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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

German Streusel Cake with Apricots


Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. We spend one day with our Friends, the other we just hung out at our little Ranch. We currently have 90 degree weather, and our Orchard is full of ripe fruits ready to be picked. Yesterday we've picked some Apricots, and made a yummy German Streusel cake (Crumb Cake) with Cream Cheese and Apricots. A childhood favorite of mine. You can substitute the Apricots with any other fruit. My favorites are, Plums, Cherries, or Blueberries.
Hope you will try it. Recipe is below pictures.







German Streusel Cake with Apricots

Dough/Topping

250g Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Egg
Pinch Salt
3 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Cream Butter with Sugar, Vanilla Extract, Egg and Salt, add Flour with Baking Powder, until you get a smooth dough. Grease Baking Pan (I use a 9x13 inch), and use 2/3 of dough to press evenly onto Baking pan. Set aside. 

Make the Cream Cheese Filling.

24 oz Cream Cheese (3- 8oz packages)
1/2 cup Sour Cream
1 cup Sugar
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 Egg
1/2 teaspoon finely grated Lemon (optional)

Pour Cream Cheese mixture over prepared dough. Cut and Pit ca 10-12 Apricots. Put fruit over cream cheese filling. Then add remaining dough in little clumps all over the cake. Bake at 350 degrees ca 40-45 minutes. Let cool and refrigerate.

Love,

Diana



Thursday, May 22, 2014

Strawberry Meringue Tartlets


Need a last minute desert recipe for Memorial Weekend? I baked a batch of these Strawberry Meringue Tartlets this morning. They didn't even last 15 minutes in my house. I'm not kidding... fifteen minutes! 
OMG, biting in the slightly chewy Meringue was like biting in a heavenly cloud, and the juicy Strawberry filling...They are that good!!






Here is the Recipe:


Heavenly Strawberry Meringue Tartlets

Dough:

1 1/2 cup Flour
2 tablespoons Powder Sugar
pinch Salt
1 stick cold unsweetened sweet cream butter
1 Egg yolk
3 tablespoons ice cold water


Filling:

1 small package fresh Strawberries
juice of 1/2 lime
Strawberry Jam

For the Meringue:

3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon Cream of Tartar

Directions:

(makes a 9" Tart or 6 Mini Tartlets)

1. Preheat Oven to 325 degrees

2. In a bowl, combine Flour with sugar and salt. Cut cold butter into small pieces and add to flour. Start to knead quickly until dough is crumbly, then add the egg yolk and the cold water. Knead everything quickly until dough is smooth. Place dough into the Refrigerator ca. 30 minutes.

3. Wash, dry and slice the Strawberries. Squeeze a little lime juice over.

4. On a floured surface, roll out dough, cut out 6 big circles and put into buttered tartlet baking forms. With a fork make a few holes in the dough. Bake 15 minutes in the oven.

5. Meringue: With electric mixer bead egg whites with pinch of salt, vanilla and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peak. Then add the sugar one soon at the time slowly into the thickening egg whites. Increase the speed to high and keep mixing until it becomes a stiff  thick and fluffy cream. (Important. Don't reduce the Sugar amount, or the Meringue will not come out right.)

6. Spread a little Strawberry jam over the tartlets. Top with Strawberries and add the Meringue on top. Place back into oven and bake another 20 minutes, until Meringue is slightly brown.

Cool on Kitchen rack.

If you can't wait until tartlets are fully cooled, they taste delishious warm :)





Love, 

Diana

Monday, March 17, 2014

Superfood Quinoa Salad & New Dishes


Today, I want to share a super yummy and healthy Salad with you. It is a current favorite in our family.
Nice green and slightly crunchy.
Recipe is below the pictures. 




My new dishes. They are baby blue. I like them so much, I bought them in different colors. 




My little dreamer, Tatum.




Meet the newest members of my family. They are 1 day old. I'm officially a mommy of 5 kids and 8 Chickie's :) Need names still. Any suggestions??


