Flavor of the Month. . . .A Tribute to John Hughes

Sixteen Candles came out my freshman year in high school. The movie spoke to me. I just knew there was hope for me yet. (Although, I would draw the line at giving my panties to a geek.)

It would go like this....My sophomore year, Jake Ryan (complete with Porsche) would see through the frizzy hair, the pigeon toes, the overall geekiness and fall totally, completely in love.

Yeah, right.

We rented Sixteen Candles a few weeks ago. Remember that last scene? That was the height of romance in my eyes as a teenager...wearing a fancy dress, sitting on a glass top table, huge cake in the middle, Jake leaning in for a kiss.

Watching it this time, my thoughts were:
  1. I wonder how thick that glass is? My butt would definitely crack that table.
  2. Leaning over those candles is really dangerous! What if their clothes had caught on fire?!?
So, maybe I've grown up a little. When I became a parent, the more I saw genius in John Hughes' Mr. Mom. :)

But, still, no one captured teenagers in the 80's like John Hughes. The man had a gift for capturing our generation...the geeks, the snobs, the weirdos, the jocks, the wanna-be's...and then there's Ferris. :) Bueller, Bueller?

I couldn't resist a little Pretty in Pink!

Pretty in Pink Krispies

(these are better the day after making them!)

3 TBSP unsalted butter
1 pkg (10 oz.) marshmallows
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
AmeriColor Deep Pink food coloring
6 c Rice Krispies

Lightly grease an 11 x 7" pan.

In a large saucepan, combine the butter, marshmallows and salt over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla bean paste and food coloring.

Add the cereal, stirring until completely coated, making sure to stir up the marshmallow mixture from the bottom.

Lightly grease or butter hands and press mixture into the prepared pan. Allow to cool to room temperature before cutting.

Alright guys, whatcha got? Was this month too weird of a theme? Link up here! {Linky will close the evening of October 1st.}

Flavor-of-the-Month October Edition......PUMPKIN!!!
Anyone and everyone is welcome to join!

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie

Sweet potato topped shepherds pie is gluten free and delicious
Sweet potato topped shepherd's pie.

A certain individual living by the mesa has some news. Can you guess? We sold the house. We're moving lock, stock and barrel (in reality, more like Macs, books and UGGS) to Los Angeles, packing up the Honda Fit again to head West and start our new life as Los Angelenos.

I am almost too wired to write.

The quasi-plan is to rent a furnished place for a month. In mid October. Once we're out there, we'll begin our search in earnest for a longer lease- a space we can call our own, not too far from the ocean, I hope. A place with a workable kitchen. Windows. Light. Simple criteria.

As I sort through art books to sell (all the impressionist/landscape books I once mooned over- like a school girl- no longer tug at my attention) I am imagining the new again. I am fueled by the scent of possibility and change and consumed with the urge for going. Three and a half years in the desert have inked their big sky imprint upon me.

I feel as if I sport an invisible tattoo. Time and distance will reveal the wisdom gained here (if any is to be found). Time and distance will temper the losses. No doubt memory itself will soften the sharp hungers of the everyday isolation and doubt.

Some readers have asked me, What lesson did you need to learn? implying that there is a silver lining to every dark experience and that if we only embrace  The Lesson, we'll be free.

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Everything's Coming Up Roses

{Update: I'm guest posting (my first ever) over at the darling Muthering Heights today! Come on over!}

When my neighbor (yep, THAT one) asked me to come over for a girls' night out, I was really excited.

Kristen also ordered cookies (yay!). She mentioned that she was going to give the girls a little something from the adorable Pleated Poppy and I thought I knew just the cookies to go with them.

I used the template that I made for the Yellow Rose sugar cookies.

To make a template for a specific shape, draw it on a file folder or something sturdy and cut it out. After rolling the dough, go around the shape with a paring knife. It takes a little more time and the edges aren't quite as clean as a cutter, but that's ok.

To make the red & pink roses:
  • Using a #2 tip, pipe the outline of the rose in a pinky-red (AmeriColor Super Red mixed with Deep Pink).
  • Using a #2 tip, pipe the outline of the leaf in green (AmeriColor Leaf Green).
  • Thin pink (AmeriColor Deep Pink) and green icing, with water until they reach the consistency of syrup, cover with a damp dishtowel and let sit several minutes.
  • Stir the pink icing gently with a rubber spatula to break any bubbles on the surface and transfer to a squeeze bottle. Fill in the rose with the thinned, flood icing.
  • Repeat with the green icing, filling in the leaf.
  • Let dry at least one hour.
  • Using the same #2 tips, pipe the details in red and green on the rose.
  • Let dry completely before packaging

In case you're wondering, it was such fun! Lots of laughs, great conversation... Did I mention the chocolate fountain? Yeah...it was a good time!

