Monday, May 31, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : French Toast with a Variety of Sweet Butters

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It was a long, humid, Virginia weekend. Not ideal for baking or frying or whatever. It was the type of weekend that makes you consider getting one of those little Hibachi grills for your fire escape so you can still cook and not turn your home into something Dante may have written about.

Perfect weather for long walks to the theater to see Iron Man 2. I'm not really sure why it took us so long to see this. We were talking about going opening night for months. I hope whatever we prioritized was really good because that movie seriously lived up to the hype. On the walk home, we talked a lot about our confusion over the Titanium Man storyline and our thoughts on Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow. See, Dan and I like to play this game where we cast pretend movies based on super heroes/literary classics/cartoons/80s sitcoms with current actors and actresses. We both agree -  Angelina Jolie was born to play Black Widow and she could do the accent unlike Scarlet apparently BUT most importantly if you're going to have an older (as in not in his 20s) Tony Stark why is it not appropriate to have an older (as in not in his 20s) Black Widow? Angelina Jolie would have been more age appropriate considering what is to come. ALSO - If you didn't stay for the end of the credits you missed out on a teaser that was so awesome it actually made me yell "YES!" in the theater. No joke - I'm really lucky to have Dan. In case you miss it - here's a clue

This brings us to Monday morning. The rain had come and we made an epic brunch that had not just 2 of Betty's fancy Sweet Butters but 3! Adapting Betty's French Toast recipe went fine but I still stand by the best Vegan French Toast recipe that at one point it was ironically renamed Freedom Toast. That should pretty much give you an idea how long we've been making that recipe.

Enough chatter let's eat brunch!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Special Leftovers Edition

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We get a lot of questions about what to do with leftovers. So we thought we'd share some of our favorites thus far.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Patty Melt & Cajun Potatoes

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So awhile ago I was watching Sex in the City and there was this itty bit of astuteness in an observation made by Sarah Jessica Parker's character that randomly pops in my head once in awhile like a little good faerie. (What? I'm a girl?!* Sometimes I like to watch stuff that has jokes from a generic ladies' point of view and don't discuss Jedi Politics. It was also always on at like 2 am and I used to have the worst insomnia.) In some episode that I don't remember - she says something like : She had come to terms with her looks and had decided to not just accept her body and face but enjoy them and treat them right. Anyone who didn't appreciate her unique beauty just didn't get it.

It seems trite, simple, obvious really, like the kind of canned wisdom a good mom tells her little girl and is instantly ignored, but it hovers still whenever like a wedding photographer looks at me funny because I'm going to wear my glasses and not cover up my tattoos or my Geek Chicness is not as obvious as my social awkwardness. I think : They don't get it. I rock. 

When I was taking pictures last night of this not so photogenic vegan patty melt, my heart kinda hurt for the little thing. I kept thinking about how this sandwich may not have all the snazzy colors of a good old school salad but it has a good personality and that's what counts!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Fondue, Green Beans with Shiitake Mushrooms & Asparagus with Dijon-Maple Sauce

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So yesterday, we talked a bit about Trekkies and my fascination with them. When I am totally honest it isn't so much a fascination as it is a sincere admiration. I love it when people own their "freak flag" per say and aren't afraid to be themselves.

Here's one of my many many freak flags : Sometimes I like to be "French". I love French music. I like French movies. I wear black a lot - maybe too much. I like bike rides and wearing hats all year round. I've even been known to wear a scarf with a t-shirt or sundress. I LOVE vegan French Food! I know this sounds obnoxious. I guess if we are being honest, I am a Frenchie ( I am also the most mixed up non-delinquent on the block).

So really it only makes sense I would get so excited about Betty's Fondue. It seemed like with all the bounty from our Farmer's Market Crusades*,  it was only right that we should include a good sized pot of fake cheese to dip stuff in. ALSO - These 2 vegetable recipes were already vegan and are good on their own so don't dip them in the Fondue pot unless you feel compelled. These Betty vegetable recipes needed very little tweaking.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Italian Chopped Salad & Asiago Bread

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So you had to know this was coming. We're going to talk about Star Trek today.

