Milk Chocolate Layer Cake

My son's (10!) birthday was yesterday. He LOVES milk chocolate, so when we saw this recipe for Milk-Chocolate-Frosted Layer Cake in Food & Wine magazine, we knew this had to be his birthday cake this year!
I would normally be nervous making a cake for the first time for a birthday, but Food & Wine has yet to steer me wrong!
OK...I was not thrilled with the way the cake pulled away from the pan, but it ended up just fine. If I make this again, I might just go with round pans.

Chocolate curls...not my strong suit!

Our white counter tops make the cake look like it's floating! :)
The birthday boy and the cake!

The frosting was really rich and creamy. I'd say that was everyone's favorite part. We liked the cake, too, but it was not chocolaty at all. It had a "spongy" texture...more like a muffin, but it was good! Birthday boy was happy; Mom was happy! :)

Cranberry-Apricot Muffins (Gluten, Dairy and Sugar Free)

Cranberry muffins with apricot jam.

By the time you read this post, Dear Reader, I'll be walking Venice Beach. And sighing a long slow sigh. At last. A long overdue getaway- the first vacation since our last visit to the City of Angels- way back in the fall of 2007. Which, considering the roller coaster ride of a year we've all had- personally and collectively- feels like a virtual lifetime ago.

I'll be away for a week. But don't worry. You know I couldn't leave you on your own without a new recipe to tempt you into the kitchen. So I stirred up a new batter for you- some tender breakfast muffins. A fresh combination of tart cranberries and golden apricot preserves in a flour base that features buckwheat, sorghum and quinoa flours- yielding a higher protein profile than your average gluten-free muffin. And, as a bonus to those of you eschewing sugar cane, this recipe has no added sugar. (I didn't add nuts this time, but if you like a little nutty crunch in your muffins these would be lovely with chopped pecans, or toasted almonds.)

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Savory Vegetable Pancakes

I love savory pancakes- shredded veggies add so much flavor.

Savory or sweet? That is my question today- not to indulge in the duality of either/or and divide the pancake universe into opposing sensibilities or anything, but if push comes to shove (and I'm four square against shoving, honestly) the naked truth is I'm more of a savory, salty, golden crunchy pancake lover than a soft, sweet and sticky with maple syrup craver.

Maybe it's because I love pancakes for supper.

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2008 Food Blog Awards- Vote!

Have I got news! The Well Fed Network’s 2008 Food Blog Awards have announced their top five nominations in fourteen categories. And guess what? I am honored to convey to you today that Karina's Kitchen is among the finalists chosen for Best Food Blog- Theme.

Score one for the celiacs and food sensitive! Humble gluten-free and GF/CF recipes get to party with some amazing foodie-worthy food. I am seriously stoked. It's akin to graduating from the kiddie folding-table at your clan's Thanksgiving and being offered a chair at the grown-up's feast.

I couldn't be more pleased. Big thanks to this year's judges, and Andrea, Ilva, and Susan who graciously nominated me for this category.

Congratulations to my fellow finalists in the theme category: Wild Yeast, Lunch In a Box, Prudence Pennywise, and Hunter Angler Gardener Cook- do stop by and check out their blogs.

To vote:

The polls are now open and will accept votes up until Saturday, January 24th at 8 pm EST. Official winners will be announced on Monday, January 26th.

Good luck to all the food bloggers participating (see the main list at Well Fed Network here).

And most of all, thank you, Dear Reader- for reading, commenting, and supporting Karina's Kitchen for the last three years. Without you? I'd be more than a little wan, and sad, muttering to myself as I wrestle with xanthan gum and quinoa flour out here in the New Mexico desert.

Gluten-Free Banana-Blueberry Muffin Cake

Moist and fragrant gluten free banana cake studded with blueberries
Kick up your gluten-free banana cake with blueberries.

My partner in culinary crime- the infamous and ever-up-for-baking husband Steve- informed me our bananas were mucho ripe. In fact, to be completely accurate, he poked his head into my cozy little studio the other day and declared, Our bananas are ripe. I should bake something.

I looked up from my iMac and murmured Hmmm, in assent. 

But what, exactly?

Ripe bananas were calling. Begging to be a part of some grander life affirming tastebud tingling scheme. But do readers really need another banana cake recipe? I pondered, slurping cold coffee with vanilla hemp milk. Which reminds me. I should share this.

