Avocado-Cucumber Toss

Avocado-Cucumber Toss

2020, 3 WW SmartPoints (Green, Blue, Purple), Recipe Source, Salad, Velik Favorites, Weight Watchers
Prep Time: 11 min Cook Time: 11 min Difficulty: Easy Servings: 4 servings (1 cup each) Source: weightwatchers.com

4 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil, extra-virgin
1/2 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 12)
1 cup, sliced, peeled avocado (about 1 medium)
2 cup cucumbers, chopped
This cool, beautiful-looking salad is a fun side to Mexican food, and it’s much healthier than refried beans covered in cheese. You only need 11 minutes to make it and you also don’t have to cook anything. That makes the prep and cleanup process super easy. The simple yet flavorful dressing is made by shaking some apple-cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a jar. Toss with fresh cherry tomatoes, sliced avocado, and chopped cucumbers, and your salad is ready to go. Feel free to add red onions, crumbled cheese, or chopped herbs for additional crunch and color; just keep in mind that this will affect the recipe’s nutritional value.

Combine first 4 ingredients in a jar; cover tightly, and shake vigorously. Place tomato, avocado and cucumber in a bowl; add vinegar mixture, and toss gently to coat.

Serve immediately.

3 WW SmartPoints (green, blue, purple)

I added some fresh chopped up herbs I had in the fridge.

Herby Pasta with Garlic and Green Olives

9io0p-oiuytrewq}”Herby Pasta with Garlic and Green Olives

2020, Bon Appetit, pappardelle, Pasta, Velik Favorites
Servings: 4 servings Source: bonappetit.com

12 oz. pappardelle or other wide noodle
Kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
8 garlic cloves, smashed
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup basil leaves
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Dishes that rely on a quick sauté to bring out garlic’s bright side, like this herb-laced riff on aglio e olio, require planning and vigilance—you need to have all your other ingredients at the ready to cool down that pan and not let the garlic get acrid and burnt. Also, feel free to use whatever tender herb you like for this pasta (a mix of tarragon, chives, and dill works well).

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than package directions.

Meanwhile, heat ¼ cup oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium. Add garlic and cook, stirring often and pressing down on cloves so they make good contact with the bottom of the pot, until golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Add parsley and cook, stirring occasionally, until parsley releases some of its liquid and slightly darkens in color, about 5 minutes. Toss in olives and red pepper flakes and cook another minute to let the flavors meld.

Using tongs, transfer pasta to pot with sauce and add butter and ½ cup pasta cooking liquid. Cook, tossing and adding more pasta liquid as needed, until each strand of pasta is coated and pasta is al dente, about 4 minutes. Remove pasta from heat and toss in basil, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Taste and season with salt as needed.

Divide pasta among bowls and drizzle with more oil.

Amount Per Serving
calories 585
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 32 g 50 %
Saturated Fat 8 g 41 %
Monounsaturated Fat 5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 7 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 111 mg 37 %
Sodium 1267 mg 53 %
Potassium 66 mg 2 %
Total Carbohydrate 65 g 22 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 14 %
Sugars 0 g
Protein 13 g 26 %

Baked Skillet Pasta with Cheddar and Spiced Onions

Good, but takes a while to prepare! Pay attention to notes.

Baked Skillet Pasta with Cheddar and Spiced Onions

19 WW SmartPoint (Green), 2020, New York Times Cooking, Pasta, Velik Favorites
Cook Time: 1 hour Servings: 6 servings Source: cooking.nytimes.com

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large onions, thinly sliced
1 large bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of cayenne, plus more to taste
1 ¼ teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more as needed
3 fat garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black pepper
⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
1 (15-ounce) can whole peeled plum tomatoes
1 pound small pasta, such as rotini or shells
¾ cup chopped parsley or cilantro (or use a combination of cilantro and parsley), plus more for serving
8 ounces shredded Cheddar
½ cup grated Parmesan
Hot sauce, for serving (optional)

