Chocolate Mousse -- easy, healthy & dairy free

Creamy, chocolaty, easy to make, and oh-so good! It's healthy, too. I saw Ellie Krueger making this unusual recipe on a TV ad for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I thought it seemed a little odd to use an avocado in chocolate mousse but we decided to give it a try. The verdict — I made this last week and we've been craving it ever since. I must admit that we've been trying to cut out desserts as we strive to lower our cholesterol levels. But even if we weren't in a dessert-deprived state, this is just good stuff! 


Other notes about this recipe . . .
The online version (in the Snacks/Desserts section) calls for 70% cacao baking chocolate but does not specify sweetened or unsweetened so I experimented. The first time I made it I used part of a bar of semi-sweet chocolate because that was what I had on hand. Afraid it might be too sweet, I cut the amount of agave sweeter in half. Today when I made it again, I used part of a bar of unsweetened chocolate but still started with half the amount of agave, tasted and added just a little more. In other words, I suggest you start with less sweetener no matter what type of chocolate you use, and add more to achieve your level of desired sweetness.

Also, I noticed the online recipe calls for agave in the ingredient list but the step-by-step directions tell you to add the maple syrup. Guess either will work but I used agave as I thought the taste of maple syrup might be too pronounced. However, knowing that agave is sweeter than sugar, I wondered what the swap out was for agave and maple syrup. This is what I discovered through a Google search :Agave, maple syrup and honey, 1 to 1 ratio for use (in other words, if it calls for 1/3 cup of agave, substitute 1/3 cup of maple syrup or 1/3 cup honey). However, replace each cup of corn syrup by using only 1/2 to 1/3 as much and increase other liquids by up to 1/3 cup. For each cup of granulated sugar, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup.

Healthy Chocolate Mousse  Makes 4 desserts (can easily be cut in half)
2 very ripe large avocados
4 oz. 70% cacao baking chocolate, melted and cooled
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used the dark chocolate variety)
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk+
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of fine sea

  1. In a food processor, combine the avocados, melted chocolate, cocoa powder, almond milk, agave, vanilla, cinnamon and salt.
  2. Puree until creamy. (I stopped and scraped down the sides a couple of times and added a little extra almond milk,)
  3. Spoon mousse into 4 cups and chill for at least an hour. I topped our mousse with chopped walnuts for added flavor.





Winter Fruit Salad

So simple and a great way to add fruit to your winter diet. Here's what we used, but add oranges, grapefruit, etc or whatever you have on hand.



Winter Fruit Salad for 4
2  kiwi, diced
About 3/4 cup red seedless grapes, halved
About 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
1 apple, diced (we used Fuji)
1 small banana, diced
Celery Seed Dressing
  1. Chop fruit right before you plan to serve salad. Or, if you want a head start, chop the kiwi, half grapes and add to pomegranate seeds; refrigerate and add diced apples and bananas right before serving.
  2. Drizzle with Celery Seed Dressing and lightly toss to lightly coat fruit.

Angel Food Cake -- Fred Jarvis' 1930's era recipe

I became acquainted with Fred Jarvis when I began teaching Home Economics at Abilene High School in 1968. Hired right out of K-State University, Mr. Jarvis took me under his wing helping me with 1960s era technology such as the ditto/mimeograph machine which produced purple handouts and left novice teachers with purple hands!
Early on he proudly told me that he made angel food cakes from scratch. Years later, after his death, his daughter, Mary Kathryn Jarvis Beck, shared his recipe along with these details . . .  Daddy went back to high school after he graduated in 1930 because there were no jobs. One of the classes he took was a cooking class. This angel food cake recipe is from a notebook filled with recipes from that class.
It always took Daddy a long time to put the cake batter together and no one was allowed in the kitchen during the baking or for an hour or so after.
He would set the eggs out 5 to 6 hours in advance. (Meta’s note: Today this would be considered too long for raw eggs to set out; 30 minutes should be sufficient but not over 2 hours.)
Amazingly, he beat the egg whites by hand. Always!

Fred Jarvis’ Angel Food Cake  . . . with a few clarifications along the way; also check out my Tips, Hints & Explanations below.

