Basic Baked Chicken Breasts

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. skinless and boneless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt or more to taste
3 dashes ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 400° F. Pat dry the boneless chicken breasts with paper towels. Score the bottom of the chicken.

Drizzle the olive oil on the chicken, add the minced garlic and rub all over the chicken breasts.

Add honey, smoked paprika, lemon juice, salt and ground black pepper to the chicken. Stir to combine well with the chicken. Set aside and marinate for 15 minutes.

Transfer the chicken breasts to a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Bake at for 15-18 minutes, or until the inside of the chicken breasts are cooked through.

Change the oven setting to Broil and broil the chicken for 1 – 2 minutes or until the surface becomes slightly charred. Remove from oven, top with chopped parsley and serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges. (DO NOT discard the juice seeping out of the chicken. Serve the chicken with the juice.)

Beef and Tomato Salad

1/4 cup very finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
Pepper
1 1/2 pounds cherry and medium-size heirloom tomatoes—cherry tomatoes halved, heirloom tomatoes cut into chunks
1 pound leftover grilled steak, cut into strips
2 medium avocados—peeled, pitted and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup snipped dill
1/3 cup tarragon leaves

In a large bowl, whisk the red onion with the Champagne vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil and Dijon mustard and season with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes, beef and avocados and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Fold in the dill and tarragon and serve right away.

Baked Polenta with Corn and Eggs

Heat your oven to 350 degrees, and melt 2 or 3 tablespoons butter in an ovenproof skillet (9 or so inches). If you like, you can let the butter melt, bubble and turn brown, about 5 minutes.

When the butter is melted, stir in about 1/2 cup corn kernels (frozen, fresh, canned or leave the corn out entirely). Let sizzle for a few minutes, then add a quart of liquid (some kind of broth or water), 1 cup polenta (not the instant kind) and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt, depending on your love of salt and whether your broth was salted.

Whisk until the mixture bubbles and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

At this point, you’ve got options. Add a handful of chopped herbs and a couple of sliced scallions or a shallot, or skip it. Two or three cups of chopped greens (spinach, kale, broccoli rabe) is also nice if you want more vegetables. Cheese lovers can stir in 1/2 cup crumbled feta or blue cheese, or grated Parmesan (or another firm grating cheese). Or stir in some sliced olives or roasted red peppers or marinated artichokes.

Cover the pan. (Aluminum foil or a pasta pot lid will work if you don’t have a covered skillet.) Bake for 20 minutes, then uncover and give the mush a good stir with a whisk. Cover once more, and bake for another 15 to 25 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is tender. At this point, it makes a great side dish.

To turn this into a meal, you can add some eggs. Use a spoon to make four to six divots in the polenta, and crack an egg in each one. Return the pan to the oven and bake uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to taste.
Crack lots of pepper on top, sprinkle with flaky sea salt, and strew with herbs and maybe more cheese before serving. Serve with a cool, crisp salad on the side, especially as these late spring evenings continue to warm up.

Grilled Vegetables with Agrodolce and Burrata

FOR THE AGRODOLCE SAUCE:
1/4 cup chopped raisins, preferably golden, or dried apricots
2/3 cup white wine vinegar or cider vinegar (or a combination)
2 tablespoons honey, plus more to taste
1 tablespoon fish sauce or colatura (optional)
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Pinch of fine sea salt

FOR THE VEGETABLES (USE ANY OR ALL):
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 bell peppers, quartered, stems and seeds removed
1 to 2 zucchini or summer squash, sliced diagonally 1/2-inch thick
1 small eggplant, sliced diagonally 1/2-inch thick
2 to 4 ears yellow corn, shucked
8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and halved or quartered
1 bunch thick asparagus, ends snapped
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, preferably still on the vine

FOR SERVING:
2 small burrata or fresh mozzarella balls, or 2 cups fresh ricotta
Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Basil or mint leaves, for serving
Crusty bread slices

Make the sauce: Put raisins or apricots in a small heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, honey, fish sauce or colatura (if using), red-pepper flakes and salt. Bring to a boil, then let simmer until the mixture reduces slightly, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour over the raisins and let cool. Taste and stir in a little more honey if the sauce is too harsh. (Sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in the refrigerator.)

Prepare the vegetables: Oil the grill grate and light the grill. Have a serving platter at the ready.