Superfood Quinoa Salad 

(serves 4)

4 cups Broccoli florets
2 cups Green Peas (fresh/or frozen)
2 cups Cucumber (sliced)
1 Avocado (diced)
1/4 cup Onion (minced)
1 1/2 cups Quinoa
200g Feta Cheese
1 hand full Alfalfa Sprouts 
1 bunch Cilantro (minced)
a little fresh Mint (optional)
6 tablespoons Olive Oil
Juice of 1 Lemon
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup mixed Seeds slightly toasted (Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame, Chia)


Cook Quinoa in water until soft. Let cool down.

Cook Broccoli about 5 minutes so it has a slight crunch. (I think I over cooked my slightly). If you are using frozen peas, add them for about 1 minute to the pot. Remove Broccoli and Peas and put in ice water for about a minute , so the color of the veggies remain green. 

In a bowl mix the cooled down Quinoa with all the veggies, and herbs. Make the Olive Oil/ Lemon Dressing. Mix into Salad. Crumble Feta cheese and toasted Seeds, add to the Salad.

Enjoy!

xo, 

Diana




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ahoy there


Calling all Captains, Sailors and Pirates!

I have great news for you today. Have you seen Ikea's new Summer Collection? No... Well, I'm glad you here. They have RIGHT NOW all these beautiful nautical merchandise, that make you wish for summer to come faster by. At least... that's what I wish for :)
Gorgeous, isnt it?


© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014

© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014

The LISEL textiles are inpired by fisherman villages, and Coast life. Designs are available in traditional nautical colors, Red, White, and Blue.
Lots of marytime detail. Nautical knots, Ropes, and Ocean life. 
© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014
Love the Hampton Style look without the hefty prize tag?
They have Bedding, Pillows, Dish towels, Tabletop wares, even Carpets.

© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014

These cute pillows (in form of a Makarel) are my favorites. I know my two little pirates would love to have them in their room.
© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014



... and how cute are the crabs. Love it.
© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014





© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014

I love, love stripes. The towels are perfect to take to the beach. The carpets are flat weaved, and made for indoor/ and outdoor use.
© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2014

I'm off to Ikea.

xo, Diana



You can find:

Makarel Pillow here
Bedding here
Rugs here
Dish towels here and here


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Feather Decoration DIY


Hi there,

 today I have a nice spring decoration DIY for you.  It's a great "in between" Easter decoration idea. Or if you are tired of the same traditional egg hangers, I could imagine it as a Easter center piece as well. The best part is, you need very little to make these clay feathers, and they are so easy to make. Oh... and NO Mess!!










Instructions:
Take a small part (Walnut size) of the Modelling clay and roll it with a Noodle roller on a piece of foil. (The feathers will come easy of the foil, once dried). OK, so after you have rolled your clay thinly, you take an exactor knife and cut the clay in a shape of a feather. If you not good at cutting freehand, you always can find pictures on the Internet that you can print and use as template. Next, roll another (pea size) of the clay, roll it on your hand. This will be the quill, in the middle of the feather. Brush a little water onto feather, so the quill will stick.




Next step: With an Exactor knife (or needle) "scratch" lightly to make contour-lines. Make a few grooves and bend it slightly, so it looks more natural. Then make a small hole in the upper left , next to the quill, so it can be hung later. Let your feathers air dry, up to 24 hours.
Once completely dry, you can file the sides a little to smooth'en out rough edges.
Insert a string. Its ready to hang now. I like the look when the feathers are hanging on a simple dry tree branch. I think it looks even elegant. What do you think?

Happy crafting, and decorating friends!!

xo, Diana


Friday, February 28, 2014

What to do on a rainy Saturday + Sugar Cookie Recipe

Were ending February with a huge rainstorm, thunder and snow in the mountains. Not so good when you have little boys who love the outdoors.
The last few days my creative team converted my living room into Lego land. It's fine with me. We're enjoying the cuddle days to the fullest.

