Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Beer-Battered Green Beans

Pin It
So, we've been a little MIA lately. We had computer issues that ended up being a bigger deal than I thought because we needed that computer for our photos. We also had a photo shoot for our "about the author" section with V.K.Rees Photography that was literally magical. She was able to take photos of me that I actually like. It's was like some kind of Harry Potter moment. I've been setting up 2 completely awesome contests for December. You're going to love these. And of course, there is the book...

The deadline for the manuscript for our book is about 2 weeks away and I admit I'm nervous and excited and busy. There's the recipe testing and writing and the typing out of recipes and then double checking there's no typos and just so much to do. I've been so terrified of mistakes and I've literally been micromanaging myself while being excited to finally have the best job in the world.

I had to stay in Brooklyn over Thanksgiving and missed out on The Shannons' Annual Vegan Feast. I can tell you I did make the best of it by getting a lot done - including a Peking Tofurky with drumsticks and Asian vegetable wild rice. But I missed going to Boston to see everyone and spending the holiday with family. This is the first time I have missed Thanksgiving since Dan and I became "us" and it was kind of sad.

But enough with the sad stories, today we're going to talk about Beer Battered Green Beans. You've seen Green Bean French Fried whatever on the menu of all those TGIF-ish places. I've always kind of joked that this trend was a dubious attempt at "healthy fries" after Super Size Me*. I mean after that movie, everybody seemed to be deep frying their green beans. Weird or wonderful? Maybe both.

Having said that - These fries are good! They are delicious. I mean I was really shocked at how fraking good these fries were. Green beans are one of my very favorite vegetables so it was fun to play around with a new way to make them but you have been warned just because these little guys are green doesn't mean they are "health food"... They are a fun, vegan, basket of food that will go great with a cold beer and some Hockey. We should love them for who they are.

Game on!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Day Parade #10 : Pomegranate & Cranberry Sauce

Pin It

So there has been a perfect storm of bad luck lately. I'm having a hard time right now remembering what came first. Let's see Dan had to go to Denmark and Israel for work. He's working on this new project having to do with electric cars which is completely awesome except that right now we're writing a book and I miss him when he's not here. We spent all those years apart. I wasn't really all that surprised that when he got home, I felt a part of me that I didn't even know was having some kind of silent tantrum - exhaled. You never really realize sometimes how far you've come or how happy you are till the things that make you happy go to Denmark and come back with pretty scarves for you.

Oh yes and speaking of writing a book - the screen on the laptop I usually use literally burnt out*. So I had to temporarily move to a much smaller machine that didn't have all my files and photo. I know some of you have noticed the lack of posting. I know others who are currently recipe testing for us have been patiently awaiting emails with attachments that were smoldering away in a broken machine in Park Slope. It's been back now for less than 24 hours and it's like having an old friend back. A friend that always has interesting and funny things to say - well show.  

There has also been a birthdays, holidays, shopping, friends visiting the city and all this typing. I've missed most of these things because it's hard to type and go to birthday parties. We even had to postpone Dan's birthday because of all the typing.

We also had a great time last week being one of the Special Guests on VegNews' Holiday Twitter Chat - Turkey Talk. We shared some recipes and met a bunch of awesome tweeters. Robin Robertson shared her Pumpkin Tiramisu recipe. I'm convinced this is a work of art and am dying to try it out. Over at VegNews they launched their first Holiday Cookie Contest with an amazing first place prize!

But enough chatter. Tomorrow is the big day! The Super Bowl of Food! I feel terrible that we weren't able to add more to our Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. It's been too much for me really. But before I miss it - I thought I would share this last minute recipe that is super easy and quick and classier than those tin can jelly molds. It also has so much vitamin C in it - I'm pretty sure it will make you look a year younger. Isn't that what anti-oxidants do**? I think I heard Suzanne Somers say that once.

I love the flavor of this sauce on Tofurky sandwiches and on biscuits and off my sticky fingers. I know a lot of you already have your cranberry sauce set but if you haven't... and if you were considering skipping it... I hope you'll give this recipe a try. It will make you understand how cranberry sauce earned it's spot on the table during one of the high holy days of food***.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Where we're going we may not need roads but we're going to need these books! (Yes this is a pretty awesome contest)

Pin It
Don't worry it will all make sense.

