Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Day Parade #11: Apple, Sage & Molasses Vegan Holiday Roast with Mother-In-Law Stuffing

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Not the best photo of this best meal. 
So I'm back on my Mac today and I can't for the life of me figure out how to get the photo editor to flipping work... so not only is this not my favorite picture of this simple yet snazzy Thanksgiving recipe, but it's not frakking edited at all. Kill me. I have a much better photo--really beautiful, and you guys know how hard I can be on my myself--but it won't load. This whole photo situation is probably the most stressful part of this post.

The Treasure 
As you may remember, we've been searching for vegan holiday roasts all over New York City. Last week after a pretty tramatic* doctor's appointment, I found myself wandering around near Central Park. That's when I found them. NYC's vegan holiday roast stockpile was being horded away at the Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. So like a good little food blogger, I grabbed as many as I could carry and put them on our credit card. I may have had a little buyer's remorse halfway home when my back freaked out on the subway; but all was forgiven by the time I was preheating my oven. See folks, I didn't just find the usual holy grail of holiday roasts... I found the new kid on the block that's causing such a stir. Yes, I found a Gardein Holiday Roast!

We're big fans of Gardein (obviously) so we've been looking out for this roast since we first heard rumors that it exsisted. And I am happy to report it lived up to our impossibly high standards. Seriously, I'm rough on products and don't post things I think will make anyone question a cruelty-free lifestyle. I think this holiday roast has great texture and flavor, and makes a great canvas for our Apple, Sage, & Molasses baste--which means it's great for anyone who wants to personlize their holiday a little. Yes, we did include tips below on how to level up the gravy that comes with your roast. The only thing I didn't love is the stuffing center - though I love that they included cranberries. Next time we make one, I might just have to get out our flavor injector and doll that up a bit. But really, who can complain about an excuse to make a big pot of your own stuffing?

Hidden in the back of a display of chicken-flavored stuffings was a lone Whole Foods brand vegan stuffing package. It was a great find for lazy, emotionally-drained me and gave me a great excuse to pilage Whole Foods anti-pasta bar. See, I've been playing around with this idea of making an Italian-themed stuffing for awhile now... it's an idea who's time has come. I love this stuffing so much, I had some the next day for breakfast and then like an hour and a half later for brunch. The idea of an Italian-themed stuffing with green olives, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts isn't new. I've been making artichoke heart "oyster" stuffing for years... but I really think the combo of the baste and this stuffing makes for a holiday meal that's both sweet and zesty. Yeah, I used the word zesty. It's a silly word, but it does a better job of describing this really unique and appetizing flavor than, I don't know tangy, savory, or like, piquant. Though piquant seems pretty prefect too. 

Thanksgiving is almost here. I apologize for posting this so late in the season, but the clock is a-ticking so let's get started. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Vegan Love Boat Contest

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Vegan Italian Sausage Chunky Minestrone made with Tofurky Italian Sausage

Every year around this time there is a excitement that hits The Shannon homestead. We wake up every chilly morning looking forward to dinner. We go to bed looking forward to leftovers for lunch the next day. The leaves begin to change on Brooklyn and we get out our cotton and acrylic sweaters and the whole time we look forward to pre-heating that oven. See folks - It's Tofurky season! 

Now usually we make like 3 or 4 holiday roasts around this time of year to test recipes and because they're awesome but this year Hurricane Sandy hit NYC. After spending a small fortune on subway trips around the city, we haven't been able to find a single holiday roast. Now maybe it's all the shipments being messed up but I'd like to think it's because of the increase in people exploring a meat-free lifestyle. Either way - the bad news is that we don't have a tested recipe to share today but the show must go on! So in the spirit of just going with it - today we're launching our 2nd Annual Thanksgiving Contest! Well this year it's more a vegan all-star contest. You know it's like The Love Boat. All these celebrities in one spot having adventures and stuff. Yes,we're a little late this year but we're giving away a prize pack featuring some of our favorite vegan products that we hope will make up for it! 
Last year, we asked you to leave a comment below telling us what Vegan Thanksgiving tradition or dish you're the most looking forward to but this year - we'll keep it simple. All you have to do is leave a comment below with link to a cute Autumn themed animal picture - like a kitty playing in leaves, a bulldog in a pumpkin or a Llama in a scarf - and we'll randomly choose ONE MEMBER from the comments below to win!
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 prize packet. 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 Thursday Nov. 15th.

