Thursday, September 30, 2010

Holy Tofu Scramble Batman! 500 Vegans!

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A wiseman once said "Life moves pretty fast - if you don't stop and look around once and awhile you could miss it."

I wanted to do something special when we hit our first 500 Followers, but it just happened before I came up with any real viable plan. I mean the last plan, which I was going to call Operation Land Shark, involved traveling the countryside delivering Candy Grams with a guitar all one-woman-band-style, but that idea may have to wait till we hit 1,000. I need to save up the vacation time and I have no idea how to play a guitar.

Until then this post goes out to the first 500 Followers of Meet The Shannons - a little blog that dared to ask the question : Can Betty Crocker's Big Red be Veganized?

You guys rock. This one's for you! Danke Schoen!

PS - Whenever I watch this I love the dancing construction worker. He's totally shaking what he got.

The Betty Crocker Project : Baked Coconut Shrimp

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They got Vegan Shrimp Balls out there this big?!?!?!

No. This is a close up of this incredibly easy, really good and maybe flat out one of the messiest recipes I've made in a long time. When I made this, Dan was already in LA for work and I was home alone getting ready to fly out there to meet him. The whole time I was making these, I couldn't stop thinking how making these would be a fun "date". It made me miss him something kinda terrible.

You could split a bottle of San Pell and get all sticky-fingered while you make them. Then later after you wash your hands, you can eat them with little toothpicks while you sit in the shade somewhere and discuss what books you're reading or movies you've heard about... all and all not bad "date" things. I would bring some pears too for dessert and definitely some napkins. One of the best things about my life now is that any night Dan is home is "date" night. I'm totally spoiled.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Another Postcard from LaLa-Land & The Coffee Table

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Where we're going we don't need roads.
We don't even need forks but it helps because sometimes burritos get messy. It's not their fault really. I mean we need to have realistic expectations for tortillas and should they really to be blame if we try to fit too much deliciousness in there?

Right down the street from the current Peta office in LA is a pretty sweet restaurant named The Coffee Table. There are veggie burgers, tofu scramble and a few kinds of vegan burritos to choose from and this huge patio in the back. I got the Tofu and Soyrizo Burrito with Pico De Gallo... yep that's kale and avocado slices you spot in there. Yep - it was that good and even at noon there was somewhere to sit.

Oh and did I mention that it wasn't that expensive and they have fancy cream sodas? Because they are and they do.

I had a really nice brunch there with Steph and Lisa when I was in LA. Dan couldn't come. He had to work getting ready for Peta's Anniversary Gala. If you haven't seen the video from the Gala yet - you can spot him doing the red carpet interviews. Well his glasses anyways and his hand holding the mic. I'm pretty proud of him and the great work he does making the world a more compassionate place if you can't tell. All my life I've hated bullies and I'm so lucky to share my life with someone who feels the same way and is dedicated to helping those who need our help the most.

Monday, September 27, 2010

LA Meets The Shannons - Postcard #1

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We've been in Los Angeles for Peta's 30th Anniversary Gala so there hasn't been a lot of Betty Crockery going on this weekend BUT just wait more is coming soon. Hope you had a lovely weekend and aren't as hot as we are right now.

I do have this to share though. In city full of great vegan food you have to drive to, we lucked out and found a little locally owned spot right down the street from our friends Rob and Anjali's home that has vegan cinnamon rolls, soy milk & almond milk for fancy coffees and vegan hand tied tamales and everything they serve is organic! It's called Cafecito Organico and besides their extremely weak iced tea - it was a real find.

I'm sharing some photos to help you imagine...

Located in Silver Lake a few blocks from the little independent shops and boutiques on Sunset, it is nice place to stop at for breakfast before walking the strip and maybe heading over to The Secret Headquaters to pick up more Fables if you are so inclined.

Or you can get some Tamales to bring home if that's more what you planned for the day... or both. I won't tell you what to do but you know it's a good idea that I am happy to share.

I got the kale and black-eyed peas tamale and Anjali got the the one with red pepper paste and butternut squash - so don't worry if you are a mock meat hater - there is more going on in that corn husk. Though if you hate mock meat - I'm not sure why you are on this blog. 

