Greek Chili for a Chilly Night

Chili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 085I used to Belly Dance in Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants back in the 80s. My favorite “taste” of Greek food included Gyros (with Feta and Lamb), Kabobs (with Sumac), Tzatziki (with Cucumbers), Hummus (from Garbanzo Beans AKA Chickpeas) and Spanakopita (with Spinach). So why not mix those flavors with my favorite dish: Chili?

My original chili was Beef Chili. My family loved it! It was thick, meaty and spicy! Using a slow cooker, instead of a stock pot, allowed all of the ingredients time to meld together. Next came CMcCormick Fiery Tastyhicken Chili made with Butter Beans, White Kidney Beans, Ground Turkey, Italian Sausage and chopped Polish Sausage.

To save calories, but keep the bold and spicy flavors intact, my next chili creation used Ground Turkey, Italian Sausage, Turkey Polish Sausage and Pork Chorizo. In fact, I liked it better than my “Slap Ya Momma” Beef Chili. None of the flavor was missing. And in fact, it was even spicier by using Diced Tomatoes with Jalapeno and Habanero peppers and the McCormick Tasty Fiery Seasoning Mix of Sriracha, Lime and Garlic!

The chili seasoning can make or break your chili. It makes all of the difference in the world. Back when I first started making chili, I would buy the cheapest chili seasoning. You know the one that is Chili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 003the store brand or 50 cents or less. Then I discovered Williams Chili Seasoning. And I will admit: they are the best. They are the reason why my Chili brings so many compliments.

I have to admit that McCormick Seasonings are stepping up their game. They released the “Tasty” blends, that bump up the flavor using Sriracha, Lime, Garlic, Lemon Zest, Basil, Oregano, etc. I love using the Lemon Zest to season my Tuna and Catfish Nuggets. And when you mix Williams and McCormick together, get ready for a spicy flavor bomb!

Chili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 042I had 3 hours of sleep and my Dishwasher is broken. Which means, I am mixing the meats in the skillet, instead of washing a bowl by hand. I have the slow cooker set for 4 hours, just enough time for a catnap before my Chili dinner on a chilly (19 degree) day!


  1. Ground Lamb, recommended: Marketside Superior Farms, 2 lb.
  2. Pork Chorizo, recommended: Cacique, 10 ozChili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 040.
  3. Italian Sausage Mild, recommended: Great Value, 1 lb
  4. Spinach, frozen chopped, recommended Great Value, 12 oz
  5. Garbanzo Beans, Chick Peas, recommended: Bush’s Best, two 15.5 oz. cans
  6. Kidney Beans, Dark Red, recommended: Great Value, 15.5 oz.
  7. Diced Tomatoes with Jalapeno and Habanero, recommended: Del Monte, two 14.5 oz. cans
  8. Diced Tomatoes with Zesty Chili Style, recommended: Del Monte, 14.5 oz.Chili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 046
  9. Jalapeno Peppers, diced, recommended: Great Value, 4 oz.
  10. Chili Seasoning, Tex-Mex style, recommended: Williams, 1 oz.
  11. Chili Seasoning, Original style, recommended: Williams, 1 oz.
  12. Fiery Tasty Seasoning Mix with Sriracha, Lime and Garlic, recommended: McCormick, 1 oz.
  13. Mirepoix with diced Yellow Onion, Carrot and Celery, 8 oz.
  14. Garlic, smashed, 10-11 cloves
  15. Sumac, recommended: Zamouri Spices, ½ teaspoonChili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 052
  16. Cabernet Sauvignon, recommended: Yosemite Road, 1 cup
  17. Balsamic Vinegar, 2-3 teaspoons
  18. Liquid to thin it out, such as Cola, Chicken Broth, Water or Ice Cubes (as needed, depending on how thick or thin you prefer your chili to be), ½ to 1 can.
  19. Plastic Gloves, disposal will do
  20. Slow Cooker Liners, recommended: Reynolds