Many people know that Dan and I live in a house divided. He grew up in the Red Sox Nation and I'm from Yankee stock. I love TV that is so bad it is amazing and Dan would prefer to spend his TV time with nobler pursuits like killing Xbox mutants. When it comes to one of the most heated debates in The Nerd Nation, my husband, The Love of My Life, thinks Jean Luc Picard is the baddest cat to wear a Federation Starfleet uniform. OK, I have to admit that the photo the Picard link goes to is sweet but I can't help it- I'm more a Kirk girl.

It's not like we're Trekkies or anything. Though I would put the movie Trekkies in my top 100 desert island movies. I find them fascinating. This is just one of those things that comes up in the life of someone who is not exactly "cool" and you develop a stance on. Probably in the same way people who are "cool" have opinions on Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts and spray tans. I'm getting to my point. 

This week you are going to notice a lot of vegetable recipes because we totally loaded up at the farmer's markets on the way home from Assateague Island. You may love some more than others but unlike Star Trek Captains - you don't have to have a favorite. You can love them all equally. *

Ready to eat? Make it so. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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So I admit I have taken an unforgivable amount of time to post this recipe. I've been away from technology for a few days. I highly recommend it.

I also kept debating posting something very personal here about turning 35. How this is the first birthday that really made me think about where I was and what I want to do with my life in a way that only leading ladies in romantic comedies do when they turn 30. Just something about how I may not be where I want in my career or living in Europe or skateboarding* anymore but I have the personal success of marrying my best friend and that's actually what really matters. . . seems trite. 

Instead I'll tell you about my Unplugged Holiday. For my birthday, my thoughtful and clever husband took me to Assateague Island off the coast of Maryland to see the wild horses and wildlife and unplug for a few days. It was the perfect gift! We went canoeing around the island to see the horses up close which was - well just breathtaking and pretty much the definition of fun. Really the best part was just walking around looking at the snowy egrets and holding hands. We also stopped in this little town called Berlin and stumbled across a classic car show that was pumping Springsteen. i don't even like cars all that much but this was awesome. It was such an American All-Star Weekend featuring Wild Horses and Muscles Cars.I'll post the photos soon in our Adventure section. What I can post now is the recipe for this delicious cake.

I have to admit it has been a long time since I have baked a cake. I've been kinda caught up in the handy cupcake trend. Cupcakes in my opinion are kinda superior to the proper cake. You can personalize each little cake. You can make them smaller and make more. Everyone gets their own and no dishes! Really what can't a cupcake do? I mean besides math.

I'm hoping my next cake turns out a little bit more polished but just as tasty as this guy. . . if you are following along in your own Betty Crocker Cookbook. You will find the recipe for what we are adapting under Starlight Yellow Cake. Betty always comes up with the best names.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Betty Birthday Contest Results!

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It was really close. I considered the suggestion to make a bunch of little cakes but I have this antique cut glass cake stand from the 40s I just bought at an antique mall and I'm pretty much dying to give it a spin.Sometimes I can't believe the things I admit to you all.

Well, enough chatter, here's our results!

I will be celebrating my 35th birthday with a Peanut  Butter cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting! But don't worry - there was such a response to this we've decide to make this The Summer of The Betty Cake Gods! We'll try to bake the other cakes at least every other week and maybe throw a few pies in there as well. Please check back often to see your vote get veganized! ( Every time I write that - I think of those Jazzercise infomercials from when I was a little eater. I feel a little butt-shaking-jumping-jack-dancey-thing kick in and a desire to wear legwarmers. Boom - Chicca.) Photos and the recipe will be posted tomorrow! 

We randomly picked our winner from a very lucky Red Sox cap and am happy to announce : The winner of our first contest was V! We'll be getting those cups and gift card to you ASAP!

If you didn't win this time - don't worry - we have more contests coming up.

