Smoked Salmon and Spinach Goat Cheese Strata

Gluten free strata recipe
A secret ingredient makes this gluten-free strata recipe special.

The day was clear and chilly here by the mesa. Perfect for a pinon fire in the kiva. We lit vanilla candles and played my favorite mix of winter music- traditional Jewish and Celtic with a little Tom Waits, Sarah McLachlan and Joni Mitchell- pining about rivers or snow or waltzing Matilda- thrown in.

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Gluten Free Anniversary #5

One year ago today I was living on Cape Cod, blogging about my fourth gluten-free anniversary and contemplating a bowl of peppermint ice cream for breakfast. I was just getting the hang of this whole blogging thing, wondering if anyone would even be interested in the gluten-free recipes I wanted to share.

This morning I sit typing in my tidy New Mexico casita, sipping a mug of hot chamomile tea- a thousand miles away from one year ago. Dry snowflakes fall on the junipers outside my window. The Old Women Mesa is softened in a tender blanket of white.

Five years gluten-free. It's a milestone. And bittersweet.

I still do not eat out (the risk is too great for me; one speck of gluten and I pay for it all week). And I miss eating out- I miss the romance of it. I miss the spontaneity of exploring new restaurants. I miss travel. The social isolation, the stigma of special needs can feel heavy at times. Celiac disease does not exactly dampen one’s tendency toward introversion. The lingering health issues are discouraging. Forty-seven years eating gluten take their toll. My body continues, even after five years gluten-free, to pay a price from malabsorption.

In many ways my health has dramatically improved. I am free from the most acute symptoms I suffered. And cooking gluten-free has become second nature; it is no longer the massive challenge it felt like in the beginning. New gluten-free choices are emerging, daily, in the marketplace. All good news.

But the best part? Reading your comments and receiving your e-mails, Darlings. It nudges me out of my myopia and gives me a clearer sense of the big picture. I am not alone in this disease. And there are more of us diagnosed every single day.

So here’s to all of us.

Happy gluten-free anniversary! Whether it is one week, six months, or five years, I raise my glass to you.


Bread Machine Tips- Old Post

Warm, gluten-free bread with sorghum flour, just baked.

This gluten-free bread machine post has been updated by yours truly and has moved to a new location where it is much, much happier.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

One more click and you're there.

Nava Atlas- A Cookbook Review

Nava Atlas [one of my favorite vegetarian cookbook authors] was kind enough to send me a copy of
The Vegetarian Family Cookbook. Babycakes, where do I start? This hefty tome is chock full of fresh and fabulous recipes - more than 275, in fact - from breakfasts and snacks to comfort foods, main dishes and desserts.

What do I like? I like that her recipes are doable, and not based on hard-to-find ingredients. In fact, most everything she uses is already in my pantry. I like her tips in the Introduction about being a vegetarian, planning meals for a family, and cooking within a busy schedule. I like that there are vegan options throughout the book (perfect for all you non-dairy and egg-free cooks out there).
Nava's style of cooking reminds me of my own, and her approach to recipes is akin to my own philosophy: use fresh, seasonal ingredients whenever possible, and go for simplicity.  

I'll be inspired for months to come.

For those on gluten-free diets there are lots of tasty sounding recipes that are naturally gluten-free and others that are easily tailored- substituting wheat pasta with brown rice pasta, for instance. Obvious ingredients to avoid on a gluten-free diet include bulgur, barley, cous cous, seitan, flour tortillas and various breads, of course, but I'm guessing any savvy celiac can spot these, and either switch out a safe substitute, or move on to another recipe [and there are plenty] focused on vegetables, fruits, cornmeal, rice and quinoa.

If you're brand spanking new to this whole gluten-free diet thing, you might want to become a little more fluent in cooking gluten-free before you tackle a non-gluten-free cookbook like this, but if you're at all like me, Darling, you prefer to experiment and educate yourself rather than looking to be spoon fed. I personally enjoy [and cook from] a wide assortment and range of cookbooks - and none of them are "gluten-free". 

In fact, Dear Reader, I don't even own a gluten-free cookbook. I haven't found any so far that capture and evoke my personal approach to cooking. I'm more inclined to peruse cookbooks like Nava's, and those by Susan Curtis, Barbara Kafka and Jamie Oliver.

