Saturday, February 22, 2014

Weekend Reading

Chocolate preview

Happy Weekend! I hope it's a good one. I've got a long list, but it feels like a happy list. It's a beautiful day here in the Bay Area, and I'm looking forward to spending some time outdoors. Well, that and chocolate.

What are you up to this weekend? Is it still snow-covered in the rest of the country, or are you starting to see signs of spring?

Onto links! Please add your own in the comments! I'd love to know what's interesting you this weekend.

This week the husband told me that the Facebook app reads text messages. It's in a new update for Android, but has been going on for some time on iPhone. Not surprisingly, it's part of the terms of service no one (including me) bothers to read, but when I found out, I uninstalled the app from my phone. Unfortunately, that means I can't automatically send Instagram photos to Facebook any more, but that seems like a small price to pay.

O.M.G. David Attenborough narrates Olympic curling and it. is. amazing.

Mr Official Taster has a weird liking of having facial hair. Maybe we could do something like this? Unfortunately he doesn't own one, much less two, dinosaur shirts.

mmmm...Clementine Margaritas

This was a bad week in Kansas AND in Arizona. Americans need to remember that every single one of us could be denied service for some reason, and every single one of us would hate it. And how stubborn it might make us.

An interesting experiment in which women get the star treatment and hate the results. I can relate- I remember getting back some headshots in my previous life and not liking them because my freckles had been erased. The face smiling back at me wasn't my own.

Nutrition is confusing.

A practical guide to picking a light bulb. I know it's not too exciting, but man are there a lot of choices.

Did you know Lincoln (yes, the president) cooked? It seems he did and now you can read about his life, his food, and how the two intertwined.

Still have jam you're trying to get through before the new canning season? Besides ice cream, here are 10 things to do with it (aside from topping toast)

Make your own peppermint patties. please? and then give me some.

Looking for more good reads? Check out all my other Weekend Reading posts.

Double-Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake Muffins - vegan

Double-Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake Muffins - vegan

If you were looking for Valentine inspiration, I'm about a week and half late with these. Bad blogger. If you are looking for easy, chocolate deliciousness, then I'm right on time. Good blogger.

Double-Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake Muffin - vegan

Side note: Are you a blogger who also has a day job? Can you tell me how you do it? How do you keep yourself organized and so on top of things - like holidays - that you can have appropriate posts up just when your readers are looking for ideas? Because I haven't figured it out yet, and I'd really like to. If I was awesome, I would have given these to you more than a week and a half ago, and I would have given you several other delicious desserts, drinks, and main courses to choose from. Really, how do you do it?

Aside from being tardy, these muffins/cupcakes are great. They were originally billed as muffins, but I really can't justify calling them that. There's no hint of hearty or healthy. They're delicate, sweet, and (I can hardly believe I'm saying this) don't need frosting to make them perfect for dessert. The chocolate chips gift your palette concentrated richness, while the raspberries shower your mouth in juicy goodness.

These guys are also really easy, come together quickly, and if you don't count measuring cups and spoons, are a one bowl wonder. I first made these for Valentine's Day, but we ate them so quickly I didn't have time to photograph them, so I just had to make them again. Tough job, but someone's gotta do it.

Valentine flowers

Through the magic of weird scheduling, I have a three day weekend starting today, and I can't wait to catch up on my cooking magazine reading, run the dog, lounge on the couch, clean up the backyard a bit (guys! Spring is springing!), catch up on some correspondence, walk along the water, and read as many books as I can. Perhaps even plan a vacation and limit my cupcake intake to just a couple.

vegan Double-Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake Muffins

On the other hand, if I call them muffins, then they are breakfast-appropriate.

Double-Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake Muffins - vegan
adapted from How About Orange

So, here's the thing. It's February and fresh raspberries are very dear, so I only used frozen when I made these. I deliberately left the bake time loose because I believe that if you use fresh, they'll bake completely in 20-22 minutes, but with the juices released from frozen berries, mine took almost 30 minutes each time. I added the frozen raspberries to the batter still frozen rather than thawing+draining them.

These are great as is. However, if you want to dress them up with frosting, I recommend something like light like coconut whipped cream. In fact, that was my plan, and I even have several cans of coconut milk in the fridge, but I found it was unnecessary.

Makes 18-20 muffins. I successfully halved the recipe. The only weird measure to divide is the flour, and I've included my math below.