In this warming skillet pasta bake, onions — sautéed with cumin, coriander and allspice until golden and aromatic — do double duty. They form the base of the tomato sauce that’s used to coat the pasta, and are mixed with grated Cheddar for the topping, where strands of onions mingle with the melted, gooey cheese. It’s satisfying and easy, with the pasta baked in the same skillet as the sauce. Serve it as a meatless main course with a crisp salad alongside, or as a rich side to a lighter chicken or fish dish.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat. Add onions and bay leaf, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned in spots, 12 to 20 minutes. (Reduce heat if the pan starts to scorch.) Lower heat to medium, and stir in coriander, ground cumin, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 more minute. Transfer half the onions to a bowl and reserve (leave the bay leaf in the skillet).

Add garlic, cumin seeds, pepper and allspice to the skillet, and stir. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour in the juice from the canned tomatoes. Use your hands or kitchen scissors to squish or cut the tomatoes into pieces and add to pan. Fill the empty tomato can with water, and pour into the skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and bring mixture to a simmer. Simmer until thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste, and add more salt and cayenne if you like. Remove bay leaf.

As mixture cooks, heat oven to 400 degrees and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until just about 2 minutes shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, and drain pasta.

Stir pasta, reserved pasta water, and parsley into skillet with tomato sauce. Top with reserved browned onions, Cheddar and Parmesan. Transfer to oven and bake until golden and bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. If you like, you can run the pan under the broil to brown the top, or leave it as is. Let cool slightly, top with more parsley, if desired, and serve with hot sauce, if you like.

To speed up caramelizing onions – put sliced onions on a plate covered with a paper towel in a microwave. Cook on high for 2 min. THEN put the onions in a cast iron skillet with heated oil. The onions will quickly cook now that most of the moisture is out. Keep turning the onions and you will soon see caramelization in half the time!

Used 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes (substituting the 14 oz can of tomatoes and 14 oz of water).

Prepared in cast iron enameled dutch oven.

Bourbon Pecan Blondies

Approved by the husband …

Bourbon Pecan Blondies
16 WW Points (Green), 2020, Bake From Scratch, brownies, Desserts, Velik Favorites
Difficulty: Easy Servings: 16 Source: bakefromscratch.com

2 cups (440 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams) baking powder
½ teaspoon (1.5 grams) kosher salt
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter*, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup (60 grams) bourbon
1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
2 large eggs (100 grams), room temperature
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1½ cups (170 grams) chopped pecans, divided

The classic Southern pairing of bourbon and pecans stars in this blondie batch. The batter is as versatile as they come, so you can sub out the bourbon and pecan for any other type of liquor or nuts. Président® butter, the official butter of Bake from Scratch, is behind these blondies’s extra fudge texture, as well as their sweet butterscotch notes.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 13×9-inch baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add melted butter, stirring just until combined. Stir in bourbon and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Stir in flour and 1 cup (113 grams) pecans just until combined. Spread batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup (57 grams) pecans.

Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with just a few moist crumbs, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on wire rack. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan, and cut into 12 blondies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Melissa’s notes – Original recipe says 12 servings, but I cut them at 16 – still large!

Japanese Pancake with Pork (Okonomiyaki)

Japanese Pancake with Pork (Okonomiyaki)

2020, Eating Well, Pork, pork, ground, Recipes I want to try, Velik Favorites
Prep Time: 40 mins Cook Time: 40 mins Servings: Servings: 4 Source: eatingwell.com

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon water
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups shredded green cabbage
1 ¼ cups thinly sliced scallions, divided
¾ teaspoon ground pepper
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
Sriracha for serving

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk ketchup, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and oyster sauce in a small bowl. Stir together mayonnaise and water in another small bowl. Set the sauces aside.

Transfer the pork to a large bowl. Let cool for 5 minutes. Add eggs, cabbage, 1 cup scallions, pepper and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce; stir until well combined. Add flour and stir until combined.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the pan over medium heat. Add the cabbage mixture and press evenly in the pan. Cook, undisturbed, until well browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Place the bottom of a baking sheet on top of the pan. Wearing oven mitts, grasp the pan and baking sheet together and carefully invert the pancake onto the baking sheet. Slide the pancake back into the pan. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes more.

