Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Cream Cheese Brownie Pie

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I keep starting and deleting blog posts on the following topics:
  • Why I'm happy Dan isn't a vampire. Vampire/human romantic relationships always seem so dramatic and dysfunctional.
  • How robots are cool because they're vegan, but how a misplaced affection for them may someday lead to our destruction in a robo-apocalypse.
  • What superheroes I suspect would go vegan if there were a way to get these brownies into the Marvel Universe; but Dan already wrote something like that like a billion years ago.
  • How every vegan has their own favorite brownie recipe that they think is the second coming, and how they're all pretty good in different ways. In fact, I can't remember the last time I had a bad vegan brownie.
  • Why I think my cats are Russian Spies.
But none of them ever really come together. I mean, in theory they made me giggle--and I am sincerely glad Dan isn't a vampire--but I think instead I'll stick to the subject. These brownies are pretty good if you like a dark chocolatey fudgey chewy brownie, but if you have your own favorite vegan brownie you can always substitute it, because the real star of this recipe is the cream cheesecake layer. I drizzled some of the caramel sauce from the Caramel Sticky Rolls over them, because that's how we roll around here. Of course, I've heard from some of you that you prefer the caramel sauce on the Turtle Cheesecake... so follow your heart. I won't judge.

OK - let's do this.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Quesadillas

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Sometimes we come across one of the Betty recipes that makes us ask ourselves, "Does this really need a recipe?" The thing is, we don't make the rules, and if Betty says this is a recipe, well, it is. Also, some people are beginners... So if this is helpful for you, that's good enough for me! This was a delicious dinner. Next time I think I'll add some fake chicken, or maybe some artichoke hearts, or both. Who knows how crazy our quesadillas might get? Broccoli could be good.

Last night, Dan and his family went to a baseball game to eat veggie dogs and cheer for the doomed Norfolk Tides. I was left home alone to work on my writing a bit and some upcoming projects for Meet The Shannons. I may have also watched a few episodes of Ghost Adventures - which in my opinion is one of the most hilarious shows on TV. If you aren't familiar - here's a rundown:

Three dudes go to famous historical locations with night-vision goggles and cameras, and taunt ghosts like they're picking a fight at Hooters. There are a lot of Affliction and System of a Down t-shirts, and yelling of "Brutal" and "Bro". On one occasion, I think of they were shooting at ghosts with cap guns, which my friend Anjali over at Delicious Coma has pointed out "is messed up for so many reasons." Last night they had a machete. Seriously.

The quesadillas were super fast, so I wouldn't miss a minute of awesome-ness--which made them awesome too!

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Thai Chicken with Basil & Lemonade

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This weekend we had a Shannon invasion!

Dan's parents and little sister came down from Boston and NYC to hang out at the beach, watch some soccer, and celebrate his dad's birthday/retirement/belated Father's Day--a perfect-storm celebration with the Virginia Shannons.

Yes, the US team is out of the World Cup, and that was a bummer. But you have to admit Ghana's keeper is talented. I mean, it would be really hard to think of another man dressed in head-to-toe periwinkle who kicks that much ass.

Saturday in Virginia was hot. Not really living on the Sun hot; more like Mercury, or that binary star they thought was a moon around Mercury until the 70s. So I thought it would be a good idea to skip the oven. We pulled out the rice cooker and scanned the "20 minutes or less" section of Betty's Big Red for something kinda light and healthy. The thing I didn't expect was the steam from the wok.

Yeah, I kinda cooked myself making this, but it was so worth it! We paired it with Betty's Lemonade recipe and it had a lovely dinner with some loved ones... after I drank about 4 glasses of icy lemonade. Sigh - what a world.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Special Edition : Jambalaya and a tribute to Cafe Bamboo

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We recently heard some sad news.

Dan and I went to New Orleans for our honeymoon last summer. It was pretty hot, Dan caught a cold, and we saw alligators. Basically, we had an amazing time in one of the most charming cities in the country! The best part of the trip was being pleasantly surprised by all the delicious vegan Creole, Cajun, Soul and just plain ol' Southern food. I mean, we enjoyed Po'Boys, Key Lime Pie, Gumbo, Sweet Potato Fries, Cajun-Spiced Veggie Burgers, and Fried "Chicken". One of the best spots was called Cafe Bamboo.