Before complaining about the cold and the Rain. Here are 10 really good reasons coming from a couch potato ( if I only would have time, but if I COULD... I would never leave my Couch...).











On rainy days you can without guilt:


1. Snuggle up in cozy pillows and blankets

2. Spend half of the day cuddling with the kids, reading funny books together, or read super exciting Novels half of the night (and look like a Zombie the next day... it's OK.. that's how I scare the UPS guy periodically.)

3. Stay in comfy Jogging pants, cozy sweater and warm wool socks.

4. Make hot Soup, crook pot meals, and sweet deserts. (food for the soul)

5. Light scented candles all day (I'm loving right now Vanilla, and crisp bamboo)

6. Bake cookies with the kids. Dip in hot chocolate

7. Do some shopping, get crafty, or do whatever makes you feel sunny

3. Put a bunch of pillows on the floor and watch good movies, have Pizza delivered, and eat Popcorn.

4. Make hot Cacao with a dash of Cinnamon


February... I liked you. It's my Birthday month, but looking forward to Spring now.



The Cookie recipe I used in today's post is from Martha Steward. We love it.





















Sugar Cookies

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I used finely grated zest of 2 Lemons instead)

Directions:

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs.

Add flour mixture, and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Stir in vanilla, or lemon zest. Put dough in freezer bag and refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. On a flowered surface, roll dough to about 1/8 thickness, and cut with cookie cutters in desired shapes. Bake on a ungreased  baking sheet 8-10 minutes.
Cool on wire racks, and decorate as desired.









 Happy Snuggling!

Diana

Miso Soup Recipe

   


It has been raining all morning. It's cold, and two of my kids are having the sniffles. 
A healthy comforting soup was in order. So, I thought, 
instead of making traditional Chicken Noodle Soup,  I change it up a bit with this Japanese staple. I have made Miso Soup before, and the kids really loved it.

I used this white Miso paste. It is mild and sweet in taste. It's also Non- GMO. A perfect base for this Soup. You could also use yellow Miso paste. The darker the color of the Miso, the stronger (earthy) the taste of the soup will be. 
You can find Miso paste at Whole Foods Market, or in Japanese, and Korean Markets.

Miso Soup is also really healthy, and good for you.  I did a little research. This is what I found.

In looking at the health value of light, sweet miso, it is notable that it contains a high amount of lactic acid bacteria, is high in simple sugars and typically holds about twice as much niacin as darker, saltier varieties. All-natural miso is also a living food that contains beneficial microorganisms such as Tetragenococcus Halopphilus, a bacterium that is active in the fermentation process. It is known to be an adequate source of the Vitamin B12 for vegans who cannot regularly consume it in meat products. It also contains 2 grams of protein for every 25 calories, which makes it a great, low calorie source of protein. In addition it carries a plethora of trace minerals such as zinc, manganese, and copper.





Now to the recipe. Hope you enjoy it.

xo, Diana

P. S. Stop by tomorrow. I have somethings sweet for you!

If you like, you can sign up with us (on the right side), and get new posts delivered directly to your email.

Miso Soup Recipe - Chicken Udon

  • 5 cups water 
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste 
  • 1 cup sliced carrots (Brokoli optional)
  • 1 cup dried Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup dried wakame (Seaweed)
  • 1 chicken breast (cut into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 package udon noodles (or soba noodles)
  • 1 cup cubed firm organic/Non-GMO tofu 
  • 3 tablespoons Mirin (optional)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green scallions 
  • Salt to taste

  1. Bring water to a simmer in a medium or large pot over medium-high heat. Whisk in the miso paste and add the chicken, carrots, udon noodles, shiitake mushrooms, seaweed, and tofu. 
  2. Simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Top with green scallions

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mini Lemon Cake Recipe





I just finished baking these cute mini lemon cakes for the Weekend. They are sweet, lemony, and soo juicy. I have a feeling they not gonna last much beyond the time my oldest kids come home from school :)


These mini cakes are so easy and super quick to make. A very yummy way to start your morning with a cup of hot coffee.




