I’m in love with David Lebovitz! Join me for Celebratory Banana Beet Brownies.

I think I have a crush on David Lebovitz! I was touring cyberspace this morning and somehow came upon my paramour’s site; much in the same way I used to drive by a crushes house in what I wish I could call my very early years.

I have always loved beets. I have loved every beet I have ever met. I love Baby Beets and the big fat ones. I love deep crimsony, purple beets and I love the majestic golden ones as well. I like beets in salads, roasted, boiled, and eaten raw as a fine julienne and I like Borscht. So when my eyes rested on a post on his blog extolling the virtues of a Moist Chocolate-Beet Cake, I clicked on over and voraciously dug into his post.

I was still miles away from the recipe when I read this:

“…there are hundreds of thousands of chocolate cake recipes that you can find using a search engine. But to me, that’s not enough. When I want to spend my precious time and funds making something to eat, I don’t want to merely find a recipe. There’s nothing compelling about a downloadable list of ingredients. It just leaves me cold. I want the author or writer to tell me about the recipe, what inspired them to create it, or how it came about.

I want to know why someone chose that recipe, what twists they gave it, what made the cake or casserole they were making so special to them that they wanted to share it. Was it an unusual ingredient? Did they like the description they read of it elsewhere? Were they inquisitive about how a root vegetable from their garden could make its way into a chocolate cake?”

Well, I choose this recipe because it inspires my creativity, it gives me courage to push the envelope farther with my concoctions- something Margo does often, but me, not so much.

I choose to continue to do my David Lebovitz drive-by because he inspires me to treat visitors to this blog as I would guests in my home: to tell you stories, to make you laugh and have a good time and to remember me fondly as the friend who always cooks something fabulous for you and does it with love.

Banana Beet Brownies



3 fresh beets, boiled until fork tender, then peeled and quartered

¼ cup Butter

1/3 cup Coconut Oil

1 cup Chocolate Chips (Your brownies will undoubtedly be better if you use a good, dark chocolate (around 70& Cacao, but this stuff doesn’t last in my house, so I used the Nestles Semi Sweet chips that I had.)

4 eggs

½ Banana

1 Tbsp Vanilla

½ c Brown Sugar, packed

½ c White Sugar

¾ c Flour

½ c Dark Cocoa Powder

1 tsp Baking Powder

½ tsp Kosher Salt

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

½ tsp Ground Nutmeg

¼ c finely chopped Almonds (left over from Leek and Turnip Gratin)


Preheat oven to 350

Melt butter, coconut oil and chocolate chips in small saucepan, stirring with a wooden spoon to blend. Allow to cool while you do the next steps.

Puree beets in Food Processor using knife blade.

Beat eggs to a froth with an Electric Beater, then add to beets in the Food Processor. Add ½ banana.

Beets with egg & banana. Just look at this color!

Add cooled chocolate mixture, vanilla and both sugars.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together. Fold in wet ingredients.

Mix in almonds.

Pour into a baking dish sprayed with Bakers Joy (oil w flour)

Bake about 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.



Chocolate Cupcakes and Espresso Buttercream Frosting

There comes a moment in every woman’s life where chocolate ceases to be a food group and becomes medicinal.  I had that moment on Thursday night and started baking.  My favorite cupcakes are those that make you feel tender emotions towards the cake part and a sense of indulgence when you dip your finger in the frosting and come out with something that melts on your tongue in an absolutely sensual manner.  So this recipe is always my medicinal, chocolate go to.

The problem is that once I was finished eating one, I had 11 big cupcakes and 12 little ones left over.  I decided to take them with me to offer to up at my volunteer job and watched as they disappeared faster than a cat being offered a bath.  I enjoyed the fact that everyone wanted to know what bakery I got them from.  My ego convinced me to compromise my secret identity as a baker and I’m hoping that I’m not going to be included in a fund raiser bake sale, but those are the risks one takes to spread a little joy.

OK so I did keep a few little ones, in case of emergencies.  If you don’t frost them, they will freeze for up to a month and still be delicious, tender and awaiting frosting when they are thawed.

