Cranberry Buffalo Roast Stew

A hearty gluten-free Crock Pot stew to warm your celiac soul.

What could be more comforting as we face the chilly New Year than a slow roasted one-dish supper? Not to mention, easier. Especially after all the hustle and bustle of last week's holiday celebrations. All the sugar. And latkes. And eggnog. And hoopla. I'm exhausted just imagining it. So I'll stop. And share a recipe instead- a tasty little number I tossed together in my trusty Crock Pot over the weekend- a cranberry laced stew that cooked its sweet 'n savory heart out while I worked on creating more print-friendly recipes for you.

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Seasons Greetings!

Bunny tracks and a low flannel sky sifting snow. My view today. We have a buffalo roast with cranberries and wine in the slow cooker. A fire in the kiva. A quiet-as-a-field-mouse day here in northern New Mexico.

Sending out a bundle of wishes for a safe and warm holiday to all- be it Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, or simply Thursday. Be well, Dear Readers. And thank you for your comment love this past year. I appreciate every kind word, your recipe tweaks and stories shared.

My New Year's gift to you? During the next week- or two- I'll be busy behind the scenes creating unique pages for much improved printable recipes. Look for the new links on posts starting today (just beneath the recipe). I'm beginning with the most popular- and the most recent recipes- and working my way back in time. By the way, Dear Heart, if an errant older post or two slips through my RSS feed during this editing process I apologize in advance. Flooding your feed reader is not my intention.

Till my next post, then- which by the way, might have to be the killer olive oil and sea salt potato chips we made this week- be safe, be healthy, and be good to one another.

Sweet Potato Latkes

Sweet potato latkes and ruby applesauce.

Happy Winter Solstice! Happy Hanukkah! Let's celebrate. The shortest day of the year is finally upon us. The darkest point in the turning of the seasons will tomorrow tilt toward light. The balance in power has shifted. Daylight gains. The darkness recedes, inch by inch, minute by minute. Light is reborn. Pretty powerful stuff. No wonder so many cultures have celebrated this in a myriad of ways (see Nika's list of Mid-Winter celebrations and her beautiful photos).

For Hanukkah- no matter how you spell it- it's also about light. An eight day Festival of Lights, in fact, and food is intricately woven into the tradition. Because Hanukkah celebrates the fortuitous finding of a flask of olive oil (a small amount that would, maybe, last a day, but miraculously burned for eight dark nights) recipes for celebrating are cooked in oil.

And that brings to me to one of my all-time favorite foods on Earth.


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Gluten-Free Layer Bars: Coconut Chocolate Nirvana

Gluten free layer bars recipes aka hello dolly bars and seven layer bars
Gluten-free coconut chocolate layer bars.

This is a quickie bonus post. Chocolate-coconut layered cookie bar bliss --- just in time for the holidays. A wink and a nudge to the retro cookie  layer bar recipe I posted two years ago. This newer version is non-dairy using condensed coconut milk, so you lactose-free folks don't miss out on all the fun.

Now get ready to party.

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My A-HA! moment

Have you tried to make cake balls? Let's start with the my cousin, Tara, wisely pointed out, "cake balls" is a little scary sounding. They are hereby renamed, "cake truffles." Much better!
OK...I was getting a little frustrated because my cake, um, truffles weren't smooth like I'd seen on some other blogs. Mine tasted good, but they were lumpy.

These are Gingerbread Truffles (really yummy!) made with a gingerbread mix, baked and mixed with chocolate frosting. My A-HA! moment....shortening! I added a 1/2 teaspoon of Crisco to the melted candy melts and stirred until it melted into the chocolate. (I melted them in a bowl over barely simmering water.)
Voila! Smoother coating...and much easier to work with! This time, I used a toothpick to dip the cake into the chocolate. This worked great, but I was left with an uncovered area on the top. My original idea was to flip it to be on the bottom, but that didn't work. Any suggestions? You can see how I covered it up with a dollop of chocolate on top and sprinkles. :)
I'll be out-of-pocket for a while...a little traveling and moving (yay!) is keeping our December busy, so MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!!! Have a wonderful holiday!

Cookie packaging

Have you seen the cookie boxes from Martha Stewart? Oh my goodness....they are so cute! She has a few different designs. They are available at Michael's and WalMart (in the craft/fabric area)!

