Leveling up a Christmas ale? Is that possible? Yes, yes it is. You can pick up the Bourbon Barrel Aged version, or, whip up a Twisted Christmas Ale, or, do both. This is a fun beer-cocktail I've enjoyed every season since discovering it - and it's so simple!
A word to the wise - this makes an already decently potent beer even more potent, so please drink and serve responsibly. Life Ride and 1073 asking that you don’t drive - not saying don’t drink - just don’t drink and drive. Call a cab, Uber, Lyft or public transportation and get home safely. Life Ride is supported by Budweiser, House of LaRose, Kisling Nestico and Reddick, NECA , IBEW Local 106 and Parta. So please - have a ton of fun, but please, be safe.
Twisted Christmas Ale
Cinnamon mixed with Demerara Sugar (for the rim)
Pour a little Kahlúa on a plate and the Cinnamon sugar on another to rim the glass. Pour in 1-2 oz of Kahlúa, then slowly pour in the ale, (if you pour the beer at an angle hitting only the glass you’ll have little to no foam). Give it a light stir, and enjoy!
This week, we have a golden bachelor whose loyalty will outshine anyone you meet on a dating app - he’s tall, dark, handsome… and solid. Meet Schwartz! An 8 year old black lab mix, who has that little bit of salt and pepper that makes an older gent look distinguished. Don’t let his age fool you though, he has lots of energy and is a true Labrador Retriever in every sense - always happy and ready to greet you with a big grin. Although, Schwartz is not aware of his size, so a home without smaller animals is recommended.
If you’re interested in retrieving Schwartz, you can meet him at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, and if you can't adopt, please share his information. Remember that foster homes are always needed as fostering helps the shelter save even more. Read about thebenefits of fostering here. You can also help the shelter through donations, supplies or volunteering. Consider a Cage Sponsorship or contributing to their Medical Relief Fund. Every little bit helps!
Also, consider one of our previously featured pups, Bruno! He is a 1 1/2 year old tan and white pittie mix who is a Miracle K9 Graduate, ready to show off his skills to his new family!! He has also been at the shelter since last January - a happily ever after home would be a great gift to al of us who love Bruno.
Homemade is better - well, in most things that is. I'm talking about homemade cordials and liqueurs. One of the things I love about making my own is that I can control the alcohol, sugar levels as well as flavoring. Plus it's crazy easy! For example - many liqueurs call for vanilla, and I'm in love with Ronald Reginald's Melipone Mexican Vanilla, which I swear by and use for anything that calls for vanilla. Bonus: it pairs beautifully with coffee for those in love with Kahlua.
In most cases, making your own flavored liqueurs is a lot less expensive, unless your focus is on high alcohol percentages, which you totally can do. I'm guessing it depends on what you plan to use it for - sipping straight? Get the higher quality. The brand names you get in the store usually have lower percentages, not to mention they are often mixed into cocktails with alcohol that do have a higher percentage. That said, you do you boo. I'm not here to judge.
Every year, I stock my crisper drawer with GLBC's Christmas Ale, (yes, I'm one of those people - if that's your pet peeve, I do save the other crisper drawer for actual vegetables), and for years would also stock my liquor cabinet with Kahlua to make a taste beer cocktail which I call the Twisted Christmas Ale.... Then one year when the budget was tight, I did what I always do when that happens; I make it myself. Then, I learned really fast that mine had way more flavor and generally tasted better than what I was buying. Below, I've gathered a few favorites to make - they do make great little gifts - just be sure to keep some for yourself!
2-3 c Freshly Brewed Strong, Hot Coffee
2-3 c Rum
2-4 c Sugar
1-2 T Vanilla Extract, or a Vanilla Bean, cut lengthwise.
Mix sugar and coffee together; if using vanilla bean, add while the coffee is still hot - it will release more flavor. Let the mix cool and add rum and vanilla extract (if using instead of vanilla bean). Vanilla extract can lose flavor with heat. Taste-test and adjust any ingredients if needed. Store in a cool place for 3 or 4 weeks, (if you can wait that long). If using a vanilla bean, leave it in the mixture for how ever many weeks you can wait to enjoy.
2 c Water
2 c Sugar
1/2 c Brown Sugar
2 c Vodka
2 T Almond Extract
1 T Vanilla Extract
In a pan, combine water and sugars, dissolve sugars and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, add vodka and extracts. Store in a cool dark place.
Raspberry (or Blackberry) Liqueur
3 c Vodka
2 c Fresh (or Frozen) Raspberries or Blackberries
2 c Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean (cut lengthwise and divided) or, 1 T Vanilla Extract.
Add vanilla bean, (or extract divided equally), berries and sugar (divided equally) between 2 quart jars, then fill jars with vodka. Shake to combine and to help dissolve sugar. Place in the fridge, and shake a couple of times a day for at least a week.
