Sunday, May 30, 2010

Patriotic Vanilla Filled Cupcakes - Gluten and Dairy Free!

I've been trying to think of a good gluten free recipe to post here because I've only posted vegan recipes thus far. It seems only fair to share the love since I sell both vegan and gluten free items in my Etsy store. For me, gluten free is much harder, maybe because I don't have a problem with wheat. I haven't had to work around it, except for Etsy and the occasional custom order. Dairy, however, I've worked around since I can remember, and family events always have lots of milk-free dishes. So I wanted my first gluten free foray into the blogosphere to be a good one. I think I succeeded.

These cupcakes are not vegan, just dairy free (check the notes for how to make them corn free and soy free), but please, if you experiment, let me know! I wanted to conquer the gluten before I also eliminated the egg whites. My next step would be to try using Ener-G egg replacer. What would you try?

I saw these cupcakes earlier this week, and I wanted to do something equally fun, but even awesomer. So after a little consultation with Official Taster, I decided on white cupcakes filled and topped with buttercream: red or blue filling, white frosting, and red and blue sugar sprinkled on top. Voila! Cupcakes perfect for Memorial Day or the Fourth of July.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Etsy Love - picnic quilts

To celebrate the beautiful weekend it is AND that it's Memorial Day weekend, I found some quilts on Etsy that are perfect for picnics on the beach, at the park, or in your own backyard. There are certainly fancier quilts out there to buy, but I wouldn't want most of them in the mud. But on my bed? Only if mom makes me one!

I like each of these quilts (links at the bottom) for different reasons. I love the happy rainbow colors of this top one. Casual, comfortable, and summery.

This blue quilt is waterproof! What a great idea to use ski-wear fabrics. Smart. Very smart.

Now, this third quilt has a sense of humor I can't ignore. PLUS it's made out of old jeans AND there are even pockets. How fun!

I hope you're having a fun weekend! I went to the farmers' market this afternoon, which always brightens my day. What are you up to?

Bohemian Rainbow Blanket

Blue shades outdoor quilt (waterproof)

Handcrafted (ant) picnic blanket - quilt

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Garden Tour

The other weekend, there was an Artists' Studio and Garden Tour in Encinitas, CA. It was run by Off Track Gallery, and they combined some lovely gardens with art on display for sale. It's the only garden tour I've heard of around here that combines art and flowers.

One of the nicest things about the tour was that it was two days, so you could sleep in, take your time, and save half for the Sunday when you got tired.

There were nine homes, and while a couple were really boring yards, and clearly on the tour only because artists lived there, the others had some really beautiful gardens.

The last one we visited was incredible! The family who lives there has transformed their 2 acre lot over the past 15 years and filled every corner with plants. They even had a sunflower painted golf cart to get around!

There were numerous seating areas, a rose garden, orchard, vegetable garden, koi pond, aviary, and several drought tolerant areas. I imagine eating dinner out there on a warm summer evening is just about perfect.

I love the succulent chandelier they have hanging in one of their created nooks.

There's even a spot for seedlings and cuttings. I have no idea where they would even put new plants, but if I can always find room on the balcony for more, I'm sure they manage.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vegan Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

I can guess what some of you are thinking: olive oil? in a cake?

How do I know this? Because that's what Dad's first reaction was when I told him I made it. But I assure you that it's delicious. In fact, I took it over to a (non-vegan) friend's place for dessert, and it was a big hit. Well, I also brought my oreos, so I'm not sure which was the favorite, but everyone liked everything! Two desserts is the way to go.

I got a giant bag of blood oranges at the farmers' market a few weeks ago, so I was really excited when I remembered I had a recipe for a blood-orange cake. I've modified it in several ways to make it both easier and vegan. It's quite moist, and there are beautiful and juicy chunks of blood orange throughout. Also, as a bonus, it doesn't require either a food processor or a mixer to make the batter, so less stuff to clean!

If you can't find blood oranges, you can use orange oranges instead, but do try and find the blood oranges.

Yes, they're more expensive, and, yes, they're less common, but...they're just so pretty! And using them makes this cake that much more of a treat.

I took pictures of my process this time, so you can see the milk curdling with the zest + sugar, the steps to supreme the oranges, the chunks of orange + the juice and milk mixture, the batter, and the final cake.

I've now made it two weekends in a row. Delicious both times!