I think every vegan hopes that a day will come when people all over the world are willing and able to adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle that's better for them, the environment, and of course, the animals. Until that day comes, it's up to us vegans and veg-curious to help show the world how easy and fun being a compassionate consumer can be. This is the story of one anonymous reader who is doing what she can to help make this hope a reality.

Recently Dan and I got a email from a reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) who wanted to donate some books for a Meet The Shannons contest. She wanted the books to be prizes at a benfit for Farm Sanctuary, but plans had fallen through. Being an awesome activist, she wanted to make sure these books made it out into the world to help inform and educate people about how easy and important a vegan lifestyle is. So she asked that we give them away on our blog. Challenge accepted!

When the box came, it had a lovely note and 4 brand-new never-been-touched books! Four books that any vegan or veg-curious or just plain animal lover would want on their shelf.

We tried to figure out what would be the perfect contest. We wanted to do something really special--but I'll be honest, we're really focused on the Meet The Shannons book right now and the days are a blur of typing and cooking. Type Type Type. Cook Cook Bake Cook. Wash Dishes. Repeat.

But somewhere in all that, I found these beautiful organic carrots (see photo above) at the market around the corner. So here's our contest! Leave a comment below telling us what you would do with these colorful little carrot buddies and we'll randomly choose ONE Comment from a Member to win 4 cruelty-free living classics!

We're choosing randomly so you can be as honest as you want. In other words, if you would just gobble 'em down with a bowl of vegan ranch dressing or if you would feed 'em to your house rabbit - it's all good. Sorry, you have to be a member to enter, so that we can contact you later to send you your brain feast! If you're not already a member, you can find the button to join in the right hand column. We'll be choosing the winner on Friday November 18th.

Special thanks goes out of course to our book donor but also to these authors who are helping make a better future for all of us.

PS - Don't forget to adopt a turkey!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project: Thanksgiving Day Parade #9 : White & Green Beans

Pin It
Yes, the rumors are true! We have another contest launching tomorrow! But until then, please accept this healthier take on a Thanksgiving classic: Green Bean Casserole.

I adore Green Bean Casserole. It's one of my very favorite dishes on the planet, but I can completely understand why some folks might want to enjoy a flavorful green bean dish this Thanksgiving not include the flour or the margarine. This recipe is a really delicious substitute. It's a side dish with some character and charm--it's like the Captain Kirk of green bean dishes. Or maybe Jean-Luc Picard, since it has Dijon mustard in it.

Is it exactly the same as the classic green bean casserole of old? Sorry, no, not exactly--but it's damn good, and what's fun about everything being the same all the time?

I wish I had more time today to write a better post to go with it, but we're less than a month away from the deadline for our book and I really need to be typing out the donut section today. See you tomorrow!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project: BLT Crostinis

Pin It
Keep an open mind - This is actually a pretty remarkable appetizer.
I've heard that a 'fear of commitment' is one of the most popular self-diagnosed phobias in our society. I understand it but it's not really a phobia I have. I mean I'm not perfect. Needles can send me into a panic attack and sandwiches with wet pasty bread give me the chills. I also might have a mild case of social anxiety issues that I should Google more about. Though I'm pretty sure it's just run-of-the-mill shyness. Don't worry I'm getting to my point.

See recently something pretty awesome happened. I was featured in vegan chef superstar Kathy Patalsky's 2011 Veggie Girl Power series over on Healthy.Happy.Life. I'm beyond flattered to be part of this interview series that includes Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Leanne Mai-ly Hilgar, Stephanie Morgan, Anya, Kathy Freston, and Portia de Rossi. This is an amazing group of women doing extraordinary things in the world by promoting healthy living and helping animals. My excitement combined with the fact that we are currently writing our book created this perfect storm of chattiness that made my interview a bit long but completely sincere. I hope you'll take a minute today to check it out if you haven't already.