  1. Gloves oChili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 083n and ready to cut off the Garlic heads. Add them to the slow cooker liner and smash them with a small bowl.
  2. Mix ground Lamb, Italian Sausage and Pork Chorizo in the skillet and then brown in skillet for about 20 to 25 minutes. Add half of the Wine and Mirepoix. Cook on low for 5 minutes and then drain. I use an empty bean or diced tomato can for the grease.
  3. Drain and rinse beans. I top the beans with a dash of Sumac!
  4. Top the smashed Garlic with the remaining Mirepoix and Spinach. Then add the Tex-Mex Chili seasoning, Wine and Balsamic Vinegar. Chili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 049
  5. Add the Meats and then the Fiery Tasty Seasoning packet.
  6. Add the drained beans and then the Original Chili seasoning
  7. Add the 3 cans of Diced Tomatoes.
  8. Thin out with Liquids, if you want thinner Chili. I used a half can of Cola for a “sweet” touch.
  9. Add the Jalapeno Peppers and Sumac during the last 30 minutes of cook time.
  10. Cook on high 4 hours or low 8 hours, stir halfway through.

Chili and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 086I like to top mine with Feta & Cheddar Cheese, Diced Cucumbers, Lime Juice and a dollop of Daisy Sour Cream.


Check out the sample and get your copy here: The Vampire Dancer Saga Part 4 Audiobook

The Vampire Dancer Saga Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all Audiobooks now available at and iTunes (click the word Audible or iTunes to open link to store).




The Vampire Dancer Saga Part 4 @ Amazon Kindle (June 13, 2016)


The Vampire Dancer Saga Part 3 by Shalimar Ali (Apr 13, 2014)


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The Vampire Dancer Saga Part 2 by Shalimar Ali (Dec 11, 2012)


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YOUTUBE: and Pineapple Coconut Rum Cake 058



Don’t Dance on Friday the 13th!

Genie1Don’t Dance on Friday the 13th!
Vamptember, 1860; St. Louis, MO

Gather around my children and listen to a tale of aliens from the Planet Vampire who came to visit earth in the 1800s to observe our cultures, music, food and dance. They are preparing a World Fair on their planet that will showcase 10 decades of change. Behold, the Vampire Dancer Saga Tour.

But the competition took hardly any time at all, as it took place in multiple times.  Soon, Salome stood overlooking 1860’s Missouri in the city of St. Louis.  With all the other dancers dead or insane, only Team Butchers & Bakers  consisting of Tam, Lance, Regent, Sherry, Dolf, Gia, Kandy remained to be dealt with.  They were eating at their favorite Italian restaurant, anxious to know when their 3 Wishescompetition would start, and fearful that they could be the only remaining dancers capable of beating Salome in the universe.  Tam casually brings up that the dance will fail, and when asked as to why she simply says:

“Because it’s Friday the Thirteenth”

Lance, always the optimist, pointed out to his sister that with the Genie2streak of bad luck all the other dance teams in the universe had, it was likely that Friday the Thirteenth might mean a reversal in their luck.  Dolf received a package at the door, addressed to the whole family from Salome.  It was a brass lamp, and before anyone else could say anything, he had rubbed the dusty side of it, invoking a genie to pop out into the air. As was expected, this genie offered to grant three wishes to the ones who had released him from his lamp. Sherry immediately jumped upon the opportunity, despite her team members’ misgivings. She wished for them to have already traveled to Egypt to learn from the best belly dancers in the world. Then she wished for them to have learned the dances of their ancestors, powerful movements older than any religion.

Friday13It was the last wish that did her team in. She wished for she and her team to win the contest. At this, the genie flared up and his eyes came alive with fire. He screamed at them in a mighty voice made of storms that they were trying to cheat Salome, and the whole competition.

“For this you die!” He bellowed. Immediately, three male and three female dancers popped up beside him, ready to dance them into oblivion. Team Butchers and Bakers, however, had spent their first two wishes wisely. Using ancient dances older than the genie himself, almost older than Salome, they defeated the final opponent in the competition.

Genie3Back at the Nexus, the Vampires and Dancers and Time Travelers of the universe cheered, Dick Clarkes 1-5 laughed their deep laughs, and Salome only frowned. The situation was bitter sweet to the dancers however, as all of those who were of their own caliber had perished in Salome’s trick. But science came to save the day at the last minute.

“Congratulations!” Cried the Dick Clarkes in unison. “Courtesy of the StarchGate corporation, you have won the ability to save as many lives as you would like from the point where they ended in history!”



Product Details

Learn to Belly Dance Textbook & Certification Program: Dance Lessons & Choreographies For Students, Troupes, Performers… by Shalimar Ali (Aug 17, 2011)

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The Vampire Dancer Saga Part 2 by Shalimar Ali (Dec 11, 2012)

Dance Certification: Beginner Dance 1A Raks Leyla, 7/9/12

The Joy of Belly DancingWelcome to the Belly Dance Certification Program!