Recipes I'm looking forward to trying? How about her Cabbage, Apple and Raisin Slaw, Scalloped Cauliflower, Skillet Black Beans with Potatoes and Tortillas? Sounds yummy. And I might even be brave enough to try tackling Vegetable Sushi. Stay tuned.

©2005-2010 Karina Allrich. All rights reserved.

Karina's Kitchen Recipes

Baked Macaroni and Cheese - Gluten-Free

Gluten Free Baked Mac and Cheese recipe from Karina
Gluten-free baked macaroni and cheese - serious comfort food.

Mac and cheese- how I love thee. And not from a box. Give me the good stuff. The real deal. Comfort food. Something worth craving. Something creamy and comforting and crunchy on top with a hint of spicy heat.

This gluten-free macaroni and cheese recipe is based on my pre-celiac go-to cheesy mac favorite with cheddar cheese. I kicked it up with chopped jalapeños and crunchy gluten-free bread crumbs. Sweet grape tomatoes. Was it tasty, Darling.

I usually make this dish in a single casserole dish, but last night I spooned it into individual gratin dishes.

Are you GF/CF, dairy-free, or a gluten-free vegan? Don't despair. I am now, too. Find my just as yummy dairy-free recipe for dairy-free Baked Mac and Cheese here.
Or better yet, my vegan cheesy uncheese sauced mac n cheese.

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Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

Gluten-free blueberry muffins with sour cream.

As promised, here's my latest muffin recipe, using Pamela's Gluten-Free Baking and Pancake Mix. Oy vey, these are good. And so easy. I didn't even get out the mixer; I stirred the batter by hand with my favorite wooden spoon. If you're in the mood for a different berry or fruit, by all means, substitute the blueberries. Whatever makes you happy, Babycakes. Go for it. This batter would cozy up to cranberries, spiced apples, you name it.

And by the way, if you're looking for a dairy-free egg-free blueberry muffin, I've come up with a vegan Brown Sugar Blueberry Muffin recipe you might like.

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Nachos Fabuloso

Tasty, spicy gluten-free nachos? Si, por favor.

I make nachos with a combo of organic blue and yellow corn chips and lots of jalapenos. It's an unbeatable combination. Is your mouth watering yet? No? You must be made of stone. Seriously. Get thee to a blue corn tortilla chip purveyor lickity split. This easy nachos recipe rocks. I serve it to guests and it disappears faster than you can say Antonio Banderas.

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Spaghetti with White Vegetables and Pine Nuts

In celebration of the first snow- here is a delectable recipe from my vegetarian cookbook, adapted to be gluten-free. Snowy cauliflower and sweet cabbage are accented with the crunch of pine nuts on creamy white rice pasta. Wonderfully delicious.

Spaghetti with White Vegetables and Pine Nuts Recipe

White on white makes an elegant and romantic pasta. The hint of lemon is lovely.

1 pound Tinkyada White Rice Spaghetti
3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, peeled, diced
2 cups cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/2 head white cabbage, cored, cut and thinly shredded
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup pine nuts
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
Juice of half a lemon
3-4 tablespoons cream or non-dairy cream

Crumbled fresh goat cheese for garnish

Bring a large pot of fresh salted water to a rolling boil and cook the spaghetti till al dente. Warm up a large pasta serving bowl.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low-medium heat and gently sauté the onion for 5 minutes until soft- don't let them brown too much. Add in the cauliflower, cabbage, garlic, pine nuts, sea salt, ground pepper, and fennel. Squeeze on the lemon juice. Sauté until the vegetables are tender-crisp and the nuts are toasted. Stir in the cream.

When the pasta is al dente, drain and pour the spaghetti into the warmed pasta bowl, and drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta to moisten it. Toss lightly to coat. Add your white vegetables/nuts mixture and stir to combine.

Serve at the table with a small bowl of fresh crumbled goat cheese, for garnish. A crisp green salad of baby greens is the perfect accent.

Serves 4.

Karina's Notes:

If you don't have pine nuts on hand try slivered almonds or chopped hazelnuts.

