Friday, December 31, 2010

Soup Love . . .

Last minute, taste, easy, so no brainer . . . yet green . . . green . . . green.
I thought tea was my obsession . . . it is . . . but on a soup day, which could be any day,
 and on a lazy day, which could also be any day, I love this!
Seriously, simple as pie, but who knows where that expression came from because pie is about as difficult as it gets. But using that expression, "simple as pie" I recommend you try this:

Boil water, pour it into a bowl. 
Add about a teaspoon better than bouillon
Push in as much fresh spinach as possible
Add chopped fresh green onions

Eat and feel cozy.

Hope you all have a wonderful 2011~ Marica

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Granola, dairy free . . . and possibly gluten free as well . . . ?

Okay, so some people say oats have gluten, while others are of the mind set that oats don't. I myself would claim neither due to my lack of knowledge . . . but, if you don't eat wheat or dairy you are one lucky puppy if your looking for a granola recipe. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

4 cups oats
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup coconut
1/2 - 1 cup dark sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
1/2 cup oil (I like grapeseed oil)
1 cup coconut milk (I love the so delicious brand)
Grated rind from 1 lemon 
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Spread onto two large, oiled cookie sheets.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes then stir and cook 15 more minutes until golden.

Hope you enjoy this ~ Marica

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A little amusement . . .

Well I didn't intend this blog to be a display of my children's utter cuteness. I don't need to drag you all through my overly indugant gallery of "moments" that I won't forget. But, with that said, I found this to be strikingly amusing. I have saved the American Girl dolls from my childhood in hopes that I would have a sweet princess to pass them on to. This year, for Christmas, that sweet princess received my Felicity doll with all her clothing. I was thrilled that she was as thrilled to receive it as I was give it to her. I swept through her room Christmas evening and found the box below:
For those unused to my seven-year-olds spelling, the markings on this box read: 
Clothes for American Girl Dolls
Anyway, hope your celebrations were fun, bountiful, easy, relaxing, not too time consuming, 
and plain-ol' fabulous . . . ! 

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Gingerbread Afternoon

Well whoever decided gingerbread went with Christmas certainly had an impact on a whole lot of households. I think this may have been the first time I actually succeeded in making gingerbread cookies for Christmas. It has been a plan every year, but you know how plans go, they often just evaporate into thin air, maybe not even to be remembered. But, this year we did it and they came out looking very real minus the fact that we don't own a gingerbread-man cutter so we had gingerbread-owls, clovers and stars. 
The recipe is simple, just plan ahead because the dough needs to chill for at least an hour.
Try to remember if you make them with help they may not come out as perfect as a christmas catalogue photo shoot. My littlest one made a monster that was huge and broke in two. He cheerily iced it never the less and will, I'm sure, more than happily eat it.
Gingerbread Cookies
In a large bowl mix:
1 cup butter soft
1+1/4 cups dark brown sugar
3/4 cups molasses
3+1/2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt
4 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 lemons rind and juice

Mix until dough somewhat forms a ball. Be careful not to over-mix though, or the cookies will be tough. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll dough out on a floured surface. Cut out shapes, and place on a buttered cookie sheet.
Bake 350 degrees for 14-15 minutes. Let cool then ice.

6 tablespoons melted butter
1+1/4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons water or lemon juice

Let set than eat!
                                                                                         Happy Holidays ~ Marica

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Dolls . . .

I've  made so many dolls lately, and actually sold five today!!
If anyone is still looking to fill out their Christmas findings, please let me know.
Its funny because no matter what I do, each doll comes out so individually, completely their own personality and style. 
Boys become boys on their own, and girls vary in their demeanor. 
Anyway, it has been fun to bring all these characters into the world.
                                                                       Best wishes ~ Marica

Friday, December 17, 2010

Chocolate And Rainy Day Ideas . . .

So you would think I love chocolate from all the chocolate posts I have done. Funnily enough as a kid I hated chocolate, and now although I like it, I rarely eat it. The thing I do love about chocolate is the versatility factor. It is a very fun medium to work with, and most people feel indulged when they are treated to something oh so chocolate and sweet.
 Some people are now saying dark chocolate is good for you, I have no idea as to statements of that 
sort, but I feel anything that makes you happy must in some way at least be good for the mind. 
In the recent year I have thrown out my assumptions of any sort as to better or worse styles of living. 
I used to find pink and purple a foul combination and then just last night while pulling wet laundry 
out of the machine two items of my daughters intwine and that pink and purple struck me in a very 
fine way. What a lovely combination of colors my eyes rested upon. So much for opinions. But to 
all those reading this, don't think you'll catch me wearing pink and purple any time soon. My point is, whose to say what makes a right or wrong way of doing something, seeing something, feelingsomething, or acting on something. At least today in the lovely rain I feel less positive of anything, but more sure of everything.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chocolate Truffles

One thing I have learned about making chocolate truffles is don't stress. The first couple of times I made them I followed a recipe thinking it was a sacred process. But now, with a little history in my wake, I realize throw the frickin' ingredients together and something will appear. And that something, I might add, is chocolate truffles. The only huge mistake would be to add too much milk or cream because then they would be runny and no longer fall under the truffle umbrella.