I've eaten at vegan restaurants all over the world, and Cafe Bamboo was easily my top 10 favorite spots. That's why it broke my heart to hear they're closing their doors, and that there are people who won't get to experience their awe-inspiring take on vegan Cajun, Creole and Soul food. We're dedicating this Jambalaya to those folks at Cafe Bamboo.

Good luck to you guys, and I hope to hear you'll open your doors again someday!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : New Style Pork Chops

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For weeks, I've been talking about making vegan New Style Pork Chops. I tried to research why they're called that, and spent a lot of time looking into what would be the best mock meat to use. I wrote a blog post in my head about this time a few years back when Dan and I were both in New York for work, and I took him to the Algonquin Hotel for dinner. Now if you aren't big history nerds like us, you might not know that the dinning room in that hotel is famous for hosting The Algonquin Round Table in the 1920s.

It was pretty cool to sit in The Rose Room, inches from the table where Dorthy Parker, Robert Benchley, George S. Kaufman, Harold Ross, Tallulah Bankhead, Harpo Marx, and numerous other authors, intellectuals, and various other talents met daily for lunch, conversation and harassment of the waitstaff. What wasn't cool was the menu that left us eating a dinner of roasted vegetable sides and some dry bow tie pasta. We weren't actually there for the food, and now we can say we had gin & tonics at The Algonquin. But in a dream world, a dish made just like this would have been on the menu, and just because it isn't actually called "New York Style Pork Chops" doesn't make that any less true.

I think we've taken this dish to a new level of "New Style" by making it vegan. This is a classy dish that would be perfect for any special occasion, but can also doll up a boring Wednesday.

New Style Pork Chops
  • 1 Cup of Match Vegan Meats Pork (Separate it into "chops", each about 1/4 to 1/2 a cup. Form the "pork" with your hands into patties smaller than your hand. There are several May Wah products you could also use, and of course you can always make this with your favorite Fake Chicken. I guess that would make it New Style Chicken, but still pretty tasty!)
  • 1 Cup of Better than Bouillon vegetable broth (prepared using instructions on the jar)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Teaspoon Agave Nectar
  • 1/4 Cup White Wine
  • 1 Tablespoon Braggs
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 3 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Red Onion (chopped)
  • 2 Cloves Garlic ( minced)
  • 1/2 Cup Kalamata Olives
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley (chopped)
  • Rice Pilaf to serve with the Chops

Make Rice Pilaf per instructions on the box/bag. We used a Wild Rice Mix from Trader Joe's, but there are a lot to choose from.

In a shallow bowl, mix Broth, Lemon Juice, Braggs and Agave Nectar. Dip your Chops into the Broth Mix and count to 20. Place the dipped Chops onto a dish and set them aside.

In your handy cast iron skillet, heat Olive Oil at a medium heat. Place your Chops in the heated Oil and brown on both sides. Once you start to have a crispy "skin" on your Chops, pour the rest of the Broth Mix over the Chop and add Red Onions, Garlic, Black Pepper, and White Wine. Continue to flip the Chops and mix the other ingredients. Let the Chops simmer for around 15 minutes, or until the Onions are tender. Toss in the Kalamta Olives, Thyme and Parsley. Let simmer another 5 minutes.

Serve over Rice Pilaf with a lovely cocktail and some witty remarks.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Spicy Skillet Chicken & Limeade

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Back in the day, Dan and I suffered from a pattern that many other couples I know have found themselves stuck in. We called it The Friday Night Fight.

After a long week, 10-12 hour days and dealing with folks who... let's just say found themselves surprised it was Friday, and just realized they had things they needed to do this week but hadn't, or whatever the reason they were rude or unprepared all day long... well, Dan and I would find ourselves on Friday night a bit frustrated, fried, and easily irritated. This isn't really a great state of mind to go into a date with, and that's where we'd get ourselves in trouble. We'd try to plan these big dates and end up frustrated with each other when we missed movies or had to wait 45 minutes for a table.

It didn't take us long to recognize the problem and fix it. We're pro-active folks and career activists, after all. Hence the development of the New Friday Philosophy (Ol' Abe, The Great Orator, said it better than I could). No longer would our Friday nights hang under the shadow of "A Plan" or attempts at a "Date Night". We'd get off work when we were done, come home, and play some nerdtastical game till the wee hours of morning, because we had the luxury of sleeping in. We even introduced Gardein Beef Burritos with extra Guacamole from a local spot Dan can stop by on the way home so we could skip doing dishes. Basically we would just be excellent! It didn't take long for Friday to become the best night of the week.