Thank you, Kristen, for inviting me!

Gluten-Free Quinoa Breakfast Bars

Gluten free quinoa breakfast brownie bars
Gluten-free quinoa breakfast bars, Baby.

We were treatless this week. Specifically, breakfast treatless. No Pear Polenta Muffins were hiding in the freezer. No Apple Cake with Cranberries. In fact, the only food items in the freezer were a solo bottle of organic vodka and a bag of frozen cranberries (does vodka count as food?). Which turned out to be a good thing. Because we had to bake. [Had to!] So we experimented (send smooches to Steve for initiating said experiment; if it were not for him, Dear Reader, you'd be looking at an archived recipe today).

As the breakfast treats were baking I started thinking (always dangerous). I started pondering (even more dangerous) why certain people believe they have things AFO. All Figured Out. And they'll tell you so, of course, spooning out advice in words that taste metallic. Like teeth fillings. They have all the neat little answers for you, judged and predigested, wrapped snug in tidy psychic ribbons.

If only life were that simple.

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Freezing Whipped Cream. . . .Works For Me Wednesday

Maybe it's a sign that I am cheap, but it pains me to use 3 dollops of whipped cream and toss the rest down the sink.

No more! Whipped cream can be frozen!

Here's how to do it:
  • whip the cream as usual and sweeten as desired,
  • line a cookie sheet with wax paper,
  • spoon on dollops of whipped cream,
  • freeze on the sheet,
  • once frozen, transfer to a freezer baggie.
Now, I probably wouldn't top a cake with this for company, but for just us, it works. Let the cream sit out about 10 minutes or so...it will soften up just enough.

My favorite use for this is in hot drinks (and I would serve this to company). Add one of the frozen portions right on top of an Irish coffee, warm apple cider or even orange hot chocolate as pictured here.

The frozen cream cools the drink, so it's drinkable faster and it doesn't melt right in. Isn't there something fun about having a warm drink with cold whipped cream? I love that.

Head on over to We Are THAT Family to see more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

Related posts:
And, if you're playing along at home, Flavor-of-the-Month for September (John Hughes edition) is one week from to today. See you there!

Easy Chicken and Balsamic Peppers

When it comes to big change I'm brave. I jump in feet first. In my small and particular universe it's easier to pinch your nose and hurl yourself off the edge than it is to stand there and think about it. That kind of anticipation is excruciating. Give me five minutes to think about all the things that can go wrong and I'll start making lists. And never budge an inch.

So I've learned to develop a social reflex- a Hell yeah, let's do it reflex. And in almost every circumstance this reflex has served me well (and if by some slim chance you need a list of when it has worked for me and when it has not, I've got it, filed away in my pictorial little brain).

It's the small day to day changes that can set me spinning.

The blips in routine. The interruptions of flow. The tiny changes that evolve over time into articulate curves on a chart. See this dot? This is where we used to be. See this dot? This is where we are now.

I struggle so intently on orchestrating my string of moments into some semblance of coherent awareness that within each moment I live so completely I fail to see the bigger sprawling truth. The truth that often blindsides me. I wake up to it like a child from a nap, rubbing my eyes and trying to center my bearings. I look at my aging hands and think, Whose hands are these?

I open the door to the blinding bright desert and realize I am not Georgia O'Keeffe, the weathered austere heroine in the books I devoured. I am not madly in love with the emptiness and isolation here. It does not inspire me. It steals from me. Tiny pieces day after day. The desert gnaws at me. It will leave nothing but bleached white bones. And a hip with three titanium screws.

I am trying not to feel as if I've failed somehow. Failed the desert. Or rather, some Georgia O'Keeffe fueled romantic idea of the desert. But the brittle, honest truth is- the desert does not feed me.

Karina's three year course in desert living: F

It's a good thing I can cook.

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Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins

Mornings & I don't get along well. But, at the beginning of each school year I try to start off on the right foot...pancakes, muffins, scones....

{By May, we're knee-deep in granola bars and applesauce cups.}

Let me introduce you to my new favorite breakfast...the Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffin.

Normally, I only see cinnamon chips around the holidays, but King Arthur Flour sells the mini version year-round. Woo-hoo!

