Cheddar Ale Chowder

I love soup – like seriously love soup. So many varieties. Some people think that soup is only good when it’s cold out – but I disagree. I think it’s good any time of year. It’s good for the soul…

You know what else is good any time of year? Well, I’m sure a lot of things – like shoe shopping. Or chocolate. But I’m thinking beer. In the Fall for watching football. In the Winter for celebrating the holidays with friends and family. In the Spring and Summer with baseball and outdoor festivals. Mmmm I can almost smell the Pronto Pups.

So mixing the flavor of a delicious ale into a soup was something I had to do. And heck, why not throw some vegetables in there. Okay okay, some cheddar cheese too.

Yes kids, I’m talking about a Cheddar Ale Chowder…that won’t kill your waistline in case you’re prepping for some time on the beach around the corner!

Cheddar Ale Chowder (serves 2)

1 1/2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/4 small onion, chopped

1/2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1 cup skim milk

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. dry mustard

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

6 fl. oz. beer

1/3 cup frozen corn kernels

3/4 cup diced potato, cooked

3/4 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

1 slice turkey bacon, cooked

Spray a medium saucepan with non-stick spray and heat, melting margarine and add onions. Cook 3-5 minutes. Add milk and stir. Gradually add flour and whisk to blend. Continue to stir mixture until it begins to thicken.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add in Worcestershire, mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Whisk and cook 5-7 minutes.

Now, pour in your beer. Oh no, you didn’t use it all? Whatever shall you do?! 😉

Stir in the beer. Now, add your corn and your (already cooked) potatoes. You don’t want to boil this enough to cook potatoes because of the milk – so cooked potatoes are a must.

Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Yes, your kitchen smells good right now.

Final step  – add the cheese. Stir it in until it’s melted, about 3-5 minutes.

Serve and add the bacon garnish…

…and maybe wash down with a cold beer, if you’re into that kind of thing!

Let Me See That Super Bowl

I absolutely adore football – like seriously love it and actually understand and watch it – not just an excuse to get dressed up and tailgate (which I don’t think will ever make sense, but I digress). I love advertising – heck, I got a degree in it! And cooking…well, hello if you’re here then I think we know the answer to that.

So what does this all mean? Well my friends, today is a day when some of my favorite things happen to intersect – it’s Super Bowl Sunday! A great game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots (woo hoo) + yummy and delicious finger foods.

Add in awesome commercials created by some of the greatest minds in the business and you have one happy Mary! You do NOT want to miss anything from your prime spot on the couch!

This year, we’re playing it a little low key since I had been assuming my husband would be studying for his test (He flew in my friend Erin for my birthday last weekend – so he pushed back his studying a week so we could have some “us” time this weekend!). Yup – he’s a keeper!

Now…while I like my football and do not have to find other things to entertain me today (although the Puppy Bowl is pretty darn tempting – so many cute flufferkins running around!) – I will give my non-football loving ladies a tip.

His name is Tom Brady and he is why you need to invest in a high def big screen television. He is not the sole reason I will be cheering for the Patriots, but he is the best looking one (even with the nasty long hair)

ANY WHOO – here I am,quite unprepared to give you all of the recipes I’d be making if I were throwing a party – but I will not send you away empty handed! This is my favorite chili recipe that is perfect for today – because you can throw everything in your slow cooker before the game so that it’s ready to dish out at halftime. Low maintenance baby – gone are the days of making a chowder that involved me peeling 5 pounds of potatoes during the 2nd quarter.

Turkey Beer Chili – Serves 10-12

2 pounds of extra lean ground turkey, cooked and crumbled

1 pound Italian turkey sausage, “hot” – cooked and sliced

2 cans mild chili beans, drained

2 can chili beans in hot sauce, 1 drained, one not

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can tomato paste

1 small yellow onion, chopped

3 medium celery stalks, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 whole jalapenos, seeded and chopped

1 Tbsp. bacon bits

4 cubes beef boulion

6 oz. beer

1/4 cup chili powder

1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

4 tsp. Tabasco sauce (or less if your spice tolerance is low!)

1 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. sugar

Fat free shredded cheddar cheese for garnish (you can also use baked tostitos and fat free sour cream…you know, if you like sour cream as a garnish. I can try to withhold my judgment.)

Begin by cooking your meats. I like to cook the sausage on the grill and then slice it when it has cooled – but you can also cook in a skillet if it’s too frigid for grilling (or, if you’re my sister and you need lessons on how to embrace the grill)! I cut about 1/4 inch thick slices. Cook your ground turkey in a skillet.

Now slice your vegetables (onion, celery, green and red bell pepper, jalapenos) and put in a large bowl. Measure all of your dry seasonings (chili powder, oregano, cumin, basil, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, sugar)  and set in a large bowl as well.

Get your big mama of a slower cooker out. This tastes best when cooked at least 2 hours…but the more time it cooks, the better the flavors. If you only have 2-3 hours – use the high setting. If you have 4+ hours, use the low setting.

Add the meats, beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Worcestershire, hot sauce and beer. Add boulion cubes and bacon bits. Now add your chopped veggies and dry seasonings. Stir until everything is blended well. Cover and let it cook. Check with about 30 minutes left to stir and taste to see if you need any additional seasoning.

Serve with cheese and any “other” garnishes you prefer.

Now how could Super Bowl Sunday not be incredible…