2 1/3 C all purpose flour (half is 1 C + 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp) (I used white whole wheat)
1½ C sugar (I used sucanat)
½ C unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ tsp baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ tsp canola or other neutral flavored vegetable oil
½ tsp distilled white vinegar (I used my raspberry vinegar, but any will do, as will lemon juice)
1½ C water
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ C dairy free semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
1½ C fresh or frozen raspberries (see note)
sparkling sugar (optional) or frosting (see note)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350˚F. Line one (or two if you've got them) 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. If the mixture is very lumpy, you can pass it through a sieve or sifter, but I didn't find I needed to. In a medium bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the oil, vinegar, vanilla, and water. Make a well in the flour mixture and gradually pour in the oil mixture, whisking as you go. Fold in the chocolate chips and about two-thirds of the raspberries. Spoon into prepared muffin pans; fill each about 3/4 full. Garnish with the remaining raspberries and sugar if you'd like.

Bake until the tops spring back when pressed lightly in the center with a fingertip, 20 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for a few minutes, then remove cupcakes from pan and allow to cool or serve warm. These are best when eaten the day within a day or two of being baked. I haven't tried freezing them, but I don't see why you couldn't.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend Reading


Happy weekend, all! I hope you're having a good one, staying warm, and either relaxing or being productive (whichever your goal is). If you celebrate it, did you have a good Valentine's Day? We don't care too much about it here, but I did get flowers and we cooked dinner together.

Onto links!

I've started a new Pinterest board where I'm sharing Last Night's Dinner. So far, it's been a nice little personal push to keep trying new things and not just throwing together pasta and sauce and a salad again. Some of the recipes are from Short & Sweets, but not all. On Friday we made these veggie burgers and fries, and they turned out pretty well. The fries were especially, surprisingly, good.

A journalist finds that Shaun White is still a good guy after all

A new study reinforces the idea that full fat may not be so bad after all.

Dogs doing good.

A Dallas sports anchor delivers a great response to Michael Sam's critics.

Do you know about forced molt? Apparently (another) horrible aspect of large egg producers is another reason to seek out the happy chickens near you.

I read several good articles about motherhood/parenting this week- was it something in the air? From A Practical Wedding, Meg's look back at her first year of being a mom. Two letters - one from a working mom to a stay-at-home mom and vice versa. Finally, the response of a dad in defense of his wife.

Upworthy delivers again- a French film in which gender roles are reversed. note: brief nudity

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Etsy Love - Olympic Edition

When I first decided I wanted to look around Etsy for Olympic stuff, I had no idea what I'd find. To be honest, there's a lot of crap. (Sadly, Regretsy is no longer a site. Good news, snarky people: I found a new one to troll) But there are some good finds if you have the patience to wade through the muck.

These earrings are lovely! Laurel wreaths for you, because you're a winner of something.

Know an ice hockey fan? Cuff links for the win!

Looking for a new bag to tote your medals around? This one will even keep them warm.

Plan ahead and get a pretty ice skate ornament for your next tree. You can't lose!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free

Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream vegan, gf

Are you spending inordinate amounts of time watching the Olympics? I've been watching a couple hours in the afternoon, but when they start up the broadcast again at 8pm it's practically bedtime. Sad, but true. I suspect, however, as the games continue, I will stay up later, watch more, and sleep less. Man, getting that antenna is really cutting into my beauty rest!

vegan & gluten free Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream from above
vegan Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream

In other news, it stopped raining (sad face), but on the plus side, I've noticed that the sun is still shining after 5pm. Spring is on the way! All you folks facing yet another snowstorm, take heart! I even saw an ad today for spring flowers and gardening tools.

Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free

I've made gingerbread ice cream in the past, but this time I wanted it to be both dairy free and really, strongly, gingerbread cookie-like in flavor. I was so pleased with how coconut milk worked in my homemade jam ice cream that I knew I had to use it again.

Mr Official Taster (the big ice cream eater of the family) prefers spicy gingerbread cookies to sweeter ones, so I used those as inspiration. The biggest flavor influence is choosing ginger as one of the spices to give the ice cream that signature bite. The sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves all play a sweet/savory role and balance the taste.

Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream, vegan & gluten free

Because this is not a sweet ice cream, it goes particularly well with sweet desserts like apple tarts. Although I haven't tried it, I imagine this spicy gingerbread ice cream would pair beautifully with chocolate pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie, and snickerdoodle muffins. Or you could go another direction and enjoy it alongside some hot tea, coffee, or, dare I suggest, Irish coffee to help take the chill off?

