Friday, June 29, 2012



You totally thought I spelled that title wrong, didn't you? ha.

Earlier this week, I had 3(!!) days off in a row, and I took advantage of the time to complete a little home project I'd been contemplating. Here at Chez Sweets, our back balcony is doing just fine, thankyouverymuch, but I wanted to spruce up our boringly generic front door. The biggest challenge to finding something to grow there is the approximately 20 minutes (seriously) of direct sun that spot gets, at least in the summer. When the giant, shady tree loses its leaves in the fall, there will be significantly more light, and I already have some mums planned. But I digress.

I did a little research, hit the garden center, found nothing on my list, but then saw and remembered about Impatiens. ah ha! I remember these guys! They love the shade. So I picked some in a pretty color, forgetting about the brick red door mat we have, and found some pretty planters at Marshall's (yes, I had a good week).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Soy Sauce Marinade - vegan

tofu & veggie skewers

Is there a word for "drop dead gorgeous" that applies to the weather? Because if there is, that's what we've been having here. Mornings have been dawning bright and clear, afternoons celebrate with endless blue skies, and the evenings bring it home with cool breezes.

It didn't take too long for Mr Official Taster and I to readapt to having beautiful weather almost year round (though from what I see on FB and my weekend trip, Seattle is doing much better this year, weather-wise). And as I briefly mentioned, we finally got a grill the other week. We have been grill-less since leaving San Diego, and we're both glad to have one again. I'm glad because on grill nights, I don't do the cooking, Mr OT does, albeit one-handed right now. (He's never lonely out there, don't worry) He's glad because it's manly and gives him (another) excuse to have a beer. I mean, grills might not even work properly without one nearby, right? Plus, it's a nice change for our tastebuds. We even usually remember to close the door to keep the smoke, uh, flavor outside.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Banana Hazelnut Breakfast Muffins - vegan

I've been on a bit of a kick lately- not a cleaning kick, exactly, but there has been some. Not a purging kick, either, though there has also been some of that. I think it's more of a use-things-up-or-put-them-away-out-of-sight-let's-see-some-order-around-here kind of kick. To clarify, I don't think our place is a mess or is super cluttered. I would just like it to be less so, some days. And some days I'm able to do something about it.

I forget why I bought the bag of hazelnuts in the first place, but it has been waiting, taunting me, and taking up space in my tiny kitchen for months. I think it may have actually made the move with us, so maybe I bought it with the intention of making nutella? or something Christmasy? Whatever the original intention was, I'm sure it was tasty, but time marches on and I want these nuts gone. Pronto.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Pasta with Pea Pesto - vegan & gluten free

Surprise! A weekend post, because I love you. And because this week was somewhat lame, blogging wise.

Last Saturday, for the first time in quite awhile, I was able to go to my current favorite farmers' market. The changes since my last visit (a month ago? maybe 6 weeks?) were pretty astounding. Summer's bounty is certainly upon us. There was a very long line of people waiting to buy the first local corn of the year; lots of stands had tomatoes for sale, not just the one farm with a greenhouse; raspberries and blackberries are in; sweet pea bouquets provided a cheap pick-me-up.

There were also peas for sale. You know, the kind that come in pods, not the frozen section of your grocery store. Growing up, friends and family will attest, I was not a fan of peas. I don't know if I ever refused to eat them (which was rarely an option anyway), but I certainly ate them under duress.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Made With Love Canning Labels - free printable

Happy Friday and happy summer! To celebrate, I'm sending you over to Toad's Treasures for some cute jam toppers. These canning labels are perfect because you can use them on anything you preserve since they're non-specific. They even come in a variety of colors. Personalize at will!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Raspberries for Dinner

Awaiting me after my morning shift at work, this actual text from Mr Official Taster:
Hi. I cut part of my thumb off with scissors at work. I'm at the er but ok


After a weekend of working and parent entertaining, and now a missing thumbprint, brownies seemed like the logical dinner choice. Raspberries are on sale around here, and we somehow ended up with 5 clamshells worth (not that I'm complaining). So I made them part of dinner. You know, for nutritional balance.

No recipe today, just some words of (nutritional) wisdom. So whether you go for chewy, fudgey, or box (this is a No Judging Zone), sprinkle some fruit, and maybe some extra chocolate chips on top, pour a tasty beverage and call it a day.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Father's Day Candy Wrapper - free printable

Happy Friday! Do you have any exciting weekend and/or Father's Day plans? I was inspired by this article yesterday, so last night Mr Official Taster and I bought ourselves a mini grill. We haven't had a grill at all for a couple years, and we're both looking forward to having the option to change up dinner. In addition, my parents arrive for a visit today, and I don't thing we could properly celebrate Father's Day without a grill. It just didn't seem right, somehow.

