Friday, July 30, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project Meets The Shannons for Lunch...

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I would like to introduce you to my lunch today: Betty's Rustic Avocado Baguette Sandwich with a side of baby carrots.

I won't lie: if there were a Sandwich Hall of Fame, this fella would be in there all like this. If there were a Little Miss Sandwich Pageant, this sandwich would be in there all like this. If there were a Fellowship of The Sandwich, this sandwich would be in there all like this.

I'm glad no one was around to see me eat this epic creation, though, because to honest this little guy is messy. looked a tiny bit like this eating it. I had a green avocado beard, and next thing I knew I was wearing a trucker's hat. But it was worth it!

I think you'll agree.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Cornmeal Chicken with Fresh Peach Salsa

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You knew it was coming when you read "Georgia" and "Farmer's Markets"... the Fresh Peach Recipe!

I debated making a crisp or pie or some kind of other yummy baked treat. But the thing is, you can use frozen peaches for those, or you need to add sugar or agave nectar, and these beauties are just perfect on their own. This recipe can only be made with fresh peaches, and really brings out their flavor, rather than mimicking it.

We used Match Vegan Meats Chicken, which I've decided is my favorite fake chicken to make with a coating. You can make the chicken "breasts" any size you want, and you don't need to add oil, cooking sprays or soymilk or anything like that to coat them. We order a lot of our fake meat and cheeses in bulk from Cosmo's Vegan Shoppe and May Wah to save money and get the products we want. If you order enough you get free shipping, and can fill your freezer.

Now, Betty's peach salsa was already vegan, but I added a little bit to it to give it a little extra something. I liked how the little extra really gave it more heat, and a savory flavor that made the peaches seem a bit sweeter. I had this mango salsa once at The Candle Cafe in NYC that had something similar going on with minced onions. I still remember it fondly. I was really happy with how this turned out and I think we did justice to the epic reputation of The Georgia Peach. No not that one, silly... this one!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Bacon Cheeseburger Hash

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I recently read an article written by a woman who had been married for five years and worked in the wedding-planning industry. She started with a brief summary of their courtship. Of course, it had the arc of any good love story. There was the lighting bolt "love at first sight", the standard "we broke up once", and the "happy ending" wedding. But that's when she pointed out that, well, obviously that's not the end. She listed off all the things she would never experience again: first kisses, the declaration of romantic interest (that doesn't make it sound very exciting), and all the little humorous anecdotal stuff that comes from getting to know each other. She mourned over the loss of adrenaline rushes and, well, plain-old stupid-ass drama. Can you tell where I'm going here?

(This is where I deleted a whole section about all the first kisses I've been excited about in my past, but now make me shudder... back to our story.)

Last night, I made vegan Bacon Cheeseburger Hash for my husband--and although we had the Hiroshima of epically passionate first kisses, there's another kinda of poetry that comes from our home, and the ongoing love affair that is our life together. One that doesn't make me cry, or stay up till 3 AM watching cartoons and thinking of all the things I did wrong or choices I could have made differently.

Somewhere in this skillet dish that combines two soul mates--bacon cheeseburgers and french fries--I'm finding something pretty special. More special than the "meat cake" Cheeseburger Lasagna, and the mythical Cheeseburger Pie? Hmmmm... hard to say. Everything is special in its own way. I do know that this dish only takes about 20 minutes and makes enough for 2 large portions (or 4 probably-healthier portions). I also know that it was a big hit around the Shannon house last night, and will live on long after The Betty Crocker Project has gone down in history.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Red Beans & Rice with Our Fried Okra

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Around the time I moved from DC to Norfolk, Dan and I started talking about driving to Savannah, GA for the weekend. We talked about seeing the mossy trees and walking along the river. We planned trips to see lighthouses and Civil War forts. We researched the vegan spots in town, and we planned on just kinda hanging out with each other. I mean, what's more fun than a day trip with your best friend?

