Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Nacho Knots (AKA Rolls)

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OK. Back to the food!

These little buddies are pretty much an example of why Betty Crocker is famous. These are some old school appetizers that will make you get all dreamy eyed like when Captain Kirk met Joan Collins.

Let's make some!

A Special Message from The Shannons

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Thank You Cards from TinyPrints
So yesterday something kinda strange happened. We got what I am calling "Hate Mail". It's wasn't from the usual Pro-Bacon-Hipsters or Eggy Mayo Loyalists who stumble in from time to time. It was numerous comments from people claiming to be readers who declared that they would stop reading our blog and tell their friends to join their "boycott" because we supported New York State's historic marriage equality bill . The comments were pretty hateful actually and all offensive. Now, I have no idea who posted them. They could have been vegans. They could have been pirates, or vegan pirates, or Pro-Bacon Hipsters & Eggy Mayo Loyalists with a nasty bigoted streak in them... who cares really? I would rather hateful people didn't read our blog. This is a place for celebrating living a cruelty-free life and that includes not being cruel to people as well. So, if you're into being a dick, this is not the right blog for you.

But that's not really the point of this post. Yesterday, I vented on Twitter about the hatemonger comments. I've been all emotional on Twitter these past few days. I can't explain it. But this stupid thing happened, and then I tweeted about it because I got sick of deleting comments. But then something happened that - in all seriousness - caused me to become verklempt. There's no better way to describe it.

I came home from dinner to find a series of supportive tweets from readers and other vegan bloggers, not only supporting Meet The Shannons and marriage equality, but being real friends. Since we started this blog, one of the best parts has been joining an online community that is doing such a great job promoting compassion for animals and being more environmentally friendly... and just being more amazingly kick ass. So Thank You Girlie Girl Army, Citizen Radio, Vegan Good Things, Erin Red from Vegansaurus, Kitsch & Kitchen, Laughing Samuari, Vegan Verite, and everyone else who tweeted support yesterday and understanding that the "pursuit of happiness" should include all America's citizens. We love you guys.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Vegan Chicken Lettuce Wraps & How We Survived The Heat Dome...

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2 years ago today, I married my best friend. Now this might seem like a pretty obvious and trite way to describe a wedding, but it fits. I mean it wasn't like the old-school wedding days, where life as we had known it changed forever. My parents didn't hand me over in exchange for a few cows, and Dan didn't lift my veil with crossed fingers. Our lives slowly began to intertwine long before we ever even kissed. We'd been building a life together for years before I ever put on that off-white dress, and our course didn't really change much from the day we decided to be more than friends in the first place. In fact, the life we had already begun to build together just got a little better... we just dressed up, ate a bunch of cupcakes, and made it legal, is all.

Over the weekend in New York City, numerous same-sex couples (and some not-so-same-sex) finally got to make it legal too. Now, I know a lot of you like to read inside bits about our relationship rather than here me talk about politics. I mean, I get at least 20 emails a week asking about what we fight about and how we move past those bloody battles. But if we were all sitting down to dinner tonight, talking about how proud we are to live in a progressive state would come up. We might also talk about the Pompeii exhibit we saw over the weekend and some thoughts we had about the new Captain America movie... which was freaking incredible*.

And if you were visiting last weekend, we would have have eaten these lettuce wraps that require very little cooking and eased our suffering considerably. See, we were trapped last weekend in The Heat Dome. Now if you're wondering if that is worse than the Thunderdome... it seriously is. We're not big on air conditioning, so a Heat Dome is pretty much a nightmare. Now you would think we were used to heat after years in Virginia. Back then the sadistic humidity gave us an excuse to drive to the beach. On nights when we were feeling kinda fancy-ish, we'd stop by P.F.Chang's on the way back. Their vegan lettuce wrap appetizers are pretty spectacular and always went perfectly with sun burnt shoulders and large lemonades. We made ours with Gardein Crispy Tenders and enjoyed them with some beers from Brooklyn's Sixpoint Brewery**, a game of Civilization, and a giant fan.

