Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Postcard from Boston! They may call it Beantown - but Vegans have way more options...

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So you've probably guessed we've been away for Thanksgiving... well in Boston to be exact... Going to Celtic's games, visiting the Museum of Fine Arts and of course enjoying The Shannon Family vegan Thanksgiving! But when it comes to Boston they have a lot to offer as far as good vegan food besides what you find in the Shannon  kitchen...

The night before The Celtics beat The Raptors 110 to 101 in The Garden, we literally feasted at My Thai Vegan Cafe. We may have been a little too excited when we ordered because we got an appetizer, bowls of soups, 2 entrees and a beloved pot of green tea (that night was freezing) - which may sound like a normal meal but the serving sizes are so generous we had didn't have any room left for the gorgeous carrot cake they had in their bakery cases. Oh well - Guess we have to go back!

We started with Golden Triangles - which are medium sized fried won tons filled with a spiced fake chicken that came with a peanut sauce to dip them in. Dan was smart and got the Sweet & Sour Soup. This was some of the best Sweet & Sour Soups I've had since I moved from the Puget Sound area. It made me regret my Coconut Tofu Soup - which was also good but not a rock star like the Sweet & Sour. We both got entrees to share but really I'm not a great sharer when it comes to food. Dan's lucky I love him so much.

I got the Lemongrass Vegan Chicken and loved that I could actually taste the lemongrass. I adore the flavor and am often disappointed when it is over powered by salt or ginger. This was perfect. Dan took a chance and got the Tamarind Vegan Duck. I was worried it would be too sweet - a lot of times folks use jellies rather than fruit for the glazes and the sugar just kind of takes over. But the glaze was just the right amount of sweetness and savory and the vegan duck was firm and flavorful. The dish came on a huge plate surrounded by vegetables and was a meal on it's own. Man - I'm a getting a bit nostalgic just thinking about it.

But that's just one spot you should check out if you find yourself looking for vegan food in Boston...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Moment of Silence for Ed Shannon's Epic Tofurky and Thanksgiving Feast!

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It was so nice of you to make an appearance yesterday for Thanksgiving. You were a scene stealer and the life of the party. We all miss you already and hope to see one of your buddies around Christmas time.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Soft Molasses Cookies

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When preparing for the holidays I find many people forget a few key things. An example of this would be drinking enough water New Years Eve so you don't start the new year a complete worthless mess begging to put out your misery and wishing you had remembered the most important rule in celebratory drinking : Never Mix Champagne and Tequila. (True story for another time)

Another example of poor holiday planning would be the lack of cookies. See most people remember to bake cookies for parties and the office but one glaring omission that is really too common is the lack of cookies baked for the various voyages home. I know personally I have found myself wandering through random gas station and mini-marts reading labels in pretzels and no name cereal bars pitifully looking for vegan snacks more times than I can really remember... all the time hopeful I will find that accidentally vegan holy grail and wishing I had taken an hour the night before to bake some cookies for our journey. But this year I turned it around.

Molasses cookies are one of my favorite fall treats. I'm not sure what makes them seasonal in my head except that they just are. I made a few different versions of this cookie to find the "right" one and actually had 2 versions that I loved equally... but I'm sharing the one closest to Betty's because that's how we roll here!

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Thanksgiving Parade #6 - The Sidekicks

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So I bet you saw the title of this blog and were like she's going to talk about Robin today or maybe Bucky
but today was going to talk about one of the Shannon sidekicks Percy but then a funny thing happened... while I was heating my mug of SoyNog - I spotted the not so little spider that lives under our microwave. Whenever I think about him - I can't help but wonder if/when our little radioactive spider friend will some day bite one of us and we'll have to shoulder the great responsibility of being super heroes. SIGH. The thought  already makes me tired. I'm so lazy... 

Today we're going to cover 2 - Yes you read that correctly - 2 classic sides that everyone needs for their Thanksgiving meal : Green Bean Casserole and Candied Orange Sweet Potatoes.

Now this Green Bean Casserole has been a favorite of me and mine for years and you may have seen it last week on the IDA blog but this sweet potato recipe is brand new to our house. We usually like a savory sweet potato around these parts but because we trust Betty, we need to bang out these out to complete our mission of veganizing everything Betty and because this is a classic dish that I never got to enjoy as a kid - I really got into making these potatoes and loved them. (We weren't big on Thanksgiving at my house. To quote my mom - "Do we look like we came from Pilgrims?" - insert a Sicilian shrug in there - so candied sweet potatoes is huge for me!)