So start up your search engines and let's set our course for adventure!*

* That's a line from The Love Boat Theme if you didn't click the link earlier.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's Dan's Birthday Again!

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Photo Credit : V.K.Rees Photography
Once a year we get a chance to celebrate one of my favorite days - The day we got Dan!

I obviously am madly in with love my husband and co-Shannon but that's not why you should be excited. See Dan has been a dedicated and effective activist for over half his life. He has played a part in making the world a better place in real ways that have significantly improved this world for animals, kids, the homeless, the environment... and of course anyone who has every shared a beer with him. Last year I asked you to do something sweet for the animals and take a not-yet-vegan friend out for a veggie burger tonight for Dan... this year I'm asking you to do it again!

We love to travel and eat at vegan restaurants all over the world - so consider it a personal favor for us both to support the local eateries in your area so next time we're there we can eat enjoy them too!


PS - We're launching a super awesome gold pants contest tomorrow. You've been warned.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Worst

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A photo of the Caribbean Ocean from our babymoon to Tulum, Mexico
Last week was supposed to be the week we talked about being a vegan traveling in Mexico. We were going to talk about our babymoon to Tulum, Mexico and what we saw and ate there. We were going to veganize Mexican recipes of what we weren't able to eat there and I even had a little love letter to beans and rice I wanted to share. We were also going to make homemade vegan candy for our friend Susanne's birthday and share a bunch of vegan candy tips and recipes. We have some new recipes for chili, donuts and waffles - featuring a lot of pumpkin that would have shown up this week if we had time. But that's not what happened last week.

Last week, we lost our perfectly healthy baby girl.

Now there are going to be those who wonder if this is because I'm vegan or because of the amount of traveling we did. There are also those who follow me on Facebook and Twitter - who know that this pregnancy has been hard on me. I've had to deal with round the clock morning sickness and fatigue. But none of this had anything to do with what happened last week. I can assure you that while this tragedy may have a little to do with my age, really this was caused by a personal medical condition that no one found out about until it was too late. We've been assured that now that they know about this problem, we can try again--that there is no reason we won't be able to have a happy, healthy baby some day.

But to be honest that brings us little comfort right now. The little girl I was carrying was over 5 months along and had become apart of our family in many ways, if mostly in the promise of a child. To say it has been difficult to let her go would be beyond an understatement. It was would just be a lie. It's been the worst and hardest thing either of us have ever had to do

Sometimes I wake up and find comfort in knowing we might still be parents some day, and other days I wake up wishing that time travel was possible. It makes it easier knowing that we have friends and family who will be there to support us. While we would love to hear from you and welcome cards and emails, please know that we live in a tiny apartment and don't have much room for flowers and other gifts. For anyone who's interested, we would welcome donations to the Woodstock Animal Sanctuary--one of our very favorite places on earth--made in memory of our little girl, Piper Shannon.

Thank you in advance for your love and support. We'll be back to posting recipes soon.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project : Baby Olive Oil Garlic Knots

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I hate these photos. 

So last night there was a perfect storm in Brooklyn. There was the coming together of a mild autumn night breeze that made it pleasant enough to have the windows open but not so warm the idea of baking wasn't lovely. I had just sent in the final proofs for our book - which required a long journey and in the end was an exhausting adventure. So I was sleepy and excited. The first debate for the 2012 US Presidential Election took place and my loving but dedicated husband had to work so I was left all alone to harass loved ones via Facebook with my observations and Tweet frustrations in short confused sentences. Though I would like to think that it was more like commiseration*. But don't all crazy people think that**?

Before you get scared that I'm going to drag you into this... I won't. I will encourage you to check out all the news coverage today on the misleading statements made by certain Schmitt Schmoney but I'll leave it at that. Promise! Because yesterday while I was adventuring through Brooklyn I was inspired.

See October is official Pizza Month and that encouraged me to veganize a classic New York favorite using olive oil instead of the usual butter and animal-based shortenings used throughout this borough I call home.

There's a stereotype in many people's minds that every corner in Brooklyn has a pizza parlor... which is debatable. There is quite a bit and some neighborhoods are more pizza-ed than others. Of course, most of those spots don't offer much as far as vegan options but they all do offer is a simple treat I grew up adoring when I was a not yet vegan - Garlic Knots.