This little snicker doodle went into my photo shoot, and kept stealing the cakes from the plate :)



Mini Lemon Cakes

2 Sticks Vegetable Shortening (or Butter)
1 cup Sugar
4 Eggs
Zest of one Lemon (finely grated)
Juice of one Lemon
1 cup Flower
1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix shortening with sugar. Add one egg at the time to the mixer. Add grated lemon zest, and the lemon juice. Then add the flower with baking powder to the mixer. Combine well. Pour into lightly buttered silicon baking forms. Bake ca 15 minutes, or until fully baked through.

I love taking silicon baking form. The cakes come out so easy, without breaking apart. They are also easier to clean.

Let cakes cool on a cookie rack. Meantime if you like, you can make a lemon glaze for the topping.

Lemon Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar
a few drops of lemon juice

Mix together. Tip: Use very little of juice. The glaze should be thick and creamy. If you add to much juice the glaze will seep into cakes.

Enjoy, and have a happy weekend everyone!

xo, Diana

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Clean Food Challenge Sumary + Chunky Potato Leak Soup - Vegan-




Clean eating may feel a little overwhelming at the beginning, especially if you have a lot of changes to make. My best advise is if you make make little changes everyday, eventually your body will get used to it, and this will become your new more healthy lifestyle.

The focus on eating clean is not to lose weight, but to focus on overall good health. If we get used to eating wholesome, healthy, and fresh foods our skin will glow, and we gonna just feel better. It is best to avoid processed foods of any kind, and become accustomed to real, fresh, and if possible organic food.


On a side note: If you have tasted organic produce before, you will know the difference in taste between organic and non- organic. I am lucky to be able to grow my own fruits and vegetables, but there are times out of the year when I have to buy my produce at the grocery stores.



I am not Vegan, however with so many vegan dishes floating around the Internet these days, very scrumptious looking ones too, I thought I give it a try. And who doesn't want to do good for their body, and live a healthier lifestyle. Right? Everyone... especially at New Years... :)

So, a few weeks ago, I bought this lovely cook book. "Isa does it" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Isa makes flavorful and satisfying vegan meals from scratch every day, mostly in 30 minutes or less.
This book is over 300 pages, hardcover, and packed with over 150 recipes.  There are loads of cooking tips and tricks, a section on stocking a pantry, and lots of helpful pictures for those visual learners amongst us. I have tried many of her delicious recipes, which were a hit even by my most discriminating little eaters, and I will be making these more often. 


You can check out my 5 day eating plan with MY OWN Recipes here Clean Food Diet - Day 1, here  Clean Food Diet - Day 2- , here  Clean Food Diet - Day 3-,  here   Clean Food Diet - Day 4-, and here   Clean Food Diet - Day 5- 



However, for me, here a the pros and cons of going completely Vegan:

Pros:

1. For me the biggest win, because of the radical change of the diet, one learns not only new  wonderful Ingredients, one also learns about wholesome and healthy diet altogether.

Even though I always try to cook for my family a well balanced meal with fresh varieties,  and mostly Organic. With this book, however, I got more aware of wholesome foods.

The Cons: 

Regional Organic made products have a higher significance then before, but they are hard to find in most grocery stores. My nearest Whole foods market is 40 miles away from were I live. The markets nearby offer very little Organic products, even the produce is 90% processed. 

Pros:

2. We got to try and love new Ingredients like Quinoa, Amaranth, Goji Berries, Accai, Macca Powder, and soy yogurts.

During the challenge, I did not feel I was deprived of eating meat, even when the rest of the family ate meat.
I swapped Milk out for Coconut and Almond Milk, and ate Soy based Yogurts. 
I didn't really needed anything else, surprisingly.

