“Knock Your Socks Off” Sweet Potato Gnocchi

OMG. That’s all I can say. I was so happy when I made these and they turned out well.

Back when I was 18, it was St. Patrick’s Day and we were celebrating by making traditional Irish dishes (I think my friend Ron was making a stew) and some not so traditional Irish dishes (gnocchi – but hey, it has potato). That’s me in the back, circa 1996. You do the math 😉 Anyhow, the gnocchi did not turn out well. Ever since, I have been waiting to remake gnocchi – successfully.

Making gnocchi circa 1996

Making gnocchi is time consuming. And it’s not making the dough that’s the tough part, but rather the making of the gnocchi. To get those perfect little ridges, you have to press each piece onto the tines of a fork and roll them into the dumpling. 208 pieces later……you get the idea.

The sweet potatoes need about 30-40 minutes to bake, another 45 minutes to cool. Prep time for me for the gnocchi was, well about 2 hours. Granted, I wasn’t rushing and I was working alone and I made 200+ pieces of gnocchi. I’m sure that amount of time could be cut down. I started the potatoes in the morning and finished the dough and gnocchi later in the afternoon.

Expect leftovers with this recipe, or simply scale accordingly.

For this recipe, you will need:

Ingredients - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1-2 T. olive oil
10 oz. ricotta cheese
1 oz. parmesan cheese (grated)
3 t. + 2 T. coarse sea salt
1 1/2 c. all purpose gluten free flour (like Glutino)
1 1/4 c. brown rice flour
3 T. ground chia seeds
Tapioca flour for dusting paper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Measure out your ricotta cheese and set aside in a dish.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and drizzle 1-2 T. of olive oil onto the paper. Sprinkle with salt.

Baking Sheet - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Cut the sweet potatoes in half and place face down onto the baking sheet.

Bake until tender when pierced with a fork.

Set aside and allow the sweet potato halves to cool until they are cool enough to handle with your hands.

Tatoes 2 - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Drain off any liquid from the ricotta cheese.

Scoop the meat of the potatoes (absolutely no skins or hard bits) into a large bowl.

Scooped - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Mash! Believe it or not, I did not use the food processor for this recipe. I only used a hand masher. If you have a potato ricer, even better.

Mashed tatoes - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Add the ricotta cheese to the mashed potatoes and blend with the masher.

Cheesy Mashed Tatoes - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Next, add the parmesan cheese…

Parmesan Cheese - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

…and mash to blend.

Mix together your dry ingredients in a small bowl – salt, flours, chia seed. Add the flour mixture to the mashed potatoes 1/2 c. at a time and mix well with the masher.

Adding flour - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

The dough is coming along - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Almost there - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Once you can form a soft dough (and note, I used all of my flour exactly), place the ball of dough onto a well floured piece of parchment paper or wax paper. I dusted my paper with tapioca flour.

Ball of dough - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Cut your dough ball into 6 pieces. I ended up using two pieces of parchment paper…I had a lot of dough.

Pieces of dough - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Roll the pieces of dough into a long “rope” – about 1 inch thick, and cut into 1″ pieces (like on the left above).

To make the gnocchi dumplings, press one 1″ piece of dough gently onto the tines of a fork with your thumb.

Pressing the dough - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Now gently roll one end of the dough until it touches the other.

Rolling the dough - Sweet Potato Gnocchi

Set aside onto the floured paper and repeat until all of the dough has been made into dumplings!

Sea of sweet potato gnocchi

Now to cook the gnocchi, take a large pot and fill 3/4 with water. Add 2 T. of salt to the water and bring to a boil.

Add the gnocchi (about 20 at a time) into the boiling water. They’ll initially sink to the bottom. Once they rise to the top, let them cook another 2 minutes.

Cooking the gnocchi - sweet potato gnocchi

Remove from the water and allow them to drain. I set them aside in a colander. Continue until all of the gnocchi have been cooked.

I finished the gnocchi off in some pesto sauce, heated in a small saucepan. Heat the pesto sauce on medium-high heat. Add the gnocchi and toss. Cook until the gnocchi have browned just a bit.

Cooking with pesto sauce - sweet potato gnocchi

Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and pine nuts.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Pesto Sauce

And mangia!

– Nicole

You can freeze the leftover gnocchi for later. Just reheat in boiling water or pan fry. You can serve these with a browned butter sage sauce, spicy marinara, or a sweet maple cinnamon butter sauce. They are pretty versatile 🙂 Not to mention delicious 😉

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Simple Divinity – Kasia’s Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless chocolate cake has become one of my favorite desserts this past year. Partly, because my chef friend (Tony) makes amazing flourless chocolate cake and would serve it on occasion when we came over for Sunday dinner – what a wonderful gluten-free dessert! And partly because it’s so simple to make, but looks simply elegant. Turns out it is my friend Kasia’s favorite cake as of late, and now a birthday tradition.

It’s going to change your life once you realize how easy it is to make this. And then you’ll want to make it ALL the time 😉

It takes about 15 minutes to make the cake “batter”, another 5 hours to allow the cake to set, and another 15-45 minutes to bake the cake. Why such a large range for baking times? Well, it really depends on the size container you bake it in. If you bake it in little ramikins, it will only take about 15-20 minutes to bake. If you bake it in a cake pan, it will bake upwards of 45 minutes.