This program is strictly for fun, exercise or for those who love Belly Dance.


I will mail a copy of “Learn to Belly Dance Textbook and Certification Program” to the first dancer who sends me a copy of them performing the choreography to Raks Leyla! Raks Leyla is a fun, simple and easy dance for beginners. So be the first to send me a video of you doing this dance and you will win a free BOOK! It’s just that easy. Please contact me before uploading the video, see my contact info below.

The first 5 dances in the program are very easy to do. After all, a beginner dancer has to start SOMEWHERE. You can’t start out advanced or doing advanced choreography. Please take the time to learn at your own pace so that you can explore creating your own personal style of dance.

Dance Choreographies
Beginning Level

  • Raks Leyla, cabaret with finger cymbals to 4/4
  • Jasmine Dancer, cabaret w/veil and finger cymbals
  • Varter, veil dance
  • Village Girl, cane dance to beledi
  • Tomzara, tambourine dance to 9/8

Beginner Dance #1


RAKS LEYLA, 4/4 Beledi w/Chiftitelli
Choreographed in 1984, music by George Abdo, The Joy of Belly Dancing


This dance can be performed as a solo, duet or group of 4 dancers.
The instructions are written for the dancer(s) on the Left side of stage who are leading with their right foot.
A group of 4 dancers would have a dancer on R front, R back, L front & L back. The dancers on Left side lead with right foot and the dancers on the Right side lead with their left foot, until they switch sides and use the opposite lead foot.


1. Intro 16 counts (Hip drop pose in place)

2. Walking hip shimmy 32 cts. (in square, 8 cts. on each side, R foot leads)

3. Neck slide pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on R, 4 cts. on L)

4. Shoulder shimmy pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on R, 4 cts. on L)

5. Turn 8 cts. (from stage L to stage R)

6. Walking hip shimmy 32 cts. (in square, 8 cts. on each side, L foot leads)

7. Neck slide pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on L, 4 cts. on R)

8. Shoulder shimmy pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on L, 4 cts. on R)

9. Turn 8 cts. (from stage R to stage L)


10. Hip circle w/bounce 8 cts. (from R to L, in place)

11. (Reverse) Hip circle/w bounce 8 cts. (from L to R)

12. Camel walk 24 cts. (in circle, 4 cts. each; stage R L)

13. Figure 8 16 cts. (slide back/circle forward, in place)

14. Camel walk 24 cts. (in circle, 4 cts. each; stage L R)

15. Figure 8 16 cts. (slide forward/circle back, in place)

16. Turn 6 cts. (in place)/Arm circle pose w/up & down hip shimmy (or vibration) 2 cts.


17. Hip thrusts 32 cts. (in circle, stage R L; RRLR, LLRL, RRLR, LLRL, RRLR, LLRL, RRLR, LLRL)

18. Hip circle w/bounce 8 cts. (from R to L, in place)

19. (Reverse) Hip circle w/bounce 8 cts. (from L to R)

20. Hip shimmy drop pose 6 cts. (in place)


21. Walking hip shimmy 32 cts. (in square, 8 cts. each side, R foot leads)

22. Neck slide pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on R, 4 cts. on L)

23. Shoulder shimmy pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on R, 4 cts. on L)

24. Turn 8 cts. (from stage L to stage R)

25. Walking hip shimmy 32 cts. (in square, 8 cts. each side, L foot leads)

26. Neck slide pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on L, 4 cts. on R)

27. Shoulder shimmy pose 8 cts. (4 cts. on L, 4 cts. on R)

28. Turn 8 cts. (from stage R to center stage)

29. Spin 16 cts. (in place, w/skirt edges up optional; reverse direction of Turn #28 above)


Finger Cymbal Pattern: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. 4/4 (Triple Time) R L R

1 2 3


1 2 3


1 2 3


1 2 3


1 2 3


1 2 3


1 2 3


1 2 3

2. Beledi R






3. Chiftitelli R












Raks Leyla



You can listen to a sample of “Raks Leyla” or purchase the MP3 download for .99¢ (cents).

