Tag Archive | ladies room

Oh, What a Record?

Hey ladiiiieeess! We're droppin' some serious baseball knowledge on ya!

Hey ladiiiieeess! We’re droppin’ some serious baseball knowledge on ya!

As I watched the Giants’ Travis Ishikawa* belt the winning home run in the National League Championship Series, it got me thinking about the first Japanese hitter to get America’s attention with his bat.

Back in the 90s, I didn’t know who the Beastie Boys meant in “Hey Ladies” when they claimed “I got more hits than Sarahadu Oh!”

But the lyric was certainly deserved. Oh holds (but not without debate) the all-time world record for home runs with 868. Not Hank Aaron or Barry Bonds—Sarahadu Oh.

Oh was born in Japan to a Japanese father and Chinese mother. He played his entire career in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants, debuting in 1959. His first season, he only hit .161 with seven homers, but after a little wax-on, wax-off practice (OK, some actual, real samurai and zen training), he soon was hitting .300 with at least 40 homers for eight consecutive seasons. By his 14th season, he’d hit 500 taters.

Meanwhile in AMUUURRCA, Aaron was advancing on Babe Ruth’s HR record of 714, and eventually passed it in 1974 (despite death threats!) As a goodwill celebration, Aaron and Oh, who was six years younger than Aaron and had already hit 600 homers by age 34, met in a home run hitting contest in Tokyo in November 1974. Aaron won 10-9.

Which is just one of many problems many baseball purists have with Oh’s record. He only played in Japan while America had more seasoned players. His seasons were shorter—130 or 140 games as opposed to MLBs’ 160+, so he couldn’t wear down with injuries as fast. Japanese parks were smaller. And so on it goes…

Aaron retired in 1976, but Oh continued to play, passing Aaron as world leader on September 3, 1977. He retired in 1980 with 868 home runs and 2,786 hits. He led the league in home runs 15 times and was elected MVP nine times.

And well, if you doubt his records, here is one you can believe: dental records. *Ishikawa (whose father is Japanese American and his mother European-American) met his now-wife, a dental assistant, after he was hit by a pitch in the face.

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High Five: Metallica, Tailgate Nuptuals, and More Butt-Banging (No, Not Like THAT)

Happy Monday! As always, I’ve got 5 of the best sports headlines to discuss with the office, the other half, and the offspring…

1) Retiring Yankees pitcher Mariano Rivera received a surprise Sunday when his classic entrance song, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” was played by none other than Metallica themselves. This, plus a signed guitar and a rocking chair were just some of Rivera’s final game celebration. The Panamanian closer is a 13-time all-star, five-time World Series champ, baseball’s leader in saves (652) and games finished (952), and pretty much a lock for the Hall of Fame.

chuck pagano

Who needs Hair Club for Men?

2) Perhaps the only football news more shocking last week than the Cleveland Browns trading top running back Trent Richardson to Indianapolis was that Cleveland went on to win Sunday, 31-27 over Minnesota without him. The move, angering fans and muddying trust of a front office that has changed four times in six years, is likely a way to free up money for new players in the future—hopefully boosting a team that hasn’t seen a winning season since the Crusades. (Personally, I think this is what Cleveland gets for robbing my hometown Memphis of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but that’s just me.) Meanwhile, Richardson’s Colts also won 27-7 behind QB Andrew Luck—against his former college (Stanford) coach Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers.

3) So I was watching the Indianapolis post-game press conference, and I was wondering just who the blue-shirted coach talking was. Oh yeah, head coach Chuck Paganowith hair. Pagano missed nearly all of the 2012 season after he was diagnosed with leukemia. In support, team members and even cheerleaders shaved their heads as he endured chemotherapy; now he, and his hair, are back at the Colts’ helm. Welcome back, CHUCKSTRONG!