I think that's why at our house, Mexican food always brings with it a relaxing happiness. We dance little jigs as we cook it, and we eat way more than we should in one sitting. We go to bed those nights with big smiles, and wake up excited for the next Friday.

Dan made Betty's Limeade to go with this Mexican themed dish, and together we made a perfect meal for a summer night and brought a little of our New Friday Philosophy to the middle of this very long week.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Meat Lover's PIzza

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You know, there's really not much more to say than this: I am a Mock Meat Lover. I love it! I love savory vegan foods that are a vehicle for sauces - and I'm a loyal fan to a good sauce. I'm even a bigger fan of not eating animals. Is it weird that this love of vehicles for sauces was one of the first things Dan and I ever bonded over? Back in our "just friends" days, Dan used to cook for me when I came to visit, and we'd tip each other off to good restaurants to check out because we were both traveling campaigners. The pursuit of good vegan food was one of our first shared passions.

We've both been vegan a pretty long time now, and can remember when mock meat was a pasty, bland nightmare. I know a lot of vegans still hate mock meats today, just because the first generation back in the day was just so very, very bad. Seriously, I just got a shiver up my spine thinking about it.

The thing is, those days are gone. Technology has come so far, and today there's no excuse to eat animals with such a variety of delicious vegan products and substitutes available (even if only by mail order in some places). Mock meat is the definition of amazing now! If you were one of those folks who never thought you'd learn to love again after your favorite mock meat started using egg whites, or were burned by one of the mock meat dinosaurs, please give these new products a try! You can live a cruelty free life and still enjoy things like a vegan meat lovers pizza.

So please, make this for your friends, and challenge that myth that anybody has to suffer for a second for good food.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Oven Pancake

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Ever have a weekend so great you find yourself doing this?

Just kidding. I don't have that hat.

But I did have a great weekend. Many of you already know that I'm the Manager of Online Communications for the animal advocacy group In Defense of Animals. This weekend, we launched our first Virtual Demo for the International Day of Action for Elephants in Zoos, and it was a huge success. I mean, I'm still amazed. People all over the world participated, changing their profile photos, posting comments, and tweeting at zoos - letting the zoos, their fans, followers, friends, and the whole online world know that wild animals don't belong behind bars. Over the weekend, more than 7,000 online actions were taken, 500 new people were introduced to our organization, and almost 200 people changed their profile photos to the day of action "sign". As someone who spends all day, every day online advocating for animals, this is the best day I've had in long time! I'm already looking forward to our next one.

But it didn't end there. Just when I thought the weekend couldn't get any better - Sunday morning we had these quick, easy and delicious "pancakes" for breakfast and I got to play a video game with my best friend.

Sigh. Good times...

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Chicken Fingers & Oven-Baked Potato Wedges

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I'm not sure if you knew this... but yesterday was vegan Christmas!

Yes, there was a huge box of Match Vegan Meats left on my doorstep yesterday. Poor little buddies, just looking for a kitchen to call home... until they're cooked and eaten, that is. MUAHAHAHAH.

We started with the "chicken," because we had tried the Betty chicken fingers recipe recently with our May Wah surplus and had been less than thrilled with the results (pictured below). I mean, they tasted pretty good, but the corn flake coating kept falling off and they were really messy to eat. The Match chicken comes in a uncooked sort of paste form, so you can make it into fingers and bread it without ending up with a lap full of baked crunchy bits.

Don't get me wrong... it hurts me say it. I mean, there hasn't been a competition this fierce since Kirk had to fight Spock. But I have to say that the Match Vegan Meat chicken fingers were freaking amazing! They made the May Wah ones look greasy and sad. If you can make these tonight - just do it.

And then do this.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Chicken Cacciatore

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So, last night Dan walked in on something that was kinda awkward... one of those things that you eventually end up sharing with the one you love. And of course the 10,000 people who read this blog. (No joke. I checked the numbers; over 10,000 people read this blog last month.)

Back to my story. We had a very honest moment in our marriage last night. Dan walked in while I was watching New Moon. Yes. The second Twilight movie.