A Quiet Day Designing And a Milestone

We had a low-key, quiet Thanksgiving day here in the high desert. No traveling. No guests. No family. One son is back east, in his last year as a Senior RA at college [he is on duty for the holiday weekend] and the other son is working and living in Los Angeles. Both cooked yesterday.

Alex cooked himself up some penne pasta with organic chicken sausage and balsamic peppers. Colin made roasted garlic mashed potatoes to bring to a friend’s [boiling the spuds in his wok because he didn't have a pot]. I instant-messaged with both of them yesterday morning. I missed them, but I also know, Dear Reader, they are where they are supposed to be.

And so I designed instead of cooked. We had a leftover improv last night I can only describe as a humble Mexican inspired enchilada bake. And it hit the spot. We watched our favorite Thanksgiving film, Home for the Holidays, with a fire in the kiva fireplace. We went to bed early.

Yesterday was also a quiet milestone here at [Gluten Free] Goddess. I’ve been blogging for a year.

And so I offer a hearty, delicious goddess thanks to you, fabulous Reader. You are the reason I am here.

Almost Sausalito Cookie Bars

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars Recipe
The nubby chocolate chip landscape of a favorite gluten-free cookie bar.

I ask you. What beats coconut and chocolate in a cookie recipe- especially if they happen to be gluten-free? Coconut and chocolate and macadamia nuts.

Okay, I confess. My all-time favorite cookies in those innocent pre-gluten-free days were not some hoity-toity gourmet bakery confection but those bagged big and bumpy Pepperidge Farm chocolate chunk cookies you could get in any East Coast grocery store. Yup. If memory serves me well, my go-to favorite featured coconut and chocolate. They might have been called Sausalito. Or some such California-evoking moniker.

In our quest to tweak one of our favorite dessert bar recipes this week my cookie-making husband and I came up with a chocolate chip coconut cookie bar that tastes an awful lot like those beloved crunchy-chewy Pepperidge Farm gems. We didn't happen to have any macadamia nuts on hand- but if we did I would have added some to the recipe.

And for those of you who loved dunking those Pepperidge Farm Nantucket Cookies into a glass of ice cold milk- Babycakes, these are dunk worthy.

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'Tis [Almost!] the [Gluten Free] Holiday Season

Sweet Potato Black Bean Vegetarian Enchiladas Recipe for Thanksgiving

Who needs tofurky when you have Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas?

Getting through the holidays gluten-free can be tough. But then, the holidays were always a challenge for me because I was mostly vegetarian for decades (and some of those years were vegan), so, in truth, Gentle Reader, my holiday foods have forever tended to be a tad different from mainstream holiday fare. I learned early on how to tweak traditional recipes and reinvent old favorites- like using coconut milk as a delicious non-dairy sub in whipped sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin pie, and creamy butternut soups. I used broth and roasted garlic in smashed potatoes instead of cream and butter. I have always enjoyed thinking outside the box. And in my vegan years- not once- did I make a turkey out of tofu.

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Gluten-Free Garlic Chicken Lasagna Recipe

Tonight's quintessential New Mexican sky.

After a laid back kick off your boots and chill kind of day we had friends for dinner. Our Santa Fe buddies Joey and Will drove north to our little casita  tucked into the pinon dotted hills near Ojo Caliente. I made a recipe that's an old family favorite- since they've become like family, after all. Sometimes the best family is the family we choose with our heart.

And after all, what family doesn't love a good lasagna?

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Gluten-Free Pumpkin Spice Bars

Gluten-free Pumpkin Bars Recipe
Gluten-free pumpkin spice bars- yummalicious.

Pumpkin bars aren't as sexy as say, a fresh raspberry tart or a chocolate mousse. In fact, they're rather bake-sale pragmatic. They don't exactly inspire passionate prose. But at the end of October, as daylight dwindles and afternoon shadows creep like spiders across the burnished rustle of windswept streets (yes, Darling Babycakes, this is my ode to Hallow's Eve), nothing warms the cockles of a pilgrim soul like the autumnal flavors of cinnamon, brown sugar and pumpkin.

And so, I offer you a new recipe for this deliciously spooky time of year. Bake a batch of these spicy fallish treats, pour yourself a mug of hot apple cider, and watch Tim Burton's classic Halloween movie, Sleepy Hollow, snuggled beneath a cozy throw with someone you love.

