Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Vegan Cereal Killer Bars! Mwahahahaahhaha - ha.

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Many of you know I had a brief fling with the TV show Ghost Whisperer. I got really hooked. I mean Netflix couldn't deceiver them in time. I would suck it up and rent them - in person - in public - from our local video shop. I know that may not seem like a big deal but try it out some time. Visit your local indie movie headquarters and walk around for a bit with the 3rd season of Ghost Whisperer under your arm and you tell me if it doesn't take some real self confidence in your nerd and arty cred. Having said that - if it is so uncool why do they have it on their shelves? I'll save that tangent to explain why I loved Ghost Whisperer during the Spring of 2010.

It's pretty easy really. Ghost Whisperer is awesome.
Every episode has an extremely convoluted plot that could probably be resolved in 10 minutes but isn't so that all your favorite stars from the 90s (and I assume Jennifer Love Hewitt's BFFs) can have guest cameos. Sometimes it can be a little hard to even spot them - but once you do - it's pure hanging out/conversation gold! It was a make shift game that I really loved.* I think this is what Love Boat & Fantasy Island were for my parents generation.
Don't believe me? Here are just a few Ghost Whisperer Guest Stars :

Believe me there are more - way more... but I'd like to move on to explaining what this has to do with cereal treat bars. See, somethings aren't cute or clever but they are still good because they tap into a nostalgic sentiment that just feels fun and in the case of rice crispy treats feels like childhood. They aren't hard or masterful. They're just good and they remind me that I didn't have to give up anything to go vegan - just tweak things a bit.

So here's 2 classic recipes for what I've been calling Cereal Killer Bars for your Halloween parties this weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Beef-Less Burgundy Stew with Herb Dumplings

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As we head into the junk food-chocoholic-sweet tooth paradise known as Halloween - we thought it might be good to post a fall dish that has lots of flavor & vegetables to help with those candy and cupcake hangovers we're all going to have.

I have to admit my favorite part of this recipe is the Herb Dumplings because they are a lot like The Betty Crocker Project's Garlic Cheesy Biscuits (that are pretty much one of my very favorite recipes ever). Another thing I love is that this recipe only takes about an hour to make as compared to the 10 - no joke 10 hours the meaty version takes and has none of the fat you would find in the 2 pounds of beef the original recipes calls for. This is actually a pretty light stew and we tried to keep it as traditional as possible while staying in the spirit of Betty's original recipe. I know I'm bragging now - but I think we rocked this one.

Don't forget that Peta has a $1 off Gardein coupon on their Facebook Fan page right now! Just "like" and print! Easiest buck I ever saved - plus their Facebook page is a rockstar too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Vegan Hot Cocoa, A Contest Update & A Very Special Shannons PSA

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When I look back at my childhood, I find it hard to deny that the 80s were the Renaissance of PSAs. We had School House Rock, G.I.Joe telling you that knowing was half the battle* and of course the quintessential After School Special. Of course, we all remember hearing the "safety rules"  for Halloween and immediately ignoring them. But when I was 5 years old, they canceled trick or treating in my neighborhood because some sicko had been going around poisoning companion animals left outside the week before. It was very real and I will never forget hearing about it. Since then I have heard several similar sad stories and am pretty heartbroken to hear these things happen more often than we'd think. So please - oh please - bring your companion animals inside and make sure they are safe and secure during your parties and trick or treating!

OK - Soapbox away! Let's get on to the fun stuff...

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : A Halloween Treat - Vegan Devil's Food Cupcakes

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You knew they were coming. All the signs were there. I mean we're a blog that spends a lot of time veganizing Betty Crocker recipes. It was only a matter of time before we made adorable holiday cupcakes. I won't bore you with chit chat about what our cats have been up to, what video game is kicking my ass this month or various other random updates. You're here for chocolate cupcakes and I'm here to help you out.

Now if you're not familiar with Devil's Food Cake it is light, fluffy chocolate cake that has a hint of coffee to it. Now some doesn't have the coffee in it but the fancy ones do and who doesn't want to be fancy?

