Sweet Tombstones...and a BRUSH WITH MARTHA!!!

Happy Halloween!!!

First, here are the tombstones, or headstones, for Halloween. These were fun to make. I don't know if you can tell, but the flowers are supposed to be wilted like an old neglected grave.
I used AmeriColor Gourmet Writers (food coloring pens) to write the names.
....and here they are all bagged up and ready. My husband is taking some to his customers today. :)
OK....so a "brush with Martha." Really, it's not so much HER, but as close as I'll ever get. :) Do you read Martha's Everyday Food blog? It's called Dinner Tonight, and is one of the blogs in my google reader. Well, today they have a link to some of their "favorite creations" from a gallery of creepy treats submitted by readers.

Guess who had 2 cookies make the list....ME!!! This just makes my day! Is it sad that I had to get up and do a little "happy dance" when I saw them? Maybe...probably! :)

See if you can spot them. And, have a wonderfully sweet and spooky Halloween! BOO!

Stuffed Cabbage with Quinoa + Roasted Sweet Potato

Gluten free vegan stuffed cabbage with quinoa stuffing
Quinoa stuffed cabbage. How's that for nontraditional?

It was a dark and stormy night... 

Wait. This is a recipe post. Let me start again. Got your cocoa? Are you settled?

Chapter 1.

The tight blue tiled kitchen glowed in the afternoon sun that slatted through the western facing junipers and spilled across the cupboards in a honeyed glaze so dazzling she had to lower her eyes to keep from squinting like a cowboy as she grabbed a frayed dish towel and cracked the oven door. The scent of sweet potatoes, apples and onion laced with garlic, nutmeg and cinnamon filled the room. She tugged her worn wooden spoon from the mustard crock and stirred the tender jewels bathed in apple juice. For the first time in days she felt connected to something tangible.

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Karina's Kicked Up Colcannon Recipe

An Irish classic- colcannon. Mashed potatoes with a twist.

Traditional colcannon is an Irish potato recipe thick with cream and sticks of butter. If served for the Celtic New Year, a bowl of colcannon might include a lucky coin hidden in its pillowy depths; the charmed recipient- if she didn't break a tooth on it- kept the buried treasure for a New Year's worth of kind fortune. 

My version of colcannon is anything but traditional. I'm a half Ashkenazi-Jewish-Scot-Irish shiksa zen Jungian humanist, after all. So you know I had to change it up a bit. It had to be vegan. And it had to be spiked with the flavors I crave. Flavors that love snuggling up to potatoes.

Because when it comes to this turning-back-the-clock dark and spooky time of year nothing beats a good potato recipe. 

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Dem Bones

The idea for these cookies came from the booklet, Martha Stewart Cookie Decorating (Simple Techniques For Extra-Special Treats). The link will get you to Amazon, but unfortunately, it is out-of-stock. My sister bought me this book last year from Michael's, but I haven't seen it there in a while. It's a great little 24-page book filled with ideas and instructions.
I always get nervous trying a new cookie idea, but every time I look at these, they make me laugh. I really like them. I used AmeriColor Avocado coloring for the skeletons and they ended up a ghostly green color, almost like glow-in-the-dark. I hadn't planned it that way, but it turned out pretty cool.Here's a question for all of you....sanding sugar or no? I started applying it like Martha suggests and then couldn't decide if I liked them better plain or not, so I did half and half. What do you think? I'm already planning for next year. :)
I'm mailing these...and some others...to my dad so he can hand them out at work. Stay tuned later in the week for tombstones!
To make the skeleton/coffin cookies:
  • Pipe a coffin shape in black icing, using a #2 tip. (Spectrum Super Black)
  • Thin black icing with water to a consistency of syrup. cover with a damp towel and let sit several minutes.
  • Run a rubber spatula through the icing to pop air bubbles that have formed on top. Transfer to a squeeze bottle.
  • Fill in the coffins with the thinned black flood icing.
  • Let dry at least 1 hour.
  • Using a #2 tip and light green icing, pipe a skeleton shape on the coffins. (AmeriColor Avocado)
  • Before this icing has set, use the black piping icing to make eyes and a mouth on the face.
  • If using sanding sugar, let the cookies dry overnight.
  • Mix a little meringue powder with water and brush on the skeleton shape using a small paintbrush.
  • Sprinkle with clear sanding sugar.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie Recipe
Easy, delicious gluten-free pumpkin pie.