Before I forget, we have launched The Meet The Shannons Store. If you were one of the folks who requested a shirt, we have a bunch to choose from in organic cotton or bamboo or whatever. There are American Apparel ones and some others items too - like aprons, scarves and even organic cotton baby bibs. $3 to $5 of every purchase goes to The Betty Crocker Project. We tried to make the store as ethical as possible so please no hating. . .  and spread the word!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Eggs Benedict featuring The Vegan Poached Egg

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There are a few things you prepare to live your life without when you go vegan. They aren't big deals really.  Things you may have not even really liked until you realized that it didn't fit into a compassionate lifestyle. For someone like me, with a mild case of oppositional defiant disorder, this could go either way.

Exhibit A : Eggs with a Liquid Yoke.

I liked them well enough. They played a critical role in the traditional American breakfast. But let's be honest, is having an egg you can dip your toast in worth the systematic cruelty and seriously sociopathic exploitation    that is the egg industry? I know I could never enjoy another egg that came from a helpless little bird confined in a filthy crowded cage for their entire life. How those folks over at the UEP can look themselves in the mirror is beyond me. So, I live my life enjoying the scrambled tofu version of American breakfast and sleep at night.

That is until now! There is one motto Dan and I live our life by : We can make anything Vegan!

When I first started looking through Betty's book, I have to admit there was a few recipes that stood out as being somewhat impossible. Poached eggs was one of those. The vegan poached egg seemed like a culinary trick that would be some kind of mythical beast. Rumored to have been spotted at a random veg restaurant stumbled across on a demo tour or road trip. One might even be inclined to call it a "Unicorn" of sorts. It takes a few steps and a nifty little tool but it was so worth it. Who doesn't love unicorns?*

SO - Here is the first of many "Unicorns" featured in one of the most popular breakfast dishes of all time . . . 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Easy Bacon Cheeseburger Lasagna

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A few years back, I was looking at this absolutely just astounding website for MEAT CAKES with my friend Sarah (some of you may know her as the poster grrl from our facebook fan page Vegan Foods = Joy). Gross as it was - and believe me some of them were just sick - We were having a pretty good time coming up with some vegan versions of our own "Meat Cakes". My favorite was little tacos shaped like cupcakes with guacamole frosting sprinkled with green onions and black olives. I was actually inspired that day to create the infamous Fake Bacon Onion Ring Cheeseburger "cake" but then one of us had a realization : Most of these so called "Meat Cakes" were just weirdo versions of lasagna with some candles and spray cheese flowers.

The second I saw this recipe - I knew. I was making a vegan "Meat Cake".

If you are following along in your own Betty Crocker Cookbook, you'll see that there aren't really any vegetables in this recipe. I mean does canned tomato sauce really count as a vegetable? I had pulled some fresh tomatoes out of the fridge to add - I mean - cheeseburgers have slices of tomatoes - right? But here's the thing with a "Meat Cake" : Not unlike regular cakes, "Meat Cakes"  aren't solid until you bake them. If there is too much moisture - they don't get solid. SO! I didn't do it. I may try to tinker with it in the future but because I did have to tinker with this one quite a bit to add flavor and of course replacing the ricotta and taking out the eggs - WELL - this recipe is without a doubt, no compromise, assuredly, beyond question, clearly, a super undeniable "Meat Cake". 

ENJOY! Please eat with a salad. *

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Three Bean Salad

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Is there anything more fun than a Shannon road trip? Really, who doesn't like sing-a-longs to The Beastie Boys in the family truckster and hitting the road with your best friend. We attended a co-ed baby shower near Lexington, VA last weekend, so we made the most of it and crossed a few American landmarks off our life list. First, we stopped at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, where we had the best tour guide we've ever had at one of these historically touristy spots. He told us all the dirt on Ol' Tom and even made a few jokes about Tom's black market book collection. Apparently, America's 3rd president was really into the Colonial version of Napster, and after the Library of Congress was destroyed by the British during The War of 1812, Jefferson replaced it with bootlegged copies from Ireland. If you ever go - make sure your tour guide is a younger dude classy enough to wear a full suit and tie in VA humidity. He was hilarious and odd - great tour guide material. Yes - We've done enough of these History Hot Spots to be experts on a good tour guide: Colonial Williamsburg, Freedom Trail in Boston, Notre Dame in Paris (the tour in English was surprisingly similar to its American peers) and various other adventures.

