Thursday, October 30, 2014

Vegetarian Walnut ‘Bolognese’ Spaghetti Sauce – Vegan & Gluten Free

Vegetarian Walnut ‘Bolognese’ Spaghetti Sauce |

There comes a time in every cook's life when sparks of inspiration are very few and far between. When all you want to make is pizza. Or cereal. Or a pb&j. We've all been there. Don't be ashamed; there is hope for all of us.

First, embrace the laze. It's really ok to eat cereal or pizza or burritos or grilled cheese for dinner. Pancakes are also completely acceptable. No one - not you, not your loved ones - is going to become malnourished by eating boring, pedestrian, unoriginal, or otherwise repetitive and redundant dinners. Also, please note that if you're making dinner, boring or no, you're way ahead of the curve.

Next, accept that you will once again be making Pinterest-worthy dinners again.

Vegetarian Walnut ‘Bolognese’ Spaghetti Sauce – Vegan & Gluten Free |

Finally, when you're ready for your first baby step, make this sauce. It's a fabulous because all you need are some walnuts and a jar of tomato sauce. When you're tired of plain sauce, this is a lifesaver. And while that might be hyperbole, it is a nice change. It's not as good on pizza, but it's really yummy on all shapes and varieties of pasta. Best of all, make it once and you'll know the recipe by heart.

Vegetarian Walnut ‘Bolognese’ Spaghetti Sauce – Vegan & Gluten Free
adapted from The Honour System

You can either use a food processor or a regular old knife and cutting board. I've used both methods, and I say use whichever you feel like. Or produces less dishes. You know, the usual reasons. I will say that if you use a food processor, be sure not to over process the walnuts or you'll end up with flour, then butter. 

1 C walnuts, chopped
3 C (or 1 jar) tomato sauce

In a medium sauce pot, set your sauce over medium heat, add the crumbles to the sauce, and stir well. Alternately, add nuts to your pot first. Stir often while you toast the nuts a bit to add extra flavor. Add sauce to toasted nuts (be careful of spatters). Stir well. 

Serve warm sauce over pasta. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Comparison is the Thief of Joy - free printable

It seems to be a particularly female affliction, this comparing of ourselves to our friends, to ideals, to impossible standards. Lost Bumblebee and Teddy Roosevelt have it right, though. Comparison really can be a thief of joy. 

So here's a friendly reminder you can print out and tape to the mirror, your closet doors, or your best friend's face. Or, less tape required, set it as your computer or phone wallpaper/screensaver. I especially like the flower in the middle of the "o."

If you like printables, Lost Bumblebee is a treasure trove - her constant stream of creativity astounds me. 

I hope you're week is ending on a joyful note, folks. Remember:

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” 
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

Monday, October 20, 2014

5 Ingredient Pumpkin Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free

5 Ingredient Pumpkin Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free |

Less than two weeks till Halloween! Do you have your costume figured out? I think I'll go crazy and wear a fancy shirt. I don't expect any trick-or-treaters for either candy or Unicef in my neighborhood, but that doesn't mean we won't want pumpkiny goodness.

And this ice cream? It definitely qualifies as pumpkiny goodness. The fact that real, actual, honest-to-goodness pumpkin, rather than just pumpkin spices, means you can really taste the pumpkin. Does that also mean we can count it as a vegetable course? hmmm. I'm leaning toward "yes."

cinnamon sticks |

For the first time I experimented with using one can of full-fat coconut milk and one can of light coconut milk. It's good! It might not be quite as creamy as using only full-fat, but Mr Official Taster hasn't noticed, and I think it's dreamy delicious. Lower fat + pumpkin? I think that equals a firm "yes" on the vegetable question. Sweet.

5 Ingredient Pumpkin Ice Cream - vegan, gluten free |

5 Ingredient Pumpkin Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free
adapted from MindBodyGreen

As I mentioned above, you can use either two cans of full fat coconut milk OR one can full fat + one can light coconut milk.  Do you have a good spice cabinet but no pumpkin pie spice? Make your own

2 15-ounce cans of coconut milk, well shaken (see note)
1 C pumpkin puree (either canned or fresh)
1/2 C maple syrup
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp vanilla extract

and a bonus, "optional" ingredient
splash of bourbon

Add the first five ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally, and then whisk more frequently as the mixture warms up until it's fully combined and no lumps remain (a boil isn't necessary). Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate at least a few hours or overnight. 

Transfer chilled mix (plus a splash or two of bourbon, if using) to your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Anne's October - free printable

Happy Friday, all! The days are getting shorter (boy is it dark in the morning these days!), and after the last heat wave here, I think the weather has officially turned the corner. It's fall. for realsies. 