 So let's go eat already!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Thanksgiving Parade #5 - Citrus & Garlic Basted Holiday Roast

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Vegan Thanksgivings have come a long way over the years. First came the butter-free sides and maybe a pasta dish. Then came the Tofurky! Oh beloved Tofurky - you have been such a loyal friend and you have lead the way for cruelty-free holidays for thoughtful families everywhere... but these days there are a few vegan holiday roasts to choose from including one from the new kid on the block Match Vegan Meats

The Match Holiday Roast is a perfect canvas for experimenting with glazes and marinades. It is all "white meat" with Match's signature sausage stuffing and can be grilled or baked. No doubt the scene stealer on any holiday table. We baked ours using a version of the baste in Betty's Grilled Turkey recipe that I was calling a Citrus & Garlic baste because really that's what it is. It's tangy and savory with a black pepper kick. I think this baste would be great over any kind of mock meat or tofu in a fajita or burrito and plan on testing my hypothesis soon. 
A Peek Inside The Match Vegan Meats Holiday Roast
If you want to order your own Match Holiday Roast - you can order one from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe and if they're out - just get some of the Match Chicken and make your own with your own favorite stuffing! This video featuring The Super Chef Freddie Holland will show you how. Although The Match Roasts are big enough to feed 4 - we finished it off in one night. (Live Big - right?)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Thanksgiving Parade #4 - Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Double Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash! Oh my God! It's full on... What does this mean?!?!?!*

Probably the only good thing about being less than 100% is that you can catch up on your internets and form opinions that are pretty much blogging bread and Earth Balance. For example here's a great feature about  6 superhero origins Hollywood got right (and 6 that Hollywood messed up) that I almost agree with. See here's the thing - I recently watched Hellboy again and though they got he's origin correct - it wasn't as good as I remember. It was more B.P.R.D.(which is awesome but not the same) and Watchmen is actually a good movie and a great representation of the graphic novel (OH - I can hear the keyboards firing up now!). I do agree 100% that the intro is "justly praised" and I think most people found it "boring" because it's not really a "super hero" movie. Oh and I agree the creative carte blanche  taken with Catwoman in the movies is pretty much criminal and when I say "criminal" I mean insanely stupid.

Something that isn't insanely stupid is Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash. These good looking fellows aren't just eye candy - they're a sweet, tangy and buttery Thanksgiving side that is filling and if you are trying to work vegan items into a non-vegan holiday meal - you can slip these fellows in unnoticed. They're this weird combination of obviously and secretly awesome at the same time.

Let's make some!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Skillet Nachos

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This morning I woke up around 7 to hear Dan on the phone in the dinning room talking about football, Micheal Vick, dog fighting and Tofurkys with WEEI up in Boston. Is this what it's like everyday? Nope. Does this happen a lot. Yeah.

The reality is that with all the years of Campaign, Public and Media Relations and Online Communications experience we both have - we could be making twice what we make now and working half as much. We wouldn't be getting cold calls from shock jocks before dawn and you know we also wouldn't be working to make the world a better place. That matters.

This time of year a lot of us are focusing on veganizing Thanksgiving recipes, promoting compassionate fur free shopping and really trying to make people more aware what this time of year means for turkeys but there are literally millions of folks who are focused on two things Football and Basketball. Our home includes all the above.

Dan is addicted to sports and fantasy sports and all that's included. It's slowly spreading. I find myself caring about things and knowing players names. Genuinely interested in things that I never had any interest in before. Maybe this is what it means to really be a life partner. If you find yourself in the same spot you may need these nachos. They're a full meal for two or a great party dish and the Bean Chili dip is so good I was eating it with spoon.

We made this over the weekend when a lot of exciting sportsy things happened that you might not care about but I will say this : Once we put these down on the coffee table - It was on till the break of dawn... Or really till half time. We ate them pretty fast.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Thanksgiving Parade #3 - Macaroni & Sheese Cups

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This was an odd week. One of those weeks you can't forget even if you tried. Here are 4 things I might actually forget from my weird/awful week:
  1. Wil Wheaton Tweeted this and made me laugh out loud : If Nintendo can trademark "It’s on like Donkey Kong," I want to trademark "Are you fucking serious, Nintendo?" 
  2. Dan awoke in the middle of the night crying out something like "Fuck you! You big parrot!" (Please keep in mind Dan is actually quite fond of parrots but this dream parrot was apparently pretty big and pretty rude)
  3. Dan grew a mustache and it looks kinda hot.
  4. I had to go to the store to get cat food and because I feel so awful this week - I might have been dressed like a long lost Kennedy cousin from Grey Gardens. Everyone was really nice to me and maybe had lots of pity for this "cat lady".
I also made these little casserole cups of this favorite from the oldest of schools that are a schmancier way to serve this classic for Thanksgiving. This recipe is a veganized version of Betty's but if you want The Shannons' Family Recipe - you can find it here. I think either version would be just as adorable in these cups on your holiday table. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What I want for Hanukkah and something that should never have been invented...