For this recipe, you will need:

Ingredients - Chocolate Flourless Cake

Wax paper or parchment paper to line the bottom of your cake pan
200 g of at least 64% chocolate (that’s two chocolate bars, dark chocolate, the darker the better)
5 eggs, separated
1 stick of salted butter (1/2 c.)
1/2 c. of cane sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. coarse sea salt
some extra pieces/morsels of chocolate for the center of each cake
powdered sugar for garnish
fresh fruit (dark berries) for garnish

First, grease your cake pan (I am a fan of the coconut oil spray).

Greased cake pan - Chocolate Flourless Chocolate Cake

Trace a circle on the wax paper or parchment paper with the bottom of your cake pan. Cut out the circle and line the bottom of the cake pan. Spray the bottom with a bit of extra oil spray, just for good measure.

Lined Cake Pan - Chocolate Flourless Cake

Next, melt together the stick of butter and the bars of chocolate (broken into small pieces). There are three was you can melt the chocolate and butter: 1) double boiler, 2) carefully in a small saucepan, or 3) carefully in the microwave. All three work – this is really dependent on whether or not you have a double boiler and whether or not you have a microwave.

The point is, carefully melt the chocolate and butter, without scorching the chocolate or browning the butter, i.e. heat gradually, watch, and stir frequently. The mixture should be smooth in texture, no lumps.

Melted chocolate and butter - Chocolate Flourless Cake

Set aside, and allow the butter and chocolate mixture to come to room temperature.

Next, add the egg whites to a high mixing bowl and whip them until softly formed peaks hold.


Add the sugar and continue to whip until medium peaks form – see below.

Meringue - Flourless Chocolate Cake

That shot was not taken at precisely the right moment to capture the stream of meringue – the peak simply formed as I pulled the whisk out of the bowl and held. That’s what I mean by medium peaks. They hold firm, but still look soft.

By now, your butter chocolate mixture should be cooled to room temperature. But check it first. If it’s too hot, it will curdle during the next step……so, if you need to, put it in the fridge for a bit to speed up the cooling process.

Add a bit of the chocolate mixture to your egg yolks and mix until blended. Add a bit more and blend.

Yolks with chocolate - Chocolate Flourless cake

You’re increasing the temperature of the yolks slowly, so that they will not actually cook when you add them to the chocolate mixture.

Add the yolk mixture to the chocolate and mix until well blended. The mixture will thicken and darken in color. Add 1 t. vanilla and 1 t. salt and mix.

By hand, gently fold the chocolate/yolk mixture into the meringue. This step requires some elbow grease. What happens if you blend with a mixer? You’ll ruin the soft structure that the meringue is providing in this cake, so no short cuts 😉

Folding in the chocolate - Chocolate Flourless Cake

Once the “batter” is well mixed, place 1/2 into the bottom of your lined, greased cake pan. Add the extra chocolate morsels, and then cover with the remaining batter.

Filled cake pan - Chocolate Flourless Cake

Tap the cake pan on the counter to smooth the top and get rid of any big bubbles.

Ready to bake - Chocolate Flourless Cake

Place the pan in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours to set. You can just as easily make the day before and allow it to set in the fridge overnight. This step is pretty important. I’ve made this several times, and allowing it to set is critical.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Once your oven reaches temperature, place the cake pan in the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes.

The cake will start to pull away from the sides of the cake pan, and a toothpick, when inserted into the center of cake, will come out clean. I also find that the aroma of a chocolate becomes very rich when the cake is about done. Keep your eye on this cake when you’re at the last 10 minutes or so – overcooked and it becomes too firm with browned edges.

Baked - Chocolate Flourless Cake

Allow the cake to cool.

If I had used a spring foam pan, I could have simply opened up the pan and served the cake on the bottom of the spring foam pan. For the cake pan, place your serving plate over the cake pan and flip.

Flipped - Chocolate Flourless Cake

The cake should simply drop out of the cake pan onto the plate. Remove the wax paper or parchment paper liner from the top.

Next, I used a metal strainer to dust with confectioner’s sugar. Place 2 T. of confectioner’s sugar into the bottom of the strainer. Over the cake, tap the strainer to dust.

I also garnished with some strawberry slices. Raspberries and blackberries work just as well.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Serve and enjoy!

– Nicole

P.S. Change up this recipe by using different chocolate. You could also coat with a chocolate grenache or caramel drizzle. You could also dot the center with pieces of white chocolate, sea salt caramels, or peanut butter chips for a fun surprise in the center 🙂

Also, if you want this to be completely dairy free, substitute a refined coconut oil for the butter; it does the trick 🙂

Want to make this for a friend that can’t have a lot of sugar? You can substitute with Splenda – one to one substitution for the cane sugar.

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“Pucker Up” Persimmon Bars

I was grocery shopping a few weeks ago and saw persimmons on sale. I’ve never worked with, much less tasted a persimmon before, so of course my interest was piqued 😉

What is a persimmon? It’s actually the fruit of the Diospyros tree and varies in hue from yellow-orange to red-orange. While they look similar in shape to a tomato, their flavor profile resembles dates when ripe. The Asian varieties of persimmons are considered “astringent”, and have high levels of tannins in their fruit that only soften as they ripen. “Non-astringent” persimmons are fairly sweet, even when not completely ripe, with lower levels of tannins in the fruit; the American persimmon, Black persimmon, and Mexican persimmon fall into this category.