When I found this printable from On Sutton Place, it made me smile. Who can resist Anne? And I happen to agree. Octobers are pretty great. The farmers' markets, at least here in the Bay Area, can't decide what season it is, so there are watermelons, blackberries, peppers, tomatoes, apples, beets, and squash all cozied up together. It's like the best of both worlds. A few leaves have just started to change here, but I love seeing images from cooler places on social media. It's pumpkin everything season, so, yum. Halloween, candy, and my dad's birthday round out the month. 

What do you love about October?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lunchbox Multigrain Apple Crisps - vegan & gluten free

vegan, gluten free Lunchbox Multigrain Apple Crisps |

There's been a revolution in lunches here at Chez Sweets. 

I started playing with this idea over the summer, and I'm really happy about it. There are actually a couple of ideas at play, but the main one is that you can bake individual desserts - the kind that don't travel as well as a brownie or a cookie - in the relatively recent generation of storage containers. These are glass containers that are labeled as oven safe and come with tightly fitting lids. All parts are dishwasher safe, which is an excellent quality in any lunch container. 

Lunchbox Multigrain Apple Crisps - vegan, gluten free |

My mom found these glass Anchor containers for me when I first started wondering out loud about the concept, and they are pretty great. They're a nice size (1 cup), sturdy, and very packable (and not just with crisp). Full disclosure - Anchor has no idea who I am or that I am writing about their product. I just like them. 

One of the other ideas at play is that of trying to make lunches more exciting/more delicious/something to look forward to. I am happy to say that a cinnamon spiced sweet apple crisp is a sure-fire way to do so. My lunch mates this week have been happy to help themselves to a bite or two. I am dreaming of translating other recipes the same way. 

unbaked |

You don't have to make this for your lunchbox, of course. Make them in small ramekins, and voila, you have individual desserts. Serve them for guests with a dollop of whipped cream (and perhaps a decorative sprinkling of cinnamon?) for instant accolades. They are also totally healthy enough to have for breakfast. 

I've already waxed on about the portability concept, but I don't want to neglect the crisps themselves (it's bad for their self esteem). These multigrain apple crisps are super yummy! The apples are soft and sweet, and the crisp provides great contrast, not only in terms of texture, but also in flavor. The nutty and cinnamony crunch is delightful. So go forth and bake! You probably already have all the ingredients on hand. Just think how much better your brown bag lunch will look.

Multigrain Apple Crisps - vegan, gluten free |

Lunchbox Multigrain Apple Crisps - vegan & gluten free
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

For the nuts - any will work. Pick your favorite! For the pictured batch, I used pecans, but it was a tough internal struggle deciding between those and walnuts. Almonds or hazelnuts would also work well, as would an equal volume of a nut meal or flour. If you have oat flour on hand, substitute a quarter-cup of that for the first quarter-cup of rolled oats.

For the flour - again, any will work. Crisps are wonderfully forgiving in that way. The flour doesn't really bind things together with gluten here, so you can use your favorite regular, wheat, white whole wheat, nut, gluten free, or any other flour of choice. I'm thinking that rye flour might be a fun option next time. 

For the oil - I used olive oil, but you could certainly use any other vegetable oil, melted butter, melted coconut butter, or some combination thereof. I haven't tried it, but I suspect something like walnut oil would also be a yummy choice. 

Makes 8 small crisps

4 large or 5 small-medium apples (about 2 pounds)
1 Tbsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp plus 1/4 C raw, Turbinado (often sold as Sugar in the Raw) sugar, or Sucanat
1/4 C plus 3/4 C rolled oats (be sure to use certified gluten free if making for gf folks)
1/4 C sliced or slivered nuts of your choice (see note)
1/2 C whole wheat flour (or a mix; see note)
1/4 C light or dark brown sugar (I used Sucanat)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch or two of nutmeg
Two pinches sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 C plus 1 Tbsp olive oil (see note)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange either eight 6-ounce or six 8-ounce ramekins or oven-safe food storage containers (I love these) on a baking tray. Peel, halve and core apples. Dice them into somewhat small pieces - about .5-inches. Smaller pieces have several advantages; you can squish more fruit into each container, they will bake faster, and they will deflate or sink less as they cool. Toss apples with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 3 tablespoons raw sugar or Sucanat until evenly coated. Divide apples evenly between baking dishes.

Grind 1/4 cup oats with nuts in a food processor until powdery. In a medium bowl, us a fork to whisk oat/almond mixture with remaining rolled oats, wheat flour, remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and baking powder. Keep using the fork to stir in olive oil until crumbly. Divide crumbs over each dish of apples, packing them on with your palms if needed to get them all on (don’t worry, the apples will deflate a bit when they bake- see photos). If you use fewer than eight containers, you will probably have extra topping. Not to worry - save it in the freezer, and pull out anytime you want to make a couple of individual crisps with whatever leftover fruit you have on hand.