Main ingredients are, but may be widely deviated from are:
Chocolate large dark bars are my favorite, but any bar will due
Heavy Cream although I have used milk, half and half, forgotten it, or used coconut milk if they were dairy free
Butter dairy free could be coconut butter or even almond butter
And than depending upon your mood add vanilla or peppermint-oil, cinnamon, orange-oil or rind or cayenne . . .
Lastly and most important is unsweetened cocoa powder! I realized tonight while making these that I didn't have any. Luckily in my scurrying search I found raw cocoa nib. So I ground those up  and the effect was superb.
Okay to the business of making:
Melt the chocolate and butter gently. Chocolate tends to be slower to melt so start with that and when it's half melted add the butter. My guess is 4-6 parts chocolate to 1 part butter. Once melted add a small amount of cream or whatever you have decide to use. Seriously, small amount. Perhaps an 1/8 part cream. Add last options such as peppermint-oil, or cayenne . . .
Pour into a large container or glass dish lined with parchment paper. Cool until hard. Now cut into squares and roll gently in the unsweetened cocoa powder. Viola, you have truffles . . . ! . . . and don't you feel proud. I still do every time I make them, and I have made them so many times and realize their minimal process.

Anecdote: I once was making these in a last minute hurry, I lived in a trailer at the time and the cocoa powder, as it tends to be messy, was strew across the counter and floor. I hurried out the door unable to cleanse my poor home and didn't return until hours later. My cat had brought in a dead rat and the place looked in shambles. It was only then that I realized my father had stopped in to fix something while I was gone. I was so embarrassed and he couldn't pretend not to notice the disaster. It took me a long time after him seeing the place clean many more times to get over that visual pocket of embarrassment. How ridiculous to care, but I did ~ the place was unholy in its momentary state.
But oh-well, thats life, it's always the times when your house is a mess and things have gone beyond their rightful state that visitors drop in. Cheers to irony.
                                                                                               Best wishes all ~ Marica

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Making Christmas

We have far too few christmas ornaments to fill our tree. In years past we have always had a live tree which tend to be extraordinarily expensive hence smaller. This year, in a chaotic moment of determination, we went and purchased a cut tree, or as the kids call it "a dead tree". I have to say, it feels like carrying a piece of salmon or meat home. I don't like it. I do think from now on I will buy a live tree. But this year we are bound to our dead tree and making it as beautiful as possible in all its momentary glory. Lacking enough decorations, the tree's sparse attire has been lording over our living-room. A very dear and sweet friend dropped us by some ornaments last night ~ thank you lovely you ~ and today we are attending to the problem by painting gaudy colored balls into gaudy colored funk of acrylic paint on glass. It actually is quiet fun, and I like to think it is an F-you to consumer society,
 but it is not, it is just a beating around the bush way of consumerism. Hail Rite Aid! 
Merry Cheers to everyone, and this does make a sweet last minute gift for relatives and friends.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Cookies . . .

I'm sorry if you guys are getting tired of seeing cookie recipes, but these are really yummy. . .
Chocolate Pecan Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees 

In a large bowl mix:
1 cup butter soft
1 cup sugar
1 cup shredded coconut 

1 teaspoon vanilla
1 orange's zest

Add one at a time:
2 eggs
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

Spoon tablespoon size spoonfuls onto a buttered cookie sheet and press gently down.
Place on top of each cookie a spoonful of chopped chocolate and chopped pecans, press down.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lemon Squeezing

This weekend I was cooking at one of my parent's retreats and using a fair amount of lemon
 juice. In the past I have always cut a lemon in half and then squeezed it. Not that much juice 
would come out and I had to squeeze hard to get what I needed. This weekend however I cut 
the lemon in the other direction ~ stem end to belly button, and than lightly sliced it into four
 pieces. I left the skin attached and when I palmed the whole thing and started to squeeze sooo 
much juice immediately came pouring forth. 
Maybe Everybody has always done it this way, but for me it was a very helpful new trick. 
Thought I'd pass it on to other lemon squeezers.
Hope everyone is looking forward to a fabulous holiday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

And Who Could Live Without Chocolate Chip Cookies?