Chocolate Cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1/3 c (1 ounce) Dutch-processed cocoa

3/4 c hot coffee

3/4 c (4 1/8 ounces) bread flour

3/4 c (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar

1/2 tsp table salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

5 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp coconut oil (make sure it’s room temperature and liquid)

2 large eggs

2 tsp white vinegar                 

1 tsp vanilla extract                

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-size muffin pan with baking-cup liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator to cool, about 20 minutes. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Whisk oils, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to touch, 17 to 19 minutes. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before frosting, about 1 hour.

If you are at a high altitude, like I am, you don’t want to overfill the baking cups.  If you fill them about half way, they turn out perfectly.  Lower altitudes mean you can add more batter to the cups but I feel a little sorry for those who don’t wind up with enough to make the minis, which are perfect with morning coffee.

Espresso Buttercream Frosting (Not for the calories conscious)

1 cup butter (room temperature)

1 1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp espresso powder

Using a stand or hand held mixer, whip butter until fluffy (about 5 minutes) on medium speed, stopping to scrape the sides.   Reduce the mixer speed to low and add powdered sugar a little at a time.  Scrape the bowl and mix on medium high until fluffy. Add espresso and vanilla and continue to mix until ingredients are all incorporated.

Frost cake or cakes using whatever method works, if you don’t have that baker’s funnel thing (by now I should know the correct name but don’t), you can spoon the frosting into a plastic freezer bag and cut a corner to off of it  to make pretty swirls or in a crisis situation, a knife always works.  Make sure the frosting is at room temperature for optimal spreading!

What in store for me, now? I have a date with the gym and with every minute I spend on the elliptical, I’m going to lick my lips and tell myself that every bite and every calorie was worth it!  Happy Baking!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

The large Tupperware container full of pureed pumpkin sat starring at me last night and I simultaneously realized I was craving something sweet. I tried repeating my daughter Chelsea’s mantra: “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”, but it was overpowered by the ghost of Jewish Mother’s passed who tell me I should never let good food go to waste. They won!!


Personally, the next time I make this I will cut back on the Chocolate Chips, as I felt they overpowered the Pumpkin, but, since Margo strongly disagrees, I will leave the recipe as I made it.



Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread


Preheat oven to 350 and spray loaf pan with Canola Spray-I like the one with the flour in it.




1 ½ Cups Flour

1 tsp Baking Soda

¼ tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Salt

½ tsp Cinnamon

¼ tsp Allspice

¼ tsp Ground Ginger

3 Eggs

½ Cup Brown Sugar

½ Cup White Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

½ Cup Coconut Oil

1 ½ Cup Pureed Pumpkin

1 Cup Chocolate Chips




Whisk first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.


In a smaller bowl, mix Eggs, both Sugars, Coconut Oil and Vanilla with an electric beater. Do the best you can to get most of the lumps of Coconut Oil out, but you will not succeed in getting them all. Do not worry, they will melt when baking.


Pour egg mixture into flour mix and stir to combine. Add Pumpkin and mix to incorporate. Add Chocolate Chips and once mixed in pour into prepared loaf pan.



Bake 55-60 minutes at 350, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


TDF Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I am not a gardener. Oh, I would like to be a gardener and reap the benefit of delicious fresh vegetables plucked from their stems and thrown into my pan, but alas my many attempts at gardening have been ill-fated.

When my first husband and I purchased our first home way out in the country, it was situated on a 2 ½ acre parcel of land. One of the first things we did was to hire a man with a Rototiller to come out and create a large garden plot for us. We proceeded to plant lovely rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, brussel sprouts, zucchini, carrots, beets, watermelon, and herbs. We rimmed our garden with marigolds and it looked divine….that was until the weeds began to grow along side of our sprouting plants and I could not tell which was which!

It took me decades to recover from this failed attempt at becoming a gentlewoman farmer, but a couple of summers ago, having read about the promise of container gardening, I tried again. This time I purchased several large pots, filled them with fresh, fertilized potting soil labeled “For Fruits and Vegetables”, purchased starter plants from a local, reputable nursery and plunked them in my pots.