Bake apple crisps for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until you can see the juices from the apples bubbling up around the crumbs. If you start to worry about the over browning of the top, put a sheet of foil over the whole tray for remaining baking time. Let cool on rack and serve when lukewarm. Store remaining crisps in fridge. Enjoy at room temperature, or give them a quick blast in the microwave to serve warm. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Weekend Reading

a sleepy bee at Chanticleer Garden

Happy weekend, friends! I'm in the final days of vacation (back to work on Monday), as is Mr Official Taster. It's also a certain husband's birthday on Sunday! As usual, I'm more excited than he is (he's not that into birthdays. I don't understand). His big birthday present came into our lives last month (a new PS4), so this weekend will be pretty low key. He hasn't mentioned a pcake yet this year, but I also haven't come up with a new and brilliant idea. Yet. Pinterest stalking here I come.

String of pearls
in the Ruins

I'm back on the west coast after a nice trip east. I had the chance to see both some friends and some family, as well as avoid the heat wave that was happening out here. One of my favorite couples took me to Chanticleer Garden. For those of you in the Philadelphia region, it's definitely worth a visit. It's yet another estate that's been turned into a public garden, and it's really lovely. It much less informal than places like Longwood or Filoli - they even let you walk on the grass. You can spend the afternoon there, and even picnics are ok.

purple at Chanticleer Garden

This week in blogland, I told you to make some Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze and some printable thankful cards.

meet Monkey!

Meet Monkey! She does not live at Chanticleer, but rather at my friends' house. Monkey is surprisingly amenable to being picked up, though I suspect she's just gotten used to it since she doesn't really have a choice in the matter. I learned that chickens are surprisingly soft!

Onto links!

Depending on what ads you're getting on the sidebar ---> you may see one for Unicef. I encourage you to click on it (or this link), educate yourself, and ultimately donate. I did this week. As a kid, I remember lots of Halloween nights repeating "trick-or-treat for Unicef!" over and over to fill my little orange box with coins and my bag with candy. It was really a win-win. So I decided that it was time to update that childhood tradition. No candy for me, but vaccines administered, clean water provided, food fed, education offered, and disasters relieved for millions of children. Here are 8 photos of 8 things you never knew about how Unicef saves lives.

By now you have probably heard that the Nobel Peace Prize went to Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai, who both do really important work. I think it was a stroke of brilliance to split the prize this way, as Malala's fame helps shine a light on Kailash's noble work. Malala was on with John Stewart last year as part of her book tour, and the way she speaks and her courage gave me chills. Go watch - even if it's just the first part, you won't regret it.

Typical. Buddy lookin cute while doing something he shouldn't. Roomba a blur of happy and using her butt to move him out of the way

Colorado, what are you doing?!

The University of Illinois has put together a comprehensive stain removal guide, which seems like one of those handy bookmarks.

Some community colleges are trying something new - avoiding the dreaded remedial algebra classes in favor of what turn out to be higher level math classes. Students enrolled in these pilot programs have a much greater graduation rate.

A smart op-ed in from The New York Times on the diversity of Islam

In case you didn't fully realize it, what with the pumpkin everything that's out there, some lovely photos of fall color.

In a shameless plug, have you tried my pumpkin chili? There are actual (and delicious) chunks of pumpkin in it.

From The Kitchn, 5 ways to make your jack-o-lantern last longer.

If you're wondering, 7 strange questions that help you find your life purpose.

What children's' breakfasts around the world look like.

How to preserve roasted sweet peppers and herbs in olive oil.

Numi Tea, which I love, is running an Instagram fund-raiser/prize drawing. All you have to do is tag a photo with hashtag #4H2OPE and they donate $1 to @charitywater. (Numi has no idea who I am. I just find their tea delicious)

From the Center for Food Safety, info and an app that helps you avoid GMOs.

It turns out that not only do we have GMOs to worry about, now there is synthetically modified food to sort out.

A splurge or scrimp restaurant edition to help you choose when to go out and when to make your own.

A conversation about the best non-tofu vegetarian meal ideas for the holidays.

Looking for more great reads? Find more editions of weekend reading here

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thankful Cards - free printable

Are you a person or a family that has their act together enough to have thankful cards each November? It sounds like a good idea, but I usually remember it about halfway through the month, at which point it seems silly, or, more likely, I have 50,000 other things to worry about, what with Thanksgiving being right around the corner. I sound like a terribly ungrateful person in that very long sentence. But I'm not!

I do like the idea - to make Thanksgiving more than a day. To make it into a month-long thought on gratitude seems healthy. and grateful. 

