The making of a racehorse

My sweet dad asked me to make some cookies for a charity event he is involved with again this year. Southwest Ambucs hosts Derby Days every year as their big fundraiser, you can read more about it here. It sounds like a wonderful event...hopefully one of these days, we'll be able to attend.

So, here are the horses outlined and ready for filling with the flood icing. I prop up the tray I am working with on a stool so it's more comfortable...less hunching over the table. :)

The brown icing has dried for several hours and the purple for a little over an hour. You can see that is looks wet in the picture. It's dry enough to pipe on top of it, though. I used a #2 tip for all of the outlining and piping.

And, here they are ready to be boxed and shipped to Amarillo! Hope they make it a-ok, Dad! (I know you won't eat one since they're not oatmeal raisin!!!) Thanks again!

Green Chile Tortilla Bake Recipe

Gluten free enchilada casserole recipe
A gluten-free tortilla casserole with cream cheese and green chiles. Si.

Planted on the coast of Cape Cod for many years (forever, it seemed on gloomy January days) I daydreamed about fire roasted chiles. The smoky pepper sweetness that flirted with your senses as you walked in Santa Fe. The luxury of buying bags of freshly roasted chiles by the roadside- still warm,  soft as butter, and charred. In fact, I may have moved here for the chiles alone.

That's entirely possible.

I may have been so drop dead in love with chiles when we bought this casita that I didn't notice I'd be stuck out in the desert with so few neighbors. No bookstore, no cafe- no movie theater. What was I thinking? Only my analyst knows for sure (if she remembers me; it's been years since Jungian analysis).

Along with dreaming of Val Kilmer (not the rock scrambling Thunderheart Val, the expanding, voluptuous new Mega Val- and why he showed up in my dream, I've no clue- better ask my analyst) I've been craving green chile this month like mad as we approach our second anniversary of moving to New Mexico. And wouldn't you know it! I'm out of last year's roadside bags of chiles. They're long gone (my freezer is annoyingly, shall we say, petite). Until roasting season starts I have to settle with buying frozen Bueno chiles. And they're not bad, exactly. They are pretty dang good.

Yet, as I sit and crave and daydream, the big question becomes: Do I really still want to be here in August when chile roasting begins? Is my chile love a devoted, true love, or simply an infatuation? A passing fancy? Will your intrepid dusty goddess remain here in the coyote hills of O'Keeffe country or soon be walking Venice Beach in her Rocket Dogs?

I tell myself, just breathe. There are Bueno chiles to defrost.

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Strawberry Chocolate Chip Scones- Gluten-Free Recipe

Gluten free scones with strawberries and chocolate chips
Easy gluten-free scone deliciousness.

Today was a good day. A strawberry and chocolate laced crusty on the outside tender on the inside kind of day. That's right. I got sconed. And the best part (aside from the fresh organic berry goodness, that is)? These golden biscuity morsels are vegan. That's right. No eggs. No milk. No butter (sorry, moo-cow fans).

On a whim yesterday (I am often prone to whims Dear Reader, especially after a sun dappled picnic on the Santa Fe plaza, perched on a bench beneath a flowering cherry tree across from a red robed Buddhist monk eating Chinese take-out. We devoured pesto slathered smoked turkey rolled in brown rice tortillas and I didn't drip a single green drop of cilantro infused olive oil on my ironed boot cut jeans) I picked up a Gluten-Free Pantry Muffin and Scone Mix at Whole Foods (long time readers know I miss my old favorite Pamela's Ultimate Baking Mix, and I've yet to find an all-purpose replacement mix that's half as good).

I was in such an expansive mood post my double espresso at the nearby Starbucks that I thought I might try baking something fun and slightly indulgent for the weekend. The organic strawberries smelled beyond heavenly in their ripe and ruby lusciousness. Yes, I smell all my fruit and veggies before I buy. Don't you? The woman with the amber handled cane you see standing in the Whole Foods produce aisle sniffing tomatoes and berries and anything else she can get her one free hand on, Darling?

That would be me.

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Gluten-Free Salad Dressing Recipes: Or 3 Ways To Dress A Naked Salad

Gluten free salad dressings for your fresh crisp greens
Three easy gluten-free salad dressings.

Let us take a moment and appreciate the humble green salad. The crisp crunchy greenness. The tender bites of bitter and sweet. The whole feel-good shiver you get when you chow down a plate of bunny food.

Bunny food rocks, my friend.