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A Texas Valentine

Valentine's month away!!! Ladies, start your ovens!
Chances are if you live in Texas, you are a Longhorn or Aggie fan.
These make great gifts for men...nothing too mushy or sweet. Add a college or sports logo to a heart cookie and Valentine's Day is finished. ( may have to make a trip to Victoria's Secret...then it's finished!) ;)

I love this krinkle/scalloped heart cutter!

Warm Quinoa + Spinach Salad with Grape Tomatoes

Quinoa Spinach Salad Recipe
Light and fresh quinoa salad with baby spinach

Here is a wonderful year-round salad that is warm and inviting, fresh and vibrant. The sort of salad a certain individual needs on a damp winter day when the sky is paper white and the clouds are thick with snow. On a day such as this it's tempting to head straight for comfort food. That leftover Kicked Up Baked Mac 'n Cheese in the fridge. That wedge of Roasted Vegetable Kugel. But what the body craves may- or may not be- what the body needs. I'm just saying.

I'm no expert on cravings. But I do know that if I make a habit of indulging every gnawing whim and craving that wiggles its way into my winter-fevered brain I'd have hips to write home about. I'd chew Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares for breakfast and eat warm Horseradish Spiked Red Potato Salad every noon hour from now till the Vernal Equinox (a serotonin-boosting strategy not recommended, by the way, for those of us past a certain age where you can pack on the pounds faster that you can say, Blueberry pancakes on a stick). And by the way, if we are what we eat, and we can "change our life" by what we visualize, does dreaming of Beef and Potatoes au Chocolat make us fat?

Surviving three months of virtual inertia- followed by ten months of slow and steady wins the race recovery- with three honkin' titanium screws in your hip (by the way, not that it invalidates and softens the tedious struggle of last year or anything, but why do certain family members- who claim to be compassionate- insist on referring to these suckers as pins, embroidering knitting group safe visions of a petite and delicate procedure that in no way involved a couple of workbench sized clamps and a battery operated power drill?) not to mention double digit extra poundage adhered to one's backside makes you appreciate a recipe like this.

Trust me.

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How To Cook Quinoa in a Rice Cooker (with recipes)

Quinoa Taco Salad and more gluten free quinoa recipes
Quinoa makes any dish special - even taco salad!

Last night I twittered about quinoa- where else but on Twitter (and by the way, Dear Reader, if you're not following me on Twitter, maybe you should; when the muse hits I share tidbits from my life- often from my kitchen- such as what I might be cooking, or thinking about cooking, or simply wrestling with out here in the lonely snow kissed desert) and my tweet stirred up some interest when I mentioned- in passing- how I cook my quinoa.

I do it the way I thought everybody did it. But judging from the response- even from seasoned vegetarian cooks- it appears my method of cooking quinoa might deserve a mention. So here's how I do it.

I cook it in a rice cooker. Fast. Simple. Rockin'.

In fact, quinoa is the easiest no-fuss grain you'll ever cook. It's healthy fast food. Cook up a batch ahead of time and you can stir up a fabulous light lunch (like the Lime Quinoa Salad with Mint) in a New York minute.

Well, maybe a Los Angeles minute.

A Venice Beach minute.

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New Mexican Stew with Ground Turkey + Green Chiles

Slurp worthy green chile stew with turkey.

Looking for a simple but truly fabulous slow cooker recipe to warm you up? Here is one my favorites. A New Mexican style stew with budget-friendly ground turkey spiked with roasted green chiles, lime, and cilantro. Make it as mild or as spicy as your taste buds prefer. It's perfect comfort food for any time of year.

Need more slow cooker inspiration? Check out the tasty gluten-free cookbook Make it Fast, Cook it Slow by fellow food blogger Stephanie O'Dea.

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Yeasted Cornbread

Tender gluten-free yeasted cornbread baked in a skillet.

The pairing of a tender, grainy bread (freshly baked, still warm) with a bowl of soul-fortifying soup or stew is a favorite combo for winter comfort around here. Steve and I are big fans. We slow-cook a lot of soup. And we bake a different cornbread every week. So today I'm posting such a pairing. Two recipes- a new yeasted cornbread I am crazy about, and a New Mexican Stew that will chase away the January back-to-reality blues and blahs and whatever else may ail you, Dear Reader.

When all else fails, a simple earthy meal of hot soup and rustic bread can soothe the crankiest of beasts. Especially when that beast happens to be my mood, infused with cabin fever.

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Sassy Pink Poodles

It's been dreary here lately, so I thought I would show you a bright, happy cookie to fight the blah's!

I made these a few years ago for a little girl's birthday party. I was nervous, to be honest, about making poodles, but really happy with the way they turned out.