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Yeah - I'm still under the weather. There will be some awesome Betty things tomorrow. You have it in writing. Christmas is over a month away but Hanukkah is right around the corner. So I'm going to use this blog entry to shamelessly tell Dan what I want for Hanukkah this year to improve our kitchen gadgetry. I will also be publicly declaring something "gross". So in no particular order Annie's Hanukkah List :

Save Our Animal Planet Travel Mug from Modcloth. I'm had the same stainless steel Starbucks travel mug for years and years. It's time for a change. After lots of research I can say with confidence this is the mug for me. It has bunnies. 
Mini Donut Maker from Urban Outfitters. Giving this to me for Hanukkah would be a win win for everyone. Who wouldn't want more vegan donuts and mini things in their lives? 
The R2 D2 Peppermill from ThinkGeek. Evryone needs a little buddy in the kitchen especially a  R2-series astromech droid that can put out fires, hack into waste disposal units and project holograms. OK this little guy only makes pepper but he is a Licensed Star Wars collectable from Japan.
Lavishy Fish Wallet from Herbivore. OK I know I have a really adorable vegan wallet from Queen Bee but look how cute these are... I like the green one.

And what we've all been waiting for... White Castle Scented Candles. SERIOUSLY? Seriously. Why anyone would want their home to smell like a White Castle is beyond me. When I was growing up that's where all the old men would go to play chess and drink cheap coffees. To prepare they would marinade themselves in Old Spice to hide the smell like secret smokers. So without further ado... Something that should never have been invented :

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Thanksgiving Parade #2 - Easy Pumpkin Pie?

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Is this pie have that warm slightly spicy flavor that can only be described as "Pumpkin Pie"? Yes. Does it have that smooth & creamy texture with just the right amount of crispy baked edges? Yes. Is this a pie? Eh. Not really... Is it an amazing baked pumpkin custard type of thing? HELL YES!

Yeah I know kinda a disappointment if you're one of those folks who needs the "pie" label and had hopes that you really could make a pie in like 5 minutes (not counting baking) but you want to hear an even greater disappointment? Soyatoo Vegan Whipped Cream. Yeah, I know I'm saying it. Soyatoo - You owe me 5 cans of Vegan Whipped Cream because EVERY TIME I get you - you barely work and then fraking die with a full can of vegan whipped cream that I have no way to access. I always convince myself - I got a bad can or maybe it's I'm too dumb to work this thing... but you know what? I'm not. It's not me - it's you. Soyatoo - we're breaking up.

Here's hoping I learn to love again and that you all find a spot in your heart and holiday meal for this wonderful baked pumpkin custard type of thing.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Thanksgiving Parade #1 - Cajun Deep Fried Tofurky with Okra Giblet Gravy

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Every year people all over the country burn down their homes, patios, sport themed gazebos trying to deep fry turkeys for Thanksgiving. Something so dangerous and reckless seemed like a great way to start our Thanksgiving Parade of Food! I wanted to call it an invasion but it just didn't seem "holiday-ish".

For the next few weeks we are going to be eating vegan versions of Classic Betty Crocker Thanksgiving Rock Stars and when I say we I mean us Shannons and you guys! So let's launch this mutha with one Southern Thanksgiving tradition that has been called more dangerous than a fist full of illegal firecrackers and more tasty than a house actually made of pie!