And that I guess is why, on the 2nd anniversary of our wedding, we are posting this delicious recipe that helped us do more than just survive the Heat Dome... it was a tiny reminder of how we're not just making it through our lives together. We are, as my husband so eloquently put it, "Living in the Awesome!"

Let us eat lettuce wraps and be awesome! Awesome for all!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

All Kneel Before The Great Herbivore Contest of 2011!*

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Anyone who has ever planned a wedding has at one point realized the importance of having a good photographer. You look at how much money is being spent, think about all the folks traveling from all over, and it becomes clear that not having legit documentation would be a tragedy.

And anyone who's ever been anywhere near a wedding has experienced what is captured in this video. Now you might be tempted not to watch it, but someday you'll be old and will regret that choice.

When it came to our wedding, my first and most important request was that there would be no campy wedding photographer hijinks. No Easter baskets full of bridesmaids. No pretending we're on a trampoline. No Photoshop shenanigans. No freaking pyramids!

I can tell you this was clearly explained to our photographer, but alas, the day came and I was unprepared for the pure insanity that was inflicted on my loved ones. I mean it was so bad I keep expecting Ashton Kutcher in a trucker hat to pop from a the bushes all like "Dude! Hilarious!" Two years later, I've found a way to laugh at these photos. Many of you have already seen photos from our cruelty-free wedding on Offbeat Bride, but today you're going to see two never before released director's cut photos and get a chance to win a FREE t-shirt from Herbivore Clothing Company!

Our buddy Josh Hooten over at Herbivore Clothing designed the best wedding invitations ever for our special day, and so it only seems fitting that we'd celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary by sending more Herbivore awesomeness out into the universe!

So here's the contest! VOTE in a comment below for which ridiculous wedding photo you like the most, and we'll randomly choose one follower to win a Free t-shirt from our buddies at Herbivore Clothing Company! If you're not already a follower, you can find the button to follow in the right hand column.

We'll announce the winner on Wednesday, July 27th and release an album of more never before seen wedding photos that will make you laugh and cry. You will feel a wide spectrum of emotions. Shall we begin? Here are the contenders!

A. The Battle Cry (You really should click on this one so you can see the faces better) :

I just want to add that we have the best friends on the planet.

B.The Veil (Please note that this one is a photo of this shot being set up - so it just hints at the insanity you will seeing next week) :

Is this one a teaser? Yep.

So now you know how it works - get out and rock the vote**!

* This title might be only funny if you've seen Superman II and are clicking on the links in this post where I am comparing wedding photographers to General Zod. But even if you are a normal person who has better things to do than remember quotes from amazing 80s superhero movies... this is still an awesome contest!

** Dear 90s - I miss you so much.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Margarita Vegan Shrimp Cocktail Cups

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Not your grannie's shrimp cocktail.
So I was feeling a little fancy this weekend and just a tad bit experimental.

Ever feel like that? Like you want to mix it up but not too much. Sometimes it's the little things that can add a little color to your day. No, I'm not talking about blue nail polish or red shoes. Well, I kinda am but in relation to food right now. See, I love faux shrimp. It's a weird food but I really like it. If you've been reading this blog, you've probably noticed that. We've veganized shrimp dishes ranging from Gumbo to Scampi. Hell, we've even made Coquilles Saint Jacques.

You may have also noticed we have a preference for May Wah's Shrimp Balls. It's OK to snicker. It's a terrible name but you can't deny the texture and flavor of this product are really nice and versatile. But if you're one of those folks who prefers to have that signature half moon shape, you can always use these :

Vegan Shrimp from Vegetarian Plus
Now, I have had vegan shrimp cocktail before and it was OK. I don't know how or why but it never really became a favorite. Maybe because I've never eaten the version made with real sea spiders. It's hard to say. I mean who knows where love comes from. But this recipe has a few twists that are just enough to turn something pretty standard into something new and kinda awesome. Something spicy and cool at the same time - like a bunch of little Fonzis*. Not to mention, it's also kinda schmancy.

So, if you're looking for a date night appetizer or maybe just something to go with a chilled glass of white wine that will make that Monday night just a little more like a Friday, I vote Shrimp Balls! (tee hee) Seriously though, try this recipe. It was lovely.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A moment of silence for a pair of Feijoa...

