Monday, January 31, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Creamsicle Cupcakes

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Never tell me the odds.

If you're frantically flipping through your copy of Betty's Big Red looking for this recipe, you can stop. Kinda like what we did with the Pink Lemonade, Peanut Brittle, and Soy Nog Cupcakes, we used a vegan version of Betty recipes as a starting point, and then applied a little creativity to make these. They may seem a little summer-y for January, but who couldn't use a sunny treat on a cold winter night?

These cupcakes began with some meddling with our vegan version of Betty's Starlight Yellow Cake recipe and Vanilla Frosting, and were inspired by this Betty Crocker Ad I saw from 1969... and maybe a little of The Han Solo style of Ship Enhancement and Repair. They are super simple and kitschy... in the very best way. We made them this weekend for a (not vegan) food writer that came to hangout with us and they got the thumbs up*. So if you're looking for something fun for a office potluck, birthday party or maybe something to make for your not-yet-vegan sweetheart... I think you can count on these being just as popular as those frozen treats we all loved so much we would've chased an ice cream truck through an asteroid field. Of course, without the hyper drive and C-3PO backseat driving, the odds of us finding vegan creamcicles in space are 99,678,345,102 to 1**. Yet another reason we just made our own.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : The Homemade Mediterranean Happy Hour featuring The Pita Pizza

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Tabbouleh Salad and Lemon Garlic Hummus
So right now I should be telling you all about the food writer and photographer coming over to have dinner with us this weekend. I could be telling you about the dream I had last night about Lobster Killer or how I've been sick all week. But I am finding myself completely distracted. See I just found out Season 3 & 4 of Ghost Adventures is available to watch instantly through our Xbox.

Now as you may remember, I love the show Ghost Adventures. I love when they role played being Union soldiers in Gettysburg, wore Top Gun flight suits on a haunted air craft carrier and swing billy-clubs in condemned prisons to get a rise from the "ghost inmates". I really like trying to follow their "chains of evidence" and how excited they get when there's a draft. Most of all - I love their "tools of the trade". They are pure Dr.Igon Spengler Gold!

So here's what you  need to watch hours and hours of Zac, Aaron and Nick shaking their fists into the night and yelling "Bro - Did you hear that?" or maybe some big Super Bowl type of thing if you can even find something like that happening somewhere. It's the kind of spread that is perfect for marathon TV watching or a new take on The Homemade Happy Hour. This spread makes a lot of food quickly and is so super easy  that anyone can make them - even if they aren't feeling 100%.  In fact, they're so easy I feel a little guilty posting them but instead I'm just going to focus on how much I love eating these pita pizzas... really you should too. Of course, Betty's Tabbouleh and Hummus were already vegan, so we just needed to meddle with the recipes a little to make the pizzas just right. I think you'll love these.

I know we usually have Mexican Food on Friday night... but we might have to make an exception & make these again.

You're going to need to stock up on your pita bread.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Fettuccine with Wild Mushrooms & Artichoke Hearts

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To me those Artichoke Hearts look like rose buds - I love this dish that much.
There are a few things that happen around here when Dan travels for work:
  1. I watch a lot of TV. After last weekend, I can now add enjoying the first and second seasons of the BBC's Being Human to my life's accomplishments.
  2. There's a sad moment around 8 pm when the cats realize that Dan won't be coming home that night, and they begin to follow me around the apartment. They won't take their eyes off me. At the end of the night I end up with both of them asleep on me. It's really sweet. I mean it's melt your heart sweet. But in the summer, completely unbearable.
  3. I try to make something with mushrooms because I'm a pretty compassionate person and I know my dearest hates them. So although I love them... I save them for nights I am eating solo.
I had my eye on this dish for a long time. Whenever I flipped through Betty's Big Red, we'd give each other a little conspiratorial nod. That's why I was pretty heartbroken when the only fresh "wild mushroom" mix at our local grocery stores was basically some sliced Portabellas and White Buttons with just a few Cremini and Oyster mushrooms mixed in. But I got over it pretty quickly when I looked in our pantry and saw a can of artichoke hearts and garbanzo beans*. I admit I meddled again, but it was so worth it. Some of you might remember The Great Mushroom Showdown of 2010. This dish incorporates a lot of the same flavor I found in Betty's mushroom sauteing technique, and reminds me how much I love cooking with white wine.