What? I like vampires and werewolves and movie monsters. Correction: I LOVE movie monsters! If you've ever watched the real classics--The Blob (seriously Steve McQueen can't do wrong), Dr.Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (the one from 1931 that won 2 much deserved Academy Awards), Godzilla vs. Mothra (the best of the series in my opinion)--you have to agree that monsters and melodrama go hand in hand. Yes, the relationship stuff was exhaustively annoying, but the Twilight movies have a really high production value and I like the soundtracks. Yes, they cost an obscene amount of money to make, and maybe I'm just waxing a little nostalgic because they're filmed in the Pacific Northwest and I get homesick for Seattle and Olympia pretty much once a week... But whatever. I admit, I like these movies. I don't love them. The books are another subject, and make me sad, because trees died to make them.

What's my point?

A very long time ago, one of my beautiful and wise Italian aunts gave me some advice: "One of the most important things a woman can know is how to make a good cutlet."

Now at the time I was thinking "Really? More important than say... how to use a computer... fix a flat tire... do your taxes?"

But last night, as Dan walked into the living room and half-smirked when he realized what was on the TV, I had to laugh, because all he said "How's the Twilight?" and then "Dinner was great!"
Whatever the magic of the good cutlet is apparently extends to vegan cutlets as well, and saved me from a good-natured teasing.

Thank you, vegan cutlet magic!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Pizza Dip

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It was an exciting night in Shannon household, full of heartbreak and drama.

Yes, as you can probably tell from the photo, our delicious pizza dip caught fire in the broiler. Not a big fire, really. It was more like a birthday cake. I put the rack in too high, and when I went to pull it out, I just had to blow on it to save our lives and property.

Don't worry, we didn't throw this little guy away. We don't waste food around here. The Celtics played the Lakers last night, and we had to eat something to take our minds off the whipping the guys in green got. It was a heartbreak of a game, with injuries and missed baskets here, there and everywhere. I hate it when they look so sad. But I have to say that if there's one thing I've learned sharing my life with Dan, and from all the sports media in our lives, it's that nothing makes the fans go crazy more than a redemption story. So let's all get really excited for that.

It is really too bad that the photo doesn't do this dip justice. This had all the potential of being a really great photo, with the diced peppers and olives and everything. What this photo doesn't really show is that even burnt, this dip was pretty good. Our dearest Chris Overton (pictured below), or The Ol' Rev Dino Arms as he came to be known at our wedding, said it had that "Pizza Hut burnt crust taste" - which actually had it's own charm. Although it would have been nice to really taste the fresh basil that was lost in the damage.

Here's to your dip having a better trip in the broiler - and to the Lakers tanking on Thursday!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project: Orange Teriyaki Beef with Noodles

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Fact: I went to a pro wrestling match with my buddy Holbein on Sunday.
Fact: It wasn’t some sort of hipster irony thing (I‘m against irony in general).
Fact: I am 30 years old.

People say that pro wrestling is no fun because it’s pretend. First of all, these are the same people who got off telling their friends’ little sister that Santa Claus wasn’t real. Second of all, of course pro wrestling is pretend—that’s WHY it’s fun. Imagine if I'd spent Sunday afternoon in a building full of 10,000 people screaming their heads off while three-hundred-pound men REALLY threw each other onto the concrete floor from ten feet off the ground, smashed each other over the head repeatedly with steel folding chains, and just generally beat one other senseless like a chimpanzees on a movie set. It would be grotesque; it would be human dog fighting. And it wouldn’t be fun AT ALL. Professional wrestling is fun because it’s pretend. Otherwise it’d just be violence.

I thought of this while cooking this recipe, watching Gardein Beefless Tips sizzle and brown in a thin layer of sesame oil in our trusty wok, weighing the promise of a mid-preparation snack against the inevitability of singed fingertips. “It looks so real,” I thought—and for a moment I had the slightest little twinge of vegan guilt. But here’s the thing… if it had been real, it would have been disgusting. I know this. And lo: professional wrestling. Fake meat is delicious and wonderful and all that is good in the world precisely BECAUSE it’s pretend. Otherwise it’d just be violence.

Without further ado… this recipe is scheduled for one fall!

The Betty Crocker Project : Chicken Thyme Penne Salad

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This is a really nice recipe. There's no scorching spiciness, no rich and creamy fake cheese, no hot kitchen afterwords - nothing to put a dent in a perfect summer afternoon. This recipe just makes you feel good about spending your Saturday watching The World Cup with loved ones and gets along with everyone: Triscuits, Iced Tea, whatever.

I have to admit: I'm a sucker for "nice".

Exhibit A: This weekend, Dan found a $50 bill in our parking lot, and spent almost an hour trying to think of ways to return it to the unfortunate butterfingers who dropped it. How nice is that? He's good people.