So maybe this year we'll all try? Perhaps these cute tags will inspire you? Emily (their creator) has each member of her family fill one out each day (no duplicates!), and then they hang them on a "thankful tree" (i.e. branches in a vase). I think kid answers would be sometimes hilarious, and that adult answers would be sometimes caffeine related. 

What do you think? Have you tried to write down something to be grateful for each day in November? How does your family do it? Display on a tree? Put them all in a jar to read at once? Tell us!

Over on the Facebooks, I'm curious about slow cookers. Do you have one? Do you hate it? Do you use it every day? or does it take up valuable kitchen space and collect dust? I'm on the fence about getting one. Is it worth it if I don't cook meat?

p.s today I'm thankful for paid vacation time!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze – vegan

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze |

hello, friends! Today I give you yummy nummy (now a word, btw) pumpkin cinnamon rolls with...drumroll please....maple glaze. I've been teasing you since last week, so it seems only fair to share the love. And love it really is.

risen but unbaked pumpkin cinnamon rolls |

I'm one of those people who feed people as an expression of love, as a welcome-to-my-home, as an are-you-ok, as an I-hope-you-feel-better-how-can-I-help, as a hello-nice-to-meet-you-I-hope-you-like-me kind of a thing. I hope other people see it as such, but even if they don't, a) I hope it makes them feel better, even if they don't know why and b) it makes me feel better. And in a weird kind of way, sometimes presenting a dish that's more complicated or time consuming than usual makes me feel like I'm giving them more and showing I care even more. Do you other cooks and bakers out there feel the same way, or is that a Kate Special?

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze, vegan |

Anyway, these pumpkin cinnamon rolls fall into that category. I'm not going to make these all the time, but when I do make them, know that you're special. or that I want to impress you. or both. Because they are impressive (ask my coworkers) and they are delicious (ask my mouth) and they aren't as hard as they look (yay). The perfect trifecta.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze – vegan |

These buns are full of sweet, gooey, pumpkin, cinnamony goodness. As with my other go-to brunch recipe, you can prepare them at night, go get some sleep, and bake them fresh in the morning. Side note: the overnight route is really, really, really the way to go if you are hosting breakfast/brunch. It's a win-win- you don't have wake up stupid early, and you and your guests get fresh, out of the oven yummies. Also, a more relaxed host(ess) makes for a better party.

vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze |

In an effort to help make clear possibly hard-to-understand directions, for the first time I enlisted Mr Official Taster's help in creating a short video for you. I wanted to give the time-lapse feature on my iPhone a try. There is no sound, and if you want to make it larger, click on the button on the bottom right that has the four arrows to make it full screen. Update: the video doesn't seem to be showing up on mobile devices, and I don't know why. Hopefully I can figure it out. Until then, here's a link to the video:


For the most part, I'm pretty happy with it. I know the lighting is not great, and next time he'll stand on a stool behind me for a better birds-eye perspective. But I'm really curious about your reaction. Is is helpful? Do you like it? Is it long enough? too long? Unnecessary? Speak your mind, please!

Also, please make these for someone you love. Neither of you will regret it!

Not into pumpkin? Try my regular cinnamon rolls- they're yummy too.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Maple Glaze – vegan

Though the written recipe is long, it is not particularly difficult, and the end results are well worth it. I chose to use coconut oil in place of vegan butter throughout this recipe, but either works, and I can imagine that Earth Balance vegan butter would impart a nice buttery flavor. Note that vegan butter is salted, so if you go that route, be sure to use the smaller salt measurement.

If you need this recipe to be corn free, powdered (AKA confectioners’) sugar is not your friend since it's sugar+cornstarch. I can think of three options here. A) Make the glaze, but don’t drizzle over the top. Allow everyone you’re serving to choose whether to add it to his or her portion. B) Skip the glaze and just top with maple syrup. C) Make your own corn-free powdered sugar by whirring an equal volume of regular or superfine white sugar in a food processor. Basically, you grind it down into finer grains. It’s not exactly the same as powdered sugar, but it’s a pretty good substitute.

1 C pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
1 C nondairy milk
½ C plus 1 Tbsp sugar, divided
½ C vegan butter or coconut oil
½ -1 tsp salt (see note)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ lukewarm water (about 110F)
2 ¼ tsp (or 1 packet) active dry yeast
5 C all-purpose flour (I used white whole wheat), divided, plus more for rolling

¾ C brown sugar (I used Sucanat)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
4 Tbsp vegan butter or coconut oil, melted
1 C raisins (optional)

Glaze (see note)
½ C powdered sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
Up to a few tablespoons water, as needed

Make the dough
In a medium saucepan, whisk the pumpkin, nondairy milk, ½ cup sugar, coconut oil or butter, and salt over low heat until combined. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Let cool until lukewarm, about 110 degrees F.

