Thursday, March 31, 2011

Delicious Gluten Free Desserts

Real Simple has a tempting collection of desserts and recipes, and all of them are gluten free! I know my posting has been a little thin this month, but I've tried to at least point you toward some good sites via Short and Sweets on Facebook. So if you're not a fan already, go ahead and "like" the page to receive fun links on your news feed.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sunday Flowers

Today's water lily photos also come from our wonderful trip to Hawaii in January. This top photo isn't awesome, but it does show off a huge koi, so that's fun. 

The bright sunshine made it relatively easy to take crisp, clear, pretty photos. Having that light is definitely something I've been struggling with since living in Seattle. Remember these whoopie pies? They were super stale when I finally had good light. Don't worry, though, we ate the rest before that. I just saved some pretty ones for you all. 

What are you doing this weekend? Are you able to enjoy some sunshine? Official Taster and I are heading out to the farmers' market (there is one year round one here). It's kind of a hike, but we don't go every weekend and when we do, it's a treat. 

Happy Sunday!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Flowers

Happy Sunday to all.  I hope you're having beautiful weather, and that you get outside and enjoy Spring. All of these Hibiscus photos were taken on our trip to Hawaii in January. I had a lovely time hiking around one of the many botanical gardens with my parents. 

There's been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about Japan, ways to help, and days of silence. I think that's as it should be. Americans have a long history of donating time and money in response to natural disasters. I don't really have anything to add to what everyone has been thinking and feeling about Japan, but I also am not sure it's fair to focus solely on the people of Japan without also focusing on the people of Libya, Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and so many more places, including our nation's backyard. 

So, while donating to Japan is a worthy cause, also consider making a donation to the general funds of organizations like The American Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders so that money can go where it's needed most at any given time. You can also simply click to give at Free Rice or The Hunger Site and it's partners. 

Go out, enjoy the sunshine and daffodils, and have a great day!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vegan Applesauce Cookies

These cookies are comfort food. They're not fancy, they're not strongly flavored, and they are super easy to put together. They also happen to smell delicious while baking. So far, I don't really like March 2011, so comfort food cookies are my perfect antidote. I can also practically count them as a fruit (I totally could if I also made my own applesauce).

I'm not going to lie, I like the ones with chocolate chips the best (I made 3 kinds: plain, chocolate chip, dried cranberries. I don't do nuts). It's not really a fair fight, since chocolate is pretty much a rockstar. They are the most cookie-like. The plain and dried cranberry versions are kind of like mini muffins. So, not bad at all, and definitely breakfast-qualifying.

Vegan Applesauce Cookies
1/2 C vegan butter
1/2 C brown sugar (packed)
3/4 C unsweetened applesauce
1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C white whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
chocolate chips/chopped walnuts/dried cranberries (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar. Mix in the applesauce. Add the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and spices to your bowl and blend thoroughly. Stir in any add-ins.

Drop generous teaspoonfuls of the dough onto your parchment covered baking sheet 1-2" apart. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Let them cool somewhat on the cookie sheet, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.

If you use regular butter, add a pinch of salt.

Feel free to use some other ratio of the flours, all whole wheat, or 100% all purpose. I just like sneaking in the whole wheat.

If you're not going to eat all of these within a day or two, they can be frozen for later.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Earthquake Relief

Today, Living Social will MATCH 100% of your donation to the American Red Cross Japan Earthquake & Pacific Tsunami Fund! Based on the timer on the site, it looks as though it will expire Friday at 10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern. In their fine print, they say they will match up to $1,000,000.

So what are you waiting for? go!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Flowers

Happy Daylight Savings! Hopefully, you remembered to change your clock and you weren't late to something important. If you're like me, you rely on your cell phone automatically adjusting for you. 

Today's theme can be summed up as Up Close and Personal. It's no secret (if you're a Sunday Flowers fan) that I like to take close-ups of flowers. However, these are really close, and, I think, pretty interesting. Looking at them is a little like hanging upside down as a kid and viewing the world upside down and imagining what it would be like to live in my room if the floor had glow-in-the-dark stars and the ceiling was carpeted with piles of books. Did you do that too, or do you just think I'm crazy now?

Anyway, I hope you're having a good weekend. I'm trying skiing for the first time ever today, so hopefully all goes well. Official Taster says I'll know if skiing is for me after my first downhill trip. I'm hoping I decide that it is since I'll already have bought the day pass and rented the equipment. 

What are you up to this weekend?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Vegan Whole Wheat Oatmeal Molasses Whoopie Pies

It's been a while. I'm aware. 

I have been working beaucoup at jobs that actually pay the rent {unlike fun and delicious cookies}. On the plus side, cherry trees are starting to bloom and Spring is right around the corner. 

These cookies are pretty tasty, and, if you care, I think qualify for the "healthy" column in the dessert hierarchy.  Maybe that means those of you who celebrate Lent and gave up desserts can call these a healthy snack? Well, until you add the frosting. And we all know frosting makes everything better

The molasses makes these reminiscent of of spice cookies and gingerbread, but the oatmeal and filling make them enough different to be worth a bite. 

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Molasses Whoopie Pies

Cookie Ingredients:
1/4 C vegan butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C applesauce
1/4 C molasses
1 C whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 C oats

Filling Ingredients:
2 Tbsp vegan butter
2 Tbsp vegetable shortening
1 C sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tsp vanilla

To make the cookies:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the applesauce and the molasses and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. At this point stir in any chopped nuts you'd like to add {1/4-1/2 C}. Drop tablespoons of dough onto a greased/parchment lined baking sheet and bake 8-9 minutes.

To make the filling:
Beat the butter and shortening together until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla at low speed. Once combined, turn the mixer to high and beat for another 1-2 minutes.

To assemble the cookies:
Put the filling in a pastry bag or a ziplock bag. Cut off the tip {or the corner of the ziplock} and pipe dollops of frosting onto one cookie. Use a similarly sized cookie to smoosh the frosting and make the sandwich.

If you use regular butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of salt at the same time as the other dry ingredients.

These taste much better the second day. I don't know why.

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