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Weeknight Bolognese

1 pound 93% lean ground beef
2 Tbsp water
1/4 tsp baking soda
salt and pepper
4 cups beef broth
OR 4 tsp Better than Bouillon Roasted Beef Base + 2 cups water
6 ounces pancetta, chopped course
1 onion, chopped coarse
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped coarse
1 celery rib, copped coarse
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup dry red wine
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (1/2 cup)
1 pound tagliatelle
* less than 1/8 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
* basil
* 1/4 tsp thyme
* 1/4 tsp oregano

Toss beef with water, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper until thoroughly combined.

(Note: If using bouillon + water, this step can be skipped) Bring broth to a boil over high heat in large pot (this will be used to cook pasta later) and cook until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Pulse pancetta in food processor until finely chopped, 15 to 20 pulses. Add onion, carrot, celery, and garlic and pulse until vegetables are finely chopped and mixture has paste-like consistency, 12 to 15 pulses, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Heat butter and oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. When foaming subsides, add pancetta-vegetable mixture and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes. Spread mixture in even layer in bottom of pot and continue to cook, stirring every couple minutes, until very dark browned bits form on bottom of pot, 7 to 12 minutes longer. Stir in tomato paste and cook until paste is rust-colored and bottom of pan is dark brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium, add beef, and cook, using wooden spoons to break meat into pieces no larger than 1/4 inch, until beef has just lost raw pink color, 4 to 7 minutes. Stir in wine, scraping up and browned bits, and begin to simmer. Cook until wine has evaporated and sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in broth and Parmesan. Return sauce to simmer; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauce will look thin at this point.

Rinse pot that held broth. While sauce simmers, bring 4 quarts water to boil in now-empty pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Add pasta to pot with sauce and toss to combine. Adjust sauce consistency with reserved cooking water as needed.

Carrot Fries

1 pound of whole carrots, scrubbed, but not peeled
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon spicy seasoning blend (or make the spice blend recipe below)

Spice Blend:
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon thyme
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon cumin
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon white pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut carrots into french fry-sized sticks (e.g., cut in half lengthwise, then quarter each half). Combine olive oil and spice mixture. Pour olive oil mixture over carrots and toss to thoroughly coat.

Spread carrots on a large baking sheet that is lined with parchment or greased. Roast carrots for 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. Thickness of carrots will determine doneness so check often to avoid burning

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. fresh brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 oz. pancetta, diced, with visible fat discarded
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, minced
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, then lower to 400 while sprouts are actually roasting.

Trim off the sprout stem and remove any yellow outer leaves. Toss the halved sprouts with the other ingredients in a bowl until evenly coated.

Spread in a single layer on a large sheet pan (do not overcrowd). Reduce oven to 400 degrees and bake in the upper 1/3 rack, for 30-35 minutes. The exterior should be crisp, with edges browned, and the inside still tender. Toss/stir halfway through for more even browning.

Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips

Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato Baked Chips
2-3 medium-large sweet potatoes
1/4 cup white or malt vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Scrub sweet potatoes and pat dry. Thinly slice sweet potatoes into round discs (with a mandolin is best). Place all of the potato discs in a large Ziploc bag. Add vinegar, close bag, and shake to coat the potato slices. Allow to rest at room temperature 10-15 minutes.

Line a large baking sheet with nonstick foil and spray generously with cooking spray (or use a silicone baking mat). Drain the bag, and place all of the potato discs in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with half of the salt and spray generously with cooking spray.

Bake 15-20 minutes. Use a thin spatula to flip the chips over, and sprinkle with remaining salt. Bake another 15-20 minutes until chips are crispy but not burned.

Broiled Hot Pepper Wings

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
5 pounds chicken wings, split and tips discarded
salt and pepper to taste, about 1 tsp each
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup hot pepper jelly (Tabasco Pepper Jelly, Stonewall Kitchens, or Braswell 10 oz jar)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
1/2 cup Frank’s hot sauce

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil, lightly oil, and place rack in the middle.

Toss wings with 2 Tbsp of oil. Sprinkle wings with salt, pepper, and baking powder, toss to coat. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning half way through.

