Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project: Maple Glazed Holiday Roast

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So I never grew up with a huge ham for Easter dinner. As many of you already know, around The Ol' Shannon Homestead we look forward to Passover every spring but that's not to say I don't appreciate many of Easter's fine qualities like Sweet & Sara's Vegan Easter Peepers & Skippers and big dinner or brunch parties. Since we became a "we", Dan and I have hosted some pretty outstanding secular Seders for Passover. I can tell you from experience that the best ones took awhile to plan. Which brings us to the other day when I realized we weren't gong to be able to host a huge Seder this year because we just don't have the room and I haven't had the time to rent a space. Last year we had to settle for a big dinner at a Thai restaurant because we were moving. So what's a grrl like me to do with literally years worth of pent up Seder planning? Well, she starts to explore Easter dinner.

She starts to look at the springtime vegetable dishes and desserts and wonder why she never really thought of Easter food as being more than candy, chocolate and of course those damn eggs. I decided to start with something pretty easy but also pretty crucial to any dinner party... the center piece dish!

Every dinner party has one whether they know it or not and from what I gather when it comes to Easter the traditional super stars are Ham, Lasagna and Manicotti. We used a Tofurky to replace the the less compassionate ham but still played around with the whole cloves and baked it with a smokey maple and brown sugar glaze to create a vegan dish that will feel right at home being the center of attention.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sticky Fingers & The Mini Working Blues

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Once there was a vegan bakery hidden in the heart of our nation's capital. This was before this recent Vegan Renaissance of books, bakeries and convenient vegan products. This bakery was nestled in a charming basement with outdoor seating and was quickly becoming a destination spot for vegans all over the world. Of course, I'm talking about Sticky Fingers Bakery.

When I think back to the years I spent living in DC, Sticky Fingers stands out as playing role in most of my fondest memories. Getting soft serve and Little Devils after a day of leafletting with Compassion Over Killing or having a friend bring me one of their remarkable chocolate chip cookies after a long work trip... well, these were the things I remember about DC with a smile. Which is why I am doing something today I almost never do. I goofed off on Sunday and took a break from editing to play but I ultimately it was for a good cause.

It's The Great American Meatout today and dedicated activists are handing out samples and resources to help Americans make eating choices that are better for them, the environment and of course the animals*. Compassion Over Killing (COK) has two enormous subway sandwiches made with Tofurky Deli Slices that they're handing out in downtown DC. I am landlocked at home editing the breakfast chapter of our book and enjoying more than a few of the mini Working Blues Cupcakes (ginger cake with bourbon peach filling and blueberry frosting) I baked from Doron Petersan's new cookbook Sticky Fingers' Sweets.

Before she was the reigning champ of Cupcake Wars and Pinup for Pitbulls, Doron spent years earning her stripes as an advocate for animals and a trailblazer for future vegan bakeries. When I knew her she had one of the most beautiful and sweet rescued greyhounds I'd ever seen. These days she has an adorable rescued pitbull and is a proud new mom. So spending Sunday with my copy of Sticky Fingers' Sweets was a trip down memory lane with an old friend and someone I truly like.

Even if you've never been to Sticky Fingers new sunny location with twice the seating of it's original nook and serves a vegan wonderland of sandwiches, hot dogs, baked goods or whatever -- you'll appreciate this book and should add it to your library. It's more than just swirling cinnamon rolls, orange cranberry scones and peanut butter pies. There is also Seoul Sticky Bread and Key Lime pie. This book captures the fun and creativity that has turned Sticky Fingers into the famous vegan institution that continues to draw compassionate eaters from around the world.

I know you all want me to post this recipe but I'm sorry it's not mine to share. I can tell you that while I am buried in final edits and reviews for our book I found taking a break to bake -- well was pretty much the best thing ever and even if you are just a Meatless Monday type -- this book belongs in your kitchen.  

*Can you think of anything more patriotic than helping your fellow Americans take better care of themselves? Seriously?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hazelnut Pesto with Vegan Chicken, Broccoli and Orecchiette Pasta

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St.Patrick's Day is almost upon us and so last night I decided I should wrap up this week with something green. Like many willful people, I got a certain idea in my head and then focused on making it happen as soon as possible. I wanted to make something with fresh spinach and fragrant basil and lots of  emerald colored flavor. In my Mediterranean heart that instantly meant pesto. 

See I'm still quite new to this whole Irish thing and the Sicilian half of my DNA has decided it won't give up that easily. 

It wasn't till I sat down to eat that it hit me that besides the color - there really was not much that "Irish" per se about this dinner. It's still a great recipe though that I'm happy to share. Fast and easy and everything you need for a weekday dinner or a quick dinner before a night on the town of green beer and wooo-hoooing* if that's your thing.  

Either way - Start your food processors! Let's pesto! 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Cauliflower Colcannon

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Calcannon* is not just an odd word to say, it's a dreamy Irish dish that's usually made with potatoes, scallions and kale. Once upon a time it was a common meal in Ireland and in it's heyday was pretty much their mac and cheez. And why shouldn't it be? It's easy. It's good for you and it's actually a pretty great side dish but we decided to level it up anyways.

