Monday, April 25, 2011

Moving Week! Vegan Creole Spice Popcorn Chicken

Pin It
So it's our last week in Norfolk before we head off for our new life in the big city. I go back and forth between thinking we've made a lot of progress and are going to totally make it out of here in time in an organized way and thinking we are living in utter chaos and pretty much screwed. It's not really an ideal situation for making culinary masterpieces. I mean last night I searched forever for a cork screw that I am now remembering was packed in the box with baking gear the day before. I mean we have stacks of clothes and magazines I haven't touched in months in easy to access piles around the apartment right now but I can't open a bottle of red wine to make a simple summer sauce for dinner. SIGH.

Last night was also a big night for anyone who has ever loved The Celtics* or loves anyone who fits that description. They swept the New York Knicks in the playoffs and made all those New Englanders proud yet again. I could bore you with rants about my job, the move, boxes, learning to drive a stick or even chatter about getting to see my friends' baby this weekend. I won't do that. Last year we celebrated the Celtics kick ass in the playoffs with Big Baby Vegan Hot Wings... This year we're going to veganize a different sports bar favorite : Popcorn Chicken - Creole Spice Popcorn Chicken actually.

Super easy and fast and perfect for a kitchen in flux that has limited access to gadgets. So what are we waiting for? Let's do this...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Informal Letter to A Vegan Stuffed Crust Mexican Pizza (recipe included)

Pin It

Dear Vegan Stuffed Crust Mexican Pizza :

I want to thank you for combining two of our very favorite meals - tacos and pizzas in an enchanting,  seamless and ingenious way that also gave us an opportunity to eat avocados and who doesn't love that? I also want to thank you for being so easy that we could enjoy how delicious you were in less than an hour and not have a huge stack of dishes left to do afterwards. This increased our enjoyment of the night by a factor of at least 10*. Mostly I just want to thank you for taking our minds off the fact that the night we had you for dinner at 8:11 PM, the artificially intelligent Skynet global digital defense network was suppose to have become self-aware, trigger a worldwide nuclear holocaust and then deploys legions of robot killers to wage genocide on the surviving humans. Having a spicy vegan stuffed crust Mexican pizza completely distracted us from the evil robot apocalypse and when we partnered it with a Dr.Pepper**- it ended up being quite a lovely night.

XO- Annie

PS - I forgot to thank you for being vegan and therefore only making the world a better place.

Click Read More for the Recipe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Tuscan Lemon Cake

Pin It
Every Italian-American woman I know (who is - ya know- into being an Italian-American) has a special occasion lemon cake recipe. They can make them in less than an hour* and always have the ingredients stocked in their kitchen just in case one of those special occasion sneaks up on them. You can find these cakes at baby showers and given to neighbors who have just lost a loved one. They're at PTA meetings, church potlucks and office parties. I would bet cash money there is at least one sitting in a Knights of Columbus right now. But I think you've figured out by now that these cakes aren't the headliners like those 4 story wedding monuments to buttercream. They're like the universal cake soldiers. They're around to feed nervous bridesmaids before the wedding. They're something to pick at while you're staying up to go to Midnight Mass at Christmas and they are always around this time of year for those folks who gave up chocolate for lent or just to be enjoyed with coffee after church.

I have always loved these simple lemon cakes**. So you can imagine how happy I was to find that Betty had a recipe for one those beloved little cakes for us to include in our project. Thank you Betty for being awesome yet again!

Few things before we bake :
  • This is a pretty moist cake - so be prepared for that. 
  • Half of this cake is going to work with Dan today for those folks over at Peta2 to enjoy... because really I don't think that Dan and I need to eat an entire cake. 
  • There is also a PS at the end of this post that is not really vegan cake related but very important. I couldn't really find a way to fit into this post except to plug it at the end - but I hope you will click on the read more link below and check it out. 

Back to the cake recipe you've always wanted to complete your arsenal!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Owls are cute - FREE Owl Shopping Bags are Really Cute! TODAY ONLY CONTEST!