There was something strangely satisfying about heading to Savannah for our first anniversary as a married couple. There was a rosiness around everything we did, a romantic glow that came from doing things we had mused about for years.

We're going to do a big Savannah, GA Summer Trip write-up this week. But for now, here's what we had for dinner the night we got home. We cleaned up at the huge farmer's markets between Savannah and Norfolk, and this is what we did with the North Carolina okra we bought. Paula Deen, Queen of Heart Attacks, is a pretty big deal in Savannah, and I went on her website to veganize a few of her tips on frying okra. They turned out prefect. I think even she would approve of these little beauties, even if they are probably the the healthiest fried food on the planet.

You may notice that our Red Beans & Rice recipe is bit different than Betty's. Although I'm sure hers is lovely, we decided to skip the pork rind, and to use white wine and liquid smoke to get a bit more flavor. Plus, ours only takes about 20 minutes to make, instead of 2 hours.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Vegan Pudding-palooza!

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Butterscotch & Chocolate Breakfast, with a side of Love for one of our favorite Vegan Bloggers: QuarryGirl.

I learned something new about my marriage recently: one of Dan's favorite desserts is pudding, and I can make some pretty tasty vegan puddings! YAY! +10 Soul Mate points!*

We recently asked folks on Facebook and Twitter what flavor of vegan pudding they wanted a recipe for. The response was a little overwhelming! We not only had a lot of comments and tweets, but there were write-ins, and someone even wrote me a poem. Which was thoughtful. Everyone likes presents.

The thing was, the answers were all over the place! We had everything from Tapioca to Lavender Vanilla Bean (Which sounds pretty heavenly to me! I adore flower-flavored foods; They're my very very very favorite.) There were a few strong contenders, and few random ones (Bacon &Peanut Butter?) but they all (or almost all) sounded pretty fabulous... and my inability to deny the world of any flavor of vegan pudding lead us to the obvious: We needed a Pudding-palooza.

Our Pudding-palooza will be playing on 3 stages over the next few weeks, and hopefully will include your favorite flavor. This week, we're featuring the classic trio: Vanilla, Chocolate and Butterscotch! And the crowd goes wild!

OK, before you guys rush the stage... here's your first batch of vegan pudding! But don't wander too far. Coming up next: Tapioca, Coconut and Banana.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Crab and Corn Quesadillas

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I don't really buy into the concept of "Guilty Pleasures". I don't save cupcakes for special occasions and I love bad TV. Give me a day of Lifetime made-for-TV movies, full of Tori Spelling, Jennifer Love Hewitt, and Richard Greico, and I'm a happy gal. I freely admit I'll read almost any book with a vampire in it, no matter how pulpy or melodramatic or just down right dirty. Believe me, some of those vampire books get pretty perv-y. But hey, that's what it is, and I shamelessly admit I read them.

I love quesadillas because they're fast, you can stuff a ton of things in there, and pile a ton of stuff on top--and yet they remain strangely simple. I like to call this The Quesadilla Paradox.

Now, you would think that anything that's mostly melted "cheese" would be considered a "guilty pleasure"; yet I rarely hear anyone talking about a late night quesadilla binge, or having to hit the gym because they overdid it on the quesadillas this weekend. Hmmmm. It's almost suspicious really. Why have we accepted these wonderful "cheese" vehicles as being in any way healthy?

Betty's Corn and Crab Quesadillas are not healthy, but DAMN are they good. We used the Match Vegan Meats Crab, Tofutti Cream Cheese and Daiya Cheddar to replace all the animal products, which I think should lessen the blow. The recipe made five quesadillas, but next time we'd add more vegetables--like spinach, broccoli, or maybe kale--and the mix may make more like eight.

So here's a guilty pleasure you don't need to feel guilty about. No one was hurt in the making of these quesadillas.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

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Oh, good morning little cupcake!