I love this recipe - not as much as Dan - but I'll always think about my date with this recipe and smile.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sick Day.

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Just wanted to thank everyone who has sent such nice "Get Well Soon" messages! We'll be back tomorrow with more from The Betty Crocker Project and this week's special guest star! 
Yes - those are teasers. See you tomorrow!

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Macaroni Salad with Peppered Baked Tofu

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Peta2's Christina Freeman Approving.
This recipe is potluck tested and approved!

Today is Squirrel Appreciation Day and so peta2 decided to celebrate in style... friendly neighborhood potluck style that is. As always there was a pretty impressive spread ranging from spring rolls to chocolate cake from peta2's Vegan College Cookbook. Now Betty's Macaroni Salad is made with Tuna and some different seasoning but we went with baked tofu because it's kinda the new trend around The Shannon Homestead these days. A trend that I hope will make the world a better place for potlucks and BBQs everywhere. Kind of a Act Locally - Think Globally thing.

There are lots of photos to go with this one - Are your vegan-senses tingling yet?*

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Did you know that January is Soup Month?

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It might be too hot to eat yet - but a grrl's gotta try!
So I've been posting a lot of soup recipes lately, and realized that I might have forgotten to tell you all that January is Soup Month. OK, I did forget. I do that sometimes. If you know me in person you know - I'm in my head a lot. Maybe too much. I'm shy is all. I'm one of those "socially awkward" people who's often 4 sentences too far into a conversation for some folks to really get how wonderful what I'm saying really is, or halfway through the joke before I start telling it. Sometimes I can't even type fast enough to keep up with myself. So I might have forgotten to mention that on the day I found out January was Soup Month, it seemed like destiny was winking at me from across the party. My handsome and wonderful Dan got me a big beautiful slow cooker for Christmas, and I want to use it everyday to make everything. We eat a lot of soup around here. Not just soup - we eat really good soup. I know I'm not being humble, but I have so few talents, I feel OK celebrating this one.

When I first went vegan, one of my only concerns was what would I do with only cans of tomato soup to keep me warm. But we live in a different world now. Now vegans can have any kind of soup you can dream of. So in celebration of Soup Month here is a list of soups in no particular order that you can enjoy before it's too late... It'll be February before you know it. I want to make a joke about "outlaw soups" here, but it's back to that 'I'm kinda a weirdo' thing and I might be the only one who thinks that would be funny.

Happy Soup Month!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Crunchy Vegan Asian Chicken Salad

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I woke up this morning with the echo of a dream and a lingering wisdom : "Don't let your boat turn into Charlie Brown." What does it mean? I have no idea.

But I do know that this salad is a quick lunch that has sunny mandarin oranges, crunchy ramen bits and is salty and sweet all at the same time. In less than 15 minutes you can be eating this and doing any of the millions of things that I should be doing. Why is this week so busy?

PS - Tonight is a big night for us -- more details to come. Wish us luck! Another thing you can do while you enjoy this salad.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : 16 Bean, Leek & Tofurky Kielbasa Soup

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This batch was made with Tofurky Kielbasa but I think Field Roast's Apple & Sage Sausages would be perfect!
Someone needs to say it. SyFy Channel's Vampire & Werewolf movie marathon this weekend was a little too heavy on the werewolves and had a significant lack of vampires. That's not to say it wasn't still completely wonderful! I mean, who doesn't love a good monster movie? But sometimes a gal needs more dialogue during the big bad death scene than most werewolf movies allow...  and less icky spine and muzzle faces.

So what do us Shannons make for dinner when there's this level of distraction? Pretty much what you would expect. We pull out the slow cooker and return to debating which movie has better werewolves; taking into account origin stories, transformation scenes, and CGI cheating, of course. But if werewolves aren't your thing, you might find yourself instead wondering: can I even name 16 different types of beans? And where would I even find them?