Banana Cinnamon Chip Muffins
(These are inspired by a Banana/chocolate/walnut muffin recipe from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion.)

1/2 c salted butter (yes, salted)
1 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 mashed, ripe bananas
1/3 c milk
2 c flour (white-whole wheat, unbleached all-purpose, or a mix)
1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp coarse salt
3/4 c mini cinnamon chips

Preheat the oven to 350.

Line muffin tins with 12 lightly greased baking cups/liners. (I use a paper-towel coated in oil and wipe the insides of the liners.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add the egg, spices, banana and milk. Stir in the dry mixture, then the cinnamon chips (reserve a few TBSP of chips). Once all the cups are filled, sprinkle the reserved chips on top.

Spoon batter into the prepared cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle come out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes on a cooling rack, then invert out of the pan to cool completely or serve warm.

Related posts:
  1. Pumpkin Cream Cheese
  2. Homemade English Muffins
  3. Meyer Lemon-Vanilla Scones

LOTS of squealing going on in our house. . .

I hope you'll forgive this non-food related post, but this seemed like something blog worthy.

We're invited to a Halloween costume party and, of course, the first place I decided to check for ideas was Martha Stewart's website.

I started searching the section called "Your Best Halloween Costumes"...costume pictures sent in by readers.


MY SON!!! On Martha's website!!! Oh, the screaming!


deep breath. deep breath. deep breath. Is this what it feels like to win the lottery?

Thanks for letting me share. :) He's the traffic light (I think slide #12.)

Pumpkin season has begun!

It's official; it's pumpkin season. From the first sighting of the Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins in September to the last day of November, this is my favorite baking (and eating) season.

I am a chocolate girl, but something about pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg...ooooo, it just makes me so happy!

Let me introduce you to my new love....Pumpkin Cream Cheese. For pumpkin lovers, THIS is how to start the day!

{I promise that little ♥-shape was an accident...the cream cheese loves me back apparently.}

Pumpkin Cream Cheese
(I found this idea at Gina's WW Recipes and adapted it b/c I didn't have agave or pumpkin pie spice.)

8 oz cream cheese, softened (1/3 less fat, ok)
1/2 c canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 & 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
4 TBSP brown sugar

Beat all ingredients together until smooth. Refrigerate.

The great news is that you can make this and enjoy it all week. You know....this has me thinking about Pumpkin Spice Diet Killers. Hmmm.....

{Oh, and Starbucks...in case you are listening...can we please have the Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin year-round? Pretty, please?!?}

Apple-Pear Multigrain Muffins

Tender and sweet apple-pear muffins

Today I have new muffin recipe for your gluten-free repertoire- with apples and pears. And a story. A story not about muffins or fruit or sunlit pastoral memories of picking apples with my grandfather (he wasn't that kind of grandfather). No, no childhood ramblings. A story instead that's more of a snippet. A conversation, actually.

The dating game.

"I wish I knew you in high school," I tell my husband.

This is not news to him. I say it all the time lately, now that I am in my second adolescence, fifteen years past mid-life. I sketch for him study hall humiliations sharing a bottle of red table wine and mixed olives. I search for words to depict how it feels when a snickering jock punches your clutch of books with his fists, sending you to your knees to rescue the sprawl of English homework, algebra and biology books that emit the faint smell of ink and gum.

He hates to hear this. 

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Where I Shop. . . .Works For Me Wednesday

This week for WFMW, I thought I would share some of my favorite places to shop. This list is by no means exhaustive (I spend WAY too much time searching around for baking supplies). Also, these shops are not compensating me in any way for the mention.

Cookies & Baking:

Baking Supplies:
(Of course, Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma are top hits on my GPS.)

  • Layer Cake Shop...one of the two cutest online baking shops around!
  • King Arthur Flour

  • Bake It Pretty...the other of the two cutest baking shops around. Wait until you see the mustache cookie cutter I ordered from them!
  • Sugar Craft (They basically have everything you need, although their site navigation is not my favorite. I've ordered lots of sanding sugar here.)
  • Make-a-Cake (local)
Cookie Cutters:
Boxes & Shipping Supplies:
Labels & Business Cards:
Grocery Stores:
Everything Else:


  • Lucky Horseshoe Photography (local)...I may be a little biased when I say I love this photographer and she takes amazing photos of kids; she is my sister. But take a look at these pics of our son...they are my favorites, ever!