But how to dress a naked green? That is the question. Bottled stuff simply won't do. Too many additives and stabilizers and gums you can't pronounce. Or the ubiquitous evil soybean oil. Ick. (Did I just write Ick? Well, I meant it. I loathe soybean oil.) I offer you, instead, three simple dressings- three recipes you can whip up in a New Mexico minute, adapted from my first cookbook, Recipes from a Vegetarian Goddess. Toss them with love.

Basil Citrus Vinaigrette

This a perfect dressing for a brunch salad- especially if you're serving Mimosas.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon organic agave nectar
A pinch of sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a glass dish or cup. I use a fork for this. Drizzle over fresh greens. Toss. Munch. Be happy.

Serves 4.

Ginger Dressing

The Asian flavors in this include soy sauce- if you're allergic to soy try substituting molasses.

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon light olive oil
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons wheat-free soy sauce
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon organic agave nectar

Mix all of the ingredients in a glass dish or cup. I use a fork for this. Taste test and adjust seasonings.

Pour over an Asian-inspired mix of spring greens, matchstick carrots, sliced water chestnuts, mung bean sprouts, sliced mushrooms, red onion and cashews. Toss. Smile.

Serves 4.

Greek Salad Dressing

Greek salad makes an easy weeknight supper. Pair it with a hearty bread like my Sweet Potato Cornbread. Add in some hard boiled eggs, sardines or tuna if you like.

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon organic agave nectar
A pinch of sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground pepper, to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a glass dish or cup. I use a fork for this. Taste test and adjust seasonings.

Drizzle over a Greek salad that includes cucumbers, red onion, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, grape tomatoes and feta cheese. Toss. Devour. Dance. Smash a few plates.

Serves 4.

A Taste of Yellow : Yellow Rose Sugar Cookies

Winos and Foodies is sponsoring A Taste of Yellow event to benefit the LiveSTRONG, the Lance Armstrong foundation. Those yellow bracelets....that's it. I first heard about the event through Tartelette, one of my favorite blogs ever. I just love this idea of raising awareness of the foundation and paying tribute to a loved one with food!
Cancer, bleeeeccch!...I HATE that word...hate it more than any other, I think. If I see it in an article, on TV, on the radio...the magazine is shut, channel changed, radio turned off. My plan from now on is, when I hear the word cancer, immediately think, "Lance Armstrong."
One of my favorite pictures of my mom!
These cookies are a tribute to my mom who we lost to cancer eight years ago. They were her favorite flower and yellow her favorite color, so I think this event would have been right up her alley. This is honestly the first time I've cried making cookies.

If I let myself go, I'll have a page and a half blog post, so I'll just say, I had a good mom. She was a redhead, drank beer, made homemade cinnamon rolls and really loved life. She and my dad were married 32 years. My mom wasn't ready to leave us, but when I find a random penny or a cardinal flies across my path, I know she hasn't really.
My mom & I in all of our 1970's glory!
So, these roses are for Gayle (mom), for my friend Laura who has been battling brain cancer for NINE years now, for Kelly, for big Jack, for my Uncle Ben, for my papa who used to call me "ol' yellow hair" when I was a kid (and would now have to call me "ol' reddish-brown-with-highlights-and-a-few-sprigs-of-gray" hair), for Raquel, and for Kenny who I didn't know, but so many people I love miss him, so I know he must have been incredible.

The cookies.....I made this rose template from a file folder, (I like open roses rather than the buds.) and cut them with a paring knife.
Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I've stored vanilla beans in)
 2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
 1 egg
 3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling (video on University of Cookie).

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

For the Royal Icing...follow the recipe here for my favorite royal icing. When the icing is beginning to reach a stiff peak, add a drop or two of almond extract and beat until still peaks form.

Transfer icing to two separate containers and color (3/4 AmeriColor Egg Yellow, 1/4 AmeriColor Leaf Green). Press plastic wrap down onto the icing.

Using a #2 tip, pipe the outline of the rose in yellow.

Using a #2 tip, pipe the outline of the leaf in green.

Thin both containers of icing with water until they reach the consistency of syrup, cover with a damp dishtowel and let sit several minutes.

Stir the yellow icing gently with a rubber spatula to break any bubbles on the surface and transfer to a squeeze bottle. Fill in the rose with the thinned, flood icing.

Repeat with the green icing, filling in the leaf.

Let dry at least one hour, then using the same #2 tips, pipe the detail on the rose. Let dry completely.

On a final note...if you've read down this far, I have 3 extra LiveSTRONG bracelets, if you would like one, let me know in a comment and I'll send one to you.
Hi, Mom...and thanks!