This will be one of our little secrets, okay? Just make this impossible pumpkin pie recipe and serve it with a smile. No apologies. No caveats. No waffling or waggling. You don't have to label it vegan. Or gluten-free. Or lactose-free. Which it is. Because no one will ever know. It tastes that good. And you'll score serious points with your vegan guests. You'll be a hero to gluten-free pie lovers. A goddess to egg-free pumpkin-cravers. A rock star to dairy-free angels.

My secret? It's in the details.

First- no tofu (yes, Babycakes, my pumpkin pie is soy-free so you won't have to put up with your cousin's tofu jokes on Thanksgiving).

Second- it's also rice-free. No gritty rice flour (which, come to think of it, I am hardly using any more). No cornstarch (for those of you avoiding corn). In a sweet little nutshell, it's very food allergy friendly.

Even your Aunt Sadie who is allergic to Wyoming might be able to eat this. Unless she's allergic to pumpkin. 

Then you're screwed.

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Church Bake Sale

Our parish has a fall festival every year and I just came back home from dropping off some goodies for the bake sale (and previewing all of the other good stuff being delivered). :) This is something we look forward to every year; one reason being that we get to eat some of the best tamales ever!
Although I really wanted to try out my new tombstone and coffin cookie cutters, I went with pumpkins. Maybe I'll get to those next week. :)

I tried a new flavor of cake ball....chai-spiced. While I wasn't crazy about them, my husband who "tested" 3 for breakfast yesterday loved them, as did my son, so I was over-ruled. I used vanilla almond bark instead of candy melts this time, so that may have been why I didn't like them as much.

For the cake balls, I used a white cake mix and substituted a strongly brewed chai tea for the water. I also used 3 eggs in place of the 3 egg whites called for on the package. The flavor was really subtle....I added a touch of cinnamon, ginger and cardamon to the batter as well and might even add more if I try them again.

The instructions for putting them all together are here. If you've never tried them before, I recommend starting with the Pumpkin Spice Cake Balls.
Last, but not least, Toffee Blondies!!! Now, these, I AM crazy about! They are super easy and really, really good! I used a bench scraper to cut them. (My dad gave me this one from Sur La Table; I love the ruler along the sides!) It make cutting brownies, blondies, etc. so easy.
Toffee Blondies
(adapted from Everyday Food)

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, melted
1 c packed light brown sugar (I've used a combo of dark & light, too)
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla (the first time I made these, I was out of vanilla...the horror!...so I used almond extract. I've made them that way ever since)
1/4 tsp salt
1 & 1/2 c flour
1 c toffee bits (this time I could only find the chocolate covered toffee bits, both taste great, but I think the plain ones make for prettier blondies.)

Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom and side of an 8 inch square pan with foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides.

Cream butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Beat in eggs, vanilla and salt, scraping down sides.

Add the flour on low speed until combined. Stir in toffee bits.

Spread batter into prepared pan (an offset spatula helps). Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely in pan.

Lift the blondies out of the pan using the foil overhang. Cut with a bench scraper or serrated knife.


Liquid Love....sugar cookie tea!

This isn't just any tea!!! It's Sugar Cookie Tea!!!
Does tea get any better than this?!? I tried it for the first time this morning....it does taste like a liquid sugar cookie. I'm thinking maybe I can drink this as my after dinner dessert? ;) I found mine at WalMart; I'm heading back today to stock up!

