Friday, December 31, 2010

The Super Chocolate Vegan Hootenanny! Episode I : Super Sized Brownie Bites

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These were made with liners but read the recipe because we suggest another route.
This recipe started as a German chocolate cake but as the batter came together I just kinda knew this would be a perfect vegan brownie recipe.

Now we've talked before about the notorious brownie floods that every vegan community knows all too well in the vegan cream cheese brownie pie*. I'll also admit that before we made these, we also had a favorite brownie recipe but this one is better. These brownies are chewy without being gummy. They are chocolaty without being chalky or bitter. They are rich without landing on your stomach like a brick. They are also the perfect introduction for The Shannons Super Vegan Chocolate Hootenanny we have planned this weekend.

Yes! If you like chocolate as much as we do - you are in for a treat! If you are one of those folks going vegan in 2011 - this will be a great way to show you that you can be vegan and never see it as a sacrifice. And if you are one of those folks who are planning to lose weight, don't worry we have some very healthy, fat free and shocking remarkable knock-you-on-a-smaller-ass dishes coming up too.

Until then let's eat some vegan brownies that just may make you look at the world differently. You know the deal... Mass Hysteria.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Pizza Soup

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Since we started our little project we've seen quite a few impressive pizzas - An Extraordinary League of Pizzas if you will. Some were pretty old school like the Margherita Pizza, some were a little schamncy like the White Pizza and others were just about as American as a pizza gets like the Meat Lovers and Stuffed Crust Pizzas. But recipes like Pizza Dip are just pure Betty gold.

When I first saw Pizza Soup - I admit we wrote it off as one of the recipes we were dreading. We were biased and unfair. We never even read the recipe and there we were making jokes about how bowls of melted cheese shouldn't really be called "soup"... that being said I would eat bowls of our vegan Mac & Cheez sauce if I could - so I shouldn't talk.

Also - this soup isn't anything like what we thought. The truth is this soup is actually a really flavorful and unique vegetable soup with some melted Daiya and toast on top. It's delicious. It's really pretty and colorful with the bell peppers, mushrooms and basil. I mean let's face it - it's kinda impressive looking. I'd bet this silly named soup would get some "ohs and ahs" at any dinner party.  I just might test this theory.

We knew going into this - we'd love Pizza Burgers but it's good to know Betty's streak is still strong. We loved Pizza Soup and I don't care who knows!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Hoppin' John

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Around here is just wouldn't be New Years without some Black Eyed Peas.

It's kinda hard to say where the tradition started but everyone knows that eating these little cuties on New Years Day is thought to bring good luck and prosperity. The Talmud talks about eating bowls of black eyed peas on Rosh Hashana but in case you aren't friends with any Jews - that's in the fall. During the Civil War, these sweeties were cooked up with ham bones and collard greens, given a heavy dose of hot sauce and served with cornbread. Legend has it when Sherman marched through the South leaving a trail of ruined farms and burnt cities, he left these humble little peas alone thinking they weren't worth the trouble. Survivors left behind came to think of these legumes as being "lucky" - either because they survived the burning or because they helped folks survive the aftermath - maybe both. Some folks in the South take it so far they make sure to eat 365 peas on New Years so they never have a bad day.

This tradition is probably why Hoppin John has become of one of the most popular adapted West African/Soul Food dishes served in the South. I couldn't really figure out a good explanation for where the name came from but interesting Nerd Fact : There is a recipe for Hopping John in The Carolina Housewife by Sarah Rutledge, which was published in 1847. I love food history.

Our Hoppin Johns skipped the ham bones - but still has a lot of flavor. We just think that makes it luckier - for those sweet little pigs that is.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Still Snowed In ...

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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Pear & Cranberry Cobbler

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So you may have noticed we have been having some technical difficulties over here. Crazy margins and spell check OKing words that well aren't words - that combined with the holidays and various social engagements have lead to our Christmas Pear and Cranberry Cobbler not getting posted till today. I thought about it though and really there is nothing that Christmasy about this cobbler really. It's just our adaption of Betty's Peach Cobbler. I mean you could make this tonight and enjoy it with a big mug of tea and be quite happy with it. I actually wish I had some right now.

You may have heard the news about The East Coast and our blizzard yesterday... we are literally snowed in. Our kitchen is pretty bare too since I purged a lot before we left for Boston. I wish we had even some basic groceries - like a vegetable or I could find a restaurant that would deliver. I wish I could be the kind of person who is perfectly content living off stale bread and jelly. Dan hiked through the snow this morning to get us some juice, coffee, tortilla chips and salsa from a 7-11 that was open. SIGH.