It helps to have all ingredients measured and prepped before beginning this recipe.
1 cup Swans Down® cake flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup egg whites (8 to 10 eggs)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (ultra fine sugar may be substituted; because it is so fine, it dissolves quickly)
¾ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon almond extract
  1. Sift the flour 5 or 6 times and set aside.
  2. Add salt to egg whites and whisk by hand (medium speed of electric mixer using whisk attachment) until whites become foamy/frothy.

  3. Add cream of tarter and then sprinkle sifted sugar, by the spoonful, over egg whites beating until stiff peaks form—peaks that hold their shape. For those beating the mixture by hand, Fred's recipe says, “Beat in the same direction." (Or, medium to medium-high speed of mixer using whisk attachment.)
  4. Once sugar is incorporated and white from stiff peaks, add flavoring and then begin sifting flour into the egg-sugar mixture (I spooned in the sifted flour a couple of tablespoons at a time); carefully fold in to incorporate the flour without deflating egg white mixture. When folding in, Fred's recipe instructs, "Go down anywhere with spoon (I used a silicon spatula) but always bring it up on the edge when folding ingredients in. Always fold-in ingredients in the same direction.”
  5. Carefully spoon batter into and ungreased angel food pan (a 2-part tube pan insures easy cake removal), and gently smooth top. 

  6. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours in preheated 275° oven; check for doneness with a wooden toothpick. The toothpick should come out clean.
  7. Once out of oven, immediately turn angel food cake upside down to cool.
Jarvis family photos from Mary Kathryn Jarvis Beck . . .
 L to R, Fred Jarvis, Linda Jarvis, Margaret (Peggy) Jarvis Stewart, Mary Kathryn Jarvis, and Dorothy Jarvis. Taken at Margaret's graduation from Arizona State in 1965 . . .

Mr. Jarvis teaching typewriting skills in his AHS classroom, 1968 . . .

How Fred's recipe differs from others — in other recipes I’ve made, part of sugar is mixed in with the flour; most are baked for 35 minutes in a preheated 350° oven. Baking at a lower temperature for a longer time seems to avoid the characteristic cracks generally associated with angel food cakes. His recipe also yields a somewhat denser cake than other recipes I've made.

Meta’s Tips, Hints & Explanations:
  • Cold eggs are easier to separate but room temperature egg whites will whip faster & produce a larger volume than those that are cold. (So, like Fred, separte cold eggs and allow them to come to room temperate before proceeding with recipe.)
  • Cream of tarter is used to lower the pH of the egg whites. This helps stabilize the protein in the whites producing a higher quality foam. 
  • Egg whites will not foam in the presence of fat so check to make sure the mixing bowl and beaters do not contain even traces of fat or oil. Since egg yolks contain fat, it is also extremely important that no yolk is mixed in with the whites. As an egg is cracked, place the egg white into a small clean (fat free) bowl and then dump into the mixing bowl; continue, never trying to separate the egg directly into the bowl of  whites. That way, if the yolk accidentally breaks into the white, you won't ruin the rest of the batch. 
  • Sugar increases the stability of egg foams but delays foaming. That’s why recipe directions say to beat the egg whites until foamy before adding sugar,
  • Angel food batter should be carefully spooned into an ungreased angel food pan. The tube, in the pan, helps the heat to get to the center quickly so the cake will bake evenly.
  • The angel food pan must be turned upside down following baking otherwise the cake will fall. 
  • To remove cake from a 2-part tube pan, run a dinner knife around the inside of the cake and the tube in the center. Push cake out of pan and set the tube on a cake plate (see below). Run a knife between between the bottom portion of tube pan (as shown below) and the cake to release; the cake will drop onto the plate.

Recipe without photos . . .
Fred Jarvis’ Angel Food Cake  . . . with a few clarifications along the way; also check out my Tips, Hints & Explanations listed above.