We’ve talked about Bruno before - the handsome, energetic, good vibes tan and white pittie mix who has known shelter life since January. Not even 2 years old, (1 year and 7 months actually), he doesn’t understand why he’s been overlooked for so long, nor do the folks at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter. He’s even been to Miracle K9 training school (a 30 day board and train program), and he’s eager to show off his smarts and skills, but people continue to pass him by. The folks at the shelter know how disheartening this can be, so they hooked Bruno up and he is now in a foster home, to give him a sense of belonging and to prepare him for his perfect person or family. We know you’re out there!
If you’ve ever been overlooked by a team you know you’d be great on, you know how Bruno feels. Bruno walks well on a leash, knows the commands to come when called, sit and lay down when asked and is working on furthering his off leash commands. He also has the makings of an agility or rally dog - and that’s no small feet. It takes smarts, and major obedience skills, and everyone who's met Bruno believes with continued training, he'd be great at either sport. If this training talk intimidates you - worry not! He comes with his basic training supplies, go home lessons, plus, follow up training at Miracle K9, free of charge. If you thought that dogs don't come with a training manual, this one does!!
Bruno is great with kids, but they are recommending his family have older children and even though he also does well with other dogs, he'd be happiest as your one and only copilot.
Remember that foster homes are always needed and help the shelter save even more. Read about the benefits of fostering here. You can also help the shelter through donations, supplies or volunteering. Consider a Cage Sponsorship or contributing to their Medical Relief Fund. Every little bit helps!
There's nothing quite like the amazing taste of a perfectly made pizza, when the crust is just right, the sauce is balanced with the perfect amount of cheese and all the right toppings. There is also nothing quite like the taste of your favorite beer or wine... but what if your favorite beer makes your favorite pizza taste "meh"? Just like orange juice after something minty, it can really ruin one or the other, or both.
There are beers and certain kinds of wine that I would never choose to drink on their own, but when guided by flavor pairing, they end up tasting amazing. The flavor profile completely changes depending on what it's served with. So I looked into what the experts recommend for some of the more popular kinds of pizza. I usually put different toppings on my pizzas and personally, when I'm in doubt as to what to pair with a pizza that lands outside the norm, I go by what pairs with the toppings. I usually enjoy a red blend, (which the experts never mentioned once in my research, apparently, they're subpar), with my go-to pizza of sausage, grilled mushrooms, peppadew peppers and goat cheese. Steak & Blue Cheese? Exactly what I serve if I'm serving a Steak with Blue cheese - Cabernet Sauvignon. But that's just from me, someone who knows a little about a lot of wines and beers, and a lot about what I love. Most of us do - so - feel free to break the experts' rules - they don't have your palate.
Classic Cheese Pizza: Beers: American Pale Ale, Pilsner. Wines: Chianti, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc or Sparkling Cava.
Pepperoni Pizza: Beers: Brown Ale, Belgian Wheat, IPA. Wines: Merlot, Sangiovese or Cabernet Franc, Unoaked Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.
Sausage Pizza: Beer: Pale Ale, Belgian Wheat. Wine: Chianti, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Zinfandel, Chenin Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay.
White Sauce Pizza: Beer: Pale Ale or Pilsner. Wine: Burgundy, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay.
Margarhita Pizza: Beer: New England, Hazy or Tangy IPA. Wine: Lambrusco, Pinot Noir, (red) Zinfandel, Dry Rose, Chardonnay.
Mushroom Pizza: Earthy Ales such as an English Ale or bright lagers. Wine: Pinot Noir, Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignon, (Red) Zinfandel, Chenin Blanc, Barrel Aged Chardonnay.
Veggie: Beer: Blonde Ale, Mild Lager, Pilsner. Wine: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Lambrusco, Oaked Chardonnay.
Seafood: Pale Ale, Belgian Weiss. Wines: Sauvingnon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Buttery Chardonnay, Rose, Pinot Noir.
Who needs a Big Mac when you’ve got a Quarter Pounder? (With or without cheese). Quarter Pounder is quite the handsome 5 year old, white & brindle bulldog mix, full of wiggles and wags, and would love to be your one and only burger buddy.
Quarter Pounder is learning his leash manners and loves snuggling with his humans. He is also a pup who would do well with older kids.
You can meet Quarter Pounder in person at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, and if you can’t adopt, please share his information.
Also, consider one of our previously featured pups, Bruno! He is a 1 1/2 year old Miracle K9 Graduate, ready to show off his new skills!
