My Sweet Marie

Archive for February 2012

On Sunday we belatedly celebrated my 50th birthday with the kids. We had been away for my actual birthday and sunday was the first chance we had to celebrate as a family. I requested this cake for my dinner and it was delicious! This cake would be good for anybody, not just those who eat gluten-free as it was soooo good! I am not normally a chocolate cake kind of girl but this sounded so good, I had to have it! and have it, I did!


  • 1 box of betty Crocker Gluten free devils food cake mix
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 cup shredded unpeeled zucchini
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp of ground cloves (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 eggs

Streusel :

  • 1/4 cup reserved cake mix
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans


  1. Heat oven to 350. Grease the bottom of a 10 x 13 pan.
  2. Reserve 1/4 of cake mix for streusel, set aside.
  3. In large bowl, beat cake mix, butter, zucch, cinnamon, cloves and eggs on low-speed for 30 seconds, then on medium for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally. Spread in your pan.
  4. In small bowl, mix reserved cake mix, and other streusel ingredients with fork till mixture is crumbly. sprinkle over batter.
  5. Bake 44 to 49 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Serve warm or cool. Lovely with a scoop of ice cream or sorbet!

Yesterday morning I was chatting with Heather, a good neighbor and even better friend, and together, we declared it National Pyjama Day! We both agreed that it was a wet, cold and miserable day so we both planned to stay in jammies, read our books and just relax! Heather said she was going to make a homemade face mask and I said uh…that sounds cool.

Not long later, Gary, her husband, knocked on the door and handed me a container with this green goop in it. I asked what it was. He said it’s your face mask, have fun! So I did! I washed my face and put this green goop all over my face and then went to read my book.

It didn’t take long before it was tightening up and drying! I had a look in the mirror and thought whoa baby, that is not pretty! I had chunks of avocado on my face and I suddenly had an urge for corn chips and salsa!

While I was waiting for it to dry I went in search for more recipes like this. I will post a few along with this recipe!

Not long later, I rinsed it all off and my face felt great! so soft and clean. You must try this! Here’s the recipe:


Homemade Face Mask

  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tsp yogurt (thicker is better)
  • 1/2 avocado

Mash the avocado well, add in the yogurt and honey. rub all over your face and sit and relax while it dries. rinse well when face has tightened up!

You can do the face mask and have a nice bath while it dries. Try this recipe below and have a real spa day for yourself. Call a few friends and have a girlfriend day using these recipes!


2 cups finely ground sea salt
1/2 cup baking soda
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons light oil
1 teaspoons vitamin E oil
2 eggs
5-6 drops essential oil of your choice

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Combine all the listed ingredients and form into a dough. Using a teaspoon or so of dough at a time, roll it gently in the palm of your hand until it forms a ball. Form all dough into one teaspoon balls, and gently place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Consider sprinkling the bath balls with herbs, flower petals, cloves, citrus zest and similar aromatic ingredients. Bake your bath cookies for ten minutes, until they are lightly browned. Do not over bake. Allow the bath cookies to cool completely. To use, Drop 1 or 2 cookies into a warm bath and allow to dissolve. Yield: 24 cookies, enough for 12 baths.

Thanks Heather, here’s to your Peace!

Sweet Marie

I found this recipe at work in a cookbook, will post the name of the book on Monday! It sounded so good, that I had to try it and am I ever glad I did!  It’s healthy, dairy,gluten and egg-free! Not to mention, YUMMY!


  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
  • 1 – 14oz can of artichokes, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice(yes it does make a difference!)
  •  1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt


  1. Soak almonds overnight and cover with water. Leave on counter for 6-12 hours. Drain and rinse well.
  2. Place all ingredients into food processor. Process until mixture is smooth.
  3. Can be served as a dip or you can put it in a small loaf pan lined with plastic wrap and chill to form shape of a pate!
  4. Serve with veggies, crackers or nachos!
  5. Enjoy!

Recipe for Gluten-Free goldfish Crackers  comes from another GF blogger @


  • 4-ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (Dayia for non-dairy/soya cheese)
  • 4 Tbs. (1/4 cup) Butter, softened or Earth Balance non-dairy spread
  • 2/3 cup (100 grams) Rice Flour (preferably superfine rice flour to avoid a gritty texture)
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 3 Tbs. Milk or soy milk or rice etc

Optional Toppings:

  • Sea Salt, Dried Herbs or Spices


  1. Preheat oven to 400 deg. F. (see note). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all ingredients, except the milk (or buttermilk), in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Pulse the mixture into pea-sized crumbles.
  3. Slowly add the buttermilk while running the processor full tilt, until the mixtures comes together in a ball.
  4. Divide dough into 4 equal parts.
  5. On a floured sheet of parchment paper (use more rice flour), flatten 1/4 of the dough into a disk. Sprinkle the top of the dough disk with more rice flour then place a second sheet of parchment paper over the top. Use a rolling-pin to roll the dough between 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness (any thicker and the cracker won’t be as crunchy).
  6. Carefully lift off the top sheet of parchment paper. Using a floured goldfish cookie cutter (or other shape), cutout the cracker shapes. Add smiles and eyes if desired.
  7. Bake on prepared baking sheet for 6 – 10 minutes (see note). The crackers should be light and crispy, although barely browning at the edges. The bottom of the crackers will have a bit more color.




All ovens are different so temperature and baking time can differ. My recommendation is to bake 3 or 4 crackers at  recommended time (9 – 10 minutes) and see how well your crackers turn out.