Fear not! They sell bags of 15 bean soup in the dry bean or soup aisles in most grocery stores, and that last bean is green beans. So relax. Pull out your largest stew pot or slow cooker, and let's make some soup!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cherry, Walnut & Chocolate Chip Cookies For The Win!

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These cookies are really good. Let's make some!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Lemon Pepper Pasta with Artichoke Hearts

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This dish is really beautiful - wish the photo showed that.

You had me at Lemon Pepper... SIGH.

So there's this bottled drink company that claims to be made from 'The Best Stuff on Earth', but I just don't see how that's possible, because I'm pretty sure this dish has most of the best stuff on Earth in it and I think they'd make for an odd beverage. They do make for an amazing, fast, easy, and cheap dish that will feed a lot folks for one night, or a few for many nights. If you've been reading this blog for awhile, I suspect you've noticed our fondness for lemon pepper, citrus, olives, garbanzo beans, pasta, and red peppers, so I hope you'll forgive the changes we made to Betty's already vegan dish. I just can't help myself sometimes. I think you'll like this one though. Just don't drink it.

We also hope you take a minute today to visit the website Offbeat Bride. They're focusing on Vegan Weddings this week, and started with a write up of The Shannon Wedding. You should also check out our Garlic Cheesy Biscuits on PETA Prime right now. This is one of the first recipes from The Betty Crocker Project -- Old School Meet The Shannons -- and one of our very favorites!

So let's grab a lemon and a grater and get started...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Family Album : Herbivore's Michelle Schwegmann makes 'Eating Taco Salad Like You Give A Damn' cooler than ever... SPOILER : There are Fairies involved.

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This is what it is all about. Amen.
Many of you already know Michelle Schwegmann as the poster grrl for The Herbivore Clothing Company but did you know that she's more than just a pretty face? She's a pretty bad ass vegan chef who recently launched one of my favorite blogs Eat Like You Give A Damn, is working on a cookbook, raising an adorable vegan kid, has a sweet dog, runs one of the coolest vegan clothing clothing companies and is a pretty face. Yeah - She's pretty much a super hero - saving animals, making vegans cool not crusty and feeding faces with a single bound! Or maybe a few all combined into a one or something... Michelle Rocks is the point and one of those folks that makes Portland, Oregon the Vegan Utopia we all dreamed of when we were little vegans! We are so excited that she's our Guest Blogger today and to add her to our Shannon Family Album... You folks are going to love this Michelle's take our Taco Salad and not just because of all the pretty pictures.

Without further ado -- Here's Michelle!

"You sweet talker, Betty Crocker!" Remember that jingle?

When I first heard about The Betty Crocker Project, I had that immediate feeling "Why didn't I think of that first!" I was jealous and relieved at the same time. Somebody would do this important work, and it wasn't me -- but dang if it isn't a great idea!

So obviously I jumped at the challenge to do a guest post for the blog. Confession: I was slightly disappointed that we were to do the Taco Salad recipe! It's true, though I did not tell Annie. I thought Taco Salad was too easy! I mean, I wasn't going to have to drive across town to sixteen ethnic markets to find the exact ingredients....I wasn't going to need to make 5 items from scratch before I could even begin the taco salad recipe....but wait... what is that? DEEP FRYING? Now I was scared. Talk about foreign and exotic! I'm in over my head and I am deeply afraid. There is nothing like deep burning hot oil to put the fear into me. I am not a deep-fried vegan - I'm more of a saute or steam vegan. Turns out taco salad was going to be exciting after all. I was going to consume something, fried deeply, that was made in my own home. Pigs flew, I tell you.