Exhibit B: My favorite part of the Word Cup is watching the players and fans from all over the world being so happy to be there. After each game, they're hugging and shaking hands and at least appearing to be sincerely "nice" to each other. We watched the England vs. USA game in a bar full of drunk British Naval officers in town on their way to the Gulf of Mexico - we were outnumbered 5 to one. The whole game, we were out-cheered, heckled and out-sung (they had nice little soccer ditties that we could only respond to with chants of "1776" and the chorus from "Born In The USA"). After the game, we bought each other shots of American Jack Daniels and Scottish Johnnie Walker (closest they had to a good English drink). They shook our hands and said "good game". They called us mates and there were hugs all around. Such a far cry from the fist fights outside the Yankee/Sox games.

Exhibit C: I'm vegan. What could be nicer than living a lifestyle that is nice to your body, the environment, and of course, animals.

Nice is just not appreciated enough. Nice is what we call the people we are too young and dumb to realize we should be dating. Nice is what dudes say when something isn't quite "sweet". But I'll be honest - I love nice. Nice, you are my very favorite, and so far this is my very favorite of the Betty Chicken Salads.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Corn Bread Topped Sausage Pie

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Sometimes you remind yourself so many times to do something that it gets filed away with the things you already did. You could have sworn you did it, because you did it in your head like a dozen times. For me this week, taking pictures of this delicious, fast, and easy Mexican-themed casserole became one of those things.

I thought I did it. Could have sworn I did it. I have a vivid imagination that remembers doing it. But until we make this again, please enjoy this nerdy senorita in place of a photo of golden corn bread, black beans, and spicy tomatoes.

Also check out these interviews on Vegan Police & Kiss Me, I'm Vegan: 2 of our favorite blogs. We love these guys!

Now let's make this whole-meal-in-a-pot dream come true! (Warning: when you click on this, you won't be able to control yourself. Expect dancing and good feelings. Don't click if you want to feel bad and remain still. I mean it. )

Corn Bread Topped Sausage Pie
Pie Stuffing :
  • 1 Package of Soyrizo (We used Trader Joe's, but I've heard there are many varieties out there. If you can't find any, I recommend using Tempeh or Fake Burger Crumbles cooked in Taco Seasoning.)
  • 1 Medium Red Onion (chopped)
  • 1 Small Green Pepper (chopped; make sure this guy isn't too big, or he'll make your casserole kinda watery when he cooks)
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • Dash of Hot Sauce
  • 1 Clove Galric (minced)
  • 1 15 oz can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Cup of Frozen Corn (thawed)
  • 1 Can of Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 Teaspoons Cumin
  • 2 Tablespoons Braggs
  • Dash of Beer
  • Dash of Liquid Smoke
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for Cooking

Corn Bread Topping:
  • 2/3 Cup Cornmeal
  • 1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Soy Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Applesauce
  • 1/4 Cup Daiya Cheddar Cheese (shredded; you'll want an extra handful or two to make a Cheezy layer between the Bread and Pie Stuffing)

Heat Oven to 400.

In your handy cast iron skillet, heat Olive Oil, Beer and Liquid Smoke at a Medium Heat. Once it begins to bubble, add Soyrizo (really squeeze out as much of the flavored oil as you can of the "casing"), Green Pepper, and Red Onion. Brown these on a Medium Heat till Soyrizo starts to get a crispy around the edges, and Onions begin to caramelize. Stir in Diced Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, Garlic, Corn, Hot Sauce, Black Beans, Cumin, and Braggs. Let cook until it begins to boil.

In a mixing bowl, mix all the Corn Bread Topping Ingredients except Daiya Cheese. Blend with a hand held mixer until smooth. Stir in Daiya Cheese with a large spoon.

Spoon your Pie Stuffing Mix into a ungreased 2 quart casserole dish. If you use a larger dish, your Corn Bread won't completely cover the top. Which isn't the end of the world; it just means you'll have a to center your Corn Bread topping to make sure it cooks evenly. Take a handful of Daiya Cheese or two and make a layer of Daiya Cheese over the Pie Stuffing Mix. Pour Corn Bread Topping over the Diaya Cheese layer. When you pour , make sure you get an even layer. It'll be hard to spread the topping out once it's on the Pie Stuffing Mix.

Bake uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the Corn Bread is golden brown.
And if you happen to take a picture of this baby, please send it my way!

