Butternut Chili - Spicy 'n Sweet

Gluten free chili recipe
Here's one of my favorite chili recipes, featuring cubes of 
butternut squash. Sweet and spicy. 

New Year's Day is almost upon us. Rather than wax nostalgic and dreamy about the bumpy (and enlightening) year I've had, I'd rather post a simple recipe I know you'll love. Making a pot of bean soup or chili to welcome in a freshly minted year is a tradition as old as the hills. From Italian Pasta Fagioli to homestyle southern Hoppin' John, beans somehow acquired the favorable reputation of attracting good luck.

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New Year's Eve Tiara cookies

Don't you just love wearing those "Happy New Year" tiaras? I always have. Here's a cookie to match!

  1. Using a #3 tip and white icing (light gray would work, too), outline a tiara headband and pipe "HAPPY NEW YEAR" on cookies.
  2. Thin white icing and flood headband shape.
  3. Let dry completely...several hours or overnight.
  4. Mix silver Lustre Dust with vodka (it will evaporate leaving only the silver) and paint on design with a small paintbrush. *see note
  5. Using warmed corn syrup or meringue powder mixed with water, paint over design again and sprinkle on clear sparkling/sanding sugar. (Click here for more info on applying sparkling sugar. )

* Lustre or Luster Dust is a dry powder that can be applied to add a metallic sheen to icing. The product is interesting...my bakery supply store sells lustre dust that is labeled "non-toxic" and edible, some is labeled "for decorative purposes only." Remember those silver dragees (balls) that you ate as a kid on cookies and cupcakes? Those are labeled "decorative" now, too. In my opinion, a little won't kill me. From what I understand, Europe considers all lustre dust "edible"; the US doesn't. Weird! Anyway...check your bakery supply for the "non-toxic" version.

Yay! I'm officially a foodie! :)

Check out the link to the right....bake at 350 is officially part of the Foodie BlogRoll! I am so excited! Now I have some serious computer time in store checking out all of those yummy blogs!

Vegan Banana Bundt Cake

A tasty dairy-free gluten-free banana cake.

Vegan (egg-free) baking is a mega-challenge at high altitude. Throw gluten-free and dairy-free into the equation (not to mention, soy-free, Darling- I can't even rely on tofu yogurt!) and trust me, it can be a major pain in the proverbial butt. I've dumped two previous egg-free incarnations of this recipe lickety-split into the trash. Today, however, I tweaked again. And guess what? We have a winner.

So- this one's for all you lovely celiacs, gluten-free vegans, multi-allergic sweethearts and autism spectrum angels out there (neurodiversity rocks, after all).

Big banana kisses xoxo!

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LeeAnn's Gingerbread Cookies: Cookie Exchange!

I love everything about these cookies....the squiggles, the eyes, the ribbon and the way the sunlight is streaming in on them. Thanks, LeeAnn for letting me post the picture!

Cornbread Recipe with Green Chiles + Cinnamon

Tender moist gluten-free cornbread you can bake in a skillet or a cake pan.

One of the first recipe conversions I attempted in my brand spanking new gluten-free life (begun six short years ago, December 19th, 2001) was my tired-and-true favorite cornbread recipe. Lucky for me, it converted to gluten-free rather easily. As a tender, fragile newbie to life sans gluten it gave me hope. The will to live. After all, when your beloved world of cooking, baking- and eating- is flipped upside down, a modest success in the kitchen can perk up your day. Maybe even, your week.

So when I recently discovered I needed to give up dairy and eggs as well, I flipped through recipes once again and decided to reprise my skillet cornbread- this time as an egg-free vegan version. And wouldn't you know it?

It worked.

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Flood Icing

Flood icing is simply royal icing with water added to make a consistency to "flood" or fill in the outlined design. It's best to go slow, adding a little water at a time to get to a syrup-y consistency. The more cookies you decorate, the more you'll get a feel for it. If your icing ends up a little thin (like water), add sifted powdered sugar or some leftover icing from outlining to your flood icing.

Once the flood icing is "just right", cover it with a damp towel and let sit for several minutes. Using a rubber spatula (I love these!), run gently through the icing to break up the air bubbles that have risen to the top. Now pour into squeeze bottles. These can be found in the candy making section of any craft or bakery supply store. Walmart even carries them! You could also pour the flood icing into a pastry bag fitted with a tip. I used to do this before I discovered squeeze bottles...I wouldn't recommend it, though...it's a mess! :)

Onto the outlined cookies, squeeze the flood icing in a zigzag pattern. I usually do 3 -4 at a time. Don't worry, the icing won't harden by the time you get back to it and it gives the icing time to spread. Using a toothpick, spread the icing to cover the cookie.

This is how mine look, more or less, before spreading with a toothpick.

One more!

During my last batch of cookies :), I started running low on dark green icing, so I switched up the colors and really liked the outcome.

This is it...I promise...no more package cookies for the rest of the year!

Chicken Tropicale

Festive and flavorful chicken and pineapple.

Any night's a party when you cook up this Caribbean-inspired chicken recipe. Tip: Using your slow cooker frees you up in the kitchen- not to mention utilizing your Crock Pot makes energy efficient sense year round.

Steve's been doing all the cooking of late. I know you know why, Babycakes. You're probably sick to death of hearing about it.