I'm not going to lie; I picked today's printable based solely on the pun. Puns are fun. In any case, if you're interested, head on over to Anything But Perfect for this fun candy bar wrapper.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mango Quick Bread - dairy free

A quick Facebook-related note: as happens every so often all the time, Facebook has changed things again. If you'd like to see Short and Sweets in your feed again, go to my Facebook page, and hover your mouse over the "Like" button. Make sure the box next to "show in news feed" is checked, and if it's not, just check it, and Short and Sweets posts will show up in your feed again. Sorry FB is silly.

And back to originally scheduled programing:

As part of my diversify-our-carbs mission, I picked up some coconut flour with no real plan for it. I was originally on the hunt for barley flour to make this, but, alas, I haven't found any. Then, I got mangos with the express purpose of making this bread, and I had my epiphany. Mango+coconut oil+coconut flour = tropical delight. If I'd had some rum, perhaps it would have been even more of a delight.

In any case, I'm pretty happy with the result. Well, except for the part where I didn't wait long enough to take it out of the pan. That made a mess. It's tasty and not too sweet, and I don't even mind the raisins. It made for a tasty breakfast, and I think the suggestion from the original recipe that you schmear on some cream cheese sounds pretty delightful. Extra points: Mimosas.

Mango Quick Bread - dairy free
adapted, very liberally, from Bon Appetit. I changed the original so much that I almost didn't link to it here, but you may find it useful if you want a simpler version. The reviews also hold some useful tips, like using peach schnapps to soak the raisins.

1 C golden raisins
1/4 C juice or liquor*
2 large mangos, peeled, pitted and diced
1 1/2 C flour
1/3 C coconut flour**
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 C sugar
1/2 C coconut oil (or 1/2 C butter or vegan butter)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Generously grease and flour a 9-x5-inch loaf pan. In a small bowl, mix raisins and juice or liquor and let stand 15 minutes while you mix everything else together.

Puree mangos in a food processor until smooth. Measure total amount (see note below).

Whisk together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream coconut oil and sugar together. If using butter, beat until light and fluffy. If using coconut oil, it won't get fluffy, but it will smooth out. Beat it a few minutes to aerate it. Beat in eggs one at time, then vanilla and mango puree. Add dry ingredients in two or three batches and beat after each addition until just combined. Fold in raisins+juice. Pour batter into a prepared pan.

Bake bread until tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 60 to 75 minutes. Cool 20 minutes in pan on rack (don't be like me and try and get it out after 10 minutes). Turn bread out; cool completely.


*I used Mango Peach Orange juice from Trader Joe's, which worked well. The original recipe called for brandy, which we don't have any of sitting around. I took advantage of the natural sweetness of the juice to cut back the sugar from 1 1/4 C. So depending what liquid you choose, adjust sugar as needed.

**This amount is one you can play with a bit. The total amount of flour should be approximately 1 3/4 cups, and the original recipe called for 1 cup of mango puree.  Coconut flour is super absorbent, so when you use it in recipes, you need to increase the amount of liquid. I chose to increase the amount of mango puree rather than adding juice or milk. My two mangos yielded 1 1/3 cups of puree. Thus, I was able to use 1/3 cup of coconut flour. I used 1 1/2 cups of regular flour and trusted that 1 1/2 C+ 1/3 C was close enough to the original 1 3/4 cups to work, and it was. So, basically, measure your puree first, before you decide on your flour amounts. Or just go with 1 C mango and 1 3/4 C flour and forget the coconut flour altogether. Questions?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Baked Barley Risotto with Vegetables - vegan

It is summer. It may have been unofficially so since Memorial Day, or maybe you don't think it will be until the solstice, but, for me, it's summer now. Over the weekend, temperatures rose, and we've had several days with beautiful, sunny, 85 degree weather. Mr Official Taster and I celebrated on Sunday with a nice drive and some veggie burgers at one of our favorite spots

Monday was my day off, and with an afternoon high of about 90 degrees, I did not want to stand by a stove. A baked dinner seemed like a better choice. The heat stays (mostly) contained in the oven, right? As part of my effort to diversify, and since I can't actually invent a new grain, I thought I'd try swapping out my usual arborio rice and make risotto a little more exciting. I really like the barley choice. It's got a slight crunch and more depth of flavor than the rice. It's also more filling, and according to the internet, healthier. And the internet is always right. Right?

It seemed only logical to take advantage of the oven's heat to make a batch or two of cookies. It worked out pretty well, if I do say so myself. 

Baked Barley Risotto with Vegetables - vegan
I halved this recipe and used a 7x10-inch baking pan, baked at the same temperature and for the same time, and it turned out beautifully. This is a recipe that practically begs for variations. Try red onion, caramelized onions, various spices, seasonal vegetables. Depending on your vegetables of choice, you may want to add them halfway through the baking rather than at the beginning. I do that for asparagus, but last night's tomatoes and peppers went in with everything else.  