Pin It
During our packing I found these adorable shopping bags that were intended to be prizes at a bridal shower... I could keep them for myself but I would rather share them with you! So we're having a little Earth Day Contest!

So today's contest : Please post a link to a cute owl photo in the comment section below and tonight at 9pm EST Dan and I will randomly choose 4 WINNERS!

Remember in order to win - you have to be a follower of Meet The Shannons - So we have your contact info. To become a follower - Just click on the "Follow" box in the right hand column. So start your search engines and let's get all crazy cute!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pesach Same'ach! Let's Celebrate with Coffee & Wine Braised Beef-less Brisket with Vegetables & My Very Favorite Charoset Recipe

Pin It
Using a new media editing program - so please excuse the crappy photography.
Passover starts tonight. I could write a whole book about why I love Passover. All my good memories and how it combines food and loved ones. I could try to describe the warm glow I get in my heart when I look out over a table of friends drinking Cherry Manischewitz mixed with Kosher Coke and how sad I am that we aren't going to be able to host our annual Secular Sedar this year. We have about 2 weeks left in Norfolk, VA - the city where I met my husband and found an unexpected home. It would have meant a lot to me to make it work but it just won't... BUT I can share with you some of my very favorite recipes and what I might have served if the world had spun a little differently.

Every year I make a 2 big pots of Matzah Ball Soup for our Sedar. You might have seen it on the Peta2 blog before. Even if you're not celebrating Moses freeing the slaves - you should make a pot because it's so good. I plan on making a big pot as soon as we move into our new place in Brooklyn just to make the place a bit more like home.

If you are one of the lucky ones sitting down to a sedar tonight, I hope you take a shot at that soup and if you need any suggestions for your compassionate sedar plate you can click here. Last year, I posted a Sweet Potato Kugel recipe that was an adaptation of a not so vegan Bubbie recipe that I personally love because let's face it - sweet potatoes are awesome. But this year, I'll also share 2 other recipes that are actually adaptions of recipes I found in Real Simple magazine. The charoset recipe below is one of those and is a bit more classy and special than just going with apple sauce. Plus if you have any leftover - it makes for a great breakfast.

You might remember awhile ago when I talked about how Italian gals are taught the importance of a good cutlet... I think if you're trying to find a Jewish equivalent it would be a brisket so tender it melts. Trying to make a vegan version of that can be a bit tricky because mock meat can melt pretty much on it's own. These beef-less brisket bites are very tender without getting spongy and end up having an extremely unique flavor that is not quite like a BBQ sauce or like a mole... but something different and really delicious.

Now I have to say that Gardien isn't Kosher or least certified so I can't tell you that this brisket meets all your Kosher for passover needs. In fact, as you probably have figured out from the fact my mom's Sicilian and I married a nice Irish boy... I'm not a stickler for keeping Kosher but I love my Jewish heritage nonetheless and have found a place for us.

On that note - Enjoy some beef-less brisket & Pesach out my friends! XO

Friday, April 15, 2011

Adventures in Brooklyn - Food & Friends during the Search for the Perfect Apartment! Episode II

Pin It
Brooklyn - The land of breath taking vistas.
In Barcelona, one might expect to see the somewhat bizarre spires of Gaudi's unfinished cathedral Temple La Sagrada Familia reaching into the heavens. In Paris, there is nothing quite like the rush you get when you spot the Eiffel Tower for the first time. In London, you can't miss the world's largest Ferris wheel known as The Eye. But in Brooklyn, there are historic rusted water towers and industrial warehouses revamped in blue glass and colorful graffiti. I recently spent a week walking through Brooklyn looking for a future home for the Shannon brood.

To see photos from my journey and some cute cats click here. I know yesterday I promised to tell you all about my NYC abduction story but I haven't figured out yet how to make it funny or how it even happened. I will tell you this. I was mistaken for a Hasidic Jew twice last week. Which is cool because Hasidic Jewish women can be adorable with their cute hats and knee-length skirts but I admit it is having me rethink my new haircut a little. Also, and more importantly, make sure when you get into a strange car in Brooklyn that you think is part of some legitimate car service... that it is and not some kind of Jewish intervention program. I might be able to talk about it more later but for now - let's talk food.