4) Much like last year’s infamous “butt fumble,” in which the Jets’ Mark Sanchez did this against his own teammate, the newest viral hilarity is the “butt slide.” As Cincinnati’s Brandon Phillips protected second base, the Houston Astros’ shortstop Jonathan Villar slammed right into his posterior—and to add insult to embarrassment, was also called out:

5) Tailgating consists of all the best things in life—food, music, friends and family…so why not save some dough and have your wedding at the same time? That’s exactly what Louisville couple Vonnie Edwards and Jeff Miller did Saturday before the Cardinals/Florida International game—and apparently it was her idea! A justice of the peace married them, in their fan gear—which was also suggested for the guests. And with Louisville currently #7, that’s one bridesmaid outfit you actually can wear again someday!

Put Down the “Big-Un’s,” Al Bundy! (or, Why It’s an Awesome Chicago Sports Week)

Wins, and all that jazz. (Jeff Gunn)

Wins, and all that jazz. (Jeff Gunn)

OK ladies, I know stats may seem dull, but (as I explain here), keeping up with the major ones can go a long way in making sports more fun. And Chicago is having fun right now.

Unless you were like me last night, watching the Washington Capitals’ Eric Fehr score the winning overtime goal after a jaw-dropping, let’s just leave early to beat the crowds comeback (0-3 to 4-3) against the Boston Bruins, you might have noticed a few other astonishing accomplishments by the Chicago Blackhawks. In defeating Minnesota, they nailed a 10-game, franchise-record win streak and extended their streak of “points” to 23 this season, and 29 straight since the 2011-12 season. (Two points are awarded, for example, for a team win.)

(Ladies, an interesting little fact is the Blackhawks’ 23 points are the same numeral as Michael Jordan’s famous jersey. Bet your husband didn’t catch that. See? Kinda cool.)

Speaking of Jordan:

Things were looking pretty good for point guard Derrick Rose when he was drafted number-one by the Chicago Bulls after one season at the University of Memphis. He got to return to his hometown and earned Rookie of the Year followed by MVP the next season, the youngest ever. Then came the ACL tear that has kept him benched for 10 months now.

But tonight, maybe, just maybe, the team Michael Jordan built might just get to see its phenom–oft-compared to Sir Michael himself–return to the court against the San Antonio Spurs. Coach Tom Thibodeau is calling Rose “day-to-day,” but he has reportedly been going full-contact at practices.

Unfortunately the Bulls will meet the NBA’s top team (47-14) at San Antonio. But at least the weather will be a little better–and the Spurs are currently missing their own injured point guard Tony Parker (sound familiar? He’s the former spouse of “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria–now, ironically, the new host of NBC’s new show, “Ready for Love.”)

Maybe Al Bundy will get to strike his famous “Polk High” touchdown stance once again.

Best Romantic Sports Movies

Oh, men. It’s hard not to pity them pretty much every day of the year.

But February 14 is especially tough for the fellas. Valentine’s Day is meant to celebrate mutual love, but we know it’s really all about the estrogen. So suddenly the pressure’s on for kiwi bouquets and “chocolate” (translation: brown. Brown?) diamonds, when we’d just love it if they shaved.

But guys need love too, so why not give him a movie night featuring a sports flick with a romantic twist for you? Here, based on my highly scientific poll of Facebook friends and my local bar, are my top 5 selections for romantic sports movies, plus a few honorable mentions.

Hoosiers_movie_poster_copyright_fairuse#5 Hoosiers (1986)
This one is more of a beautiful “bro-mance,” but I had to give a nod to the Indiana men’s hoops team for keeping their number-one spot despite losing to Illinois last week.

Gene Hackman plays Norman Dale, an abrasive coach with a checkered past, who takes over the tiny Hickman (Ind.) High School basketball team in the early 1950s. His star player has quit, and his assistant coach is the town drunk (Dennis Hopper). But slowly they win the respect and confidence of the town, whip the players into shape, and lead the team to a state title. (Coach Dale’s tape-measure demonstration of the championship court’s dimensions will inspire anyone feeling overwhelmed by a challenge.) Hopper earned an Oscar nomination for his performance.