I have a theory that this casserole might be so good it has supernatural powers that defy photographic evidence.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Pizza Burgers

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I woke up this morning with a song about Spider-man and Pizza Burgers in my head.* See, many people know they like Spider-man, but they aren't really sure why. Of course, there are the obvious things:

A. The trademark Spider-man flying-through-the-skyscrapers artwork. Let's face facts: it's sweet. It makes you feel like the wind is hitting your face when Spider-man chases The Green Goblin.
B. Witty banter
C. He's one of the first teenage super heroes who acted like an actual teenager. He's cocky (when he's Spider-man), makes bad choices, and is a sucker for some long-legged blondes and redheads.
D. He was also one of the first teenage superheroes who wasn't just a sidekick.

But is that really why we like Spider-man?

I think we like Spider-man because we like Peter Parker. He's a good friend and son (or nephew or whatever). Peter Parker, like the our loyal little friend the veggie burger, can always be counted on.

I have no idea how many veggie burgers I've eaten over the years. We travel a lot, and we take comfort in knowing that more and more places have a friendly neighborhood veggie burger these days. They've become a trusted friend to vegans everywhere.

Saying that, if veggie burgers are Peter Parker, the Pizza Burger is Spider-man. This burger kicks butts in a boldfaced, saucy style. It's a show-off; but who cares? It's AMAZING!

Pizza Burgers
  • 4 Vegan Veggie Burgers (we went with Boca Vegans, but there are a lot of different types to choose from)
  • 1/2 Red Onion (sliced)
  • 1/2 Small Green Pepper (chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons of Pizza Sauce per Burger
  • 2 Teaspoons Black Olives per Burger (sliced)
  • 4-5 slices of Vegan Pepperoni per Burger
  • 4 Whole Wheat Sandwich Buns
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of Daiya Mozzarella Cheese per Burger (shredded)
  • Oregano and Red Pepper Flakes to sprinkle over the top
  • Serve with some Pepperoncinis for a little something extra
  • Olive Oil and a Dash of Liquid Smoke for cooking

Preheat oven to 400.

In your cherished little cast iron skillet, heat Olive Oil and a dash of Liquid Smoke at a medium heat. Add the Veggie Burgers. Once they start to brown, add Red Onions. Flip the Burgers a few times until they're brown on both sides. If the Onions are done cooking before the Burgers are done, you can always pile them on top of the Burgers to flavor the Burgers a bit.

While the Burgers and Onions are cooking, put your Sandwich Buns on your trusted pizza stone, open and face-down and in the oven. Remove when they're slightly toasted.

Take the top half of the Buns off the pizza stone and set aside. Flip the bottom half of the Bun over and put the Burger on there. Now, stack the Pizza Toppings on the Burger in this order: Pizza Sauce, Fake Pepperoni, little bit of Daiya Cheese, cooked Red Onion, Green Peppers, Some Daiya Cheese, Black Olives, and some more Daiya Cheese. Put the Pizza Burgers back in the oven to bake.

It should take around 10-20 minutes for the Daiya Cheese to melt. It depends how much you put on. Keep an eye on it, and remove from the oven once the Daiya Cheese is melted.

Sprinkle some Oregano and Red Pepper Flake over the Daiya Cheese and put the top half of the bun on.

Don't forget: with the great power comes great responsibility. So don't take the Pizza Burger for granted. It may seem simple, but that doesn't mean it won't rock your face.

*Pizza Burger... Pizza Burger... Does whatever a Pizza does. Wealth and fame... he's ignored... being amazing is his reward. Look out! There's a Pizza Burger.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Beef & Artichoke Pasta

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So this morning, I had this whole rant about how the NBA terrible tattoo situation was out of control and how in life sometimes there are no second chances. (Yes - That was a tattoo of a dragon flying towards a basketball being held like a crystal ball and that other guy has Abe Lincoln on his neck)

That blog made sense because this was a recipe that has 2 versions - one fast and one exceptional! It was a blog entry about how the kitchen forgives and you can always come back and try again. Then I saw this and  I just had to share :

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Craziest F#?ing Thing I've Ever Heard - Gored Bullfighter
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

I wasn't one of those folks who celebrated when bullfighter Julio Aparicio was gored. Though I have to admit my first thought was - "Karma's a Bitch."