So when we were planning the food for our trip, it seemed only right to bring some traditional American favorites. Of course, Betty has more of these than you can imagine. Pages and pages of them actually… and then EUREKA! Three Bean Salad! Who doesn't love that?

So we hit the road with Tofurky sandwiches, brownies, potato chips, and three bean salad. To be fair, Betty's was already vegan - but I couldn't help but tweak it. 

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Asian Tuna with Wasabi Aioli and Sesame Buttered Broccoli

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You know those nights. . . the ones where everything just kinda works out? The nights when you're a little worried The Cleveland Cavilers may live up to their reputation and beat The Celtics but instead Kevin Garnett goes Berserker on them with his metal face and all.* The nights when you're a little unsure what dinner is going to turn out like and you were kinda grumpy all day so you're worried you may unknowingly stumble into a fight with your significant other but you don't and dinner turns out actually kinda amazing. You eat a dinner at home that you would pay to eat at a restaurant except this dinner is even better because you get to eat it in your slippers and a comfortable chair trying to keep kittens off the table. I really like those nights. Sigh. Thank you Betty for your role in this lovely evening.

OK enough gushing . . . more eating. . .

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Betty Birthday Contest!

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I love birthdays! Always have. Anyone who knows me can vouch that when it comes to birthday's I really do what I can to make a little magic happen. . . some examples of this would include The Shark Week Cupcakes and the EPIC Fake Bacon Onion Ring Cheeseburger "cake" pictured above I made for Dan. This of course leads me to my little problem. . . I turn 35 in a week and I can't decide which Betty cake recipe to make this year. I mean she has pretty much created The Pantheon of Cake Gods in this thing. So I'm letting you, my loyal food friends, choose for me and win a prize. . . Here's your choices: 
  • German Chocolate Cake
  • Molten Lava Cake
  • Silver White Cake with White Mountain Frosting
  • Chocolate Chip Cake with Chocolate Ganache
  • Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
  • Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
All you have to do is leave a comment below voting for what recipe you'd like to see next Friday and we'll choose one follower (sorry to be so strict but we have to have a way to contact you) to win these cute little espresso cups with precious little piglets on them and a $10 gift card to Starbucks. I know - We should be supporting a local coffee shops but some of you guys are in like Europe and really how are we going to make that work? Besides, Starbucks has these new vegan cookies and frappucinos now and they always have soy milk - so really it shouldn't too hard to spend $10 there.

We'll announce the winner on Wednesday May 20, 2010 and posting the recipe on May 21, 2010 and perhaps eating an entire cake that evening.

PS - Bunnies.

Doc Rivers, Head Coach Of The Boston Celtics, Consults With My Wife During A Timeout

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ANNIE: Doc, I feel crowded in this kitchen because there isn’t enough counter space.

DOC: You’ve just gotta stay focused. Maintain your intensity in the kitchen. You’re a cook—this is what you do. If you stay focused, the tiny kitchen can’t beat you.

ANNIE: But our fridge is small too, so there’s no room for leftovers.

DOC: Look, we all want to cook this recipe. But we’ve got to do it together. OK? We’re trying to do it ourselves. We’ve got to do it together.

ANNIE: I’m all out of Supernatural since the new season isn’t on DVD yet. What am I supposed to do while I cook?

DOC: Just stay aggressive. I love your tempo right now. That’s who you are. That’s how you’re gonna win. Cook at your pace. Don’t cook at someone else's pace. Cook at your pace.

ANNIE: So we have this Aerogarden to grow herbs, but the basil has taken over and it’s choking out all the other herbs.