Karina's Enchiladas Win the Whole Foods Budget Recipe Challenge

Whole Foods Budget Recipe Challenge Winner Karinas Sweet Potato Black Bean EnchiladasEnchiladas photo courtesy Whole Foods Market © 2008

I am very excited to announce that my recipe for Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas has won the Whole Foods Market Budget Recipe Challenge. Thank you all who voted for the recipe- and highlighted this gluten-free vegetarian entry. I am overwhelmed by the support. Over 1,300 of you took the time to vote! And I appreciate it with all my heart.

Congrats to the other talented finalists who participated with their mouthwatering array of unique dishes- Jaden of Steamy Kitchen, Rachel of Coconut & Lime, Hannah of Bittersweet, Michael of Cooking for Engineers and of Katy of Sugar Laws. Your recipes rocked.

To celebrate I am going to give away:

Five $25 Whole Foods Market Gift Cards!

To participate in this random drawing leave a comment below.

Five lucky winners will be picked out of hat
by my favorite little burro, Sparky
on Friday October 31st.

Good luck!

Contest is closed- Sparky picked the winners-
see the winners here.

Here is the winning recipe on Gluten-Free Goddess:

Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas

Orange-tinted Candy Corn Cookies

I don't make tinted dough very often, but it is really fun and makes cookies a little extra special.
To tint cookie dough, add gel paste food coloring after the dough has come together and knead in by hand. Gel coloring doesn't mix in like the liquid food coloring I grew up with, so kneading it is the way to go. For a really cool marble effect, knead only until there are swirls of color throughout your dough.
Once the flood icing was dried, I went back over the edges and borders of the cookies with some warmed corn syrup (meringue powder mixed with a little water works, too) using a small paintbrush and added some sparkling sugar.

Do you know that October 30th is National Candy Corn Day? I learned that from A Dozen Eggs last week! Who knew? A great snack mix....candy corn and salted peanuts....yum!!!

Operation Baking Gals

With everything going on these days....the election, the economy, the new season of Desperate Housewives....it's easy to forget that many of our soldiers are still away from their families and sacrificing for our country. When my brother-in-law was deployed to Iraq, my sister sent him something every day (I'm not exaggerating here), but sadly, some of the guys and gals don't get many...or any...packages from home.
Through Danielle's blog, Make No Little Meals, I found out about Operation Baking Gals. Here's a little information from their website:

"Baking GALS (GALS stands for Give A Little Support) is a group of volunteer bakers who bake and ship homemade goodies to our heroic troops that are currently deployed. Each soldier is "Hosted" by a blogger, and potential bakers are "recruited" from the bloggers own site as well as the GALS site. Each Host recruits between 20-25 bakers, meaning LOTS of goodies get delivered to our soldier...so many, in fact that he or she has plenty to share with their fellow troops!"

Just go to the Operation Baking Gals website and register (it only takes a minute...no long form to fill out), then join a team. I joined Danielle's team...Team Dani's Delightful Darlings. (I think there is a delay in showing up on the team list, so don't panic if your name doesn't show up right away. )

This is Round 4 of Operation Baking Gals with packages being shipped out from October 30th - November 10th.

Sign up and support our troops! (A side benefit..."testing" each batch of cookies before mailing!) :)

Easy Cider Roasted Vegetables

A pan of fresh vegetables ready for roasting
Roasted vegetables are an easy, fit for company favorite.

Roasted vegetables. As you may have guessed from my last recipe, they are a favorite staple at our house. And beyond easy. We make them at least twice a week- a convivial ritual. Steve and I join forces in the kitchen at dinner hour and cut up heaps of vegetables and talking politics. Or religion. Human behavior. Projection. Affect and temperament. All those spiky topics your grandmother warned you not to talk about at dinner parties (or at least in mixed company). We talk, all right. And talk.

After all, we're simpatico.

We're on the same ethical and moral page. We share the same values (muy importante in a marriage, let me tell you). And we're on safe ground here in our tiny desert kitchen- at least as long as the bank holding the mortgage doesn't go belly up (but money is another topic a "polite" woman doesn't discuss).