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Spaghetti with Artichoke Hearts, Raisins & Pecans

Gluten free pasta with Autumn flavors
Sexy gluten-free pasta for two.

When I learned I had celiac disease, the first thought I lurched into was: Pasta! No more pasta? That was December 2001 and it was a cold, dark day, indeed. I was devastated. I *heart* pasta. I lurve pasta. Just the very thought of pasta perks up my appetite and sparks my desire for saucy food and spicy romance. You know, sultry jazz and candlelight. Spaghetti dripping with garlicky olive oil. Pesto coated penne. Putanesca sauced linguine. Roasted vegetable stuffed lasagna. Creamy shells. The soft reliable comfort of macaroni and cheese.

My pasta love runs deep and true.

No wonder. My husband and I honeymooned in Tuscany, Italy. Talk about love food! Honey Baby, we have been in love- and in love with Italian food- ever since. Why? If it isn't obvious, let me count the ways.

Start with sensuous and fruity extra virgin olive oil. Or the intoxicating mingle of garlic and fresh lemon. Balsamic vinegar drizzled on a roasted peach. The brilliant combo of basil leaves and pine nuts. Soft, creamy globes of mozzarella sliced thin and snuggled in between disks of juicy ripe tomatoes. Crisp white wine and nibbles of salty sweet Parmesan. Oh my.

What's not to love, Dear Reader?

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Garlicky Shrimp and Spinach Bake

Baked rice, spinach and shrimp.

This is one of those way too easy recipes I'll share with you anyway- just because. Just because you might find yourself (as a certain individual did, last night) cranky and hungry- with nothing planned for dinner- poking around the numbing depths of a freezer rooting for sustenance. And there you find it. Inspiration. Shrimp. And spinach.

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Pasta Smothered with Roasted Vegetables

A pan of glorious vegetables and garlic ready for roasting

It's the time of year for roasting. And this sweater-clad goddess couldn't be happier. Roasted vegetables are my favorite comfort food. I love my roasted veggies with unabashed passion. Balsamic vinegar, fruity olive oil and sea salt make for simple, fabulous roasting, complementing the caramelized sweetness of the vegetables with a perfect touch of salty-tart [and darling, who doesn't appreciate a little salty tart?].

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Sweet Potato Cornbread- A Gluten-Free Favorite

Fabulous gluten-free cornbread with a secret ingredient...sweet potato
Scrumptious sweet potato cornbread- and it's gluten-free.

It's all about taste. Good taste and bad taste. You want the good first? This recipe for sweet potato cornbread. It rocks. Seriously. The bad? Yesterday we decided to go to the movies with Joey and Will (those two totally fab rockin' guacamole styling hunks). We chose The Departed, Scorsese's new flick (it's been garnering rave reviews); and met at the theater.

Well, Babycakes, in all gut wrenching honesty (I won’t speak for the three men who apparently liked it more than I did) I could barely sit through it. I felt as if I was being beat up. Run over by a Zamboni. I mean how much misogyny and homophobia and execution-style murders can a tenderhearted sensory sensitive girl like me take? 

Not this much it turns out.

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A Menu, A Meme

Which menu would you serve blogging friends for a welcome dinner upon their first visit to your home? I’ve been tagged for a meme by Garrett of Vanilla Garlic fame. This one could be fun. The premise? To come up with a fantasy menu, of “signature” dishes that you might toss together for an evening entertaining food bloggers. Now there’s a nightmare, er, I mean, dream come true. [Kiss, kiss, Garrett.] Can you tell, already, that I am faint with anxiety? Sweating profusely? Weak kneed? I’m no chef. And there are those among us who can rustle up a flaky tart or crackle a Crème Brule in their sleep. There are those among us who make their own ricotta [Seriously!]. And there are those who entertain with aplomb and have the wit and composure to capture it as a slide show. I’m not one of them.

I’m a home-cooking rustic kinda gal. You know, more peasant food than haute cuisine. More make a dish from dreamy ideas in your head and how about a little of this than ever following a recipe. Or, I’ve got that in the fridge and it’s wilting so I better use it. And then there’s the sometimes harrowing, sometimes happy accident recipe stemming from, I wonder would happen if…

That said, Dear Reader, I’ve decided to embrace what I flat out love. If I have to go down in flames, I’ll go down with my taste buds happy. My menu will be New Mexican. So if you visit, prepare to get hot and bothered.