Aggie*, our bittiest Shannon, likes to bring me presents. She does it all day, every day. She brings me plastic bags, toy mice, dirty socks from the hamper... once she even brought me a shoe. And, if you've ever seen how small she is, you know that took real willpower--and like five minutes to drag it from the living room closet. I appreciate Agatha's determination, creativity, and of course her thoughtfulness.

This morning, I woke up and she had brought me a cupcake.

She had taken one off the cooling rack, trotted into the bedroom, and dropped it next to my nightstand.

What a nice way to start a day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sometimes it's nice to just add water...

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Still working on the pudding photos, cupcake decorating and other such yumminess... as well as a write up of our latest adventure!

Stay tuned.


Friday, July 16, 2010

IOU : 1 Vegan Cupcake Recipe

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Image by Klas Fahlén
I owe you one cupcake recipe. Please expect this over the weekend.

See, I was going to bake them last night, but yesterday was a pretty big day for me. IDA rescued 55 long-tailed macaque monkeys from a research lab in New Jersey, and I was working until after 10pm. Then I sat down to find the recipe in Big Red and instead found Army of Darkness on TV. I did a little happy dance and exclaimed "sweet" to myself... maybe the cats heard... who knows really. That pretty much covers the most interesting parts of the story.

But let's not focus on the cupcakes that are to come. I'm going to take this opportunity to answer 3 Questions about The Shannon Household I get a lot. See, there are a lot of you loyal lurkers and bold subscribers/followers out there reading this blog (over 17,000) and I get a lot of emails. So much so that I admit I have a problem keeping up with them all sometimes. I apologize for that. But I hope today's post will answer 3 of the questions I get the most, and hopefully those of you out there who are waiting for a response to your email will read this and forgive me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Family Album : Caramel Sticky Rolls by Shannon Radke - Owner of Cinnaholic Gourmet Cinnamon Rolls

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A few weeks ago we launched our Family Album: a reoccurring segment on Meet The Shannons for your feedback and photos of your versions of Meet The Shannons recipes. Today's post is from Shannon Radke, owner and Bakery Mastermind behind the infamous Cinnaholic. She'll be opening her 100% vegan gourmet cinnamon roll shop at 2132 Oxford Street in Berkeley, CA this weekend, and you're going to want to be there to eat this, and this, and one of these. And even though I'm not lucky enough to not live in CA yet--so I can't eat any of those cinnamon rolls this weekend--I'm happy to be friends with such a talented vegan baking rockstar with great taste in clothes. I'm even happier she tested our Caramel Sticky Rolls, and is our guest blogger today! OX. Here's Shannon!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Italian White Beans with Chicken

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It has been brought to our attention that people prefer blog entries that are "more personal." This is a pretty personal entry for me.

When I was little, around kindergarden, I had a deep clandestine love for My Little Ponies and was running an extortion scam to get them. See, I didn't get the school thing at first. There's a family anecdote about my father sitting me down to talk about my first report card and my my teacher's remarks. My response, was "Who is that lady? Why do I care what she thinks?" As you can see, I've changed a lot.

So, my mother started bribing me with Little Ponies, Charmkins and GI Joes. Good report cards and spelling tests got me points towards my next pony. My very favorite was an orange gal with freckles and yellow hair named Applejack. She slept in my bed and traveled in my backpack. But for reasons I still don't really get, I would hide all my ponies. I would brush their hair and feed them sequins every night. Then I'd line them up under my bed skirt, where no one could see them. Eventually my family moved, and my parents started purging. There was this moment when they asked me if I ever played with the ponies - and I failed them. They were boxed up for Goodwill; even Applejack*. Is it weird that still makes me sad?

What does this have to do with beans? When I was growing up, my mother made this dish, but she called it "fagioli": a term she used pretty loosely for any dish with beans. I grew up eating this on nights when no one really wanted to cook. I loved it - especially with a big piece of garlic toast.

