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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




Sweetheart or Sweet Heart Pancakes for Valentines Day









Make someone happy this Valentines day. I sure made my my little Pancake lovers happy with these cute heart shaped pancakes.
They are super easy to make. Just divide the batter into two parts, and add 1 drop of red food coloring for a sweet pink version, and about 2-3 for the red version.
Bake in a lightly buttered griddle (medium heat) in a heart shaped pancake mold. 
If you don't have heart shaped mold, you can slowly pour the batter into a heart shape into the griddle, and help the shape along with a knife. That works just fine too. 


Sprinkle a little powdered sugar... just for  l o v e ...
I topped the pancakes with fresh Strawberries, Blackberries, and a little Maple Syrup. Voila.. They are regular pancakes, only they taste a bit lovelier! 


To make it extra special for your little Valentine(s), you can make a yummy strawberry milk or milk shake to go with it. 


Shhh... they are very fluffy too :)

Wish you all a very sweet Valentines day!!

 ♥  Diana

Sweetheart Pancakes

(makes about 6)

Ingedients:

1 cup all- purpose flower
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Whisk together the flour,baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar in medium bowl. Add eggs and buttermilk. Whisk to combine. The Batter should have small lumps.