Karina’s Family Style Menu
for Blogging Conviviality

Frosty Pitchers of Margaritas

Homemade Tortilla-Cheese Crisps and Blue Corn Chips
Fire Roasted Tomato & Tomatillo Salsa
Guacamole with Lime & Garlic
Baked Goat Cheese with Salsa Verde

Mexican Pumpkin Soup with Chipotle

Chicken Mole
Brown Rice Baked with Mild Green Chiles and Pine Nuts

New Mexican Green Chile Smothered Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Enchiladas [vegetarian]

Los Otros::
Fresh Fruit Salad in Season Drizzled with Vanilla Yogurt Sauce

Coffee Flan
Coconut-Almond Cookie Bars with Mexican Chocolate Sauce

And [if you haven't been tagged yet], I'm tagging::

Brendon of Something in Season
Cookiecrumb of I'm Mad and I Eat
Stephen of Stephen Cooks
Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen
Susan of Fatfree Vegan

The meme is open to all, so, Dear Hungry Reader, so if you haven't been tagged yet, and would like to participate, drop on over to The Flying Apple.

Comida buena, Chicas & Chicos!

The Best Rockin' Guacamole with Tomatillos + Lime

Gluten free guacamole
Fabulous, party worthy gluten-free guacamole.

Joey's Kicked Up Rockin' Guacamole Recipe with Tomatillos + Lime

Apparently in some circles Joey's guac is famous. But lest I be considered indiscreet, we won't name names. Let's just say, this guac is rockin'. The best guacamole this side of the Mississippi. (Thanks to Will, for styling the limes.)

6-8 ripe avocados (depending upon the size)
3 tomatillos, chopped
2-3 ripe red tomatoes, seeded, chopped
1 small red or sweet onion, diced fine
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, diced fine
1 big bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
Sea salt, to taste
3-4 fresh juicy limes

Peel and pit the avocados; cut the fruit into chunks and toss into a large bowl. Add the chopped tomatillos, tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeños, and cilantro. Toss with your bare hands. Season with sea salt to taste. Squeeze fresh lime juice all over the guac and mix again. Taste test. Add more salt or lime, to taste. Taste test!

Put on Brazilian music.

Serve in a festive bowl topped with lime wedges. Break out the tortilla chips.


This recipe was mucho fabulous- and we scarfed it down with New Mexican style blue and yellow corn tortilla chips. And si, some of Joey's also famous margaritas.

It was the perfect appetizer for my Roasted Corn Chowder. And it would be fab as a side dish with any of my Mexican recipes and vegetarian recipes.

For the texture aversive, mash the guac smooth and leave out the chunky veggies.

Vegetarian Green Chile Recipe

Fresh roasted Hatch green chiles.

Steve brought home two more bags of fresh roasted green chiles, still warm. Hot and spicy Hatch chiles are my favorite. The fragrance is smoky, sweet and spicy all at once. I wish Blogger provided smell-a-vision. I got cookin' and whipped up a vegetarian version of my New Mexico green chile.

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Alex's Favorite Baked Chicken Mediterranean

The view on our evening walk.

There's been a hint of fall in the air. The deep night sky glitters with stars. Mornings are cool, bordering on chilly. I stand outside the portal's edge, in the sand, sipping a mug of yerba mate, and scan the cottonwoods along the bosque below, looking for the tell-tale tinge of gold.

Soon they will be yellow, a golden trail north that snakes along the Chama River. It will be time for stacking pinon to burn in the kivas. I relish the warmth of the cozy fires to come, the evenings spent wrapped in thick sweaters reading, sipping cognac.

And for the first time in years I am not dreading winter.

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Parmesan Rice Crisps with Roasted Tomato Salsa

Just another Sunday spent chillin' under the portal. I had a package of stale brown rice tortillas (Food for Life wraps) on hand and decided to experiment. Good things often spring from two simple words. What if...

Our dinner was Mediterranean- my tasty little zucchini-tomato-mozzarella number- on pesto penne pasta. So I wanted to serve a late afternoon snack with an Italian-Southwestern flair. These super easy crisps were terrific with margaritas.