Who's ready to bake some cupcakes?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Vegan Cheesy Chicken Fingers & Some Long Lost Loves

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From time to time it is hard to not get nostalgic for food you enjoyed in childhood. I personally loved those little cheddar cheese goldfish crackers. One of my favorite memories was my grandfather putting them in my soup. I took them to school with me almost everyday in a sandwich bag and when I went vegan I admit I missed them a little. That's why when I found these Eco-Planet Non-Dairy Cheddar Crackers I kinda freaked out a little. I mean they are shaped like little electric cars and windmills and that's not as cute as a smiley fish but they have filled that space in my heart that missed those little crackers. They also make it possible to veganize Betty's cheesy crunchy chicken fingers*. Dan had his fantasy basketball draft last night and cheesy chicken fingers with some waffle fries kinda seemed the perfect meal for such an occasion.

Here's a few other childhood favorites that some of you newly veganed folks might be interested in to help make that transition into cruelty free living : 
  • Marshmallows! There are several brands these days that make vegan marshmallows. Sweet & Sara are a favorite of mine and they even have special Halloween marshmallows shaped like bats & ghosts on sale right now. There is also Chicago Soy Dairies' Dandies which are pretty perfect in Hot Cocoa.
  • Which brings me to Instant Hot Cocoa! Ah!Laska's Organic Instant Hot Cocoa is a pretty extraordinary treat for those nights when you just want to add water.
  • Vegan Corn Dogs by Cedar Lake Foods. That pretty much says all I need to say about that. 
  • Memory can be kind to some old friends - like Cheetos and I actually think Tings are much better version of the cheesy snack puffs. I think Tings are actually better than most things. To quote Food Fight Grocery "Better than squirrels and kittens hugging."
OK back to our recipe...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Cuban Black Bean Soup

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Cuban Black Bean Soup with Tofu Egg garnish stirred in.
So I tried to take a photo of this soup with the garnish and I liked the blue effect in this one so much I'm using this photo instead but let's be honest this just isn't the most photogenic soup. In the world of food, lush salads are the super models with their bright colors and interesting shapes that you can almost taste just by looking at them. While soups and casseroles - well anything saucy - is more that girl next door. You know they're good and there is something there but it is easy to miss that in a photo. You can't see it but this soup is smokey and spicy in all the right ways. You'll want some bread to dip in it or maybe some tortilla chips because you're going to want every drop of that broth and it just isn't polite to lick your bowl.

You may also have doubts of about the Tofu Egg Garnish but I have to say I find your lack of faith disturbing. Just try it - I think you'll like it.

This soup made me think a lot about our friend Cassandra who is in Cuba right now going to Medical School. I miss her pretty much everyday and I can't wait till we can see each other again. Cassandra -You bring so much joy and fun into my life while being such a loyal friend. I wish everyone had a Cassandra. Love you Grrl.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

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Yeah that's a mini pumpkin. These muffins aren't the size of a birthday cake - which could be cool too but we went the other way this time and made them mini. The leaves are changing outside and we're hitting serious Halloween countdown time. I don't like to brag (too much) but Dan & I are pretty legit when it comes to Halloween.

As are these Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins. With all the candy floating around right now - sweet can feel a little played out but these muffins have just the right amount of tangy cranberries, warm spices and of course pumpkin to feel at home this time of year without getting lost in the goodie avalanche (that I look forward to all year).

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Vegan Almond Chai

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Every once in awhile you stumble across something that really makes you happy. A great song, a funny movie, or maybe a really freaking great cookie. Here is the brief and touching story of how I was reunited with the cookie I loved in college.

Dan and I were walking through Walgreens, and there they were: Dr. Delish Organic Maple Leaf Cookies*. When I was young and impressionable and living in the Puget Sound area, these handsome fellows were known as President's Choice Maple Leaves. They were one of those accidental finds when you're newly vegan that makes you realize the world really could be a more compassionate place with very little effort and compromise from consumers. It was a deep, meaningful connection I shared with those Maple Leaves, but like most young loves, it was doomed to end when I moved to Georgia.