These simple little buddies are pretty easy and a great vehicle for your favorite marinara sauce. This recipe will make either a dozen regular sized knots or 2 dozen baby knots and is so simple I feel almost guilty calling it a recipe.

For those of you who are wondering where's the promised latest Vegan Rock-toberfest feast - well the photos just didn't turn out very good. I recently moved my photo spot and the lighting just isn't right. Isn't that half the battle of food blogging? You can't just make something delicious - you have have to take alluring photos. But I will say - it was delicious so I won't mind remaking it! 

OK - On to the knots! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Pregnant Lady at Pickle Palooza

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Horman's New Dills
So you may have noticed that the new website at isn't up yet but that VeganMoFo has started. Yes. This is all my fault but it's also something we hope to change soon. I debated dropping out of Vegan MoFo this year because we're going to be traveling a lot this Fall, have all these final little details to work on for our book, have the website I mentioned a sentence ago to wrap up and oh - did I mention we're having a baby? Yep we're almost halfway through the terrifying yet thrilling process of welcoming our first child into the world.

But more about that later - you're here for the food not for the jabber about vegan pregnancy, baby prep and tedious book editing. It just felt wrong to skip Vegan MoFo and we really do think we'll have that website up in like a matter of days. Which brings us to our first post in months - NYC's First Annual Pickle Palooza!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project: Vegan Chili-Lime Chicken

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OK - So we had a huge bunch of cilantro and so we got a little crazy with it this week. I think there are worse crimes. If you're one of those who don't love the taste of this leafy green -- you can always skip that part of this recipe.

It's another fast and easy recipe that will get you in and out of the kitchen with little suffering. We had ours with some lemon pepper Israeli couscous from Whole Foods made with peas and had dinner in about 30 minutes. We defrosted our Gardein chick'n scaloppini breasts earlier so that definitely cut back on how long this took.

I know a lot of us might be feeling a little food prepping, dish washing and hostessing burn-out after yesterday's festivities so I thought this might help give you an out for dinner for the rest of the week. I mean making sure that the ice chest stays full while the BBQ coals don't go out and figuring out how to keep bugs away from the pie and Soy Delicious is fun at the time but after the fireworks... it's freaking exhausting.

We celebrated this year with an epic game of Civ5 and season 4 of Sons of Anarchy* because Dan caught some kind of death flu on his work trip to Seattle. Oh and we're total nerds. So there was no read, white and blue flag cakes or BBQ burgers for us this year. But that's what grill pans and liquid smoke are for right?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Super Fast & Easy Soyrizo Pasta Dinner

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So I admit it. I burnt myself out. if you know me in person -- you know that me admitting this is a huge deal.

After years of working 40+ hours a week in the animal rights movement and writing this blog and then writing our book and now starting our second book... I'm exhausted. There was also a slight shift in this blog that was unintentional but after taking a little break from posting regularly I can see pretty clearly. See in the beginning this blog was about our mission to make anything and everything vegan but as this blog became more popular and more and more people who I didn't know and who have never eaten any of my food began to read this thing -- well there was this pressure for lack of a better word -- to not have typos and never admit that that I burnt a cookie or that a recipe was anything less than a cruelty-free dream come true.

I neurotically tested and tested recipes for the book and I tried to keep up with all the emails we get and failed. Somewhere in all this I started to feel like a little rock was sitting on my chest. I started to stay up late worrying that people won't like our book and worry that people wouldn't read it and understand that Betty Goes Vegan is full of great weekday standbys, old family favorites and guilt-less pleasures. It's also about helping people use all these great vegan products out there to their full potential. I mean yes a lot of us are DIY types but most people in our society choose their food based on convenience, cost and flavor. I've been doing vegan outreach for over 20 years now and I keep hearing the same reasons why people were reluctant to go vegan : giving up their favorite dishes, weird food and inconvenient. The reasons I keep hearing why people stopped being vegan : giving up their favorite dishes, weird food and inconvenient. That's why Betty Goes Vegan is carefully designed to not just help people go vegan but stay vegan by turning old meaty and cheesy favorites into vegan classics.

Yeah. I've lost a lot of sleep lately over it. It can be scary to put yourself out there and care about things. But there was a few things that have happened lately.