While the pumpkin mixture is cooling, place the warm water, remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, and yeast in a 1-cup glass measuring cup. Stir for a second or two and set aside for about 10 minutes. The yeast will become foamy, double in size, and reach the ¾-cup line. If it does not do so, then either your yeast was dead or the water was too hot (and killed the yeast); make another yeast mixture before proceeding.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the pumpkin mixture and the yeast mixture. Beat at a medium speed for about 1 minute. Add 2 ½ cups flour, and stir on low until incorporated. Add the remaining 2 ½ cups flour and repeat. The dough will be somewhat sticky. Exchange the paddle attachment for the dough hook and knead on a medium speed for about 2 minutes.

To save yourself from washing an extra bowl, gather the dough ball and balance on one hand. With the other, spray the mixing bowl with nonstick spray. Return the dough to the bowl, and then turn it over so the entire ball is coated with oil. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the bowl as it rises. Cover with a kitchen towel or shower cap, place in a warm spot, and let sit until it has doubled in size (about 1 ½ hours, less if it’s a warm day).

Remove cover and punch down the dough so that it deflates. Take the dough out and put it on a lightly floured surface. Recover with the kitchen towel and let rest for about 10 minutes.

Make the filling & assemble the rolls
While the dough is resting, lightly grease a 9- x 13-inch baking pan. Combine brown sugar or Sucanat, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Aim for a 20- x 13-inch rectangle (it doesn’t need to be exact). Brush or spread the melted oil over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly across the surface. If you like raisins in your cinnamon rolls, sprinkle them evenly over the surface at this point.

With the long edge of the dough rectangle close to you, roll the dough up away from you, so you are creating an approximately 20-inch long log. (see video above) With the seam side down, use a sharp knife to cut the log in half. Then cut each roll into 6 equal pieces (observant readers will notice I ended up with 13 pieces. It is a-ok). Ideally, you will have 12 cinnamon rolls. Place the rolls, swirled side up, into the prepared pan, in 4 rows with 3 rolls in each row. You don’t need to smoosh them together – the next rise will take care of that.

If you’re baking them right away, cover pan with a dry kitchen towel, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise a second time for about an hour. If, however, you are assembling them at night and plan to bake them in the morning, cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place the fridge overnight. Remove them in the morning at about the same time you start to preheat your oven.

All together now - once the cinnamon rolls have risen, preheat your oven to 375F. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes. When fully cooked, they will be lightly brown on top, and a toothpick or a knife inserted in the center will come out free of dough. (Do check. Don’t be as impatient as I was the first time). Let the rolls cool for about 10 minutes before glazing.

Make the glaze
In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and maple syrup. If it’s too thick, add water, a little bit at a time, until smooth and drizzle-able.

Drizzle glaze over the rolls. Proceed to stuff the warm pumpkin cinnamon gooey goodness into your mouth. Alternatively, use a fork and a plate for maximum politeness.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Weekend Reading

assembled late at night

When this post gets published, I will be high above the country, hopefully sleeping. Scheduled posts can be a great thing! I'm looking forward to spending some time on the east coast, and I'm happy my trip coincides with this heat wave we have going on over here. Seriously, 90+ degrees in October is too much. Mr Official Taster and the puppies are welcome to it.

In blog life, this week I brought you vegan, maple-sweetened Pumpkin Cornbread and linked you over to some picture-perfect homemade vanilla extract labels (and recipe).

Also, YES, I am a total tease with the Instagram this week. #sorrynotsorry

Anyway, I'm not planning on abandoning you fine folks even though I'm on vacation, so check back next week. All the teasing will be over :)

starting my morning right

Onto links!

After lots of work, the movement against female genital mutilation is getting the spotlight in the U.K.

Apparently, stress can literally break your heart. (not a sad ending)

Be excited - Book It! is here for adults.

Overnight steel cut oats in jars.

Interesting idea- using anthropologists may be a great way to help combat Ebola.

Latke waffles. YES PLEASE

In case you hadn't heard the Very Exciting News, Netflix is now streaming Gilmore Girls in its entirety. There seems to be a bit of an obsession.

Even when it's legal, abortions can be lethal if there aren't enough medical professionals to serve the community.

Oh, University of Michigan, this is just embarrassing. Did you not think before you wrote?

Friday, October 3, 2014

DIY Vanilla Extract and Printable Labels

Happy Friday! If you're a careful Instagram follower, you know that I am officially on vacation. If you're not, that's ok, because, guys, guess what? I'm on vacation!

I'm treating myself to a yummy breakfast (it's in the oven), that I will hopefully be sharing with you next week. For the first time in a long time, I'm flying east to Home. I get to see parents, relatives, and friends. I plan on apples and cool weather. I'm excited.