Grill the peppers, zucchini, eggplant and corn directly on the grate, in batches if necessary, and turning them as needed. Move them around the grate so they cook evenly. Cook until they are lightly charred, watching them carefully, 5 to 12 minutes, depending on the vegetable.

To grill the mushrooms and asparagus, place them in a grilling basket if you have one, or put directly on the grill. (Arrange the asparagus perpendicular to the grates so they don’t fall through.) Grill, turning as needed, until charred all over, 6 to 10 minutes. Grill the cherry tomatoes, using the vine as a handle if possible, for 1 to 2 minutes, until they start to burst and char slightly. Transfer all the vegetables as they cook directly to the serving platter.

Add the cheese to the platter next to the vegetables. Immediately drizzle everything with some of the sauce, stirring it up to get the raisins, and with olive oil. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and pepper and scatter the herbs generously on top. Serve the extra sauce and the bread alongside for making crostini with some of the vegetables and more of the tangy sauce.

Tip:
To make this using a broiler, spread the vegetables on a rimmed sheet pan, drizzle with oil and broil until browned on top, then flip and broil until browned on the other side. The timing will depend on the vegetable, so stick with one kind per baking pan. You’ll need to do this in batches. You can also use a grill pan.

Angel Corn Casserole

Ingredients send grocery list
2 (16-ounce) bags frozen corn (or about 4 1/2 to 5 cups fresh corn kernels)
2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives, plus more for optional garnish
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup plus a heaping 1/3 cup crumbled Ritz crackers, divided
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a large 9×13-inch casserole dish.
If using frozen corn, steam and drain the kernels. If using fresh, scrape kernels off the cob.

Beat the egg, cream, and brown sugar in a large bowl until just blended. Stir in chives and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in corn kernels.

Combine 1 cup of the crumbled Ritz crackers with 6 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add to the corn mixture. Stir until combined. Pour into the casserole dish.

Toss remaining cracker crumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Sprinkle buttered crumbs over the top of the pudding.

Bake uncovered until golden brown and slightly firm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

Optional: Garnish with more snipped fresh chives.

Tomato Rice

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small onion, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
Salt
1 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup long grain brown rice

Heat the butter in a medium heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and pepper and a large pinch of salt and stir to coat. Cook gently, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. (Do not let the vegetables brown — if necessary, add a splash of water to prevent this.)

Add the tomatoes and another large pinch of salt to the pan and stir to combine. Raise the heat so the mixture bubbles steadily and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until you have what resembles a thick sauce.

Stir in the rice, 2 1/2 cups cold water and a couple more pinches of salt. Bring to a brisk simmer and cook uncovered for 5 to 8 minutes without stirring, until the liquid on the surface is mostly gone. Stir the rice briefly, cover and turn the heat down as low as it will go. Cook the rice, without removing the lid, for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit covered for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

3-Ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese

6 ounces (170g) elbow macaroni
Salt
6 ounces (180ml) evaporated milk
6 ounces (170g) grated mild or medium cheddar cheese, or any good melting cheese, such as Fontina, Gruyère, or Jack

Place macaroni in a medium saucepan or skillet and add just enough cold water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Continue to cook, stirring, until water has been almost completely absorbed and macaroni is just shy of al dente, about 6 minutes.

Immediately add evaporated milk and bring to a boil. Add cheese. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continuously, until cheese is melted and liquid has reduced to a creamy sauce, about 2 minutes longer. Season to taste with more salt and serve immediately.

Pressure Cooker Polenta

1 cup (173 grams) coarse polenta
4 1/2 cups cups (1,023 grams) water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Bonuses (optional):
1/2 to 1 cups grated or crumbled cheese (such as sharp cheddar, Parmesan, pecorino, Gouda, blue), for stirring in and sprinkling on top.
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, for stirring in and sprinkling on top, or another ground spice to taste
Fresh herbs (such as minced chives, thyme leaves, finely chopped sage, or roughly chopped parsley), for stirring in and/or sprinkling on top.

Combine the polenta, water, and salt in the Instant Pot and whisk. Secure the lid and adjust the pressure release to Sealing. Pressure cook on High for 15 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally for about 10 minutes, then carefully move the pressure release to Venting.

Whisk the polenta to smooth out, then add the butter and whisk again until incorporated. At this point, you can stir in any cheese or spices, and adjust the salt to taste. You can also close the lid and use the Keep Warm feature until you’re ready to serve.

When you are ready to serve, ladle into bowls or onto plates, then sprinkle with any additional cheese, spices, or herbs.