When I found Betty's recipe, my guilt reminded me of poor Applejack and her friends (this is Moonstone - my 2nd favorite). Then the most amazing thing happened; I found these ponies. I nearly fainted. And like any recovering addict, my head began swimming through memories of little purple lashed eyes and ridiculously long manes and that powdery fragrance of the plastic. I want them all. I want to let them boldly run free on my desk and book cases. I know my public declaration has come too late for poor Applejack, but I hope someday I'll be able to give these nerd ponies the forever home they deserve. Until then, I'll enjoy this "fagioli."

PS - This recipe takes about 10 minutes and tastes like home.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : White Pizza

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OK. You're going to look this recipe up and say "Wow! Those Shannons really made a lot of changes!" In our defense, it is a three-cheese pizza... We like to eat good food, and if we can make something great, well, we're going to do it.

This recipe is great, takes about 20 minutes to make, and will feed two people or one very hungry person. Yesterday I blogged your eyes off with a ton of chatter, so let's just eat already!

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Huevos Rancheros with Tofu Scramble & BABIES

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There comes a point in the life of every relationship when the topic of babies comes up. OK, maybe not every relationship, but these days babies are all the rage around here. Plus, that opening sentence sounded better than: "Sometimes there are a lot of babies."

People are having babies, asking when we're having a baby, there are baby showers, baby food challenges on Top Chef, and I find myself craving baby corn in my salads pretty much daily. This summer will be remembered for this adorable, powder-scented, PJs-with-feet, out-of-control baby wave.

One of my oldest and dearest, Libbe, had a beautiful little girl with the most shockingly wonderful head of hair ever. One of the sassiest people on the planet and my old friend, Amanda, has a darling little girl who dresses better than I do. Fellow vegan foodie Angie's ravishing daughter has been owning my Facebook stalker feed lately. These girls are like the baby versions of Cindy Crawford, Christy Turlington and Claudia Schiffer in the 90s... They're everywhere, but I don't mind, because they're so ridiculously good looking. *

Now, some of you already know my dearest buddy Sarah, perhaps as the cover girl for our Vegan Foods = Joy Facebook page. It wasn't that long ago that Sarah and I were planning our weddings together. I was reading and weeping at her wedding, and she was dancing her ass off at ours in a green dress that I actually wish I had bought for myself. This weekend, Sarah and her husband Shaun (who's also pretty boss; and yeah, I'm bringing that back) had a perfect little girl with big blue eyes named Spencer Hanalei. I'm already dreaming up ways to spoil her, and trying to veganize some of those baby food recipes from Top Chef. I spent most of the weekend checking my phone for new photos of Spencer and updates from Shaun. I have a feeling Spencer is going to be the baby Gisele Bündchen. I'm pretty sure she'll be convincing me to buy a Mac any day now.

On Sunday, Dan and I had brunch with some friends and their entertaining and freaking lovable son Isaiah. I guess he's not really a baby anymore. He walks, feeds peanut butter to the dogs and says "oh man!". But I don't think I have ever had so much fun watching a person smaller than me eat and stack things. Sarah (different Sarah) baked these Strawberry Coconut Scones that tasted great, and were like the supermodel of baked goods. If these scones were a movie star they'd be Audrey Hepburn: all sweet and charming. We'll make them for you guys some time. We brought over our version of Betty's Huevos Rancheros.

When I was first planning this out in my head, I wanted to make a vegan fried egg using a version of The Vegan Poached Egg. But the food needed to make the trip to the Kings' house, and I was distracted with baby updates. So Tofu Scramble it is! This recipe was a big hit, though, and an easy yet impressive spread for Sunday Brunch. I know we'll be making it again with a vegan fried egg... but until then, enjoy this version, and share with friends. This recipe makes enough to feed 4 to 4 1/2 people.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Cornbread & Bacon-Stuffed Pork Chops

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Dan and I are a pretty normal American married couple*. Kinda textbook, really.