In there I talk about all the different crostinis we've been making lately for the party section of our book and briefly walk through how to make Mexican crotinis. This lead to a few emails last night asking us what crostini recipe so far is the most random/unusual/delicious. See many of the folks who have been following The Betty Crocker Project know that sometimes Betty comes up with some dishes that might seem kinda random but that's how our little project fills it's danger and adventure quota. Going into this project we had to commit to going into each recipe with an open mind. Today's post is one of those recipes where that pays off.

I had intended to save this recipe for the book but there is a little smudge on the plate that ruined the pictures and so many of you seemed really into having crotinis at your holiday dinners and potlucks - I had to share. If you're following along in your own Big Red you probably noticed there are lot of changes but really I think these changes only make these little buddies better. I actually love these crostinis in a way that I've never really loved BLT sandwiches. I hope you'll give them a chance and add some kitschy Betty-Style novelty to your next party.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project: Thanksgiving Day Parade #8 - Roasted Rosemary & Dark Beer Tofurky

Pin It

So this is one of those blog posts where I feel like complete honesty in easy to follow bullet points is called for:
  • This recipe is an amazing way to level up your Tofurky. It has a dark and rich unique flavor that is intended to recreate what you get when you brine a turkey. Our process isn't really anything like the long one used to brine turkeys but the result of this recipe seems very similar. 
  • This recipe makes a thin but flavorful crust on the outside of your Tofurky that doesn't recreate a "skin" completely but it's wonderful. So you can really appreciate it.
  • We cooked Brussels sprouts in the dark beer marinade like Betty suggested but it was not my favorite thing to ever happen. The marinade reduces over the vegetables to makes something too strong for me but I do suggest instead steaming or roasting your Brussels sprouts and then using the leftover marinade to make a gravy by adding 1 cup of vegetable broth.
  • You can skip the flavor injector step if you want but it's kinda cool.  You really should give it a try if you can.

I think this photo shows you the delicious crust.

 And don't forget to enter to win a coupon for a Free Tofurky Feast!

You ready to show this Tofurky who's boss!

Today's is Dan's Birthday!

Pin It
Dan & The Ladies at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
Today is the anniversary of the best day of all the days! Today is my husband and co-pilot for Meet The Shannons Dan's birthday!

Obviously I'm madly in love with Dan but I do have good reasons. He's so creative, thoughtful, smart, fun and dedicated to making the world a better place. I could rave about what a lucky gal I am or brag about where I'm taking Dan to dinner tonight but instead I'll just ask you to please do something sweet for the animals and take a not-yet-vegan friend out for a veggie burger tonight for Dan!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Tofurky Meets The Shannons Contest!

Pin It

Cajun Deep Fried Tofurky with Okra Giblet Gravy

It's no secret that we love Tofurky! We love the deli slices for lunch in sandwiches and salads. We love the roasts with Brussels sprouts and mashed potatoes. We love the leftovers cut up into chunks in pot pies. I mean what's not to love about this vegan classic that has become a Thanksgiving tradition all over the world? Not only is it a compassionate alternative to eating sweet birds like Beatrice at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary and Skip and Victoria at Farm Sanctuary but Tofurkys are prefect for whatever creative cooking ideas you want to experiment with during the holiday season. 

We've deep fried them Cajun style after injecting them with a spicy marinade all Paula Deen Style and served them with okra giblet gravy. We've roasted them over an over flame and a can of beer. Yes, we are talking about the infamous beer can Tofurky. We've wrapped it in vegan bacon and brushed it with sea salt and black pepper. We're glazed it with orange and miso and partnered it with Asian vegetable stuffing. Tomorrow we're posting a recipe for a Tofurky roasted in Dark Beer and Rosemary. Today we're launching our Tofurky Contest!