Some people like chocolate chip cookies. Some people love chocolate and a chocolate chip cookie is all about the chocolate flare. For quite a while now, whenever I make chocolate chip cookies I use Trader Joe's huge, over a pound, 70 proof chocolate. This chocolate needs to be chopped and in doing so each chocolate piece varies in size and shape. Something about that variation creates an extra special chocolate experience. 
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl whisk:
1 cup butter soft
2 eggs
1+1/2 cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons milk
In a separate bowl mix than add to wet ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2+1/4 cups unbleached white flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chopped 

Bake at 375 degrees 12-15 minutes.
Optional: Melt more chocolate and drizzle over cookies after they are done baking.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chocolate Pudding Oh soooo Rich . .

Chocolate pudding is an amazingly easy, very decadent treat if you stage it right.
 I made this batch with tapioca flour instead of using corn starch or the very expensive kuzu
It thickened nicely and tasted the same. What a nice new trick to have in my cupboard.
Very Rich Chocolate Pudding
In a pan whisk, then cook over medium heat stirring constantly until thick:
5 egg yolks
2+1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons tapioca flour
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz dark chocolate
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
pinch salt

Serve chilled. It would be amazing with raspberries!!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stew For the Hungry

Apologies in advance to anyone vegetarian. I had to add this post because this stew came out so good. Of course you could make it without the meat, but for me, I have learned my body really needs the substance meat offers. I grew up vegetarian, and would most definitely refrain from eating animals if my body wasn't so darn stubborn in its determination to eat meat. Enough said. I just wanted to state my lack of conviction either toward or against meat eating. 
Last night my very sweet friend and I were trying to decide what sort of meal to make for dinner. We both new we wanted something along the lines of steak, but were not sure of what form or combination we desired. After watching the movie Julie and Julia a few weeks ago I have been waiting to make a stew, something like what was in the pot that Julie burns in the film. I don't remember the name, but it looked so good. 
So as I was saying, we were trying to get inspired when I remembered about the stew.
 Unfortunately the store we went to didn't have the meat we wanted so we both bought packages of ground buffalo instead. 

At home I put together the following stew. Sooo yummy . . . mmm . . .
The measurments are not exact because I didn't measure, but this is the gist.
Buffalo Meatball Tortilla Stew

Finely chop then saute in a large pot with a bit of olive oil. Add the vegetables one at a time starting with the onion and moving down the list. The onions need to have a minute to themselves, and the carrots take longer so there is a logic to this.:
1 large onion
3 large carrots 
2 stalks celery
1 red bell pepper

Once veggies are somewhat tender add and continue to saute for a few minutes:
1 large can tomato sauce
1 cup cooked black beans
salt and pepper to taste.

1+1/2 cups frozen corn or fresh if you have it
4 - 6 cups water
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin

In a pan with a dash of olive oil, cook gently over low to medium heat for several minutes:
1 pound ground buffalo made into 1" meat balls
Flip and cook another minute. Its best if these only are half 
cooked so when you add them to the stew they remain tender.
Add the meatballs carefully to the stew.
 a handful of chopped cilantro
 a large handful of crushed corn chips.
Yeay, you are ready to eat! 
Serve with more fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream and extra chips.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Hand Made Dollies

Hello Everyone,

I am posting this in an advertisement like fashion . . . I offer my sincere apologies : )
Over the last couple of weeks I have been making dolls for the holidays and want to let anyone
 who is interested in purchasing a doll know. I am selling them for way less than you would find 
on most online sights or catalogues. 
I need a couple days to complete a doll, so advanced notice is helpful.
I will post more available dolls soon!
Happy Holidays!!

P.S. If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment, or you can facebook message me.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Cookie Time

"Cookie time!" What is better when your a kid than those words? 
We were having friends over and I wanted to make the most of the cold, cold day that California only graces us with occasionally. Rolled cookies are something I haven't done much, so I glanced around the internet, stubbornly wouldn't take anyones complete opinion, hodge podged my own recipe, and had a lot of fun. The cookies were good ~ not overly sweet and shortbread like. I want to work on the recipe more, maybe a little heavy cream would be good. They did roll wonderfully though, and so much fun it is when the dough actually stays together when rolled out. I did the first batch with my four year-old son's help. We "tested" to see that they held together, and were tasty. 
The second batch I turned over to the rest of the kids, covered my eyes, peeked through my fingers at the messy flour and the sprinkles they were consuming by the hand load.
The loads of fun that they had, made it totally worth it. So often I can't quite bring myself to let go and let them reign in cookie glory. Oh I guess I mean messy glory. What is it with us mothers?
  • Rolled Shortbread Cookies
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • In a large bowl cream together:

  • 1 cup butter soft
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (if you like more sweet add another 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Add and continue to beat:
2 eggs

2+1/2 cups flour
1+1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cover dough and chill for 20-30 minutes for easier handling.

