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Try these two pasta recipes for your family

This first recipe is an adaptation of one I saw on Food Network several years ago. Be sure you use hot paprika and not sweet. And also buy good quality Italian seasoning and you can use it in just about every other pasta dish you make. I have on occasion left the jalapeno out and added just a dash or two of red pepper flakes or some Tabasco, they both still add some heat but it completely changes the flavor.

Penne with spicy Vodka sauce

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed

1/2 of a medium onion, chopped

1 jalapeno, chopped (I use the already chopped in a jar)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Salt

Black pepper

28 ounce can of whole tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried basil or a small bunch of leaves chopped

1/3 cup vodka

1 cup heavy cream

1 pound penne pasta

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley

In a large skillet over medium heat melt the butter and the oil together. Add the sausage and brown, using a spoon to break up any large chunks. Then add the onion, jalapeno and garlic and sauté until softened, this takes about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper, paprika, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste and cook for approximately 3 minutes more.

While you are cooking the meat and vegetables bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta just until done, not soft, drain and hold.

Add the tomatoes to the sauce and bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes. You can use the canned chopped tomatoes but I prefer the whole ones and then I break them into big pieces with a spoon as they cook. Add the vodka and cream and cook about 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the cheese and parsley. Drain the pasta and add to the sauce and stir until pasta is coated well.

I love broccoli and cheese in my cornbread, and I have several recipes for this dish. This is one of my favorites and I think it is the cottage cheese that makes it special.

Broccoli Cheddar Cornbread

2 boxes Jiffy corn muffin mix

1/2 cup milk

2 cloves of garlic, minced

8 ounces small curd cottage cheese

4 large eggs

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup Cheddar cheese

1 stick margarine

1 medium onion, chopped

10 ounce pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl mix together corn muffin mix, milk, garlic, cottage cheese, eggs, salt and cheddar cheese and set aside. In a 10-inch iron skillet melt the butter and sauté the onions and broccoli until soft. Quickly mix the sautéed vegetables and remaining hot butter into the batter and pour this back into the hot skillet. Place in the oven and cook until golden brown.

Christina Hall writes a weekly column for the Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at christina.hall@natchezdemocrat.com.