I miss you Pear & Cranberry Cobbler. Hope we get to see you again real soon!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Risotto alla Milanese with Peas

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I think we all get a little rose-colored glassy around this time of year. We tend to recall our favorite childhood memories of early Christmas morning surprises or piles of colorful cookies with a warm heart and hopes that this year will be just as memorable. For me this dish really took me back.

Back in the day when I was a little eater (so small I needed to be carried), my family used to go to out to an Italian restaurant that I can't recall the name of but can picture in my head perfectly... I think about that place a lot this time of year and about when Little Italy was actually full of Italians. I can remember my dad carrying me over snow drifts, I can remember white table cloths and wooden chairs hanging on the brick walls to be pulled down to turn a 4 top into a 5. I can recall drawing pictures on the small paned drafty - frosty windows as we waited to eat. I remember the inside being decorated with tacky red, orange and green Christmas lights, paper Santa decorations and tables packed in so tight that you couldn't put your coat on the back of your chair. You had to give it to the hostess. Sounds fancy but really it was just small but authentic. My parents always ordered me a bowl of Risotto alla Milanese and a ginger ale. I was pretty much the happiest kid ever.

Now the real Risotto alla Milanese has saffron, Parmesan cheese and veal marrow ( I know - so pointless and cruel) in it and if you ever watched Top Chef or any other cooking show - you know this dish is a basic dish that they are always saying every chef should know how to make. They are constantly calling folks out for making their Risotto wrong and I've seen many a talented chef hang their head in shame when called out for crunchy Risotto. We're hoping that this dish will provide you with easy to follow instructions on how to make Risotto correctly but also show that you can make a really great tasting compassionate replica of this classic Italian dish - that is so easy you can whip up a batch on a snowy afternoon or to serve as a side for a Holiday dinner with some thing like our Vegan Venison or the Citrus & Garlic Basted Holiday Roast.

Whatever your plans - I hope this dish is as memorable for you as it is too me! Buon Natale!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Venison (Gardein) with Cranberry & Red Wine Sauce

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When many people think of Venison, they think of deer meat; but the truth is the title "venison" is given to almost all "wild game on four legs". Venison can be caribou, or elk, or even moose, but is most commonly deer. Adorable, sweet, never-hurt-a-fly-unless-you-count-eating-the-flowers-out-of-your-yard deer. 

Now I know you're waiting for me to mention her name--and I did consider railing on her--but let's be honest. If there's one thing Sarah Palin's new TV show showed us, it's that she's a phony, not a "real" hunter. She's showing the needless torture and slaughter of animals as a fun way to bond with your kids and spend a weekend. I myself don't think that raising children who are indifferent to the suffering of others and lack any sense of mercy or compassion is good parenting. I mean, does the world need more sociopaths?

I also think that this recipe proves that you can make a proper, old-school, American Christmas classic like Venison with Cranberry Sauce without ever loading a gun, and that real Mama Bears go berry picking in the woods and leave the other critters be. Those are the family values I'd want to raise my kids with.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Family Album : Betty's Gingerbread Cookies get Vegucated by Marisa Miller Wolfson from Kind Green Planet

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Freaking Adorable!
 There are some people in this world that are just good. It might not be their fault really. Maybe they're just born that way. Maybe scientiats should explore recessive genes more or maybe all the credit should go to the parents - perhaps Jim Henson & Seasme Street. Hard to say really - the Nuture vs. Nature debate has lasted for centuries really. But none the less there are those good people out there that are really special and should get to wear a special hat or something so we can spot them in crowded malls and farmers markets and be inspired to be good people too. If I was in charge of handing out the Good People Hats - one of the first ones would go to Marisa Miller Wolfson. Yes - she's a hot blond with a big brain but she also has a huge heart and ton of talent. Some of you may have heard of her work on the soon to released documantary Vegucated. A brilliant film that follows three meat & cheese loving New Yorkers adopting a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it’s all about. I mostly know her from Kind Green Planet - one of my very favorite websites! Recently I freaked out (in a great way) when I saw Marisa had blogged about Our Little Betty Crocker Project as one of her weekly missions and made the infamously delicoius Rustic Avocado Sandwich. We're both so happy she is contributng to our Family Album today and hopefully I won't spoil too much when I say - She has found a way to make baking cookies exciting and I'm pretty jealous of her Cookie Party and her large cookie cutters!