Here in the Bay Area we are experiencing an October heat wave. Do we still use the term "Indian Summer"? Please advise.

For today's printable, I'm sending you over to Adventures in Cooking for a two-for. Clicking over will get you a recipe for homemade vanilla extract as well as a template to label them. Because you know what? Now is the perfect time to start if you want to give some away during the month of December. just saying.

Now, if you're like me, and somewhat in denial about the whole thing, that's ok. Make some for yourself!

I hope you're week has gone well. I really hope you all get to be on vacation too, but that seems unlikely. High fives if you are!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pumpkin Cornbread - vegan

Pumpkin Cornbread

A few weeks ago, I boldly promised to keep this a "pumpkin-spice-anything-free zone," and I'm proud to say that's still true. I will admit, however, that I noticed a loophole and decided to take advantage of it. You see, I didn't outlaw actual pumpkin. Sneaky, you accuse? Yep. But, in my defense, loopholes are a proud American tradition, and it is technically fall now, so pumpkin is actually appropriate.

Pumpkin Cornbread, vegan

I came across a recipe for a honey pumpkin cornbread, started making it, realized my cornmeal was not-so-good, ran and got a new bag, finished the recipe, and after all of that, was supremely disappointed. It was dry. It was boring. It tasted like pumpkin but not at all like cornbread. Or honey, particularly, come to think of it. I knew I liked the idea in general, so I basically tore the recipe up (well, virtually tore it up. and by "tore it up" I mean I no longer have it Pinned) and started all over.

Pumpkin Cornbread - vegan

I switched from honey to maple syrup and reduced the volume. I got rid of an egg and some pumpkin-y spices. I introduced creamed corn to the ingredient list and reduced the milk. A few other tweaks, and I was ready to try again.

vegan Pumpkin Cornbread

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner. This pumpkin cornbread blends and balances both flavors so that you can really tell each is there. It's moist (even the next day) and not too sweet. In short, it's all the good things that cornbread should be.

Pumpkin Cornbread - vegan
a Short & Sweets original

If you make this when there is still fresh corn available, I think a handful of fresh kernels would be a tasty addition. I see no reason why you couldn't make either mini or jumbo muffins and adjust the bake time accordingly. Also, I haven't tried myself, but they should freeze just fine if well-wrapped.

If you are looking for a breakfast treat, drizzle some maple syrup over a warm muffin. It's fabulous on a fall morning. Otherwise, I recommend pairing these with black bean sweet potato chili or red bean chili. Or, if you want to go pumpkin-crazy, pumpkin chili

3/4 C non-dairy milk
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 C yellow cornmeal
1 C whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (or melted coconut oil or vegan butter)
3/4 C canned pumpkin
3/4 C creamed corn
1/4 C maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener)

In a medium-sized non-reactive bowl or large glass measuring cup, combine non-dairy milk and vinegar. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a standard, 12 cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners. 

In a large bowl, stir flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt together. Whisk oil, pumpkin, creamed corn, and maple syrup into the milk+vinegar mixture. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Divide batter evenly among muffin tins. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs attached.

Cool for 5 or 10 minutes in the pan, then remove and serve immediately or allow to cool completely on a wire rack. In an airtight container, muffins stay moist for 3-4 days. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekend Reading

How does this always happen? It's not like the library is going to run out

hello and happy weekend! It's the first weekend of fall, though it may not feel quite like it yet (and that's ok). I'm dreaming of my first great apple of the season. My great apple is crunchy, probably red (or mostly red), and has a bold mix of sweet and tart. I haven't found it yet, but if I keep on keeping on, I'm bound to, right? Peaches and apples can't both be disappointing this year.

It rained again! This time, it was definitely more of a real rain. It was sustained over several hours overnight, and it sounded soft and nourishing. It was a pretty great sound to wake up to if you're going to wake up in the middle of the night. It was done by the time I woke up for good, but evidence remained through much of the day. hurrah! Now, let's have that happen a hundred more times, please.

Buddy helped me watch The Roosevelts this week, and I couldn't resist when he started dancing in his sleep. #sorrynotsorry

Also this week here in Short & Sweets land, I shared how I make a better pb&j and some handy dandy food labels. How was your week?

Onto links!

Emma Watson is doing good. The sexual attacks on her are an attack on every woman. Be sure to watch her speech, too (video at top of article). Can you imagine giving that speech to the United Nations for crying out loud when you were just 24?

As women and families have been doing for just about ever - when abortions are illegal, they find ways to get them. This sounds like one of the better ones.

Are you a pie baker? An ah-ha moment from a master about making crust.

Beautiful challah

Fortune and Food & Wine got together and came up with a list of the most innovative women in food and drink

Learning to let yourself off the hook.

Go Barley looks like a good cookbook to peruse this fall.

