Sunday Dinner: Chocolate Avocado Mousse

 

What???

Avocado and chocolate? Sounds dreadful!

However, as I found out, this combination makes a wonderfully rich dessert that is gluten free and cane sugar free and dairy free (unless you top it with whipped cream).

You’ll need a food processor or blender, an avocado (peeled and pitted), 1/2 tsp. vanilla, 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp. raw organic agave nectar , pinch of sea salt (1/16 tsp), and 1/2 Tbsp. oil (I use coconut oil).

Adjust the ingredients according to the size of your avocado. In New Jersey, most of the avocados that we get are about the size of a pear or smaller.

Whip all of the ingredients together in the food processor until you don’t see any lumps of avocado and it looks like a thick pudding.

Taste it now.

If it’s too bitter, add a bit more agave or a touch of pure stevia powder (and make a note to use a bit less cocoa powder next time). If it’s not chocolatey enough add more cocoa powder and whip it a little longer.

I’m sure you could try substituting stevia powder (or liquid) for the agave, but you might need to adjust the oil or add a little bit of water to improve the consistency.

It keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, but the consistency is best right after it is made.

Now that you made it, here are a few ideas of how to enjoy it.

  • Eat it as it is, right out of the food processor.
  • Top with home made whipped cream sweetened with stevia.
  • Layer it with bananas and/or strawberries.
  • Top it with chopped peanuts, walnuts, almonds, cashews, etc.
  • Add some shaved chocolate or gluten free chocolate chips.
  • Use it as a dip for fruit.

Additional notes:

Substitute raw local honey for raw organic agave nectar for a more natural sweetner.

I prefer organic products when possible (organic coconut oil, organic avocados, etc.).

Let me know how you like this version of a chocolate mousse dessert in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Dinner: The Last Batch of Butternut Squash Soup

Last fall my butternut squash plants produced 17 squash. Image I gave a few to family and friends and stored the rest in the basement to use throughout the winter.

Butternut squash and Black Eyed Susans

Butternut squash and Black Eyed Susans

Today I used the last of the squash to make one final pot of butternut squash soup.*sniff*

I have to say, it’s delicious.

Here’s my recipe.

Rita’s Butternut Squash Soup

2 butternut squash, cut in half, seeded and roasted for 1 hour at 375 degrees.

3 apples, peeled, cored, cut up

2 T butter or olive oil

1/2 large sweet onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 qt. chicken broth

After the squash is roasted and cooled, peel it and cut it into 1-2 inch pieces. Saute the onion in butter/oil for a few minutes and then add the apples. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Pour in the chicken broth, add the squash pieces, and bring to a boil. I add 1/4 cup Vermouth here for additional flavor- you can use any dry white wine… or not. Turn the heat down to simmer for about 20 – 30 minutes. Use a hand-held immersion blender* to puree the mixture. For added richness add 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream and stir to blend. (optional) Add salt and pepper to taste. *If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender. Blend about 1 – 2 cups at a time and hold the lid on. Blending hot things can be very explosive. 🙂 I have frozen this soup with good results. Use it within a couple of months.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients combined

Ingredients combined

immersion blender

Using immersion blender

 

butternut squash soup

Yum!

If you try my Butternut Squash Soup recipe, please comment to let me know how you like it. Thanks!

Sunday Dinner… or Breakfast: Creamed Chipped Beef

Often referred to as “Sh** on a Shingle”, creamed chipped beef has been a favorite weekend breakfast in my family forever. My mom made it. I made it. And now my sons make it. It’s easy and can even be made gluten free (for us sensitive folks) with rice flour. Essentially a basic white sauce with meat, Creamed Chipped Beef can be served over toast, baked potatoes, home fries, noodles (rice noodles), or even waffles. Serve it for breakfast, like we do, or serve it for dinner with a side of vegetables.

The recipe below makes two very hearty servings. My instructions differ slightly from most. I choose to make it like my mother does. I saute the beef pieces in butter before adding the flour and milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. chipped dried beef, chopped
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 4 Tablespoons flour (rice flour works well)
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Melt the butter. Add the chopped dried beef. Saute until the ends of the beef curl.
  • Add flour and stir until absorbed into the butter. Stir in milk. Heat the mixture to a boil and then simmer until thickened.
  • Taste and season with salt and/or pepper
  • Spoon over toast or potatoes (baked potato, home fries, etc.)

If your creamed chipped beef becomes too thick, add a bit more milk. If it’s too thin, put 1 T. flour into a small bowl and whisk in 2 T. cold milk until smooth. Then stir it slowly into the hot mixture.

Leftover Creamed Chipped Beef  can be heated in the microwave.

Sunday Dinner: An Eggplant is Not a Football

I don’t know anyone who would mistake an eggplant for a football. However, if you make a tasty eggplant dip and serve it during a football game, it will get passed. 🙂

I know many people who turn their noses up at eggplant, but I happen to like it. Eggplant parmesan, eggplant rollatini, and eggplant moussaka are a few of my favorites. However, these recipes are time consuming to create in your own kitchen. None of them should be considered diet food either. With all the cheeses and sauces and yummy goodness, you just know it isn’t good for you, even if it is a vegetable dish.

But we’re not talking about dinner, we’re talking football. So a dip is more appropriate and this one is even somewhat healthy. It’s vegetarian, gluten free, sugar free, and if you need salt free, don’t put salt in it. There are no cheeses or sauces either, but believe it or not, it’s still tasty.

Here’s a quick overview:

Roast whole eggplants. Mince garlic and parsley. Chop tomato. Cool, peel, and chop eggplant. Mix all ingredients in a bowl with olive oil and you’re finished.
This dip is now ready for the half-time snack table.

For those of you who would rather have an official recipe, with an ingredients list and step-by-step directions, I have that here, too.

Rita’s Roasted Eggplant Dip

2 medium-sized eggplants (about 1 lb. each)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 large tomato, chopped (about ½ cup)

Fresh parsley, chopped (about 1 Tbsp.)

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. kosher salt

ground black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash the eggplant and cut off the stem. Cut into the skin to make a few slits around the eggplant (for venting). Lay it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast for about 40 minutes or until soft.
  3. Pour olive oil into a glass measuring cup.
  4. Mince the garlic, chop the tomato, and parsley. Add to the olive oil with salt.
  5. Cool the eggplant. Peel and chop it into small pieces (remember it’s a dip). It will be somewhat mushy.
  6. Mix the eggplant and garlic-tomato-oil in a large bowl with black pepper.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Serve with crusty bread, pita chips, or crackers. This dip is gluten free so I use it with rice crackers or sturdy gluten-free chips.

If you are making this on a warm day and don’t want to heat the oven, roast the eggplant on your gas grill.