Watermelon and Avocado Salad

Watermelon and Avocado Salad | A Nerd Cooks

After getting my first taste of balsamic vinegar on watermelon in the Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad that I made a little while back, I was hooked.  There’s such a delicious contrast of flavors going on – sweet vs. tart.

I knew that I couldn’t stop there.

We got our first good watermelon recently, and I couldn’t help but cube it up and toss it into a salad, add some avocado, and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

If you haven’t tried this flavor combination before, wait no longer, and let this be a gentle introduction!Watermelon and Avocado Salad | A Nerd Cooks

You’ll need (makes 2 side salads or one large main dish salad):

  • 2-3 cups greens (I used arugula)
  • 2 cups watermelon, cubed
  • 1 avocado, sliced or cubed
  • 1-2 oz. feta cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • balsamic vinegar and olive oil

This is super simple.  Ready?

Toss all ingredients, except for vinegar and oil, together in a bowl or on a plate.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Or, if you’re like me and are really into sour/tart flavors, just go with balsamic vinegar only.

This salad is so light and refreshing, yet pretty substantial thanks to the addition of avocado.

Lemon Raspberry Almond Crunch Muffins

Raspberry Lemon Almond Crunch Muffins | A Nerd CooksI’ve been on a serious muffin kick lately (more muffins to come next week, too!).

They’re the perfect individually-portioned treat!  And though muffins sometimes get a bad rap as simply being cake in a muffin tin, you can make them relatively healthy.
Raspberry Lemon Almond Crunch Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

For instance, these muffins have no butter or oil.  And they’re made with applesauce and Greek yogurt.

So, I’m not necessarily advocating that you eat 6 of them, but you can feel pretty decent about having one of these muffins.  Plus, they’re delicious!  The raspberry and lemon flavor combination screams summer.

I found this recipe on the blog Two Purple Figs.

You’ll need:

For the muffins – 

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 3/4 cup plain Green yogurt
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

For the topping –

  • 3 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs all-purpose flour
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbs butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the ingredients for the topping until crumbly.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In another medium bowl, mix the sugar, applesauce, egg, yogurt, and lemon zest.  Little by little, add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until just combined.

Add 1.5-2 tbs of the batter to the bottoms of each of the muffin cups.  I used a small cookie scoop to help with this.  Place 3-4 raspberries on top of the batter.  Top the raspberries with the remaining batter, evenly divided across all of the muffins.

Top with a few more raspberries, and sprinkle the almond crunch topping on top.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a knife/toothpick, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of the summer months.  The heat, the humidity, the presence of lots of insects…  Shudder.

I am, however, a huge fan of summer produce.

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Caprese salads (and all things Caprese, really) are my jam.  You’ve seen me blog about chunky Caprese salad, and then Caprese salad pasta, Caprese salad skewers, and most recently, strawberry Caprese salad.

Like so many of my posts, this one was inspired by Joy the Baker.  She blogged about Watermelon Peach Caprese Salad recently, and I couldn’t wait to put my spin on it.

You’ll need:

  • watermelon, sliced
  • heirloom tomatoes, sliced
  • nectarines, sliced
  • fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh basil

Arrange the watermelon, tomatoes, nectarines, and mozzarella on a platter or in a dish.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and top with fresh basil.

Watermelon Nectarine Caprese Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Blueberry Avocado Muffins

Blueberry Avocado Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

I came across this recipe while looking at a Buzzfeed article about “21 Delicious Ways to Eat Avocado for Breakfast“.

They were too intriguing for me to not bake them.  I mean, avocado in a muffin?  Sign me up.

Blueberry Avocado Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

PLUS!  These muffins have no butter, and instead use avocado and Greek yogurt.  AND they are chock full of blueberries.  So these are basically health food, right?  Right.

In addition, they really are delicious.  They are super moist and flavorful, and are pretty interesting given that they have a slight green tinge to them.

Blueberry Avocado Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe comes from the blog Gimme Some Oven.

You’ll need (makes 12-15 muffins):

For the muffin – 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ripe avocado, seeded and peeled
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used Fage 0%)

For the streusel topping –

  • 2 tbs butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 tbs all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar (I had Turbinado sugar on hand and used that)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Fill a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the avocado until it is smooth.  Add the granulated sugar and beat until combined and smooth.  Add the egg, beating to combine completely, followed by the vanilla extract and yogurt.  Beat until things are just combined.

Add the dry ingredients in two batches, beating until things are just combined.

Gently fold in the blueberries by hand, with a spatula.

To make the streusel topping, combine all ingredients until crumbly.  Set aside momentarily.