If you've been or go - please leave a comment telling me what you think. I'd love to hear from you guys!


Friday, September 24, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Burger & Veggie Packet

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Man - I hate this picture but I love this recipe. So simple - like barely any dishes and super good.

Some might think we are drifting away from BBQ season but they forget we are skipping into tailgate party season*. One of the things I love about this recipe is that even if it is too cold to BBQ outside -  you can make this in the oven and have a little tailgate party in your living room.

So don't write this off because the picture was taken at sunset and is all rosy and well - not my best work - because this is a handy little recipe that makes a whole meal for 4 with little clean up required.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Special Edition : Shannons @The Movies Contest

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Here's something you may not know about me: One of my first jobs was being a movie projectionist. I loved this job. The smell of popcorn in the air. The coveralls and dark tunnels with only a few scattered desk lamps and flickering projectors to light your way. Working till 3 am building prints and then getting to be one of the first people in the country to see a movie. I love movies. I love the uncomfortable chairs and dusty curtains. So I guess it makes sense that our next contest* would have a movie theme of some sorts.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Double Corn Chowder

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There's been a lot going on around here lately. Busy busy busy*.

Saturday morning, I woke up and watched The League in my boxers while I drank my coffee. I admit I'm not a football fan, so about 1/3 of the jokes are kinda gibberish to me. But I am married to Dan Shannon, fantasy football addict, which allows me to find another level of humor in this show--one that I have come to adore. I hope they bring back Mr. McGibblets this season. After my morning chuckles, I turned on the Xbox and played Fable II for 10 hours. It might have been more like 14. Somewhere in all that busy, I ordered some Thai food and ate soup with my husband, but it is all kind of a blur of shooting Hollow Men with fire balls and keeping that Bandit Coast free of the, well, bandits.

Sunday I was more productive.

We have a pretty good little system around here. Every Sunday, I try to make a casserole or soup that we can eat all week. It usually works out pretty well, although some recipes are better than others. This Sunday, I not only put our kitchen floor on blast (see link above), I also made New York Cheesecake and this soup. This creamy, wonderful, meal-in-a-bowl soup.

Now, if you're following along in your own Big Red, you'll notice some additions to our version. Here's why: as much as we freaking love corn and potatoes, it needed some protein to be eaten as a meal--hence the garbanzo beans and extra veggies (note the peas and green beans). Betty's version would be perfect with a side salad or sandwich, but for our needs, the recipe was a solid building base for this hearty fall soup that we've been enjoying all week.

I think you'll enjoy it too.

Oh and did I mention there was an article about Meet The Shannons is on The Food Channel website? Please take a minute to check it and share it with friends.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : New York Cheesecake - Pleasecake

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I grew up with New York Cheesecake. Big, thick, virtually crust-less slices of dreamy creamy cheesecake. I could never finish a slice alone, and suspect they were always secretly intended to share. I've always had these romantic ideas of this dream date: two people splitting a huge slice of NY Cheesecake in a place like Carnegie's at like 3 am, after seeing a show or a night of wandering the city. I've never done that, but I have walked through NYC at 3 am and seen this scene a dozen times. By the time I was wandering the city with the love of my life, I was vegan. This isn't Carnegie Cheesecake, but to be honest, it's been so long since I've had it that I don't think even Carnegie's is really what I remember it to be.

But this "cheesecake" is better. It's vegan, and I can share with the love of my life anywhere I want. I didn't even realize how much I missed this cheesecake till I took these pictures. Funny... I'm 35, married to the most amazing man, and can finally have my childhood dream date.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Chicken (or Tofu) Tagine

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A long time ago, in a city far far away called Olympia, WA, I used to make a dish I called Tofu Tagine about once a month.

I had taken the Moroccan Tagine sauce in that long-lost copy of Joy of Cooking and veganized it with the help of the Westside Co-op's epic organic spice section and this dutch oven I found on a free table. It was my favorite dinner and made great leftovers. I used to look forward to making this dinner again the day after I ran out of leftovers. You can never have enough Tagine.