Field_of_Dreams_poster

#4 Field of Dreams (1989)
This beloved tale of a flailing Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner) who hears voices telling him to build a ballpark in his cornfield is much more than a baseball movie. It’s a story of family, faith, and redemption as the spirits of Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the other players of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal come out to play one more time. Also look for James Earl Jones as a curmudgeonly writer and Ben Affleck and Matt Damon as extras in their pre-Oscar youth. Best of all, it is a proven fact this film makes every man cry.

(For more about the gangsters and gambling that brought down the 1919 World Series, I recommend Eliot Asinof’s excellent book “8 Men Out,” also a 1988 movie starring John Cusack, David Strathairn, and even good ole Charlie Sheen—who actually had serious professional ball aspirations before acting took over his tiger blood.)

Jonathan Lipnicki, then and now.

Jonathan Lipnicki, then and now.

#3 Jerry Maguire (1996)
It had us at “hello.” A love story cloaked in the cutthroat world of pro football player management, this film follows the rise, fall, and rise again of agent Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) as he begins living according to his conscience, not his wallet. Along for the ride is quirky single mom Dorothy Boyd (Renee Zellweger) and her son Ray (Jonathan Lipnicki). But the sweetest sub-story is the fierce love between Arizona Cardinals’ receiver Rod “Show me the money!” Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr.), Maguire’s one last client, and his indomitable wife Marcee (Regina King). Watch for a cameo by Eagles lead singer Glen Frey as the Cardinals’ general manager.

By the way, “Jerry Maguire” is not Cruise’s first sports movie. In “All the Right Moves” his Stefen “Stef” Djordjevic is a talented high school defensive back trying to escape a Pennsylvania mill town. Cruise met future (ex) wife Nicole Kidman on the set of NASCAR flick “Days of Thunder.” And my college volleyball teammate Dana lobbied for “Top Gun” based on the famous jeans-shorts beach volleyball scene. Positive, Ghost Rider.

Bull_Durham_movie_poster

#2 Bull Durham (1988)
That low rumble you’re hearing is every man reading this questioning why this 1988 baseball classic isn’t number one. Sure, it seems like a home run. A veteran catcher mentoring an upstart rookie pitcher for the Durham (N.C.) Bulls. A sassy groupie with a literary degree and lingerie she…shares with the team. Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Robbins (the latter two partnering on set for a real-life, 20-year relationship). The Church of Baseball, lizard eyes, the soul, the small of a woman’s back, good scotch, and “long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days.” Kevin Costner even hit two home runs while filming. But it’s still not our number one…

Let’s pause here because I could compile a list of romantic baseball movies alone. A few more…

  • In “The Natural,” Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) returns to baseball 16 years after being shot by a beautiful stalker, then leads his 1930s baseball team to the top with his lucky bat, “Wonder Boy.” Kim Basinger and Glenn Close play his leading ladies. Also look for Robert Duvall and Darren McGavin (Ralphie’s “old man” in “A Christmas Story”).
  • In “The Rookie,” Dennis Quaid portrays real-life pitcher Jim Morris, a 35-year-old Texas high school teacher and coach who rediscovers the wicked fastball his father had dismissed as a silly dream. With support of his players and a devoted wife, he reaches the pros as the oldest rookie in 40 years. And of course patches things up with the old man.
  • And in “Major League,” aging catcher Jake Taylor (Tom Berenger) joins “Wild Thing” pitcher Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) and Willie “Mays” Hayes (Wesley Snipes) to revive the cellar-dwelling Cleveland Indians and reclaim his lost love Lynn (Rene Russo). Look for now-Allstate spokesman Dennis Haysbert as very scary voodoo disciple and hitter Pedro Cerrano.    