Here are some tips to remember when deep frying your Tofurky or other vegan holiday roasts:
  • You need to make sure your Roast is completely defrosted. This is key because it's the melting water from the frozen turkeys that make the oil freak out and jump out of the pot like that. Because as we all know - you never use water on a grease fire.
  • Tofurkys are small enough to fry in your kitchen but make sure you have the proper utensils - BBQ Tongs and Fork to pull your Holiday Roast out, a pot large enough the Oil won't spill over when the roast is dropped in, Baking Soda to put out any fires and really good oven mitts and long sleeves to protect yourself.
  • If you are using a vegan Roast that is not pre-formed you should bake the Roast first for 20 to 30 minutes at 300 to makes sure you get a nice skin on your roast so it won't fall apart in the pot. 
  • Don't ever leave anything frying unattended especially if it s a holiday roast. 
  • Please Please Please be careful. I have to add that although we'd feel terrible if anyone was hurt while attempting to deep fry their Tofurky this Thanksgiving - we aren't responsible for any damages or injuries that happen. We can't stress enough - be careful, make sure your roast is defrosted and your pot doesn't overflow. 
Now, that we got that drama out of the way... Today is Dan's Birthday! We try to really do birthdays right around here but sadly this year I am under the weather a bit and so his birthday has been a lot of video games and some vegan beignets. Poor Dan. At least he also got a Cajun Deep Fried Tofurky... Without further ado - I do declare! Let's eat some Fakesgiving!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Family Album : The Urban Housewife makes Betty Beautiful!

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Melisser lives in Europe so her ingredients look cooler than mine.
For The 5th day of Vegan MoFo we had the privilege of  having  Melisser Elliott A.K.A The Urban Housewife  contribute to Our Family Album with a European take on The Betty Crocker Project Oven Pancake and it looks OH so good!  Melisser has been making the world a beautiful place for years with everything from recipes, cruelty-free make-up tips to travel and restaurant guides.  She's taken all her years of kind-living and written a pretty awesome book titled The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life that expands on her webprojects and includes so much more... If you're lucky enough to live on the East Coast - you're going to want to swing by and check out one of these events from her book tour and pick up one of these books for yourself! I can't wait to get my copy! OX - Annie

Here's Melisser!

When you look at the vast selection of dishes on Meet the Shannons,
it's impressive. So impressive that when I was faced with a million
veganized Betty Crocker dishes I could test out, I was shell shocked
and had one hell of a choice to make. After digging through tons of
options, what did I choose? PANCAKE. Yes, I said pancake. You see, I
was so intrigued by the oven baked pancake and it had easy to gather
ingredients in my new home of Vienna, so I went for it.

This dish come together very easily and you start to wonder, is this
going to work? The good news is, it does! One minute you're baking
some batter in a Pyrex pan and 20 minutes later you have a big ol'
pancake to split with friends (or not). It would be a great thing to
make while you're working on a stove top tofu scramble or other dish.
One thing I noted was the lack of sugar in the batter, so I was sure
to top mine with lots of maple syrup and jam, despite the berry and
powdered sugar suggestion. What can I say? I'm a rebel.

Anyway, get out there and make yourself a big, buttery, spongy oven
pancake. What have you got to lose?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Vegan French Dip Sandwich

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You may have noticed more mushrooms being consumed by Shannons this week than normal. The reason is pretty simple. Dan's birthday is next week (yay!) and his social calender has been off the chart. I've taken the opportunity to go a little crazy with all the foods that he despises... like mushrooms.

Having an excuse to eat lots and lots of mushrooms makes me feel like this. I'm Macaulay Culkining it all up!

Let's make some sandwiches...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Coquilles Saint Jacques

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Welcome to the 3rd day of Vegan Mofo Meets The Shannons!
So Paris Vegan Day is just around the corner and I could kick myself for not having our cookbook done and prepping to get on a plane to France in a few weeks. Could these past few weeks have any more heartaches? I guess I shouldn't test that theory. Let's stay focused on the food.

I know what you're thinking... this isn't Vegan Shrimp Gumbo. I thought we were getting more Creole and/or Cajun food from you today. I'm sure there are other random curse words in there too... especially if you are thinking about last night's election results. But the lovely Leinana over at Vegan Good Things just posted a Louisiana Shrimp recipe, so I decided to mix it up! This brings us back to France.

Most folks think chicken fried steaks, green bean casseroles and impossible rainbow sprinkle layer cakes when they think Betty Crocker but this just isn't the case. This book has a serious diversity of recipes to it. Frankly that's one of the reasons we chose it. Much to my pleasant surprise there are quite a few pretty fancy French dishes in there and of course we all know how much I love being fancy and pretend French. Yes - I know how pretentious it sounds... The heart wants what it wants.