I've been looking forward to making Betty's Tagine since we started this project. Dan has never had Moroccan food before, because let's be honest here, it can be hard to find vegan options at Moroccan restaurants. I find this to be one of the most unfortunate and disappointing practices in international restaurants located in the US. There are so many shockingly great and vegan (intentional or not) dishes out there in the big world, but often times those dishes never really make it to American menus*. But that aside, I knew he would love it, since he really loves Middle Eastern food.

This dish was super easy to veganize, has the most remarkable warm spicy flavor, with just the right amount of citrus, and I have to admit that it's better than the Joy of Cooking version I have been using for years. Although I might just think that because this version has olives.

Whatever the reason... let's make some food!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Family Album : The Canadian Care Package

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As many of you know, my job at IDA requires me to deal with some difficult folks online. I have to watch sad and heartbreaking videos every day, and I often find myself wondering why people continually choose to use the anonymity of the internet to be jerk monsters. It wears me out a little bit, to be honest.

But there are other folks. Vegans and veg-curious folks who are just genuinely nice, funny, interesting, and freaking cool. After years of online advocacy, I find myself with a good batch of online friends who I think if we all lived in the same city would become dear old friends. Jessica, a very talented vegan baker, is one of those.

Recently, Meet The Shannons was featured in Macleans (The Canadian Newsweek - see above) and Jessica volunteered to send me a copy. But about an hour ago, there was a tap at my door, and I got the most wonderful surprise!

Not only did she send copies of the magazine, but she sent some exotic Canadian goodies!
  • A bar of Ella's Botanicals Morning Buzz Soap. It's spicy mixed with citrus. It reminds me Earl Grey Tea - one of my favorites!
  • Green Beaver Company Organic Lip Shimmer. You should read this if you're not familiar. It can be hard to find lip gloss that doesn't have bee's wax in it or petroleum products. Green Beaver is vegan and full of natural goodness, with a slight cranberry fragrance and taste. I'm already in love with it!
  • COOKIES! Canadian Cookies! New Moon Kitchen and Sweets from the Earth cookies to be exact. Gingersnappers, Mint Chocolate, and a cookie filled with sunflowers seeds and raisins that is cleverly named "Bite Me". Hmmmm. Don't mind if I do, little cookie...
Thank you so very much Jessica! I don't think this post even comes close to expressing how touched I was by your package! I appreciated the package so much and your friendship and can't wait to see what you bake next!

The Shannon Smoothie: Episode I

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I feel kinda bad posting this because really this is where Dan shines. Almost every morning, he gets up very early and makes me coffee and a smoothie. Not just any smoothie, though. He has this very special system that has really brought smoothie-making out of the strip malls and health food stores and into the realm of art and science. A Smoothie Renaissance, if you will.

Of course, no smoothie is ever quite the same. Some focus on tropical fruits like mangoes and pineapples, while others are the more traditional blueberry and banana. Like with most of our dishes, we always use organic ingredients when possible. Everything that goes into our morning smoothies is organic: Soymilk, Bananas, Berries. I know we don't mention this enough, but almost 3 years ago we made a New Years Resolution to use organic ingredients and environmentally friendly products whenever possible, and it has now become a pretty solid part of our lifestyle. Books like Squeaky Green: The Method Guide to Detoxing Your Home have helped "Green" our home, and we're always looking at new ways to make our footprints just a little smaller.

This smoothie is actually one I made awhile ago and have been holding onto for a rainy day. This particular rainstorm was called Top Chef Season Finale/Pizza Date Night. Yeah, we're SUPER MARRIED!

But with school and busy morning routines starting up again, I thought it was a good time to bring out this gem. Dan's Smoothie Works will be coming. I mean, who wants to have the same smoothie everyday? That's like some sad Groundhog's Day Looping Reality thing. Weird.

Warning: This smoothie is super easy, really good, and may improve your mornings by an estimated 80%.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Spicy Thai Wings

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Are they messy to eat? Yeah, a little bit. Are they hard to make? Not at all. Are they super spicy? Yeah, they have a kick to them. Are they amazing? Oh yes!

