Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mini Pumpkin Spice Donuts with an Apple Glaze

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I've been finding it really hard to explain what I did this weekend. I'm not sure where to even begin. I guess that's why I'm posting this on Wednesday. See, I've been on the verge of an anxiety attack since last week... in a good way. But rather than throw all my news and stories in one huge blog post you won't even read (because let's be honest today's recipe is pretty awesome), I'm going to do something really mean and drag this out over several posts this week. Shall we begin?

These donuts - these mini pumpkin donuts* - were made for a lovely vegan baby shower brunch I went to on Saturday for the beautiful Leinana Two Moons. You might know her as the talented veganista behind Vegan Good Things. I know her as my friend. In a recent twitter conversation we discussed her love of pumpkin and my aversion to this classic autumn flavor since a childish incident with Dan's ex. It's a dumb story I won't bore you with, because to be honest this is a happy place where we don't bore each other with stories about jerk faces. Also, the story might make me sound like I keep crazy grudges**, but the truth is that pumpkin is delicious and the annual pumpkin treat flood is one of the best things about fall. I am adult enough to admit that.

This is a recipe I was saving for the donut section of our book, but there will be plenty of other unreleased recipes for that, and I really wanted to make something special for Leinana. I know I make jokes all the time about being socially awkward and shy, but it is real. Having Leinana include me in her circle of friends when we moved to NYC has meant the world to me. Also, I got to enjoy a huge plate of some of the best vegan food ever at her baby shower with some of the most amazing vegan ladies in the city: Marisa Miller Wolfson, the extraordinary activist and documentary film maker behind Vegucated; Hope Kandel, my nominee for a Nobel Prize in Super Awesome for being the food genius behind Foodswings; and the cruelty-free fashion maven behind Lifestyles of the Chic and Vegan (whose name I'm leaving out because I don't see it on her pages and I'm not one for outing folks)... just to name drop a little. Seriously though - you should check out these photos to be inspired to plan your own vegan brunch ASAP.

And when you do - include these prefect little buddies that are just the right amount of spicy and chewy and cakey and yummy. Yeah. I said "yummy" like a 4th grader and I sincerely meant that "yummy". These donuts will make you do and say all kinds of things. They're like little shots of Vegas. Enjoy!

Let Pumpkin Season Begin! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Texas Tater Tot Casserole

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Little-known fact about me: I didn't know until 9th grade that you could buy tater tots at the grocery store.

I mean, I had eaten them before. I'm not a Martian. But whenever I had seen these modern-day potato wonders, it was always next to corn dogs on a school lunch tray. I assumed they were like those little chocolate milk cartons and tiny ketchup packets. When you're a little eater, you don't always know what's going on. I had no idea what a huge weirdo I apparently was until I was sleeping over at a friend's house and saw their mom pull a bag of these little buddies out of the freezer. For many of us, going vegan meant caring what went into your body, caring about what our food did for the environment, and cutting back on cute vegetable-based foods with sweet little names like 'tater tots'. That's why the second I saw this recipe, I knew that folks were going to love it. It'll give you a chance to make something so incredibly American and campy-fun-awesome-sauce, without being completely and ridiculously bad for you, because we took out the cheese sauce and ground beef.

This recipe is basically a Shepherd's Pie, with a light Tex-Mex Chili and a Tater-Tot top... oh, and there's a layer of Daiya Pepperjack Cheese in there too. When it gets served up, you get a whole bunch of spicy beans and vegetables with a few cheesy crispy tots. So you can enjoy your tater tots again, but in moderation. So ya know, no guilt... especially if you use these organic tots.

Let's get tatered!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let The Vegan Collection Love-fest Contest Begin!

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If you know my husband in real life, you know that he likes what he likes, and that his loyalty to a "good thing" is eternal. Sharing your life with someone like that is easy at Christmas and predicable at restaurants. I could list off examples of the things my love loves for like an hour, but here's what matters today: Dan freaking loves his Vegan Collection wallet. He loves the look. He loves that it's a classic guy's wallet that fits in his pocket. He loves that nobody was hurt making it.

That's why this contest is big deal for us! We both love doing contests with folks who are making the world a better place for animals by providing all us vegans with what we need to not only live a cruelty-free life, but also make it cool. The folks over at The Vegan Collection don't just do that; they also make 100% organic t-shirts with a 90% lower carbon footprint than any other t-shirts out there. and 25% of all profits are donated to organizations that are advocates for animals. So yeah. They are yet another cool thing happening in LA right now, and pretty much the best of the best as far as vegan companies go! 

