Monday, December 29, 2008

Mari Christmas

Each and every year, without fail, the last two weeks of December fly by like a whirlwind of festivity. Days and nights packed to the brim with family, friends, wrapping paper, dinner parties, tree trimming, and sweet treats. This year was no exception, there were gatherings with family and a darling new baby cousin to be cuddled, visits with dear friends from near and far where delicious food, beverages, and hugs were shared.  There were holiday lights to look at, festive tunes to listen to, and old movies to be watched (some like Rudolph, Christmas Story, and Christmas Vacation for the 100th time). There was baking to be done, and not just for family and friends this year but for all of my lovely Mari Made customers, and there were holiday meals to be planned. The first meal was a Christmas Eve dinner with Mom and family, which was to be completely gluten free!

Green Bean Casserole

Made by Aunt Leah

Recipe coming soon!


Roasted Root Veggies

Serves 8 to 10


5 skinny yams

5 beets

4 or 5 parsnips

½ cup honey

¼ cup olive oil

5 sprigs of thyme

salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 and then peel and slice all the root veggies to ½ inch thickness. Toss the veggies in a large bowl with the oil, honey, thyme, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Pour the veggies onto one large rimmed baking sheet or two medium ones, whatever it takes to have the veggies in a single layer. Cover with foil and roast for 45 minutes, or until the veggies are fork tender (halfway thru cook time give the veggies a stir to make sure they are not sticking). Remove the foil and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the veggies crisp up just slightly on top.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 8


2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 gloves of garlic, minced

½ cup pecans, chopped

A pinch of nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400. In a large bowl toss together the Brussels sprouts, olive oil, maple syrup, garlic, pecans, nutmeg, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Pour the sprouts onto a large baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until fork tender.


Sweet Root Beer Carrots

Serves 8


½ cup water

12 oz bottle of gluten free root beer

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon clove

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon sea salt

2 pounds baby carrots

4 sprigs of fresh thyme


In a large saucepan bring the water, root beer, sugar, spices, and salt to a boil. Add the carrots to the pot and let simmer covered for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to simmer carrots, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until fork tender. Place the carrots and some of the sweet liquid into a serving dish and sprinkle with thyme.


Nutty Stuffed Chicken

Serves 8



4 chicken breasts, cut in two and flattened

1 bag fresh prewashed spinach

1 cup feta cheese

1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped

1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pepper

2  or 3 eggs


Preheat your oven to 375.  In a large dish or wide bowl combine the chopped nuts, salt and pepper and set aside.  Crack the eggs into another wide dish, mix and set aside as well (start with 2 eggs, if you find you are running out of egg during the assembly process you can add the third). Using the flat side of a meat tenderizer pound the chicken breasts between 2 sheets of wax paper until flat, about ¼ inch thick. Once the chicken breasts are all flattened you are ready to assemble the stuffed chicken. Start by laying out one of the chicken pieces and placing about a tablespoon full of feta and 5 or 6 spinach leaves scrunched up in the middle. Wrap the chicken around the stuffing tucking the ends under and then using a pastry brush paint the chicken with the egg wash. Once coated with egg dip the chicken in the nuts and press the chopped nuts into the chicken until coated.   Place the chicken onto a rimmed baking pan and repeat process until all the chicken is stuffed.  Bake chicken for 25 to 30 minutes or until cooked through.


Pecan Pie

Makes one delicious 9 inch pie


Crust Ingredients

¾ cup brown rice flour

¼ cup Potato Starch

1/8 cup Tapioca Starch

¾ teaspoon xanath gum

¼ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled

1 egg

1-2 tablespoons cold orange juice

Filling Ingredients

2 eggs

2 ½ cups pecans, coarsely chopped

½ cup sweetened flake coconut

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup brown sugar

½ cup light corn syrup

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup gluten free semi sweet chocolate chips


First off preheat your oven to 375.

In a food processor or mixer combine flour, xanath gum, salt, and sugar and mix until combined.  Add the butter and pulse or mix until crumbly. Add the eggs and then drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the chilled orange juice and pulse or mix until the dough comes together. Add a second tablespoon of orange juice if needed. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, form into a disc shape, and pop in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.

Once chilled, roll dough out between two sheets of wax or parchment paper until wide enough to cover a 9 inch pie pan. Transfer to the pan, crimp edges, prick all over with a fork, and then pop in the oven to pre bake for 5 minutes.

While the crust is baking you can prepare the filling.

In a large bowl beat the eggs and then add to them the vanilla, chopped nuts, and coconut flakes, stir till combined, and then set aside. In a medium saucepan combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup, and salt over medium heat and mix until the butter is melted. Add the sugar mix to the egg, coconut nut mixture and stir just until combined.