Some of you might remember a few weeks ago when I shamelessly gushed over Pad Thai. I mean, if I could have left a red lipstick kiss on that blog post, I would have. It's going to be hard for me not to write another love letter to this recipe. Not just because Thai food is a favorite in The Shannon Household, but because this was a really good dinner and really added a few fireworks to regular old Tuesday. Yes, there were a lot of substitutions and changes made to veganize this one but I have to thank Betty for the inspiration. I know I'll be re-using this recipe for years, and to be fair, I have The Betty Crocker Project to thank for expanding our recipe oeuvre if you will.

But that's ultimately the point of Betty Crocker, isn't it? I mean, she wasn't a real person. She was a icon developed to market products to housewives and aspiring housewives. Because let's be honest; even in those glamorized Leave to Beaver 1950s, many women worked outside the home, still faced the same societal expectations, and were expected to come home and do the work of their "stay at home" peers. This was even more true in the late 1930s, when Betty was invented. OK, my Women's Studies major is showing a bit, but back to my point: Betty Crocker, not unlike Julia Child, brought tips, easy-to-follow recipes, and a little affordable flare to American kitchens. She made it easier for Tuesday night to be more than the same old pot roast and mashed potatoes. Betty is that big sister who slips you her famous cake chocolate cake recipe right before the potluck, or walks you through how to make Thanksgiving dinner from scratch. Yeah, she's pretend, but to me that's what makes her great... sorta like Santa Claus.

So Merry Food Christmas to us all! Here's some kick-ass vegan Thai chicken wings for your stocking!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : White Chili

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When I first read White Chili, I had images in my head of a potato soup with white beans and loads of garlic. I guess that's something I'll have to make another time, because Betty's White Chili is a one of the best tasting soups I've ever had, with tons of white beans and garlic, but no potatoes. We weren't disappointed though. It's got a nice subtle heat a brightness from the hot sauce and lime juice. I admit I'm partial to lime juice, so that might be why I've fallen in love with this soup, but it's also possible this soup takes beans and broth to a new place.

You may also notice a bunch of other new additions on our blog here. We updated our Nerdery Page with a new glimpse at our nightstand readings, and we added a new page: The Pantry.

One thing we hate about most cookbooks is that they list their recipes by recipe title, not by ingredients. I mean, how often have we found ourselves wondering what to make for dinner using what ingredients we have in our kitchen. Well, that's why we created this page. If you find yourself wondering what you'll do with the remaining ingredients from one dish, you can use this page to see other dishes that have similar ingredients. The page is still a work in progress, so please keep checking back. Think of it as a renewable resource!

We used up the last of our Better Than Bouillon to make this Chili, but it was worth it. We have enough for lunch all week and maybe a dinner.

Thank God. It's soup season again!

Special Edition : DC Vegfest Meets The Shannons

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Get the flash player here:

What can I say? We go where the food is.

Back at the beginning of time when Dan and I went vegan, we hoped there would one day be a world where a vegan cupcake would kick ass on the Food Network, and where across the country there would be festivals dedicated to vegan food and saving animals. In our dreams, those festivals were packed with kind, smart, good-looking people. Sigh. Walking through DC Vegfest, we saw all those hopes and dreams come true!

There was booth after booth of delicious vegan falafel, nachos, baked goods, Ethiopian buffets... whatever. It was there. So were the people. The joke that this was actually "Line-fest" never got old, no matter how many times we heard it from folks (Ed. note: by "folks", she means me). Or maybe it was the hunger delirium that made everything hilarious.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Pink Lemonade Cupcake

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So, if you're flipping through your copy of Betty's Big Red, you aren't going to find these. They're kinda an invention of sorts that I pieced together using 3 adapted Betty recipes. I made them for our dear friend Sarah's birthday, and might have had a little too much fun decorating them (yes, those are dinosaurs you spot there). I made them mini so that Sarah could eat a few throughout the day for many many days. I mean, who doesn't love dessert with their breakfast?

Summer is winding down, and I have to admit I'm eager for soup and baking season again. I kinda feel like these cupcakes bridge that gap. A little bit of summer you an enjoy anytime of year.

There are a few steps involved so let's bake some cupcakes!