We replaced our beloved potatoes with cauliflower. For years, the low-carb disciples have been replacing mashed potatoes with this other white vegetable and as much as so many things that crowd does makes me shudder - this I can support. Cauliflower is a great source of potassium and has a considerable amount of vitamin C. In this recipe, it's combined with leafy green kale, nutritional yeast and leeks to become a vehicle for numminess.

If you're looking for something to enjoy with your vegan corned-beef and cabbage this St.Patrick's Day - well - here it is!

So let's get our calcannon on!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Vegan Irish Coffee Cheesecake with a Shortbread Crust

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Almost 3 years ago, I became newly Irish-ed. See I wasn't born a Shannon. I married one. But somewhere deep down, maybe I always knew in my Mediterranean blood that I was meant to be Irish. Not to brag but I can do wonders with a potato. I adore green, plaid, cute fuzzy haired sheep and castles combined with overcast days.  Boil me a cabbage and I'll smile like you've just made me ice cream. But sadly I am still only faux Irish. So heading into St.Patrick's day, I thought it would make sense to start with a faux Irish treat. 

Traditional Irish Coffee is actually a cocktail of sorts made with hot coffee, Irish whiskey, brown sugar and cream. We took those key ingredients and flavors and transformed them into pretty much the ultimate adult dessert. This vegan cheesecake also has a "buttery" shortbread crust that does more than just hold the cheesecake together. It completes it. It is also probably one of the easiest - yet extremely impressive - vegan treats you could make to impressive even the meatiest eater. Sadly though like its dairy ridden cousin, this cheesecake takes awhile to set. So we should get started. 

Bain taitneamh as do bhéil!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Cupcakes Unofficially Inspired by The Lorax

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Like many vegans in my generation - I haven't always felt that I was surrounded by people who truly understood where I was coming from.

I've always found that strange because to be perfectly honest I've never really understood why because I feel like I can trace my origins back like some kind of circuit diagram through 80s popular culture. I learned that vivisection is cruel from The Secret of Nimh and Project X. I learned that animals don't want to be eaten from The Muppet Movie and that hunting was scary and pointlessly sad from The Muppet Show and Bambi. Circuses are indifferent to the wants and needs of the animals in their care from Dumbo and that wearing real animal fur is more than vanity - it's just mean past the point of being a sane person from 101 Dalmatians. As I was learning that being a human being was a privilege, I also learned that it came with a responsibility to protect those who couldn't protect themselves and that included their homes - from The Lorax.

Now it would be really easy right now for me to rant here about how the new Lorax movie is being used to greenwash companies that aren't doing all they really can to live up to the message of this book but others have already done that and to be honest - this is my happy place. Here is where I focus on the positive things - like how this movie will hopefully introduce our friend with the orange mustache to   a new generation and how I hope a handful of them grow up to continue where I will have to leave off someday.

Here is where I share cupcakes made with organic cotton candy. So please enjoy these cupcakes and remember "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better." 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Hot & Sour Soup with Sesame Garlic Tempeh

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Tempeh not pictured... I ate it all too fast. 
Ever have a weekend you needed a weekend to recover from? This past weekend I had the pleasure of helping out at The Herbivore Clothing Company booth at The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival. It was a blur of friendly new and familiar faces, food and lots of fun. I know "fun" is kind of a lazy word to describe a day but I stand behind it. If you missed it - you can see the photos on our Facebook page by clicking on this sentence.

There's something kind of wonderful that happens when you're exhausted and busy though... with the right mindset you can look at the random collection of leftovers from meals past and see something new. This isn't a traditional Hot & Sour Soup - it's more a collection of wonderful that makes up a soup that is hot and sour but we loved it.

It might be March already but it's still cold out and that means soup season is still here! Enjoy it while we still can!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project: Vegan Beer & Cheddar Bombs

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Right now you might be furiously flipping through your Betty Crocker cookbook looking for this recipe. You'll stop at Beer-Cheese Triangles and wonder if this is what we veganed. You might read through the list of ingredients and notice that we tinkered a bit. You might even find it in your heart to forgive me introducing these addictive bitty noms into your life because not only are these little awesome bombs super easy but they turned out even better than I thought they would. I think sometimes this is why I try to keep my hopes and dreams to myself. I mean things don't always turn out the way you hoped they would and who wants anyone ever saying to them things like:

"I was watching The Olympics the other day and noticed you weren't there. What's up with that?"


"I couldn't help but notice you never married Christian Slater." *

Who also wants to admit they actually wasted a daily "wish" and some "hope" on Vegan Beer & Cheese Bombs? I really should be saving those things for more noble pursuits but I'm off topic. Now that I know these little savory buddies are actually incredibly easy and completely delicious - I have to share. It's my job.

Ready to get bombed?