In a small saucepan over moderate heat, whisk the pepper jelly, lime juice, and hot sauce until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer 1-2 minutes.

Adjust rack to about 6 inches and set broiler to high. Brush the cooked wings with 1/4 cup sauce and broil 1 to 2 minutes. Brush with 1/4 cup sauce again, flip wings, brush with 1.4 cup sauce. Broil until crispy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Brush with remaining sauce before serving.

Corn Pudding

2 eggs
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 can Corn Nibblets, drained
1 can creamed corn
1 stick butter
8 oz sour cream

Slightly beat the eggs, stir in the cornbread mix. Then add all the remaining ingredients. Add mixture to a buttered dish (8-inch square, 1.5 qt oval) and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Done when the edges slightly brown and separate, the top will not brown. Do not overcook.

Slow Cooker Garlic Thyme Chicken

1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
3 lbs bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed and cut in half (or 2 lbs of boneless breast halves)
1 tbsp olive oil
20 garlic cloves, light smashed and peeled (about 2 large heads of garlic)
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp fresh-ground black pepper

Lightly oil the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker. Evenly place the sliced onion along the bottom.

Place the chicken into a large mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add the peeled & smashed garlic cloves and toss to combine. Sprinkle the seasonings across the top of the chicken-garlic mixture and toss until chicken is well coated with seasonings.

Transfer the chicken-garlic mixture to the slow cooker and cover. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, or high for 2-3 hours.

Spicy Asian Chicken and Noodle Soup

4 cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken breast (about 1.5 lbs)
1 cup grated carrot (about 2 medium)
1 cup thinly sliced snow peas
1 tablespoon Sriracha
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 (4-inch) piece peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced or thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground Chinese Five Spice
6 cups water
3 ounces uncooked wide rice sticks (rice-flour noodles)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint, optional
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Bring first 11 ingredients to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm.

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add rice noodles; cook 3 minutes. Drain. Place about 1/4 cup rice noodles in each of bowl for serving.

Discard ginger. Add juice to broth mixture; stir. Ladle 1 1/3 cups broth mixture over each serving; top with 1 tablespoon each mint, cilantro, and green onions.

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

1 (16-oz.) can or 1 1/2 cups soaked & cooked garbanzo beans
1 (16-oz.) can or 1 1/2 cups soaked & cooked black beans
1 (16-oz.) can or 1 1/2 cups soaked & cooked red kidney beans
1 1/2 cups corn kernels
1 cup tomato salsa
1/2 cup salsa verde
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika
4 garlic cloves, minced
salt & pepper to taste (about a half teaspoon each)
2 bay leaves
1 lb. chicken, large pieces
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Place all ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker. Turn on low, cook for 4-6 hours. Serve over a bed of rice, or with a side of cornbread or warm tortillas.

Note: For dried beans, place 1/2 cup of each bean type in slow cooker with enough water (about 8 cups) and desired spices, like bay, cumin, paprika, garlic, and granulated onion (NO SALT WHILE COOKING!). Start the beans on Low about 4 hours before the salsa chicken start time (8-10 hours ahead, total). After 4 hours, reserve 1 cup of liquid and drain. Add the beans and reserve liquid to the recipe like canned beans.

Slow Cooker Cassoulet

** 1/2 pound dried cannelini/northern beans
2 bacon slices
1.5 pounds lean boneless pork chops, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound reduced-fat or turkey smoked sausage, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups chopped onion
—– 1c carrot (optional)
—– 1c celery (optional)
—– 1c red bell pepper (optional)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 teaspoons dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 cup dry white wine
** 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, drained $
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 teaspoons finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese (optional)
8 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

** If using canned, instead of dry beans, use 2 15-ounce cans of beans (drained and rinsed) and omit chicken broth.

Soak beans overnight.

Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion, (optional carrot), (optional celery), thyme, rosemary, and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add wine, let simmer 1 minute. Stir in crumbled bacon, salt, pepper, (optional red bell pepper), and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Remove from heat.

Combine beans, pork, and sausage; stir well. Place half of bean mixture in a 3 1/2-quart electric slow cooker; top with half of tomato mixture. Repeat layers. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours. Ladle into bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.