Steve and I are as fearless and hopeful with another as we were on our very first date- a cup of coffee (make that three) at Jack's Out Back in Yarmouthport. When he asked me where I saw myself in ten years- and told me he wasn't looking for a mother- I knew I'd found the man for me.

And last night- the one year mark of the unfortunate hip incident- as we stood in the very spot of my Charlie Brown smack down, rustling up passionate discourse and tossing veggies left and right into a waiting roasting pan and punctuating Mamet style pauses with. Glugs. Of olive oil. And. Pinches of sea salt. My husband slid the pan into the hot oven. And kissed me.

Dinner is done, he said.

May this election soon be, I murmured.

And I raised my glass to the future.

Easy Cider Roasted Vegetables Recipe

While the veggies are roasting their earthy little hearts out, getting all golden and tender and sweet, put on a pot of your favorite brown rice or quinoa seasoned with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of curry, cumin, or Old Bay Seasoning.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash and cut your favorite mix of vegetables and toss them into a large baking pan. Mix and match. Some folks worry about pairing the wrong vegetables but honestly, I've never had a problem combining. Just make sure you cut the assorted veggies in an evenhanded manner, keeping the sizes relatively close. Denser vegetables like carrots I usually slice thinner, knowing they'll take a bit longer to cook through.

1 sweet or red onion, cut into wedges
2 carrots, sliced
6 baby gold, purple or red potatoes, cut up
1 1/2 cups butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled, cubed
Half a cabbage- green or purple- sliced
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup cauliflower florets
1 yellow squash, cut into half moons
A few green beans, whole, trimmed
A portobello mushroom or two, sliced or cut up
Lots of garlic, several whole or minced cloves

Toss the vegetables into a large roasting pan. Season the veggies with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Make your sauce.

Cider Roasting Sauce:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 cup natural apple cider
1 tablespoon agave, honey or brown sugar

Stir to blend. Pour the sauce over the veggies, toss well to coat.

Sprinkle with warming spices, if you like. Curry, nutmeg, a touch of cinnamon, some thyme. Roast for 30 to 45 minutes- or until the veggies are tender, to your liking.

Serve over cooked brown rice or quinoa. Add a condiment for more protein- hummus is especially delicious with roasted vegetables.
Add crumbles of goat cheese, if you like.

More Options:

Add a can of drained white beans or chick peas for added protein; stir them into the vegetables during the last 15-20 minutes of roasting, to heat through.

Leftover roasted veggies can be baked into yummy quiches and frittatas or tossed into soups.

Omnivores can add in sliced cooked sausage or pieces of cooked chicken during the last 20 minutes of roasting; heat through.


Sassy Spiderwebs

I just love these spiderwebs with the bright colors added, but really, you could use any colors!

  • With black icing and a #2 or #3 tip, pipe a spiderweb outline onto a round cookie. (Spectrum Super Black)
  • Thin the background color, as well as 1 or 2 contrasting colors with water to the consistency of syrup. Cover with a damp towel and let sit several minutes.
  • Run a rubber spatula gently through the icings to pop the bubbles that have risen to the top. Transfer to squeeze bottles.
  • About 6 cookies at a time, fill in the background with the thinned flood icing. Use a toothpick to draw into the corners and edges.
  • Now with the contrasting color/s, draw 3 circles onto the wet background icing.
  • Starting in the middle of the circles, use a toothpick to drag the icing toward each spiderweb point.
  • Let dry at least one hour.
  • Using a large round tip such as a #7 or #12....whatever you have on hand, pipe a spider body.
  • Change the tip to a #1 or #2, and pipe eight legs.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bundt Cake

A warm and spicy pumpkin cake recipe for autumn.

Fall is my favorite season- for more reasons than I can count. Clear cool mornings that reinvigorate my affection for walking- not to mention- turning on the oven to bake. The freshened sense of new beginnings- yes, I know, I'm weird this way. Rather than the greening of spring, it's the winged migration of fall that kindles my creative spirit.