Drizzle the pancake with the sauces and Sriracha, if desired, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup scallions.

Melissa’s notes – interesting dinner. I might spice the pork mixture a bit more next time – it was a bit bland with just the pepper and soy.

539 calories; 37.4 g total fat; 10.1 g saturated fat; 265 mg cholesterol; 638 mg sodium. 530 mg potassium; 18.9 g carbohydrates; 3.3 g fiber; 6 g sugar; 30.6 g protein; 662 IU vitamin a iu; 31 mg vitamin c; 84 mcg folate; 97 mg calcium; 3 mg iron; 42 mg magnesium; 2 g added sugar

Chicken and Rice Meatballs with Hummus

Chicken and Rice Meatballs with Hummus
2020, Bon Appetit, breast, boneless skinless, Chicken, Recipes I want to try, Velik Favorites
Difficulty: Easy Servings: 4 Source: bonappetit.com

6 scallions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1″ piece ginger, peeled, finely chopped
1 lb. ground chicken
1½ cups cooled cooked white rice
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp. hawaij, baharat, curry powder, or other spice blend
1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, plus more
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
4 small dill pickles, sliced
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
2 cups parsley leaves with tender stems
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup Hummus (for serving)
8 lemon wedges (for serving)

Gluten-free meatballs are as easy as adding cooled cooked rice instead of bread to ground meat.

Preheat oven to 425°. Gently mix scallions, garlic, ginger, chicken, rice, oil, hawaij, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt in a medium bowl (don’t overwork). Form mixture into 12 balls (about 1½” in diameter). Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Toss onion, pickles, cucumbers, parsley, and lemon juice in a medium bowl to combine; season salad with salt.

Spread hummus on plates; top with meatballs and salad. Serve with lemon.

Melissa’s notes – I ground up my own 1 pound chicken breast. For me, this recipe made 24 meatballs – 6 for each serving.


More baking while under quarantine … making crumpets!

2020, Breads, Breakfast Foods, Cook’s Illustrated, Velik Favorites
Cook Time: 50 minutes Servings: 6 Source: cooksillustrated.com

1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) bleached cake flour
2 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
1 ½ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees), divided
½ teaspoon vegetable oil
Salted butter and jam or creamed honey

Because the heavily leavened batter will continue to rise as you cook, we call for dividing it into thirds rather than measuring by volume. (The cooked crumpets will all be about the same size.) We developed this recipe on a gas stovetop, which is very responsive. If you’re using an electric stovetop, use two burners: Heat the skillet on one burner set to low for 5 minutes, and then increase the heat to medium for 1 minute before adding the batter and set the second burner to high. Move the skillet between the medium and high burners for the appropriate heat level. A digital timer is helpful for this recipe.

Whisk all-purpose flour, cake flour, yeast, baking powder, and salt together in 8-cup liquid measuring cup. Add 1¼ cups warm water and whisk until smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.

Heat oil in 8-inch nonstick skillet over low heat for at least 5 minutes. While skillet heats, add remaining ¼ cup warm water to batter and whisk until smooth.

Increase heat to medium and heat skillet for 1 minute. Using paper towel, wipe out skillet, leaving thin film of oil on bottom and sides. Pour one-third of batter into skillet and increase heat to high. Cook for 45 seconds (bubbles will be visible just under surface of entire crumpet). Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook until edges are risen, set, and beginning to dry out, about 4 minutes longer. (Gently lift edge and peek at underside of crumpet occasionally; reduce heat if underside is getting too dark, and increase heat if underside doesn’t appear to be browning.)