I lowered the temperature in my oven to 375 deg. and baked a second test batch for the same time (9 – 10 minutes) and they were still overdone so I reduced the baking time until I found my magic number, 6 – 7 minutes per batch.

It’s better to do small test batches until you find the right time and temp for your oven so you don’t throw a fit when you’ve burned 3 dozen Goldfish!

Denis and I were in Playa for 18 days and we got to have some pretty good eats. Here’s a few of our faves:

  • Los Amigos – on 30th Ave – good food, good service & nice atmosphere
  • El Fagon – on 30th Ave- Great tacos! All the food is good, the frijoles sopa a must have! Try the kebobs, delish!
  • Don Sirloins- 30th Ave – tacos and fajitas…yum!
  • Yaxche – great atmosphere, higher end, service is fabulous, Mayan traditional dishes, definitely a nice place to dine!
  • Blue Lobster- wonderful food and atmosphere. be careful if you order lobster, can be very pricey!
  • Mestizo’s on 30th at calle 24. Italian food by Italians! They even did gluten-free pasta for me…amazing!
  • El Pirate Pollo – BBQ chicken – very good! a complete full-chicken dinner for 95 pesos! on 30th at calle 32- a must have at least once!
  • Mannie’s Biergarden- German/Mexican food. Very good food at very reasonable prices. German beers to boot! Calle 34 between Avenida 30 and 25.
  • Las Aguachiles – great ceviche, fish tacos! A must every visit to Playa! On calle 34 at Avenida 25
  • Street Meat! Try the tacos from the street vendors, look for the vendors that are always busy and being used by the locals…you can get tacos for 10 pesos each! UNREAL GOODNESS! For $3 you have lunch that will make you smile!!

Those are some of our favourite places that we went to! We found that prices were fair everywhere we went but the nicer the table and chairs, the higher the prices. It was our private joke all week, do we want to have dinner on white plastic chairs or a nice wooden chair? I hope this info will help you while visiting Playa Del Carmen!


Sweet Marie

At long last, Denis and I finally got to meet little Evelyn Rose! Can I just tell you how perfect she is? I know, all grand-mothers think their grand-children are perfect but truly for a preemie baby, she is! Her little head is just perfectly round and her features are just placed perfectly! I can tell already that she’s going to be a beauty just like her big sister Holly!

I am happy to inform you that Melanie and Evelyn are both doing great! Right now Evelyn is doing a lot of sleeping, so truly I haven’t even seen her eyes yet! I’m told they’re blue which doesn’t surprise me as both her Mommy and Daddy have blue eyes! She sleeps, eats and poops just like any newborn should! I’m told she doesn’t really cry even…she has a little mew…so adorable!

Melanie is so happy to be home, and Holly is happy to have her Mommy back! She found her at last! When Melanie was first admitted to the hospital Holly would say she lost her Mommy, her words in a tiny voice ” I lose my Mommy, can’t find my Mommy”. It was the saddest thing ever to hear! Well, at last she has Mommy back and she is not about to let her so much as have a pee without being there either!

For now Holly is happy to share her Mommy with Evelyn as she’s not too demanding, time will only tell what the future holds. In the meantime, all is well at their home and we’re all grateful for the cards, calls and prayers while she was in hospital!

Have you hugged your grand-children today?

Sweet Marie


Well, it’s time to pack up the laptop, not to mention the very heavy suitcases! We leave with a heavy heart knowing London is about to be hit by snow, just in time for our return! The good news is we’ll finally get to meet little miss Evelyn who has been patiently waiting for her grand-parents to make an appearance!

We’ve had such an adventure that I almost forgot that I had a big birthday while here! Who knew 50 could be so much fun? I have to say that Denis went over and above to plan this trip! We had some great adventures in Chichen -Itza, Valladolid, Akumal and right here in Playa Del Carmen!

I’ve loved my time just relaxing on the beach sipping margaritas and soaking in the rays! Oh to do this everyday all day! One can dream, can’t she? And who knew that we’d fall in love with playing tennis again? Tell me again, why did I ever stop playing? Denis and I both have pledged to play more tennis this summer at home. In fact, Denis says it’s in the books! When Denis says it’s in the books, then it’s going to happen!

I’ll miss our daily walks for ‘supplies’…meaning food and/or booze! What a hoot, we were always on a prowl for a deal or a good restaurant! It’s easy to find good restaurants right here in Playa Del Carmen. It’s unreal. You can find very reasonable eats if you know what to look for. My theory is to look for the plastic chairs, prices are always good there! Feeling little more upscale? Go for the wicker chairs! Even more upscale? Look for the tables with actual linens! You’ll get to pay big bucks for those places but you can be sure of awesome service! These places you’ll have a waiter, and a bus boy at your beck and call! At Yaxche, they even came over to brush crumbs off the table!

The moral of the story is you can find any restaurant serving very good food at any price range that you feel up to on any given day! The great news is everything is always fresh too, won’t be finding much pre-fab food here! I love that and with my allergies, it’s good to know what goes in my food, and they are always willing to help out!

The other great surprise was to see how many Canadians are here in Mexico. I have spoken more french in the last 2 weeks then  have in months at home! The tennis courts were always filled with Canadians while here, what a hoot. Rarely did we see Mexicans on the courts! Maybe in the evening when we weren’t there!

Adios Mexico, gracias por las memorias!

Sweet Marie (Dulce Maria!)