There's nothing quite like the flavor of bourbon, nor is anything like a perfectly cooked steak, so it's no wonder some culinary genius put them together. I have been cooking steak since I was a teen - fun fact - my very first job was at the back of a country store that was also a butcher shop, and even now, I'll step back into my apron to help out at Barb & Patty's here and there.
How does a bourbon peppercorn sauce sound? This simple pan sauce is just so easy and comes together quickly, and of course pairs beautifully with a bourbon cocktail or a bourbon barrel aged red wine or even stout.
Bourbon Peppercorn Steak Sauce
2 Peeled and Smashed Garlic Cloves
1/2 c Bourbon
1 c Cream
Freshly Ground (or cracked) Pepper (to taste)
While your steaks rest, in the same pan used for searing steaks, re-heat the pan if it has cooled, add a little butter if needed (you most likely won't need to as the fat from the steaks should be plenty). Toss in garlic cloves, (for stronger garlic flavor, feel free to mince one of the garlic cloves to keep in the sauce as opposed to removing them at the end), and cook until toasted and flavors released, then carefully pour in bourbon to deglaze the pan - do not pour from the bottle, especially if you have gas stove as it could start a fire - pour the bourbon from a measuring cup. It will splatter, so if you have a splatter guard, you'll want to use it. Continue to deglaze the pan, stirring the bits left from the steak into the bourbon. When the bourbon cooks down by 1/3 to half, slowly pour in cream and stir to combine, add pepper (cracked or ground). The amount is up to you - I like to use quite a bit of coarsely ground pepper, but that might be too much for some and not enough for others, so personalize it to your taste. Remove and discard smashed garlic. Simmer until the sauce is the desired thickness. Drizzle over steaks and get ready for a festival of flavors!
* If you are grilling steaks - you can still whip the sauce up easily, add a pat of butter (and a drizzle of olive oil to keep the butter from burning) to sear the garlic. Add an 1/8 of a up of beef or vegetable stock along with the bourbon to add the depth of flavor.
Have you considered becoming a foster? The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter does an amazing job helping homeless animals, but they can’t do it alone. There are so many benefits to becoming a foster. Aside from creating space for the shelter to save another, you’re helping a dog get ready for his or her new family by easing the transition of a shelter schedule to a home environment and routine. Fosters also have an advantage to observe the unique personalities or habits that can't be discovered in a shelter and the more that is known about a dog, the chances of placing him or her in the right home increases greatly.
If you are ready to adopt, consider one of our three featured canines who are still in need of a home. Billy, a hound mix who is a golden bachelor of 9 ready to chill in his new home. Scrappy, a one and a half year old sharpei mix who seems shy, but with patience, will be your bestie for life. Bruno is also one and a half and is a Miracle K9 graduate!
There are several situations in which fostering is needed, such as for sick or injured dogs, puppies who are too young to be in a shelter environment, senior dogs struggling to adapt to a shelter environment, and of course when there's just no room left. Even if it's just a vacay for the dog, fostering allows shelters to continue to help the homeless dogs in our city.
But what's in it for you? Well, dogs for one, not to mention the health benefits of having a pet, such as lowering blood pressure and helping with mental health. If you're in a situation where having a dog isn't in the budget, this is a great option as the shelter will supply you with what you need to care for your foster, including medical expenses. Or, if you're ready to adopt, but can't decide on who - the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter has a Foster to Adopt program. If you recently lost a pet and are feeling that void, but aren't ready to adopt yet, fostering is a great way to fill that void, to do some good and in some cases, you help to heal each other. I hear more often than not, how dog's actually rescued their people, not the other way around.
In 2010, I had a lot of blows from life, but the worst one was the death of Marble, my ultimate golden retriever co-pilot. After a couple of months, I couldn't take the emptiness as it was a constant reminder of who was no longer in my life. Giving back, helping get dogs ready for their new families helped me as much as it helped them. Did they break my heart again after they were adopted? The short answer is no. Some you miss, some aren't the right fit for the household. The toughest one was Roxy, a golden who had been used for breeding and never once set foot inside a house, then was surrendered at the age of 8 - she then became one of my fosters, and we got her home ready. When the perfect family wanted to adopt her, my heart admittedly sank. In situations like that, it eases the transition knowing there are so many more dogs to help. That said, failing at fostering and adopting a foster is the one fail where everyone wins.
This weekend most of us will celebrate Halloween!! The height of the most wonderful time of the year is finally here!! Whether you're having over a couple of friends or a crowd this weekend, here's a few tips and tricks to get your cocktails looking dark and scary. And I'm not even asking for any candy!
Make it GROSS! (EW!)