What I miss? My Blue Corn Chip Frittata

Frittata- an easy, gluten-free supper.

Finding out I have an egg allergy was a serious whap upside the head. I'd been gluten-free for almost six years. And soy-free. I was so good, Dear Reader. I read my labels. I did my homework. I complied. Yet in spite of all my earnest efforts and focus and just plain stubbornness to get well, I was still dogged by weird symptoms that would play hide and seek. A sinus headache after a glass of wine (but only some wines- not every wine). Odd roving pain that was difficult to trace. Hives. You get the picture.

For a cookbook author who loves food- and eating- as much as the next person, it felt like I was dropped down a culinary rabbit hole. Nothing made sense. There was scant consistency. My head kept thinking: random contamination. But I knew in the still small voice of my private tiny girl heart hidden gluten was not the culprit. I was too careful a gluten-free cook. So I kept food diaries. I began to track every bite (are we having fun yet?). But it only teased me deeper down the ever slippery rabbit hole.

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Gluten-Free Tomato Soup

A yummy tomato soup with a secret. Shhh!

A old school family favorite- tomato soup. Right? Here's an easy kid-friendly recipe. With a secret. When I was a little girl cabbage was a stinky word. Cabbage was something you wrinkled your nose at. The mere mention of the word conjured the smell of my grandmother's house- which was, in truth, an olfactory bouquet of Lucky Strikes, boiled eggs and kielbasa. Cabbage was only the top note. And how I hated it.

In those golden culinary days of the 1950's and '60's, the favored method of cooking cabbage was to boil it to death. Often, with potatoes. And apparently without opening the windows. Come to think of it- I don't ever remember seeing an open window in my grandmother's house. I have no images of curtains sailing upward in a gusty cool spring breeze. No sense memories of distant humming lawnmowers to distract from the television. No conjuring of fresh air. Was this lock-down by some unseen divine plan? Or maybe a generalized exercise in denial? Who knows?

All I knew was that the end result of the boiling-cabbage-to-death method was rather like eating swampy unidentified mush. Not exactly tantalizing for a texture and fragrance sensitive child. Why would anyone eat this? my tiny girl heart would question. Because it's good for you, was the inevitable answer.

Turns out, of course (and you knew this was coming), cabbage is, indeed, very good for you. Especially for those of us healing from the ravages of celiac disease. Cabbage, it turns out, heals the gut. So, what if your childhood included smelly bowls of boiled cabbage and you simply can't make yourself- or someone you love with all of your buoyant and hopeful heart- eat the damn stuff? Bubela. 

Have I got a soup for you.

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Pueblo Bread Recipe with green chiles

 Rustic gluten-free bread- easy and delicious.

This is the easiest yeasted bread you'll ever make. Well, from a scratch recipe, I mean. You'll have to whisk together some gluten-free flours and proof a little yeast in warm (not too hot!) water, but you can handle that, right? Once it's stirred together, you smooth it into a cake pan, let it rise in a warm and cozy oven, then bake it. If you want an easier bread making experience than this, Darling, buy any gluten-free mix, dump it into a bread machine and press Start.

I'm calling it Pueblo Bread because a certain savvy friend of mine (you know the one- my pal Joey, who makes the best damn guacamole recipe this side of the Mississippi) who knows from Nuevo Native American cuisine, called it (and my quote could be slightly inaccurate, Gentle Reader, due to consuming two tall and chilly glasses of Champagne and literal fistfuls of organic hand-popped popcorn to quell the mind-numbing boredom of enduring two and half hours of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), Tasty and authentic, and not unlike the local Pueblo style breads.

As for the movie choice? My bad. Maybe the sheer Shakespearean brilliance of Deadwood has spoiled me forever when it comes to westerns (it's possible).

Next time I'm picking something with Sigourney Weaver or Frances McDormand.

The men will just have to deal.

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Quick and Easy Sesame Shrimp Stir-Fry

Easy sesame shrimp stir-fry on rice.

For those of you following me on Twitter (thanks to Susan at FatFree Vegan Kitchen for igniting the follow-through on getting myself Twittered), you knew I was stir-frying last night. What you didn't know? That despite the hefty gusts of pollen thickened wind battering the casita (hefty gusts of pollen thickened wind makes me downright prickly if not certifiable) I managed to gather my throbbing wits long enough to create a new stir-fry sauce.


So. What do you think? On a scale of one to ten?

(scraping bowl spotless)

Um. Really, really tasty. Eleven. And a half.

(blowing pollen thickened nose)

Really? Wow. Wait.
It's not a twelve?

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