We are having an Indian summer out here on California this week and it is just top darn hot to cook today! So I whipped up one my favorite gazpacho recipes this morning. I like to top with some sliced almonds or nuts to add some crunch.

2 lbs tomatoes, cores and cut in large chunks
2 Persian cucumbers, cut into chunks
1 onion cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves
2 Anaheim peppers or bell pepper
3 TBSP sherry vinegar
Hot Sauce

In a blender or food processor blend/chop all the ingredients. Combine into a large bowl or pitcher and chill for 3 to 8 hours.

4 servings
1 WW PP per serving


Braised Beef Cheeks


This dish is the dish to warm you up on a chilly fall evening. Best of all it requires little work and tastes better after two days. The meat is meltingly tender and tastes divine!

2 TBSP olive oil
1 lb beef cheeks, trimmed of excess fat
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1/2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 c red wine (preferably dry)
1 28oz can whole tomatoes including juice, chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in an ovenproof 6-quart wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. While oil is heating, pat beef cheeks dry and season with salt and pepper. Brown beef, without crowding, on all sides, about 20 minutes total, and transfer with tongs to a bowl. Pour off fat from pot, then add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and cook onion, carrot, and celery over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325°.

Stir cocoa powder into vegetable mixture, then add wine and scrape up any brown bits. Increase heat to high and boil until liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Return cheeks (with any juices) to pot and add tomatoes with juice, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then braise, covered, in middle of oven until very tender, about 3 hours.

Beef cheeks improve in flavor if made up to 2 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, then chill, surface covered with parchment paper or wax paper and pot covered with lid. Remove any solidified fat before reheating.

Serves 4 servings
9 WW PP per serving

Roasted Balsamic Acorn Squadh


Fall means yummy squash! This week my favorite farmer had a couple beautiful acorn squash. After scouring recipe sites, this is what I came up with. Super easy and amazing!

2 acorn squash, halved lengthwise, seeded
2 TBSP olive oil
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP honey
2 tsp chili flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place acorn squash halves, cut side up, on rimmed baking sheet. Spray with olive oil.

Whisk oil with remaining ingredients in bowl; divide glaze among hollows of squash halves. Brush glaze over cut surfaces, leaving excess glaze in squash hollows. Bake until squash are very tender and brown, brushing cut surfaces every 15 minutes with glaze in squash hollows, about 1 hour.

4 servings
3 WW PP per serving.

Pumpkin Cupcakes


Nothing says fall like pumpkin pie spice!! So to celebrate fall I whipped up a batch of these yummy pumpkin cupcakes. The freeze great and then you can have cupcakes on demand. This recipe is adapted from Bon Appétit, Oct 2010. Personally I think my low fat & reduced sugar version of these cupcakes taste great.

1 c whole wheat flour
1 1/3 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 c brown sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 large egg
1/2 c canned pure pumpkin
1/3 c apple sauce
1/3 c fat free sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 8-ounce light cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c powdered sugar

Special Equipment: Mini muffin pans 13/4×1-inch paper liners

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 24 mini muffin cups with 1 3/4x 1-inch paper liners. Mix flour, golden brown sugar, and pumpkin pie spice in large bowl. Whisk egg, canned pure pumpkin, vegetable oil, sour cream, and vanilla extract in medium bowl. Add mixture to dry ingredients; stir to fully combine. Spoon batter into paper liners (batter will almost filled). Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 16 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on rack. Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese and butter in large bowl to blend. Beat in powdered sugar.

Frost cupcakes.

24 servings
3 WW PP per cupcake.

Sicilian Pesto Pasta


This pasta is not for the faint of heart or typical American, including my hubby who did not like the flavor. It is adapted from my favorite cooking magazine, La Cucina Italiainia, the briny flavor was wonderful!

Fine sea salt
1 (2-ounce) can flat anchovy fillets, drained and rinsed
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes, then drained
12 capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed, soaked in cold water for 10 minutes, then rinsed again
2 tablespoons pine nuts
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound linguine

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

In a small food processor combine the anchovies, garlic and parsley. Add raisins, capers and pine nuts pulse to combine. Drizzle in oil, pulsing until pesto is combined and smooth.

Cook pasta in the boiling water until al dente. Reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta cooking liquid, drain pasta and immediately return to pot. Add pesto and 3 tablespoons pasta cooking liquid. Toss to combine. Moisten with more pasta cooking liquid, if desired. Serve immediately.

Serves 2 – 4
5 WW PP per serving (4)

BLT Salad


I love this salad, all the great things about a BLT with only a little guilt.

1/2 c buttermilk
2 Tsp olive oil
1 TBSP Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves

In a glass jar combine buttermilk, Dijon, oil, salt and thyme, shake well. Let sir in fridge for 1 hour to deepen the flavors.

3 – 4 heirloom tomatoes
1 head of lettuce, torn
4 – 5 pieces bacon, cooked & chopped

Slice tomatoes and lay on plates. Toss salad greens with dressing, place aside tomatoes, top with bacon.

2 – 4 servings
4 WW PP per serving (2).

Roasted Butternut Squash Pizza


So I bought this gorgeous butternut squash at the farmers market, but I was really craving pizza tonight so it’s butternut pizza time! So it’s not a new idea, and I probably saw it somewhere and it hide out in the back of my mind until today, regardless this is my take on it. I have to say it is one tasty pie – sweet onions, rich squash with cheese on a pizza – yum! If you are not watching your weight, you can use more cheese and olive oil.

1 butternut squash, cubes into 1/2 inch pieces
2 sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 pizza dough, unbaked*
20 sage leaves
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced
Parm or Romano to sprinkle

Preheat oven to 425.

Spray a Pam with olive oil spray, add the squash then spray the squash, salt & pepper to taste then toss to combine. Cook for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until crispy on the outside.

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, toss onions with 1 tsp olive oil and 1/4 cup water, put a lid on it and cook over low heat. Stir every 5 – 10 minutes adding more water 1/4 c at a time keeping the onions moist. It takes about 45 minutes to caramelize the onions.

Roll out the pizza dough. Spread onions over the dough. Top with cheese, sage leaves and squash.

Bake for 7 – 10 minutes until cheese is bubbly and brown.

4 servings (1/4 pizza).
9 WW PP per serving.
*I use 8 oz dough for a super thin crust.