celebration & no-bake chocolate ganache tarte

Happy Birthday Daddy!
turtle ganache tart

celebrations are fun. we celebrated noah’s birthday last night with christmas leftovers turned into a salad (bacon, ham, bleu cheese & pecan) and a turtle tart–dark chocolate ganache on an almond-praline crust.  A nice quiet birthday in after all the running around for christmas was just what noah wanted… and some time to play grand theft auto on his new toy :)
this chocolate ganache no-bake tart was super easy to make. you need 3 bars of dark chocolate, half a quart of heavy whipping cream, one cup of praline pecans or spiced nuts (reserved some for topping), 1/2 a cup of sliced almonds, 3/4 stick of butter (melted) and caramel sauce for the topping.
  • in a double boiler (with about 2 inches of water at a low boil in the bottom part), pour in the heavy cream. chop up the chocolate and stir til its melted. you can add a bit more cream if it starts to get too thick.  when combined, remove from heat. this is your ganache. let it cool slightly.
  • next, in a food processor combine the nuts and melted butter until finely ground and slightly doughy.  press in to the bottom of a tart pan. a small spring form tart pan would be ideal, but I used a ceramic one and it worked as well.
  • time to pour the ganache on the tart crust, smooth it out and lick the pot clean. top with caramel sauce and some leftover pralines. chill in the fridge or freezer, it will set to the texture of a truffle. i mean, basically, we are making a giant flat truffle here.  what could be better? the birthday boy approved.
make a wish

pumpkin-cranberry-almond loaf


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.


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.


Celeriac and Turnip Puree


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.


Celeriac & Turnip Puree


  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


  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.


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




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!

Chicken, Ham & Swiss Roulade

………..or Chicken Cordon Bleu. One of my favorite dishes as a kid. Tender chicken, creamy cheese, sweet ham… what a great combination.
chicken cordon bleu
I tried making this version today, and it turned out excellent.   Grain and gluten free, but you really wouldn’t know it unless told. This is such a filling dish, you really only need a side salad, or maybe some steamed broccoli to go with it.  I had one for lunch on it’s own, and was completely  satisfied. Maggie gobbled down half of one. Success. I will be definitely making this again!


also: we have a cat in the house. luckily, I don’t seem to be allergic to this breed.

Duct tape + Head Band + Eye Liner = Insta-Kitty. Meow!


welcoming autumn. and a spinach & cheese pie.


ready for fall

Of course, the weather was in the 80’s today…. but no matter, this warm weather is slowly and surely starting to fade. To be replaced with chilly breezes, some grey skies, and crisp orange leaves.  What could be better?

We started off our first day of autumn with a savory fritatta, it reminded me so much of spanokopita.  We do a lot of spur-of-the-moment cooking around here, so we have a lot of frozen produce. Keeping easy to cook frozen vegetables stocked makes throwing together dishes a lot easier.


To make this spinach and cheese fritatta, melt 1/2 a stick of butter on a large non-stick skillet (this makes these much easier when it’s time to remove the fritatta).  Preheat the oven to about 400F. Cook about a 2 cups of chopped frozen spinach, and one diced onion (or the frozen equivalent) at medium-high heat until soft and the onion start to be come golden on the edges and spinach is defrosted.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of garlic powder (or minced garlic) on top of the mixture, and stir well. Meanwhile, whisk 9 or so eggs in a bowl, season with salt andpepper, then pour on top of spinach mixture.  You can lift the edges as if cooking an omelet, but give it some time just heat the bottom and the edges of the fritatta. You can now chop up some of your favorite cheeses and it add to the pan. I used extra sharp tillamook cheddar, and a some shredded mozarella, but a sharp sheep’s milk feta would taste excellent with this as well.   Finally, sprinkle the top of the fritatta with some parmesean, some extra garlic powder, black pepper and  a drizzle of olive oil.  It should be partially set now, and will puff up in the oven.  I cooked mine for about 20 minutes, so the edges formed their own crust, and the top turned crunchy and golden.  Serve with your favorite sausages, or fresh salad if serving as lunch.

rootsthe glorious turnip.

I also love all the gorgeous root vegetables of the colder seasons.  Rutabaga (or swede), turnips, parsnips, and celeriac are the stars in our kitchen. I will be doing some posts this fall about some of my favorite root veg dishes.  Packed with nutrients, lower in starch and carbohydrates, mashed, pureed, roasted…. these guys rock.  So, stay tuned for some tasty recipes… and think outside the potato!