I won't make you wait any longer. Here's the contest! Leave a comment below telling us what Vegan Thanksgiving tradition or dish you're the most looking forward to and we'll randomly choose ONE Comment from a Member to win a coupon for ONE FREE TOFURKY FEAST! That includes:
  • One Tofurky® Roast (made with organic non-genetically engineered soybeans) - now 20% larger
  • Savory Giblet Gravy
  • Wild Rice, Whole Wheat Bread Crumb Stuffing
  • Tofurky® Jurky Wishstix
  • Organic Chocolate Cake from Amy's Kitchen
  • Happy Tofurky Day card & coupons
We're choosing randomly so you can be as honest as you want. In other words, we won't judge if your favorite Thanksgiving tradition is football with pizza veggie dogs or surfing and smores. Sorry folks you have to live in the United States to win. You also have to be a member so we can contact you later to send you your feast! If you're not already a member, you can find the button to join in the right hand column. We'll be choosing the winner on Friday November 11th.

So who wants to win a FREE Tofurky Feast?!?!?

Friday, November 4, 2011

2011's Thanksgiving Parade begins with #7! Roasted Tomato & Fennel Bisque

Pin It

OK. I admit we might be pushing it a little bit by adding this to the Month of Baking but you do use your oven to melt the vegan cheese. I've also noticed a lot of Tweets and Facebook Statuses about runny noses and sore throats so I thought it might be a good time to post a recipe that takes your mom's tomato soup a step further.

Original bisques are French soups made with crustaceans that were too beat up to be sold in the market but over the years the term has also been used to also describe cream-based vegetable soups. Sometimes the term means both. So not the most compassionate soups on the block. We used fennel, sea kelp and some vegan sour cream in ours to make it a bit nicer to both sea spiders and our bovine friends. We decided to add the toasted crouton (that you can't see) and melt the Daiya vegan cheddar on top as a little shout out to tomato soup's BFF grilled cheese sandwiches.

I got the idea to serve the soup in espresso cups from Martha Stewart's Wedding page. When I was planning my wedding, I remember seeing it and thinking that it was a really adorable idea for serving soup to a large group of people and I wanted to share it in time for Thanksgiving. Soup isn't generally thought of as being part of Thanksgiving but if you're looking for something different, these little buddies might make a good opening course. We got a lot of emails last year from folks who served our Macaroni & Sheese Cups as starters at their family get together and loved them. So the individual serving soups in espresso cups that you can sip like you're pretend British and eat with those adorably dainty coffee spoons seemed like it could possibly make for the most adorable starter for any dinner party ever.

You can also enjoy it in a bowl. Yawn.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Betty Crocker Project : Baked Vegan Chicken & Waffles

Pin It

My only compliant about this recipe is that I didn't add enough Maple syrup in the pictures.
When I lived in Atlanta, there seemed to be signs everywhere for Chicken and Waffles "Shacks". I mean even Motown Legend Gladys Knight had a chain that seemed to be in every strip mall*. Which at first I assumed meant they served waffles in the morning and fried chicken at night. Imagine my Northern girl surprise, when I learned about this heart attack inducing dish was a staple in Soul Food cuisine. I mean I had lived in St.Louis and spent time in Kentucky and Louisiana and never heard of such a thing. But any cuisine can vary from region to region. Take the French dish Ratatouille: It originated in Nice and was simply seasoned with thyme and black pepper but then those show-offs down the coast in Provence started adding all these green herbs and a bit of lavender and the flavor turned into something completely different. Well, Soul Food is no different**. You can go to a completely legit Soul Food restaurant in Texas and have a pretty different experience than you would in Florida or Tennessee. From what I gather, the epicenter of Chicken and Waffles is Georgia. At first it seemed strange to me but then when I thought about it. Is it really that much weirder than having a side of fried bacon or sausage? I mean it's savory and oily meat with sweet waffles.

So when I was putting together a menu for a vegan Soul Food dinner party, I started thinking of ways to veganize this classic unique dish while also making it a bit more healthy but didn't have a proper waffle iron to pull it off. $40 later and here we are enjoying Baked Vegan Chicken and Waffles. I have to admit I've fallen in love with this unusual but awesome combo.

Speaking of awesome combos... Tonight we're going to a Hen Party with free cupcakes! No, not a British bachelorette porn and baked goods extravaganza. There is a party for our dear friend Jasmin Singer over at Our Hen House. If you find yourself anywhere near Manhattan tonight you should stop by and say "Hi". Just Click Here for the details if you didn't already click on the other link.