I bring this up because when we brought these fellows home, they needed something warm and spicy to go with them. Something sweet - but not too sweet. Betty never lets me down, and had the perfect suggestion: Chai.

You may not have these cookies, but you can have this Vegan Almond Milk Chai in less than 10 minutes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Family Album : Jasmin Singer from Our Hen House Meets The Shannons

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Jasmin's Spinach & Bacon Salad Featuring The Vegan Hard-Boiled Egg

Our Family Album is one of our favorite segments on Meet The Shannons. Over the years we've been lucky enough to meet some of the most amazing animal advocates on the planet. I won't lie technology like Facebook has made it easier than ever for vegans all over the world to connect, learn from each other and build a strong online community that is promoting a more compassionate world for animals on a scale that has never been seen before. One of those marvelous and outstanding advocates I've had the privilege of  meeting is a lovely lady named Jasmin Singer. You may know her as 1/2 of the talented and dedicated duo at Our Hen House - a website and resource that is really leading the way in helping folks find their own way to change the world for animals. I know her as Kick Ass Activist All-Star Sista and am honored to have her as today's guest blogger! XO - Annie 

I'm not a cook. Which is why I was nervous (petrified?) when Annie asked me to guest blog and try out one of her and Dan's recipes. I won't admit to you how many months it took me to decide on what to cook. Most things just seemed too difficult for me, which is probably because my regular diet consists of really a lot of blender concoctions, the occasional stir-fry (no recipe, just going by the seat of my pants and the contents of my freezer), and the good old standby, tofu and broccoli at Suzie's Chinese Restaurant on Bleecker Street.

Now Annie wanted me to cook? Really? Me? Like, in a way that holds me accountable for my actions? Was this really a path I wanted to stumble down?

Truth is, I do know food. Aside from being a proud vegan food-lover (cliche', I know), back when I was a struggling actor, I decided that becoming a holistic health counselor would be a good field for me, allowing me to have my own business that promoted veganism, while maintaining the flexibility that allowed me to audition for plays (that I rarely got cast in). So I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, followed by pursuing an MA in -- ready? -- Experiential Health and Healing. I kid you not. Oh, to be 20-something and confused... (I'm allowed to say that, since I'm now 30-something... and confused.)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Denver Omelet

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We like to make schmancy breakfasts on the weekends around here. So I thought I would share one our favorites in time for you all to get some shopping in before Saturday morning.

After years and years of scrambling my tofu, I get pretty excited about making some new "eggs" for breakfast. Just the idea of looking down at my plate at a French style or foldover omelet that I know has all the texture and showiness of the traditional dish but none of the cruelty... puts a big smile on my face. This isn't the easiest recipe to make but it brings the 'shock and awe' and it is really filling. You may want to make it brunch actually because you won't need a second meal after this.

What can I say? These omelets are just too much for one meal to handle.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Zucchini Apple Bread

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Good morning, Zucchini Apple Bread!

Dan has a big ol' potluck at work today, and I have to admit that if there's one thing I miss about working in an actual office (especially the PETA office), it's potluck day! I mean true, there's always an odd array of international cuisines and multiple tofu scrambles. But in a way, it's like a sampler platter--one that usually includes vegan mac & cheez and/or salsa - two of my personal favorites.

Today Dan is bringing a loaf of Betty Crocker Project Zucchini Apple Bread that was made a little larger than it should have been. See, this recipe makes two loaves. Since one will be visiting with us for a short while and only be be split between two people, and the other is going to be shared with an office of vegan potluckers, we made one loaf larger instead of splitting the batter in 2 equal portions. The larger loaf turned out a bit moister than we may like our zucchini bread, but still really tasty. The cloves and ginger really accentuate the cinnamon, and add a warm flavor to this bread. It makes it prefect for rainy fall days like today, when you realize Halloween isn't really that far away and all the good pumpkins are already gone.