Coquilles Saint Jacques is one those pretty fancy French dishes. It was also one of Julia Child's favorite dishes - probably because it was French and included loads of heavy cream and a whole stick of butter. Ours is still a bit rich for vegan food but I'm sure it doesn't even come close to the real deal that besides the cream also includes Swiss cheese*. As you can also see if you clicked on the links above it is usually served on the half shell but that's not how we roll. Ours has artichoke hearts, white wine, a light sheesy savory sauce and of course hearts of palm "scallops" and our favorite Vegan Shrimp Balls. (snicker)

So let's enjoy our more compassionate yet infinitely lighter while remaining super fancy French dinner. Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm Back & Look What Dan Made! Vegan Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting

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I may have gotten a little crazy with the frosting - I swear the roll is in there.
I was MIA. I admit it. I could list my excuses or make up something exciting like ninja training or doing this*. But we're all friends here so I'll come clean. I had an out patient procedure that while not life threatening or anything exciting like that... pretty much kicked my ass and left me stranded on the sofa for about a week drugged and ridiculous. Fable III was launched but I was too deliriously well delirious to even play really or do much of anything really. Most weeks I would find a way to enjoy this. I'm a pretty positive person but this is was pretty much the worst week it could have happened because I missed some really great stuff... in no particular order.
  • Halloween! I missed Halloween. I'm not one of those gals who needs to go out every night and drags Dan to dance clubs or parties. But when it comes to Halloween. I'm a party girl. I love it more than anything and this Halloween we played Civilization V and I was asleep by 9pm. 
  • The Rally to Restore Sanity. I would have done anything to go. I looked forward to it for months but it was not meant to be. I will forever have to live through the photos and anecdotes of my friends. Soon we'll be living in LA and I can't help but get a little sad thinking about all those times I've marched on Washington. This would have been a really nice high note to end my East Coast Era on. 
  • We had to postpone having a food writer and her photographer over for dinner because I just couldn't get off the sofa. It pretty much broke my heart.  
On a positive note though there is a lot to look forward to...
  • This morning we got up to have one of our favorite dates - Voting Day Date! Getting up before dawn to beat the rush and take steaming hot travel mugs over to the elementary school to do our our part as good citizens**. Don't forget to vote today! Especially if you are in Missouri. Those puppies need you to support Prop b.
  • Yesterday was our first post as part of Vegan MoFo! What's that? It's a clever little project created by the gals over at Post Punk Kitchen where basically we're going to post at least 20 blog entries this month (that's every weekday) about being vegan. Yeah - I know that's what we do around here anyways... but It's OK to belong to something that supports what you do - especially something that is doing so much to help animals by making vegainism cool! 
  • Thanksgiving is coming! We love Thanksgiving around here. We have pretend Thanksgiving dinner a few times a year... So yeah... our Thanksgivings are kinda a big deal and this year I'm hoping we can really bring it!
  • The much anticipated Vegan Girl's Guide to Life is out! If you live on the East Coast you should check out one of these events! 
  • Dan's Birthday! YAY! (if you never click on any of my links - this time make an exception)
There's more but let's just get back to these Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls that Dan made and we'll get to the rest in good time...

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : South-of-the-Border Burritos

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The San Francisco Giants and the Texas Rangers are playing in the World Series right now. That’s baseball, for the super-vegan among you. I’m a diehard Red Sox fan, and Annie grew up in a Yankee household—it’s just like the Montagues and the Capulets, only if they were baseball teams instead of noble families, and if Juliet couldn’t tell you who played second base for the Capulets if you held a gun to her head.

Anyway, the point is, we don’t have a native rooting interest in the World Series this year—other than that the Giants’ Aubrey Huff is the franchise player for my pretend Washington Grays franchise in the baseball management computer simulation game that I play obsessively. But nerdery aside, whoever wins, it doesn’t really mean anything for the Shannon household. In a counterintuitive way, this almost makes me enjoy the games more. The only thing you’re rooting for is a good, well-played game. There’s no stress, no heartache, no feeling of loss or emotinal turmoil riding on the outcome. It’s just pure baseball, being watched not in the hopes of validating a lifetime spent supporting a certain team, but just because it’s fun.

Cooking is kinda like that. No one “wins” cooking (other than Annie, who clearly OWNS cooking). No one’s heart is broken if things don’t work out. You’re just cooking because it’s fun, and you just want to see a well-cooked meal because that’s what’s best for everyone, and what will be the most enjoyable. And if things don’t work out? No sweat. There’s another game tomorrow.
This concludes my half-assed attempt to work the World Series into this blog in a semi-coherent way. How’d I do?

Oh right and I made burritos. Check it: