Natalie Morales Channels Her Inner Julia Child Online—and Shares a Killer Beef Recipe Perfect for Leftovers

Natalie Morales, Tastemakers

Want something done? Give it to a busy person. Better yet, give it to a news anchor. Even though Natalie Morales, a mother of two, is up every day at 4 am to bring us the latest world events on Today, she’s also starring in a new Internet cooking series, At Home With, that shoots on location at her house in New Jersey. Is she nuts?

Don’t you already have enough to do? Why a food show?
This is therapy for me. At the end of my workday, I find peace and quiet in my kitchen. Every dish I make is super easy and takes less than half an hour to prepare. We all complain we don’t have enough time in the day, so we grab takeout or throw frozen stuff in the microwave, then complain we’re gaining weight and don’t feel as good as we should. That comes from not knowing what’s in your food. I want to know exactly what I’m feeding my family.

Many of your dishes have a Latin flair, yet your kids won’t eat peppers and onions. What’s a mom to do?
Substitute. I learned from my own mom that you don’t need to follow recipes down to the exact fine print, so I experiment. I love mixing flavors, being creative. What’s the worst that could happen? It doesn’t taste good and your kids say, “Yuck.” And then you get over it. [Laughs] After you say, “Go to your room!”

Did you get away with that as a kid?
Never. We ate what was put in front of us. My background is Brazilian and Puerto Rican, but I was also an Air Force brat who grew up all over the place, so I’m globally inspired. I believe in making my kids expand their palates, but sometimes the struggle is just not worth it. That’s when I just give in and make them a cheese sandwich.

How can we be more like Natalie Morales in the kitchen? You seem so blissful there.
The secret is, don’t get fancy. I don’t chiffon my lettuce. The whole point is to be myself in the kitchen, not some master chef. Things will happen. I forget ingredients, but I will just fix my mistakes on camera. I’m not trying to be perfect, just trying to be real. [Laughs] And there’s another philosophy I highly adhere to: Have a glass of wine while cooking! at home with Episodes available at Today Food,

Slow-Cooker Ropa Vieja

Tastemakers, Natalie Morales

Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja

“This Latin dish literally means ‘old clothes,’ but I promise you it’s fabulous,” Morales says. “And the leftovers make great burritos and tacos.”

6–8 servings

1 pounds flank steak
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 bottle beer (pale ale)
Sazon (spice blend found in Latin section of grocery store), to taste
Cumin, to taste
Oregano, to taste
Tabasco, optional

Starting with the steak, put all the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours. Once cooked, pour contents into a large serving dish and shred the meat. Serve topped with cilantro and olives, alongside beans, rice and tortillas.

At Home With, Episodes available at Today Food,