Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Flowers

Good morning! I hope you are having a good weekend, wherever you are. It has been really, really cold here. When I woke up Saturday morning I got up, turned the heat on in the living area, and went back to bed where it was warm. I had tea, a book, and my computer and I wasn't cold. ahhh, delightful.

 My hope is that these yellow beauties will help fight the chill! I photographed all of these Hibiscus on our trip to Hawaii. Now there it was warm and lovely.

Official Taster and I didn't do anything too exciting this weekend. Mostly errands and general hanging around. How about you? What did you do to keep warm? Bake? Vacuum? Jumping jacks?

In other news, and this is important, Facebook has changed everyone's options. again. sigh. So if you're not seeing Short & Sweets' posts in your feed anymore, scroll down to the bottom of your home page, click "Edit Options," and then choose "Show Posts From All Friends And Family" instead of just those friends you interact with most often. That way you won't miss any of my brilliant thoughts.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's All a Facade

I, and I suspect many other food bloggers out there, want you, the reader, to believe that I always make my own bread, cinnamon buns, and cake. We want you to trust our authority, make you feel like you can do it all (sometimes feel like you should do it all), believe that the recipes we share with you aren't one time things. They are part of our normal, day-to-day lives, and, gosh darn it, we love it.

But there's a dirty little secret in the world of blogging (or at least my world). Sometimes, we make cupcakes from a mix. {insert astonished intake of breath}

It's shocking, I know.

I'm not super-woman, and sometimes I just want a cupcake. Like now. With very little effort.

Enter: the box.

I do admit to helping the box a little, though. This time I added some almost-ready-to-be-done raspberries and blackberries to my batter. Fruit + cupcake = healthy breakfast. Right? Any type of berries will work, as will chocolate chips, syrups, chopped nuts, and lots of other things your cabinets already hold.

So, please, know that you don't always have to make cupcakes from scratch, and when you do use a mix, dress it up a little and then call it your own, because naming rights are half the battle.

Monday, February 21, 2011

DIY Wedding Cupcakes

Meringue Bouquet Cupcakes

Today's lovelies come to you via Martha Stewart Weddings. I can't think of too many better ways to start off a Monday morning than a whole gallery of pretty cupcakes! These all include recipes, too, so if you want to make these for fun, for a party, for a friend, or for your very own DIY wedding, you can. Recipes, directions, and helpful hints included.

Mocha Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Flowers

Today is brought to you by the color pink and the big island of Hawaii. I know there has been a lot of pink lately due to Valentine's Day, and, I'm sorry, but these particular beauties just jumped out at me as a great way to brighten a winter day.

This Presidents' Weekend, Official Taster's mom is visiting, so we're doing some Welcome to Seattle things, like visiting Pikes Place Market. Also on the agenda: good food. Hopefully I'll be able to share some about that. 

What fun things are on your menu this weekend?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Etsy Love - Garden Finds

First up, from my neck of the woods, a minimalist planter from andrewsreclaimed
It's about that time of year when gardeners start getting their collective acts together and figure out what they are going to plant this year. Start seeds, sketch layouts, redo layouts, pour over newly released gardening magazines, etc. So in that spirit, today's love goes out to some garden related items you can purchase via Etsy.

An adorable succulent necklace from WoodlandBelle

A packet of cheerful Gloriosa Daisy seeds from FlorentineGardens

24 lovely succulents from SucculentsGalore
Are you planning a garden this year? I had a lovely space in our last apartment, but, sadly, this time I don't. I'm going to have to wait to see where the sun goes before I can plan to grow even basic herbs. Hopefully you have a better spot!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Easy Upgrade

A couple weeks ago, I read this post over at Whisk Kid, and it made me smile. When Official Taster asked for an explanation, I complied, and his response gave me an idea for a future present. "I love ugly cookies!" Wouldn't that be great on a tshirt? Maybe with a heart between I and ugly? Boys like tshirts.

I'm somewhat of a perfectionist about the treats I mail to my Etsy customers, and when I take pictures for blog posts, I'm also picky about which cupcakes have perfectly swirled frosting or which waffles look the most waffley. So OT has learned to lurk, or, when he runs out of patience, start reaching for one so that I hand him a different one to eat instead. He's smart like that.

I guess my point is a) for most people, it doesn't matter what a cookie looks like and b) there are quick and easy ways to make imperfect cookies fancier/better looking. Another theory of mine? Frosting makes up for a lot. The more the merrier.

This week, I had extra chocolate cookies, extra sugar cookies, and extra filling. My solution? Combine them and make cute and delicious sandwiches (mini always adds to the cuteness factors). Some of the leftover chocolate cookies are kind of falling apart, but frosting acts kind of like glue, and since it looks impressive and tastes delicious, no one cares.

So if your oatmeal cookies don't turn out quite the way you wanted, add some frosting, serve, and enjoy. Powdered sugar or drizzled chocolate also works wonders.

In other news, and this is important, Facebook has changed everyone's options. again. sigh. So if you're not seeing Short & Sweets' posts in your feed anymore, scroll down to the bottom of your home page, click "Edit Options," and then choose "Show Posts From All Friends And Family" instead of just those friends you interact with most often. That way you won't miss any of my brilliant thoughts.