The Tacos  Photo Credit : Hannah Banana Baker

  1. I read this post by Bonsai Aphrodite. See after 3 years (just like us) she also was dealing with a serious case of burn out. I related more than I liked to almost every line of this post and after reading it had this moment when I asked myself why something I love as much as this blog wasn't making myself deliriously happy. So I remembered why I fell in love with this blog and vegan outreach to begin with.
  2. A vegan bakery named The Hannah Banana Bakery in the UK posted photos of our Thai Lemongrass Tofu Tacos and I started to cry a little. I have no idea why I get so excited when you guys send me pictures but it made me think over my morning tea and inspired me to write this long post and to get back to sharing that joy with all of you!

So here I am sharing with you a dinner we had the other night that is super simple and fast. So you know less time in your hot kitchen. It also features Tofurky's new vegan Chorizo style grounds but you can also use your favorite vegan soyrizo product if you can't find the Tofurky grounds in your area yet. I do recommend enjoying this with a salad. I try to get greens in every meal and this recipe lacks greens. Besides that... It's a pretty much a perfect weekday dinner.

I'm also promising that I'm giving up my little rock of doubt and fear... insecurity and getting back to posting on a regular basis. I'm trading in that rock for hope and not taking myself so seriously... and soyrizo pasta dinners.

OK enough gabbing. Let's eat!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thai Lemongrass Tofu Tacos with a Lime-Sriracha Aioli & Basil-Cucumber Salsa

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These are not the most photogenic tacos in the world but they are damn amazing.
These tacos came into our lives about a week ago when our darling friend and cookbook author Marta Holmberg posted this photo of Vegan Vietnamese Tacos made by The Mandoline Grill in Los Angeles. They had a strange combination of delicious things and being a bit ugly on the eyes. We're friends here. So we can be honest -- pink food can be hard to photograph.

But I really hope that you'll give these messy,spicy, savory and smokey tacos a try because they're more than worth the short amount of time it takes to make them (if you don't count marinading) and that rosy sauce is amazing on veggie burgers *, steamed artichokes, and with carrots sticks and really anything. Yes -- even corn on the cob. It's really a beautiful thing - even if it's pink**.

Now you might be wondering what makes these Thai tacos rather than Vietnamese like the originals.Well I am neither Thai or Vietnamese so my take on these cuisines comes mostly from restaurants and research. Both cuisines do share a lot of the same key ingredients like lemongrass, coconut milk, rice and noodles. Although Sriracha sauce is Vietnamese, my experience is that Vietnamese food is not as spicy as Thai and these tacos are actually really fiery. I mean they're hot.

I also added Thai basil, cucumbers and lime to the salsa recipe to add a freshness and a citrusy bite to keep the Lime-Sriracha Aioli from over powering everything with it's awesomeness. But really does that make it more Thai than Vietnamese? Hard to say.

So I guess -- long story short -- They might be dressed in pink but they kick ass. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Vegan Meyhane Pilavi (Turkish Bulgur Pilaf)

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There is a crazy thing that happens when you're a food blogger who hasn't been able to post reguraly because you're working on a book. You're still writing all the time but you can't decide what to post and then you end up not posting at all. This week we actually had a house guest! So it was double the posting drama.

I know! We actually let someone into our Fortress of Solitude that has become our Brooklyn apartment. Michelle Schwegmann from Herbivore Clothing Company and I stayed up late talking like we were having a slumber party and explored this not so little borough we call home. Including a happy jaunt around Park Slope and an afternoon in uber-hip Williamsburg. We had a vegan Creamsicle shake, vegan Caesar salads and some Buffalo fries with the lovely animal activist Amy Trakinski at Foodswings then took a walk over to see Leanne and her adorable dogs at Vaute Couture. Not a bad week. Not a bad week at all.

But it left little time for cooking and blogging. Then I woke up this morning with the remains of a dream in my head. In this dream, I was talking to people on a bus about how much I love bulgur and all the fun dishes I have made over the years with it. I was speaking with real purpose and passion about my adoration for this grain and at times would turn to people for validation to find that they were either completely captivated or looked like they were being held captive by a crazy person. Yes. It was an odd dream but it reminded me that I had a recipe I had been meaning to share since our return from Istanbul a few months ago.