(my little turnip : )

not bread sticks

not bread sticks

Oh sure…. they might look like breadsticks. They might smell just like the kind from little caesar’s…….. they might even TASTE somewhat bread-like and they are definitely stick-shaped.  But really… honest to goodness,  this is CAULIFLOWER.  Someone much cleverer than I came up with this gluten-free recipe for garlic bread sticks.  Check out the recipe for Cauliflower Pizza Dough & “Bread” Sticks here.

not bread sticks

chocolate covered cherries

chocolate covered cherries.
we had a loooooooovely valentines weekend. noah and I saw Valentine’s Day (cute, not amazing, no surprise there though). and we had a nice dinner at cracker barrel, I had spicy catfish and he had steak. I love the turnip greens there. we even shared a bowl of sugar-free ice cream. …. maggie had a date with her grandma, they made brownies and did “cooking and baking” in the bathroom sink. too funny. we had hoped to take maggie to our local paleontology museum– the Burpee Museum— but she passed out on the way there, so we just let her sleep.

burpee museum
just call her elton john

so the chocolate covered cherries turned out really yummy. I used a lot of coconut oil so they start to melt pretty fast at room temperature, but that was okay with us….. just meant we had to eat them faster :)

chocolate covered cherriesIMG_0198

These are really pretty simple to make. All you need is love. Just kidding. Get a bag of frozen cherries and let them defrost, or microwave so there very soggy and delicious. It’s probably a good idea to snack on some au naturale. Cherries rock. You also need dark chocolate, I used one bar 100% ghiradelli baking chocolate, and then sweetened it on my own with sugar free maple syrup. This makes for super intense grown-up bon-bons.  You could definitely use anything from 60% on up, and just sweeten ’til it tastes right.  I also used 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, you could probably use 1 tablespoon of butter instead, and melted it all in a double boiler (or a microwave, frequently stopping and stirring).

Then you get your self one of these handy little chocolate molds… they come in all shapes and sizes, and even specific cherry bon-bon ones.  I  found mine in the baking/confectionery section of a craft store.  So you take a little bit of the chocolate mixture and either paint it on the bottom of the mold, or be careful and use a spoon to drop just a bit in.  Then chill it in you fridge or freezer just ’til it sets.   With the coconut oil, this doesn’t take very long. Next, add your defrosted cherries (one in each), and a bit of the juice from the bag.  You could also use canned cherries and their syrup, but I was after low-sugar variation of the classic.  Cover the cherries with the remaining and chocolate and chill again.  I has enough chocolate left over to make two batches, but decided to make truffles with the rest of it.

my valentine approved. :)

chocolat bon bon

mom’s cheese pie.

cheeeeeeese. cake.
“Mom’s cheese pie.” sounds pretty quaint, right? well I didn’t grow up with this recipe, my mom didn’t make it, it’s pretty random.  and unfortunately I think overdosed on it, because I’ve got a wicked headache right now. I have to be careful about my dairy consumption, unfortunately. this tasted amazing. oooh, and I had to try it out in chocolate too. so that’s sitting in the fridge. looks like I’ve signed up for a couple more headaches this week.
mom's cheese pie.
recipe here.

fondue au chocolat- noir arôme caramel, with berries and roasted chestnuts

When we were in Paris we happened upon a new little chocolate boutique that had just opened up. (Aux Anysetiers du Roy, 45 Boulevard Saint-Germain 75005 Paris, France It was off of Boulvevard Saint-Germain, near the Marché maubert (18 Place Maubert 75005 Paris, France) which sells the best cooked sausages in the world (Charcuterie st Germain Traiteur: Tel We were only there 4 days yet we went there twice.  This is a fun place to wander around for sure, with the market, bookshops, cafes and movie theatres, it feels very Parisian…. probably because it is!

best. sausages. ever. Place Maubert Market.

Aren’t those guys gorgeous? I reccomend getting them wrapped up and eating them in Jardin du Luxembourg. That is one beautiful park, statues, flowers, the works.  And with a great playground for the little ones too, a carousel, ice cream etc… it’s a win for everyone.

jardin du luxembourgjardin du luxembourgjardin du luxembourgcarousel @ jardin du luxembourg

They also sell amazing baked goods at the boulangerie at the Maubert market. Witness:

amazing macaronsthe best brioche
I love edible souvenirs.

If you can’t pop over to Paris, or don’t want to order it from the internet, you could try making your own version of fondu au chocolat… We ate it with chestnuts and strawberries, though you could really dip anything into this and it would taste awesome. Fingers included :)

fondue au chocolat- noir arôme caramel dark chocolate and caramel fondue

fondue au chocolat, with chestnuts and berries

  • 14 ounces organic heavy cream
  • 1 jar (12 oz) caramel (or sugar-free caramel) topping
  • 3 ounces unsweetened or high % dark chocolate, chopped
  • Assorted fresh fruit and/or roasted chestnuts


  • In a large saucepan or double boiler, combine the heavy cream, caramel topping and chocolate. Cook over low heat until chocolate is melted. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with berries and/or roasted chestnuts. Yield: 2-1/2 cups.

To view locations from this go here :
View Aux Anysetiers du Roy in a larger map