Parmesan Rice Crisps Recipe

The brown rice tortillas we get locally are usually a bit stiff from being frozen, and sometimes they're so dry I suspect they are stale. But have no fear. These crunchy crisps are a fabulous way to use up stale brown rice tortillas.

4 to 5 brown rice tortillas– I used Food For Life
Olive oil
Sea salt
Garlic powder
Parmesan, grated fine with a microplane grater (or omit cheese)
Dried basil or Italian Herbs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Brush the tortillas generously with olive oil on both sides and arrange them on baking sheets in a single layer. Sprinkle with sea salt. Dust them with garlic powder, to taste; then sprinkle on the Parmesan and dried basil.

Bake until crisp and slightly golden around the edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Allow the tortillas to cool a bit. Using a pizza cutter, slice the tortillas into triangles and arrange the crisps around a bowl of Roasted Tomato Salsa [recipe follows].

Serves 3 to 4.

Karina's Note:

Vegans can substitute the Parmesan with vegan "Parm" or simply omit to keep it dairy-free.

Easy Roasted Tomato Salsa

You can roast your own plum tomatoes for this- which is heavenly- or cut to the chase and use Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes. I won't tell.

1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, seeded, roasted and chopped- here's how to roast tomatoes
2 tablespoons red onion, diced very fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar- or lime juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle or cayenne pepper, to taste
Pinch of organic sugar or agave

Combine the salsa ingredients in a bowl, cover and chill for an hour.

Taste for seasoning adjustments. Cover and keep chilled for up to 4 days- if it lasts that long.

You can also add any of the following, if your little heart desires:

Finely chopped yellow or green bell peppers
Roasted corn kernels
Chopped jalapeños
Rinsed canned black beans

Polenta Cake

Delicious, moist polenta cake.

I've been craving polenta cake. Don't ask me why. Okay, ask me. It was the lemon polenta cake in the movie Dinner with Friends. Such a cake! And I didn't have any lemons on hand. But I did have a few ripe bananas. So I thought, Why not make a banana polenta cake? How bad could it be?

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Tequila Lime Salmon

New Mexico Crossing Sign

Need a fabulous but easy recipe? Here it is. Marinate your salmon steaks in tequila and lime juice. After a day spent cruising with our friend Joey (no not that kind of cruising, Dear Reader- my life is more tame than you can imagine, trust me) and seeing some of the stunning (dare I say, breathtaking!) overlooks and canyons in northern New Mexico, we turned our little Honda Fit around and jetted back to our casita, hungry, a bit sun washed and giddy (swaying on a high altitude precipice will do that to you).

Joey, of course, immediately began making a frosty batch of vodka martinis (for those of you dying to know, Joey takes his very dirty; in fact, I've never seen a dirtier martini!).

Then we raided the refrigerator. As luck (some might say, near-genius) would have it, I had three wild salmon steaks blissfully marinating in tequila, lime juice, and minced garlic. And Joey brought the cutest little perky heads of Belgian endive, a bag of organic spinach, and three flavors of Haagen Daz sorbet for dessert (mango, raspberry, and lemon). Now do you see why I adore him?

Tequila-Lime Salmon Recipe
We plated the salmon steaks on a bed of wilted spinach braised with a touch of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and ground pepper, and a hint of balsamic vinegar while Dashing Husband chose to keep his spinach crisp and raw with a scant drizzle of olive oil. Both ways were good! The endive was trimmed and halved then braised in a little olive oil and chopped garlic - this was Joey's contribution, and Babycakes, it was too yummy.

3 to 4 wild Alaskan salmon steaks
2/3 cup tequila
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
Pinch of organic brown sugar
Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large measuring cup (tequila through Worcestershire). Place the salmon steaks in a wide shallow bowl and pour the marinade over the steaks. Cover, and pop in the fridge.

Go sightseeing for the afternoon.

When you return, put on a pot of brown rice (add Old Bay Seasoning and a dab of olive oil), wash and cut a few vegetables (endive, and spinach, and carrots work) and chop copious amounts of garlic.

Make some ice cold vodka martinis.