The point of this chatter? Well, I guess it's to encourage you make two equal loaves and not one big one. All the batter could fit in your baking dish, but in the end, I think you'll be happy you got more golden crust with the two loaves.

Time to bake!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

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It's cold season, and all over Facebook, statuses are littered with stuffy heads, runny noses and sore throats. Many of us grew up eating Chicken Noodle Soup in these times of crisis, but after I went vegan, well... this stopped being a tradition that I followed. I think Shakespeare said it best in Much Ado About Nothing: "...but doth not the appetite alter? A man loves the meat in his youth that he cannot endure in his age." (Ed. note: the world must be peopled!)

Well, he wasn't talking about going vegan, but let's move on. With advancements in technology have come vegan chicken products that can used to replace any comforting role Chicken Noodle Soup once played. I prefer wild rice to noodles, but there's a substitution note if you're a more conventional. The only compliant I have with the wild rice is that sinks to the bottom of the bowl, so you can't see it in the picture. That's kind of a superficial complaint though; I feel a little shallow even mentioning it. This recipe is very simple, so you can make it for yourself if your mom, partner... whoever isn't available.

Get well soon!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Peanut Brittle Cupcakes

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I hope you're not frantically flipping through your Big Red right now looking for the not-vegan version of this recipe... because it isn't in there. This is an adaption of the Peanut Brittle and Starlight Yellow Cake recipes into, well, something quite lovely that goes great with your morning coffee. I made them mini, because that's how I roll*. They are a little sticky, but that's kinda part of their charm. They are perfect breakfast cupcakes! These little guys aren't your mama's cupcakes; they're almost like mini - coffeecakes or monkey bread, and would be great for a brunch potluck or to help make a hard week a little better.

They do have a lot of steps, so let's get going so you can have these ready in case this week is already looking a little rocky. This recipe will make around 2 1/2 dozen mini-cupcakes with some Peanut Brittle filling left over to drizzle over some Soy or Coconut Ice Cream. Yeah, it's that good.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Perfect Friday Night Always Involves Guacamole - Recipe Music Video Included

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This has been a pretty outstanding and exhausting week. One of those weeks where even the small things kinda feel like a kick in the stomach. I never finished typing up the post today because I only slept 3 hours last night. I just never got my feet under me today.

All I want to do tonight is get some Mexican take-out with lots of Guacamole and play a game of some kind with my old man. A friend posted this on my Facebook today, and it just seemed like something that needed to be shared...

PS - This video is not culturally sensitive, but the recipe is good and the song is catchy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Borscht for Vegans who Don't Like Beets

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Despite what one of the most popular TV characters/villains of our generation would have you believe... not everyone loves beets. I, in fact, kinda hate them. I hate their unusual texture, their weird indescribable flavor, and how they turn your teeth pink. Whenever I think about this, I have bad flashbacks of a friend from college who used to eat them straight for the jar. It still gives me a little shiver.

So when I saw this recipe in The Big Red, I made this face. But then I realized that most people hate beets. In fact, according to Men's Fitness, beets are one of the most hated foods. If you follow that link though, you may notice that Avocados are also listed,so I'm a bit suspicious about how accurate this list actually is.

But if you're looking for scientific proof, volunteer at any food bank or homeless shelter. People donate beets more than almost any other canned food, besides maybe yams. Also note how long those beets sit on the shelf and in cardboard boxes.

Then I looked at the recipe and realized that I could totally make something that tasted like all the good things about Borscht without making your teeth pink or being heavy on actual beets. There are still beets in there, and you can still taste them a little, but just the right amount to make you say "Whoa - I might not hate beets". In fact, speaking as a Reformed Semi-Pro Beet Hater and Grump-a-Saurus: this soup is just a truly great Fall Classic that I would eat everyday.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Mexican Scramble

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So I know what you're thinking... Haven't I seen that this recipe before? Except in a sandwich?
Yes. Yes you have. Except then it was called Viva la Sunday Morning Breakfast Sandy, but it was just as good for Brinner the other night. When I was flipping through Big Red, I spotted this, and got a bit nostalgic for one of our most popular standbys.

