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Let's Get Saucy

Basic Red Sauce (Marinara)

Ingredients:

2 Tbs. Olive Oil

1/2 cup diced Bell Pepper (Red, Yellow, Orange, or Green)

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

1 clove garlic, diced

1 can (14.5 oz.) Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes*

1 can (8 oz.) No-Salt Added Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup Low-Sodium Chicken Broth

1 teas. oregano

1 teas. basil

1 bay leaf

1/2 teas. salt

1/4 teas. pepper

Directions:

1) Heat olive oil in a pan for a couple of seconds. Add diced bell pepper and onions. Saute until tender-crisp. Add garlic. Saute while stirring for just a couple of more seconds--be careful not to burn the garlic. A good guide to follow is that as soon as you begin to smell the garlic, it's done.

2) Carefully add the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth. (Stand back--that olive oil will pop when the tomatoes hit it. Stir until combined.

3) Add the spices. Stir and let simmer until heated through. Remove bay leaf before serving.

*If you don't like the fire roasted tomatoes, feel free to substitute any diced tomatoes you like. OR, if you want a smoother sauce, just leave out the diced tomatoes and use 3 cans of tomato sauce. AND, if you like a thicker sauce, toss in a little tomato paste (start with a tablespoon, then add more if you want it thicker.) Of course, if you want really, really fresh sauce, you can blanch a couple of tomatoes, peel the skin off, then toss them in the blender and you have your own tomato sauce. (And yes, back when my husband had a wonderful garden, I have done this. Yummy!)

**Also, you can get Italian Seasoning now and you can just toss in a tablespoon or so of it instead of all the other spices. Just start with a little, taste and then add as you go along.

Basic White Sauce (Alfredo)

Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Tbs. flour

1/2 teas salt

1 cup fat-free or 1% or 2% milk, plus more for thinning, if necessary

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for taste, if necessary

Directions:

(This recipe goes fast, so be sure you have all the ingredients ready to go.)

1) In a small bowl, combine flour and salt.

2) Heat olive oil a few seconds until just hot. Whisk in flour/salt. Stir until combined.

3) Add milk, stirring constantly. Now here is where it gets a little tricky. Depending on your desired consistency, you can add more milk. You don't want it so thick it's just a blob, but you don't want it runny either. However, err on the runny side 'cause you're gonna start adding the cheese, which will also make it thicker.

4) Stir in the Parmesan cheese. Keep stirring. . .and stirring. Taste. If you want it cheesier, add more until it's to your taste.

Clean Out the Refrigerator Pasta

Every so often, I look in my vegetable drawer in the fridge, and see maybe half a bell pepper, 2 stalks of asparagus, 4 mushrooms, one zucchini and a few baby carrots. Or there may even be some broccoli and green onions. Also, in the refrigerator, there may be some leftover chicken, shrimp or ground beef. That's when I make my clean-out-the-refrigerator-pasta.

Ingredients;

Fresh vegetables of choice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

Cooked Pasta

Cooked Red or White Sauce

Cooked Protein (chicken, meat, shrimp)

Directions:

1) Cook your pasta of choice (ours is almost always Angel Hair--cooks quickly and doesn't have as many calories.) But don't drain yet.

2) In a large skillet, saute vegetables in oil until tender-crisp (don't you just love that phrase tender-crisp? It describes it so perfectly-tender enough to be done but not soggy!)

3) Stir in red or white sauce.

4) Add pasta a little at a time until you have a good ratio of pasta to sauce. Then, take a ladle and scoop out some of the pasta water and add to your skillet. Stir. (The pasta water has starch left in it from the pasta and will strengthen your dish.)

5) Top with protein of choice. Serve.

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