rocky-statue-philadelphia-600#1 Rocky (1976)
Long before his Rambo bandana and machine gun, Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa only had his southpaw (left-handed) fists, a meat locker, and a dog named Butkus. A poor, kind-hearted Philadelphia debt collector and part-time fighter, Balboa falls in love with the frumpy, virginal sister Adrian (Talia Shire) of his friend Paulie (Burt Young). In the meantime, he is selected by the current heavyweight champ Apollo Creed for a U.S. Bicentennial match-up, intended to be more of a public relations stunt—until Rocky goes the full 15 rounds. He doesn’t win, but he does land his most treasured prize, the love of Adriannnnnn!, who blossoms before our eyes through the love of a truly good man. Stallone wrote the movie, which was shot in only 28 days but won three Oscars, including Best Picture.

Also, find Burt Young as Leo Poplar, a dementia patient seeking help from struggling attorney and high school wrestling coach Mike Flaherty (Paul Giamatti) in the heartwarming “Win Win.” Flaherty’s world is crumbling when Poplar’s tattooed, chain-smoking teen grandson appears on his doorstep with a mysterious past—and a hell of a talent for wrestling.

Double Feature?
Finally, if you really want to show your man you care, my guy friends strongly (strongly) recommend the following sports comedy classics:

Caddyshack: A group of country club workers take on some testy members in a golf tournament as Rodney Dangerfield cracks his groaners and dullard groundskeeper Bill Murray hunts down groundhogs. Boogers and turds also guest star.

Slap Shot: Thanks to Washington Capitals broadcaster Sky Kerstein for requesting this Paul Newman hockey picture, every fan’s favorite about a failing town’s failing team that turns to full-on violence to sell seats. (Also features Melinda Dillon, the mom from “A Christmas Story.”)

Tin Cup: Among others, my buddy and sports guru Bob Somerville voted for this golf love story as a top-5. But since Kevin Costner has already claimed two spots, we’ll tee him up here. Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy is a former star now drinking and lazing around his Texas driving range. But when Dr. Molly Griswold (Rene Russo) and her pro-golfer boyfriend David (Don Johnson) come along, McAvoy finds renewed purpose for his game and his lovelife. Also features cameos by real-life PGA players.  

missiDodgeball: A True Underdog Story: OK, this one’s mine, but I love it. Thin Vince Vaughn. Ben Stiller as a hypercompetitive owner of a mega-gym. A beautiful attorney with a mean arm (Stiller’s real-life spouse Christine Taylor). And a national dodgeball competition where they all lay everything on the line. Also features my high school pal Missi Pyle as menacing, unibrowed “Purple Cobra” Fran Stalinovskovichdavidovitchsky.

Sports are about more than winning. They are about character. Determination. Forgivenes. And love, which is what makes these movies (and many others I’ve left off) so enduring. We all want the trophy, but love is the real triumph, and I hope you find it this week.

Or at least some of these movies on Netflix.

Sunday Fun-day

Peter Wolf

“LIGHTS OUT! Uh-huh! Blast, blast, blast!” Remember this gem from J. Geils lead singer Peter Wolf?

Unless you live under a particularly large rock, you know the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers last night, 34-31. After a fun-but-far-too-late Ravens party, I’m…let’s just say “tired,” but here’s a quick rundown of the game and other notable news from last week:

 Super Bowl Breakdown
Led by the MVP efforts of QB Joe Flacco, the Ravens dominated the first half, finishing at 21-6. But the 49ers returned in the second half with a 19-point surge to close the gap at 31-29, despite a third-quarter power outage that delayed the game for 35 minutes. Though 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh pleaded for a holding call on a fourth down with under two minutes left, the refs disagreed, and the Ravens finished on top.