The real challenge is how to cook practically for a family of 7 from now on only vegan?

Answer:
It is not easy!
My husband and I are working mostly from home. The older kids leave to school about 7:30 am, and the two small ones are home with me. That means I have to cook Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner every day. The Cook book is great, however that means cooking several meals daily. As I mentioned earlier we are limited with grocery stores that carry wholesome organic products. That means planning ahead for the meals, and buying them seam' t to be to much hassle,  and I couldn't do it time wise. Usually, I don't have problems with preparing healthy meals for us. I'm pretty creative, and can whip up in short period of time a quick and healthy meal, without big planning and trying to get the ingredients.

Most of the dishes my little ones did not like, and offering them sandwiches all the time was not going to work , so I found myself cooking alternative meals. I cant starve the kids, right. That was a extra hassle.... every time!
Another Con is that if you have little kids it proves to be challenging. It is very time consuming, and for working Mommy's it's hard to manage.
Maybe for 2 people it is easier, I'm sure.
Altogether, it feels like the whole family is on a diet.

Also, I like to add. I did not feel any more energetic than usual. 

  
My kids love fruits of all kind. I could have a grocery assembly line directly from the supermarket into our kitchen, that's how many masses of produce gets eaten in our house. The kids alone eat about 8  Bananas daily, that makes 56 organic bananas a week. And those are only Bananas! :)
  I need a Semi Truck to go shopping, otherwise the food only lasts 2 days :)

Of course it has nothing to do with the book, it was clearly unrealistic time- wise for me during the clean food challenge.


For me alone, I'm happy with just bread and good piece of cheese, some grapes,
together with a glass of wine! 
However, I am more aware of the quality and the source of the things we eat.


I definitely try to be more conscious of eating healthier foods,  even when traveling and organic is not possible, I'm fine with that - I still try to enjoy my food.

I want to share this recipe from the book. Among other dishes, I really enjoyed this one.


Chunky Potato Leak Soup


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Leek (white and light green parts, thinly sliced)
1 small yellow onion (finely diced)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cashews, (soaked for at least 2 hours)
1 1/2 cups Water
2 lbs russet potatoes (cut into 1 inch chunks)
Freshly ground Pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (finely chopped)
4 cups vegetable broth

Preheat a 4 quart pot over medium heat, add the oil. Saute the leaks, and onion until softened.
Meantime make the Cashew cream. Drain Cashews and place into Food processor. Add water and blend until smooth and creamy. Set aside.

Back to the soup: Add potatoes, salt and pepper, thyme and broth. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.

With the soup on low heat, use a potato masher to mash the potatoes (I only did it with half of the soup . My kids love it a little chunky). Add the cashew cream, stir and heat through. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.

Get the Book here: Isa does it

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Easy Flower decoration tips





It is the middle of February, and it is 75 degrees here in Los Angeles. Can you believe it? We are cheated this winter. I'm not complaining though, honestly, I like this neutral weather we're having. My Peach and Apricot trees are flowering already. They smell is so beautiful ...  I cut off a few twigs and brought it into my house. I arranged them into small candle votive's that spread the word l o v e.
Well February is all about love, right!


Bring fresh, natural beauty into your home.



A simple arangement of pink tuips and peach blossoms appoint the entryway cabinet of my home. The soft pink tulips, and irredesant white make a pretty contrast against the "Hemp" painted wall.
The Tulips also add a burst of color. And who doesnt love fresh flowers to brighten up the home?






 1. Be creative. Add fresh flowers to candle votif's, tin jars, mason jars, or pretty tee cups.

2. To keep flowers fresh, cut stem in a 45 degree angle before placing them into the vase. Cut every two days to ensure proper absorption of the water. Short cut flower arrangements look great on small side tables or coffee tables.

3. Solitary Flowers with long stem look great single in a vase, to bring out their natural form. Bushy flowers look good when arranged into a big bunch.

xo, Diana