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

cooking spray
1/2 Cup soy milk
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice or vinegar

3 blood oranges
1 Cup sugar
4 1/2 tsp Ener-g egg replacer (equivalent of 3 eggs)
6 Tbsp water
1 3/4 Cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 Cup extra virgin olive oil
coarse sugar (Sparkling Sugar) for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly spray a 9"x5" loaf pan with cooking spray. Reduce temperature by 25 degrees if you're using a dark pan.

2. Combine soy milk and lemon juice or vinegar in a non-reactive bowl (or glass measuring cup works well). Set aside. (it needs to curdle to stimulate buttermilk)

3. In a large bowl, combine the zest of 2 oranges and the sugar. Mush ingredients together with your fingers until the zest is evenly distributed.

4. Supreme an orange: cut off the bottom and top so you can see some fruit and so the orange has flat ends so it can stand up on its own on the cutting board. Cut away the peel and pith (white stuff) by following the curve of the orange with your knife. Separate the orange segments and get rid of as much pith and connective membranes as you can/until you're tired of doing it. Let them fall into a small bowl. Break up or cut the segments into about 1/4" pieces. Repeat with the second orange.

5. Halve the third orange and squeeze the juice into a small bowl or measuring cup. Add the soy milk and lemon juice mixture. Lightly mix. (You can also juice the orange directly into the soy milk mixture if it's in a large enough container) Add the new mixture to the sugar and whisk well. Add the egg replacer and water (equivalent of 3 eggs) and whisk.
6. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gently whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ones. Switch to a spatula and fold in olive oil a little bit at a time. At first you'll think it won't work, but have patience and add all of the oil. Fold in the pieces of orange you cut/broke up.

7. Scrape the batter into your pan and smooth the top. Sprinkle sugar on top (I used coarse, but you can use regular if you want. or none at all) and place on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for about 55 minutes, or until it's golden and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes and then remove from pan and let it finish cooling right side up.

If you eat eggs, feel free to substitute 3 large eggs for the Ener-G egg replacer + water

If you drink milk, instead of the soy milk + lemon juice, you can use buttermilk or yogurt. I didn't try it with soy yogurt, but it seems like it should work too (?)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Etsy Love - cake stands

Even before I opened my very own Etsy store, I enjoyed browsing. It's very easy to waste time hopping from store to store, adding things to my mental wishlist, and actual favorites list.

As you may have figured out (or know for sure), I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Or maybe several sweet teeth. I see nothing wrong with eating brownies for breakfast, crisp for lunch, and cupcakes for dinner. Throw some cake (recipe coming soon!) in there, and, to me, it sounds like a good day.

So it seemed only fitting to do this first post of favorite Etsy discoveries all about cake stands. It turns out there are a lot of really ugly ones out there, but these four are my favorites. What about you? Did I miss any gems?

From top to bottom, find them here:

Set of 3 eyelet cake plates with ribbons... MADE TO ORDER.

Small Ceramic Bird Cake Stand in Robin Egg Blue

Happy Yellow Cupcake Stand - small dessert display stand

Vegan cupcake stand in purple

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Morning Flowers

Good morning! Today's flowers are a vegetative design, like I showed you earlier, that I created with tulips, iris, and scabiosa (the light purple and sort of crinkled flowers). We were given a pile of flowers in class last night and told to make a specific design of our choosing (i.e. do something purposefully, don't just stick flowers in the oasis randomly).

I chose vegetative because I thought the flowers I had lent themselves to a very natural look. Remember, vegetative designs are supposed to look like someone took a shovelful of garden and stuck it in a pot. I really like the miniature world feeling that adding stones created- it makes me want to tunnel through the bushes like I did as a kid (or "kiddo", according to mom).

The past couple of days, I've been playing around with drying flowers, so I'll probably keep doing that over the weekend (and staring intently at my pile, willing my pansies to press faster). I'm very much in an arts-and-crafts mood, which is pretty much at odds with finals week, but I'll probably force myself to some studying as well. What are you up to this weekend?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cake Show!

The other weekend at Ro Z's Sweet Art Studio in San Marcos, CA (North San Diego County), there was a cake show! The theme was Fairytales and Fantasy, and every cake fit! There were a lot of the topsy-turvy cakes that have been popular lately, and tons of creativity, imagination, and detail.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Vegan Cinnamon Buns

So, you may have put together the fact that last Sunday was Mother's Day AND my mom was here. The stars aligned, which meant I needed to up my game. The plan? Completely homemade from scratch vegan (I got my allergies from her) warm, sweet, and delicious cinnamon rolls. She'll have to chime in here, but I'm relatively certain of my success.

