If you can find any ESP8266 board that has a voltage regulator on it and has a way for you to use the serial lines then you should be fine. I think a legitimate ESP8266 arduino shield might be ok - it's just that those shields were cheap (and broken :).
You can actually use those arduino shields as-is, you just need two jumper wires: http://www.espruino.com/arduino-esp8266#using-as-is
That might be your best bet? With those 'dupont' male->female wires you can get from eBay it's super easy.
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