DOC: It’s a 45-minute recipe. OK? That’s all. Just cook the recipe for 45 minutes. That’s all you gotta do. 45 minutes. That’s all. Leave all the other stuff at home.

ANNIE: Percy keeps biting my ankles while I cook because he thinks it’s funny when I squeal. I’m worried I’m going to drop something on him.

DOC: Just stick to the game plan. Cook the recipe the way it’s drawn up. Percy’s going to try to draw you out of your recipe, out of your comfort zone. OK? Don’t let him. It’s your recipe. Just commit to it. You can make this vegan.

ANNIE: But there’s still not enough counter space.

DOC: Just maintain your intensity out there. Just stay focused. OK, bring it in. Energy, on three. Ready? One, two…

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Ranchero Pizza

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Think back to some of your favorite memories from when you were a little eater... I'm pretty sure these 2 words are in there somewhere: PIZZA PARTY!

So the other day I was feeling a little down, and needless to say, I decided it was time to have another party. So this week, we threw a vegan pizza party starring Betty's Ranchero Pizza. This is one of those recipes where Betty has to show folks how to use pre-made ingredients to their full potential, so it takes like 30 minutes to make tops. It’s also one of those recipes that makes you want to dance around with your grrl-friends all Wanda Jackson style... So get your comfy shoes on and let's get started. Click here for some BBQ-pie-making music.  

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Caramel Sticky Rolls

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The other day I posted on Facebook that I was eating "Vegan Shrimp Scampi and watching Desperately Seeking Susan starring 80's dreamboat Aidan Quinn". 
I was in the middle of reliving some bad perms I had back in the day, when my friend and fellow food blogger Anjali pointed out that Dan looks just like 80's Aidan Quinn and that I got to marry the '80s heartthrob of my dreams. I can't believe I had never noticed this before. SIGH - Oh those blue eyed Irish boys. . . I'm such a lucky girl - I got the best one.

Seriously - I did and not just because Dan is such a looker. 
We both work some pretty long hours. So Dan started getting up really early so he could make us breakfast everyday.  We get a good half hour around dawn to drink coffee and talk about what was just on NPR or what we're making next out of Ol' Big Red. It is one of the best parts of my day and it just got a little better. 

I've been working on the Caramel Sauce and I'm happy to tell you it has been improved. . . I mean seriously. . . this sauce is no joke. This is the sauce you will think about when you fall asleep tonight. This sauce will be dancing through your head like a Caramel Sauce Revolution. OK - So that clip I just linked to really had nothing to do anything BUT I'd like to think if these Caramel Sticky Rolls could dance. . . they'd stop traffic like that guy in the tiny green shorts. 

A special thank you goes out to another friend and professional Cinnaholic Shannon Radke for her expert cinnamon roll tips that have helped make these beauties so pretty. 
OK - Grab your mitts - Let's BAKE! 

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Reuben Sandwich with Coleslaw

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I'm a simple woman. I love my husband and my cats. I love Patsy Cline and nice tall glasses of iced tea. I love walking through Manhattan in the rain and red shoes. I love Reuben sandwiches. I mean it is a sandwich that includes sauerkraut and rye bread. . . brilliant. But even the happiest cowboy sings a sad song. When it comes to Reuben sandwiches for me it is the 1,000 island dressing. Even when I wasn't vegan that stuff skeeved me out. So needless to say when I made my own using an adapted version of Betty's recipe I was pleasantly surprised when I kinda loved it! I don't think I'll be dumping it on any salads anytime soon but I do promise from this moment on all my Reuben's will include this tasty condiment.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Shrimp Scampi

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So I know what you're thinking. . . Wait. . . That's not Clams in White Sauce! And you would be correct. But sometimes you can't fight inspiration. This recipe is so fast and so good. . . it spoke to me and I was compelled to share.

