Thursday, April 29, 2010

For the True Avocado Lover!

I decided to really try an experiment with Avocados today, something I had never tried before!  I have been intrigued with the thought of using Avocados as a substitute for butter in baking, so I gave it my first attempt, and I thought it was a huge success!  I wanted to first try using avocados as a butter substitute in a biscuit recipe, as I thought that if I can make a biscuit light and fluffy without using butter (or buttermilk), I could make just about any kind of baked good with avocado!  I grew up eating my Great Grandma's biscuits, full of buttermilk and butter, and just loads of yummy fat that is not so good for us to be eating... This is definitely not Grandma's Saturday morning biscuit (which was always smothered in gravy too!), but it's a fresh, light and new version!  The avocado gave the biscuit a soft, almost creamy texture (almost like baking with pudding, or sour cream), and yet it was also very light and fluffy.  The amazing part?  Every single bite was exploding with avocado flavor, and it was also a very attractive pale green.  I thought the color might turn off some appetites at first (some people have issues eating "green" things), but once it was baked it became a pale and delightful green, that reminds me of fresh grass peeking out in the first of the spring!  I think these biscuits are lovely by themselves, as they are slightly sweet and incredibly flavorful, but I think they could also be delicious with just a bit of jam for breakfast, or could even be used for a delightful shortcake (hmmmm, Avocado shortcake anyone??).  I think they'd even taste great used as bread for a turkey sandwich, with a just a little dijon, some fresh sprouts, tomato, and a lovely slice of Swiss cheese, YUM! If you love avocados you will love these lovely little vegan biscuits, and you will feel great eating them, knowing they contain only healthy, good for you fats, and are not loaded with dairy products that can weigh you down.  Enjoy!!
Light and Fluffy Avocado Biscuits

2 ripe Avocados (equals about 1 cup, mashed)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 Tablespoons agave nectar

To Prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Very lightly oil a baking sheet with coconut oil or cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the fruit out with a spoon into a medium size bowl.  Using a fork, mash the avocados until creamy.  Add in the remaining ingredients, and use a fork to fully combine.  You can use your hands at the end to just get all the ingredients fully incorporated. 
3. Turn the biscuit dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat out to about 1/2 inch thick.  Use a glass (about 3 inches), with the rim lightly dipped in flour, to cut out the biscuits, reshaping the dough as needed to cut round biscuits about 1/2 an inch thick.  You could use a biscuit cutter if you have one, or we also used cans (cleaned thoroughly) to cut biscuits sometimes when I was growing up!
4. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart (you should have 6-8 biscuits), and place into the preheated oven.  Bake for about 14-16 minutes, until just slightly golden on the top, and fluffy. Remove from oven.
5. Serve, and ENJOY the delightful flavor of avocados!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Creamy Avocado Lime Bars!

Avocados from Mexico ( has inspired me once again to get in the kitchen and get creative with avocados!  With another contest running for Bloggers to post Avocado recipes, I have not had a shortage of ideas popping into my head.  Well, I guess it really doesn't take much convincing, as avocados are one of my favorite foods!  So versatile, nutritious, and delicious in entrees and desserts alike, they add a green creaminess and lovely flavor to every dish they take part in!  I decided that this morning it was time to pull out my baking tools and create a new treat that I have never had before... The result?  Delicious, Bright and CREAMY Avocado Lime Bars!  I thought of trying to make a version without wheat, butter, or eggs, but I realized that some things simply need that old fashioned touch, and lime bars have always been best when light and fluffy.  I will save my wheat free, vegan adventures for another time, and will stick to the good old fashioned basics.  Fair warning, this is NOT a diet recipe, especially as you will have a hard time not eating them all!  Perfect to make ahead and take to social gatherings, family get togethers, and picnics, this simple baked treat will delight anyone that you make it for (and they can help you eat the bars and save your waistline!)!  Please enjoy my recipe for:

Creamy Avocado Lime Bars!