Here's the interior box...I love that little scalloped edge and there is a piece of polka-dot, waxed tissue paper for each box.
That box slides into the exterior box and it comes with pre-cut ribbon and a coordinating label.
When I went back to Michael's for more last weekend, they were sold out. :( So, if you see them and you're giving cookies this year, snatch them up while you can!!!

Sweet Potato Coffee Cake- and a love story

Snow in New Mexico
Winter in Northern New Mexico- my view.

It's been snowy, windy, cold- you name it. From all the tweets I've been reading over on Twitter lately, I'm not alone. Far from it. This has been one crazy snowy month. So what does a gluten-free goddess do when she gets stuck in the middle of the desert with no buckwheat flour, no sorghum, and no four-wheel drive? (Note to self- if you're going to live in rural Northern New Mexico, Darling, a cute and thrifty little Honda Fit won't cut it.)

Snowed in and hungry she does the only sensible thing.

She scans the pantry and pulls out a Whole Foods gluten-free cake mix and starts stirring things up. She starts imagining dirt bombs. And bakes up a coffee cake worthy of the winter holidays.

The love part of the story?

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Christmas Ornaments

Some pics of Christmas ornament cookies...
I was going for a Tiffany-blue here, but I don't think it quite worked. I mixed Sky Blue and Leaf Green.
I think the gold sparkling sugar adds a lot to these cookies. They looked a little plain to me before adding it. (Now that I am typing above all those dots and squiggles, it seems funny to call them plain, but trust me here.) :)
Here's a picture of my "sanding sugar station." In the silver cup, I have a mix of meringue powder and water. With my kids' paintbrush, I paint on the mixture and sprinkle on the sanding sugar over a coffee filter. After a several cookies, I use the coffee filter kind of like a funnel to pour the excess sugar back into the container. It doesn't roll off like it would on a plate or a paper towel.
Ateco is the brand of meringue powder I use. It is difficult to find since Sur La Table quit carrying it (grrr!), but instead of driving down to the cake decorating store, I ordered it from Amazon. It ships from a different company and I was thrilled when I ordered it on a Monday and it arrived on Friday!!! I highly recommend it!

Sweet Potato Soup with Ginger

Gluten free sweet potato soup
A comforting sweet potato soup for the sun deprived  soul. With ginger.

Winter Solstice is approaching fast. The days now are so short I've been warning Steve to hide all sharp instruments. Your intrepid gluten-free goddess, you see, has that infamous seasonal wrestle with gloom this sun deprived time of year. In a perfect world I'd be spending the month of December in Hawaii like certain lucky individuals, soaking up vitamin D with the surfer girls and feeling all mahalo instead of Get me the bleep outa here before I scream.

So I've been on a sweet potato kick. I can't get enough of these ruby and golden hued tubers- perfect for winter comfort food. So tasty. And versatile. Astute readers may have noticed the trend already.

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Next year...

Next year, I want to make these....
They are from Martha Stewart, of course! :) A whole tree in cookie ornaments would be so fun and I bet it would smell so good!

Will someone remind me next year? ;)

Mexican Chocolate Cake (Vegan + Fabulous!)

Mexican Chocolate Cake Recipe
When vegans come to call, serve this rich and dairy-free 
Mexican chocolate cake. You'll score serious points.

Serious alchemy is afoot in the humble guise of a vegan chocolate cake recipe. You know what I'm talkin' about- those of you out there with me in spirit, baking your tender little hearts out, hoping to conjure edible bites of bliss without gluten, dairy and eggs. It ain't easy. In fact, I'd venture to say that to keep at this thing- this GF/CF and allergy-free baking thing- without losing your ever fragile sanity (never mind your sense of humor) is a heroic act.

Pure and simple.

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Frozen assets

My frozen assets! I love that sugar cookies can be frozen!