Now we have talked before about the wide variety of Faux Seafood out there and even though these little guys aren't the cutest. . . they are my very favorite fake shrimp. They are bite sized, don't get mushy and have the right taste and texture to really make a nice dish. They only thing wrong with them. . . the name. 
They are called Shrimp Balls. OK now that we've gotten the cheap, childish and super fun giggles outta the way. . . Let's enjoy this culinary wish come true!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Taco Salad

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 I had planned on writing this whole thing about how there are a lot of Americans who don't eat good Mexican food. . . citing examples like the caulking guns they use at Taco Bell to serve their bean and guacamole pastes, their strange octagon shaped taco sandwiches and of course the role they play in the evil axis that is Yum! brands

But to be honest - Taco Salad isn't really Mexican food. It is more Mexican inspired but that's not to say this isn't one of the best recipes in this project thus far. Betty is so my Yoda. 

But enough lallygagging. . . there are quite a few steps so let's get going.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Herb Roasted Chicken & Vegetables

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Get Ready - I'm about to say something absurdly pretentious.

I adore the French countryside.

It was 2005 and I was taking the train from London to Paris when I did something that could have been really stupid considering my limited French. I had just met with the gals at Cosmo UK about their "Nice Girls Fake It" campaign and their announcement that they would be fur-free. I was still jet-lagged and my train to Paris for fashion week left before dawn. I was over-caffeinated and it was raining . . . and for some reason as soon as my train lifted out of the dark tunnel into the rolling hills of France. . . I just found my face pressed against the window of the train like a child. The softly rolling hills hid these small charming cities like fish in the sea. Really if you weren't paying attention - you could miss them. The only thing betraying most of these little towns were these tall pointed church spires that reached high above the rooftops, vineyards and orchards. It took around 3 stops before I grabbed my suitcase and jumped off. This was really my one day "off" this trip. I had blocked it off for travel and figuring out the metro in Paris. Instead I rented a locker and walked around a city center that could fit inside an American Mini-Mall in galoshes and an umbrella. I ate a baguette and some compote de pommes (applesauce) with a pot of tea in a cafe' full of mismatched chairs and chipped dishes.

I know you are wondering why I am boring you with this. . . because the old guys sitting next to me at the cafe playing backgammon shared a small pot of something that looked just like this dish.

I remembered this day the second I pulled the pot from the oven and it made me wish that we had made it with Herbes de Provence instead of the herb mix Betty suggested.. . . I love Betty but I just think that the Herbes de Provence would add a little something extra. When we make it again, you can bet we will be using it.OK - I'll stop boring you now - Let's eat!

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Butterscotch Brownies

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We had big plans for this weekend. . . plans that included Free Comic Book Day at Local Heroes, watching the Celtics beat the Cavaliers, a Ben Peterson visit and homemade Cinnamon Rolls. If you saw the basketball game Saturday night - you know the weekend didn't go as planned. 

We did spend WAY too much on comic nerdery Saturday morning. . . as planned*. . . taking advantage of that sale like she was a hayseed right off the bus (please take some time to check out the updates on our Nerdery page). We got in some good Old Fashioned Ben Peterson Time. . . though the bar we were at had a music selection suited for an unoriginal 11 yr old girl. I mean I can handle some Lady GaGa but Mylie Cyrus at a bar? That's just not OK.  On a side note - for those who didn't know - Mylie Cyrus and Hannah Montana are the same person. I know I'm not the only one.

That is where our list of victories ends. See Betty's cinnamon rolls are real works of art and by the time Sunday morning came around, well I had made a mistake that would follow me around till this very moment. 

I had picked up the second season of the American Gothic epic Supernatural. I thought I could watch Sam & Dean fight demons and ride around the back roads of America in their black Impala while I baked. But I put that first DVD in and I was hooked. Our dreams of cinnamon rolls would have to wait till another day. These brownies take around 5 minutes to mix. . . I made them during the credits of No Exit. They were quick and pretty much amazing with vanilla soy ice cream (not pictured above so you could see more brownie). . . maybe too good. Next thing I knew - I was here typing this and thinking about how much I loved this weekend, these brownies and of course - My old man.