They are also our partner for the next Meet The Shannons contest! This week, ONE lucky reader can win a Spencer Pocket Wallet and a Vegetable Slayer t-shirt (pictured above)! All you have to do is post a comment below telling us one thing you love about being vegan and a what vegetable you love to "slay". NEXT Monday September 26th at 9pm EST Dan and I will randomly choose ONE winner from the comments below. It will be totally random so you can be honest and admit you love "the babes" or "the cupcakes" or whatever. You can also admit you're not into the greens and your favorite vegetable is tofu. We're all friends here. And in order to win, you have to be a follower of Meet The Shannons so that we have your contact info. To become a follower, just click on the "Join this Site" box in the right hand column in the "Friends of the Family" section.

So let's get this vegan love-fest started!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Vegan Cheese & Spinach Biscuit Bites

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So once upon a time there was a man named Nick Cage*. He loved Superman. I mean he loved Superman in an Action Comics No.1 kinda way. He loved Superman so much that in 2005 he named his son Kal-el... Superman's birth name before he was adopted by The Kents in case you're actually cool enough not to know that. Yeah. You could say Nick Cage is a Superman Enthusiast.

Now these little buddies are really freaking good. I mean crazy-inspire-you-to-hum-Edith-Pilaf-love-songs good. Not because they're French, or romantic even, but because sometimes when I'm happy and eating wonderful baked goods it's hard for me to not be a little pretend French... I can only assume from what I have read that this is how Nick Cage feels about Superman. 

These little buddies are easy to make, delicious, and marvelous! They're also very similar to Betty's Garlic Cheesy Biscuits. Remarkably so, but just different enough to post and encourage you to try. The Garlic Cheesy Biscuits recipe we posted before might be a great vegan version of the infamous Red Lobster biscuits, but these "bites" are just as tasty with a bowl of soup or some tea. May I also suggest trying these with some outrageous pretend French accents? I mean why not? French accents are awesome and add a little class to anything "cheesy".

Now, let's start making some biscuit bite thingys or I'll talk about Nick Cage a second time! 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Vegan Italian Sausage Chunky Minestrone & Easy Olive Oil Garlic Toast

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I like these new purple plates but I'm not sure they look that great in photos.

Yesterday was a big day for the ol' Shannons. As many of you know, our kitchen in Norfolk was about the size of a bathtub. One of the selling points of our new place in Brooklyn was the bigger kitchen. There was room for a kitchen island to increase the counter space, and of course there was the coveted exposed brick. But even with all this upgrading, we were only half way to our dream kitchen. We needed something extra for all our pretty plates and schmancy wine glasses and all those random grains I like to experiment with and other random yumminess. That's why last weekend my handsome husband built me a Tardis!

Click on these photos to enlarge.
Now if you don't watch Doctor Who, you might not know what a Tardis is or what the hell I'm talking about. See, the infamous Tardis was created by the Time Lords to travel through time and space and is able to blend into it's surroundings using something called the 'chameleon circuit' while having the mystifying ability to be larger on the inside. Our new 'Tardis' not only matches all our kitchen gear but has pretty much doubled our cabinet space. This one addition to our kitchen is what I am calling a game changer and is pretty much one of the best things to ever happen to the Shannon kitchen since we starting making the vegan fried egg!

Check out how much it holds!

The only downside is that construction took up most of the kitchen Sunday but even without a kitchen... there is always the slow cooker. Minestrone is a thick soup that is as common on Italian dinner tables as pasta. It is also one of those soups that it is easy to take for granted because it is often already vegan but this one includes some vegan Italian sausage to make it a complete meal in a bowl. It's an easy dinner that pretty much makes itself. This soup is also kinda like The Doctor's Tardis ironically enough. It's full of way more vegetables and subtle savory flavors than you would think. We had ours with some Olive Oil Garlic Toast - a recipe I am sharing for those folks who love garlic bread but are trying to avoid the palm oil in most margarine. I actually think I might prefer the olive oil version but I'm a sucker for olives and olive oil and all things even a little related.