Fall feels like a fresh start, the smell of sharpened pencils, crisp white sheets of paper and a new box of crayons. Time to stack unread books by the bed, recycle old clothes, worn out paradigms and old ideas.

Time to get the broom and make a clean sweep of things.

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Tastebook- Karina's Kitchen Recipe Collection

Karina's Kitchen- Gluten-Free Recipes Tastebook

I am excited- and pleased- to announce that I have just produced three Tastebook cookbooks:

Karina's Kitchen - 100 favorite recipes from my kitchen to yours

Karina's Vegetarian Table - A collection of vegetarian favorites from Karina's Kitchen

Karina's Vegan Table - A collection of vegan favorites from Karina's Kitchen

What is Tastebook?

As soon as I heard about Tastebook I was intrigued. iTunes for recipes? Count me in. For those of you new to Tastebook here's the scoop. Tastebook is an on-line publishing platform that lets you create beautiful, hardcover cookbooks (perfect for food bloggers and handy for cooks who find their culinary inspiration online).

With the holidays fast approaching- and with it the gift-giving season- I decided to create a recipe collection for gluten-free families, entitled Karina's Kitchen- for every family who cooks gluten-free, by necessity or by love.

For my omnivorous readers- I've chosen 100 recipes for the Karina's Kitchen Tastebook- my personal favorites- and the most popular recipes here on Karina's Kitchen. From Flourless Chocolate Cake to Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies, from Kicked Up Mac & Cheese (and the dairy-free vegan version, too) to my Sweet Potato Rancher's Pie there are recipes in all categories including appetizers, soups, salads, chicken and beef dishes, seafood, brunch and muffins, cakes, cookies and brownies. I also include specific tips for substituting problematic ingredients- such as eggs and dairy. Almost all recipes featuring chicken or beef include a vegetarian option.

For my vegetarian readers Karina's Vegetarian Table features over 85 personal favorites- all ovo-lacto vegetarian recipes.

For vegans I have collected 50 vegan recipes from Kitchen Kitchen- some of the most popular recipes on the blog- and every one is- you guessed it- a gluten-free vegan favorite. Check out Karina's Vegan Table here.

In order to add or subtract recipes and edit a Tastebook you'll need to join Tastebook (it's free). You can then import my recipes into your Tastebook (search with the term "gluten-free" and mine will come up); this allows you the ability to mix and match with thousands of other recipes on Tastebook, and import your own personal favorites. Like iTunes. For recipes.

I love the dynamic nature of this project. It's a living cookbook that can be added to and updated, reflecting the spirit of my blog and its interactive nature.

Here is the cookbook's dedication:

This gluten-free recipe book is dedicated to the kind and generous readers of Karina's Kitchen blog- Recipes from a gluten-free goddess. Without your lively feedback and support I would be just another cook wrestling with xanthan gum in her humble kitchen.

So that's what I've been up to, behind the scenes. I hope you enjoy it!

A birthday, some awards and total frustration with my internet connection!!!

Our internet connection has just not been right in the last week. It goes in and out...mostly out, so that I feel I am falling behind in my blogging and commenting. When we are connected, I am racing to check my email and check my nephew's blog, so I'm sorry if I've been slow to respond lately! :) Hopefully, it's back for good!
My birthday was last week. No, I didn't make myself cookies. :) I was debating about what to make when I actually had a dream about chocolate eclairs!!! I think looking at all of the pictures of the Daring Baker's eclairs lodged itself in my brain. So, eclairs it was!

I used the recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook for the eclairs and the chocolate glaze. The chocolate pastry cream was a recipe I found on Tartlette. I followed her recipe and folded in about a cup of whipped cream before piping it into the eclair shells.

Here's one thing I discovered, it's hard to take a picture of eclairs! When I make them again, I'll do better, I promise!
The recipe made over 2 dozen eclairs, so I packed up a bunch to take to my son's baseball game that morning. Even giving some away, I managed to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner on my birthday!!!