Play music. Talk about life and politics and religion (everything your mother told you not to talk about).

When the rice is done, turn on your oven- 400 degrees F will work.

Arrange the salmon steaks skin side down on a broiler pan or other shallow baking pan.

Pour the marinade into a saucepan.

Place the salmon in the oven on a rack near the top.

Turn the burner on under the saucepan and start reducing the marinade to make your tequila sauce; keep it at a gentle simmer; stir now and then, between sips of a dirty martini and snorts of laughter.

Meanwhile, quickly braise the endive, and the spinach (in two different pans) and saute the carrots (yup, in another pan).

Keep an eye on the salmon steaks while all the braising and sauteing is going on- this is why Chefs get the big bucks. After about 6 minutes, turn the salmon over and cook briefly to crisp the skin. Cook till fork tender, maybe a minute.

You're ready to plate. Spoon the tequila sauce over the steaks.

Light some candles. Eat. Drink. Live a little.

5 Foods to Live For

Chocolate's gotta be on the list, right?

Yes, it's Meme time again and this time around I've been tagged by Susan at Fatfree Vegan Kitchen to declare my 5 Foods to Live For. Asking someone who must live gluten-free due to celiac disease to list five foods to live for is an ironic and thorny question. If she had asked me, say, ten years ago, my list would have sported Italian semolina pasta as my number one. Following a close second? A tie between a crispy crusted French baguette and a chewy, salty rosemary foccacia- dipped in number three, extra virgin olive oil. Fourth would have to involve chocolate, perhaps a dense, rich slice of Devil's food cake. Number five?

Suddenly I'm feeling a little woozy.

This has-been (once upon a time) list ought to be named, 5 Foods to Die For. In some other incarnation I'm sure it is. Celiac is that serious. Yup. It can tumble you downhill so fast you'll be cringing- more than usual- at thinly veiled envy, er, I mean, compliments (Wow, you look amazing! Bitch. What are you- a size zero?) and discussing plans with your husband on how he'll look after your sons once you're gone.

Gone? he will ask with a raised eyebrow and a glint in his eye that begs to spark the levity he knows from experience simmers just beneath your gloomy inscrutable surface. You're not going anywhere, he declares with a bear hug, wrapping himself around your alarmingly bony shoulders.

Learning at mid-life that in order to survive you must be gluten-free every single day for the rest of your life is a mixed blessing. Yes, it's a relief. You haven't woken up in the third act of some Stephen King movie titled, Wasted. There is, finally, a reason you can point to. A culprit.

And the cure? The cure is simple, the doctor will tell you. Avoid gluten. And? you ask expectantly. There will be a shrug, followed by, You'll be fine. The depth of this nutritional advice is astounding, you think to yourself in utter and complete awe. Out loud, you murmur, Oh, okay, glancing at the faint remnants of powdered sugar on his charcoal wool trouser leg.

Finding five foods to live for is easy for me. After five years of living gluten-free I have forgotten what it is like to eat and live spontaneously, to stop, on an impulse and try a new bakery or a new cafe or the new restaurant in town. I must read every label of every single food, every ingredient that goes into my mouth. I make grocery lists in my sleep. I pack food for even the shortest trips away from home, knowing there will be nothing safe I can eat during an emergency. Well, if I'm lucky- a bottled water in a vending machine.

Eating now is sober business.

It's not just something to do on a whim, or out of boredom, or even, politeness. Every single food choice has to be conscious (How Zen, you think to yourself, chewing your brown rice. Maybe Buddha was a celiac?). For those of us intolerant to gluten, each bite we take is either healing or destructive. It's as simple as that.

And this is the hard part. To regard food as a possible enemy, as something adversarial, even life threatening, like some nasty virus or invisible bacteria, can turn any food loving girl's concept of nourishment and pleasure upside down. In fact, it is the antithesis of pleasure (unless you happen to be a masochist).

No, it's not easy to be even a quasi-foodie or comfort-foodie like me, when you have to keep your guard up. Strict vigilance isn't exactly, um, sexy.

Luckily, I was born with a resiliency and fluidity that has served me well in my life; and I have adjusted to my limitations and the stringency of living gluten-free. I still have foods I adore. I get pleasure from cooking. Sharing meals with those I love is as important now (if not more so!) than it was before I learned about celiac disease.

