Food columnist shares her best recipes of 2022

Columnist Sarah Nasello selects her three most popular recipes from 2022, which includes a side dish, main course and dessert perfect for a New Year's Eve feast.

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Based on the response from her family and Forum readers, Sarah's choice for the number one best recipe of 2022 is this ultra-moist, easy to make and delicious Scandinavian Almond Cake.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

FARGO — As we say farewell to another year, my family and I have been recounting our favorite recipes of 2022. My inspiration comes from what my family wants to eat, so it isn’t always easy for us to choose a favorite, but there are some clear front-runners in this year’s collection. From the 52 recipes of this past year, here are three of the best of 2022 based on family and reader response. Featuring a side dish, main course and dessert, this list would be the perfect menu for an easy New Year’s Eve feast, and the simplicity of each specialty means you will have time free to relax and enjoy the festivities. In other words, with this menu, you can have your cake and eat it too. That’s my kind of menu.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to share your food adventures with me in 2022 – it means the world to me. I wish you all a very happy, peaceful and delicious New Year!

#1: Scandinavian Almond Cake

Although this recipe sneaked in toward the end of the year, it generated a huge response among our readers. I received dozens of emails about this recipe – some readers wanted to know where to buy the specialty cake pan ( Stabo Imports in downtown Fargo ), while others wanted to share their own recipe and memories of this cake. Some even sent me photos of the cakes they made with my recipe, which always brings a smile to my face. Despite its elegant appearance and ultra-moist deliciousness, this is one of the easiest cakes I have ever made, and a winner, every time. Skol!


1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt (optional)
1 ¼ cup granulated white sugar
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Powdered sugar, for dusting



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt until combined; set aside.

In a large bowl, add the sugar, milk, egg, almond and vanilla extracts. Beat well with a hand whisk or electric mixer. Add the flour mixture and stir until fully combined. Add the melted butter and beat until the batter is smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.

Just before adding the batter, spray the cake pan generously with a flour-based baking spray (like Baker’s Joy or Pam with Flour), coating the entire surface, including the top rim. Pour the batter into the pan and use a knife or offset spatula to smooth the surface until evenly distributed. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to release any air bubbles.

Place the cake pan in the center of the oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Use a knife or offset spatula to gently loosen the cake from the sides and top rim of the pan. Place a wire cooling rack over the cake pan and flip to invert it. Gently remove the pan from the cake and let the cake cool completely before serving.

When cool, dust the top with a generously sprinkling of powdered sugar, slice along the ridges and serve.


To store:

Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container at room temperature for 3 to 5 days or in the freezer for 3 months. To freeze individual slices, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. Let the frozen cake and slices thaw in their plastic wrapping while coming to room temperature.

Sarah’s Notes:

  • Greasing the cake pan well is very important as this cake can otherwise stick to the surface. I get the best results when I use a flour-based baking spray.
  • You can vary the flavor of this cake by using different extracts, liqueurs and citrus zest, added at the same time as the almond extract.
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Coming in at No. 2 on the list, Sarah's Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas were a hit with both her family and Forum readers, who agreed that these crispy shreds of pulled pork are an easy weeknight dinner winner.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

#2: Slow-Cooker Pork Carnitas

Ever since I featured this recipe in May, I have had to make it at least once a month for my family. I have also received numerous emails from our readers, who either made this dish, or were about to make it. I can always tell when a recipe is a hit by the volume of emails I receive, and this one generated dozens of emails from readers who had either made it or were about to make it.

This is another recipe that is easy to make and still so delicious – all you have to do is measure out the spices and seasonings, rub the pork shoulder with the spices, do a little rough chopping, zest an orange, turn the crock pot on and walk away for several hours. A quick broil after the pork has been shredded gives these carnitas a crispy finish for an easy weeknight dinner winner.

Serves: 4 to 6



3 pounds bone-in pork shoulder, or 2 ½ pounds boneless
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
¼ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 orange, zested and juiced
1 ½ cups chicken broth or water


Pat the pork roast dry and season generously with salt and pepper on all sides; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the oregano, cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper; set aside.

Place the onion, jalapeno and garlic in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the pork roast and rub half of the spice mixture over the top and sides. Turn the roast over and repeat with the remaining spices. Turn the roast over again until evenly coated. Add the lime juice, orange zest and juice, and chicken broth. The liquid should come up to the top inch of the pork, so add more broth or water if needed, but not enough to submerge the roast.

Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours, until the meat is very tender and easy to pull apart. If the liquid appears to be reducing too much, add more broth or water by the quarter-cup as needed.

Preheat the oven broiler to high heat and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the pork roast from the pot and place it on the baking sheet, reserving the juices in the pot.

Use two forks to pull the meat into shreds and discard the bone if present. Spread the shredded meat out on the baking sheet in an even layer. Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 5 minutes until the edges of the pork start to brown and become crispy. Remove the pork from the oven and pour ¼ cup of the reserved liquid over the shredded meat, tossing with tongs to evenly coat.


Return the pork to the broiler for 5 minutes and repeat this process. After adding the second ¼ cup of the liquid, broil for another 3 minutes and then remove from the oven and transfer the pork to a serving dish. Add another ¼ cup of the reserved juices and toss to combine.

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With their perfect balance of elegance and ease, Sarah's Cheddar Chive Duchess Potatoes are her go-to special occasion side dish and her choice to round out the top three best recipes of 2022.<br/>
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

#3: Cheddar and Chive Duchess Potatoes

While the Scandinavian Almond Cake and Pork Carnitas stood out firmly as our top two choices from 2022, picking the No. 2 recipe wasn’t as easy, and it was a tight race between these Cheddar and Chive Duchess Potatoes, Banana Coconut Cream Pie and my Sugar and Spice Dijon Crusted Salmon, but since the list already has a dessert and a main course, I figured having a side dish would round it out well.

This recipe might have generated the most photos I have ever received from our readers, who were eager to show off their piping skills and decorative potato towers. I receive such joy when you share your cooking successes with me, and love knowing that we foodies are in this together. Duchess potatoes are essentially just dressed-up mashed potatoes, but with their elegant appearance and make-ahead easy preparation, they have become my go-to special occasion potato dish.

Makes: 12 individual portions, serves 6 to 12


3 pounds Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled and root end trimmed (optional)
¼ cup whole milk or heavy cream
¼ teaspoon finely ground black or white pepper
½ cup white cheddar cheese, finely grated (Gruyere, mozzarella or other semi-hard cheese also good)
1 tablespoon fresh chives, finely chopped
Pinch of ground nutmeg
4 large egg yolks



Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fit a large piping bag with a large, open-star tip and set aside (you may also use a large round tip or a plastic freezer bag with the end cut off).

Place the quartered potatoes in a large pot with 1 tablespoon of the kosher salt. Fill the pot with water until it reaches one inch above the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are tender enough for a fork to pierce through with ease (no resistance), about 16 to 18 minutes.

Once fork-tender, drain the potatoes into a colander and place the empty pot back on the stove over medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with the whole garlic clove. Once the butter has melted, continue to cook for 2 minutes, then remove and discard the garlic clove.

Add the heavy cream or milk, the remaining teaspoon of kosher salt and the black pepper; bring to a simmer over medium heat then turn off the heat. Pass the warm potatoes through a ricer directly into the milk mixture or use a potato masher to mash them in until smooth.

Add the cheddar cheese, chives and nutmeg, and use a stiff rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir until melted. Taste the mixture and add more salt and pepper as desired. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, stirring vigorously after each addition until well-incorporated.

Transfer the potatoes to the piping bag fitted with the star tip until ¾ full. Place the piping bag on a firm surface and use the side of your hand to smooth the potatoes down toward the end to remove any air pockets.

Pipe the potatoes into swirled mounds approximately 2 inches wide and 2 inches high, tapering the width with each upward swirl. Space each mound 1-inch apart. *At this stage, you can refrigerate the unbaked potatoes in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 3 months.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and then use all of it to generously brush the tops and sides of the potatoes.


Bake until the swirls on the potatoes are golden brown and crispy, about 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Check after 15 minutes – if the tops are turning brown too quickly, reduce heat to 400 and continue baking until done. (My tops are always darker than the sides.) Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Sarah’s Tips:

  • Baked Duchess potatoes may be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days, then reheated in the oven at 375 degrees until hot.
  • To freeze unbaked Duchess potatoes, pipe them onto the baking sheet and place the sheet in the freezer for 2 hours, or until hard to the touch. Transfer the potatoes to a freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and bake as directed.
  • Duchess potatoes are versatile: for a plain version, skip the garlic, cheese and chives, or swap them out for your favorite cheese and herbs.
  • Save the egg whites to use in other recipes, like my Coconut Macaroons, Meringue Kisses and Angel Food Cake, or omelets.


This week in...

Recipes can be found with the article at

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at
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