Roll dough out on a floured surface, cut with cookie cutters then place on buttered cookie sheet. Add sprinkles if you so desire.

Bake about 12-14 minutes
Optional: Melt chocolate and spread on the surface. Mmmm . . . 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Gooey Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

So anyway, last night around 10:00  I realized I had nothing much to pack in a snack for the next morning. I decided instead of waiting and stressing out the next morning, I would make some muffins then. My kids really like pumpkin muffins as long as they are gooey enough. 
Of course, upon open the refrigerator the memory that I was out of eggs came flashing back. Alright, well I often find it fun to try to cook or bake minus important participating ingredients ~ it puts a whole fun twist on things. Many a time the outcome is far less than amazing, but sometimes it has the great effect of something yummy and somewhat different, or, exactly what you wanted but with the achievement of creating a new method to make it. Well, I don't know which category I would throw this into, but they came out superbly yummy! Is super short for superb?

Gooey Vegan Pumpkin Muffins
Preheat oven to 375

In a large bowl mix:
1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
1 cup rice milk
1/3 cup grape-seed oil
1 cup sugar

In a separate bowl mix then add to wet ingredients:

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Pour into oiled muffin pan. 
Bake 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
Careful, they are very hot when they first come out, and it takes them a while to cool. 
                                                              ~Best wishes, Marica

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pie . . . pie . . . and more pie

All right, how many pictures of pie do you think were uploaded to the internet in the last five 
days . . . ? . . . at least on American soil? Well I looked it up but there was no number or even 
anything about that on google. I thought somewhere there would be a rough tally or estimate; at 
least on flickr or facebook or something. . . ? But no such luck. We can only imagine, and 
considering Thanksgiving is like another word for pie, I would guess a lot. So here are a couple
 of  pie pictures capturing our indulgence.
We spent Thanksgiving with my parents and made apple pie from their incredibly, fabulous apples that actually taste better just picked than any pie could ever boast, but we made pie just the same : )

  This was a gluten free berry tart using left over berries in the refrigerator.
And of course Thanksgiving wouldn't be thanksgiving without pumpkin pie~
Happy Thanksgiving everyone ~Marica

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Roasted Vegetable Soup

I've been day dreaming about this soup for over a year. This afternoon I decided to finally make dreams a reality : ) I'm joking, but I did want to put the potatoes in my refrigerator to use and if I may say so it was a good use.  I am putting in the measurements as best I can, but I didn't measure by the cup or ounce, so trust your instincts and taste buds.

Roasted Vegetable Soup
In a 11"x13" baking dish drizzle olive oil liberally and arrange:
5 medium new potatoes chopped
2 small red onions chopped
4-5 large carrots chopped
5 cloves garlic peeled
3 stalks celery chopped

Drizzle with more olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and salt and pepper to taste.
Bake for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until the carrots are decently tender
In a medium pot bring 1+1/2 cups water to a simmer.
2 teaspoons better than bouillon or 2 bouillon cubes.

Add 2/3 of the cooked vegetables. If you have one of those
blending wands, this is the time to use it. Be sure not to
over blend, you want some texture.
1 teaspoon mustard
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
and the rest of the roasted vegetables.

I really enjoyed this soup, and I hope you do too!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So much yarn . . .

No, this is not a photo in a yarn store. It is actually due to a most wonderful phone call I received a couple of weeks ago. My very close friend had come into some yarn and was in need of placing abundant amounts in a good home. Well need I explain how welcoming my home is to such a large supply of wool and silk, cotton and silk rayon blends. 
I headed over to her house with a small backpack, unsure of how much yarn she was really talking. On the phone she had excitedly explained a pick-up-truck and van full of yarn, but I had know idea she really meant a pick-up and a van load of yarn. As I stepped through the gate into her yard I saw a blanket laid out with neatly piled bunches and rows and rows of yarn. I was entirely satisfied, it never occurring to me that there would be more. As I looked through what was laid out she said she had to show me some more over on the path-walk . . . and the front porch  . . . and the back . . . Oh my gosh, she had an entire yarn store sitting in her front yard! Needless to say my backpack was of small use. I ended up with two large boxes filled with the most beautiful yarn. 
I have loads of ideas and and have only scraped the surface of the projects I want to start.
 What perfect timing as we are gaining way into fall and with the holidays coming upon us so quickly. It always takes cold weather for my fingers to itch to knit. Well I better get a-knitting!