Even if you can't make it tonight - You can still enjoy this Georgian country classic! If for not other reason than to add it to the list of things you've done in your life.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Family Album : Launching The Month of Baking with Vegan Good Things' Leinana Two Moons & Tuscan Lemon Cake

Pin It
Way out East there was this lady I wanna tell ya about*. Goes by the name of Leinana Two Moons. At least that was the handle her loving parents gave her with a little help from her husband Anthony. But you may not know her by that name. See, this Two Moons, she writes the ultimate cruelty-free living blog Vegan Good Things. I first met Leinana over Twitter back when The Betty Crocker Project was still an angry fit that hit me like a hammer from the heavens above. I can't remember when or how we became friends, but I know that over the years I came to rely not just on her posts and kitchen skills, but on her clever insights. I'm so privileged to call her my friend and to have her feedback and encouragement. In a world that has multiple The Fast and The Furious movies, I think have higher standards than the general population concerning what's "cool", but I can say this with no hesitation: if you're interested in going vegan but not in turning your life upside down, Leinana is one of the coolest vegan gurus out there.

November is going to be our Month of Baking! Yes, we'll still feature Thanksgiving recipes like last year, but we also plan to bake now that it's cold enough to crank that oven. To launch it all off, Leinana made our Tuscan Lemon Cake. This is one of my very favorite cake recipes ever and I have to admit her tips at the end are dead on! Again, Leinana's feedback = awesome. 

But... aw, hell. I've done introduced it enough. Here's Leinana!

I can’t remember when I first discovered Meet the Shannons, but I do remember that I instantly loved it because 1) I actually wanted to eat ALL the food on it, and 2) I loved their crazy sense of humor and all their funny links. I totally related to the food they were making, and I was excited that they were veganizing the types of recipes that I grew up eating. I also admired all the amazing animal activism that they did, but in my personal life, the best kind of vegan outreach has been trying to make delicious vegan food that manages to surprise and comfort people at the same time. I love showing people that anything, really anything, can be made vegan. Want a pepperoni pizza? I can make a vegan one! Want a tuna noodle casserole? Make a vegan one! I just feel that if people realize all their favorite and familiar dishes can be easily veganized, AND they start to learn about the various reasons – health, environmental, and ethical – for not eating meat and dairy, then there really leaves no reason for them to not consider going vegan. It seemed clear to me that the Shannons share this same approach and this is exactly what they manage to accomplish for so many people with their blog.

When we first started communicating with each other online, I just knew that Annie was someone I really wanted to be friends with. Lucky for me, she and her husband have since moved to Brooklyn, not far from where we live, and now we are all friends in “real life” as well. Not only are we friends, but we seem to have some kind of vegan food ESP going on. It works something like this: I suddenly have a craving for something sort of nostalgic that I ate growing up (like cheeseburger pie or shrimp gumbo) and no sooner do I think it than Annie posts a recipe for it. It’s kind of amazing. The same thing happened when I recently had an overwhelming craving for lemon cake. I wanted to make one, and Annie reached out to ask me if I wanted to make her Tuscan Lemon Cake for a guest post.

I’ve since made this cake a few times and I’m totally in love with it. Annie calls this a “special occasion lemon cake recipe,” and it is special, although for me the occasion is usually something more like “Tuesday” or “Sunday.” This cake comes out incredibly moist and hits just the right tart-sweet notes. It’s pretty much a perfect lemon cake.

Just a couple of notes about the recipe: definitely scrape your mixer beaters, because a lot of the lemon zest seems to stick to them, and you want that zest to end up in the batter. Just use a spatula to get all the zest off and then mix it in. Also, it helps to wait a little while for both your cake and your glaze to cool before you drizzle the glaze on top, or else it will just run off the cake and pool onto your serving dish. Then you’ll have to spoon it over the cake again until it sticks on top. Other than that, there’s nothing I can add to improve this recipe. I know it’s become somewhat cliché to note that “it doesn’t even taste vegan,” but it’s true. There’s nothing about this cake that anyone, vegan or not, wouldn’t love.

* If you're seen The Big Lebowski as many times as I have, you'll appreciate this intro more.