It helps to have all ingredients measured and prepped before beginning this recipe.
1 cup Swans Down® cake flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup egg whites (8 to 10 eggs)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar (ultra fine sugar may be substituted; because it dissolves quickly)
¾ teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon almond extract
  1. Sift the flour 5 or 6 times and set aside.
  2. Add salt to egg whites and whisk by hand (medium speed of mixer using whisk attachment) until whites become foamy/frothy.
  3. Add cream of tarter; then sprinkle sifted sugar, by the spoonful, over egg whites beating until stiff peaks form—peaks that hold their shape. For those beating the mixture by hand, Fred's recipe says, “Beat in the same direction." (Or, medium to medium-high speed of electric mixer using whisk attachment.)
  4. Once sugar is incorporated and white from stiff peaks, add flavoring and then begin sifting flour into the egg-sugar mixture (I spooned in the sifted flour a couple of tablespoons at a time); carefully fold in to incorporate the flour without deflating egg white mixture. When folding in, Fred's recipe instructs, "Go down anywhere with spoon (I used a silicon spatula) but always bring it up on the edge when folding ingredients in. Always fold-in ingredients in the same direction.”
  5. Carefully spoon batter into and ungreased angel food pan (a 2-part tube pan insures easy cake removal), and gently smooth top. 
  6. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours in preheated 275° oven; check for doneness with a wooden toothpick. The toothpick should come out clean.
  7. Once out of oven, immediately turn angel food cake upside down to cool.
    We covered a slice of Fred's Angel Food Cake with homemade chocolate sauce, coconut whipped cream and sliced strawberries for our Valentines Day dessert. 

Chocolate Sauce made with coconut milk

Chocolate Sauce made with coconut milk seemed like the solution to a no cholesterol sauce for a homemade angel food cake I made for Valentines Day; its also a solution to lactose intolerance issues. I found this recipe at vegan.com.





Chocolate Sauce made with coconut milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (unsweetened) cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk the sugar and cocoa powder together in a saucepan -- the sugar will mix with the starch in the cocoa and this avoids lumping problems.
  2. Add coconut milk and whisk.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat until the sauce begins to simmer. Lower heat slightly and continue to heat for 10 minutes, stirring almost constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and add coconut oil and vanilla.
  5. Allow sauce to cool to room temperature then store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. The sauce does thicken as it cools.
Recipe without photos . . .
Chocolate Sauce made with coconut milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup (unsweetened) cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
2 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Whisk the sugar and cocoa powder together in a saucepan -- the sugar will mix with the starch in the cocoa and this avoids lumping problems.
  2. Add coconut milk and whisk.
  3. Heat the mixture over medium heat until the sauce begins to simmer. Lower heat slightly and continue to heat for 10 minutes, stirring almost constantly.
  4. Remove from heat and add coconut oil and vanilla.
  5. Allow sauce to cool to room temperature then store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. The sauce does thicken as it cools.

Sicilian Chicken Soup - Yum!

We served our soup with freshly baked
Almost No-Knead Oat Bread.
Crissy Cook, manager at Abilene’s Elks Club, offered Sicilian Chicken Soup at the club recently. Is was SO good that Barry and I just had to have more. An internet search lead me to a recipe from Carrabba's Italian Grill's,  "Recipes from Around Our Family Table,” that I used as a guide when making this colorful and flavorful soup. It’s delicious!
By the way, Crissy has been offering a soup on Wednesday nights . . . and they are always YUMMY. 