I enlisted the help of my doting husband and some other deeply traditional friends on Christmas Eve to complete the mission.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Super Chocolate Vegan Hootenanny! Episode III : German Chocolate Cupcakes

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If you'd asked me a month ago why it was called German Chocolate Cake, I would have grasped at straws and guessed it had something to do with Germany, even though that doesn't make sense really. I mean, Bavaria isn't really known for their coconut trees. (insert shrug here)

The truth is that an English immigrant named Samuel German developed a certain type of sweet chocolate for the Baker's Chocolate factory in 1852 that became quite popular, so the company named it after him. Over 100 years later, a homemaker in Dallas, TX used Mr. German's signature chocolate to create this baking masterpiece, and shared her recipe with the world in the local newspaper. The rest is cake history!

I'm really excited to add our version of Vegan German Chocolate Cupcakes to our Pantheon of Baked Treats. Even though we didn't use Mr. German's chocolate to make it, I feel like these cupcakes really capture the spirit of this classic American dessert. And when you make it, please give a little tip of your hat to all those generations of creative and talented women who shared their recipes with us in newspapers and home journals. Here's to the first food bloggers!

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Beef-Less, Barley & Vegetable Soup

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We're still figuring out this new camera... Sigh.

When I was a little eater, I loved Beef with Barley soup from a can. My dad would make it for meals he was left in charge of, and always served it with those cheddar goldfish crackers. I had this systematic way of eating it that took forever, but basically involved eating every little pea, barley, cheesy goldfish or whatever one at a time. Even then though, I skipped the few tiny meat bits. I wanted the soup to last as long as possible. So when I saw this recipe in Betty's Big Red, the 10 year old in me smiled and said, "You owe me this for all the spelling tests I worked so hard on, and since you discovered spell check, quickly forgot about."

This soup is much better than anything you could get from a can. It also includes an ingredient I'm pretty sure wasn't in my childhood favorite: Bell Peppers. I used to love bell peppers on sandwiches, especially red ones, but over the years we drifted away from them. Maybe it was the price, or maybe because they don't always last long in VA humidity even if you put them in the fridge. It's hard to say. But one of the many positive impacts The Betty Crocker Project has had on our lives is the reintroducing of bell peppers into our routine. She uses them a lot and I'm glad she does. Even after this project wraps, The Shannon household will still be a pro-peppers zone. Also don't forget to pick up some Eco-Planet Non-Dairy Cheddar Crackers. They're vegan and just as good as those cheddary cheesy goldfish. The recipe below has the Stew Pot and Slow Cooker versions... Viva la Pimienton Revolucion!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : The Homemade Italian Happy Hour

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Whether you want more money to donate to charities, have maybe lost your job, are looking to start a family, or are getting married... money is on a lot of people's minds right now. So here's a money saving tip that I learned from my grandparents: Homemade Happy Hours. It can be a lot of fun to go out, get some fancy drinks, and a basket or two of appetizers... the entire time reminding yourself it's OK because the drinks are only $3 and appetizers are half off. But let's be honest: then the bill comes, you've spent way more than you thought, and now you have to tip. Or, you could spend the night in a place where you can control the music, your sports team is on a TV you can actually see, there's a short wait, and you know that they serve your favorite drinks. Home.

The Homemade Happy Hour we're sharing today is Italian-themed, and actually a pretty remarkable spread. We made toasted Crostini, Roasted Garlic, and Sauteed Olives. Just buy your favorite beer or beverage--maybe a Morena or Peroni or a bottle of Limoncello if you want to keep it Italian. These recipes are easy enough that you can make them right after work and not worry about mussing up your kitchen. And they're delicious enough that you won't miss paying extra to have someone open your beer bottle for you. Be sure to keep reading... we included lots of pictures.

Also, be sure and check out Dan & me on Our Hen House's Podcast this weekend! We love those kick-ass ladies over there, and it was a great honor to be a part of what they're doing to make the world a more compassionate place. If you're not familiar with Our Hen House, we highly recommend you check out their site.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Bob Chorush - We miss you already.