But do you also know how ridiculous it is to wield a sharp knife and balance on crutches and pass the balsamic vinegar in a kitchen built (obviously) for one person who (also obviously) never cooked? All the bumping-bums while making sure your left foot is touching the floor at precisely (doctor's orders) no more than 25% of your total body weight- which, truth be told, Dear Reader, has blossomed by six- er- seven and a half pounds since you've been lounging in bed every morning past 10 o'clock, eating cinnamon-laced wedges of grilled cornbread and deep bowls of crunchy maple buckwheat flakes as you cruise your e-mail?

That's right. I'm talkin' ridiculous.

So we've been eating a lot of familiar recipes and not experimenting much. Experimentation needs elbow room. And stamina. Both seem to be in rather short supply here. Which led me to remember this terrific recipe from before my no-chicken, no coconut days. It disappeared from the blog for awhile (don't ask!). So I thought it might be time to bring it back.

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Nirvana Bars- Chocolate & Coconut Bliss

This recipe is a family favorite- my chocolate-coconut cookie bar recipe. Simple to make. Sweet and gooey and bliss inducing. And most important? You can offer them at any gathering without a gluten-free apology. (Would that be, Don't ask, don't tell?) Bummed about the dairy in it? My son Alex has created his own casein-free version using condensed coconut milk. See his dairy-free recipe here.

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More Christmas baking...

The second batch needed dots...
I don't know why, but I love seeing them all stacked together like this.

Today I tried a new way to apply the sanding sugar and I really love it! (Thank you, Martha!) When I first started making cookies, it used to really bother me that when I put sparkling sugar on a cookie, it would dent the icing. The trick is to put it on dry, not wet icing!

Up until now, I've heated up a little corn syrup (light) and brushed the area I wanted to sand with a small paintbrush. This works great, but it's sticky and when you're making 200 cookies, going back and forth to the microwave to reheat corn syrup is a drag.

Here's the new way...mix a little meringue powder with water. Brush this onto the area to be sanded. It flows better, isn't sticky and dries really well. A few more hints:
  • Use a child's size paint brush. You can trim the bristles if they are fanning out too much.
  • Be sure the cookies are dry before starting, otherwise the sugar will stick to and dent the wet icing. I always let them dry overnight.
  • Pour some sparkling sugar or sanding sugar into the cap or a small ramekin. Once your cookie has been brushed with the mixture, sprinkle the sugar on top, holding it over a basket-style coffee filter. Shake off the excess over the coffee filter as well. This excess can easily be emptied back into the cap/ramekin.
  • Sanding sugar is a smaller grain that sparkling sugar...both are really pretty, but I think sanding sugar has more sparkle. I never wanted to use it because "sparkling sugar" just sounds prettier!

Karina's Gluten-Free Maple Meatloaf

Gluten free meatloaf with a maple glaze
My maple meatloaf is homespun comfort food.

I have some good news. I mean, besides this delicious meatloaf recipe. After eight long weeks of no funny business, yours in gluten-and-casein-free bliss is humming to the Stereo MC's and shuffling around our one room casita with a walker. Yup. I was officially sprung from wheelchair status today! Progress with a long o.

High-fiiiive me.

I'm one happy crone tonight. So I'm keeping this short and sweet. Here it is. It snowed today. There's a crackling fire in the kiva. A glass of wine awaits- not to mention- one of our favorite comfort food suppers. A slice of my favorite meatloaf and a generous scoop of warm Champagne Vinegar Potato Salad. Life is good.

Have a safe and tasty weekend! And be good to your bones.

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Seeing red

Red icing is probably the most difficult to make. I love AmeriColor's Super Red gel paste coloring! It doesn't take as much to get a nice red and doesn't have the off-taste like some others (Wilton).

All icing will darken over time and while drying, but it is especially true with red. Try to make your red icing at least a day in advance, cover with plastic wrap, pressing down onto the icing, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using and just give it a stir.

When making red, aim for a little lighter than you'd like on your final product. Believe it or not, the icing above turned into a perfect, bright red on my cookies. If the icing is a true, deep red before it goes on the cookies, it can turn extremely dark once dry...close to black. (If your icing is too dark, stir in some white.)

Red icing can also change in high humidity. If it's humid and you notice your cookies getting splotchy once dried, don't panic. The icing will eventually even out in color.

Sparkly Christmas Presents

The picture doesn't do justice to the sanding sugar...it is so sparkly! I've always used "sparkling sugar", but could only find red "sanding sugar" and I love it! It's smaller than sparkling sugar and really reflects the light.

The cookies are in green, white and mint, but the mint color didn't show up in my pictures. More on how to make these later....

The Best Cheesy Uncheese Sauce

Best creamy cheesy vegan uncheese sauce with no dairy
A dairy-free cheesy sauce you will love.

I've been playing around with this vegan cheesy sauce recipe for ages- trying to get it just right. And guess what? I think I got it.

Don't worry. This won't hurt a bit. Promise.

In fact, you might even thank me. Especially if you're cooking for a groovy dairy-free girlfriend. Or a hunky casein allergic BF. A cute as a button autistic angel. And let's not ignore the teeming hoards of the lactose intolerant. One just might show up for dinner one day. Hungry. You never know.

And how about those vegans? They're sprouting up everywhere, for goddess sake. What will you do? What will you feed them- besides chopped salad? Carrot sticks?


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Gluten-Free Latkes and Cinnamon Applesauce

A stack of crispy, lacy latkes

Have you made latkes lately? Latkes are fried potato pancakes made with fresh grated potatoes. Though latkes come in all shapes and sizes (via personal preference) I make my latkes thin and lacy, fried to a crispy golden brown. Oy, these are good! Maybe Mel Gibson wouldn't be such a nudnik, if he tasted these. Although if he did, he'd probably ask for ketchup.

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