I have a lot of cookies that I want to give and mail next week, but I knew I wouldn't have time to do it all at once. So, last night while watching The Year Without a Santa Claus and Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys (not recommended, BTW...stick with the original), I baked cookies...over 70 of them.
The cookies were bagged in gallon-size freezer baggies, between layers of wax paper (did you know Thomas Edison invented that...what a great guy!). Then, these were placed in freezer-safe plastic containers and will be ready when I am ready to ice them.
To thaw, just take them out of the freezer about 2 hours or more before decorating. (Do not refrigerate.)
Cookies already decorated with royal icing can also be frozen! This is great if you're planning a big party, just make your cookies in advance and pop in the freezer. Again, take them out a few hours before you need them, and you are all set. If you've bagged them, leave the cookies in the bags to thaw.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownies Recipe with Pecan Meal

Gluten free brownies that are rich and full of chocolate goodness
A rich, gluten-free chocolate brownie with pecan flour.

Everyone needs a rich decadent brownie treat now and then. Especially if you wake up to snow and ice and no electricity. Which means of course, no heat. No hot water. No shower. Which translates into one very bad hair day. And one prickly, cranky goddess. I'm serious.

What does Mother Nature think this is, December?

Oh. Wait.

I've been deep in denial, I admit it. I've been distracting myself tweaking blog color schemes and rustling up pumpkin waffles and cozy soups and watching old Humphrey Bogart movies and downloading music pretending Autumn Shade is forever. But winter, I hate to tell you, is only twelve days away, inching closer every shivering second. It's a good thing we have a kiva fireplace and a stack of pinon outside the door. With nothing to do, I bundled up and settled in to read (long overdue) Temple Grandin's amazing book Animals In Translation.

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Gluten-Free Baking Tips + Substitutions

Gluten free almond meal muffins baked with dairy and egg substitutions

I receive so many requests for substitutes in cooking and baking recipes (food allergies are on the rise, you know, not to mention those tender-hearted animal loving vegans- their smiling faces are popping up everywhere these days) that I thought I would write a post about what works- and what doesn't- in quirky Substitution Land. And...provide a permanent link to this vital information in the Karina's Kitchen sidebar. For your convenience, Bubbie. See how much I think of you, Dear Heart?

So now you can scoot your accommodating Aunt Sadie over to this Baking + Cooking Substitutions link when she calls you up to ask, For the love of Pete- how the heck do I fix you a mac and cheese casserole if you can't eat gluten or casein? You can now answer, Have I got a blog for you.

Of course, then she is sure to ask, Um, what's a blog?

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A holiday stand-by

I haven't started my Christmas baking yet, but I'm sure I will make at least 1 dozen package cookies sometime this month.
I love this's cheerful and makes a great gift for just about anyone. I've made THOUSANDS of this cookie over the past nine years...take a peek at some of the variations...
The squiggly lines were made by dragging a toothpick through wet icing. For the holly leaves (I like the ones in the top pic best), I piped dots of royal icing onto the dried flood icing and then added leaves with a food coloring pen (Americolor Gourmet Writers).
And, of course, there are dots! To learn more about adding dots, click here.
Last year, I decided to change up the bow a little and add sanding sugar. Here's how to do it. I thought plain packages with the sugar would be cute, but ended up reverting back to dotty ones. :)This year, I think a light blue and red package would be really sweet!

A Creamy Sauced Gluten-Free Pasta

Gluten free pasta with bacon and artichoke hearts in a creamy sauce
Artichokes and a creamy sauce make this pasta pure comfort food.

This was almost a vegan recipe. Until I added the bacon. Non-carnivores, I'm sorry. I couldn't resist. (Edit: I've returned to the fold now that my hip has healed completely.) I was standing there (quite innocent!) in my humble little kitchen stirring this velvety cream sauce (that I'd just improvised with some leftover sweet potato) listening to my pick-me-up when I'm draggin' 80's playist (Phil Collins, The Church, Suzanne Vega, Tears For Fears, Wham! and Simple Minds) when I remembered the smoky gluten-free and casein-free Sunday bacon Steve had cooked earlier. 

And that, as they say in Guy Ritchie land, was Bob's yer uncle. And speaking of Tears For Fears- I have one quick question. Does everybody want to rule the world? Because to me, it seems like too much work.

For those of you who are fans of my Vegan Mac and Cheese recipe and well acquainted with nutritional yeast- a fab source of those requisite B vitamins and a non-dairy sort-of-but-not-exactly cheesy nutty flavor spike for those us lucky enough to live gluten and casein-free by celiac necessity or neuro-different choice (or hope or, I don't know why it works it just does) you'll love this variation on a vegan cheese sauce theme.

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