Now, impress your boyfriend:

  • At four hours, 14 minutes, this was the longest Super Bowl ever.
  • The Ravens failed at the first fake field goal attempt in Super Bowl history.
  • The “OH!” shouts you heard as Alicia Keys sang “Oh say does that…” were Ravens fans mimicking a Baltimore Orioles baseball tradition of…enhancing the National Anthem.
  • Beyonce was joined by Destiny’s Child for a knockout halftime performance. “Beyonce did not cause the power outage,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell joked.
  • The Ravens’ Jacoby Jones set a Super Bowl record with his 108-yard kickoff return.
  • Flacco received a Corvette Stingray for his MVP performance. And, more important, got to meet Beyonce and Jay-Z.
  • Miss any of the commercials? Catch them here.

Bold Statement
Ray Lewis gets most of the attention, but another Ravens linebacker, Brendon Ayanbadejo, hopes to use Super Bowl spotlight now and beyond—not for football, but for gay rights.

Ayanbadejo has long been vocal about his cause. In a recent New York Times interview, he described his passion’s roots in a childhood amid many diverse lifestyles, including living in a University California-Santa Cruz LGBT dorm directed by his stepfather.

“I was raised around gay people in a very liberal society. Discrimination was never allowed.” (By the way, the UC-Santa Cruz “Banana Slugs”? Best. Mascot. EVER!)

Gordie Howe and me

Gordie Howe and me on our shared birthday, March 31, in 1993. (Nice bangs, dummy.)

Icy Hot
Hockey is already well into its abbreviated, 48-game season (due to a lockout this past fall). The Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks lead the NHL, both still undefeated at 7-0…Sadly for me, Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz netted a hat trick (three goals in one game) against my second-to-last Washington Capitals in a 6-3 loss on Sunday…The Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty rejoined his team Sunday just eight days after emergency appendectomy… Catch Pacioretty against the Boston Bruins for an anticipated matchup this Wednesday on NBC’s Rivalry Night.

Know Your NHL: Hockey Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe (also known as “Mr. Hockey”) is considered perhaps the best player of all time. Known for his skills at scoring and brawling, he is the namesake of the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick”—a single-game achievement of a goal, an assist, and a fight.

Dame Diggins
No. 2 Notre Dame senior guard Skylar Diggins had a career-best 33 points in a 77-67 defeat of the Tennessee Lady Vols on Monday. UT had hoped to upset the Irish on a night dedicated to legendary former coach Pat Head Summitt, whose 1,098-208 career record makes her the winning-est coach of any Division I men’s or women’s teams ever. The court is already named for Summitt, but a banner was raised in her honor in front of a sell-out crowd. Summitt, merely 60, retired last April after a diagnosis of early-onset dementia.

Sad Stalemate
Recently featured on HBO Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Houston Rockets’ 6-8 rookie Royce White, 21, is 260 pounds and covered in tattoos. But he can’t fly, can barely drive, and can’t enter his closet if his suits and hats aren’t perfectly arranged. His generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) make his life a daily battle. And have nearly ruined his pro career.

Requiring special conditions under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as a personal doctor, not the team’s, to determine his mental ability to play, the Iowa State phenom is currently suspended from his $3.3 million annual contract, and has not once set foot on the court.

“What comes along with mental health that goes untreated: alcohol abuse; marijuana abuse; suicidal behavior; homicidal behavior…I advocate for a healthy, safe work environment.”

The Rockets claim to have “bent over backwards” to meet his needs, and that the situation will cause an imbalance in authority between coaches, doctors, and players’ decisions. Hopefully the two sides will reach an agreement. Regardless, White says he will give up the NBA to prove to the world at large that mental disorders are just as devastating as physical ones.

Winter Sports Star Caleb Moore Dies
Winter X Games competitor Caleb Moore passed away Thursday after injuries sustained in a snowmobile crash. He was 25. It is the first death in the Games’ 17 years.

The Dark Knight…Disappears?
In an incident that any American woman will find hiii-larious, a confused bat recently terrorized players at a Marquette/Providence game. Players and coaches fled, ducked, and threw towels at the bat as Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train played. I’ve heard the bat both was and was not caught—will Christian Bale play in the sequel?