As it's officially fall, and therefore the start of soup season, this white bean and arborio rice soup sounds good.

3 vegetarian substitutes for gelatin.

Alicia Keys got naked for twelve non-profits she feels deserves your attention (and money). She's not wrong. 

Thirty years ago, TV gave us one of its greatest feminists.

A yummy looking gluten free cinnamon apple bread from KAF.

Food for thought: good gifts for families in need

Want more great reads? Check out all weekend reading posts here.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Food Allergy Labels for Your Next Party - free printable

Happy Friday!!

Today's free printable might help you next time you throw a party. It seems as though there are always a variety of food allergies/preferences/intolerances/pickiness/trends/whathaveyou to navigate when you feed people these days. Obviously, I have some sympathy for these people (but, come on, can you really only eat blueberries picked by fairies in the moonlight and washed with the tears of babies?). These signs should make everyone more comfortable

Holiday events, parties, and even weddings are obviously great times to use these, but they are neutral in theme, so I suggest you print a set (or two?) and laminate them for reuse. As someone who has dealt with my own and my family's allergies forever, it can sometimes be awkward to find out what exactly the food on the table is. As a host, I want my guests to feel comfortable in my home, and a large part of that feeling (at least for me) is knowing what is safe to eat. These labels are a fabulous solution. 

You can also go the slightly less classy route of writing on butcher paper. But these charmers are prettier!

I hope your week has gone well! Did you get a chance to try my pb&j suggestion? Any new favorite combinations? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Build a Better PB&J - free of everything you want

Build a Better PB&J |

I can't take any credit for this one. My friend S nearly always packs her lunch, and it always looks super yummy and super healthy. I first noticed these sandwiches a while back; it took me a long time to give it a try. I'm SO GLAD I did. 

Here's the thing: I've never liked PB&Js. I like bread. I like peanut butter. I like jam. I like bread with peanut butter. I like bread with jam. But I don't like all three all together. I know. I'm kind of a weirdo. Even my mom thinks so. 

farmers' market raspberries |

But it turns out that I do like peanut butter and fruit. A lot. And just about any fruit will work here. While visiting, my mom made a peanut butter and nectarine sandwich she was quite happy with. Fresh blackberries are excellent. Sliced strawberries, sliced apples, and sliced bananas are all good. 

Besides the obvious benefit of no added sugar, you can make this breakfast/snack/lunch-if-you-add-another-piece-of-bread-and-pack-it-safely free of whatever allergen you need to. Regular or gluten free bread, any nut butter or sun butter, fruit of choice. It's that easy. 

build a better Peanut Butter Sandwich |

For those of you who like instruction to come with your food photos, here goes:
  1. Spread nut or non-nut butter of your choice on a favorite slice of bread.
  2. Arrange fruit or slices of fruit (if large, like strawberries, bananas, apples, peaches, etc) on top in rows, or however the fruit is telling you to do so. 
  3. If you're extra hungry, spread another piece of bread with nut/non-nut butter and place, sticky side down, on top of fruit. 
  4. Eat. Enjoy. nom nom nom
I especially like this in the morning with a hot cup of tea. 

Have you tried this before? What are your favorite combinations?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend Reading

it rained! (however briefly)

Weekend reading is back! 

Other than that, the big news here is that it rained! Water actually came down from the sky. It wasn't long, and it wasn't much, but it was welcome nonetheless. I fully admit to running outside to smell it and feel it on my face. I went back inside, ate breakfast, and by that time, the rain was done. Sad face. 

I don't really have any exciting weekend plans- how about you? I think we are going to fill our time with exciting things like laundry, cleaning, errands. Sexy stuff. But it's those chores that help make a house a home, don't you think? 

This week on Short & Sweets, I shared my fruit topped citrus olive oil mini muffins (because mini is better), and found you cute labels for your herb and spice jars. (because Friday free printables are also back)

active cuddling.

Onto links!

Slow Flowers is a database of florists and farms around the U.S. that offer American, locally grown blooms. With all this beauty, who needs their flowers to fly up from South America?

For those of us still hanging on to summer, cucumber lemonade from the always delicious Smitten Kitchen.

6 crazy GIFs that really show the startling reality of California's drought. (side rant: stop watering your lawns, people!)

Herb-infused whipped cream. hmmm. Interesting!

Do you need some cuteness in your morning? Seth Casteel photographed puppies in a pool. That's right. Underwater puppies learning to swim. They're hard not to smile at.

On growing up.

A list of the best apples for baking.

on finding beauty. and kindness.

A handy guide to tofu.

Barnraiser - like Kickstarter, but for farmers. Sounds intriguing.