I was actually hoping that the fruit was going to be astringent, but the persimmon variety I bought (Bouquet) most definitely tasted like dates, with no astringency. I was thinking lemon bars but with persimmons.

Well, that’s kind of what happened here. I was super pleased with the shortbread that served for the crust, and used the persimmons as my sugar for the curd.

Note, this is not a quick recipe. You’ll need to make it one day ahead of time because it needs to set overnight, so keep that in mind 😉

For this recipe, you will need:

Shortbread Crust

Shortbread ingredients - Pucker Up Persimmon Bars

3/4 c. Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour
1 c. brown rice flour
10 T. unsalted butter, soft and cut into about 1″ pieces
2 T. cane sugar
2 T. powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Add the sugars to a food processor and make a fine powder. Add the butter and cream.

Creamed butter and sugar - Pucker Up Bars Then add flour, in 2 additions, until no dry flour is visible.

Shortbread Batter 1Shortbread Batter 2

Shortbread Batter 3

Then, using your hands, knead the dough on wax paper.

Shortbread Dough

How will you know when you’re done kneading the dough? The dough will be smooth and well mixed.

Line a baking pan (13″ x 9″) with aluminum foil. Press the dough into the bottom of the baking pan, trying to ensure consistent thickness throughout.

Shortbread Ready to Bake

Bake the shortbread for about 35 minutes – until slightly golden, but not browned.

Baked Shortbread

Allow the shortbread to cool. I wanted to speed up the cooling process so I threw the shortbread into the refrigerator while I made the curd.

This shortbread recipe tastes amazing. It’s buttery and crumbles perfectly when you bite into it. I’d use this for regular shortbread cookies, not just as a crust. Note, for the cookies, roll out the dough with rolling pin and cut out the cookies with your favorite cookie cutter 🙂

Now, onto the Persimmon and Lemon Curd topping…

For this recipe, you will need:

3 persimmons (I used Bouquet – Spanish)
2 blood oranges
3 lemons
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. ground ginger
2 pinches of cardamom
8 egg yolks
5 T. butter

First, zest the oranges and lemons.

Zesty Zesty Zest Zest - Pucker Up Persimmon Bars

Then, juice the oranges and lemons. Be sure to juice through a strainer to prevent any pulp in your curd.

Citrus juice - Pucker Up Persimmon Bars Next, quarter the persimmons. Cut off the peel and clean away the center of the  persimmons. The pile on the left is what goes onto the food processor. The middle pile is the peel of the persimmon, and the pile on the right is the center of the persimmon.

Persimmon Prep - Pucker Up Persimmon Bars

Blend the persimmons in a food processor or blender for 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be velvety smooth. Note, 3 persimmons will make about one cup of persimmon puree.

Persimmon Puree - Pucker Up Persimmon Bars

Add the juice and blend. Then add the butter and blend. Next, add the ginger and salt and blend.

Finally, add the egg yolks and blend.

Transfer the mixture from the food processor or blender to a saucepan. Cook on low heat (absolutely no boiling or you will overcook the egg yolks) for about 10 minutes.

My curd started out as a lovely rose colored mixture, but as it cooked, it lightened in color and thickened. You’ll know it’s done cooking when you can make a streak through the middle of it if you coat the spoon. Check out this lemon curd recipe – it has a great photo demonstrating this test for doneness. You can also use a candy thermometer – when it reads 170 degrees F, your curd is cooked.

Curd - Pucker Up Persimmon Bars Now, once the curds starts to cool a bit, cover your shortbread. Gently shake the pan from side to side to smooth out the curd topping. Place in the refrigerator overnight to allow the curd topping to set.

In the Refrigerator to Cool and Set

Once it has set, you simply lift it out of the pan by lifting the aluminum foil from the pan.


Cut into squares or triangles and plate. Dust with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. I garnished with raspberries – they complemented it perfectly 🙂



– Nicole

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Ch-Ch-Chia Dirty Chai Cupcakes

It was my friend Jillian’s birthday and I wanted to bake her birthday cupcakes, but not the same type of cake and icing I had made the year (unless she had asked for it of course!). One of my employees had come back from a trip to India and had given me an amazing Marsala Chai. Let me tell you, we’ve got nothing on the real deal Indian chai. Since Monkey Man and I came back from India last December, I’ve been craving authentic Indian chai.

In cake terms, when I think chai cupcakes I think of a spiced-like cake. But I wanted it to have more dimension. And so the Dirty Chai cupcakes were born.

Because these were for Jillian, they had to be egg-free and gluten-free. And of course they had to taste great 😉 This recipe gave me the opportunity to make some of that amazing Marsala Chai from India. This recipe makes about 20 cupcakes.

For this cake recipe, you will need:

Ingredients - Dirty Chai Cupcakes

5 1/2 t. Ener-G egg replacer
6 T. water
1 c. honey
1 c. palm sugar
3/4 c. + 2 T. almond flour
1 1/2 c. coconut flour
1 c. tapioca flour
1 t. baking powder
3 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
2 T. ground chai seed
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground cloves
2 pinches of cardamom
4 t. Marsala chai tea, loose
1 1/2 c. almond milk
1 c. canola oil

For the icing, you will need:

4 c. powdered sugar (with tapioca flour, not corn starch)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. ghee (softened)
1/4 c. coconut oil (softened)
3/4 c. almond milk (almost boiling, steeped with  2 heaping T. Marsala chai)
2 T. instant coffee, ground
1 T. vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line at least 20 cupcake holders with paper liners.