Table Manners
DC locals: head to the Arlington Drafthouse tonight for a special premiere of the new 106.7 The Fan Sports Junkies’ Comcast SportsNet TV show, “Table Manners” (details here).

Super-rority: Game Day Recipes from my Homegals

“Delta Delta Delta, can I help ya help ya help ya?”

OK, I wasn’t a Tri-Delt, but how about “Kappa Kappa Gamma, can I lend a recipe-hand-a?”

pillsbury snackadium

Really, Pillsbury? Really?

Meh? Well, whether you pledge Greek, American, Asian or otherwise, the second-best part of game day is the food. And who better to ask for party recipes than your girlfriends, like my rockin’ Centre College sorority sisters or my DC digital divas? Here are some great, casual Super Bowl dishes from some lovely ladies for you to serve or bring along to the party.

First, an easy onion dip from Leslie, Kappa dorm-mate, proud West-By-God-Virginia farm gal (who introduced us to the vast healing properties of Bag Balm), and host of far too many late night Paul Simon sob sessions (mostly me):

Equal parts: 1 cup diced yellow onion; 1 cup grated Swiss cheese; 1 cup real mayo. Sprinkle with paprika, bake at 350 until warm and bubbly. Delish!

Next, from Eve (@naive), designer extraordinaire and yearly host of DC’s best Super Bowl chili cookoff, Eve’s Sweet & Smoky Turkey Chili (full recipe below—takes a little concentration, but well worth it): It’s a recipe of taste/feel in terms of seasoning, so you should adjust as you like. The cinnamon and chocolate are what make it really unique, so you may want to be light on those until you get the taste you want.

From Dana, dear Centre friend, mentor, and amazing mom, a Super Bowl approach you might not normally think of: fondue: It’s spicy and cheesy. Just grab a jar of Alfredo sauce and a block of pepperjack cheese. Warm to melt the mixture, then serve in small crock pot, and dip in veggies or cubes of bread. Yum!

Kat, classmate, BFF, Louisville lover of dogs and decorated writer with an operatic voice offers her Smoked Salmon Spread (#2 below)

And of course, the twins: Lani and LeeSa, Centre volleyball’s Towers of Power, my Kappa “big sisters,” and “girls gone wild” when “wild” meant “party til 2a.m., then study your butt off til dawn for your double majors that land you both top jobs on Capitol Hill.” See Lani’s “Jalapeño Popper Spread” and LeeSa’s “Buffalo Chicken Calzones” (#’s 3-4 below). (Also check out Lani’s beautiful jewelry offerings from Stella and Dot!)

I don’t know The Food Network’s Robin Miller, but her No-Fuss Guacamole is easy, and because it can be made in a sealable plastic bag, your kids can help with the squishing, and there are no dishes to clean! (Hang on through the 15-second ad first. Man, I hate those.)

Finally, two vegetarian options from yours truly. First, Trader Joe’s Sausageless Italian Sausages—I swear you can’t tell they are made of vegetables (Thank you “The Fabulous Mizz Rhonda” for introducing me to them.)

I’m also a big fan of Asian lettuce wraps—you can use regular chicken chunks or veggie (I like the Quorn brand myself). Marinate in mandarin sauce, then spoon into bibb lettuce leaves with diced cucumber, carrots, sesame or chia seeds, sliced almonds and Chinese crunchy noodles.

Happy snacking!

Eve’s Sweet and Smoky Turkey Chili
(serves 10-12)

1 pound ground turkey (not breast)
5-7 links sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 package diced pancetta (approx. 8 ounces)
(2) 28-ounce cans of fire-roasted crushed tomato
(1) 8-ounce can plain tomato sauce (I like Hunt’s)
(4) 16-ounce cans black beans
(2) 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans
1 beer (or more if you are pre-partying)
(2) bay leaves
(2-3) cloves minced garlic

Also, for taste: olive oil; chicken stock; chipotle or regular chili powder; chipotle tabasco sauce; cumin; cinnamon; cayenne (IF you like it spicier); brown sugar; Hershey’s Natural unsweetened cocoa powder; aged balsamic vinegar

1. In a skillet on medium/high heat, brown the turkey. Add chipotle chili powder, tabasco, cumin, cinnamon to taste. If you like it a little spicy, add just a dash of the cayenne, no more.

turkey chili

A smoky, lightly chocolate-y chili everyone will will love.

