Happy Birthday, baby!

Time flies! This picture was taken 7 years ago (when I first started getting into cookie decorating). My baby is 9 today. He doesn't want cookies anymore; he wants cheesecake. :) That's OK. Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Gluten-Free Banana Cookies

Gluten free banana cookies
Gluten-free and vegan banana cookie recipe.

Two firsts today. I made my first batch (ever!) of banana cookies (and the recipe just so happens to be gluten-free and dairy-free). And I took my first post-fracture outside walk today, bundled up against a chilly wind, walking stick in hand, patient husband at my side.

I use the word patient for a reason. Because Babycakes, walking with me is painted turtle in the shade slow. Careful. Deliberate. No funny business. No waggling or showing off. It ain't necessarily pretty.

But it's vertical.

It's biped (if you don't count the requisite walking stick as an appendage). And these days- in this house- vertical rocks our world. When we circled back to the casita the kitchen smelled like bananas and vanilla. I unwrapped my purple scarf, peeled off my mittens and turned the kettle on. It was time for tea and cookies.

And I had worked up an appetite.

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You Say It's Your Birthday...

Today is my sister's birthday. No, I didn't make cookies for her...we're heading to Ben & Jerry's later for chocolate chip cookie sundaes...oh, yay! :)

These are cookies I made for her "girls' night out" party before she got married. I know...pretty sexy! ;) I used my gingerbread lady and man cookie cutters and had to nip them in at the waist quite a bit.

To make them...

  1. Outline basic "outfit"...bra and panties or nightgown using a #2 tip in your choice of color.
  2. With another #2 tip, outline body in flesh tone. (AmeriColor Copper/Fleshtone)
  3. Thin outfit icing to the consistency of syrup. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit several minutes. Stir gently to pop bubbles that have formed on top. Pour into a squeeze bottle and fill in outfit. Use a toothpick to coax the icing into all corners and to edges.
  4. After filling in about 6 to 8 outfit, add dots in thinned icing, if desired.
  5. Using the same method as above, thin and flood body in flesh tone.
  6. Let dry at least one hour.
  7. Using a #1 tip, add details to outfits, such as "dot" straps.
  8. Using a #1 tip, add curly hair. (Spectrum Chocolate Brown was used here.) For an example of straight hair, click here.
  9. Again, using a #1 tip, pipe a heart-shaped mouth in red. (Spectrum Super Red)

Happy Birthday, Molly!

Vegetarian Polenta Pie

Layered polenta, veggies and vegan cheese.

An easier savory vegetarian pie than this you won't find. It's a simple fresh recipe that rocks. I made it to celebrate.

We just got back from my three-month post-op check-up. The hip looks good. "I gained ten pounds," I said to my hunky surgeon, Brant, as he was lifting my left leg in the air and poking me in the pelvis.

"So what?" he snorted and turned to Steve. "These tall skinny chicks. Ten pounds."

"I thought you'd be proud of me," I countered. "You know- that whole, You fit the broken hip profile thing you said to me? Female. White. Skinny. Vegetarian. (Celiac!)"

"Yeah, well. I gotta give you shit about something," he said.

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Aren't these adorable?: Cookie Exchange!

I came across these cookies today courtesy of The Incredible Shrinking Whimsigal (by the way, check her blog for a great idea for an egg, english muffin, cream cheese breakfast). Aren't they adorable? I'll be filing these away for New Year 2009. Thank you, Whimsigal, for letting me post them. :)

Golden Potato Soup for the Sensitive Soul

Gluten free dairy free vegan potato soup
A lovely creamy potato soup- gluten and dairy free.

When I want a recipe for comfort food I reach for potatoes first. And when I need a soup recipe in a hurry, this creamy potato comfort always hits the spot.

Decades ago (yes, decades- how scary is that?) while I was still in art school, living in my boxy white washed one-bedroom off Dupont Circle, I would make potato soup in a blender (no crankin' Cuisinart or snappy immersion wands back then) and serve it chilled in Asian blue and white bowls (Pier One Imports, 99 cents apiece) with a sprinkle of bright green chives. Art student friends would scrape their bowls clean and ask for more. And I would gladly oblige. (They were easily impressed, because they were, well, not exactly starving, but used to living on instant ramen noodles, pizza and beer.)

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Valentine's Day...one month away!

Time to start thinking about this year's cookies....here's a LOVE postage stamp cookie that I love. Why? Number 1, the LOVE stamps are my favorites, and Number 2, they remind me of my Aunt Janice who always send letters with the perfect stamp! :)

To make the cookies:

  1. Using a #2 tip, outline square cookies a little inside the border in white icing.
  2. Change to a #1 tip and pipe a small, filled, scalloped edge...like a stamp.
  3. In red icing, pipe a heart in the middle of the square. (AmeriColor Super Red)
  4. Thin red and pink icing to syrup-like consistency and cover with a damp dishtowel. Let sit, stir gently with a rubber spatula to pop air bubbles. (AmeriColor Deep Pink)
  5. Pour thinned icing into squeeze bottles and fill in heart in red and pink for background color. Use a toothpick to spread icing.
  6. Let dry overnight.
  7. With a black food coloring pen, write "Love" and the postage price. :) (AmeriColor Gourmet Writer pens)

Anyone planning to make cookies for Valentine's Day? I'd love to hear your ideas and see your pictures!