OK no more gushing about our Guest Blogger - Here's Marisa!

I love cookies. At any given moment, I can turn to my husband and ask, "What am I thinking about?" and his answer will be "cupcakes or cookies." He will be right. So you can imagine how excited I get by the holiday vegan cookie swap that our friends Michael and Annie Walsh have every year. Everybody bakes a few batches of one kind of cookie and leaves with an assortment of dozens of different kinds of cookies. It is a cookie monster's dream.

So how perfect was it when Annie asked me to try out one of her recipes, and she just HAPPENED to have posted one for gingerbread cookies. She tried them out herself and found that while they were tasty and soft, she used cookie cutters that were too small to have much fun with decorating. I ran to my baking drawer and found cookie cutters of all sizes. We had a winner!

In my Vegan at Heart email coaching program, I'm always preaching the gospel of planning meals ahead of time to avoid stress and fear of scarcity. I also remind people to read the entire recipe before you decide to make something, before you buy ingredients, and certainly before you start cooking or baking. Do as I say, people, not as I do. In true Marisa fashion (I put the "buh?" in blonde), I skimmed the recipe and forgot to notice a 2-hour-or-more dough chill time and a 1-hour cookie-cooking time. It was after 11 a.m. The party started at 3, and I hadn't even bought my ingredients yet. Aaack! The race was on.

Friday, December 17, 2010

My True Love Gave To Me...

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We've been getting a few emails asking what we got each other for Christmas this year and asking for gift ideas. I could gush over the charm bracelet Dan got me for Hanukkah or talk about how we are going small this year since we are saving up for a BIG SURPRISE... but instead I'll share one of our favorite gifts so far this holiday season : Cat Tank from ThinkGeek.
The living room just got a lot safer.
Now if you can't see the awesomeness of this strategic advancement in militarized apartment living - well you have probably missed our brave and trusted General Bonkers latest predictions concerning the War on String.
May I also suggest you check out the best LOLcat of all time.
More gift ideas to come...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Avocado & Smoked Sheese Salad with Toasted Walnut Dressing

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So I've been watching all the Star Trek Movies. It's been a bit of a marathon - if you will - and pretty much an awesome 48 thus far. Here are just a few of my preliminary observations :
Oh and while I was trying to complete my mission to write this blog post - I found  a pretty amazing picture of Spock punching Wolverine in the face and had to share.

Another mission I have had lately is to try to eat a salad a day. There are a lot of cookies floating around this home of ours right now and other various deliciousness and although we are still having smoothies for breakfast and I have stopped drinking caffeine... well I still wanted some salad in my life. I do admit that this salad has heaps of avocado and sheese so it might not be the healthiest but it is still one of the best Betty Salads we've made since starting this project. I love this Toasted Walnut Dressing and can't wait to try it with some fresh bread or just some baby carrots. I am pretty much in love with it x1,000.  I love it like Captain Kirk loves women with big hair.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Manicotti with a Kalamata Olive Pesto Tofu and Tofu Ricotta Filling

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In my house at Christmas, manicotti might be as popular as Santa Claus. It's a fancy centerpiece dish that is that rare combination of being impressive and pretty simple. I know you may look at this recipe and think - that's a lot of stuff BUT it's the holidays - why not make something super fly? To me - that means OLIVES!

People who know me know I am a slave to olives. I love them all and try to work them in every meal. I like olives in my tofu scramble just as much as I love them in a salad, tossed with pasta or in a taco. Really is there anything an olive can't do? Maybe geometry. Olives seem bad at math.

I came up with this Kalamata Olive Pesto a few years ago to mix in with linguine and some broccoli but after trying it out in manicotti a few years after that - I can't imagine ever going back to the standard vegan tofu ricotta style ever again. I'd miss those olives but I know not everyone likes things as fancy pants as me so I included a standard no pesto tofu ricotta recipe too... because it's the season of giving and I love showing all the things you can do with Tofu!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Incredible Green Monsta Casserole

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OK - So there is no Green Monsta in the Betty Crocker Cookbook but there is a Spinach-Bacon-Chicken casserole that I was veganizing and just kept going. I couldn't help myself. The casserole was very good on it's own but sometimes I see opportunities to work a little more kale or broccoli in my life and I just can't stop. Call it poor impulse control. Call it leveling up. Whatever. This dish is the prefect example of Shannons Gone Wild.

You'll be eating this for dinner for a week. Which also makes it perfect for this time year - when your nights are full of wrapping presents, writing out Holiday cards, baking cookies and drinking huge mugs of vegan chai or cocoa. We've been reheating bowls of this for days and it's been a nice break.