So even though it's cold outside, I still think you need to go make this ice cream. Tonight, if possible. 

melting Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream (vegan & gluten free)

You can always snuggle in front of the Olympics for extra warmth.

Spicy Gingerbread Ice Cream - vegan & gluten free
a Short & Sweets original

Below is the full-sized version, but I've also made a half batch successfully, which comes in handy if you live with someone who will eat however much is in the freezer. I have not tried making this with the low fat version of canned coconut milk because it's the fat that makes it so decadent and creamy. If you want to lower the fat, I would first try this recipe with one can of full fat and one can of low fat. Then let us know how it goes, mmmkay? For a sweeter version, skip the ginger, cut down the cinnamon to 1 tsp, and increase the sugar to 1/2 C. 

2 cans full-fat coconut milk (see note)
2 Tbsp molasses
1/3 C brown sugar or sucanat
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
pinch of salt
gingerbread cookie dough (optional- try this one or this one)

Add the milk, molasses, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat, whisking occasionally, on medium until steam rises from the milk and the sugar is fully dissolved (about 5 minutes or so). Remove from heat and cool completely (2+ hours in the fridge; you can speed things up by sticking it in the freezer instead). Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

If you want to add in pieces of cookie dough:
When I have done so, I've added somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 C of cookie dough pieces (recipes here and here) towards the end of the ice cream maker's work, because that's what the machine's instruction manual said to do. I have no idea if you can add things like chocolate chips/cookie dough/gummie bears at the beginning or not. But I suspect that adding them in the last 5 minutes or so ensures they are well mixed in and don't just sink to the bottom.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Weekend Reading

Cherry blossoms in the rain

Happy Sunday! I hope you had a good week. Friday night I really wanted to make cookies, but I chose the (somewhat) healthier approach and tried a new banana bread recipe instead. I should have stuck with a known winner, because, guys, this is perhaps the flattest banana bread in the history of banana bread. It didn't rise hardly at all, and as a result it's intensely dense. It is a good vehicle for peanut butter, but then most things are. So that was a bummer. But in other (happier) news, I gave in to Olympic fever and bought an indoor antenna (we don't have cable). We got this one, and it seems to work really well. I'm excited to park myself in front of the tv and immerse myself in sporting greatness. What are you up to?

Onto the links!

I found this a while ago, forgot about it, and found it again. The numbers may be slightly outdated, but the gist is the same - homemade wins

CVS is awesome! They've decided to give up $2 billion (yes, billion with a b) in annual revenue and stop selling tobacco products this year. They just won my business.

mmmm...Vegetarian Steamed Buns from The Kitchn

Even if you're not living in California, water is a precious resource. Here are almost 200 ways to save.

From NPR, a story about how American farmers and food companies go GMO-free.

Farmers in the midwest are increasingly trying out other fruit and vegetable crops besides corn. Why? Well, money talks, but supportive programs and education and the local food movement are all part of the mix.

Pesto pasta with lemon, spinach, edamame, and toasted almonds sounds like a cure for the winter blues.

Need a fun project? How about some homemade cereal tea?

Speaking of projects, it's great when practical ideas work in the real world, especially when they save babies' lives.

Make your own vegan caramel sauce with almondmilk.

How treating workers better equals better profits. More money for employees, more money for the bottom line. Sounds like a win-win.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekend Reading


Good afternoon, friends. As I type this, I've got pizza dough rising, I just finished caramelizing some onions, and the Super Bowl is streaming in the living room. My parents are here and it's raining. All in all, a good day. How about you?

This week, here's some of what I found intriguing:

A conversation on the work-life balance and how to manage/create/deal with/remember it.

If you're a blogger, or a regular reader of blogs, you may find Design Sponge's State of the Blog Union interesting. I did.

What a smart idea! Mini tarts in mason jar lids

Another one of BuzzFeed's annoying/oddly addicting quizes tells me that cheese, yes cheese, matches my personality. In their words,
You’re cheese. You go well with almost anything. Sometimes you’re a little nerdy, but you’re wise. You can appreciate things that are both highbrow and lowbrow. And in the end, you make a lot of people happy.

I'm not terribly surprised, but cheerleading is a scam

Looking for pizza inspiration? A conversation about making great vegan pizza at home

A nice followup article about California's cottage industry law that went into effect a year ago 

Looking for more good reads? Check out all my other Weekend Reading posts here.
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