First, in a large mixing bowl, add 4 1/2 t. of Ener-G and 6 T. of water. Whip until the mixture increases in volume.

Ener-G! - Dirty Chai Cupcakes

After the mixture increases in volume, add the honey and palm sugar. Continue to whip until very well mixed. Add another 1 T. Ener-G and beat for additional 2 minutes.

Sugar and Ener-G - Dirty Chai Cupcakes

Next, steep 4 t. of Marsala chia tea in 1 1/2 c. of almost boiling almond milk. I say almost boiling because the almond milk will start to break down at boiling temperatures.

Marsala Chai - Dirty Chai Cupcakes

And…..it’s really important when making chia tea. In fact, some people steep the tea twice by bringing the milk to a boil once, allowing to cool, and then bringing to a boil a second time. Again, because almond milk does not tolerate a boil well, you’ll need only bring it to an almost boil.

While the chai tea is cooling, mix the dry ingredients in another large bowl – almond flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chia seed, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and cardamom.

Dry ingredients - Dirty Chai Cupcakes

Add the milk to the sugar mixture. Then add the dry ingredients in two additions.

Batter - Dirty Chai Cupcakes

Add 1 c. canola oil and beat on medium-high for 2 minutes.

It’s important to beat for at least 2 minutes – you need to let the ground chia seed get “snotty”. This is what helps bind these ingredients for a nice, not-crumbly cupcake 😉

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way full and bake for 20-25 minutes. Be sure to confirm the doneness –  first, they’ll start smelling “done”; next, a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center of a cupcake in the center of the cupcake pan.

Cupcakes - Dirty Chai Cupcakes

Place the cupcakes on a wire rack and allow to completely cool before icing.

For the icing, steep the Marsala chai in almost boiling milk for at least 5 minutes. Add the ground instant coffee. Set aside.

Cream the ghee, coconut oil, vanilla, and salt. Then add the powdered sugar and milk mixture, alternating, until the icing is a smooth texture. Pipe onto the cupcakes.


Ch-Ch-Chia Dirty Chai Cupcakes

enjoy!!! I know I did 🙂 I hope you do too.

– Nicole


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Can’t Wait to Make it Again Clementine Cake

After watching “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” I became obsessed with clementine cake. In the movie, this cake travels all over the world and everyone loves it. Don’t worry, no plot spoilers here 🙂

So, I looked around online for a recipe – and there are a lot of clementine cakes recipes out there. Here’s one of the wonderful things about clementine cake – without altering the recipe at all it’s gluten-free. Amazing!!! This type of orange cake has roots in Mediterranean cultures, including Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and Sephardic Jew. It is a surprisingly moist and simply delicious cake. I’ve based this recipe on a combination of two recipes that I found – Clementine Cake by Nigella Lawson and Walter Mitty Clementine Cake by Cathy Merenda.

For this recipe, you will need:

Ingredients - Clementine Cake Cake
5 clementines, small
6 large eggs
3/4 c. cane sugar
1/2 c. palm sugar
2 t. vanilla
2 1/4 c. almond flour
1 heaping t. baking powder

6 clementines, small (enough for 1/2 c. juice)
3 T. soft butter
2 c. powdered sugar

Note, I used another 5 clementines to make candied clementine slices for garnish.

First, put the clementines for the cake an the gaze into a stockpot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer the clementines for approximately 1.5 hours.

Boiling clementines - Clementine Cake

Once the clementines are cooked, let them cool. I accelerated this process by placing them in the fridge.

Cooked clementines - Clementine Cake

Next, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare an 8″ or 9″ springfoam pan. Butter the pan and line with parchment paper.

Lined pan 1 - Clementine Cake

Lined pan 2 - Clementine Cake

Next, beat the eggs and sugar (cane and palm).

Eggs and sugar initially mixed - Clementine Cake

Continue to mix the eggs and sugar on medium speed until the mixture doubles in volume. The mixture should also lighten in color and have some structure.

Eggs and sugar mixture final - Clementine Cake

Once the clementines are cooled, chop them finely in a food processor. You can also do this by hand if you don’t have a food processor.

Chopped clementines - Clementine Cake

Combine the chopped clementines and the egg/sugar mixture. Add the almond flour, vanilla, and heaping teaspoon of baking powder and mix until combined.

Batter - Clementine Cake

Fill the lined spring foam pan and bake for 45 minutes – 1 hour.

Ready for the oven - Clementine Cake

The cake is done baking when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack.

Ready to Ice/Glaze - Clementine Cake

While the cake is cooling, make the icing/glaze. It’s really somewhere between an icing and a glaze. It has more structure than a glaze but is definitely not as thick as an icing. It’s delicate and the perfect complement to this cake.

First, juice 5-6 clementines. You need about 1/2 c. of clementine juice.

Clementine juice - Clementine Cake

In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and 1 c. of powdered sugar. Add 1/4 c. of the clementine juice and continue to mix. Mix in the remaining cup of powdered sugar. Finish the glaze by mixing in the remaining 1/4 c. of clementine juice.

Glaze - Clementine Cake

Once the cake has completely cooled, glaze the top of the cake. Let generous amounts of the glaze fall over the edge of the cake onto the sides.

If you were adventurous enough to make the candied clementine slices, garnish with them. In my opinion, they really make the cake.