Once the pie crust is prebaked sprinkle the chocolate chips onto the bottom of the crust. Pour the pie filling atop that and then pop back in the oven to bake until done, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool before serving.

The dinner was delicious! Even the non GF diners were pleased.  

My personal favorites were the flavorful root veggies and the sweet chocolaty pie of course!

After a few more hours of catching up with family, exchanging gifts, watching holiday films, and having marshmallow gun fights it was off to bed for sugar plum dreams and a peaceful nights sleep.

The next day after a breakfast of banana oatmeal and taking a family photo in the yard with Mom and the brand new Red Ryder BB Gun Santa brought her 


Chris and I headed up to Irvine for Christmas day dinner with Dad. Dad had gotten a ham and made a green bean casserole. While I chopped veggies for a salad and whipped up a batch of mashed sweet and russet potatoes.

I did not write down the specific measurements but here is an approximation of the recipe.

Yummy Mashed Sweetie Potatoes

You can use all sweet potatoes if you like or substitute yams for the russets, we just happened to have these particular potatoes on hand so this is what we used and the combination turned out scrumptious!


3 sweet potatoes

3 russet potatoes

¼ cup vanilla soy milk

1 or 2 pats of butter

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Salt and pepper to taste


Boil the potatoes until they are fork tender. Drain water from the pan and mash with a masher or squish through a potato ricer. Add the soymilk, butter, and cinnamon and mash until smooth. Add more milk or butter if you like and season with salt and pepper to taste.


We enjoyed our dinner with a delicious cab that I had given Dad for Christmas last year. 


The remainder of the evening was spent catching up and chatting about a snowy Christmas adventure to Lake Arrowhead that the three of us would be departing for in less than 24 hours.  

December 26th we awoke to a sunshiny Southern California day, packed up our things and headed east, past Riverside, up a tall mountain and windy road until the palm trees turned to pine and the green grass to rolling hills of white. 

When we arrived at the cabin and I first stepped out of the car I was welcomed with a rush of brisk 34 degree air and a super slippery walkway of white frozen snow that blanketed the ground.

Once we got settled into the cute cabin Chris and Dad shoveled part of the 3+ feet of snow from our deck so we could have a bit of a view while I immediately went to figure out how to turn on the heater in the cabin.

After exploring the house and warming up a bit we bundled up and headed out into the snow to check out the town where we found...


Soda machines

Shopping carts

And a Coach store!

After wandering in the cold for a while we decided to head over to the Lake Arrowhead Resort to thaw out a little and take a peek at some of the old pictures of Hollywood stars and starlets from the past that had visited the lake while shooting films like Heidi, Your Never Too Young, and Parent Trap .We also sat a while at the bar and enjoyed some warm beverages. Chris had an Irish coffee, Dad had a scotch, and I had a Keokie coffee.

After finishing our toasty drinks we headed back to the cabin and got started on dinner for the night. Chris made pollo asado and I made black beans and corn with hot sauce.


Dinner was delicious and helped warm us up on the chilly winter night. With each passing hour the temperature continued to drop so we gathered some wood for a fire and decided to make some hot beverages to warm our hands and bellies with. The only thing better on a cold winter night than hot tea or cocoa is hot mulled wine so Chris mixed up a pot of it with a bottle of cab, cup of sugar, 2 cups of water, and whole spices (cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, and orange rind). 

We sipped our wine, took in the heat of the fire, and admired the glistening snow outside till our eyelids were too heavy to stay awake any longer.

The next morning we awoke to find it was another brisk day out.


Most of the snow had frozen completely over night so the guys went out to shovel us a sledding trail in the front driveway while I prepared breakfast.


French Toast with Blueberry Sauce

Vegan and Gluten Free



2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 ½ cups vanilla soy milk

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 loaf of gluten free bread, cut into thick slices (about 1 inch thick)

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon sugar


Mash up the bananas in a deep rimed dish large enough to hold all the pieces of bread. Add to this the vanilla, soy milk, and cinnamon and mix until combined.

Place the slices of bread into the mixture and let soak for 2 or 3 minutes, flip and let soak for another 2 or 3 minutes.


Heat a lightly greased pan over medium heat until hot and then cook the soaked toasts on each side until golden brown on each side. Be careful not to burn the toasts or let them stick too much to the pan.

While the toasts are cooking put the blueberries in a pan with the water and sugar and cook over medium heat until all the berries pop and meld together to form a lumpy sauce.

Top the toasts with the blueberry sauce and enjoy!

The remainder of our day and trip consisted of sledding.


And playing old games like Clue while finishing off the mulled wine.  It was an adventurous, delicious, and relaxing weekend that fulfilled my white Christmas craving and left me feeling very appreciative of the sunny southern California winter weather we had waiting for us back home. 

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