four!

IMG_1584
Magnolia turned FOUR on Saturday! Holy cow. We had such a great weekend with friends and family.  Time sure flies when you’re having fun. We love you Maggie!
IMG_1579

pumpkin-cranberry-almond loaf

IMG_0973

It’s the Great Pumpkin Loaf, Charlie, Brown!
Last week, my mom, Maggie & I had cupcakes from Sprinkles. I had their November-Only pumpkin cupcake, fresh from the oven. Moist, not to sweet, slightly spicy.  Yum. Research and all that, you know? So, this…. well, it rules! Inspired by that delicious little cupcake, I made this loaf to fulfill all my cozy, fall, sweet-toothed needs. This is like a cross between banana bread and pumpkin pie.  I love it when a new recipe turns out perfect the first time around,  I will be making this more for sure.

IMG_0971IMG_0955

Pumpkin Cranberry Almond Loaf
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or home-made)
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water and drained
  • 1 c. granulated Splenda or sweetener of choice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice or 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
Lightly butter or oil a loaf pan or foil tin. Beat pumpkin puree, Splenda, baking powder, vanilla, spice and salt until well blended. Beat in the in eggs and almond flour, then fold in the cranberries. Pour into  the pan and bake at 300º 60-75 minutes, until cake pulls away from sides of pan a bit and toothpick comes out clean.  It was ready in my oven @ 75 minutes.  This is a very lenient batter, the moistness from the pumpkin makes it hard to over-bake. Cool the loaf in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then tip on to rack for further cooling before slicing. Serve with fresh whipped cream and caramel sauce for an extra decadent dessert! You should store it in the fridge or freezer…. if you and your guests don’t eat it all up in the course of a few hours!

*

ps. I jogged with Rod Blagojevich yesterday.  He lives in my part of town. True story. I wonder if he’d enjoy my pumpkin loaf?
pps. I am working on spiffying up our tiny rental kitchen, where all the madness (yes–madness, we don’t have a dishwasher! or counter space!) takes place.  I’m thinking I’ll be posting some before and afters soon.

IMG_9966

tricky treats

*

“Oh, my twitchy witchy girl, I think you are so nice. I give you bowls of porridge and I give you bowls of ice…. cream!”* Well, Halloween was a lot of fun.  Turns out, we live in an awesome neighborhood for trick-or-treating.  Not only do our neighbors go all out with candy and spooky decor, they set out bonfires and offer booze to the adults!  I have never seen that before, sure makes it all more fun (and warm!) for everyone.

my witchy witchy girl

IMG_9816 IMG_9811 IMG_9874

*

But of course, the copious amounts of sugar Maggie consumed in a three day period has resulted in a cold.  So, it’s back to the nourishing basics for us– fruit, vegetables, meat , nuts, and….. pumpkin! That’s a seasonal delight that I can stand behind 100%. Here’s a sneak peak of an almond flour, pumpkin cranberry loaf I made today… I’ll post the recipe soon!
IMG_0963
* one of my favorite lines from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. :)

a walk in the park

 

*

The obligatory nature-themed autumn post! Won’t you come with us on a walk to our neighborhood park–Winnemac Park–on a lovely fall day?  I especially recommend this song while you walk with us. =D

*
on winnemac
imprintwinnemac sunlightleaf framewinnemac parkweepingcollecting leaveswinnemac parkfencecolor

Have a great Halloween weekend, everyone!

Celeriac and Turnip Puree

IMG_0304IMG_0317

I said I was going to post about some of my favorite root vegetable dishes this fall, and now I am making good on my word.  This is a creamy puree that works well with roast meat, braised pork, and crispy poultry. Or even just on it’s own with a big spoon =)  A nice alternative to starchy mashed potatoes, it could also be easily turned into a soup with the addition of a little more cream and chicken or vegetable stock.  Like most of my cooking, I made this recipe up as I went a long. I found similar and reliable recipe on the Food&Wine website and have posted it below with my alterations.