Now some of you might remember when we made Vegan Turkish Tempeh Whole Wheat Lahmacun -- we mentioned that we bought a pretty interesting Turkish cook book. Well, we've made a few things out of it since then and everyone has been pretty much awesome. This dish was one of my personal favorites because (obviously) it's a very flavorful bulgur pilaf that gave us an opportunity to use some of the herbs we bought at The Grand Bazaar. The thing about this book is that it's full of inspiration but the recipes are strangely vague. For example the original recipe for this dish in the book calls for 150 grammes meat in small cubes. I guess it doesn't need to be any particular kind of meat and the liquids in the book are measured in "glasses". I'm not kidding.

Needless to say - we took some liberties like usual. Our dish is pretty delicious and makes a lot. You'll have a lot of leftovers to keep your kitchen cool this summer or to take to lunch for work. Whatever you want. That's not my business. What I can tell you -- this recipe will flip you for real!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Raspberry Lemonade Tart with a Rosewater & Coconut Crust

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So I admit I've been a little MIA lately. There has been a lot going on and to be honest -- I've fallen behind on basically everything. I mean emails, laundry, cleaning out the fridge... pretty much everything but bills*. But there have been a few really exciting things that have happened lately. To paraphrase:

1. Our book Betty Goes Vegan is finally available for pre-sale! There are all these early bird special discounts available on the amazon page -- which is cool.

2. I was able to share some of my favorite vegan baking substitutions on the kitchn. I love this blog so it was a real honor for me. Plus it was great to be able to share with a not-all-vegan community how easy it is to bake vegan. I focused on substitutions you can find in any old grocery store and was really touched by the over 600 likes!

3. The Seed - Vegan Experience conference is this weekend. I won't be able to make it unfortunately but if you're around NYC -- you should really check it out. They have a pretty impressive speaker line-up. I'm also excited because it means my buddy Michelle Schwegmann from Herbivore Clothing Company will be in town. Love that girl.

Michelle & me at The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival - photo credit : The Village Voice
4. I finally posted our photos from Belgium. We spent a few days there around the end of May and you're going to hearing a lot about this trip. I mean this is a country famous for fries, beer, chocolate and comics. What's not to love? Today's recipe is actually inspired (in part) by a tart I saw in the window of a bakery in Brussels.

We didn't glaze ours and didn't add as many raspberries in the photo so you could see the filling. We also played around a lot with some more Mediterranean summer flavors by adding rosewater to the crust. Last summer we made Rosewater Lemonade Sorbet (shaved ice) and it just wouldn't be summer with out dabbling with the rosewater some more.

I'm curious -- what flavors say "Summer" for you?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Simplest Red Fruit Salad ever & some of our favorite Summertime recipes!

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Life, our book and travel to foreign lands have kept us away. We have a guest post and several recipes waiting to be posted and shared with the world but today I need to work on the book -- so I'm posting a 4 ingredient treat in time for all those picnics, potlucks and BBQs coming up this weekend. This one is dedicated to that friend who always brings beer and salsa. This is a recipe* that even they can make.

But if you're more of a superstar than that -- you can click here to see a list of some of our favorite Summertime recipes and potlucking tips or you can check out some of these:

Cherry Cola BBQ Vegan Chicken Wings
Antipasto Pasta Salad
Curry Vegan Chicken & Potato Salad
Burger & Veggie Packet
The Cruelty-Free Crawfish Boil
The Chicago Beer Dogs
Apple Churros
BLT Crostinis
Vegan Ranch Mashed Potatoes
Sesame Teriyaki Beef-less Skewers

Of course, if you are firing up the grill this weekend we can't encourage you enough to try The Beer Can Tofurky! I know it seems a little intimidating but I hope this appetizing post by The Redundant Vegan will encourage you to take this vegan wonder on!

I have a great post lined up for tomorrow that I still need to edit the photos for so until then... enjoy this simple pleasure!

Monday, April 30, 2012

It takes a village to make Mexican Tater Tot Personal Pizzas...

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You maybe be asking yourself why this isn't part of The Betty Crocker Project. It's a fair question since tater tot pizza seems like something right up that red spoon alley. But in truth the inspiration for this over the top awesome dinner came from a Twitter exchange I stumbled into with vegan deity Sarah Kramer and John McDevitt - you know might know him as The Laziest Vegan, cruelty-free cover-girl Melisser Elliot and Julia - The SnarkyVegan*... somewhere towards the end I think The Discerning Brute  Joshua Katcher popped in. It was a tater tot love-fest/brain storm. Which inspired Sarah to create this lovely Poutine Pizza and for us to enjoy these Mexican Tater Tot Personal Pizzas a few days later. 

