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*Blog Tour* Guest Post/Recipe ~ Let it Snow by Heidi Cullinan

December 2, 2013

let it snowSummary:

The weather outside is frightful, but this Minnesota northwoods cabin is getting pretty hot.

Stylist Frankie Blackburn never meant to get lost in Logan, Minnesota, but his malfunctioning GPS felt otherwise, and a record-breaking snowfall ensures he won’t be heading back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Being rescued by three sexy lumberjacks is fine as a fantasy, but in reality the biggest of the bears is awfully cranky and seems ready to gobble Frankie right up.

Marcus Gardner wasn’t always a lumberjack—once a high-powered Minneapolis lawyer, he’s come home to Logan to lick his wounds, not play with a sassy city twink who might as well have stepped directly out of his past. But as the northwinds blow and guards come down, Frankie and Marcus find they have a lot more in common than they don’t. Could the man who won’t live in the country and the man who won’t go back to the city truly find a home together? Because the longer it snows, the deeper they fall in love, and all they want for Christmas is each other.

Warning: Contains power outages, excessive snowfall, and incredibly sexy bears.



~Heidi’s Favorite Chili~

In Let It Snow, there’s a blizzard which knocks out power. Though the three bears have a generator, they don’t want to heat up the stove for long at any point and time, so they make up a huge batch of chili to feed off of until electrical service is restored. For Frankie, Marcus made a special white chili recipe which I blogged about earlier at The Book Pushers. The rest of the guys were eating this.

 Heidi Cullinan’s Favorite Red Chili

Gluten Free, Vegan Option

 This is a variation off of my grandmother’s recipe, morphed as my preferences and dietary needs have changed. Though Marcus definitely included plenty of ground beef, at our house we usually make this entirely vegan because we prefer it that way. If you like meat in your chili, add your favorite (prepared/cooked) and reduce beans or increase tomato puree.


1 medium sweet onion, diced

1 medium green pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 TBSP high-smoke-point oil OR 3 TBSP water, for sautéing

4-5 cups chili beans (Three 15 oz cans)

28 oz tomato puree or crushed tomatoes

15-28 oz diced tomatoes (fire roasted is good)

3 bay leaves (remove before serving)

3-8 TBSP chili powder, depending on taste

3 tsp ground cumin

2 TBSP liquid smoke

pinch cayenne pepper/dash favorite hot sauce

Depending on how big your crock/stockpot is, you can double or triple this and feed an army. Or a lot of bears.

Some notes about stuff I used and how to be vegan/gluten free.

Beans: I use Westbrae Chili Beans. They give a nice variety and list the ingredients so I know I’m not getting any gluten. I can’t figure out if Mrs. Grimes’s chili beans are GF or not, so I’m off them, but they used to be my go-to beans. Basically find a brand you like. Or, if you feel very Martha Stewart, soak and prepare your own.

Veggies: You could add a jalepenio or fire roasted red pepper, or swap them out, or whatever you like. Green pepper and onion in chili make me think of home, so they stay put for me.

High smoke point oil: You might have read that and been all, WTF, Heidi. Here is a cheat sheet for smoke points, but the shorthand is a lot of the oil you might be using has a low smoke point, and when you heat it you start giving yourself bad things. I use Canola, Grapeseed, or Coconut, depending on my mood and what I have around.

Tomatoes: I use puree or crushed tomatoes, which makes this chili very thick. If you like more of a soup, decrease the puree and add some tomato/vegetable juice, or just add some tomato/vegetable juice. I like my local grocery’s brand or Muir Glenn if I’m feeling fancy or it’s on sale at my co-op. If you can get fire roasted for any of these, that can make things extra nice, but with the liquid smoke it’s not really essential. You can raise or lower the amount of tomatoes depending on your preference.

Liquid smoke: For reals. You want to use this in this chili.

General vegan/gluten free notes: Read labels, google, ask questions. I keep accidentally poisoning myself (and my friends) as I learn what has gluten: wheat is shorthand but not inclusive. If you need to find out about gluten for yourself or a friend who is allergic, you never go wrong with the pros. There are also a zillion message boards and blogs, though of course you will eventually run into an Internet argument. You can ask me too, but always remember I am still green to both vegan and GF.

Vegans are pretty easy with this dish. Don’t add meat, and don’t add meat substitutes unless you verify they are vegan. The fake meat crumbles are usually not going to be your friend. If you insist on something meatlike for texture, try seitan, but that is VERY NOT GLUTEN FREE so if you’re trying for a vegan/GF double header, just stick with the beans.

If you want to be paleo, then cut out the beans, put in 4 cups of marinated, slow-roasted beef, triple the veggies and add in some jalapenos and red peppers.

I firmly believe chili is something that becomes each cook’s personal style, and that’s what makes it awesome. Play around! Have some fun. That’s what cooking is all about


About the Author

Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi also volunteers frequently for her state’s LGBT rights group, One Iowa, and is proud to be from the first midwestern state to legalize same-sex marriage.

You can stalk, I mean find Heidi here:


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