And after some minor and major adjustments, food has become equal to pleasure once again.

Food Bloggers Five Things to Eat Before You Die

So, without further ado, my 5 Foods to Live For - aka Five Foods to Eat Before You Die Meme - are:

1. Roasted green chiles- fresh from a New Mexican roadside stand
2. Garlic- rubbed, minced, chopped, roasted
3. Extra virgin olive oil- organic and fruity, from Italy
4. Wine- both red and white, from velvety dry to clean and crisp
5. Tomatoes- in every shape and color and size, raw, cooked, and sun-dried

Wait, wait! But then there is organic dark chocolate and sweet potatoes and blueberries and peaches and vanilla bean and fresh corn tortillas. Sigh.

How lucky can a girl be?

Rather than tag five others (the bloggers I've asked have already done it - shows you how late I am getting into this) I invite readers to post their own list here (in comments) and write about it- especially those living gluten-free.

Quick & Easy Garlic Shrimp Pizza

Quick + Easy Garlic Shrimp Pizza

One of the first foods folks miss on a gluten free diet is pizza. And one of the hardest doughs to recreate without gluten is pizza dough. There is no true substitute for the elasticity that gluten imparts to a wheat based dough. You can use a blend of alternative flours to make a thick, batter-like dough, but the truth is it will never be stretchy and tossable, like a classic hand tossed pizza shell. Sticky, yeah. Yeasty? You can capture the yeast-bread flavor. But a malleable dough you can knead? And stretch on a pizza stone? 


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Strawberries Citronge

With strawberries still so sexy and luscious I couldn't help myself. I had to buy a quart and slice them up for a cool dessert to offer our dashingly handsome new neighbor and friend Joey. After all, what beats fresh, ripe fruit in season, especially after a late and lazy August afternoon spent under the portal, sipping [um, several of] Joey's fabulously limey pucker-your-lips margaritas, and tasting a variety of sliced heirloom tomatoes (picked fresh that very day in a Taos garden) topped with thin dabs of marinated mozzarella (so creamy and basil-y and garlicky)?

I mean, what do you give a guest who brings such treasures? And what do you serve after all the heat and sparkle of smart and insightful conversation, and all the peachy glow of new friendship and discovery. The flutter of synchronicity. And I forgot to mention, the dinner itself [which I'll blog about soon, and share the recipes]. Nothing.

Nothing beats luscious summer strawberries. Especially when you macerate the ruby gems in a local favorite- Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur- and spoon them gently on melty scoops of dark chocolate sorbet served in Mexican stemmed Margarita glasses and share them under the stars.

As Bogart famously said, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Strawberries Citronge Recipe

Gently hand wash and drain a quart of ripe fresh strawberries. Slice them into a bowl (removing the green tops). 
Toss lightly in a sprinkling of organic cane sugar [or raw agave, if you're not into the whole sugar thing]. 
Drizzle with Patron Citronge Orange Liqueur.
Toss lovingly. Cover and chill for a couple of hours.

Serve spooned over slightly softened dark chocolate sorbet. Sigh audibly.

Serves four.

Maui Wowee Cookie Bars with Coconut & Chocolate Chips

Gluten free coconut chocolate chip cookie bars
Gluten-free cookie bars with coconut and chocolate.

Ah. Savor this Maui Wowee goodness- a delicious coconut chocolate chip cookie bar recipe. But first, a little back story. I remember the first gluten-free cookie I ever ate. I was a week into this new gluten-free lifestyle, knowing- by my body's dramatic response to giving up gluten- I was on the right track. I was feeling hopeful, deprived, relieved, angry and curious all at once.

So, Dear Reader, I took my first bite.

The store-bought cookie tasted like dog biscuit dust. Like a thawed frozen pizza box whizzed in a Cuisinart. Like a stale corner crumble from last year's abandoned Christmas cookie tin from your aunt that can't cook and pontificates about politics over instant coffee, Sara Lee pound cake and her gently crushed pack of Virginia Slims.

My husband and sons felt sorry for me (though they masked it with humor, tossing cookies out the back door into the night like so many flying hockey pucks). The worst of it? They felt powerless to help.

That's when I knew.

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