Now we went Mexican with our tater tot pizzas because we had the avocados, jalapenos and salsas and because it seemed like a good way to work a few vegetables in there but really I hope this concept catches on and that we come to see more of these crispy little buddies on all kinds of pizzas in the future. You owe it the 1st grader inside you to make a tater tot pizza at least once in your life... you never let them color anymore.

 To the tots!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project: Vegan Chicken & Cashew Dinner

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Editing a book is a deceptively slow process. It's the kind of thing that seems to go fast and is pretty easy till you realize you've actually gone through several pages and you don't even remember what you've just read. I've heard of similar things happening to truck drivers with great mix tapes on long highways in Kansas. It's not unlike what happens when you start watching Battlestar Galactica or Sons of Anarchy. Except in those cases, you're so amped up, the blur comes from an overdose of awesome.

I've been living lately in this kind of state. I love our book and I think you will too but I hate that I'm a terrible typist*.  I find whole sections of the day disappear in a blur of shortening this and formatting that and then more website stuff and more emails. I take breaks to tweet and post updates on our Facebook page but I've lately come to find an even more sincere appreciation for Betty's Quick and Easy Recipes. In Betty's recipe, she makes the dish more "healthy" by deceasing the number of cashews (fat) but we went another route. We took out the birds and added vegetables and a lot more ginger. It's a fast and flavorful dinner that made our home smell lovely.

No matter what you're busy with right now or what level of chef you are... you can make this. You can do it! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project : Hawaiian Waffles with Tropical Rum & Maple Syrup

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So you might be wondering if we're veganizing Betty's Pina Coloda Waffles or her Hawaiian Pancakes. In a way it's both with the added benefit of a little pineapple juice and coconut flour added to the waffle batter for sweetness and our own take on the schamncy syrup to go with it that has a lot less sugar. I think it still has all the fun and flavor of the original but no eggs or cow's milk. Fancy while staying easy*.  Sounds like a perfect weekend to me.

We're planning a trip to Philadelphia soon to check out the new restaurant HipCity Veg soon. If you know of any other new vegan hot spots or events coming up that we should put on the calendar this summer - please let us know! We're always looking for good road trip tips! 

OK - Back to waffles! E 'ai kakou!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pasta alla Puttanesca with Vegan Sausage - not your everyday red sauce

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Rome is often called "The Eternal City."

Perhaps it's because it has survived being burnt to the ground, sacked and rebuilt again and again. Maybe it's because even Alaric, the Visigoth king that burnt most of the city to the ground and took a large percentage of the population prisoner, looked to Rome as a foundation of civilization and tried to negotiate peace rather than destroy her. The first time I walked down the gradual incline of Via Cavour and saw my first glimpse of the  Colosseum between two buildings. Just hiding in an alley like a pick pocket. I literally stopped and thought "Nothing lasts forever but Rome is damn close."*

A few months ago Dan and I spent a few days in Rome during a freak snow storm that shut down the city. Like most of the city we took advantage of the weather to eat and sample wines. See Rome can be a pretty vegan friendly place with Penne Arrabiata and Marinara Pizza on menu's all over the city. Of course, if you don't trust the servers when they tell you the pasta is eggless, there is always Il Margutta, Rome's most popular vegetarian hot spot. They have several vegan options. 

Before we left I picked up a ridiculously thick book of Pasta recipes to veganize and I've been playing around with some the easiest and most intriguing ones first. I could say it was a good excuse to work on my Italian but really I just love pasta. 

Pasta alla Puttanesca is actually called Pasta alla Sorrentina in my book - probably because Puttanesca means something like "whore style." Even with a name like that, this Neapolitan dish is pretty well known and popular in restaurants everywhere. Which is impressive because in Italy's long and well documented history, Pasta alla Puttanesca is pretty new on the scene and for generations was considered "poor people food." It wasn't even mentioned in books till around the 70s and its interpretation doesn't just seem to differ from region to region - but by city and sometimes even neighborhood. The kosher Puttanesca I had in Rome's Jewish Ghetto was actually accidentally vegan because it was their option for those with allergies or who wanted to lose weight. The ones on the menu near the Trevi fountain were not. The key elements seem to be a red sauce with garlic, onions, capers, oregano, olives, basil, parsley and anchovies (although that is sometimes replaced with seaweed or in our case kelp). We tossed Tofurky Italian sausage, red bell peppers, spinach and played around with the ingredients a bit to level it up. 

It's lovely and spicy in a unique way that makes it more than just another red sauce. I know I should dive into my arsenal of adjectives to describe this better but really - it's just more. 


Monday, April 16, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project : Louisiana Vegan Chicken Skillet Dinner

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 I debated if I should post this recipe today because even though this is a very easy and delicious dinner - the photos just didn't really show that. I mean this dinner has it all. There's leafy kale, Vitamin C packed red peppers, cute little back-eyed peas, smokey vegan bacon and big Creole kick. It's great.
It's also one of those almost one pot wonders that Americans have come to know as "skillets."

Back in my wasted youth, my friends and I used to call each other "Home Skillet" when we were feeling what Emerson called "the comradery of peers."

So I guess it makes sense that an easy dinner than requires less clean up would earn this term of endearment. I mean we loved it. During all the soul crushing recording of receipts and organizing papers that was going on around ehre last week -- there was this recipe to look forward to. Not just as a dinner but for lunch the next day as leftovers. Yeah. This dinner is my "Home Skillet."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The 5 Minute Lentil Soup

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I wish I could tell you I've been busy with exciting adventures. Something hedonistic and scandalous would be fun too but sadly - no. I've been editing our book. You know the painful and slow process of replacing commas and shortening paragraphs. I took a stab at doing my taxes but moving to another state, changing jobs, paying off debts, a book advance and a mountain of receipts that need sorting have put our taxes in a whole other league. You know that one where you can't rely on google to handle the tough questions. Then there is the constant battle with the new website. This dreamy oasis of easy to access recipes and a working "As Seen On" page has continued to allude me. Sigh.

And then of course there was the TV sizzle (promo reel) we shot last week. Yes. We were asked to make a promo reel to be shopped around on The Food Network and Cooking Channel. Who knows maybe you'll be able to visit with us in the comfort of your home once a week. I'm trying really hard to not get my hopes up. I'm just flattered we were asked.

I'm also kinda freaking out because our Facebook page Vegan Foods = Joy has almost 10,000 fans! I know several of you have had a hard time finding us on Facebook because the page isn't called Meet The Shannons. But see the before there was ever a blog, there was a Facebook page and Facebook won't let us change the name. 

When you're busy with nonsense it's easy to just put on some Doctor Who and G.I.Joe cartoons and get down to work. I'm a pretty focused person and I can let other things drop off if not careful. And well I'll also be honest when I say that the internet has been seriously upsetting and disappointing me lately.  This isn't where I vent so I'll save it for the next time I have too much wine but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who wishes that the world was kinder and that cruel people kept their opinions to themselves. 

Needless to say that even when I'm feeling a bit frustrated with the rudeness and ignorance of others and busy with the painful day to day of being a adult, I still eat. I'll admit that we ate a lot of lentils when we were in Greece and Turkey and you'd think I'd have enough of them but really I think that trip really just got me hooked. I've perfected a 5 Minute Lentil Soup that is so simple - well I feel weird calling it a recipe. It's just awesome.

So enough chatter... To the lentils!

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?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Turkish Tempeh Whole Wheat Lahmacun (kinda)

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We got back from Istanbul a few weeks ago and since then it's been one project, road trip and Valentine's day after another. I've barely had a chance to catch up on my stories. Mostly I've been working on upgrading this blog into something a little fancier but I've also been baking a lot, figuring out my trip to Minnesota to visit The Betty Crocker Test Kitchen and veganizing recipes from the cookbooks we brought home from our trip.

I feel like I should tell you - I was unprepared for what an amazing city Istanbul is. I knew Turkey would be one of my favorite parts of our trip and that it would be freezing. What we didn't see coming was how we would feel when we walked into the Hagia Sofia for the first time. For a place so remarkable - there just isn't words. Here's the slideshow of the photos from the part of our trip we were in Turkey if you want to see for yourself.

Get the flash player here:

But that brings us to today and this recipe... You can find Lahmacun in shops and stands all over Istanbul.  Usually made with ground lamb meat, this portable meal is usually rolled up like a New York slice or folded like a taco and wrapped in paper. We actually didn't have one of these in Istanbul for pretty obvious reasons but we started with this recipe because we wanted an excuse to use the new spices we bought in The Grand Bazaar and I was craving pizza. That's why our Lahmacuns are more like personal pizzas you'll need a fork to eat than flatbread wraps but they're still a great dinner and an excuse to expand our spice inventory.