Mexican Rice

3 tablespoons oil
2 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice (450g)
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, or water + 1 bouillon cube (710 ml)
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1 cup plain tomato sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

First, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a deep skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir constantly until the rice begins to turn golden brown. The toastier your rice, the tastier it will be (information gleaned from my friend, via her grandma of course).

Next, add the chicken stock. The mixture will bubble up, and should be followed immediately by the tomato paste or tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, and salt.

Bring to a boil, stirring the tomato paste to dissolve it if using, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Immediately turn the heat down to low and set a timer for 20 minutes.

During or when the rice is done cooking, you may want to check moisture levels. If you smell a hint of a burnt scent, your heat is too high! In this scenario, if the rice is cooked, remove from the heat. If it’s not cooked, lower the heat, and add water ½ cup at a time to continue the cooking process. If it’s too wet, leave the lid slightly ajar or off the pan entirely.

When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and serve

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Chili-Lemon Vinaigrette

2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes or small (1- to 1 1/2-inch) Yukon Gold potatoes
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
3 rosemary sprigs
Kosher salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small jalapeño or Fresno chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rings
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat the oven to 500°F with a rack in the middle position. In a large pot over high, bring 2 quarts water to boil. Add the potatoes, garlic, rosemary and 1 cup salt, then cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the largest potato meets no resistance, 18 to 22 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon transfer the potatoes to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet; place the garlic in a small bowl; remove and discard the rosemary. Let the potatoes cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, using a fork, mash the garlic to a paste, then stir in the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of oil, followed by the chilies; set aside.

After the potatoes have cooled slightly carefully remove the rack from the baking sheet. Wipe away any moisture on the baking sheet and place the potatoes in an even layer directly on the sheet. Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup or ramekin, press down on each potato so it is slightly flattened and splits open but remains intact. Brush the tops of the potatoes with the remaining 4 tablespoons oil.

Roast the potatoes without moving them until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer to a serving platter, then sprinkle with the parsley and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Southern Macaroni and Cheese

Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
4 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar (about 16 ounces)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
2 cups shredded Colby Jack (about 8 ounces)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions until a little under al dente, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk milk and eggs. Add cooked macaroni, 2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, melted butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir until well combined.

Add half the macaroni mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups Colby Jack evenly on top. Spread the remaining macaroni mixture on top in an even layer. Cover with aluminum foil, transfer to the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Carefully remove and discard the aluminum foil. Top the macaroni mixture with the remaining 2 cups Cheddar and ½ cup Colby Jack. Broil on top rack until cheese is browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. (The broiled cheese can go from golden to burnt fairly quickly, so keep a close eye on it.)

Remove from oven and let cool until the macaroni and cheese is fully set, 10 to 15 minutes. (The mixture may first appear jiggly, but it will firm up as it cools.) Serve warm.

Notes: Extra-sharp Cheddar adds tartness and a layer of Colby Jack creates a gooey, molten center. If you can’t find a Colby Jack blend, shredded mozzarella or a Mexican-style blend will work in its place.

Sheet Pan Sausage and Butternut Squash

1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved lengthwise and seeded
1 pound spicy sausage (fresh chorizo, Italian, Andouille or otherwise)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 1/2 cup parsley leaves
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as desired
Flaky salt, as desired

Heat the oven to 425 degrees and stick a large baking sheet in the oven. Prep the squash and sausage: Cut the squash into ½-inch-thick slices, then cut the slices crosswise in half. Transfer to a large bowl. Score the sausages in a few places on both sides, making sure not to cut all the way through. Transfer to the bowl with the squash, then stir to coat with the olive oil and fat pinches of salt and pepper.

When the oven comes to temperature, carefully dump the squash and sausage mixture onto the hot baking sheet and spread it out into a single layer. Roast, stirring every so often to coat the squash in the rendered fat, until the squash is tender and sausages are crisp and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes. (To add some color, put them under the broiler for a minute or two.) Let cool slightly while you prepare the parsley.

In a small bowl, mix together the parsley and lemon juice, and add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the sausage diagonally in thirds. Serve the sausage and squash on a platter with a pile of parsley on top and sprinkled with an extra squeeze of lemon and flaky salt, if desired.

Tip
The squash and sausage can be roasted 3 days in advance. Reheat in a low oven before serving.