Friday Morning Flowers

I don't know what I'm going to do when my class is over and I no longer have eye candy for you every Friday! I love being able to share my creations with you each week. It makes me feel like each arrangement is getting the attention it deserves, rather than just sitting on my table while Official Taster and I live our lives around it.

This week we could make whatever we wanted, as long as we used one each of the pink Gerbera Daisy, pink Snapdragon, white Alstroemeria, and deep purple Limonium. Beyond that, we could scavenge the classroom for flowers, greens, and containers. I chose a pave design, like the other week, because I like them, and because I thought it was a good way to make the required flowers work together. I'm pretty pleased with the result.

This weekend, I don't have to work, which is always exciting, and I think I'm going to hang out with a new friend of mine I met in a pottery class. What about you? Any fun plans? If you want something to make your (or your loved ones) Sunday more special, check back tomorrow for my suggestion!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Seedlings and flowers and facebook, oh my!

Look! I've got Forget-Me-Nots blooming in my vertical garden! I was super excited when I saw them, because not only are they pretty, but they are proof that the idea works. yay! Other things are growing, too. These are Nasturiums, more Forget-Me-Nots, and some Rosemary. Also growing are Basil, Poppies, Marigolds, and Spinach.

As for flowers, when my parents were visiting, one of our outings was to the Flower Fields, which is where lots and lots and lots of Ranunculus are grown for their seeds, bulbs, and cut flowers. They closed for the season after Mother's Day, but if you're in the area next spring, they are definitely worth a vist. Nadia over at Nadia Knows Gardens did a very thorough post about her visit if you'd like to read more. I just took a pretty picture!

Finally, I now have a real Facebook url so that it's much easier to find me and become a fan. Once you're a fan, you'll receive updates, extra info, and a link to new blog posts.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Vegan Veggie Pot Pie

I don't know about you, but I have a weakness for bakeware. It's kind of a problem because everywhere I shop I see dishes I want and imagine things I can make in them. I'm pretty good at resisting the siren call, especially for things that only make one dish or take up a lot of room. However, the other week I found myself with a gift card at a discount home store and found this pretty pie dish that called out to be set on the counter with delicious smelling steam rising from it. So I bought it. And a cookbook.
But I didn't get so many other things!

Friday, May 7, 2010

LOVE these Free Downloads

I ran across a link to Download & Print over on How About Orange and loved what I found!

Download & Print has great designs for recipe cards, invitations, RSVP cards, and envelope liners. The best part? They are FREE!

Yes, really.

You simply download the card you want, personalize in Word, and print them either at home or at a print shop. Jess at How About Orange has a great tip: "If you're taking your file to a printer, you'll be best off saving it as a PDF. If you bring them the Word file, you'll need to supply them with the fonts, too, since they might not have the ones you've used." I love that she shares things like that, because I definitely wouldn't have known what to do.

Anna (the designer) offers tips, tricks, and stories and you can subscribe to find out about her latest designs. I think this is a great site to know about, especially as it turns into graduation, wedding, and shower season. Know any brides-to-be? Share this! You could save them a bunch of money.

Friday Morning Flowers

Good morning! I realize that posting both here and on facebook has been a bit, shall we say, sparse this week, and I do apologize. But I have to plead mitigating circumstances- my parents are visiting! It's of course lovely to see them, but they do cut down on my computer time. Which might be a good thing come to think of it...

In any case, today's arrangement is pretty tall, which I think you can tell from the picture. It's about 3 ft tall, including the vase, so it definitely grabs your attention. I don't usually like Bird of Paradise very much, but I think they work well for this, and I love the Gerberas. The yellow-green Spider Mum is a fun accent. It's always fun to see what other people in the class create with the same flowers, and this week was no exception. I think last night's arrangements were the best of the semester so far. Go team!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Day!

Mother's Day is coming up this Sunday! I'm lucky- my mom and dad are coming to visit, which should be fun. Whether you get to see your mom this weekend or not, she'll certainly appreciate delicious desserts you picked out especially for her.
So head on over to ShortandSweets and get your order in! If you're a mom and don't want to order your own present, feel free to pass along this blog post as a helpful reminder :)
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