you already have the five or six ingredients necessary to make it.

To make it as “healthy” as possible use nitrate-free bacon, organic eggs, and feel free to use a gluten-free pasta, or banza, which is made from chickpeas. Serve a spinach salad on the side with light lemon vinaigrette and all the food groups will be covered.

This dish will be a crowd pleaser, as anything with bacon is delicious.

<<Spaghetti a la Carbonara>>

Serves 4


1 pound dry spaghetti

2 T. olive oil

4 oz. pancetta or bacon, cut in ¼” cubes

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 large eggs

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus more for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

1 handful fresh Italian parsley


Prepare the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure the spaghetti will be hot when the sauce is finished.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or al dente. Drain the pasta well, reserving ½ cup of the water.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté for about 3 minutes, until it is crisp. Add the garlic and cook for less than 1 minute, careful not to burn garlic.

Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss for 2 minutes to coat the strands in the bacon fat.

Beat the eggs and cheese together in a small bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta, whisking quickly until the eggs thicken.

If necessary, thin out the sauce with a bit of the reserved pasta water until your desired consistency.

Add fresh pepper and salt to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley (and extra parmesan if desired).

<Note: It is very important that the pasta is hot when adding the egg mixture, so that the heat of the pasta cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.>

By Karen Schulz

There are three excellent reasons to love soup on a cold snowy February day. 


1. It’s hard to mess up, and ingredients are easily substituted depending on what you have in your pantry.

2. It is warm, filling, and satisfying whether you play in the snow or are tucked in by the fire.

3. Soup recipes yield plenty to share with friends and family who may pop by unannounced, or to freeze for another day.


This recipe for Sausage and Bean Soup with Winter Vegetables will definitely become a regular in my house due to the ease in making it. It is chock-full of protein and vegetables, and, of course, delicious.


You can use any sausage you like — sweet, spicy, chicken, and so on. You can use whatever vegetables you like — turnips, parsnips, squash, or sweet potato. And you can use whatever greens you like — Swiss chard, kale, or collard greens. Feel free to experiment and see what happens. 


A big pot of soup can be made in advance and is therefore a convenient option for busy households. And, since it is a one-pot meal, cleanup is a snap.


So enjoy these wintery snowy days over some nourishing soup.


<<Sausage and Bean Soup with Winter Vegetables>>

Serves 6.




4 T. olive oil

3 sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed

¼ t. fennel seeds

¼ t. chili flakes

2 medium yellow onions, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 t. kosher salt

2 carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

2 t. minced fresh thyme leaves

1 t. minced fresh rosemary leaves

1 bay leaf

2 parsnips, diced (about 1½ cups)

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1½ cups)

1½ quarts (6 cups) chicken (or vegetable) stock 

1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained

1 bunch Swiss chard, stalks removed and roughly torn




In a Dutch oven, or any heavy-bottomed pot, heat 2 T. olive oil on medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a spoon as it browns.


Add in the fennel seeds, chili flakes, and 1 t. salt. When the sausage is nicely browned and fully cooked, use a slotted spoon and remove from the pot, leaving whatever oil is left in the pan. Set the sausage aside in a bowl.


Reduce heat to medium. Add the onions, garlic, and 1 t. salt to the pot, scraping up all the brown bits from the sausage. Add the remaining 2 T. olive oil to the pan. Let this cook, and almost caramelize for about 10 minutes.


Add in the carrot, celery, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Let these vegetables and herbs cook for another 10 minutes or so. Now, add the parsnip and sweet potato along with the stock, 1 t. salt, and can of tomatoes. 


Cover the pot and let this simmer for about 35-40 minutes, just until the parsnips and sweet potato have softened.


Add the sausage, beans, and greens to the pot. Let them simmer uncovered for another 15-20 minutes, just until all the flavors have melded.



By Karen Schulz

I have a confession. There are times when my well-intentioned family dinners are not so wonderful.

The food may be delicious, or not, but more importantly, the dining experience can degrade quickly with bad manners, bickering, or when one lovely child is late to join the table despite a series of increasingly vociferous calls to the bedroom. Not exactly the Norman Rockwell moment of my dreams.

I think this is important to mention because despite having high hopes of laughing, bonding and sharing (which happens a lot of the time), the realities of life are always clear and present. People have bad days, manners come and go, and of course siblings can grate on each other’s nerves, all of which could lead to a reaction my husband had one night. “Why do we even do this? Family dinner is completely overrated.”

While throwing in the towel sometimes seems like the best idea, the science is clear, and I still adamantly believe in the benefits of family dinners —emotional well being, lower instances of risky behaviors in adolescents, and nutritional advantages. It’s important to recognize that even when there is trouble in paradise and food starts flying, it is indeed, still paradise. Sitting at a table together and working through disagreements is an important life skill, one of which I am actually still working on. In fact, without sitting down to dinner, I’m not sure if certain issues would ever surface. And on those nights when someone eats out, on some level, they know they are being missed at the table, which is something special.

So, please do not become discouraged if after making a family meal it turns into a food fight. Continue to try new, easy, nutritious recipes in hopes of making it easier to have family dinners as often as possible. Start with these delicious, sausage and pepper heroes, and be sure to use all three colors of bell peppers. Green is high in vitamin A, red is high in vitamin C, and yellow and orange are rich in carotenoids and antioxidants. At least you know the food will be good, even if the kids (and spouses) are not!

(with 3 pix, numbered in order of use)

<<Sausage and Pepper Heroes>>

Serves 4.


2T. extra virgin olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage (a mix of sweet and hot)

1 large Spanish onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise

4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 large bell peppers, 1 green, 1 red, 1 yellow or orange, cut into ¼ inch strips

½ t. dried oregano

1/8 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

4 Italian hero rolls, 7-8 inches long

8-10 thin slices provolone cheese


Line a plate with paper towels. In a large heavy skillet, heat one tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and cook, turning with tongs, until they are browned on all sides and no longer pink in the middle, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to the paper towel-lined plate to drain. When cool, slice in half lengthwise, then crosswise in thirds.

Wipe the pan clean with paper towels. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and golden, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in bell peppers, oregano, red pepper flakes, and ½ t. salt and mix well. Continue to sauté until the peppers are lightly charred and tender, about 8 minutes.

Return sausage to pan and add tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until heated through, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat broiler. Split rolls in half lengthwise and hollow out some of the bread on each of the bottom halves, forming a cavity. Put rolls cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet and place an equal portion of the sausages and peppers on each roll. Top with provolone cheese. Broil until the bread crisps and the cheese melts, approximately 2 minutes.

Close the heroes and serve hot.

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