Sicilian Chicken Soup     About 6 to 8 servings   
About 2 to 3 lbs. chicken parts (breasts, thighs, etc. – your preference)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 to 6 cups+ chicken broth (could use part water)
2 to 3 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning+
2 to 3 tablespoons dried parsley+ or about ¼ cup minced flat-leaf Italian parsley+
½  yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
½ to 1 orange or red bell peppers, diced
1 large russet potatoes, peeled & diced                       
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
About 1 cup acini di pepe pasta
  1. To a large soup pot, add chicken parts, tomatoes and at least enough chicken broth to cover chicken. Season with dried Italian seasoning and dried parsley (if using fresh parsley, wait and add it near the end of cooking time). Add lid and cook over low to medium heat until chicken is fall off the bone tender, about 45 minutes. Remove chicken and separate bones from meat; chop and re-add to soup base.
  2. Add onion, garlic, peppers, celery and carrots; continue to cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and cook until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Check seasonings adding salt and pepper as needed + additional parsley and Italian seasonings as needed. Add more liquid (chicken broth or water) as needed so there will enough to cook the pasta.
  4. During last 5 to 8 minutes of cooking time, just before ready to serve, add pasta and cook just until tender.
Recipe without photos . . .
Sicilian Chicken Soup     About 6 to 8 servings    
About 2 to 3 lbs. chicken parts (breasts, thighs, etc. – your preference)
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
4 to 6 cups+ chicken broth (could use part water)
2 to 3 tablespoons dried Italian seasoning+
2 to 3 tablespoons dried parsley+ or about ¼ cup minced flat-leaf Italian parsley+ 
½  yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
½ to 1 orange or red bell peppers, diced
1 large russet potatoes, peeled & diced                       
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
About 1 cup acini di pepe pasta
  1. To a large soup pot, add chicken parts, tomatoes and at least enough chicken broth to cover chicken. Season with dried Italian seasoning and dried parsley (if using fresh parsley, wait and add it near the end of cooking time). Add lid and cook over low to medium heat until chicken is fall off the bone tender, about 45 minutes.Remove chicken and separate bones from meat; chop and re-add to soup base.
  2. Add onion, garlic, peppers, celery and carrots; continue to cook until vegetables are almost tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add potatoes and cook until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Check seasonings adding salt and pepper as needed + additional parsley and Italian seasonings as needed. Add more liquid (chicken broth or water) as needed so there will enough to cook the pasta.
  4. During last 5 to 8 minutes of cooking time, just before ready to serve, add pasta and cook just until tender.

Bean Stew over Creamy Polenta

A savory bean stew (with lots of greens stirred in at the end) severed over creamy polenta. Healthy. Hearty. 

Bean Stew over Creamy Polenta   4 to 6+ servings
1/2 lb. (about 1 1/8 cups) dried red beans, rinsed and soaked overnight  (other types of beans could be substituted)
5 cups water
1 large bay leaf
About 10 thyme sprigs, tied together
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 handfuls kale, stripped from stem & chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 small Russet potato, peeled & grated (this will thicken broth to a stew-like consistency)
Creamy Polenta 
Grated Parmesan for serving
Chopped green (spring) onions for serving
  1. To cook dried beans: Rinse beans and place in a large, heavy pot. Add water to cover by 1 to 1 1/2". Over medium-heat, bring to a gentle boil and skim away any foam that form.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 1 to 2 hours or until beans are tender.
  2. To the cooked beans, add  veggies (onion, carrot, garlic), chopped kale, salt, red pepper flakes and tomato paste. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until kale is cooked and veggies are tender.


  3. Add grated potato and cook stew until potato is tender and has thickened broth to a stew-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as stew is simmering.

  4. To serve: Spoon bean stew over creamy polenta and top with Parmesan and green onions.
Recipe without photos . . .
Bean Stew over Creamy Polenta   4 to 6+ servings
1/2 lb. (about 1 1/8 cups) dried red beans, rinsed and soaked overnight  (other types of beans could be substituted)
5 cups water
1 large bay leaf
About 10 thyme sprigs, tied together
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 to 3 handfuls kale, stripped from stem & chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 small Russet potato, peeled & grated (this will thicken broth to a stew-like consistency)
Creamy Polenta 
Grated Parmesan for serving
Chopped green (spring) onions for serving
  1. To cook dried beans: Rinse beans and place in a large, heavy pot. Add water to cover by 1 to 1 1/2". Over medium-heat, bring to a gentle boil and skim away any foam that form.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 1 to 2 hours or until beans are tender.
  2. To the cooked beans, add cooked veggies (onion, carrot, garlic), chopped kale, salt, red pepper flakes and tomato paste. Cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until kale is cooked and veggies are tender.
  3. Add grated potato and cook stew until potato is tender and has thickened broth to a stew-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning as stew is simmering.
  4. To serve: Spoon bean stew over creamy polenta and top with Parmesan and green onions.