19 sheets to the wind...

Yep...19. I have 19 cookie sheets. Mostly I use them to transport cookies from my "holding area" (dining room table) to my "decorating area" (kitchen table).

Which ones do I use for cookie baking? After experimenting, I prefer the dull looking cookie sheets; I'm sure they are sold as non-stick, although I always use parchment paper. I've tried the professional half sheet pans...they feel nice, very stable and weighty and not bendy at all, but those result in a cookie that is really soft on the bottom. That's great, but I like them a little more sturdy since I'll be handling them during decorating and usually bagging and boxing them. A little bit of brown on the bottom helps.

Weekend Picks

Green Chile Tortilla Bake

January weekends put me in the mood for two things. Cocoa with marshmallows and browsing cookbooks. Ideally, at the same time. In bed.

And since you can't join me, Dear Reader- as I spoon rapidly melting marshmallows from my hefty green-glazed cup, trying ever so carefully not to drip chocolate on an open cookbook as I slurp- I thought I might quickly browse some of my favorite on-line recipes and snag a list of seasonal inspiration for your weekend. Pure comfort food.

The cocoa part is up to you.

From Karina's Kitchen:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bars

From some of my favorite tasty blogs:

Spicy Sweet Potato Fries at Kalyn's Kitchen
Potato "Gatto" from Fatfree Vegan Kitchen
Black Bean Soup at Simply Recipes
Curried Chicken and Rice Soup from Gluten Free Gobsmacked
Salad with Fennel, Pears and Pine Nuts at Lucullian Delights

Gluten-Free Soup, Stew and Chili Recipes

Gluten-Free Soup, Stew and Chili Recipes

Here is a collection of my favorite gluten-free soups, stews and chili recipes. Warm up body and soul with one of these hearty slurp-worthy bowls of  comfort. There's nothing like soup. And from a can doesn't count. Many of these favorites are made in a slow cooker for easy, year round cooking.

Carrot Soup
Celery Soup with Fennel with Ryeless Rye Croutons
Coconut Split Pea Soup
Cream of Broccoli Soup with Coconut Milk
Curried Butternut Soup
Curried Carrot Soup with Pan Toasted Cornbread Croutons

Detox Green Soup
Detox Soup: Mulligatawny
Favorite Gluten-Free Chili
Irish Potato Cabbage Soup- with sausage

Mexican Pumpkin Soup with Black Beans + Lime
Mulligatawny Soup with Jasmine Rice
New Mexican Stew with Ground Turkey + Green Chiles
Potato Leek Soup
Potato Soup for the Sensitive Soul
Pumpkin-Sweet Potato Soup
Purple Cabbage + Sweet Potato Soup

Roasted Corn Chowder with Chicken
Roasted Tomato Soup
Roasted Vegetable Chowder
Rustic Mediterranean Chicken Soup for the Soul

Sneaky Tomato Soup
Spicy Vegetable Soup with Lime
Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger

Turkey Soup

Baked Cod with Roasted Sweet & Sour Vegetables

Yesterday, it snowed. Today the winter sky is clear and bright. The snow shadows are blue- almost purple. I was sorry to see the last of our Beef and Potatoes au Chocolat go. A chilly day like today is the perfect day for a slow cooked soup or stew. But alas. There's not a cup of soup in the house. Or any leftovers, for that matter. Last night we tossed together a simple dinner for two- cod fillets baked in olive oil and garlic, and topped with tangy roasted vegetables. Mermaid comfort food. 

It was gone faster than you could say Daryl Hannah.

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Geaux Tigers?

Given OU's poor Fiesta Bowl showing, I guess it's time to root for LSU! There's always next year.
For the footballs:

  1. Outline the football shape in white icing using a #2 tip.
  2. Flood the cookie with thinned brown icing. Thin with water to the consistency of thick syrup. Cover with a damp towel and let sit for several minutes. Run a rubber spatula gently through the icing to pop any bubbles that formed on the top. Pour into a squeeze bottle. Use a toothpick to spread the icing. (Spectrum Chocolate Brown)
  3. Let dry for at least 1 hour.
  4. Using the #2 tip, add "stitching" to top of football.
  5. Switch to #1 tip and add side detail in white. Using yellow and purple with a #1 tip, add detail color to sides. (Purple: AmeriColor Violet; Yellow: AmeriColor Egg Yellow)

Beef and Potatoes au Chocolat

 Beef. In chocolate. That's right.

One of my favorite food-themed movies is Chocolat. All those sexy close-ups of thick and glossy ribbons of deep dark chocolate. The dustings of cinnamon you could almost taste. And the revelation of chile-spiked cocoa! It's enough to make any chocolate and spice lover swoon.
Flash forward. Winter day. Steve is turning, smiling- devilish- in the late afternoon sun that slants through the square kitchen window, unwrapping (vegans please skip ahead now to when I acknowledge your goddess-given right for a substitute) a gorgeous grass fed ribeye steak from Whole Foods and ponders, aloud, Should we make some kind of stew tonight- something Sicilian, maybe? And suddenly- feverishly- I am possessed with the idea of mole- a lip smacking, foodgasm-inducing Mexican sauce, decadently rich and redolent with unsweetened chocolate and spices.