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You were two for $1 at the fruit stand. So we figured we'd give you shot. I am so glad that we did.  You may look like a cucumber on the inside but you taste more like kiwi and were lovely with breakfast. Not to mention a good source of vitamin C.

I hope our paths cross again soon!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Behold The Shannon Smoothie Rocket Pop!

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So! We were suppose to launch an awesome contest today but I can't find the disk with the photos I need to do that. Am I the worst wife ever? I mean I didn't kill anybody but yeah I lost a ton of blogger/wife points today. You'll understand better when I find that disk.

In an attempt to not completely disappoint you all, I am sharing a recipe I hope will be as popular at your house as it was at ours. When this treat was in it's concept phases, I admit the initial draw was getting to use these freaking adorable rocket pop molds we found at Whole Foods but after eating a few, we've come to our senses. This recipe is a perfect combo of real fruit and good for you and summertime and awesomesauce and kittens riding rainbows*. I might even dare to say I prefer them to the original ones. Mostly because the berries in this one were grown on bushes and not electric blue. Though I admit I have fond memories of techno-color blue foods as a child. Raspberry or Blue was a popular flavor in the late 80s-early 90s when I coveted slurpees. 

If rockets** aren't your thing, there are many other adorable and random Popsicle molds available these days to bring back your childhood memories.

Faux Ice Cream Cones

Ring Pops
Once you have chosen your mold or maybe have cleaned out an ice cube tray, get out your blender and let's make smoothie pops!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Beef-less Pepper Steak Kebobs & Lemon Millet Pilaf

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This is one of those recipes that will easily become a favorite--not just because it's crazy delicious, but also because it's super easy. It's one of those recipes that will remind any long-term vegan how far we've come, and how no one in the world loves food like a vegan. There are flavors here that are so subtle and beautiful, they're like a Greta Garbo. I'm a lover of savory and citrus foods, so this meal is like my soul mate. If I had to change anything, I would make the pilaf a little more moist (I know, gross word, but accurate). Betty's recipe was pretty much already vegan, but a tad dry (maybe because we used organic millet that wasn't as processed as what they suggested). We tried to compensate, but we thought we should warn you.

There are oven and grilling instructions provided today, so you can make this year round. We also included a recipe tweak to make Pepper Steak Tofu instead of the kebobs. Now if you're like me, you might be confused, because you may have thought Pepper Steak was going to be like Lemon Pepper and that black pepper was going to play a starring role. The truth is the pepper we're referring to today is green bell pepper--a vegetable as lovely and loyal as any leading lady, so I hope you won't be disappointed. I could keep gushing about how good this is, but I can't recommend it enough. I could try but I think you'd rather get cooking... and, well, eating.

So grab your aprons and best gal and let's get cooking!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Curry Vegan Chicken & Potato Salad Inspired by Kittens!

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At this point in the summer, you probably have a few BBQs and potlucks under your belt. You've fired up your grills and eaten a few meals outside in the sun. I have no doubt you've also enjoyed a few pasta and potato salads... the vegan's loyal summertime friends.

If this salad were in the Olympics, it would be the triple axel triple toe loop that would have brought the 80s Eastern European judge to tears. We combined two summertime favorites, Chicken Salad and Potato Salad, and added a warm seasoning twist to this classic and often overlooked chilled dish. We're taking this "side" out of the shadow of those showy pies and veggie burger headliners; just like how Star Trek: The Next Generation began as a spin off of a wildly popular cult classic, but with some tweaks here and there came into its own, and some would argue is superior to the original*. You know what I mean... don't act like you're too cool for Star Trek.

You know what else is cool? Kittens with blogs! Many of you already know Aggie from her many appearances on Facebook and Twitter, but now she has her own tumblr! Yes, my loyal lurkers and dearest friends, that tumblr I started months and months ago has finally found a purpose**... to bring more cat wisdom and adorable cat photos to the internet masses. You can find this much-needed resource in our right hand column: just click on the cat. We're just getting started, so that wisdom is still kinda bare, but give it time and be sure to check back to see what crazy cat adventures Aggie has. I feel pretty confident in guaranteeing they will be ridiculous***.