1 onion, diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
lemon zest, chili powder, italian spices, black pepper, etc to taste
1 C grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (optional)
2 C pearled barley
32 ounces vegetable broth
1/2 C water
salt to taste
seasonal vegetables
more cheese, lemon zest, parsley, green onions as garnish

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent - about 5 minutes. Turn off heat, add lemon zest, thyme leaves, chili flakes, black pepper, and/or anything else your heart desired. Toss together and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss together uncooked barley, cheese if using, and the onion mixture. Spread evenly in your prepared baking pan. Add vegetables, vegetable stock, and water and stir gently to ensure even cooking.

Place in the oven and allow to cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Stir briefly, and cook for another 20-30 minutes. Barley is done when liquid is absorbed, so adjust time as needed.

When completely cooked, remove pan from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. If you'd like, add salt to taste and top with lemon zest, fresh thyme, black pepper, parsley and/or cheese.

To reheat leftovers, I put a couple teaspoons of water in a small saucepan, added risotto, and cooked on medium until heated through. Stir frequently.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Father's Day free printables

Happy Friday! Today has been a good day, and I hope the same is true for you. Today, I'm sending you over to Hello!Lucky for some free Father's Day printables (found via How About Orange). They're very classy looking, don't you think? There are both wine and beer lables, a couple cards, and even some snazzy sock wrappers.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fruit Can Be Your Side Salad Too

"I wish someone would invent a new starch."

That was me. Last week, Mr Official Taster diagnosed me with Vegetarian Fatigue. It was pretty spot on. I was tired and uncreative regarding dinners. I don't know if you've had this problem, but it's kind of annoying. My go-to formula has been a grain (rice, pasta, quinoa, potatoes, etc) with a vegetable in some sort of sauce-like concoction plus a spinach salad with toppings du jour. On some days, a muffin or some fresh bread might spice up the menu.

Anyway, I've been slowly climbing out (a fun trip helped!) of the hole, and one of my revelations was that fruit salad is a legitimate alternative to salad-salad, especially if you've already added some spinach and stuff to your pasta sauce.

So today isn't really a recipe, but rather a suggestion: add some fruit to your dinner, especially now that it's so readily available. Play with combinations of bananas, berries, kiwis, grapes, melons, know, fruits.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Beer Bread - vegan

Happy Monday! I had a great weekend. How about you?

I took a quick trip up to Seattle to visit. They sure know how to treat a girl! Our weekend activities pretty much centered around food (you may have seen the evidence), which made the whole trip feel that much more indulgent.

It seems, however, that I brought some classic Seattle weather home with me, and today's rain plus my weekend read equal bread baking. This loaf is nothing fancy. In fact, it's like the opposite of fancy. But it's 5 minutes of work, an hour to accomplish other items on your to-do list, and a no-fuss-no-muss loaf of bread for dinner. Or anytime you want to add carbs to your carbs. or if you're the type who needs a vehicle for butter. or jam. It's also a bread that's good for those of you scared of yeast breads (ahem, E.) because the beer carbonation and baking powder do all the work for you.

It's dense and chewy and slightly sweet and it reminds be of my long-lost source of Irish soda bread. I might not bring it to dinner, but I'll certainly make it for mine.

Beer Bread - vegan
adapted from USA Weekend Magazine

This time I used Fat Tire, but any variety should work. Every beer will give your loaf a slightly different flavor, so experiment ad nauseum! 

3 C (16 oz/450g) flour
3 Tbsp (1 oz/25 g) sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 oz (1 bottle) beer
1 egg, beaten or 1-2 Tbsp non-dairy milk (optional)

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375F.

In a medium large bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add beer and stir with a fork until just combined. Turn out onto a floured surface, knead a few times, and form into a ball. During your few kneads, add in a little flour if you think it's too wet. Place the ball onto a floured baking pan and use a sharp knife to (decisively!) slash an X on the top. If you'd like, brush the top with some milk or a beaten egg.

Bake until golden brown, 45-50 minutes. If you tap the bottom, it should sound hollow. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Luggage Tags - free printable

Happy Friday! I can't tell you how excited I am for today. I worked nine days straight in order to free up a long weekend. I'm heading to Seattle! I'm looking forward to good friends, good food, lots of laughter, and the novelty of rain. I'll be sure to keep up my self-imposed Instagram challenge @ shortandsweets.

So in celebration of travel, I'm sending you over to Living Locurto for some free luggage tags. They are sure to help you avoid grabbing someone else's black suitcase.

What are you doing this weekend? Any fun travel plans?
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