(Cook)Books & Music:
  • the library (I'm a big believer in "test-driving" cookbooks.)
  • Amazon (Great prices, free shipping over $25. What's not to love?)
Happy shopping! Be sure to check out the other Works For Me Wednesday posts at We Are THAT Family and you can find my WFMW archives here.

Ruby Applesauce with Cranberries

Homemade cranberry applesauce recipe
Cranberry applesauce- deliciously tart.

Apple season is upon us. Bring on the apple recipes. First up- a favorite New England pairing- apples and cranberries simmered to create a luscious slightly tart sauce, sweetened with organic raw agave. Make it as sweet or as tart as you prefer. This beautiful ruby red applesauce is a lovely side dish for so many fall recipes- from Turkey and Sweet Potato Enchiladas to classic Sweet Potato Latkes.

Ruby Applesauce with Cranberries Recipe

Simmering the fruit in juice gives a big flavor boost. I used unsweetened cranberry juice to do this, but if you prefer a sweeter applesauce, try using cranberry-apple juice.

2 rounded cups peeled chopped apples- preferably mixed varieties for best flavor
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
1/2 cup cranberry juice or cranberry-apple juice, more as needed
1 cinnamon stick
Raw organic agave nectar or honey, to taste (I used 2 tablespoons, as I wanted it tart)

Combine the chopped apples and cranberries in a medium sauce pan and pour in enough cranberry or apple-cranberry juice to barely cover the fruit. Add a whole cinnamon stick. Cover and bring to a simmer.

Cook until the fruit is very soft. Remove the cinnamon stick. Using a potato masher, mash the fruit until you get a sauce texture you like. I prefer mine with a little bit of texture. If you like your applesauce  smoother process it in a food processor or Vita-Mix.

Taste and sweeten the sauce with agave or honey. Stir and allow it to cool a bit.

Spoon into a storage container, cover and chill until serving.

Makes about a pint of sauce.

Ruby Applesauce recipe

Serve as a side dish with these compatible recipes:

Sweet Potato Latkes
Turkey + Sweet Potato Enchiladas
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie with Black Angus Beef


Kick {cancer's} Butt Cookies: LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow 2009

This is my second year to participate in LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow event hosted by Winos and Foodies.
LiveSTRONG with a Taste of Yellow is a blog event for wine & food bloggers to raise awareness of cancer issues and share stories. It is an official LiveSTRONG DAY (October 2nd) event.

Last year, I made Yellow Rose Sugar Cookies in honor of my mom, Gayle. You can read it here, and I'd love it if you would.

Thinking about this years' event, I kept coming back to the fact that cancer makes us warriors. All of us....doctors, nurses, researchers, fund raisers, families, and PATIENTS....we're all fighting.

That made me think of these cookies. They're feisty, they have a bite...they kick butt.
{They are also lemony, buttery and highly addictive. A perfect grown-up cookie!}

Here's to all of you warriors out there...go forth, kick butt...enjoy!

Kick {cancer's} Butt Cookies
(modified from King Arthur Flour's Citrus Sizzlers)

1 c unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1/2 c sugar
2 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 TBSP grated lemon zest
1 egg
2 & 1/4 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
sanding or regular sugar for dipping

Preheat oven to 400. Line cookie sheets with parchment.

Cream together the butter and the sugar. Beat in juice, zest and egg.

Combine the flour, pepper, salt and baking soda. Add to the butter mixture and beat on low until the dough comes together.

Roll dough into tablespoon-size balls; place on lined sheet. Gently flatten each ball slightly, using the bottom of a glass that has been lightly moistened and dipped in sugar. (I used yellow sanding sugar.)

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool on racks.

Roasted Hatch Chile Stew Recipe with Sweet Potato, Corn + Lime

Green Chile Stew Recipe

Scrumptious slow cooker stew with roasted chiles, sweet potato and lime

Ho-la! It's that time of year again. The annual roasted Hatch chile madness is upon us here in chile blessed New Mexico. You can smell the intoxicating smoky-sweet scent of roasting green chiles everywhere you go. Even Walmart. Seriously. There's a roaster out front in the baking hot Espanola Walmart parking lot as we speak, firing it up, doing his New Mexican green chile roasting thing, turning his dented blackened barrel over a fire. Wiping his brow. Slugging down his cola. People are lined up waiting for their batch. Inside the store's entrance stacks of crated fresh chiles dominate the floor space like so many Stanley Kubrick obelisks (cue music).