The adventure continues...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Adventures in Brooklyn - Food & Friends during the Search for the Perfect Apartment! Episode I

Pin It
Starting a new life on this side of the East River
So this past week has been the most confusing combination of just wonderful magic and the worst kinda of awful. The kind of awful that will be very funny this time next year when my feet finally stop hurting. See folks, I spent the past 7 days walking around Brooklyn looking for an apartment. Now if you have never looked for an apartment in the New York City area - well you might think these next few blog entries are well a dramatic interpretation with color and hijinks added to increase the entertainment value of this blog. I have to tell you that everything you are about to read is real and that no names were changed because in this story none of us are innocent*. And I also talk a lot about food and places I went to eat and think you should go. It would be completely illogical to not get those names right.

Shall we begin?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Fresh Lemon Asparagus Soup will make you happy... worked for me.

Pin It
When professional chefs make soup, there are several steps. Fancy soup is judged by how uniformly cut all the vegetables are, and is expected to be strained through a china cap. So I feel like I'm showing my amateur status by posting this as a soup*. See, I could have strained this soup into a fine light broth, but then it would lose a lot of the actual asparagus... and isn't that really the star of asparagus soup? I thought about calling it a chowder, but that didn't sing to me. Also, this soup has shallots, which are my new favorite member of the onion family. Gotta love those shallots.

So soup it is. And what a soup! Good news - there's still a lot of great asparagus available at the stores these days to make this soup, and who can say they really enjoyed spring without enjoying this soup? Not you - because here it is!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Pina Colada Cupcakes with a Special Guest Appearance of The Sweet & Sara Contest!

Pin It
A few months ago we posted a recipe for a cupcake to help get folks in the wintery holiday mood. It was a lovely little cupcake that combined Silk Soy Nog and the spirit of the season. But this weekend while I read countless Facebook statuses talking about freak snow flurries and saw photos posted of the recent NY Vegfest... well, it seemed like it was time for a new cupcake*. A cupcake that would warm your house like a Spring day and remind you that frozen treats and beaches are coming soon. It became clear to me that the time had come for Pina Colada cupcakes**.

As always I looked through our copy of Betty's Big Red to find the recipes that I could piece together to create this masterpiece. Then I remembered an email I got a while back from the folks over at BC about Betty's online cupcake center, and quickly found these. When you compare the recipes, you'll notice I made quite a few changes, but the spirit is there. I was cautious because I didn't want them to taste like suntan lotion, so I tried to keep the flavors subtle and natural when possible. All in all, these little buddies turned out just as I had hoped, and we loved them. We went mini with ours... because that's how we roll around here.

We could be yours.
Which brings us to our second agenda item, something else you're going to love! The Sweet & Sara Vegan Marshmallow Contest! Wow - I can actually hear you all gasping with excitement. This blog is all about proving that being vegan doesn't include sacrifice. Nothing says that more than Sweet & Sara's Easter Peepers & Skippers! Who needs those smug little gelatin-based Easter treats now that we have these?

That's why we're partnering with Sweet & Sara to bring these little guys, and a variety pack of vegan marshmallows, into the life of one lucky Meet The Shannons reader! Want to win some awesome for your Easter basket, or to give away as an Afikomen Prize, or maybe just to just eat? Here's what you have to do:
  • Start by "liking" this post on Facebook using the little button at the top.
  • Post a comment below with a link to a cute picture of a bunny and/or a chick (ducklings, piglets, kittens, puppies and other cutie faces are also approved) and a "Thank You" to Sweet & Sara for putting peeps in their place.
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 Thursday April 7th and send you a MAJOR AWARD! (Please keep in mind that it will take a few days for processing and shipping).

So start your search engines, find those cute bunnies, and enjoy these cupcakes...