Our backyard offered these plants full sun and I watered them faithfully and surrounded my tomato plants with tomato cages, so they would be protected and supported. I fed them plant food, again labeled “For Fruits and Vegetables” and then I waited anxiously and dreamed of my Heirloom Tomato masterpieces, my Fresh Roma Tomato Marinara and my spicy Gazpacho that I would craft from my harvest.

That year my container garden yielded 8 tomatoes all season, along with enough basil to make a Pesto and I threw in the towel, or should I say my spade?

This summer I made a new friend. Her name is Pilar and she is a Master Gardener in my mind. She invited me over and showed me her bulging patch, plucking Cherry Tomatoes, Beefsteak Tomatoes, all kinds of spicy peppers and Zucchini the size of Little League Baseball Bats.

Yes, of course I made Ratatouille. I also sliced the Zucchini into rounds, brushed them with EVO mixed with crushed Garlic, sprinkled them with S&P, Panko and Parmesan and stuck them under the broiler.

I also dredged sliced Zucchini in an egg wash, then in a bowl of herbed bread crumbs, fried them up and served them with a reduction of fresh red Fresno Peppers, garlic, fresh Tomatoes, Capers and Balsamic. But the hands down winner of my very own Zucchini Cook Off were this Chocolate Zucchini Bread:

TDF (To Die For) Chocolate Zucchini Bread 

1 ½ cup Shredded Zucchini

1 cup Flour

2 Eggs

½ cup Good Cocoa-I like Dagoba Xocolatl made with dark Chocolate & Chilies

1 tsp Baking Soda

¼ tsp Baking Powder

¼ tsp Salt

1 tsp Cinnamon

½  tsp Allspice

½ cup Coconut Oil

½ cup White Sugar

½ cup Brown Sugar

1 tsp Vanilla

¾ cup Semi Sweet or Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat Oven to 350 and place rack in center of oven.  Grease a loaf pan.  Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, coconut oil, brown and white sugars and vanilla until well blended.

Fold in zucchini.

Add flour mix and mix well.

Add chocolate chips.

Bake 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Convince yourself that it is really a meal: it has vegetables, protein and healthy dark chocolate…..of course you shouldn’t feel guilty for indulging in a second piece!

Diablo Cookies (add a little spice to your life!)

By Margo Elfstrom

As a Halloween trick, I made spicy pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  Turns out they were a treat.  I was a little surprised when one of my friends asked for the recipe, saying that she loved the spicy surprise on her tongue when she ate them.

I’ve since had several people ask for the recipe and who am I to withhold it.  My friend’s son dubbed them Diablo Cookies and I liked that, so it stuck.

Here’s the recipe for sweet, spicy, wickedly delicious cookies that will make for an interesting holiday season.  Not for the feint of heart!

Diablo Cookies

Wet ingredients:

1/4 stick of unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup of coconut oil

3/4 cup of white and brown sugar mixed (1/2 white 1/4 light brown)

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp honey

1/2 can canned pumpkin

Dry ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp red curry powder

3/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp chili powder

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Beat butter, coconut oil and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and beat it in.  Add vanilla honey and canned pumpkin and mix all the ingredients together.

In a separate bowl add flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, curry powder cayenne pepper and chili powder and mix together.  Add wet ingredients in thirds and mix in until you have a well mixed dough.  Add chocolate chips and mix well.

Drop by a tablespoon full dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Or roll into balls, place about two inches apart on the sheet, and flatten slightly with your fingers.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

One really sweet option and really, the “icing” on the cookie is a swirl or two of cream cheese frosting.  I recommend it because it balances out the spiciness nicely.  I particularly like this recipe:


However, if you have a quick and easy recipe that works share it with the rest of us!

I should also add that these cookies are the perfect remedy for being stuck inside on a snowy day.  Enjoy with glass of milk, an awesome movie (I prefer scary but works with romance, adventure or whatever) and a warm blanket.

A little sad that my Halloween trick turned out to be a treat but I have a whole year to figure out something nasty.  Stay tuned for details!

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