We watch Top Chef. We talk about taking trips to sunny-beachy places, and on the weekends take road trips to American historical landmarks. We listen to NPR in the morning and recycle. Last night, we played a board game about escaping zombie hoards and ate vegan pork chops.

Maybe this weekend we might hit up Target and Trader Joe's... I don't know. I don't know if we'll have enough time.

These pork chops didn't actually take much time at all. I think they look kinda fancy, and I have to admit I'm really grateful that Match Vegan Meats exists so we could make these. I'd say they took about 20 minutes and were seriously good news. According to Top Chef, things this good are called "Da Biznus."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Herbivore Meets The Shannons Contest!

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It's been almost a year since Dan and I invited a handful of friends and family to Lynch Park to witness us make a public, lifelong commitment to each other. I could rattle on about the how the dresses, shoes, ties, suits, whatever were all cruelty-free. No wool or silk in anything, and my dress was second hand. I made my veil myself, to look like one I saw Sophia Loren in. I also won't bore you with the details that went into flowers and wine bottle centerpieces. I won't brag too much about the spreadsheets and budgeting and other nerdotechnics* that went into planning a wedding in Massachusetts from Virginia. I'll also skip over how excited I was to marry my best friend, and how much fun we had dancing at the wedding to old school Chuck Berry and rockabilly music. You probably don't even want to hear about how our buddy Josh Hooten over at Herbivore Clothing designed the best wedding invitations ever for us. You guys aren't here for any of that.

What you want to know is how you can win a $25 Gift Certificate and a stash of buttons and stickers from Herbivore Clothing**. I know how you guys think.

So here's the contest! Our wedding had exceptional food - I mean really good stuff. Since Dan and I are both half Italian, the food at our reception was a 100%-vegan take on classic Italian dishes. Some the dishes were a bit harder to make than others, but they are all worthy recipes to add to a vegan resume. So please VOTE below in a comment for which menu item from our wedding reception you want to see featured as a Meet The Shannons recipe. We'll randomly choose one follower (sorry to be so strict, but we have to have a way to contact you) to win a $25 Gift Certificate and some awesome stickers and buttons from Herbivore.
We'll announce the winner and recipe on Monday, August 2nd.

Here are the contenders:

So let's get this vote on!

*Yeah that is a made up word.
**We were trying to think of a prize that we'd want to win, and this was at the top of the list. I mean, besides the clothes, there's a wide variety of cookbooks and other cool stuff you can get from Herbivore. You want to win this.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Bacon & Spinach Salad featuring The Vegan Hard-Boiled Egg

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It does seem a little silly to make tofu look like an egg. But what's wrong with silly?

This morning, I watched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead while I drank my coffee. I was enjoying some deja vu with my Richard Dreyfus and Gary Oldman. See, a few years ago, I wrote a simple little blog entry on another blog (posted below). It's really just a blip about drinking coffee, this movie, death, and boats. I'll try not to ruin the end of the movie for you, but I think we all remember what happens to everyone at the end of Hamlet. And yet this movie/play is exceptionally silly for something with such a lurking and impending doom to it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 :

Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?\
Guildenstern: No, no, no... death is not. Death isn't. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can't not be on a boat.
Rosencrantz: I've frequently not been on boats.
Guildenstern: No, no... what you've been is not on boats.

  • Today, I watched the Movie Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead while I drank my morning coffee and updated my schedule/planner ... Throughout the movie I kept stopping to dwell a bit on their reoccurring thoughts on death ... I think death is a excel spreadsheet with no color coding

  • So on to my point. There's nothing wrong with silly. In fact, in this case it made a simple salad actually kinda noteworthy. I've included both the fancy "eggs" recipe and the not-so-fancy version in this blog post. I'll let you decide how silly you want to be.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010

    The Betty Crocker Project : The Breakfast Bake (Our Denver Omelet Version)

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    There is a very long list of things I love. It's a pretty random and varied list, full of wonderful little gems. Things like a good true red lipstick, or dogs that prance rather than walk. I love Muppet Yoda so much more than CGI Yoda. I love a new take on a classic tattoo, and a chilled bottle of San Pellegrino. I really love a gleeful guffaw. Of course, Dan makes the list, and so does a nice brunch with friends. I love The World Cup. I love just the idea of the World Cup, and the stories behind the different players and coaches. I love the fans! I love the dances they do, the face-painting, the flags and just how happy everyone is.