You can check out the entire book, Learn to Belly Dance Textbook & Certification Program available at:



Please contact me before uploading your video:


Now is your time to join the Conversation! Comments, questions, concerns, controversy, rebuttals, tributes, blog suggestions, guest bloggers, etc., are all welcome!

How to win a Free Book?

George Abdo
George Abdo

The Vampire Dancer Saga: Part 4 –Dancing with Flair at the Fair 6/15/12

VampireDancer1A fictional tale of dances from the 1900s-2010s

Part 4: Dancing with Flair at the Fair, the 1930s

Alyce, the bastard child of Big Daddy Baker and Caroline Braden, loved to travel by train. She often travelled with her Uncle Sunny, who was a train porter while studying to be a pastor in seminary school.

Her favorite part of the train ride was meeting celebrities who travelled from New York to Los Angeles. On one stormy night she heard some strange “tapping” sounds. As it turned out, a famous dancer, Elly Powers was on her way to Hollywood from New York to film her latest movie. Elly would often practice tap dancing, in her private sleeping car on the train.Jitterbug3

Elly took a break from her tap dancing and went to the train’s dining car for a late snack. Alyce noticed her coming from the direction of the tapping sound. Alyce worked up the nerve to approach Ms. Powers to ask for her autograph. To her surprise, Ms. Powers was very down to earth and friendly. During the next few days on the train they would get together often to dance or have coffee in the Dining Car.

Alyce would show Elly some of her favorite Jitterbug dance moves. And Elly would show Alyce her favorite Tap and Hula moves.

Tap1They planned to take a day’s delay while in Chicago to attend the World’s Exposition, Chicago Fair of 1933.

They had fun at the Fair and saw some fantastic acts. Alyce was intrigued by a Fortune Teller. The Fortune Teller told Alyce that she was gifted with a great power. The power will activate on her 21st birthday. Alyce thought the Fortune Teller was a scam, but with her birthday coming up the next day, she got a strange feeling. The Fortune Teller also predicted that Alyce will have a great granddaughter (Taymar) that will “Dance Like the Egyptians” in 1993 in Chicago.Hula

Alyce laughed in her face and thought she was a fool for giving the Fortune Teller $1.00 during the Great Depression.

Alyce and Elly noticed that Little Egypt would be performing the “Danse du Ventre” soon at the fair. They were in the front row before the show started. A lot of people thought the dance was scandalous, but Alyce and Elly really enjoyed it.

After the show around 11:58 PM, Alyce felt faint, she had a vision of the future. She saw a young lady who resembled her family belly dancing in Rhonda4Chicago. But everything around the dancer looked strange. The people in the audience had small telephones in their hands. She noticed flashes from the phone, but wondered how could a camera be so tiny? The dancer’s costume looked similar to what Little Egypt wore, but showed more skin and had a lot more beads and jewels. Alyce decided not to tell Uncle Sunny, or he might threaten her with an exorcism.

The dancer seemed to look Alyce straight in the eyes as though she recognized her. At that moment Alyce felt something strange going on in her mouth. Her teeth felt sharp and a bit larger. Alyce looked in a nearby Belly1mirror and did not see her reflection.

Elly shrieked with joy and asked, Vampire?

Alyce smiled and replied, yes: “Meet me in St. Louis.”
For more Dance Gossip & Goodies, check out my book, "Learn to Belly Dance Textbook" available at and Barnes & Noble :




Now is your time to join the Conversation! Comments, questions, concerns, controversy, rebuttals, tributes, blog suggestions, guest bloggers, etc., are all welcome!

Don’t miss Part 5 (Dances of the 1940s) and Part 8 (Dances of the 1970s) coming soon.

What was your favorite dance or dancer from the 1930s?




Dancer Tribute: 11/18/11 Ashiya Ali (Lincoln, NE)

I have known Ashiya Ali (Lincoln, NE) for many years.  I remember going to workshops she sponsored in  Lincoln, NE and I enjoyed all of her workshop instructors and the dancers in her shows.  But Ashiya is also a dance TRAILBLAZER!  I can remember many moons ago when she did a FUTURISTIC dance in one of her shows!  That was unheard of back in the day, when most performers stuck to “safer” dances like Cabaret or Folkloric style.  Her dance really stood out because it was so different and so innovative.  Nowadays, many dancers are fusing other styles with Belly Dance.  But she was the first that I remember who was bold enough to do a dance that really stood out in the show!  She is an amazing dancer!