Also during the last week, Montee and Amy were kind enough to give me my first 2 blog awards!!! thank you so much guys!

From Amy at Skinny Foods That Feel Guilty! Don't you love that blog title?!?

And from Montee at Montee is a Palmetto Girl. Reading Montee's "southern girl" blog reminds me so much of the 2 years we lived in Alabama....although she is a Texan now...right, Montee? ;)
Go check out their blogs!!! And while, you're at it....if you read this blog...you've been tagged! You all deserve it! I love reading each and every one of your blogs; I am inspired everyday!!!

Friendly Frankensteins

Here's a fun little cookie idea for Halloween...Friendly Frank! :) I really like these because they look sweet and not scary!

To make the cookies:
  • Using a #2 or #3 tip, outline Franks' face in black. (Spectrum Super Black)
  • With the same tip, make a zig-zag outline for the hair and outlines for the neck bolts.
  • Thin black, green and white (gray, if not using luster dust later) icing with water to the consistency of syrup. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit several minutes. (Green: AmeriColor Leaf Green)
  • Starting with the green icing, run a rubber spatula through the icing to pop bubbles that have risen to the surface. Transfer to a squeeze bottle.
  • Fill in the faces with green icing. Use a toothpick to guide into corners.
  • With the thinned black flood icing, fill in the hair.
  • With the white flood icing, fill in the bolts.
  • Let dry at least 1 hour.
  • With a #1 or #2 tip, pipe a scar and eyes in black.
  • With a #1 tip and red icing, pipe a smile. :) (AmeriColor Super Red)
  • Let dry overnight.
  • Mix silver luster dust with vodka.
  • Using a small paintbrush, apply the silver to the white bolts.

Gluten-Free Mexican Recipes: The Flavors of Santa Fe

New Mexico Sky- My View
The Land of Enchantment

I lived in rural northern New Mexico for three years. During that time I loved cooking with fresh roasted green chiles. Harvest season in New Mexico smells like roasting green chiles. Everywhere. It's true. And it's seductive. Some might even say, magical.

But beyond the smoky sweetness that tugs at your suddenly empty and ravenous belly there is something else in the cool dry air, some intoxicating, invigorating whiff of the impossible, the extraordinary, the stuff of dreams. Barely there. Unless you pay attention to it. A shape shift at the corner of your eye. A rainbow over the mesa. A wing. The yelp of a coyote. The sudden purple of autumn asters in the rain carved arroyo.

New Mexico enchants her visitors.

It’s a feast of color and tastes spiked with the scents of juniper, chile and sage. To celebrate its flavors I have gathered my New Mexican inspired recipes for you- a reference to tempt you. Until you visit New Mexico. And find your own rainbow, waiting.

Fresh fire roasted green and red chiles.

My Santa Fe + Mexican Recipes

Bakery and Bread

Pear Polenta Muffins
Pumpkin Raisin Cake
Quinoa Pumpkin Cookies
Rustic Strawberry Cobbler Cake
Strawberries Citronge

More Tex-Mex and New Mexican Recipes from Food Bloggers:

Green Chili Sauce - Salsa Verde from Kitchen Parade
Chile Rellenos Bake from Kalyn's Kitchen
Tangerine and Jicama Salad with Garlic and Cilantro from Pinch My Salt
Turkey Green Chile Chili from Perfect Pantry
Carnitasfrom Simply Recipes
Roasted Green Tomatillo Salsafrom Andrea's Recipes
How To Roast Your Own Green Chiles from Elise at Simply Recipes
Chipotle Chili from Cooking with Amy
Creamy Mexican Chayote Soup from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Homesick Texan's Carnitas Houston Style
Mexican Grilled Corn from Food Blogga
Three No-Cook Summer Recipes from Farmgirl Fare
Guacamole Deviled Eggs from Coconut and Lime