    I don't mind getting up early, and I like watching the players shake hands and chat while they wait to take the field. I got a little teary when they talked about how a player on the Serbian team sought out a player on the Ghana team because he'd heard they were both war orphans, and he wanted to shake his hand because they'd both overcome so much to make it there. I might actually be getting a little choked up right now.

    The US is out now, but we still had a pretty nice World Cup brunch last weekend with vegan McGriddles, French Toast, and various beverages including Red and Blue Margaritas: Red for Germany and Blue for Argentina. I feel like this recipe was a like a complete breakfast in a lasagna or cakey-pie form. I was a little sad there weren't any leftovers, but it did feed 8 people and there's nothing sad about that. In fact, I may just love it.

    Friday, July 2, 2010

    The Betty Crocker Project : Caesar Salad Burger

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    A while back, I kinda freaked out about the vegan version of Betty's Caesar Salad Dressing. I mean, I talked about it for days. When people came over for Passover, I talked their faces off about how much I loved this salad dressing. Seriously - no faces! I publicly broke up with Paul Newman because of this salad dressing. This salad dressing is that good.

    So, I was sitting there looking at this package of Match Vegan Ground Burger and my heart began to skipping around my chest. Caesar Salad Burgers? I'm in!

    Was it all I dreamed it would be? Yeah - I think it was.

    Does this recipe make a lot of food, so much so that Dan and I will eating leftover burgers today? Yes. Yes, we will be eating burgers for the next few days. Not that I'm complaining. I just ran out of quesadillas.

    I think this burger could doll up a BBQ and bring something new to the traditional veggie burger. This week, IDA featured a bunch of Meet The Shannons 4th of July BBQ ideas. If you haven't seen it yet, take a minute to read it. I contribute to the newsletter and blog a lot, so be sure and check them out!

    OK. Enough chatter. Let's eat!

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    The Family Album : The Blueberry Banana Muffins by Katie Willheim

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    4th of July Red & Blueberry Banana Muffins by Katie Willheim

    We've reached that stage where we need to "test" our recipes. Even though we're making them and like them, there might be something in the way the recipe communicates the steps, or different ovens bake differently, or whatever. So we've started the Family Album!

    The Family Album is going to be a reoccurring segment on Meet The Shannons for your feedback and photos of your "tests" of a Meet The Shannons recipe. If you'd like to test one of our recipes, please send an email to telling us a little bit about yourself and what recipe you want to test. The Blueberry Banana Muffins have been taken already, but there are a lot to choose from, and many more to come! We'll email you back and let you know if that recipe is taken. Once you send us your photo and your thoughts on the recipe--like it took you 5 minutes to bake, not 10; or you added soy sauce instead of Braggs; whatever-- we'll post them! We hope to post one or two a month. Please know that we will photo credit and acknowledge all images and tips sent us, but that we won't pay for them, and by submitting a photo and tips you are consenting to those photos and tips being reposted and used by Meet The Shannons.

    Here's a little bit about our first photo in The Family Album. Katie Willheim was one of the danciest dancey-pants at our wedding. That's saying a lot. We had a really fun wedding. She sent us this photo of her patriotic take on our Blueberry Banana Muffins all the way from California. Katie added some red berries to some of the muffins making these little guys perfectly adorable and welcome at a 4th of July potluck!

    Thanks Katie for kicking this off and being a baking bad-ass!