I mean I would slap that guy something awful given the chance but I don't wish torture and death on anyone - even a freaking jerk face like him. Just because I am pro-animal doesn't mean I'm anti-human and I wouldn't be much of an advocate for animals if I didn't think there was a way to change people's hearts and minds towards animals - even a freaking jerk face like him. I mean isn't that really - at the most basic level - what the animal rights movement is about? Aren't we just asking people to not be a jerk to the those who depend on our compassion?

Having said that - I couldn't agree more with the intro to this piece from The Colbert Report and I sincerely hope that Senior Aparicio thinks a little bit more about his life choices and the barbaric butchery he is responsible for. He had a choice to get in that ring - the bull didn't.

OK - Soapbox put away let's make some fake Beef & Artichoke Pasta!

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Crab Cakes with Tartar Sauce

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Until I lived in Virginia, I was really not aware of what can only be called The Chesapeake Bay Crab Cake Phenomenon. It's impossible to ignore all the crab themed items littering every store along this coastline. Aprons, cereal bowls, utensils of any kind, beanie babies, lollipops, mechanical claws for picking up things less than 2 feet away - whatever the kitschy knick knack - you can find one with a smiling cartoon crab it - eager to be eaten. Disturbing doesn't even begin to describe it. It's like those BBQ places with the happy pig on the sign - In what bizarre mind does that make sense? I think Kermit said it best.

I can't really remember ever eating a meaty crab cake before I went vegan but now I feel like I see them on every menu and sandwich board on every corner. People really love their crab cakes around here - poor little sea spiders.

Betty has quite a few seafood recipes in her book. I have to admit I was looking forward to veganizing her crab cakes to see what all the fuss was about. So, we had prepared ourselves for experimenting with the wide variety of faux seafood out there - when the most amazing thing began to happen. We started getting emails from readers telling us to try this new mock meat called MATCH. Hmmmm  - Curious.

We ordered the faux crab and waited impatiently. All I can say is  TOTALLY WORTH THE WAIT! Vegan Crab Cakes are pretty much awesome and expect to see more MATCH Mock Meat .

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Cobb Salad & Sunflower Seed Herb Whole Wheat Bread

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Ever have a "great" idea that turns out to be a terrible mistake?

I don't mean anything epic - like that highway that goes nowhere or mixing tequila and champagne (true story for another time) but just the everyday ones. Examples of this would be not feeding a meter because "you'll only be a minute" or theme weddings that involve hoop skirts and/or top hats. The other day I had one of those. 

It's pretty humid on VA right now and so I thought it would be a great time to focus on salads. Very little stove time and not too many dishes to wash - who doesn't love a night like that when it's hot out? And what goes better with salad than fresh bread? 

Do you see where it all went wrong? 

There is a lesson here :  The bread actually is completely amazing and it is perfect for eating with this salad and really I wouldn't change a thing about this meal - EXCEPT - I should have baked that bread early in the morning before the heat had gotten to me. By the time Dan came home, I was seconds away from passing out. OK I'm being dramatic but I was really freaking hot and basically baking bread in my skivvies. But I'll admit by the time we finally sat down to eat, It was perfection! This bread has a really nice flavor and texture. It makes great sandwiches, toast and is great dipped in this Cobb Salad dressing. So the lesson? Don't bake bread on a humid Virginia afternoon unless it is this amazing bread.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Spaghetti Pie & Garlic Bread

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I love Betty. I mean POWER BALLAD love Betty. This project has really become a huge positive part of our lives and I am really grateful to Betty. I love her so much that I feel a little guilty about this blog post. If this recipe wasn't printed in a book that was sold to millions, I would feel like I had betrayed her trust by telling you this.

This is Betty's Original Spaghetti Pie : Spaghetti with tomato paste pushed into a pie pan into like a crust and then you put in layers of ground beef, mozzarella cheese and a secret ingredient layer in the center : Cottage Cheese. I know. I know. Please don't tear her apart too much in the comments. We all do weird shit.

As many of you know, my mom is Sicilian and I grew up eating lots of baked pasta dishes. So my version of Spaghetti Pie is a little off the Betty map BUT really it is quite delicious, not too unhealthy and not the Crayola colored vision that the Betty recipe is.  I admit that this version of Spaghetti Pie kinda came kind of naturally to me - like that little part of you that knows the lyrics to songs you awkwardly slow danced to with someone you don't remember like a lifetime ago. I hope if you were expecting the other pie - you can find a place in your heart for this version which will rock your face* - in a good way. Just try it.