(vegan) Peach Cardamom Pie with a coconut oil crust. I've been contemplating trying that idea out for a while, so I'm happy to see that Ashlae has figured it out for me

Curried Roasted Eggplant with Smoked Cardamom and Coconut Milk sounds good, even though I don't love eggplant. and it looks really pretty.

From Bon Appetit, an interesting look at what a recipe editor does.

And in a shameless plug, I made some banana bread granola this week, and I'm still in love with it.

Want more great reads? Check out all weekend reading posts here.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Printable Herb & Spice Jar Labels

Happy Friday! I realized that at some point I let my tradition of free-printable-Friday posts lapse. Bad blogger. So I thought it would be a good idea to bring it back. Good blogger. (here's hoping I can remember to keep it up!)

I always find it fun to go on interweb hunts for free printables that aren't totally out there in crazy land. And by crazy land, I mean printables for projects not based in reality, but instead in Pinterest-Land, which is a different (crazy) beast altogether.

So today I'm sending you over to Lia Griffith for these charming herb and spice labels. There are two designs: this chalkboard style and another that looks like kraft paper. Perhaps you're using this in-between time of year to do some back-to-school, autumnal, or pre-holiday madness cleaning or organizing (and perhaps you'd like to come visit?). If so, I think these labels are a great option to not just feel more organized but to look more organized, which is sometimes really the key to these things. Sometimes I think I should really do something about my own unorganized mishmash of herbs and spices, but, well if it ain't broke and all that...

That, and we don't have a printer these days.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fruit Topped Citrus Olive Oil Muffins - dairy free

Blueberry Topped Citrus Olive Oil Muffins |

Can we take a minute and just appreciate the cuteness of mini things? They're just better.

That's right, take a moment. Enjoy the cuteness.

Now that we've got that (mostly) out of the way, let's talk about how delicious they are. Because they are. They're perfect little sweet morsels for parties, for lunch boxes, for a breakfast treat. And the other great thing about them is that they are relatively healthy. Heart healthy olive oil, fruit, and not an overwhelming amount of sugar means you can feel good ok about stuffing twelve into your mouth. Not that I've ever tried anything like that.

Fruit Topped Citrus Olive Oil Muffins, dairy free |

These (cute) little bite sized treats were very popular party treats last month. They're nice and light, sweet, and the fruit pieces give nice juicy bursts. Olive oil is one of those ingredients that people (ahem. Mr Official Taster) think sounds odd as part of a baked good, but, invariably, if they try it, they like it. Olive oil pairs especially well with citrus or rosemary, which makes sense given their shared growing region (like how tomatoes and basil go together).

Fruit Topped Citrus Olive Oil Muffins - dairy free |

You might look at the written recipe and think it's too fussy. Think again. Although these yummies are not one-bowl wonders, they're really pretty easy, hard to mess up, and worth a couple dirty bowls. Additionally, you could definitely make a batch and freeze some for later. Put them in your freezer, label them, and forget about them. That way, you will be rooting around looking for some corn for chili one day and come across your stash. It'll be on par with finding a $5 in your jeans.

But way cuter.

Strawberry Topped Citrus Olive Oil Muffins, dairy free |

Fruit Topped Citrus Olive Oil Muffins - dairy free
adapted from How to Cook Everything

The fruit topping is completely adaptable to what you like, what allergies you may be dealing with, or even what colors you want. Red and blue are great for July 4th or Memorial Day parties. How about star fruit? Red and green (kiwis, perhaps?) for Christmas. Or pink raspberries for a little kid's birthday party. You get the idea- have fun! 

cooking spray (or liners) for pan
4 eggs, separated and room temperature
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
1/4 + 3/4 C sugar
2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 C orange juice
zest of one lemon, orange, or lime (grapefruit should be yummy too)
chopped or whole berries (or other fruit)

Separate your eggs when you first take them out of the refrigerator because it's easier when they are cold. Then allow them to come to room temperature for 30 min or so.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or line muffin or mini muffin trays.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs whites in a small bowl until they foam. Then sprinkle in 1/4 C sugar while still beating the whites. Continue beating until the whites hold soft peaks.

In a large bowl, add the olive oil and 3/4 C sugar and beat together. Add the egg yolks and beat until thick and fluffy (5-7 minutes). Mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Next, mix in the orange juice and zest. The mixture will be very thick and/or crumbly. If it's crumbly, add in a splash more of juice. Don't despair.

Add the beaten egg whites to this thick mixture. As gently as possible, thoroughly fold together the batter and egg whites. You may think they will never combine, but they will.

Spoon batter into cupcake pans. I used minis and topped each muffin with a couple blueberries or a slice or two of strawberry. Do what makes you happy.

Turn the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean), depending on muffin size. Obviously, mini muffins will cook a few minutes faster than standard size ones. (15ish for minis, 18-20 for standards) Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...