IMG_0311

Celeriac & Turnip Puree

INGREDIENTS

  1. One 1-pound celery root, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  2. 1 pound medium turnips, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
  3. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  4. Kosher salt
  5. 1/4 cup whole milk (I used cream), warmed
  6. Freshly ground pepper
  7. I added 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large saucepan, add the celery root and turnips (and garlic) and just enough cold water to cover; bring to a boil. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the unsalted butter and 2 teaspoons of salt. Reduce the heat to moderate and simmer until the celery root and turnips are tender and the cooking liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup, about 35 minutes.
  2. Transfer the vegetables and their cooking liquid to a food processor and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the milk (cream) and process until smooth. Season the celery root–turnip puree with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and serve.

MAKE AHEAD

The celery root and turnip puree can be refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently before serving.

IMG_0308IMG_0316

************

IMG_0613

In other news, we will be leaving shortly for a little scenic drive up the North Shore (Skokie Lagoons, Sheridan Road maybe?) to pick up some furniture. And hopefully see a little fall color while we’re at it! Our little apartment is really starting to shape up.  My mom will be here for a week, and I am going to enlist her in helping me get it organized and pretty (she is the best at this, I have much to learn from her!), and hopefully take some photos for a little home tour!

halloween preparations

IMG_0510

Maggie and I have been having fun preparing for Halloween.  Such a goofy holiday.  I like the socialist undertones of it all, I have to say… if only we could get people to chip in for healthcare like we do for candy! The irony.  But, I’ll save that kind of talk for the pundits! Let’s get back to pumpkins, ghouls and high fructose corn syrup…

 

that's a lollypoppumpkin funbeware the bathroomIMG_0671

{watch out for this guy, he moves around a lot.}

So far, we have decorated our windows (Maggie’s request) with paper ghosts and bats.  We have painted and markered many pumpkins.  We have not one, but two Halloween costumes.  Candy has been purchased (I made sure to get a bag of Lindt truffles for me and Noah. Mostly for me).  Goody bags have been made for Noah’s music students (complete with a tricky plastic critter hiding amongst the candy!).  All that’s left is to carve some actual pumpkins, sit back and watch some creepy movies (so many on TV this week!), wait for Grandma to arrive on Saturday (can’t wait!!), and go trick’or treating on Sunday.

IMG_0546IMG_0663
IMG_0571
IMG_0511
maggie's jack'o lanterns

What’s also great about this holiday is the lack of stress involved.  With no elaborate plans or meals needing to be made, you can just enjoy the magic of it all.  It’s a good warm-up for the Big Holidays of November and December… which I have to say ARE my favorite (no pain, no gain?)

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek of our not-so-Haunted House!

 

afternoon play

1 little monkey jumping on the bed.
IMG_0420
still need to try and get the colored pencil off the wall... oops.

dress up and dancing, jumping and giggling, card-making and letter writing, measuring and mischief-making…

rest & recovery,  then let’s do it all again!

rest & recovery,  then let’s do it all again!

portrait of a Tudor lady.

portrait: princess elizabeth I

Maggie has been having fun today dressing up as Princess Elizabeth I.  We were out doing some warm weather shopping, and stopped into a TJMaxx to use a gift card.  I was planning on getting a sweater, but we ended up leaving with this instead.  I think it was a wise decision.

drawing princess elizabeth I

Maggie asked me about the dress, I told her it was very similar to the Tudor style of clothes.  We did some googling and found that picture of  Queen Elizabeth I as a girl, with a very similar gown. We had a lot of fun drawing her!
princess elizabeth I

In London we visited Tudor Galleries at the wonderful National Portrait Gallery (right next to the National Gallery).  They have an online gallery here, were you can see a lot of great Tudor Portraits.  The styling and details are exquisite and moody. Just like Henry VIII!  Last summer, we visited one of the Tudor palaces, Hampton Court. And when we lived in Greenwich, the park was one of our favorite places to spend our days, where about 500 years ago, a young Elizabeth also spent her days.  There are even mighty oaks still there that saw it all go down.  So, I’m a bit attached to the Tudors and their legacy.  Their affects on culture and society are still felt today.  I am loving getting to explore this stuff with my princess-loving little girl. Now… I just need to get a copy of the Showtime series The Tudors for Maggie to watch……… just kidding =D