If you live in Nuevo Mexico, you worship at the Sacred Temple of the Holy Chile Pepper.

The devotion to roasted chile runs deep in these parts and yes, it's with an e never with an i; if you call chile chili in these parts you may as well kiss your white bread tuchas good-bye, pendajo, because you'll be laughed out of the state. Shunned. Scorned. These folks get very serious about their autumn roasted chile. Don't mess with 'em.

It's harvest time.

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Gluten-Free Cookie Recipes

Gluten-Free Cookies. Made with love.

Here are my favorite gluten-free cookie and cookie bar recipes on Gluten-Free Goddess. Because a good cookie is no small thing. Especially when you have to live gluten-free. So bake up some cookies- with love.

Almond Flour Cookies with a Nutty Crunch
Almondy Almond Butter Cookies (with sugar-free option)
Almost Sausalito Cookie Squares
Anise Biscotti

Banana Cookies
Best Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes
Breakfast Cookies
Brown Sugar Buckwheat Thumbprint Cookies
Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Biscotti
Chocolate Chip Cookie Squares
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dark Chocolate Chunks
Coffee Biscuits with Chocolate Chips

Espresso Chocolate Chip Cookies

Gingersnaps + Star Cookies
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies
Pumpkin Pecan Cookies

Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies
Quinoa Pumpkin Cookies

Raspberry Coconut-Almond Cookie Bars
Rice Crispy Treats (vegan)

Sunbutter Cookies
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies and Vanilla Brownies

Gluten-free biscotti. A cookie for grown-ups.

Karina's Tips:
Preserve the fresh baked taste and texture of gluten-free cookies by bagging in small bags,  then bagging the bags in a larger freezer bag, and freezing; preserve cookie bars by wrapping, bagging and freezing them.
Thaw for best taste.
Briefly- just briefly- warm gluten-free chocolate chip cookies in the microwave for a melty gooey treat.


Gluten-Free Cake + Cupcake Recipes

Gluten-Free Cake + Cupcake Recipes
Gluten-free cupcakes anyone?

 Karina's Gluten-Free Cake + Cupcake Recipes

Here are my favorite gluten-free cake recipes on Gluten-Free Goddess- from decadent, dessert worthy cake to simple coffee cake, from rich and fudgy flourless chocolate elegance to vegan and egg-free cupcakes.

Apple Cake with Cranberries

Banana Bundt Cake
Banana-Blueberry Muffin Cake
Banana Polenta Cake
Banana Snacking Cake with Almond Flour
Banana Spice Cake

Blueberry Babycakes
Blueberry Cobbler
Blueberry Crumb Cake

Cherry Clafoutis
Chocolate Banana Cake (scroll down the page)
Chocolate Cupcakes with Coffee Icing
Chocolate Truffle Cake

Coconut Apple Cake
Coconut Carrot Cake
Coconut Chocolate Chip Cake
Coconut Frosted Banana Cupcakes
Coconut Layer Cake

Dark Goddess Cake

Flourless Banana Snacking Cake
Flourless Chocolate Cake

Lemon Almond Yogurt Cake
Mexican Chocolate Cake
Maple Frosted Pumpkin Cake

Orange Creme Cupcakes

Peach Cake- vegan
Peach Coffee Cake with Streusel Topping
Peanut Butter Banana Cake

Pumpkin Chai Bread
Pumpkin Cheesecake
Pumpkin Raisin Cake

Quinoa Breakfast Cake

Rustic Strawberry Cobbler Cake

Sour Cream Apple Cake

Vanilla Cupcakes with Mocha Icing
Vegan Flourless Chocolate Cake

Karina's rich Chocolate Truffle Cake

Karina's Cake Baking Tips:

New to baking gluten-free cakes? See my post Gluten-Free Cooking + Baking Tips for what to expect and how to problem solve.

Gluten-free vegan batter (without dairy and eggs) behaves differently than wheat batter. It is generally stickier, and thicker than standard batter.
Eggs are a boon to gluten-free baking. They add lift, moisture and lightness to heavy gluten-free flours.  If fat is a concern, use whisked egg whites instead of whole eggs, and an extra egg white.
Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven. If your cakes sink in the center you may be adding too much liquid to the batter, not baking it long enough, or your oven temperature may run a tad cool. Conversely, if the cake rises high and fast, then collapses, your oven may run hot.
For essential tips on baking gluten-free and dairy-free without eggs see my Vegan Baking Cheat Sheet, with trouble shooting strategies for baking success.