Oh and if you're wondering why I called it the Green Monsta since it kinda has nothing to do with Boston or The Red Sox... Well... Much like the mild mannered yet highly intelligent Bruce Banner this casserole may not look like much but stick it in the microwave and shoot a little radiation at it and it is unstoppable and kinda ugly.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project - Special Edition! Cookie Party featuring Peppermint Russian Tea Cakes & Raspberry Walnut Thumbprints

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The Tower of Peppermint Russian Tea Cakes

Henry David Thoreau once wrote : Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them. I feel like too many weekends go by like that - full of laundry and errands and unsung songs. It is a constant battle we all face to balance being productive with your free time and making time to watch Saturday morning cartoons. This brings us to the story of The Shannons' Holiday Cookie Party... 

Now most people know Betty Crocker is quite famous for her cookies and baked goods. So you can imagine (or look up in your copy of Beg Red) that there are more than a few cookie recipes we are going to need to bake through to complete our vegan journey. That brings us to an inspired idea we had to bake a million cookies (not literally) which in our home is actually considered being productive and hang out with some of our nearest and dearests. We would host a  Cookie Party! 

I'm not going to bore you with the details of how we invited over some of the most talented vegans we knew, asked them to bring enough cookies for everyone to have 2 (because unlike those insane cookie swaps where everyone leaves with dozens and dozens of cookies - we're just eating) and then we got together to eat them. I mean unlike many things in life - Cookie Parties are pretty much what they claim to be : 2 of the best things on the planet combined. 

We had a pretty impressive spread/tsunami of cookies and tea. You can check it out for yourself if you don't believe me. 

Get the flash player here:

To get the recipes for The Peppermint Russian Tea Cakes & Raspberry Walnut Thumbprints... and to see more photos...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Gingerbread Cookies

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I probably don't need to say this. I mean the photo probably says it all. But I need to say it before it gives me an ulcer. God Damn You Fraking Gingerbread Jerk. 
OK I didn't mean that. I'm sorry cookies. 

I know it's an irrational anger I feel towards these cookies because well they are cookies. What'd a cookie ever do to me besides being a delicious treat? Actually these guys are really easy and delicious cookies. To be fair - it's not the cookie's fault I'm so freaking pissed today. It was me. I did it. I used cookie cutters that were too small to make cookies that I could decorate in any fancy or cool way. Damn me and my "mini" obsession. Sigh. 

These cookies are good and soft vegan versions of those traditional Christmas treats from your childhood. I ate a bunch with my coffee this morning and they were actually really great. The more I think about it... These cookies are pretty awesome. Just learn from my mistake and use bigger cookie cutters. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Margherita Pizza

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This morning I woke up to a man outside my window saying "C'mon Annie! Let's make a little progress girl... Make me proud!" 

Now this man was talking to his beagle mix who apparently was taking her own sweet time doing her business but the words spoke to me none the less. I have a lot things that need doing right now and should really being focusing on this so called "progress" I keep hearing about. Until then... Let's talk pizza. I do hope this pizza makes my random neighbor proud. I know we loved making and eating this little pizza like Jacques Cousteau loved the open ocean* and Thomas Edison loved jerking Nikola Tesla around. I guess I only have one more thing to say today : 

That'll do Pizza - That'll do. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Soy Nog Cupcakes & A Very Special VegNews Contest!

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There's not really much more I can say about Soy Nog Cupcakes, other than that they're fantastic and you should try them! I mean, I guess I could talk up how moist and distinctively enjoyable they are for the holidays, but those would only be words. Something wonderful about this time of year is that you don't just talk about some pretty marvelous things - you actually get them! Think about it. You get to make a list of things you've always wanted and you get at least some of them - unless you've been bad. You get to bake all kinds of wonderful projects and warm up your house at the same time. People donate and volunteer more during these winter holiday months than any of time of the year. There are countless parties to throw and go to. Mistletoe to kiss your husband under. Still don't believe me this is an awesome time of year? You get to drink hot chocolate. You're drinking warm liquid chocolate! And one of my personal favorites - Silk Soy Nog hits the shelves.

These cupcakes combine 2 things that we love: Cupcakes and Silk Soy Nog! (insert starry eyed lovesick swoon here) They also seemed like a great post to announce our next contest. That's right, we're partnering up with one of our favorite magazines, VegNews--the premier magazine focusing on a vegetarian lifestyle since 2000--to bring you A Very Special VegNews End of the Year Contest!