If you're also looking to expand your spice rack - here are the two items you'll need to locate:

  • Sumak/Sumac : This is a dark red powder made from a berry sourced in Anatolia. It has a bitter flavor similar to lemons. If you can't locate it - you can replace it with Cumin or Paprika in the recipe below. 
  • Green Bazilicum/Fesleğen : I hope you get a little laugh out of this - I did. Behind these foreign names, this green herb that we found in a small spice shop hidden in the winding streets of The Grand Bazaar is just a type of basil. I mean it's a different type than the one we commonly use in The US and it has a very subtle fresher flavor similar to mint but it's basil none the less. So if you can't locate this particular type of basil - I'm sure you'll be able to find a substitution.
Tomorrow there will more Betty baking but tonight we recommend making yourself something kind of different and undeniably delicious! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Super Chocolate Vegan Hootenanny! Episode IIII : Girl Scout Cookies Remix & VegNews

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I know we disappeared there. I've been working on our new page layout and things are just taking longer than I thought. I know I keep saying it but I think it will all be worth it. That being said there were three pretty awesome things that happened last week that I kind of have to share! I mean I have to. This is my job now.

1. Dan and I took a road trip to New Jersey! We were invited to attend a Betty Crocker themed potluck held by Montclair Vegans. See nestled in this charming little town that Thomas Edison called home is a vegan friendly mecca. I have to tell you I was so impressed with the potato saladjalapeño corn bread, 3 bean salad and well just about everything. We haven't been to a potluck this impressive since we left Peta-ville (Norfolk). Thanks again MVs for the invite! It was really pleasure to get to meet so many of you in person and of course eat your food.

2. VegNews asked us to veganize our favorite Girl Scout Cookies! Can you imagine a better email to get?   I mean not only was this an excuse to add to one of our favorite spots The Super Vegan Hootenanny but we got to work with VegNews again - which is always a pleasure and honor! To get the recipes and see the spot just click here.  We've been enjoying the tester cookies for a week now and it's been the best chocolate hootenanny so far!  Please take a few minutes to check them out, make a few and show us a little love with a "like" or Tweet!

3. We've added a fully operational Pinterest button! You can find it at the top of every post with the the other share buttons. (insert cartwheels there)

Fingers crossed the new site will be up this week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Betty Crocker Project : Cuban Beef-Less Steak Dinner (similar to Ropa Vieja)

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Our Cubanelles began to ripen while we were away - making them them beautiful and multi-colored.  
So there's this thing that happens when you get back from an adventure: you realize how many little things you do every day in your regular life. I came home with a small stack of Italian, Greek, and Turkish cookbooks, and dreams of bringing our adventure to your kitchen and tummies, but sadly this required fresh vegetables and bread, which we didn't have. It also required time that was quickly eaten up by catching up on emails and news, following up on our new blog/website, unpacking, and various other forms of being "productive."

Which brings us to today. I had planned to post a recipe today for Carciofi alla Romana (Roman-Style Artichokes) but yesterday I burnt the first and second batches. I know. I can't believe it either. But those little jerks were singed beyond being pretty - although I admit I cut off all the crunchy leaves and still enjoyed the filling and hearts with lemon, all while being reminded the hard way that even the easiest recipes require your undivided attention. So today I have a new bag of artichokes and we're going to try again, because this is a recipe I really believe will improve all your lives. 

So today I'm posting a recipe that I was saving for our friend Cassandra's birthday this summer. Right now our beautiful vegan friend is in medical school in Cuba and making the world a better place. We had planned to add this recipe to our New Friday Philosophy; which usually involves Mexican food, but sometimes you just have to get a little crazy and mix it up*. This recipe is similar to a Cuban dish called Ropa Vieja, except we skip the cows. It may look like something you've had before, but there's a unique fresh flavor from the Cubanellle peppers that really comes out with the lime juice and a subtle sweetness from the rum. It's a lot like our Cassandra. It's also super easy and can be made using things you have hanging around your house; well, except the fancy peppers that you can easily replace with green and red peppers. So tomorrow night when you get home from work, all cold and kinda beat, you can treat yourself to something a little more exotic than the typical soy cheese pizza or veggie burgers** before hitting the town. 

May the New Friday Philosophy be with you!