Asian Pepper Pork
This slow-cooker dish makes wonderful leftovers, hot or cold. Fresh garlic and ginger strengthen the immune system and aid the body in fighting off winter colds. Look for a lean pork roast to reduce calories; I usually buy tenderloin.
· 1⁄2 cup lite soy sauce
· 1/3 cup brown sugar
· 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
· 1 teaspoon sesame oil
· 3–4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
· 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
· 1⁄2 teaspoon crushed red pepper to taste
· 2–3 pounds pork, trimmed and cut into half-fist–sized pieces
· 1 package whole wheat linguini
· 2–3 green, orange, yellow, or red bell peppers, sliced into thin strips
· 2/3 pound snow peas, trimmed
1. Combine first seven ingredients and set aside. Place trimmed pork in a slow cooker and pour soy sauce mixture over meat to coat. Cook on low for 7–8 hours or on high for 4–5 hours until it easily pulls apart with a fork.
2. Just before serving, boil pasta according to package directions in a large pot, adding peppers and peas to boiling water during the last two minutes of cooking, being careful not to overcook veggies. Drain noodles and vegetables. Set aside.
3. Remove meat from slow cooker with a slotted spoon. Cool slightly and shred into medium-sized pieces. Strain cooking liquid (I use cheesecloth to remove any residual fat) and pour into a skillet, bringing to a boil until slightly thickened. Add shredded meat to liquid to reheat and serve with noodles and vegetables.
4. Garnish with toasted sesame seeds or chopped peanuts, if desired.
Roasted Chicken with Maple-Thyme Root Vegetables
Some days just call for comfort food, which is exactly what this is (plus, your kitchen will smell amazing). Root vegetables are abundant this time of year, so use whatever variety you like. Opt for fresh thyme for fragrant and beautiful presentation or substitute whole dried thyme leaves if you’re short on—pardon the pun—“thyme.”
· 2–3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
· 2–3 peeled turnips, cut into eighths
· 3–4 carrots, cut on the bias
· 6 shallots, sliced thick (red onions can be substituted)
· 6–8 garlic cloves, sliced thin
· 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup, grade A or B (do not use pancake syrup)
· 1–2 tablespoons olive oil
· 2 teaspoons each: kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, combined
· 4–6 fresh thyme sprigs
· 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine potatoes, turnips, carrots, shallots, and garlic in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Mix syrup, oil, half the salt and pepper mixture, and 1–2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves (for quick removal, pinch your thumb and forefinger together at the small end of the sprig, moving in a quick downward motion to strip the leaves from the stem). Whisk well and pour over vegetables, using your hands to toss and coat thoroughly.
3. Arrange vegetables in a large glass baking dish. Bake for 30–40 minutes, stirring once, until just starting to soften.
4. With remaining salt and pepper, rub both sides of the chicken to create a “crust.” Place rubbed chicken on top of vegetable mixture. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Cook 15–20 minutes longer or until chicken is cooked through, turning once halfway to brown evenly.
5. Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes before slicing in thick pieces. Arrange each plate with roasted vegetables and one sliced chicken breast, topping with additional fresh thyme leaves and drippings from the glass dish.
6. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread and balsamic vinegar for dipping. Wear slippers to the dinner table for maximum enjoyment.
Turkey Black Bean Chili
This is my toddler’s favorite dish! This colorful chili works great in the crockpot or stovetop. Be creative and add a variety of veggies—I usually clean out the produce bin when I make this recipe. Freeze leftovers for a fast weeknight meal.
· 1 pound lean ground turkey
· 1 teaspoon olive oil
· 1–2 cups sliced carrots, diced potatoes, chopped bell pepper (optional)
· 1 large onion, diced
· 4–5 garlic cloves, chopped
· 1–2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and sliced (optional)
· 1–2 tablespoons each to taste: chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano
· 1–2 teaspoons each to taste: kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper
· 2 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
· 1–2 cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
· 1–2 whole bay leaves
· 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1. Brown turkey in a nonstick skillet with oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots or vegetables if desired. When meat is almost done and vegetables are soft, add onion, garlic, and jalapeños, stirring occasionally until onions are tender. Transfer meat mixture to slow cooker or continue on the stovetop in a larger pot.
2. Add spices, salt and pepper, tomatoes, and beans. Stir to combine ingredients. Drop in bay leaves. Heat through, stirring occasionally. If using a slow cooker, allow chili to warm through on low setting for 1–2 hours. If using stove top, simmer chili for 20–30 minutes. Add vinegar just before serving and remove bay leaves.
3. Garnish with fat-free sour cream or Greek yogurt, sliced green onions, Monterey jack cheese, cilantro, or chopped avocado. Serve with toasted corn tortilla and cheese quesadillas, if desired.
Sun-dried Tomato Meatloaf
This flavorful spin on a classic is always a crowd pleaser. Ground beef can be substituted if that’s what you have on hand. If fresh basil is too pricey this time of year, substitute 1–2 tablespoons dried basil. I usually double the recipe and freeze extra loaves for impromptu meals to deliver to neighbors and ward members.
· 1 cup boiling water
· 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes without oil, scissor-snipped into smaller pieces
· 1 cup ketchup, divided in half
· 1 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
· 1 large onion, chopped
· 1 cup fresh basil, chopped
· 2 egg whites, beaten
· 5–6 garlic cloves, minced
· 1 pound lean ground turkey
1. Place snipped tomatoes in a medium bowl and pour boiling water over to cover. Allow to sit for 15–20 minutes, until tomatoes are softened. Drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine 1⁄2 cup of ketchup with remaining ingredients in a large bowl until well-mixed. Add tomatoes and shape meat mixture into one large loaf or two smaller loaves.
3. Lightly coat a roasting pan with cooking spray. Place meatloaf on the pan and, using a basting brush, “paint” with remaining 1⁄2 cup ketchup. Bake for one hour, until meat thermometer registers at 165 degrees for turkey, 160 for beef.
4. Let meat rest 5–10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with shaved Parmesan or whole sun-dried tomatoes and serve with steamed broccoli and green salad, if desired.