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups (it will be pretty thick), and sprinkle a bit of the streusel topping on top.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick/knife, when inserted into the center, comes out clean.  Start checking on them after 20 minutes, though!

Cool for 5 minutes in the pan before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Blueberry Avocado Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

Kale and Chicken Sausage Frittata

After being out of town at a conference all week, it felt great to get back into the kitchen.  To make things even better, we had friends over for a visit.Kale and Chicken Sausage Frittata | A Nerd Cooks

I love easy-to-make, low maintenance breakfast dishes for when we have guests spend the weekend.  This frittata just requires a bit of chopping and stirring, then into the oven it goes.  It’s just a bonus that it’s delicious.

Kale and Chicken Sausage Frittata | A Nerd Cooks

It’s also a great option if you’re trying to be a bit health conscious.  You could totally use all whole eggs, heavy cream instead of the milk, and a bunch of cheese, if you wanted to increase the dish’s richness.  However, I find that it’s perfectly tasty with some egg whites, 2% milk, and low fat feta.

You’ll need:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 links chicken apple sausage, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups kale
  • 6 eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 oz. feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In an oven safe skillet (I prefer cast iron), heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and chicken sausage.  Stir occasionally, cooking until the sausage begins to brown.

Add the kale, and stir occasionally until the kale begins to wilt.  Turn the heat down to low.

Whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper.  Pour the eggs into the skillet.  Scatter the crumbled feta over the top. Cook until the edges of the frittata just begin to set.

Pop the skillet into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until the center is set.

Allow the frittata to cool for a few minutes before slicing into it.

Kale and Chicken Sausage Frittata | A Nerd Cooks

Strawberry Balsamic Salad

Hands down, this is my favorite salad.  As soon as it gets to be even remotely close to berry season, I’m making this for my lunches at work.

Strawberry Balsamic Salad | A Nerd Cooks

It’s sweet, tart, super healthy, and somehow manages to not get old even after eating it day in and day out.

Strawberry Balsamic Salad | A Nerd Cooks

This is an updated version of the Strawberry Spinach Salad that I blogged about 3 years ago.

I list ingredients without proportions/amounts, since you can use more or less of everything to suit your tastes.

You’ll need:

  • baby arugula
  • mixed greens
  • basil, sliced into ribbons
  • strawberries, sliced
  • grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • English cucumber, seeds removed and cut into quarters
  • feta cheese
  • slivered almonds/chopped walnuts
  • salt, to taste
  • balsamic vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil (honestly, I use only vinegar, but use in whatever proportions you like)

Toss everything, minus the vinegar and olive oil, together in a bowl.  Dress with vinegar and olive oil and go to town!

Every now and then I’ll also toss an avocado into the mix (highly recommended).

Strawberry Balsamic Salad | A Nerd Cooks

Make-Ahead Omelet “Muffins”

My weekday breakfast routine has gotten a little stale.  For I-can’t-remember-how-long, I’ve been having yogurt and granola at my desk.  It’s time to switch things up.

Make-Ahead Omelet Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

These little omelet “muffins” are perfect for quickly grabbing, heating, and running out the door in the morning.  I’ll be having them all week and then making more =)

Make-Ahead Omelet Muffins | A Nerd Cooks

This recipe, modified a bit, comes from The Skinnytaste Cookbook

You’ll need (makes 12 “muffins”; 2 muffins per serving):

  • cooking spray
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 handfuls of kale, washed and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers, diced
  • 6 large eggs
  • 6 large egg whites
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly spray a muffin tine with cooking spray.  Set aside.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the garlic, kale, and bell peppers.  Sauté for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender.  Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, or large measuring cup, whisk the eggs and egg whites along with the salt and pepper.  Add the sautéed vegetables and feta cheese.  Mix well.

Pour an equal amount of egg mixture into each of the muffin cups (~1/4 cup) and place the pan in the oven.

Bake for 20-24 minutes.

Use whatever fillings you like.  I just happened to have kale and bell peppers on hand.  My brother makes these, too, and recommends spinach, onions, shredded cheese, and sun dried tomatoes.

Make-Ahead Omelet Muffins | A Nerd CooksThese little muffins can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week and gently reheated when it comes time to eat.  Otherwise, you’ll want to freeze them by wrapping the individual muffins in plastic wrap and popping them into the freezer.  To reheat, unwrap the frozen egg muffins and microwave for about a minute.

UPDATE: A few people have asked what they should do with the leftover egg yolks.  There are a few options:

1) Reduce the number of eggs overall (to maybe 9?) and just use all whole eggs

2) Make homemade ice cream!

3) Make lemon curd!

4) Any of these ideas from The Kitchn