The downside to the slow cooker is pretty obvious. It's slow. This soup takes about a half hour to prep for and about 6 hours to make. So we should get started!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Pearberry Crumble Breakfast Cups

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I was thinking the other day about how some people basically have dessert for breakfast. They put 'coffee' in front of cake, and then all the sudden it becomes socially acceptable. Don't get me wrong. I'm not judging. As long as you're not hurting anyone else (yes - this is me asking you to skip the baconeggs), you can eat whatever you want. I feel like I'm getting off topic.

The issue is breakfast treats... delicious, sweet, crunchy, yummy, sunshine-on-your-shoulder breakfast treats. This is not the healthiest breakfast, but it's not the worst either. It's also super delicious and easy to make.

Autumn is right around the corner. In some places it's already here. I mean, Maine woke up this morning to a frost warning. This breakfast is warm and sweet and all things lovely for fall. I won't lie; it also goes pretty great with a cup of tea and a healthy dose of nerdery. Did you know NASA recently discovered the 1st Tatooine-like planet? Would I make that up?

There are a lot of cool things out there. If your week has been like mine, it can be easy to forget how awesome the universe can be. So this weekend enjoy this breakfast treat yourself and give yourself some time to marvel at the universe*.

Let's make some crumble cups!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Teal Cat Project - The Who, What and Whys

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The New Shannon
I've heard estimates that there are tens of thousands of feral cats in NYC, and it's not hard to believe. Just last night while we ate dinner on our stoop, we watched the five kitties who live on our street hang out and be cute in a distant, distrusting way. Of course, one street up from us there are another five cats, and the street above that there are another five. Think about how many streets are in Brooklyn. Now add Queens. Throw the Bronx in there... See where I'm going? Do the math. That's a lot of cats. And life on the streets isn't as ideal as Disney made it sound in The Aristocats. I've never heard of anyone stumbling across an all-feline swing band, and I'm on the internet a lot. 

Brooklyn native, vegan cookbook author, and all-around Post Punk Kitchen Bad-Ass Isa Chandra Moskowitz knows first hand how heart-breaking the NYC feral cat situation is, and has teamed up with Denise Muller and Anna Dorfman to create The Teal Cat Project. If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you're probably sick of hearing me gush about this outstanding program. But if you don't you might be asking yourself - What is The Teal Cat Project? 

Well, besides one of the best fundraising ideas for animals I've seen in a long time, for $25 (plus shipping) they will send you a cat tchotchke that has been "upcycled with teal paint, and outfitted with a numbered tag for authenticity" and that money goes directly towards their affiliated kitty rescue programs. They are currently sold out of their first run of blue kitty tchotchkes, but you can always donate one for the second run or get a t-shirt to show your support!

100% of the proceeds go towards The NYC Feral Cat Initiative and their Trap-Neuter-Release Program. Would you like to know more? You really should check out their website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter. They post cute craft ideas and all types of great stuff.

This project is close to my heart and my home. I hope you'll check it out and fall in love with it too.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Real Vegan Feta & the first 2 recipes we tried it in...

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Sometimes dreams come true.

Vegans are a clever and industrious people. Even after all these years, I continue to be impressed by the creativity and dedication vegans put into cruelty-free living. But even all that creativity can't give us more hours in the day, and sometimes it's nice not to have to make everything from scratch. One of the reasons we started this blog was to introduce new and old vegans to compassionate products they can use to cut corners on days when we just want to watch a bunch of Paul Rudd movies and enjoy a nice dinner with our favorite someone.

I grew up eating Italian and Mediterranean food. I can't remember the first time I had an olive or feta cheese because I'm pretty sure it was around the time I got my first tooth. I've been one of those folks making their own vegan 'feta' using tofu and herbs for years--or just substituting tofu when I'm too lazy--but the truth has always been that tofu doesn't really have the same texture as feta cheese. No matter what you do to it, it just isn't gritty enough, for lack of a better word. So when Dan came home one night with a surprise he found at Whole Foods, I freaked the frak out! 

This stuff is perfect vegan feta in every way! I have a huge vegan cheese crush on this stuff. No, it isn't like the super pungent imported stuff you get at places like Dean & Deluca, but it really is like the stuff you'd find at like a pizza joint for their Greek Pizza--and the texture was spot on!