Clementine Cake

This is cake is really such a treat, I am positive you will love it!

You can replace the clementines with lemons, or even a mixture of the two. Maybe even grapefruit 🙂 Use candied blood orange slices for a dramatic flair.

– Nicole

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“Feed the Flu” with Facile Potage Parmentie (Easy Potato and Leek Soup)

It’s that time of year when everyone is getting sick, with the flu as one of the number one culprits. I don’t know about you, but when I’m sick I crave hot soup. Lately, I’ve been craving potato and leek soup, so I thought it the perfect opportunity for this particular post.

This soup is fairly easy to make, inexpensive to make, and low calorie to boot. Win win all around with this one 🙂 And gluten-free, and egg-free, and nut-free, and soy-free, could be dairy-free. Mind you, it is not at all taste free!

For this recipe, you will need:

Facile Potage Parmentier - Ingredients

6 c. broth (your choice of chicken or vegetable – I used chicken)
1 lb. chopped leeks
1.5 lbs. potatoes (russet is recommended)
2 T. olive oil
5.3 oz. plain greek yogurt
3 t. lemon juice
2 t. salt
ground black pepper to taste
1/3 c. chopped parsley
garnish with sour cream (if desired)

First, cut the ends off of the leek (or leeks, depending on size) and then cut the leeks lengthwise. Chop into 1/2″ pieces. Cut the potatoes into 1/2″ – 1″ pieces.

Leeks and Potatoes - Facile Potage Parmentier

In a large stockpot, add 2 T. olive oil. On medium heat, add the chopped leek and potatoes and cook until slightly browned and tender (approximately 10 minutes).

In the pot - Facile Potage Parmentier

Next, add the broth and bring to a boil.

Soup is boiling - Facile Potage Parmentier

Once boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer the leeks and potatoes in the broth until the vegetable are tender (about 30-40 minutes). The amount of time is really dependent on the surface area of the bottom of your pot and the size of your chopped vegetables. If you use a pot with a larger surface area, the cooking time will be reduced. If you cut your vegetables into larger pieces, your cooking time will be increased.

For the next part, I used my blender. You can also use a food processor, or an immersion blender. Since I used a blender, I prepared it in three parts (batches).

For each batch, I added about 3-4 cups of the cooked vegetables and broth, one big dollop of the plain yogurt, 1/2-3/4 t. salt, a pinch of ground black pepper, and 1 t. lemon juice.

In the blender - Facile Potage Parmentier

Blend the mixture on high (blend) for 1 minute. The actual amount of time here is important. You want the texture to be super smooth and silky and at least one minute blending time is critical for that. My volume of liquid in the blender actually increased about 1 cup after blending, so don’t overfill.

Blended - Facile Potage Parmentier

Combine all three batches (if you prepared it in batches) to ensure a uniform taste before portioning.

Sprinkle with fresh, chopped parsley and a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche before serving.

Facile Potage Parmentier

And enjoy 🙂

– Nicole

P.S. This recipe is vegetarian (if you don’t use chicken stock). If you want to make a vegan version, use vegetable stock and feel free to use Tofutti or Follow Your Heart sour creams. You can also use these in place of the yogurt.

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Happy Holidays Rugelach with Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Preserves Filling

Well, I’m getting this post up just in time for the end of Hannukah and the beginning of Christmas. We celebrate both in our household and I thought these were a nice alternative to the traditional Christmas cookies I normally make. Not to mention they’re gluten-free and egg-free. Bonus.

I had never made these before, but was so glad I did this year 🙂 Monkey Man gave them a thumbs up and a “tastes just like the real thing”.

The connection between rugelach and Hannukah is not exactly clear but here’s what I found from a post on Epicurious.com.

“Only one person could clear up this Jewish holiday baking conundrum: Gil Marks, author of theEncyclopedia of Jewish Food. Marks explained that rugelach are often associated with Hanukkah because of the Book of Judith. As the story goes, when the Assyrian army was about to invade Jerusalem, Judith fed an Assyrian general copious amounts of salty cheese or milk, followed by gallons of wine. The general was then so intoxicated that Judith was able to behead him with his own sword. With no general, the invading army fled, and Judith’s people were saved. Eating dairy during Hanukkah is about celebrating this miracle.

But there’s a problem. According to Marks, Judith predates the Hanukkah period, and there was no relationship between Judith and the Maccabees. “It was a medieval mistake in assuming Judith to be of the Hanukkah era, and, in many instances, a relative of the Maccabees, that introduced the tradition of dairy and cheese to Hanukkah.” ”

In lieu of that, here’s to delicious misunderstandings, celebrating Hannukah, and making merry in the spirit of Christmas! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did 🙂

For this recipe you will need:

Ingredients - Gluten-free Rugelach
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (softened)
8 oz. butter, room temperature (softened)
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 t. vanilla extract
3 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used a mixture of Bob’s Red Mill and Glutino)
2 T. ground chia seeds + 6 T. water
2 T. ground cinnamon
1 c. walnuts, finely chopped
3/4 c. raspberry preserves
1 bar of dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), grated or finely chopped

My food processor made this all very doable. I recommend using one for this recipe.

