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

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 . . . ! 

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

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

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.


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

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.


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.

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.

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.