We decided to start out simple with our first test run, and to be honest it's been freaking hot in Brooklyn. It's made me dread baking, even though I have new kitchen gadgets I have been longing to take out for a spin. Remember the end of Point Break when Swayze heads out into this epic '50 year storm' at Bell's Beach knowing he's not coming back. That's how I feel about our kitchen in this heat, but unfortunately I'm no Swayze. So we started with a chilly Greek Salad using the Greek Salad dressing recipe from The Betty Crocker Project's early days and an Artichoke Bruschetta recipe I found on Betty's website.

You'll have to hit 'read more' to see the pictures and get easy to follow recipes!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Siesta Taco Soup

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Oh. Steam on the lens. You are my nemesis today.
Some of you have been wondering where the frak we've been, and it's justified. I mean, seriously, it's been a week and we've been completely and unforgivably MIA. It really is a fair question to ask of bloggers who cook and post every day but who, without warning, disappear like magic. It's kind of nice to know that what you put out into the world would be missed.

Well, nothing scandalous happened. We weren't abducted by aliens or trapped under something heavy. We just went to a wedding. A charming and sublime DIY wedding at a breathtaking ranch in San Luis Obispo, CA. A wedding that I will gush about in another post, because last week I posted this photo of our Taco Soup in progress and there were so many messages and emails... well, I feel like you'd rather welcome September with a yummy soup recipe you can make in your slow cooker so you don't have to worry about heating up your home while fall is still more of an idea than an actual weather situation. I mean, I'd rather be eating this soup right now than pretty much doing anything else. So I get it.

If you take a look at Betty's Taco Soup, you'll see we took a lot of liberties... and since we made ours in the slow cooker it only seemed right to throw the 'Siesta' in there - sleepy little soup that it is*. If you're following along in your own copy of Betty's Big Red, you'll notice a few 'Feistas' thrown about from time to time on the Mexican-themed recipes. Which I actually kinda like. Those 'Feistas' are just the prefect level of campy. They remind me of something Mad Men's Betty Draper would serve to her kids during a break in her chain smoking. I'm not sure why that appeals to me, but in a weird way it totally does.

Taco Soup might not sound that good at first, but much like its friend Pizza Soup, it's surprisingly delicious and awesome. You might have to look over the ingredients to be won over. Here's just a hint of how good this soup is - if you slice your onions thin enough, they'll melt in the broth, making an onion soup flavor and texture that I actually described as "gorgeous" like a tween with a crush. Yeah - that really happened.

 So - Here's your rain check for an 'update' blog post about LA, Fashion Week in NYC, and a bunch of other random thoughts, rants and obsessions. Let's get this Soup Party started.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rosemary, Flax Seed & Spent Grain Bread (with a few bread baking tips)

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If you're new to our blog, you might not know that we love food projects. I mean, every couple has shared loves. We happen to love being huge vegan nerdballs. We love figuring out how to make things vegan, and we love finding new ways to enjoy being vegan more... a Cruelty-Free Science, if you will. With that comes an mutual excitement for food-related crafts... like home brewing our own beer. Now I have a pretty good story about the time in college when my friends and I tried to brew our own beer, but I'm saving that for a post that is actually about home brewing. This post is about bread.

See, after you brew your beer, you have a lot of 'spent grain' leftover that you can either throw out or use in numerous ways in numerous recipes. This leftover grain is supposed to be a good source of fiber and protein--so why not use it? I did a quick little poll on Facebook to see what kind of recipe you all would want us to start with. The winner: Rosemary*& Flax Seed Bread.

This is an easy, chewy and really nice bread that I think anyone can make... even if you don't have any spent grain. But I feel like I should warn you that, like all bread dough I have ever had the misfortune of running into, this dough is fraking sticky and grows fast. I mean it's like this. For some reason, whenever I bake bread I forget how sticky bread dough is, and find myself and my kitchen covered in the stuff. Since we're all friends here, I feel like I can admit to you at one point while I was trying to get dough off my fingers, I may have said something like "Bread Dough - I'm going to punch you in the face." Yeah. I know it doesn't make any sense. But I thought I should warn you that it gets pretty sticky.

But around the time your home starts to smell like fresh baked bread and rosemary... you'll forget all about how troublesome this dough is. By the time you enjoy your first slice with a little vegan margarine... you'll already start planning sandwiches and soups to enjoy with this amazing bread.

First you have to bake it. So let's get started.