Let’s talk about timing. You’re going to first make the dough. That takes about 5-10 minutes. It’s pretty sticky so it’s needs to chill for a while. Once you make the dough, you’ll need to let it chill for about 30-45 minutes before rolling it out.  Then you roll it out, layer it with the filling, and roll the rugelach. That’s another 20 minutes because you’ll do it four times. Then you bake the rugelach for about 20 minutes. That’s about 1.5 hours from start to finish, so plan accordingly.

You are certainly welcome to make the dough the day before and refrigerate overnight. You can even make the rugelach and refrigerate overnight and then bake the next day. The timing of this recipe is forgiving in that way. However, if you chill the rugelach after they are rolled, they don’t brown as well (consequence of gluten-free flour).

First, I mixed the two flours (1/2 c. of Glutino and 2 1/2 c. of Bob’s Red Mill) and set aside. You can probably get away with using just the Bob’s Red Mill. Next, mix the ground chia seeds and water in a small bowl. You want it to develop the consistency of snot – really. I use ground chia seeds because they add some elasticity without having to use xantham gum or guar gum.

In the food processor, add the cream cheese and butter and cream.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Creamed butter and cream cheese

Next, add the salt, vanilla, granulated sugar, and chia snot. Mix well.

Add the flour, in about three or four additions. Don’t over mix the dough though. Just mix until combined after each addition.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Adding the flourBy the fourth addition of flour, your dough should start to stick together in the food processor – like so.

Gluten-free Rugelach - The DoughHave some extra flour set aside for rolling out the dough in a small bowl. I used tapioca flour. Generously flour a piece of wax paper on a large surface (for rolling out the dough later). Ball the dough on the wax paper and dust with additional flour to ensure it doesn’t stick.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Roll it into a ballNext, using a knife, cut the ball into quarters. Makes four discs from the quarters.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Divide and ConquerThen wrap the discs with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30-45 minutes.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Wrap it upHow will you know when the dough is cold enough? If you try to roll it out onto a well floured piece of wax paper and it still sticks, you need to chill the dough longer. If that’s the case, ball it back up, form it into a disc, rewrap and place back in the fridge.

Now is a great time to get your filling ingredients prepared. I used a small food processor to finely chop one cup of walnuts and one bar of chocolate. A lot of recipes call for brown sugar be added to the walnuts along with the cinnamon, but I decided that the preserves and the chocolate were sweet enough, so I left it out. If you like super sweet sweets, go for it. Add 1/2 c. brown sugar along with the 2 t. of cinnamon and mix in with the walnuts.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Shaved chocolate and cinnamon walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Once the dough is cool enough, roll out each disc with a rolling pin between two pieces of wax paper. Dust with flour as needed to ensure that the dough does not stick. Double check it’s ability to pull away from both pieces of wax paper (both sides) before layer with the filling. If one side is stuck and you move onto the next step, you have a lot of trouble rolling up your rugelach. Note, I used my 9″ spring foam pan to cut my rolled out dough into perfect circles.

Add two heaping tablespoons onto the middle of the rolled and trimmed dough and spread evenly across the dough.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Raspberry Delicious Disc

Next, layer with the chocolate and walnuts (a handful or so of each). Cut the dough into 8 pieces.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Cut it up!

Gluten-free Rugelach - Not your mama's pizza pie

Start with the long edge and roll each slice. Place on a cookie sheet with the tip tucked underneath and the edges curved in slightly.

Gluten-free Rugelach - Roll 'em up

If egg is not a problem for you, feel free to beat an egg and brush each cookie with egg wash and sprinkle with a bit of granulated sugar. I was sharing these with a friend that is allergic to eggs, to these were made sans egg wash. I also didn’t think they needed the extra sugar. Aesthetically speaking, I’m sure that would have made them look “va va voom” – for a cookie.

Bake for about 20-22 minutes. I liked when mine browned a bit on top, so I kept them in for an extra minute or two.

Pull them out and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Share with friends and family 🙂

Gluten-Free Rugelach with Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Preserves Filling

There are about a million varieties of these that you have fun with. Apricot preserves is a popular filling (but I’d add a little nutmeg to the walnuts in addition to the cinnamon). I’m thinking about trying blueberry preserves with cardamom next, or maybe cherry preserves and white chocolate.


– Nicole

A quick note, if you freeze the rugelach before baking, make sure you let them defrost for about 20 minutes before placing them in the oven.

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Egg-free Baked Chocolate Pistachio Donuts

These stemmed from an all out donut extravaganza one afternoon. Subsequently, we had donuts for dinner. That’s right – I’m an adult and can have donuts for dinner 😉

We made two types of donuts – traditionally fried sour cream donuts and baked chocolate double pistachio. Jillian and I were baking, so both had to be egg-free. What we ended up with were Paleo-friendly, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan chocolate donuts. As a bonus, these are really easy to make and taste even better a day later 🙂

Note, this recipe does require a donut baking pan. Wilton makes a fairly inexpensive donut pan.

For this recipe you will need:

1/2 c. unsalted pistachios, ground to a flour
1/4 c. coconut flour
1 T. tapioca flour
1/3 c. palm sugar
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/8 c. coconut or almond milk
3 T. grapeseed oil
1/2 t. vanilla
pinch of cardamom

1/4 c. coconut or almond milk
4 oz. chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped, roasted unsalted pistachios
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using a food processor (or a coffee grinder), finely grind 1/2 c. of the pistachios.

