avocado pasta

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Pasta with a secret healthy ingredient, cake that can shake any bad mood and ridiculously tasty slow-cooker breakfasts were among the most popular dishes on Oprah.com this year. Find out what else made the list.

A Totally Unexpected Pasta
We'd swear there was heavy cream, or at least a generous amount of cheese, in this dish from Corky Pollan (mom of food writer Michael Pollan) and her daughters Lori, Dana and Tracy. Actually, though, the thick and rich sauce gets its heft—and loads of nutrition—from avocado. The other ingredients are basil, garlic, lemon and pine nuts, which give the plate a more Mediterranean than Mexican vibe.

Get the recipe: Creamy Avocado Pasta with Toasted Pine Nuts
chicken and broccoli casserole

Photo: Alison Gootee

The Decadent-Tasting Dish That Gets Everything Right
Broccoli and chicken are two made-for-each-other casserole ingredients; add some white wine, cream and Parmesan, and there's little else you really need to make a delicious and satisfying meal. The highlights of this unfussy recipe: First, it calls for chicken thighs, which are far richer-tasting than breasts; second, it includes thickly sliced, fresh white mushrooms (a step up from the usual cream of mushroom soup); and, finally, everything gets topped with panko. The Japanese bread crumbs offer the best way to achieve a crisp crust.

Get the recipe: Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
chocolate cake

Photo: Mikkel Vang

A Remedy for Any Funk
When Gourmet magazine folded, editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl cooked her way through the ups and downs of figuring out what to do next. She calls this cake "an antidote to the poison of self-pity," and we have to agree. Its richness comes from cocoa powder, chocolate and whipped cream cheese. And while it's undoubtedly delicious no matter your mood, its smooth, uber-chocolaty taste and aroma are especially effective at turning a rotten day around.

Get the recipe: The Cake That Cures Everything (Chocolate Cake)
breakfast strata

Photo: Lynn Andriani

The Guest-Worthy Rendition of a Beloved Breakfast Sandwich
Soft cubes of baguette, fluffy eggs, juicy sausage and melting cheese come together in this Crock-Pot riff on a sausage, egg and cheese sandwich. This recipe also includes diced, red bell pepper, which adds a subtle sweetness and flecks of color. But you could easily swap in broccoli florets or baby spinach and use any shredded cheese you like.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Breakfast Strata
yukon potato salad

Photo: Bonjwing Lee

The Potato Salad You'll Make Once and Love Forever
This bright and tangy dish, from the cookbook Made in America: A Modern Collection of Classic Recipes, strikes the ideal balance between the unexpected and the familiar. It includes Yukon Gold potatoes (they have thin, smooth skins that doen't need to be peeled), corn, diced ham and a garlicky lemon-chive dressing. The recipe has so much flavor and heft that it's practically a meal in and of itself. Make a double batch, serve it at your next gathering (its flavors complement everything from sausage to chicken kebabs) and enjoy the leftovers for days.

Get the recipe: Yukon Gold Potato Salad
lemon olive chicken

Photo: Steve Brown Photography/Photolibrary/Getty Images

The Laid-Back, Lemon-Infused Meal
It doesn't get much easier than this Provençal chicken dinner: Scatter chopped onions along the bottom of the slow cooker, layer with lemon-slice-topped chicken thighs and toss in pitted, green olives, a dash of white-wine vinegar, some dried herbs and chicken stock. In a few hours, you'll have a simple yet hearty dinner that goes well with nearly any side.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Provençal Lemon and Olive Chicken
huevos rancheros

Photo: Lynn Andriani

The Mexican Egg Dish That Makes the Morning Feel Like a Fiesta
A fried egg served atop a warmed corn tortilla and smothered in salsa is a delicious way to start your day (or even end it). This shortcut version, made in the slow cooker, is slightly different; the eggs are more omelet-like, but still wildly tasty. And there's even more to love about this simplified rendition of huevos rancheros: You can feed a crowd all at once, instead of frying eggs to order.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Huevos Rancheros
chicken hot pot

Photo: Katie Webster

A Chicken Stew with an Asian Twist
The flavors in this hearty chicken stew are inspired by a traditional Chinese hot pot and include shiitake mushrooms, minced garlic, five-spice powder and a dash of red-pepper flakes, among other ingredients. The surprise addition is a quarter-cup of dark maple syrup, which adds a pleasing counterpoint to the spices.

Get the recipe: Slow-Cooker Chicken Thigh Hot Pot
flourless cookies

Photo: Lara Farroni

The 2-in-1 Classic
You won't miss the flour in these treats, which are a cross between an oatmeal and a chocolate chip cookie and just so happen to be gluten-free. These cookies are sweet and chewy, drawing on rolled oats to form the dough's base. Then you mix in brown sugar, baking soda, salt, chocolate chips, oil and milk. The cookies bake in just six minutes, but the crucial step is to leave them on the baking sheet for 10 minutes after removing them from the oven—so they continue to cook and firm up until they're the perfect consistency.

Get the recipe: Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies
chicken tenders

Photo: Alison Gootee

Chicken Tenders That Are Crispier Than Any Frozen Variety
Making your own breaded chicken fingers is so easy and delivers surprisingly excellent results. You can use boneless, skinless breast or thigh meat—or just precut chicken tenders, which are already in inch-long strips. The rest of the ingredients do the work for you, with flour helping the egg adhere to the meat, and egg helping the bread crumbs (use panko for maximum crunch) stick to the flour. Fry the pieces lightly in olive oil until they've just browned, and you'll be amazed at how quickly you've made a crisp, delicious meal.

Get the recipe: Homemade Chicken Tenders