Friday, September 10, 2010

An Open Letter To My Fantasy Football Opponents

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It gives me great displeasure to inform you that the team of professional football players unknowingly associated with my imaginary team will score more points via an arbitrarily-generated scoring system than the team of professional football players unknowingly associated with your imaginary team in the weekly statistical contests that shall began last night.

The athletic achievements of the modern-day gladiators waging a unwitting war at your imaginary team's behest are certainly worthy of praise. However, if one should take the time to execute a dispassionate comparison, one would find that my own squadron of behelmeted Ben-Hurs have performed in the past, and posses the capability to perform in the future, feats of physical prowess far surpassing those of yours.

Therewith, I submit to you my argument: that the professional football players unknowingly associated with my imaginary team will score more points via an arbitrarily-generated scoring system than the team of professional football players unknowingly associated with your imaginary team. You have now been duly notified of this matter.

Good day.

The Betty Crocker Project : The Southwest Pasta Bowl

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I know what you're all thinking: that's not a cupcake! Where's my delicious vegan baked treat this week? WTF Annie?!?

Well, this has been a pretty big week for us Shannons. So here's my list of excuses, in no particular order:
  • This weekend is our dearest friend Sarah's birthday. I'm making some pretty awesome cupcakes for that and I don't want to spoil the surprise. You all know Sarah as our Facebook group Vegan Foods = Joy poster grrl. I do promise to post the recipe and tons of photos of the cupcakes and DC Vegfest on Monday. Just a reminder, the DC Vegfest is where all the cool kids will be, and it's free. You should swing by if you can!
  • Dan & I have full-time jobs on top of this blog, and so sometimes we get super busy with that. We kinda have to do our jobs to pay for all the goodies we are making. The downside of being employed is that sometimes you suck at blogging.
  • Season 5 of Supernatural came out on DVD and as many of you might remember, I adore that show. What can I say? I'm a grown woman who loves CW shows. It fills that campy sci-fi nook in my heart where Buffy, Angel, True Blood, X-Files and the classic old school Friday the 13th (the TV show) also live. Hell, I'll admit it: Charmed lives there too. If you're jonesing for something to scratch that nerd itch, I recommend giving Supernatural a try. I had to watch the entire Season 5 back to back for 48 hours and it put a crimp in my kitchen time.
  • Dan and I wrapped up Lost. This was actually kinda meaningful for Dan and me, and I'm still kinda wrapping my mind around it. So I'll revisit that.
  • We had a pretty big media hit this week. Kinda huge actually. Maclean's magazine (if you're not familiar, they're like 'the Newsweek of Canada') wrote a pretty meaningful piece about our little project that I hope you'll take a minute to check out, and maybe share it with friends or leave a nice comment. You can find it by clicking here. We've been getting even more emails than normal SO I'm even more behind than usual. Sorry 'bout that.
  • Robots. They're always messing things up. Example A: Skynet's Cyborgs
But let's not focus on the cupcakes that are coming. Let's enjoy this dish that will make enough for two pretty ambitious eaters to have for lunch for a week. That's not too shabby for something that isn't a cupcake.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Artichoke & Spinach Dip

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Yeah - Yellow but DAMN good.

Is there anything cuter in the vegetable world then a little green onion? Hmmmmm. Nope.

Lately Dan and I have been focusing quite a bit on cute. We've had a lot of cute things in our lives these days, and I'm about to gush about one of them: a little XBox Live Arcade game featuring the artwork of Dan Paladin (Ed. note: no relation.) called Castle Crashers.

We spent a good part of Saturday night beating this game, and I was almost sad to see it end. From the second the adorable little castle band starts to play, I was totally hooked. Even the ghouls and zombie polar bears are freaking precious but you don't have to take my word for it. You can just watch this (you have to hit 'read more' at the end to see the player):

Another charming item making a special appearance this week: The Artichoke. Man, I love artichokes! They're delicious, spiky flowers that I would eat everyday if I could. Expect some artichokes this week; we have another recipe coming up that I think is going to rock.