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Bob at WTO 1999
This morning I woke up to an email telling me that one of the most clever and dedicated activists I have ever worked with died on Sunday. I first met Bob Chorush in 1999 in Seattle, at a poster, puppet, and costume making party for the infamous WTO rally. He was a turtle, and tried to get me to be one too. He also helped me plan protests against the March of Dimes' animal experiments throughout in the Puget Sound area 2 years in a row, and there were many times I thought he was the only activist I knew who I could count on coming to my demos.

Later when we worked at PETA on their Ringling Brothers campaign, he was always the most fun to brainstorm and email with. He made being productive fun, and made the small sacrifices we all make in this work unnoticeable. He did this through humor and an infectious creativity that saw opportunities everywhere to make the world more compassionate.

A good example of this is when he added The Vegan Fried Egg to the Wikipedia entry for Eggs, and went through Wikipedia listing Meet The Shannons recipes on the pages for various meaty recipes. I think they've all been taken down now, but man - I still remember finding the first one in my Google Alerts. It was a pretty awesome morning that I owe to Bob.

But those are just a few of my memories of Bob. He helped so many animals and activists. He was a force for good in this world that just needs more good for so long that I can't even think where to begin to describe his work and him. I wish I had been a better friend to him. I encourage you though to check out - especially The Field of Dreams section about The Trojan Duck.

The world was a better place because Bob Chorush was in it. I'm so sorry if you liked him as much as I did and this is how you are hearing this sad news. I hope that we can remember the good times and be encouraged to be a bit more like Bob.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Spicy Split Pea Soup and a Side of Chatter

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So we're taking a little detour from our chocolate suicide to enjoy soup season and talk about some updates we've made around here. We're also going to man up and answer some of the questions we're getting since I boasted yesterday that we might not need New Years Resolutions this year. Now, if you haven't checked out some of the changes we made to this site over the past few weeks, you really should. We've put in a Pantry page to help you locate recipes by ingredients, and we updated our Frequently Asked Questions, As Seen On and Nerdery pages. We're still working on The Family Tree, but keep checking back--I think you'll like what we're going to do.

Also, if you look on the right hand side of the page, you'll see a button to check out our Finding Vegan Page, as well as a link to Ecolissa. Meet The Shannons readers can get 20% on Ecolissa - eco friendly and vegan clothing by entering Vegan20 at checkout. If living a greener life is one of your New Years Resolutions, you should really check Ecolissa out.

We've had a few people ask me a wide range of questions about reusable shopping bags & totes*. I hope these tips answer your questions.
  • Keep your shopping bags in your car, and if you're really forgetful, put a sticky note on your dash reminding you to bring them inside. I think you'll be surprised how fast you make this a good habit.
  • Recently someone who loves large, uncompromising landfills went around the internet telling people that reusing shopping bags will lead to a pandemic of food born illnesses. Let's be honest here--like anything in life, if you are worried about getting sick... be cleaner. Wash your hands. Wash your bags regularly, and your food before you eat it. Soap don't hurt.
  • If you feel like some weirdo using a tote in places outside the grocery stores and farmers market, get yourself one of these cute little ones that fit in your purse. There are a few that are more manly too for pockets.
Time for soup!

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Super Chocolate Vegan Hootenanny! Episode II : Vegan Chicken in Mole Sauce

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So we debated having a Best of 2010 Meet The Shannons post over the weekend, but they can always be found listed in the right hand side... and if we did that now, what would we do to celebrate our 1 year anniversary? Then, we debated publicly listing our resolutions so that you would all know our bad habits... but instead, we spent our nerdtastic New Years playing Heroes V in our living room, drinking fancy beer from Sri Lanka, and eating chocolate... and actually feeling pretty good about keeping most of the resolutions we made last year: buying organic, fair trade and locally grown whenever possible, being better about bringing reusable shopping bags, and being awesome.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Chicken in chocolate sauce sounds about as enjoyable as a real egg omelet full of skittles and tootsie rolls. But Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that can differ greatly from region to region, and it does have dark chocolate powder in it--but the flavor is more like coffee than the sweet Easter-basket stuff. Really, in this version the cumin is the real star--especially once you squeeze the lime over the top.

Vamos a comer!