2. Add a small amount of the beer to deglaze the pan and add 2 tablespoons of the cocoa powder and a splash of the balsamic vinegar3. Stir/cook until the meat is coated. Put meat aside.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 with the sausage (cut open the links and break up the sausage in the pan).

5. In a 5-quart dutch oven, on medium heat, add two turns of olive oil, the pancetta and garlic. Cook until the pancetta is crispy but not burnt (keep an eye on your garlic, too). Reduce the heat to low.

6. Add the crushed tomato, beans, 1/2 of the can of tomato sauce (reserve some if you want to make the chili more soupy later) and the cooked turkey and sausage.

7. Stir well so that everything is mixed together.

8. Add two bay leaves, 1/2 cup of chicken stock, 1/2 cup of the beer, and season well with the chipotle chili powder, tabasco sauce, cumin and cinnamon to taste.

9. Add 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of Hershey’s powder and 1 tablespoon of the balsamic vinegar.

10. Cook on LOW for at least 3 hours (best if 5-6), stirring every 20-25 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning at that point. You may want to add more sauce if the chili has become thicker than you’d like.

11. Remove the bay leaves and serve!

Kat’s Super Smoked Salmon Spread
(2) 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
12 ounces smoked salmon, chopped
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbs. horseradish
Juice from half a lemon (fresh squeezed only)
1 tsp. chopped fresh dill
3 Tbs. chopped red onion
2 Tbs. capers

Using a medium bowl, stir cream cheese until sfot. Fold in the salmon, Worcestershire, lemon, horseradish, dill, and onion. Mix well. Serve with a sturdy cracker like pita or bagel chips.

Lani’s Jalapeño Popper Spread
(2) 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened (you can use light but not fat-free)
1 cup mayo (light)
(1) 4-ounce can chopped green chilis
2-4 Tbs. pickled jalapeños, chopped
3/4 cup grated parmesan
3/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
Stir together cream cheese and mayo until smooth (use blender or processor). Add chilis and peppers. Put this mixture into a greased 8-9 inch dish (pie plate works). Sprinkle the mixture of parmesan and breadcrumbs on top of cheese mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with crackers, toasted French bread, or Frito Scoops.

LeeSa’s Buffalo Chicken Calzones
**Chicken requires overnight marinating, so allow this in your plans or just buy precooked buffalo chicken.**

1 can pizza dough
2 cups cubed chicken breast
2 cups buffalo wing sauce
1/4 cup chunky blue cheese dressing
1/4 cup diced celery (this is optional but yummy)
1 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
1 cup mild cheddar cheese, shredded

1 Day Before: Pour cubed chicken into a bowl or food safe storage container. Top off with 3 Tbs. buffalo sauce. Stir to coat. Cover and store in the fridge to marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. Cook chicken and additional 2 Tbs. buffalo sauce. Stir well, cooking chicken for 5-10 minutes or until fully cooked. Transfer to a clean bowl. Add an additional 1/4 cup buffalo sauce to chicken. Stir to coat. Set aside.

Prepare a baking sheet with silpat, parchment, olive oil or cornmeal. Stretch dough into a large circle or rectangle. Coat one half of the dough with chunky blue cheese dressing – almost to the edge but not quiet. Top off with cooked buffalo chicken and celery. Sprinkle with a mixture of both cheeses – roughly a handful will do. Fold over the dough. Roll and pinch the edges to seal. Sprinkle with a touch more cheese.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then cut with a serrated knife into as many slices as desired.