Pistachio flour - Chocolate Double Pistachio Donuts

Next, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the other 1/2 c. of pistachios into the oven to roast. Be sure to spread the nuts evenly on the baking sheet and move them around on the sheet after about 5 minutes. Roast for an additional 5 minutes. Generally you can smell when roasted nuts are done – but make sure you keep an eye on them because roasting can turn into burning in a minute!

Set these aside and allow them to cool.

Toasted Pistachios - Chocolate Pistachio Donuts

Combine the dry ingredients – coconut flour, ground pistachios, tapioca flour, palm sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pinch of cardamom.

Dry ingredients - Chocolate Double Pistachio Donuts

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the wet ingredients – applesauce, coconut milk, oil, and vanilla.

Wet ingredients - Chocolate Double Pistachio Donuts

Add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

I use Ziploc bags with a cut corner as impromptu piping bags. Feel free to use the real thing if you have them on hand. Fill your piping bag with the batter.

To Pipe the Donuts - Chocolate Double Pistachio Donuts

Next, spray your donut pan with oil spray – I love Spectrum’s coconut oil spray.

Pipe the batter into the donut pan, making sure that the pan is filled but not overfilled.

Piped donut batter - Chocolate Pistachio Donuts

Bake the donuts 15-17 minutes. How do you know when the donuts are done? They should spring when pressed.

Allow the donuts to cool on a wire rack.

All Baked - Chocolate Double Pistachio Donuts

Once the donuts are starting to cool (you can speed up this process by putting them in the fridge), start the grenache glaze.

Add 1/4 c. of coconut milk or almond milk, 4 oz. of chocolate chips, and a pinch of salt to a small sauce pot.

Making Chocolate Grenache for the Donuts

On medium heat, melt the chocolate chips and mix with the milk until smooth.

Chocolate Grenache - Chocolate Double Pistachio Donuts

Take the grenache off of the heat and set aside to cool. You can always reheat the grenache on low heat when you’re ready to glaze.

Chop the roasted pistachios and place on a plate.

First, carefully dip the donuts in the grenache. Next, let the grenache cool on the donuts for about 5 minutes. Finally, dip the glazed donut in the chopped pistachios.

Your donut should look like the donut on the left – the one on the right is the sour cream donut, that recipe still needs tweaking.

Donuts - Chocolate Double Pistachio Donuts

These donuts are a great treat! Super rich!

You can change this recipe up by adding cinnamon and chili powder to the grenache and substitute the pistachios with hazelnuts or peanuts 🙂


– Nicole

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Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

Monkey Man and I had been buying pork loins and shoulder butts (that’s right, there’s a cut of pork called the “shoulder butt”) and cooking them with homeade North Carolina barbecue sauce. It’s so easy to prepare in the slow cooker and reheats great for lunch all week!

But you can only do BBQ pork so many weeks in a row before you need a fresh take on slow cooker pork.

Enter pork carnitas.

Our favorite Mexican restaurant in D.C. is El Centro. Their braised pork is out of this world. Monkey Man always (always) gets their pork carnitas and I get their pork cazuela. They both used the same braised pork. Why not try making it at home?!

And I’m glad I did 😉

Note, if you’re going for a leaner meat, use the pork loin. If you want all that tasty fat to marinate your meat, use the shoulder butt. The shoulder butt also costs a bit less than the pork loin.

For this recipe, you’ll need:

Ingredients - Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

2 – 3 lbs. pork loin (boneless) or pork shoulder butt, cut into chunks (1 – 2″)
2 T. minced garlic
3 whole bay leaves
2 t. coarse sea salt
1 t. ground cumin
2 T. dried oregano
2 T. coconut milk
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1 c. chicken stock (I like Imagine’s free range, organic chicken broth)
5 clementines (or one medium orange), peeled and quartered
1/2 large red onion, sliced thinly

Lightly spray or coat the crock pot with oil – I used coconut oil spray.

Add the chinks of pork to the Crock Pot.

Meat! - Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

Next, sprinkle the meat with the garlic, salt, cumin, and oregano, and place the bay leaves evenly spaced on top of the meat.

Seasoned meat - Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

Slice the red onion thinly (first in half) and peeled clementines.

Clementines and onion - Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

Layer the clementines and then the onion over the pork. Add the chicken stock, vinegar and coconut milk.

Ready to go - Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

Cover and cook for 10 hours.

After 10 hours - Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

Remove the clementines and bay leaves. Shred the pork with two forks.

And serve! (I’m seriously hungry after writing this post…)

Easy Paleo Pork Carnitas

– Nicole

Note, what do you serve these with? Mashed yucca, cauliflower rice, roasted sweet potatoes – you name it! The question is, what doesn’t it go well with?!!

Not a fan of pork? Try it with the other white meat – chicken or turkey 🙂

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Gluten-free Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Peaches are just about out of season now, depending on where you live. The grocery had been inundated with them for about a month. It was end of summer, but the temperatures were definitely starting to cool. Nothing says comfort like pie 🙂

I normally think of peach pie as a summer dessert. But the bourbon caramel sauce used in this peach pie takes it from summer to fall (and me to heaven! – even Monkey Man liked this peach pie).

My favorite crust is Fannie Farmer’s Basic Pastry crust. It’s simple and delicious. I substituted regular flour with King Arthur’s gluten-free all purpose flour. While the crust tasted amazing, I would add some chia seed and potato flour to the mix, so the crust holds together better. But otherwise, the process for making the crust is the same as what’s outlined below.

