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 %

Chocolate Rosemary Biscuits


Chocolate Rosemary Biscuits

2020, biscuits, Breakfast Foods, Food 52, Velik Favorites
Servings: 14 Source: food52.com

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, cold and cubed
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425*F and grease a sheet pan with butter

Combine the flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Cut the butter into the flour mix using your fingers with a pinching movement until the mix resembles oatmeal. Add the rosemary.

Make a well in the middle of the flour and gradually add the milk. You may not need to use the full 3/4 cup. Knead with your fingers until the dough has come together and is slightly sticky.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to about 1/4-1/2 inch thickness. Use a round cutter to punch out the biscuits.

Place on greased baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes or until the tops are nice and crisp. Brush the finished biscuits with melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt (optional).


AUTHOR NOTES – I take a simple biscuit recipe, one any southern grandma or grandpa would pass on through the generations, and jazz it up a bit with a modern flavor combo of chocolate and rosemary. In this instance the the rosemary, and not the chocolate, offers a slightly sweet and fragrant note that the cocoa powder balances with a slightly bitter bite. Serve these biscuits alongside any breakfast, brunch, or dinner entree with a healthy slathering of some salty butter and prepare to wow your guests with the unexpected.

Melissa’s notes – original recipe stated it made 12 biscuits, for me it was 14.

Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar, and Lemon


Roast Chicken with Sumac, Za’atar, and Lemon

2020, Chicken, chicken, whole, Recipes I want to try, Velik Favorites, Yotam Ottolenghi
Servings: Serves 4 Source: splendidtable.org

1 large organic or free-range chicken, divided into quarters: breast and wing, leg and thigh
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp sumac
1 lemon, thinly sliced
scant 1 cup / 200 ml chicken stock or water
1 1/2 tsp salt, plus extra
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp za’atar
4 tsp / 20 g unsalted butter
6 tbsp / 50 g pine nuts
4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

This is a simplified version of the traditional Palestinian dish m’sakhan, in which chicken is spiced with sumac and then roasted in the oven over bread. Sumac and za’atar that we love and use so much are combined here with fresh lemon to give the chicken a powerful sharp kick. It works fantastically well and is almost addictive. Try serving the chicken with warm pita bread and a garlicky yogurt sauce, made by mixing Greek yogurt with crushed garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the onions, garlic, olive oil, spices, lemon, stock, salt, and pepper. Leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F / 200°C. Transfer the chicken and its marinade to a baking sheet large enough to accommodate all the chicken pieces lying flat and spaced well apart. They should be skin side up. Sprinkle the za’atar over the chicken and onions and put the pan in the oven. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is colored and just cooked through.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the pine nuts and a pinch of salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until they turn golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the fat.

Transfer the hot chicken and onions to a serving plate and finish with the chopped parsley, pine nuts, and a drizzle of olive oil. You can sprinkle on more za’atar and sumac, if you like.

My chicken took longer to cook – it was big! Cook until chicken until internal temperatures is 165°.

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!

Air Fryer Zucchini Fries (Low Carb – Keto)

Air Fryer Zucchini Fries (Low Carb – Keto)

2 WW Points (Green), 2020, Air Fryer, Appetizer, Velik Favorites
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Servings: Servings: 4 people Source: gimmedelicious.com

2 medium zucchini
1 large egg beaten
½ cup almond flour or panko/Italian breadcrumbs
½ cup parmesan cheese grated
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or seasoning of choice
½ teaspoon garlic powder optional
Pinch of salt and pepper
Oil for spraying olive or oil of choice

Crispy parmesan zucchini fries baked in the air fryer. These low carb and keto diet friendly zucchini fries (aka chips) are light, crispy, and packed full of flavor at only 3 net carbs per serving in under 15 minutes!

Cut the zucchini in half and into sticks (aka fries) about 1/2 inch thick and 3-4 inches long.

In a shallow bowl, combine the almond flour (or bread crumbs), grated parmesan, spices and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix to combine.

Dredge zucchini in egg and then in the almond flour mixture and place on a plate or baking sheet. Generously spray zucchini with cooking spray.

Working in batches, place the zucchini fries in a single layer in the air fryer. and Cook for 10 minutes at 400F, or until crispy.

Seasoning options: Make these zucchini fries your own by spicing them up with your favorite seasoning mix. You can’t go wrong with Italian seasoning but cajun seasoning, taco seasoning, ranch seasoning or your favorite seasoning blend will take these zucchini fries to the next level!

Breading options: To keep these zucchini fries low carb and keto, opt-in for almond flour and avoid breadcrumbs. If you are not doing keto, go ahead and replace the almond flour with panko bread crumbs. They are light and airy and will make the zucchini fries super crispy.

To make in oven: Follow the recipe as instructed and bake for 30 minutes in a 425F preheated oven or until golden and crispy. Check out the oven baked version here.

Melissa’s note – Use 1/2 the amounts listed for breading/coating using panko breadcrumbs – I threw away half of the mixture since it was not used the first time I made these.

Air-Fried French Toast Sticks

Air-Fried French Toast Sticks

2020, Air Fryer, Breakfast Foods, french toast, Velik Favorites
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 10 minutes Servings: 4-6 Source: ninjakitchen.com

4 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar
6 slices white bread, cut in thirds
Cooking spray
Maple syrup, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and sugar.

Coat air fry basket liberally with cooking spray. Working one at a time, dip each piece of bread in the egg mixture, then transfer to the basket.

Select AIR FRY, set temperature to 400°F, and set time to 10 minutes. Press START/PAUSE to begin preheating.

When unit has preheated, slide basket into the upper rails of the oven.

After 5 minutes, press START/PAUSE to pause the unit. Remove basket from oven. Using tongs, flip each piece of bread. Then rotate basket 180 degrees. Return basket to oven, and press START/PAUSE to resume cooking for 5 more minutes.

When cooking is complete, remove basket from oven. Drizzle maple syrup over French toast sticks and serve.

Made in my ninja air fryer oven. Other air fryers may differ in time and temperature.

Air Fryer Turkey Schnitzel

Air Fryer Turkey Schnitzel

2020, Turkey, turkey, cutlets, Velik Favorites
Difficulty: Easy Servings: 4 Source: westoftheloop.com

1 package Jennie-O Extra Lean Turkey Breast Cutlets (approx 1.1 lb.)
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
2 eggs beaten with 2 TB water
2 cups panko bread crumbs
Oil for spraying
Lemon for serving

Whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper and paprika on a large plate. Place the panko bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl or pie plate.

Dredge one of the turkey cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess, then dip it in the beaten egg.

Dredge the turkey cutlet in the bread crumbs, making sure to coat it completely. Shake off any excess crumbs. Place battered cutlet on a plate. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

Spray the basket of the air fryer with oil. Place as many of the battered cutlets as will fit comfortably in the basket without overcrowding and spray cutlets with oil.

Cook at 375 until top is browned, about five minutes. Flip and spray second side with oil. Cook until second side is browned and crispy and the internal temperature reaches 165. Repeat with any remaining cutlets.

Serve hot with plenty of lemons for squeezing.

Melissa’s notes – mine came out good, but I did have to cook in longer than stated in my air fryer.

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