Feel free to switch up the squash for carrots, broccoli, potatoes: Any vegetables that are good roasted will work well in that liquid gold. If the meal seems light, bulk it up by topping with a cup of feta or rinsed canned chickpeas, adding arugula or watercress to the parsley, or serving it all on a bed of kale or mustard greens, like a warm salad.

Heirloom Beans and Cream

2 cups mixed dried heirloom beans, soaked overnight
2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
4 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Flaky sea salt
Olive oil (for serving)

Bring beans, stock, and thyme sprigs to a gentle simmer in a medium pot over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, skimming any foam from surface, until beans are tender, 1–1 1/2 hours, depending on types. Discard thyme. Season with kosher salt and pepper, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes.

Return to a simmer; stir in cream. Season with more kosher salt and pepper if needed. Serve topped with thyme leaves and sea salt and drizzled with oil.

Do Ahead: Beans can be cooked 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

New Mexico Hot Dish

1 pound ground beef
Flour
Salt
Chopped onion
Chopped garlic
Chopped jalapeno
Chili powder
Ground cumin
Oregano
Chopped tomatoes
Corn tortillas
Grated American and cheddar cheese
Raw onions, sour cream, and salsa for serving

First, sauté a pound or so of ground beef in a splash of oil, with a little flour and a pinch of salt, then set it aside.

Use the same pan to cook chopped onion, garlic and jalapeño.

Return the meat to the pan, and hit it with chile powder, ground cumin and oregano, to taste. Add chopped tomatoes and a little water to loosen everything up. Let it reduce a little.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 425, and grab a casserole dish. You’ll need corn tortillas as well, and grated cheese mixture of Cheddar and American.

Put a little chili in the bottom of the casserole, warm tortillas in a dry skillet and lay them across the chili as if building the first layer of a lasagna.

Do that again and again, and finish with the remaining chili and cheese.

Bake in the oven until everything’s bubbling.

Serve with chopped raw onions, sour cream and salsa on the side.

Chicken Tacos with Cabbage and Cilantro Cream

1/2 cup cilantro leaves
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small red cabbage (1 1/2 pounds), halved, cored and finely shredded
2 pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small rotisserie chicken, meat shredded, skin and bones discarded
Warm corn tortillas, for serving

In a blender, puree the cilantro with the sour cream, lime juice and olive oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the red cabbage with the jalapeños, scallions and the cilantro dressing. Let stand for 15 minutes, until the cabbage just begins to wilt. Add the chicken and toss until it is coated with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and serve with warm corn tortillas.

Sloppy Joes

Chopped onions
Diced celery
Diced jalapeno
Diced red pepper
Minced garlic
Half pound ground beef
Tomato paste
Pureed canned tomatoes
Worcestershire sauce
Potato buns

Put a Dutch oven over medium-high heat on your stove, then add a glug of olive oil and sauté in it a handful of chopped onions, a couple diced ribs of celery, a diced jalapeño and a small diced red pepper.

When the mixture is supersoft, add a few cloves of minced garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, then dump a pound and a half of ground beef into the pot — ideally the sort that is 20 percent fat — and stir and sizzle until it is well browned, about 10 minutes.

Bring the heat down a bit and add a lot of tomato paste — say 3 tablespoons, maybe 4 — and let it get a little toasty before adding a cup or more of puréed canned tomatoes. Cook that down for a few minutes, then add quite a few glugs of Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce to taste, and continue cooking until the mixture is quite thick, another 15 or 20 minutes.

Season to taste and serve on toasted potato buns.

Pork Chops with Pipian

FOR THE PORK CHOPS
4 medium-thick pork chops, bone-in or boneless
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons neutral oil

FOR THE PIPIAN SAUCE
8 chiles de árbol
3 plum tomatoes
1 small onion, peeled and thickly sliced
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/2 cup raw, hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup unsalted peanuts
1/3 cup hulled sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (or 2 allspice berries)
1 canned chipotle pepper
2 tablespoons neutral oil, lard or chicken fat
1 cup chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Make the sauce: Remove the stems from the chiles de árbol, and gently roll the chiles between your fingers to remove the seeds. Discard seeds. Set a bare skillet over high heat for 5 minutes, then add the chiles. Toast until they are darkened and fragrant, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Place them in a bowl, cover with 2 cups boiling or very hot water, and set aside to soak.

Return the skillet to high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic, and cook, turning occasionally, until charred, approximately 10 minutes. Put the vegetables on a plate, and set aside to cool, then slip the skins off the cloves of garlic.

