Friday, December 31, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Pizza Soup

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Hoppin' John

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Still Snowed In ...

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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Pear & Cranberry Cobbler

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

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

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

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Risotto alla Milanese with Peas

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

My True Love Gave To Me...

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

Thursday, December 16, 2010

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : The Incredible Green Monsta Casserole

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

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

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

Monday, December 13, 2010

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

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The Tower of Peppermint Russian Tea Cakes

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

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

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

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

Get the flash player here:

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

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Gingerbread Cookies

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Margherita Pizza

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

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

That'll do Pizza - That'll do. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Soy Nog Cupcakes & A Very Special VegNews Contest!

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

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

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

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

Let's bake some cupcakes!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Baked Latkes

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Snickerdoodles

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Betty Crocker Project : Challah Atcha'!

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

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

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

Ah Freilichen Hanukkah Everybody!