All you have to do to win is leave a comment below answering these 3 questions:
  • What has been your favorite Meet The Shannons Recipe thus far?
  • What recipe have you always wanted to see veganized and would like to see next year?
  • What is your favorite feature on - Saavy Abby, Book Club, Cafe VegNews...?
Before you leave your comment - remember in order to win one of our contests, you need to be a "follower" of Meet The Shannons. If we can't email you, then we can't send you your prize! So before you leave your comment with the answers, make sure you use the "follow" button on the side of the blog.

We'll randomly choose a follower from the correct answers posted below on Jan. 1st and send you a MAJOR AWARD! (Please keep in mind that it will take a few days for processing and shipping). What is this major award all the kids are talking about? Well, a gift pack from VegNews, of course! This includes a one-year subscription, the current issue of VegNews, an over-sized tote bag, and six vegan cookies, a gift pack totaling $50! I know - It's like a Christmas Miracle!

Let's bake some cupcakes!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Baked Latkes

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If anyone had told me there would be so many Latke recipes hitting the internet the first day of Hanukkah - Well let's just say I wouldn't have believed it. I had been looking forward to posting this recipe since I found it hidden in the Vegetable section of Betty's Big Red under the title Potato Pancakes. But in a world of Latke recipes here's what makes this one special :
  • Vegan 
  • Baked not Fried 
  • Super Tasty 
  • Um - Like Extra Super Tasty! 
We've been enjoying these this Hanukkah with some Vegan Sour Cream while we watch basketball (How sad was it that Lebron didn't get his butt kicked last night? I'm not even from Cleveland but I don't like selfish people. That Gibson kid played his heart out though) and The Wire ( Can you believe Dan has never seen it? Really one of the best TV shows ever) ... We've also been playing a new game. We still love our Zombies but ya know it's cold and we wanted something we could play while I remain warm snuggled under 3 blankets on the sofa. Enter into our lives : Munchkins.

Yes - This game is as adorable as it sounds and you how I love those adorable things. It is full of inside old school D&D and RPG jokes (Oh yeah - We're going there). It  makes sense since it is put out by Steve Jackson Games - the Milton Bradley of RPGs. Though Munchkins isn't a RPG - just a card game that requires you to be super competitive and turn on those you love the most with curses like Chicken on Your Head and Duck of Doom. So obviously it has become a pretty popular way to spend a quiet night at home for us Shannons.

But enough nerdery for today - here's a song to grate potatoes too.You have to at least enjoy the LARPing by this Jewish Boy Band  if not the tune.  Thank you goes to Rachel S. who sent this song after seeing our Matzo Ball Soup featured on Peta2's blog. Happy 15th Birthday Rachel!

OK that's a lot of chatter. Let's make some Latkes! OH and for you folks who are feeling left out - We're making gingerbread cookies and some other Christmas stuff this weekend!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Snickerdoodles

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I won't bore you all (or possibly offend you) with some of the Snickerdoodle jokes we were making last night. Let's just be honest here - the name Snickerdoodle is begging for some filthy 5th grade humor.

There are multiple theories on where this "whimsical  name" comes from but this little cookie that might have originated in New England or maybe Germany has been around since at least the 1800 and has remained a popular cookie to pair with coffee and tea since the day of Gibson Girls and when "Official Bathing-suit Checker" was actually a job. That pretty much makes them popular with us Shannons too. I mean who doesn't love a nice little cookie with a big mug of their favorite warm beverage?

So let's get to what you're here for - A Vegan Cookie Recipe that just made your morning sweet!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Challah Atcha'!

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I have never baked Challah bread so this was a huge thrill for me to find this recipe in Betty's Big Red. Looking at it it seemed easy enough to veganize so that made me even happier because you see tonight at sundown Dan and I will be celebrating our first Hanukkah as old married folks. We're exchanging presents, lighting candles, spinning dreidels and watching basketball - you know you just like Judah & the rest of those bad-ass Maccabees did back in the day.

So for your enjoyment - here's my favorite Hanukkah song! You have to hit "Read More" for the the player to show up. I figure since no one listens to the radio anymore you folks won't be too sick of it. Besides I have to admit this song still makes me smile* everytime. Everytime! It also helps me lead into this :  I dedicate this bread to Captain Kirk and Mr.Spock - both Jewish!

So if your Festival of Lights has been missing this Jewish classic - here's a recipe that might just fill that hole on your holiday table. 

Ah Freilichen Hanukkah Everybody!

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: