Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sweet potato mousse

Pumpkin mousse with maple yogurt, pecans and grated nutmeg

It's the time of year when we turn towards heartier desserts that often feature sweet potatoes or pumpkin. I love those earthy treats, but I find that they quickly add to my waistline. To get that same satisfying taste but keep it on the healthier side, I've taken the recipe for chocolate avocado pudding and tweaked it to become a fall treat that makes a hearty breakfast as well as a company worthy dessert.

Sweet potato mousse

Serves 4 as an entree or 6 as dessert

1 medium sweet potato, cooked and peeled
1 cup raw cashews
1 large ripe avocado, peeled and seeded
1 1/4 cups milk plus additional as needed (I used almond milk)
6 medjool dates, pitted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon each ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1/4 cup maple syrup
juice from 1/2 orange (optional)

In a high speed blender, put all the ingredients and process until smooth.   Use additional milk if necessary to get desired creaminess.  Chill and serve.  Pictured above is my feels like dessert for breakfast version with yogurt, pecans and a grate of fresh nutmeg.  (you could also layering with granola or some cashew or dairy whipped cream).

This turned out so prettily that I felt was prompted to slow down and savor it fully despite my hectic schedule.  This dish isn't just pretty, it was hearty enough to fuel me through the morning and into an afternoon of errand running.   It will definitely find it's way again onto the menu throughout the fall and winter season.

Thanks for reading!

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Green tomatoes and eggplant "meatballs"

Green tomatoes - the last of the 2013 growing season

It was the perfect chilly fall day, full of bright sunshine.  I took advantage of the weather to take out all the rest of the summer plants that were succumbing to the dips to the freezing mark at night.  As I worked, I was reminded why I love gardening so much.  How gardening is more than just about watching plants grow from seed to full flower or fruit.

The work was strenuous enough for a good workout, with all the bending and reaching, shoveling, carting the wheelbarrow loads (I stopped counting around 7 piled high).  As I was working alone, it was truly meditative work with only an occasional bark from our dog, Noah, as he chased a few remaining bumblebees rushing to gather the last of the pollen.

I ended up with a small basket of peppers and an abundance of green, cherry tomatoes.  I'm hoping that a few days in a sunny window will help most of them ripen fully or I'm looking at a lot of tiny fried green tomatoes, green tomato chutney, green salsa...

If they ripen nicely, I'll be able to make sauce to serve over some crispy eggplant "meatballs" inspired by this original recipe in the Washington Post.

Eggplant meatballs served over lightly sautéed kale with garlic

Eggplant "Meatballs"

Makes 4 servings

1 large globe eggplant or 3 Asian variety, cut in half
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small sweet bell pepper, but in half
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fresh herbs, chopped (sage, basil, oregano or mix) or 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups whole grain bread crumbs
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour (more as necessary)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more if desired)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
red pepper flakes or finely diced jalapeño
course cornmeal (polenta) for dusting

Heat the grill or broiler in the oven.
Cut the eggplant into 1 inch thick slices.  Drizzle the eggplant and green pepper with olive oil. Grill or broil, turning as necessary until soft and lightly browned.  Dice the cooked vegetables.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly Oil a baking pan.
Put all the ingredients except the cornmeal into a mixing bowl and stir together.  If the mixture is too wet, add more garbanzo bean flour until the mixture is firm enough to hold together when rolling into balls.  Shape scoops of the dough into golf ball shape.  Roll each one in a little cornmeal or polenta and place on an oiled baking pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned.  Serve topped with your favorite tomato sauce, pasta, grain or tucked in a pita pocket as a sandwich.

After cooking, extra can be frozen on a cookie sheet, and then stored in a freezer bag until ready to use. To reheat, thaw as many as needed,  Then sauté in a lightly oiled skillet until heated through and lightly crispy.

Thanks for reading!

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Pasta with tomatoes and pesto
Eggplant veggie burgers

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fall harvests and new adventure

Tiny end of season harvest

It's been a great year in our garden, and I'm sorry to see the main growing season come to an end.  I'll be missing these bountiful harvests of the day.

Sweet and hot peppers

One of the last beautiful heirloom roses of the season

However, I've had little time for digging in the garden lately as I've been working on launching an exciting new venture with my good friend, Aurora.  We are starting a new business to develop a community and spread the lifestyle and philosophy for creativity and mindfulness as I have here.  I've been looking for a way to bring all of this more to life, and we're really looking forward to sharing all of this with you through workshops and other events. I look forward to continuing to share my personal creative explorations here as well as in the new journey that awaits.   Please visit us at Zen Gypsies and join the adventure!

Thanks for reading!

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Other fall adventures - trip to Philadelphia 2012
Fall colors 2012

 Beautiful fall sunset