Until then, bake yourself up a dish of this incredibly delicious dip that is the perfect bribe to get your friends over to play Castle Crashers. Castle Crashers and this dip are designed to share with loved ones. I'll be honest: it's kinda rich. Here's a photo of the not so vegan at all version - ours isn't nearly as rich as that. Actually, it isn't even close to being as rich as the "lighter" version suggested in the cookbook. But put this on a thin cracker or pita... this dip is pretty much divine.

Yeah, I said it. Divine. Thank you Betty. This dip completes me.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Sloppy Joes

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Just like brownies, every vegan has their favorite sloppy joe recipe. Over the years, I've had some very tasty vegan sloppy joes made with everything from TVP to Jackfruit. While I wasn't too in love with the eggplant version (Amanda, if you're reading this, I'm sorry), my all time favorite has been with Tempeh. I adore, just flat out love ,Tempeh sloppy joes and debated making that version this time. But, I wanted to do something that every vegan hasn't had before, so I opted for the Match Vegan Meats Ground Beef. It really does have the perfect texture and flavor for this recipe. If you can get your hands on some Match for this, I would. But the great thing about this recipe is that you can substitute the "beef" part of this recipe with Tempeh if you want or Boca Crumbles or Jackfruit or whatever. It's your call.

Sloppy joe days were always a big deal at my school growing up. That's why this recipe seemed like a perfect fit for back to school week. If your vegan kid is curious about this whole sloppy joe phenomenon, or if you just want to relive some nice childhood memories, you can always enjoy this compassionate version of an American favorite.

PS: Real Man-wiches are kind to animals!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Beer Can Tofurky

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Beer Can Chicken is an American tradition. I mean, I never made one, or even ate one, before going vegan - but apparently people all over the country have. The second we saw this recipe, we began plotting our strategy for this impressive and somewhat ambitious grilling project. We discussed the challenges, such as stabilizing the Tofurky, and the differences between mock meat and, well, meat. We also brainstormed the awesome-ness that would become our "Beer Can Rub", and which brand of beer to use. A Shannon Offensive, if you will.

There's a bit to do, and we,ve included several photos to help walk you through your own Beer Can Tofurky - so let's do this... or how they say in Virginia... Git 'er done.

The Betty Crocker Project : The 24 Hour Pickle (also known as Refrigerator Pickles)

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I still can't believe how many people I know made pickles this weekend. 

I had all these daydreams of posting these and everyone saying "WOW" and "I can't believe how easy those are". But much to my chagrin, when I started dropping teasers for these babies, the response was a round of "Me Too!" I guess I have too many talented and crafty while still remaining fashionable yet remarkably intelligent friends. SIGH. There are worse things I suppose. 

Now, I love pickles. I always have. When I was little my grandfather used to buy me one of those big barrel pickles from the shop on the corner to keep me busy for a few hours after school while I watched cartoons*. When I think of any kind of pickle, garlicy gourmet ones to crappy ball park chips, my mouth begins to water. No joke. I'm not trying to be poetic here. I adore them all. Sweet, Kosher, Tsukemono, Half -Sour, Gherkin - Whatever! They will always be welcome on my plate - Hell - in my hand. 

These pickles are not the traditional wait a month pickle. Anyone who knows me, knows I can't wait a month anyways. It's too hard on me. Some folks just aren't built for traditional pickling. That's why Betty - God bless her - has this recipe for folks like me. They only take 24 hours and are crisp with the old school zayern flavor. So if you weren't one of the many who already have a jar of homemade pickles waiting in their kitchen, you should try these out.  

Es gezunterheyt!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Bean & Cheese Enchiladas with Strawberry Margaritas

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Oh, Friday night. Would you still be my favorite night of the week if there were no Mexican food or video games? Would I still think of you as fondly at 2pm on Tuesday, when the work week has no end in sight, if there weren't the promise of spicy salsa and freshly-squeezed limes in distance? Who's to say? I hope we never find out.