To make the poodles:

  • Outline poodle body in bright pink royal icing using a #2 tip, making separate outlines for the head, leg, tail, neck "poufs" and ear (AmeriColor Electric Pink).
  • Thin bright and light pink icing (AmeriColor Deep Pink) with water to the consistency of syrup. Cover with a damp dish towel and let sit several minutes.
  • Run a rubber spatula gently through the bright pink icing and transfer to squeeze bottle. Fill in "pouf" areas and ear. Use a toothpick to guide into corners.
  • Using the light pink icing, transfer to squeeze bottle as above and fill in the remainder of the body.
  • Let sit overnight.
  • Using a mixture or meringue powder and water, paint the bright pink areas with a small paint brush. Shake on bright pink sparkling sugar. (Click here for how to set up a "sanding station.")
  • Using a black food coloring pen, add the face details (AmeriColor Gourmet Writers).

Happy New Year (I'm still here!!!)

Happy 2009!!! We are still unpacking boxes, but my sprinkles and food colorings have a new home. :) This is a marked improvement over the box in an armoire where they have been residing!

I've been saving glass jars lately...I'm not sure why (is this a sign of middle age?). Using them, instead of plastic bags, for sprinkles is a lot more festive!
More baking to come once we are unpacked. In the mean time, take a look at this KILLER CAKE my sister made for Christmas!!! I can't remember what it was called, besides heavenly, and 5 pounds per slice!

Gluten-Free Consulting with Karina

Karina Allrich helps with gluten-free living

My credentials: 

Since my celiac diagnosis in December 2001, I haven't eaten a speck of gluten. And since June 2007 I have been cooking and baking not only gluten-free, but dairy-free and egg-free (vegan). I have been blogging original gluten-free recipes since late 2005 (I have over 400 recipes on Gluten-Free Goddess).


I offer private consultation on an hourly basis, and individual coaching for the newly diagnosed celiac and those living gluten-free and dairy-free, and gluten-free vegan.

My fee is $100 an hour for personal consultation by phone or chat. Contact me by e-mail to discuss your needs.

Please note I am not a registered dietitian or medical professional; my consulting is culinary and lifestyle based.

US to Metric Conversion Help

Here are some measurement equivalents to help you with US measures and conversions.

US Teaspoons and Tablespoons and Cups

1 cup = 8 oz. (236.6 milliliters) or UK 3/4 cup plus 2 dessert spoons

1 teaspoon = 1/6 oz. (4.929 milliliters) or UK 3/4 teaspoon (slightly rounded)
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons (14.79 milliliters) or UK 2 1/2 teaspoons

2 tablespoons = 1/8 cup
4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup

16 tablespoons = 1 cup
48 teaspoons = 1 cup

1/3 cup = 5 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon- or UK 1/3 cup plus 2 dessert spoons
2/3 cup = 10 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons
3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons- or UK 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons
3/8 cup = 6 tablespoons

1 metric teaspoon = slightly rounded US teaspoon
1 metric tablespoon = 1.2 US tablespoons

US Ounces and Pounds

1 pound equals 16 oz.
1 US cup equals 8 oz.
1 US teaspoon equals 1/6 oz.
1 US tablespoon equals .5 ounce
1 US fluid ounce equals 1 oz.

US Liquid/Fluid

8 fluid oz. equal 1 cup
2 cups equal 1 pint
2 pints equal 1 quart
4 cups equal 1 quart

1 fluid US ounce equals 29.57 milliliters

How to convert ounces into grams:

Multiply fluid ounces by 29.57
Multiply dry ounces by 28.35

1 stick of US butter is 113 grams

African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter, Black-Eyed Peas & Beans

Recipe for African Sweet Potato Soup with Peanut Butter
A scrumptious peanut soup recipe - gluten and dairy-free.

Happy New Year, Gentle Reader. It's a new dawn. It's a new day. And it's time for a black-eyed pea recipe. One of my favorites, with African flavors. Serving black-eyed peas and beans at the start of a freshly birthed year is serious good mojo in some circles. At least that's what they tell me. Why eating a plate of legumes on New Year's Day brings luck I've no idea, but someone somewhere decided these humble little nuggets of vegan protein were a good and fortunate culinary choice. So why not?

Rather than rummage through cookbooks searching for Southern Hoppin' John recipes or Italian white bean escarole stews I turned instead to the sun drenched flavors of North Africa and reprised a stew that is spicy and hearty and peanutty. If you cannot use peanut butter try sunflower seed butter. It is no less fabulous.

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