For this recipe, you will need:

Ingredients - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/4 c. + 2 T. potato flour
2 T. ground chia seeds
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. shortening (I use Spectrum’s Palm Oil Shortening)
6-8 T. ice water

Peach Filling
8-10 peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. palm sugar
1/2 c. cane sugar
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. bourbon
1 t. vanilla
1 T. lemon juice
1 T + 1 t. ghee or butter
4 T. tapioca flour

You can make the pie crust a day or two ahead and put it in the fridge until you’re ready to make the filling.

First, make a cup of ice water by adding several ice cubes to at least 1/2 c. of water. Set aside with your tablespoon measuring spoon.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, chia seeds, and salt. Add the shortening.

Crust Ingredients - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Some people like to use a fork for the next part (or you could also use a food processor), but I like to use my hands. Gently combine the flour mixture and shortening by pressing the shortening with the flour in your fingertips. The shortening will start to break apart into clumps. Eventually those clumps become smaller and the flour/shortening mixture looks mealy.

Mealy Crust - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Once you have no clumps bigger than a pea, add ice water one tablespoon at a time to the mixture. Toss it with your hands. It will start to clump – this is good. Keep adding the water one tablespoon at a time until the dough sticks together (i.e. you can ball it) without the dough being wet. You’ll need to divide into two balls.

Dough balls - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Next, cut two pieces of wax paper (roughly the same size) large enough to exceed the width of your pie dish by about 6 inches. Sprinkle tapioca flour on one piece of the wax paper, set the other aside. This helps the dough to release from the wax paper when you’re ready to “dress” your pie dish.

Using your hands, shape/press one of the dough balls into a large disk in the center of the piece of wax paper.

Crust Disc - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Dust the disc with tapioca flour and cover with the second piece of wax paper.

Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough from the center until it just exceeds the top and bottom edges of the wax paper. Carefully remove the top piece of wax paper and place back on the dough, flip, and remove the other piece of wax paper. This ensures that the dough will release from the wax paper once you put it on the pie dish.

Remove the top piece of wax paper from the dough.

Rolled out Dough - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Place your pie dish in the center of the dough and make sure that the dough you’ve rolled out will fit the pie dish – you should have about two inches extra outside your pie dish. Holding the edges of the wax paper to the upside-down pie dish, flip the crust onto the pie dish.

Pie Crust - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

You can see in the picture that my crust cracked. If I were using gluten dough, this would not have happened.  But the increased potato starch content and chia seeds should help hold the dough together while keeping it pliable. I’ve made a similar dough before with success.

But her’s the good news if it does crack, it can be easily fixed. Wet your finger and apply gentle pressure back and forth across the crust. You’ll see the crack disappear 🙂

I trim my dough with a pair of scissors, but since I’ll be putting on a top layer of dough to this pie, I’ll keep it untrimmed for now.

Go ahead and roll out the other ball of dough for later.

Now, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Dunk the peaches in the boiling water for about 1-2 minutes. This will blanch the peaches – this makes them easier to peel.

Blanching peaches - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Set the peaches aside and allow them to cool while you make the Caramel Bourbon sauce for the filling.

In a saucepan, combine the palm and cane sugar, vanilla, 1/2 c. water, and bourbon.

Caramel Bourbon Sauce

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Boiling Sugar - Making Bourbon Caramel Sauce

Continue to boil the mixture (not a high rolling boil but a gentle boil) for about 8-10 minutes. The sauce should be thick and coat the sides of the saucepan.

Add 1 T. of ghee or butter (and 1 T. of cream if you prefer, coconut or dairy) and a dash of salt and stir until combined. If you’re making this pie vegan friendly, just omit the ghee (or butter) – you can certainly substitute with coconut butter and coconut cream 🙂

Finishing the Caramel Bourbon Sauce

Your Caramel Bourbon sauce is ready. Now it’s time to finish with those peaches.

Peel and slice the peaches.

Sliced Peaches - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Put the slices in a large mixing bowl. Add the Caramel Bourbon sauce. Add 1 T. lemon juice and the 4 T. tapioca flour. Toss.

Peach filling - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Place the peach filling into your pie dish and dot with ghee or butter. If you’re vegan, don’t worry about the ghee or butter, or simply dot with coconut oil or butter.

Almost there - Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Next, cover the pie filling with your already rolled out top crust.

Trim the edges and then roll and crimp. You can crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers. I use my fingers 🙂 Make slits in the middle of your pie for it to vent.

Unbaked Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 minutes. Then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for another 40 minutes. Watch your crust. If you’re worried that it’s getting too dark, cover the outer crust with foil or pie crust protectors.

How do you know your pie is done? Check the center with a knife or pick – if it inserts easily without resistance, your peaches should be well done.

Because my crust had a large rice flour content, it didn’t brown well. I had to actually put the oven on broil and broil the pie for a few minutes. Fortunately for you, the added potato flour in the recipe I provided should help your crust brown 🙂

Caramel Bourbon Peach Pie

Let the pie cool a bit before serving – this will help it to set and hold it shape.


– Nicole

…….As a side note, without the extra potato flour and ground chia seed, my crust feel apart completely when I served it. It tasted great, but it looked like  a mess 😦

Not a super pie crust person? Turn this recipe into crumb pie with the bottom crust only and a crumb topping (see my Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp recipe). Or just get rid of the crust altogether for a Paleo-friendly, grain-free treat.

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