Beer Chili

This recipe originally appeared on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

Beer Chili

extra light olive oil
ground beef (1 lb)
chili powder, salt and pepper
1 onion chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cubanelle green/red peppers chopped
4 whole cloves of garlic
2 tbsps of the adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo
12 oz. bottle of Modelo Especial or Heineken beer
2 14 oz cans of no salt added diced tomatoes in juice
1 can of low sodium red kidney beans, rinsed
1 can of low sodium black beans, rinsed
pickled jalapenos  
Season the ground beef with chili powder, salt and pepper. Brown in a pan with a little bit of olive oil. Drain the excess fat. Set aside. 
In a soup pot, add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Once it starts to sizzle, add the onion, carrots and cubanelle peppers. Saute and mix until they begin to get soft. Add the adobo sauce, ground beef, bottle of beer and cans of tomatoes and beans. Stir and season with salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Then uncover and lower temperature. Simmer for about 30 minutes stirring ocassionally. Top off with pickled jalapenos.
Serve with any appropriate side you'd like such as grated cheese, sour cream or tortilla chips. If you want the chili to be extra spicy, chop up one of the chipotles and add it to the mix.

Tervis Tumbler and Blueberry-Lemon Tom Collins

As part of the FoodBuzz Tastemakers program, I was able to test out one of Tervis' Tumblers. According to the Tervis website, these Tumblers are made from high-quality polymer and are so impact resistant that it is very difficult to break them. They are sturdy enough to withstand heat or cold, can be used indoors and out and can be used in the dishwasher, microwave and even the freezer. I haven't done any tests with mine to see if these claims hold up but I'll take their word for it.

There are lots of different designs to chose from. Check out the Tervis website for more information. I had never heard of Tervis so I was surprised to see they have been around for 65 years. A lot of their Tumblers have designs printed on them. The one I received had FoodBuzz Tastemakers logo emblazoned on it. To be honest, I'm not a big fan of the design. I prefer simplicity and a clean appearance to my kitchen ware. I guess it's not that much different to having a design on your coffee or tea mug. So maybe it just takes some getting used to.

I used my Tervis tumbler to make Blueberry-Lemon Tom Collins. Most Tom Collins are made with lemon juice and served with a lemon slice. Some are topped off with a maraschino cherry. In my recipe, I enhanced the traditional Tom Collins by adding some freshly squeezed blueberry juice and some whole blueberries for garnish along with the lemon juice and lemon slice. It was delicious! My photos don't show the ice but please do put ice in the drink to keep it cool. My Tervis tumbler had just enough room to make one delicious Blueberry-Lemon Tom Collins. One thing I noticed is that I couldn't feel the cold of the drink when I held the tumbler in my hands. It's very insulated!

1/3 cup of fresh blueberries
1 tbsp of sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1-1/2 ounces of dry gin
soda water
lemon slice & blueberries for garnish

You'll need cheesecloth for this.

Rinse your blueberries. Set aside a few for garnish and add the rest to a piece of cheese cloth and twist into a bundle. Hold the bundle over your tumbler and squeeze the juice out. It's okay if some pulp gets in. Wipe the tumbler's sides in case any blueberry juice spilled.

To the bottom of the Tumbler add the sugar, lemon guice and gin. Stir then add a couple ice cubes and fill up with soda water. Give it a quick stir then garnish with blueberries and a lemon slice. Enjoy while cold!

Severed Finger Cookies

This recipe was originally posted on my Thoughtful Eating column on the Woburn Patch.

Severed Finger Cookies

2-2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
1 tsp almond extract (optional if you want almond flavored fingers)
red writing gel or red frosting in a tube
sliced almonds
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
Mix the flour and baking powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and confectioner’s sugar with a handheld mixer or a spoon and some elbow grease. Add the sugar and butter mixture to the flour mixture and add the egg and almond extract. Mix thoroughly until you get one big lump of dough.
Take sections of the dough, about 1 inch round clumps. Roll in our hand to form a ball then roll again between the palms of both your hands to make a 3 inch long finger. Add each finger to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Flattened each finger ever so gently. If you want to be even more creative, you can score the cookies with a knife to make the lines for the skin wrinkles or the cuticles.
Once you have formed all your fingers, bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges just start to become golden. Don’t over cook!
Let cool for about 10 minutes before frosting. Take your frosting or gel tube and squeeze a half moon at the top of the finger. Place an almond nail on top. Then add three lines across in the middle to represent wrinkles. Squeeze more frosting on the bottom to represent the bloody stump. Enjoy!

Mud and Worm Cupcakes for Halloween

This recipe originally appeared on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

Mud and Worm Cupcakes

1 cup of flour
½ cup of cocoa powder (Recommended: Hershey’s)
1 heaping tsp of baking soda
1 stick of butter
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of regular sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup of milk
1 tsp of vanilla
chocolate frosting
gummy worms

This makes 10 cupcakes
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together and add to a large bowl. Then add the butter, 2 sugars, eggs, milk and vanilla. Mix with a handheld mixer just until smooth.
Line a 12-cupcake tin with liners. Fill each liner ¾ of the way up with the batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside to cool.
Once your cupcakes are cooled, take two of them, remove the top and crumble the rest in a small bowl.
Frost the remaining 10 cupcakes with the chocolate frosting. Sprinkle the cupcake crumbles over the top of each and pat gently so they stick to the frosting. In order to not make a mess, add the crumbles over the bowl of crumbles so the excess has somewhere to fall.
You can place one worm on the top of each cupcake. Or take a knife, poke a hole in the top and stick in a worm so it’s hanging out. Make sure that the head of the worm is out and you are sticking the worm backside-in. Enjoy!

Simple Strawberry Sauce

After several attempts at making a decent strawberry sauce, I finally nailed it! It came out smooth and thick with no big lumps. In previous attempts, I tried using cornstarch but that never worked. The cornstarch would never work it's way into the sauce the way I wanted and I would be left with all these white clumps that would never break up. I eventually realized that I needed to give the sauce time to thicken and cool on it's own. Once I allowed it to do that, I got a nice bowl of delicious strawberry sauce. It's easy to make as long as you have patience.

One bag of frozen strawberries
1/4 cup of water
1 heaping tablespoon of sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons of vanilla

To a pot add the frozen strawberries and water. Heat over medium heat until the strawberries have completely thawed and are warming up. Add the sugar and vanilla and stir. 

Continue to cook over medium heat stirring ever so often to help break up the strawberries. Once it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low-medium and allow the sauce to thicken to your desired consistency. Make sure to keep stirring regularly. You don't have to be with it the whole time just go back to it a lot. 

Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let cool in the fridge. Stir every few minutes to release the heat. If you are impatient like I am, let it cool in the freezer! You still want this to be warm just not piping hot.

I served the sauce over Challah French Toast along with some ground flax seed and pure maple syrup. Made for a great Sunday brunch!

Chicken Salad

This recipe was originally posted on my Thoughtful Eats column on the Woburn Patch.

Chicken Salad

2 cups of chopped cooked chicken
1 stalk of celery, finely chopped
¼ of halved grapes
¼ cup of mayonnaise
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
Use rotisserie chicken, leftover roast chicken or boil a couple of chicken breasts until cooked and let cool. Chop up the chicken to your desired size. I like big chunks! In a bowl, add the celery, grapes, chicken, mayo, lemon juice. Mix and season with salt and pepper. Keep refrigerated (or in a cooler) until ready to serve. Enjoy!
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