3/4 cup Almond Meal (finely ground almonds)
3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 ripe medium avocados (equals about 1 cup, mashed)
1/2 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 Tablespoon finely grated lime zest
2 eggs
1 cup sugar (granulated)
1/4 cup unbleached white flour
powdered sugar to dust the top of the finished bars

To Prepare:
1. First, preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium size bowl, combine the almond meal, whole wheat flour, and powdered sugar.  Add in the butter and use a fork to cut the butter in to the flour mix, until it resembles slightly lumpy corn meal.  Pour the crust mix into a nonstick 10x7 baking pan. spread evenly through the pan, and press very firmly to create the crust.  Place into the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until just slightly golden on the edges.
2. While the crust is baking, prepare the Avocado Lime topping.  Scoop the avocado fruit out of the peels (removing the pits), using a spoon, and place into a large bowl.  Mash the avocado with a spoon, leaving a few chunks for extra flavor while eating.  Add in the lime juice, lime zest, and eggs, and beat well, until fully combined.  Stir in the sugar and 1/4 cup of flour, stirring well to remove any lumps of flour.
3. Remove the baked crust from the oven when slightly golden, and pour the Avocado filling over the top, spreading evenly over the crust.  Return to the 325 degree oven, and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, until fluffy, and very slightly golden on the edges.
4. Remove from oven, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.  Lightly dust the top of the bars with powdered sugar, and allow to cool completely.
5. Cut into about 24 two inch bars, and ENJOY!

Servings: about 24
Prep Time: about 5 minutes
Bake Time: about 40-50 minutes

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Not your Grandma's Deviled Egg!

Today I would like to write about my new favorite way to eat eggs!  This is not your typical Deviled egg, but what I call The "NEW" Deviled egg!  Deviled eggs are nothing new to the culinary world, something similar even being mentioned dating back to Ancient Rome (boiled eggs with various spices being sprinkled over the tops).  The first mention of spiced, flavorful eggs being called "Deviled" goes back to the 18th century!  But it seems like it was in the 50's that deviled eggs really became known as a favorite for potluck tables, family gatherings and holiday events.  Maybe it was because around that time packaged mayonnaise and mustard were readily available?  I'm not sure... But I know they were a staple with my family when I was growing up for holidays!  So Deviled eggs have a special place on my dining table, reminiscent of wonderful family times and happy days... Deviled eggs have been prepared so many ways, but the standard today seems to be mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and paprika.  Some people use Miracle Whip (you know who you are!! ;) ), some even add pickle relish... But I wanted to create something more simple... More Wholesome... More Flavorful!  More Delicious!  And then the idea popped in my head, what could be more tasty, creamy and decadent than a beautifully ripe avocado?!  Bye Bye mayo, Hello AVOCADO!!  :)  And for the zippy, pungent and peppy part?  How about some freshly grated horseradish?! And plenty of fresh pungent herbs?!  Sounds like a recipe for success and delicious Deviled Eggs!  So here it is,  The "NEW" Deviled Egg!  I know you'll love it!

The "NEW" Deviled Egg:
Serves: 8 (1 whole egg per person)
Cook Time: about 15 minutes
Prep Time: about 10 minutes

8 whole large eggs
2 avocados, very ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 teaspoons horseradish, freshly grated for optimum flavor
1 teaspoon sea salt, fine
1 teaspoon peppercorn medley, freshly ground (mine includes: black, pink, and green peppercorns, coriander and allspice)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper, ground (cayenne)
2 Tablespoons fresh herbs, finely minced (dill, cilantro, rosemary, marjoram, Italian parsley and thyme)


1. For perfect hard boiled eggs every time: place the 8 eggs in a 2 quart sauce pot, cover with hot water with about an inch of water covering the tops of the eggs.  *A note on eggs:  if possible, use farm fresh eggs for the best flavor and quality!  If you must buy from the market, try to get the brown eggs from cage free, vegetarian fed hens...They really do taste better!  And also check for expiration dates, the fresher the egg, the better the flavor! Place the water covered eggs on the stove, and turn to high heat.  Bring to a rolling boil, and allow to boil for 3 minutes.  Then place the lid on the pot, turn off the heat, and allow to sit on the burner (with the heat turned off) for 11 minutes.  After 11 minutes carefully pour the hot water off the eggs into the sink (or save the water in a bowl to cool and pour onto your houseplants, so you don't waste the water!), and then run under cold water until the water remains cool in the pot (with the 8 eggs in it).  Allow to sit for a few minutes, just to cool the eggs enough to peel.  Carefully peel the eggs and set on a plate.
2. Slice the hard boiled eggs length-wise so that you have 16 halves.  Use a small spoon to slip the yolks out of the whites, and place the yolks into a bowl.  Mash well with the back of a spoon.
3. Slice the avocados in half, remove the pits, and scoop the avocado with a spoon into the bowl of mashed egg yolks.  Sprinkle the avocados and egg yolks with the lemon juice, and mash thoroughly, mixing well.  Add in the grated horseradish, sea salt, pepper, and red pepper. 
4. Finely mince a couple tablespoons of herbs. I simply went to my herb garden and snipped a sprig of this and that, use your favorite herbs, or whatever you have available!!  The point is to have a nice selection of herbs to add a pungency and deeper dimension of flavor.  But if you only have one fresh herb, use a couple tablespoons of that!
5.  Fill the egg white halves with a heaping tablespoon of filling, piling high on the egg.  You may have some filling left over, but it's delicious served on crackers or bread!
6.  Sprinkle the minced herbs evenly over the eggs, serve and ENJOY!!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A note....