You know what happened next.

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Hello, 2008!

A little cookie for the new year...the dots remind me of champagne bubbles or confetti. I was going for a bright fuchsia here and I have to say that they look prettier in person, but I like the cookies from 2007 much better. Oh well...you never know until you try.

To make them:

  1. Outline the cookie in white using a #3 tip.
  2. Thin fuchsia, yellow and blue icing to syrupy consistency and cover with a damp dishtowel. Let sit, stir gently with a rubber spatula to pop air bubbles. (Fuchsia: Spectrum Fuchsia with AmeriColor Electric Pink; Yellow: AmeriColor Egg Yellow; Blue: Spectrum Sky Blue)
  3. Pour thinned icing into squeeze bottles.
  4. Fill 6-8 cookies at a time in fuchsia. Spread into corners with a toothpick.
  5. Drop blue and yellow dots on top of wet icing.
  6. Let dry at least 1 hour.
  7. Using a #2 tip, pipe "2008."

Spicy Eggs Diablo on Polenta

Spicy eggs on polenta aka Huevos Diablo (or Diavolo)

I've been a tad busy behind the scenes here at Karina's Kitchen. A little cooking, yes. Now that I can stand for longer and longer periods of time and not topple over. And no, I haven't been drinking. Well, just a little red wine with dinner, of course.

No, I'm afraid it's not an intoxication issue at all, it's the whole getting-used-to being vertical thing. It's a wee bit strange and vertigo inducing. It seems I have to re-orient my depth perception and excavate my bi-ped spatial navigation skills (which were never as we now know particularly well honed). I must relearn how to aim and propel this stiff and complaining body (spare parts included) semi-crutchless around my casita-bound world. For the first time in ages.

You think that's easy?

Actually, it's all good. Even the failed baking attempts are good. Like the vegan pear cobbler that wouldn't bake in the middle and got only gummier the longer I baked the damn thing (what is it with high altitude and egg-less baking?). Actually, I blame gluten-free and egg-less baking. It's no walk in the park. It looked pretty, but tasted god-awful. So I'm sparing you.

Instead I'm reprising an older recipe I once ate with gusto (and can no longer consume due to an egg allergy; but you can, I hope!).

I love you that much.

Make this tasty egg dish for brunch or breakfast for dinner on some rainy spring night.

Eggs Diablo on Polenta

Bake the eggs as you stir the polenta and your brunch- or dinner- will be done in no time. I used stone ground cornmeal for the polenta, so it took longer to cook than a pre-cooked "instant" version. The creamy corny texture was worth the effort. Make sure the cornmeal you use is gluten-free.

To make the polenta:

1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Polenta
4 1/2 cups light broth
1 cup grated Cheddar or Pepper Jack cheese (use vegan cheese to keep it dairy-free)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

For the Eggs Diablo:

2 cups spicy salsa
2 cups Muir Glen pasta sauce
1/2 cup chopped roasted green chiles- hot or mild, to taste
A good dash of balsamic vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
Red pepper chili flakes, to taste
A good dash of cumin or chipotle powder, if desired
Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley, to taste
8 large free-range organic eggs

To serve:

Queso fresco, goat or feta cheese, if desired

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, bring the broth to a high simmer and pour the cornmeal into the simmering broth in an even, steady stream, whisking as you go. Keep stirring. This take a while. Hand the whisking job over to a willing and able assistant as you prepare the eggs. [Promise them chocolate, if you have to.]

Combine the Diablo Sauce ingredients in a deepish baking pan- I used a 10x13-inch pan. Place the pan in the oven for ten minutes to heat the sauce. In the meantime, give your assistant a break on whisking the polenta, or busy yourself with selecting appropriate Huevos Diablo music. Cesaria Evora works.

When you are about half way through the polenta process (around the 10 to 15 minute mark) pull the pan from the oven and crack the eggs- one at a time, preferably- into the simmering sauce. Place the pan back into the hot oven.

The Diablo sauce will poach the eggs. When cooking only four eggs, I will cook the eggs and sauce in a deep skillet (covered) on the stove, instead; I chose to bake them on this occasion because I was poaching 8 eggs at once.

When the polenta has thickened and is pulling away from the sides of the pot a bit, add in the shredded cheese and season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Remove the pot from the heat.

Note: If all goes well, the eggs and polenta will be done at the same time. My polenta took a little longer than I anticipated, so my poached eggs turned out a little more solid than I like. I should have pulled the pan from the oven and kept the eggs on the stove top until the polenta was ready.

To serve:

Spoon a circle of polenta on each of four warmed serving plates. Spoon some Diablo Sauce over each mound of polenta. Top with two poached eggs. If there is any remaining sauce, spoon a little extra on each plate.

Top with fresh chopped cilantro if you like.

If you are not dairy-free, crumble a little queso fresco, goat, or feta, on each serving, if desired.

Serves 4.