Return the skillet to medium-low heat. Place the pumpkin seeds, peanuts and sesame seeds in the skillet, and cook, stirring and shaking the pan continuously, until they are toasted and fragrant, approximately 2 to 4 minutes. Put the seeds and nuts in a bowl, and stir in the cinnamon, cloves and allspice.

Put the chiles and soaking liquid in a blender with the tomatoes, onion, garlic, the nut-seed mixture and the chipotle. Purée until smooth.

Add the oil, lard or chicken fat to a large, heavy-bottomed pot, and heat over medium heat until it is nearly smoking. Add the purée. It will sputter a lot. Lower the heat, and stir, cooking the mixture down to a thick paste. It will continue to sputter and pop. Add the broth to the paste, and stir, then season with the salt, sugar and vinegar, and cook for another 15 minutes or so, until it resembles a thick, creamy soup. Lower heat to a bare simmer.

Make the pork chops: Season the pork chops aggressively with salt and pepper, and dust them with the flour. Add the oil to the skillet, and heat over medium-high heat until nearly smoking. Add the chops, and let them cook undisturbed, in batches if necessary, until crisp and well browned, about 5 minutes per side. Set them aside to rest for 5 minutes or so. Serve a chop per person on a generous amount of sauce, with tortillas to mop it up. Extra sauce can be used to braise chicken, lamb or more pork, or as a topping for enchiladas

Classic Beefaroni

1 pound elbow macaroni or other tubular pasta, such as cavatappi
Kosher salt
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, finely diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 large green pepper, finely diced (about 1 cup)
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely minced fresh parsley leaves
1 pound 80/20 ground beef
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, plus more for serving
1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound low moisture whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 ounces roughly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Place macaroni in a large bowl and cover with hot water. Season generously with salt. Let rest, stirring twice during the first ten minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients.

Using a hand blender directly in the tomato jar or a regular countertop blender, process tomatoes until mostly smooth. Set aside.

Heat oil and butter in a 5 quart straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, swirling, until better is mostly melted. Add onions and peppers, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and half of parsley, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Clear a space in the center of the pan and add meat. Increase heat to high. Cook, breaking it up first with a wooden spoon, then with a potato masher, until broken into small pieces. Continue cooking until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add pureed tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Drain noodles in a large colander set in the sink. Add to pot with beef. Add Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock and stir, folding noodles through the sauce until noodles and sauce are well-integrated. Cover and cook at a hard simmer until noodles are mostly cooked, about half of cook-time indicated on box.

Remove lid and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add half of cubed mozzarella and stir to incorporate rapidly (do not overstir or the mixture will stretch and stick to your spoon). Spread remaining mozzarella over surface of dish. Sprinkle half of Parmesan over dish. Cover and cook over the lowest possible heat for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest with cover on for 5 minutes.

Uncover, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan and herbs and serve immediately, passing extra Worcestershire sauce at the table.

Chipotle-Maple Sweet Potato Mash

4 large sweet potatoes (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1 cup milk
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Wash sweet potatoes and fork prick all sides. Microwave until cooked through. Once cooled enough, remove the skins. Then put the cooked sweet potatoes in a large bowl.

In a food processor or using an immersion blender (my choice) pulse the milk and chipotle together. In a saucepan bring the milk and chipotle mixture to a simmer on low. Then add the maple syrup, sour cream, butter, and salt and pepper to the milk mixture.

Pour the milk mixture over the cooked sweet potatoes and again use the immersion blender or a hand mixer to mix the ingredients together.

Roasted Winter Squash with Yogurt and Pistachios

1 winter squash (about 2 pounds), preferably kabocha, red kuri or acorn
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup raw shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 to 2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees with the rack in the middle.

Using a large, sharp knife, stab the squash in the middle and carefully work the knife down to cut the squash in half, going through the stem. Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp, and discard or reserve for another use. Cut the squash halves into 1 1/2-inch wedges, leaving the peel on.

On a large, rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the squash with the olive oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper and roast for 40 to 50 minutes, until the squash is very tender and golden brown with caramelized bits.

Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter has browned and started to foam, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the pistachios, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon and pinch of red pepper flakes, if using. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, taste, and add more salt, if needed.

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Taste and add more salt, if needed. Spread the yogurt sauce over a large serving platter or bowl. Arrange the squash on the sauce and spoon the buttered pistachios over everything. Sprinkle with another pinch of red pepper flakes, if desired, and serve.