Dan and I have had a strange weekend. I'm dying to talk about how many questions have been answered and all the happily-ever-afters we've found. But if there's anything I've learned from watching Lost, it's that you have to draw things out to the point where everyone is pretty much dying to know the answers and will stay up till 3AM to see the season finale and still be on the edge of their seat a year later when the next season comes out on DVD. Not that I would do that. I have self control and can stop whenever I want. (Yes, that last sentence is to be read as sarcastic, and in the voice of a dead-end addict with little hope of ever overcoming her addiction to JJ Abrams projects,* no matter how bad they end up getting.**)

So, I have to admit my blog posts this week won't be as exciting as a smoke monster or time travel. I mean, let's be fair. But I can tell you this... Betty has a pretty interesting take on margaritas. They are super-sweet and only slightly alcoholic. Probably perfect for a bridal shower, when you want to be giggly-but-not-drunk in front of your future in-laws and the chick who works in the cubical next to yours. They would be great for a 4th of July picnic, when you really shouldn't be too drunk while handling small, colorfully-decorated tubes of gunpowder. Yeah, once you find the right time and place for these margaritas, they really are quite lovely, and helped give us a big sugar rush to complement how totally filling and delicious these enchiladas are. It's almost a shame that these enchiladas are so filling, because they're damn good, and I wanted to eat way more than I could.

In an odd way, this meal works perfectly for an indulgent night of video games and hanging out with your true love. Funny how everything comes together in the end.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Beef (Gardein) with Bordelaise Sauce & Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

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Hurricane Earl is at Norfolk's doorstep. Trees are waving in the wind, and the birds and squirrels who are usually up at dawn are being being all crazy, hiding away in the courtyard of our apartment building waiting for it to pass. Right now as I type this, I have a huge Siamese cat on my lap looking for comfort and another, much smaller cat under my chair. But the funny thing is that while there are folks out there filling their freezers with 15 loaves of bread and OBX is being evacuated, there's another group out and about without even an umbrella.

The Shannons fall into the watching-the-G.I.Joe*-movie and playing-Xbox category. Obviously that means we should make a fancy French dinner to go along with our evening of high culture. I mean, what goes better with a movie that literally shows the Eiffel tower being eaten than some Vegan Bordelaise?

I get asked a lot why we aren't veganizing Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, since this project was inspired by the movie Julie and Julia. Especially since I freaking love French everything. The answer is simple.

Dan and I asked ourselves what we wanted to do with this project - what were our goals and what would help the animals the most. It was pretty clear. We wanted to prove that you can make anything vegan. We wanted to show people how to use vegan products and share little tricks we have learned to maximize the potential of these products. The choice was pretty clear after that: Betty Crocker.

We get to still make the fancy French stuff that made Julia swoon, but we also get to experiment with more American cuisine, like Cheeseburger pie. Betty is the undisputed champ at teaching America how to be creative with products and foods that you may never have thought were capable of such levels of awesome-ness. We just want to show vegans that they can do that too, and dispel the myth that we're stuck with veggie burgers or quinoa pilafs... not that those aren't pretty amazing sometimes too. We're just trying to show that going vegan doesn't mean sacrificing some of your favorite dishes... like, for example, a schmancy Bordelaise sauce.

This dinner was so easy and so good, I've fallen in love with it. When we make this again (and we will) we're planning on a side of steamed asparagus or green beans to go with it... maybe some vegan fondue too. Both vegetables would be very good with the Bordelaise. That's not to say the Rosemary Potatoes didn't compliment this dish perfectly. If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a sucker for a good rosemary dish.

This may not seem like an obvious recipe to post for Labor Day Weekend, but with Earl making his way up the East Coast, many of us are going to be trapped inside playing Zombie games. This is a great Date Night dinner that you many already have the ingredients for already. Plus, what warms up a rainy night faster than a deep glass of red wine?

Bon Appetit...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project - Season Finale : Potato Salad and other BBQ & Potluck Ideas

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Summer is wrapping up, and this weekend maybe the last time we light up the grill or pull out the picnic table until next spring. Of course, in Virginia we're suppose to be on the lookout for Hurricane Earl, so we'll see how these summer swan song BBQ plans turn out.

I feel like all the best Season Finales feature all-star cameos. So, just in time for Labor Day Weekend, here are our some of our favorite summertime recipes:
Don't worry - we're throwing Potato Salad in too!