Finally, I wanted to link you over to Cooks Illustrated's article about dark chocolate. It's got good information and ratings for several brands of chocolate to help you make decisions when you're standing with glazed eyes in the baking aisle.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day! free printables and more

via The Swell Life
I hope you're having a fun day, and if you're still scrambling, here are some free printables to help you out!
via My. Daily. Randomness.
This year I made a rule for Official Taster and I. Our presents have to be made by us. I was supposed to get a painting (he paints), but that didn't happen, so, instead, I got a super delicious dinner on Sunday night. Spinach salad with walnuts and goat cheese and roasted pears and fig chutney and a balsamic/fig/mustard dressing. Also, pasta with sun dried tomatoes and garlic and basil. AND cupcakes from Whole Foods. Yum :)

via Frog Prince Paperie
I can't tell you (yet) what Official Taster is getting from me, but I'll share later. Wouldn't want to ruin the surprise! Also, if you now have a card and still need a present, try one of these goodies!

Chocolate Cake
The original recipe is for Chocolate Pumpkin cake, but if you substitute applesauce or mayonnaise for the pumpkin, you will have plain old delicious chocolate cake. 

Red Wine Pasta with Broccoli 
Don't forget, there were cupcakes a week ago! What do you do for food on Valentine's? Official Taster and I both hate the idea of going out to eat, especially (I think) because we've both worked in restaurants and know how un-fun working that dinner shift is.

Raspberry Pancakes

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Pretty Thing

Literally! I was lucky enough to be included on yesterday's Valentine Round Up on One Pretty Thing. There you can always find daily crafty inspiration, and my cupcakes from Monday made the list! There's also One Pretty Wedding for those of us looking for nuptial inspiration.

Some of you Etsyers with eagle eyes may have noticed that I raised my shipping rates on Short & Sweets slightly recently due to cost increases. Well, the other pretty thing about today is that I figured out how to lower those, so my rates are back down to where they were before. Huzzah! It's too late for you to receive anything in the mail for Valentine's Day, but next week when you have a fudge or an oreo craving, come visit!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegan Valentine Cupcakes - Red Velvet with Raspberry Buttercream

I had Thursday and Friday off last week. Thursday I ran errands, did laundry, took a nap, you know, the essentials. Friday, however, I found myself with some time on my hands and an urge to bake, since I haven't had a chance in a while. So after bumming around online for a while, I determined that I had a craving for red velvet cupcakes. It sounds like a strange desire, but I think they were just on my mind after seeing these and these. {I also saw these lovelies, but that's a different story.}

I remembered really liking the ones I made last year, so I went back to that recipe. For once, I also wanted to have a holiday treat posted well before the holiday in question so that you guys would have plenty of time to get yourselves together to make it.

So, red velvet cupcakes (which are chocolate, by the way) with....drumroll please.... raspberry buttercream! Yep, a classic combination rendered in vegan form. Chocolate + Raspberry = Delicious

 I used fresh raspberries for my frosting, but I think you could use frozen if you thaw and drain them first. Also, a note on the cupcake recipe: this time I used soy milk rather than almond milk and only vanilla extract (as opposed to part almond extract). They were still yummy, but I missed having the hint of almond I had last time. Also, if you have picky or ambivalent-about-vegan-baking eaters, Official Taster thinks he can taste/feel the graininess sometimes associated with soy milk. I didn't notice, but I wanted to let you know.

This time, I made a combination of heart shaped and mini cupcakes. For the hearts, I used some Reynolds heart baking cups I had on hand. I'm not sure if they still make them, or if they are a seasonal item, but this is what they look like.

Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes with Raspberry Buttercream Frosting

For cupcake recipe, please reread this post

For the frosting:
1/2 stick vegan butter
1/4 C fresh raspberries
splash of vanilla
2-3 C confectioners' sugar

In a small bowl, beat the butter until it's light and fluffy. Add the raspberries and vanilla and blend well. Slowly add the confectioners' sugar and continue to beat until the frosting has become stiff enough to spread or pipe. Frost and enjoy!

If you add the sugar slowly, the frosting blends beautifully and you avoid the slight graininess that occurs sometimes in quick buttercreams

If you use regular butter, I would also add a dash of salt.

Any other berry should work as well. Blackberries would make a pretty color!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sunday Flowers

...are back! I hope your weekend is going well. Do you have Super Bowl party plans? Official Taster and I are attending one and, of course, bringing a dessert. Hopefully I'll have some pictures to show you later this week.  

These pictures are actually from back in the fall. I went on a field trip to Euro American Propagators. We saw how they grow their plants from seeds and cuttings, and the end of the tour was their display garden. 

It changes twice a year, and is designed both to show current trends and to showcase their own plants, which is why those white plant tags are everywhere. 

It was a lovely mix of succulents and flowering annuals and perennials in both sun and shade.

I have seen this a couple other places before, but I really like breaking up a patio with little groundcover succulents or other plants between the stones. 

Even just having plants with different colors of green can create some visual interest.

I hope this little glimpse of sunshine helps keep you warm this weekend! Are you one of the many stuck under many feet of snow?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Valentine's Cards - Free Printable

If you head over to One Charming Party's Valentine's cards post, you can download your very own set of these cuties and get them in the snail mail in order for your lucky recipients to get them by the 14th. Or you can give them to classmates, neighbors, roommates, coworkers, the mail main, you know, whoever you like :)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Scrumptious Valentine's Cookies

Today, I want you to go here on HowDoesShe to admire, gaze, and drool over these awesome cookies. There are these sweet hearts I know my sweetheart would eat in an instant, and there are also a few racier cookies on display. Racier being a relative term. They're still cookies, people.

I love that she used a simple heart cookie cutter and then went crazy fun with it! 

There are complete directions and lots of how-to photos to help you create your own fantasy cookies. Read on and get your icing ready!
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