OK. Let's do this. To the veganaise!

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Tequila Fajita Vegan Chicken Wings

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There has been a kind of overload of awesome happening lately.

Exhibit A: You might know Brea Grant from Heroes or maybe Friday Night Lights, but you will definitely know her from her upcoming role in Dexter. What you might not know is that she writes comic books and reads Meet The Shannons! She also made some bewitching 24 Hour Pickles! How kick ass is that? Answer : River Tam kick ass*.

Exhibit B: I found this marvelous tumbler full of ridiculously adorable and well-educated cats by Sarah Sobole and fell madly in love. It all began when I was sent this:

I've never really seen myself captured so completely in art before**. It's weird... it's like Sarah is spying on me right now. Or perhaps is my doppelganger.

Exhibit C: We made Tequila Fajita Vegan Chicken Wings. I know I've said this before, but if you get a chance to try out these Vegan Drumsticks from May Wah, you really need to. They're one of the best mock meat products on the market, and are great with pretty much any glaze or sauce we've ever tested them out with. They can be grilled, baked, or fried--pretty much making them a perfect replacement for those wings and drumsticks actual chickens need more than we do.

If you can't get your compassionate little hands on these wings, you can always use this Tequila Fajita baste on your favorite vegan chicken on a skewer, and then toss them in an actual fajita wrap. Whatever you do, make sure and make a batch of Salsa Verde. Honestly, it's an amazing combination of hot, tart, and savory that I can't praise enough. If it sounds like I'm gushing right now it's because I totally am.

All and all this week has ended on a high note, free of sudden and inevitable dinosaur betrayals and full of pretty dresses... Yes, I did finally get that bunny dress I've been tweeting about. Expect to see it in action soon, because I'll be wearing it this weekend when we film our first podcast!

Are you ready to be a big damn hero and make some kick ass vegan chicken wings? Grab your tequila and let's go!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Végétalien Tarte aux Fruits Frais (The Vegan French Fresh Fruit Tart)

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I've always noticed these bright, cheerful little tarts outshining all the creamy eclairs and frosty rose petaled cakes in bakeries, but have never actually had one. There were always eggs and cream to avoid, or a lack of events to justify making one. But that doesn't mean I never thought about it. If you've ever been to Paris, theses tarts are in every coffee shop and Patisserie widow, flirting with you like only a Parisian can. Those tarts are so polished and flawless, they could grace the cover of a magazine. Even the humblest cafe serves supermodel-caliber tarts.

I might have been a little overly eager with this tart, and maxed it out with as much fruit as I could get on there. In the end it turned out a little less perfect than I would have hoped, but maybe just a little more delicious. These beautiful baked goods combine fresh colorful fruit and a buttery shortbread-ish crust into the perfect storm of desserts that will melt in your mouth in a combination of sweet vanilla cream, tangy fruit and a slightly savory crust.

A storm that you can now make in your very own home!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Visit to Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary...

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Get the flash player here:

Hidden in the rolling green hills of the Catskills is happy little farm where a band of merry misfits have made a home... it's called Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, and last weekend we drove up for their July Jamboree.

There was a ton of vegan food, games for the kids, and of course lots of happy animals who have been rescued from sad, scary fates. As people who have spent years of their lives advocating for animals, and have witnessed both first hand and through countless hours of video the horrors animals face everyday, it is an indescribable pleasure to see how happy these animals are. I mean, I can't even begin to tell you how delighted it makes me to see the goats line up to meet new people and the pigs sleeping the day away in muddy grass. While we were visiting with the chickens, some of them fell in love with Dan and were literally climbing all over him. Maybe they remember him from his days working on Peta's KFC campaign?

This was really one of the best days we've had in a long time. If you ever find yourself in the area, you have to plan a trip to meet these wonderful animals! It will inspire you like nothing else to advocate for those animals less fortunate than these guys, and remind you why eating compassionately is so important.

Can't make the trip? Please consider making a donation or even just buying a shirt to show your support!

Wearing my Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary tee at AR 2008 in DC