You need to make sure you have toast to eat it on and someone to share it, with because this recipe makes a lot. This recipe is has been potluck tested and brunch approved.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project + My Favorite Souvenir from LA = Peach & Plum Salad

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One of the highlights of our latest trip to Los Angeles was getting to visit one of the numerous farmer's markets on Sunday with my friend and fellow food writer, Anjali. If you've never been to a LA Farmer's Market, it really is a vegetable-lover and healthy-adorable-family mecca. Everywhere you look, signs say "Organic." People are smiling and carrying babies in Moby Wraps. Large, beautiful avocados for $1, homemade soaps, and baskets of colorful fruit. I'm not ashamed to admit it: I can't wait to live there!

My very favorite souvenir from our trip came from this market: adorable little jars of sugar-free Pomegranate jam from The Sherrill Orchards booth. I had planned on using this jam to combine 2 of my very favorite things: pomegranates & toast (the perfect fruit and the perfect vehicle for delicious sauces and spreads). But when I came home and started up this Betty Crockery again, I found a recipe that was waiting for the prefect jam* to come around. If you're following around in your own Betty Big Red, you may be confused, because this recipe is already vegan and I still changed it. What can I say? I can't help myself.

Peach & Plum Salad, here we come!

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Crepes

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So Dan and I had a great weekend! We were like kids again; we stayed up till 4 am so I could beat my video game, and even though we're way too old for that shit and we suffered a little bit for it the next day, it was totally the best... or was it? Although I have to admit I loved seeing those game credits scroll up the screen, I liked making a fancy brunch Sunday morning even more (Xbox hangover and all). We're super married*.

Some of you may remember that I have this long standing love affair with France. It's a strictly a platonic thing that encourages me to take long flights across the Atlantic from time to time, and when I can't, take my own little French Stay-cations in our apartment. It makes me watch movies I have to read, and wear hats.

To us Americans, crepes are a fancy breakfast item you pay an extra dollar for at IHOP (well, not to us vegans; those bros have eggs in them). But if you go to Paris, one thing you can't miss is the adorable crepe carts set up through out the city. You can spot their striped umbrellas and long lines a block away (or huge weather-warped signs if you happen to be walking through a less affluent area). I would love to tell you these crepes are just like those, but those crepes have eggs and lard in them, so I've had to pass. These crepes are vegan, and although I can't tell you they're good for you , they are healthier than their egg-ridden comrades, ridiculously easy, and délicieux!

SO - Faisons des crêpes!

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Beef (less) Stew

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Dear Soup Season, You are always welcome at our house! OX - Annie

What can I say about this stew? Well, in no particular order :
  • This stew is the perfect Fall dinner, and makes a lot, so you can have leftovers for a few days.
  • It's hearty and has warm flavors without getting too spicy. It has a nice rustic charm to it that made me wish the leaves outside were a little more red and orange.
  • Like regular old "meaty" stew, this stew is even better the next day. The onion and "beefy" flavors really come out after the stew gets to sit for a bit, so I really suggest not eating it all in one meal. The next day you'll see what I mean. I was genuinely sad to see the bottom of my bowl the first night, but the next day it was like saying good-bye to a friend. OK I'm being dramatic today - but man it was good.
  • You can get the same flavor from this stew in an hour that you would find in a pot of "beefy" stew that takes 4 hours to make, and no one was hurt in the making of this stew.
  • Don't forget your bread! Soup just isn't soup without some good bread. Our Sunflower Seed Herb Whole Wheat Bread is just about perfect.
That should pretty much cover it... I mean, do you need to hear more? Go make some stew! Chop - chop! (That's soup making humor)