The easiest way to make Halloween cocktails scary is to make the drink itself appear gross. There are so many options! Bloody Brain Shooters, Zombie Brain Shots and of course the Brain Hemorrhage Shooter. Add extra red to any drink for a bloody effect by using corn syrup tinted with red food coloring, (or strawberry syrup, but it will be thinner than the corn syrup), on the inside of the glass, or as a rim for the glass - you've got to let some of it run down the sides for a true blood effect. You can also use grenadine and red sugar to rim a glass, and if your recipe calls for grenadine, put it into a syringe with the drink as the cocktail stirrer. To make eyeball garnishes, use canned lychees and add a half blueberry to the center with a dab of red gel food coloring. For extra ews, hold it all together with a skewer. An eyeball garnish for a bloody mary, use a radish, add a stuffed, (or a plain), green olive to the center. Make ice cubes with candy spiders and bugs in the center and use gummy worms too. Also, you can decorate a highball or beer glass with gauze for a mummy koozie.
To blacken cocktails, you can use activated charcoal, however, it settles at the bottom of the glass and might even interfere with some medications according to The Spruce Eats. They suggest a basic food coloring formula or even using black rice to create black vodka.
Sparkle & Shine!!
Make it GLOW!
For glow in the dark cocktails, the key ingredient doesn't go in your drink - it's making sure you have black lights. You can enhance the effects and guarantee that glow by using any energy drink containing vitamin B, Mountain Dew, tonic water, or tonic water ice cubes or any of the list of ingredients that ThoughCo suggests. They also mention the type of glass/cup you use, and though they suggest using a glow stick as a cocktail server, I wouldn't - it would be really bad if it leaked.
The trick to bubbling, foggy potion cocktails is of course dry ice. Just be careful handling it, (like, don't handle it ever - always use a utensil with it). For individual drinks - you don't need much at all. Check out the video below for safety tips. Here are a few places that sell dry ice.
The Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter is FULL!! There’s no vacancy at the canine inn, so, we are re-featuring the 4 remaining pups who still have not found their forever homes! Hera, a lovely lady with floppy ears and expressive eyes, Bruno, a Miracle K9 graduate, Billy a gentle golden bachelor hound mix and Scrappy a sweet Sharpei mix!! When the shelter is at capacity, it's through foster homes they are able to continue to help abandoned, sick and homeless dogs. If you’ve ever thought about fostering, now is the perfect time to take the plunge!
Hera is a lovely silver lady with expressive eyes that will melt your heart - a 7 year old super sweet terrier pittie mix, who has been at the shelter since March - her foster family says she’s the kind of well behaved guest you want to stay! Zero accidents, and she even puts herself to bed. She also has great leash skills that she loves to show off! Hera is a people pup - just like a people person, but so much better, so she’ll make a great only copilot. The folks at the shelter can't believe this super good girl still hasn't found her forever home!
Bruno is a fun, energetic 1 1/2 year old Brindle and tan pittie mix who's bee at the shelter since January - which means he’s spent nearly 1/2 of his life in a shelter, The folks at the shelter hooked him up with Miracle K9 training for 30 days and he came back with leash manners and knows all kinds of commands. Bruno is very smart!! But don't worry, his new family will get his training info plus follow up visits with Miracle K9 (so they can be doggone smart too)! Bruno would make a great jogging/hiking buddy. He loves the water, his toys and could become quite the rally or agility pup. Bruno does like playing with other dogs, but will probably be happiest as an only copilot. He also likes kids, but they recommend his new family have kids 14 and older.
Billy is 9 year old handsome hound mix. This golden bachelor enjoys chill walks and afternoon naps. Always happy to see the shelter staff and ready to show it with kisses. Billy is a gentleman with a heart of pure gold and he does well with other calm, respectful pups. As great as the staff is at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, a shelter is no place for a senior, and there are so many advantages to adopting a senior dog! They're usually already trained, and still easily learn a new schedule (the old adage of "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is total bs - whoever said that didn't understand dogs at ALL). Seniors are also already calm and happy to just chill at your side most of the time. The best part is giving a dog who has given his or her best years only to find themselves alone in a shelter the retirement that is worthy of the love, loyalty and acceptance they gave and are still ready and willing to give.
Scrappy is a one and a half year old tan Sharpei mix, who has spent much of his young life in a shelter, so he’s been hooked up with a foster home so he’s ready for his new family with fresh home training!! According to his fosters, Scrappy has learned a couple of basics quickly, gets along with his furry foster siblings and gets a gold star for being accident free! He is a little shy when you first meet him, but with a little time, he’ll be your bestie for life! Scrappy also loves toys and is a de-fluff enthusiast!
You can meet any one (or all) of the Fabulous Four, as well as plenty of potential copilots at the Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter and of course Foster Homes are always needed, especially now!! You can also help the shelter through donations, supplies or volunteering. Consider a Cage Sponsorship or contributing to their Medical Relief Fund. Every little bit helps!