Slide skillet off heat. Place dry, flat spatula on top of crumpet and pull up sharply to remove excess batter and reveal holes. Scrape excess batter from spatula back into measuring cup. Repeat procedure until holes are exposed over entire surface. Flip crumpet, return skillet to burner, increase heat to high, and cook until edges of second side are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Invert crumpet onto wire rack. Immediately add half of remaining batter to skillet. Return skillet to high heat and repeat cooking process (omitting 5-minute preheat). Repeat with remaining batter. Let crumpets cool completely.

To serve, cut each crumpet into 4 wedges and toast until crumpets are heated through and exteriors are crisp. Spread crumpets generously with butter and jam or honey and serve. (Untoasted crumpets can be transferred to zipper-lock bag and refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage

Pesto Orecchiette with Chicken Sausage

2020, chicken sausage, Prepared by Melissa, Real Simple, Recipe Source
Prep Time: 20 mins Cook Time: 20 mins Total Time: 40 Difficulty: Easy Servings: Serves 4 Source: realsimple.com

¾ pound orecchiette
½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup frozen peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces fully cooked Italian-style chicken sausage links, thinly sliced
⅓ cup pesto
½ cup grated Parmesan (2 ounces)

Cook the pasta according to the package directions, adding the green beans and peas during the last 3 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water; drain the pasta and vegetables and return them to the pot.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the sausage, pesto, Parmesan, and ½ cup of the reserved cooking water to the pasta and vegetables and toss to combine (add more cooking water as needed to loosen the sauce).

Flourless Chocolate-Chili Cake

I made this for Valentine’s Day! I bit of heat in each bite.

Flourless Chocolate-Chili Cake

2020, 6.7 WW Points (Classic), cakes, Desserts, Eating Well, Prepared by Melissa
Prep Time: 35 mins Total Time: 5 hrs 15 mins Difficulty: Easy Servings: 16 Source: eatingwell.com

12 ounces dark chocolate (70-73% cacao), chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
⅓ cup grapeseed or canola oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon chipotle chile powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish
Whipped cream for serving

Instructions Checklist

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and coat the paper with cooking spray.

Melt chocolate and butter in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. (To improvise a double boiler, bring 2 inches of water to a bare simmer in a large saucepan; set a medium or large metal bowl on the pan, allowing at least an inch between the water and the bottom of the bowl.) Remove from heat and stir in oil, vanilla, cinnamon, almond extract, chile powder and salt.

Beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light in color and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Fold in the chocolate mixture. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake until the top is just set and beginning to crack, about 35 minutes. (The center will still be moist.) Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour.

Remove the pan sides. Cover the cake and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.

Let the cake stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve with whipped cream, if desired.

To make ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Equipment: 9-inch springform pan, parchment paper

286 calories; 18.9 g total fat; 8.6 g saturated fat; 87 mg cholesterol; 95 mg sodium. 152 mg potassium; 25.7 g carbohydrates; 1.6 g fiber; 23 g sugar; 3.5 g protein; 315 IU vitamin a iu; 9 mcg folate; 26 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 35 mg magnesium; 22 g added sugar

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes

For the cheesecakes:
6 gingersnap cookies
5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
5 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
For the maple whipped cream:
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons pure maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 375, and line 6 cups in a muffin pan with paper liners.
2. Drop a cookie in each liner, with the flat side down.
3. In a small bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, pumpkin puree and spices.
4. Divide the mixture evenly between the 6 cups and bake for 15 minutes.
5. When the cheesecakes are done, the centers will be only slightly jiggly when poked.
6. Remove the cheesecakes gently from the pan, and then refrigerate at least 4 hours.
7. When ready to serve, beat together the cream until soft peaks form. Then, stir in the maple syrup and continue beating until slightly stiff. Dollop over each cheesecake and serve.

This recipe is easily doubled or tripled to make more mini pumpkin cheesecakes.

Original recipe says it makes 4 cakes, I found I had excess batter and made 6.

11 WW Green Points with whipped cream, 8 without

• Prep: 15 Minutes
• Cook: 15 Minutes
• Chill: 4 Hours

Source: Desserts for Two (6 servings)