So sorry for the lack of blog posts, with a few health issues at the moment, and also some beautiful weather outside, I have not been in my kitchen much for the last week or so!  Look soon for a new blog post, and again, I apologize for not being on top of things lately!  I will try to post a new recipe within the next couple days!  :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Glorious Eggplant

If ever there was a controversial vegetable out there, it may be the Eggplant...  Either people love it or hate it, or just think they don't like it because they've never tried it.  Or possibly they've had an unfortunate experience with Eggplant... When not cooked properly it can be a soggy mushy mess of bitter tasting goo- when cooked properly it is transformed into a magical delight for the culinary senses.  Eggplant is packed with "healthy for you" goodness, but don't let that sway you from enjoying it's distinctive flavor.  I love knowing that when I prepare Eggplant for my family, it's not just a meal, it's also something to provide us with great health!  It's packed with fiber, protein, a hearty amount of B vitamins, vitamins A and C, and folate.  There are so many wonderful attributes to the Eggplant, it is beyond what I can convey in this post, but just know that when you eat Eggplant you are doing something great for yourself and your family!  Eggplant is part of the "Nightshade" family, which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers.  People used to be afraid of eating all Nightshades, if you go back a couple hundred years in history you'll see that your ancestors probably would never touch the stuff.  Mandrake and "Deadly" Nightshade are a part of the same family, and can kill you, but we now know that tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and peppers are safe for human consumption.  So eat your eggplant without fear!  And enjoy the many ways there are to serve eggplant!  One of my very favorite ways to cook eggplant is to roast it.  Actually, give me any vegetable to prepare, and my first thought would be roasting!  In my mind, there is no better way to cook a vegetable to bring out it's depth of flavor and slight sweetness, it basically caramelizes the vegetables as they roast.  So today I will focus on a very simple and tasty recipe, that I hope you will try out sometime for a quick and hearty lunch or snack!  Delicious alone, or even better with a Greek salad on the side!  There will be more Eggplant recipes on the way, as I would love to help get rid of its bad rap, and boost the consumption of Eggplant!  But for now, here is my recipe:

Roasted Eggplant Mediterranean Flatbreads

2 medium Eggplants, about 8 inches long
1 medium sweet yellow onion
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper, or to taste
3-4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
4 flatbreads, (the kind without a pocket)

To Prepare:

1. First, thinly slice the eggplants and onion, about 1/4 inch thick.  Slice the eggplants vertically, so the slices are long and wide, not round.  If you are worried about bitterness you can try this trick:  After you slice the eggplant sprinkle salt on each slice, both sides, and set aside for about 1/2 an hour.  This will cause the slices to "sweat" and release the bitterness.  Then simply rinse off to remove the excess salt, and dab with paper toweling to remove excess moisture.  Also, the peel of eggplant may be tough at times, so you may remove the peel if you desire.  It is purely personal choice.  I leave the peel on when I slice the eggplant very thinly, but if you don't want the chewy texture, simply slice it off.
2.  Place the sliced eggplant and onions in a bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Stir well to evenly coat the eggplant and onions.
3.  Evenly spread the eggplant and onion on a large baking sheet, and place under a broiler (450-500 degrees) for about 8-10 minutes, then stir well.   Roast until golden and aromatic, about 10 minutes per side.
4. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven, and place the 4 flatbreads under the broiler for about 4-5 minutes to warm.  Evenly divide the roasted vegetables over the warmed flatbread.  Evenly distribute the crumbled feta over the flatbreads and return to the broiler for about 4-5 minutes, till the feta is slightly melted and warmed through.
5. Remove from the broiler, serve and ENJOY!  :)

OPTIONAL additions:  These flatbreads are just delicious as they are, but if you want a really special treat add a little Tzatziki and a bit of finely chopped salad of tomato, cucumber, fresh Italian Parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  DELICIOUS!  :)