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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Savory Chocolate, who knew it could be so good?

So to round out our month of chocolate, we leave you with another savory dish.  Before you make the squiggy face, you don't actually taste the chocolate in this recipe, but the addition of chocolate adds a richness to the flavor of the sauce that is subtle and delectable.

We'll warn you up front that this is not a just-got-home-from-work-throwing-something-together dish.  Between prep and actual cooktime it takes about 4-4 1/2 hours to make, but it's well worth the effort.  The only hard thing about it is sitting around for the three hours its cooking while the aroma wafts around your kitchen.  Just saying, you have been warned.

Braised Chocolate Short Ribs
(serves 4-6)

1/3 cup thick sliced bacon, cut into small pieces (approx. 3 strips)
6 lbs bone-in beef short ribs
salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1-3/4 cups onions, diced
1/4 cup shallots, diced (or jarred, chopped in water)
1/3 cup celery, diced
1/3 cup carrots, peeled and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced (or 3 tsp jarred, minced)
2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, well drained
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp ground thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tbsp shaved (or grated) unsweetened chocolate (approx 1 baking block)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary

Cook bacon in a large pot until crispy. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside on a paper towels.

before and after

Sprinkle the short ribs with salt and pepper then sear in the pot with the bacon drippings for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove ribs and set aside on a plate.

Sauté the onions, shallots, celery, carrots and garlic in pot until onions are translucent and other vegetables are softened.

chop size and saute

Pour in the wine and bring the mixture to a boil for 5 minutes or until it’s reduced by about half. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot so any tasty brown bits stuck on the bottom get mixed in.

pre- and post-reduction

Reduce heat and add in broth, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, bacon bits and short ribs to the mixture. Stir well and cover, leave to cook over low heat for about 1-1/2 hours. Remove the lid and continue simmering for another 1-1/2 hours or until ribs are tender.

Remove ribs with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate. Remove the bay leaf from the sauce and spoon off any fat floating on the top. Bring the sauce to a boil for 8 minutes or until it begins to thicken.

you can see how much the meat has cooked down

Reduce heat to medium and add in chocolate, cocoa powder and rosemary. Cook and stir until chocolate melts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

chocolate shaved with paring knife and baking blocks

Add ribs back into pot and cook until heated through and then serve.

The meat will have a pot roast-like consistency, tender and ready to fall off the bone.  Trust us, you can cut it with a butter knife, and the flavor is awesome.

We served the short ribs with fresh steamed green beans and a combination of roasted potatoes and carrots.  A nice thick peasant bread would be a tasty addition if you're looking for something to soak up the sauce with.


The entire dish was cooked using one pot.  You want to make sure it's a deep one so that when you finally add everything in, you have plenty of space.

We seared the ribs in small batches because 6 lbs wouldn't fit in all at one time.  Six pounds of short ribs is going to look like a lot, but the meat cooks down to almost half it's original size during the process so don't be intimidated by the amount.

The ribs should have some nice red meat on them, but also be layered with some nice fatty sections.  For those who don't already know, fat = flavor.  The fat will cook down as well as the meat and produce another rich undertone to your sauce.

You can use any red wine you'd like, but we prefer to go with a heartier red variety.  A nice burgundy would be another good option.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Chocolate Trifle = GOOOD!

Are you ready for a tasty dessert that takes pretty much no prep time, and very few ingredients? We thought so. Below is a basic trifle recipe (exchanging the normal sponge cake for a chocolate cake) that can be easily changed based on taste (and/or what is in your pantry).

Easy Chocolate and Pineapple trifle

Your favorite chocolate cake, cooled and cubed into 1/2-1 inch cubes
1- pkg. of vanilla pudding, made according to package
1 - 20 oz can of crushed pineapple in juice, drained, with juices reserved
1 tub of cool whip

Layer cake cubes in the bottom of a clear glass or bowl (if you're not worried about presentation, just use any glass or bowl).  Drizzle the cake cubes with pineapple juice to moisten.

Layer ½ - 1 inch of pudding over the cake.

Layer ½ - 1 inch of crushed pineapple over the pudding.

Layer cool whip over the top of the pineapple.

Top with chocolate chips.

Now eat!!

Cake notes:

We started with a cake mix, and instead of adding all the eggs and oil that the box called for, we simply added a small can of pumpkin. Bake as directed. This ups the fiber content, and lowers the fat and calorie.

You will most likely have cake left over. Put it in a freezer bag and you can use it for future recipes.

Pudding notes:

Portioning out the pudding was easy, we used an individual pudding cup instead of making a full batch of pudding (this is helpful if you only plan on making one or two trifles)

Presentation notes:

You can use a large trifle bowl and continue adding layers of ingredients until it is filled. This is good if you’re running short on time (or glasses) and have a bunch of hungry people waiting for dessert.

We found that martini glasses worked really well for a one layer trifle (both for presentation and individual portion).

Somewhere in the world there are individual trifle dishes (we are kicking ourselves for not having bought them when we found them). If you find them, you should get them!

Trifle notes:

Change up your flavors by using different cake, different fruit, and different puddings.

If you're feeling feisty, instead of using the pineapple juice to moisten the cake, use some flavored alcohol.

Get really fancy by make pudding from scratch, using fresh fruit, and whipping up some heavy cream, flavoring it with sugar and extract (or liquor) of your choice.

If you want to make Rachel Green’s version of trifle, add in a layer of sautéed beef, peas and onions (that’s right, we went old school and made a Friends reference)!!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Starting the Day Off Right

So here’s a little twist on a breakfast classic, though if you’re like us, the breakfast for dinner is also a favorite way to go.

Chocolate French Toast

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup chocolate syrup
Baguette, thickly sliced
Pat of butter

The basic recipe calls for thick-sliced baguette, but you can substitute any kind of specialty bread you’d like, for example, Texas toast, batard, or whole wheat loaf. In this instance we used a honey brown bread which added another level of flavor.

Lightly beat the egg, milk and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

Mix in the chocolate syrup. Dip the slices in the mixture until well soaked.

Melt the butter in a hot skillet, then add in the soaked bread slices.

Cook the bread slices 2-3 minutes per side until egg sets and they are a golden brown. Serve immediately.

We highly recommend that you offset the sweet with some fluffy scrambled eggs and turkey sausage (at least that’s what we’d do).

What’s nice about this is that the chocolate taste is subtle and not overwhelming so the chance of an all-out sugar coma is minimized…of course that could change completely depending on your relationship with syrup.

Couple of notes

We didn't have any chocolate syrup handy, but we did find some leftover fondue in the fridge.  To make it into a syrup we simply heated it up til it was a thick liquid and then added cream until we got it to a syrupy consistency.

If you wanted to go all out chocolate on this dish, use the chocolate syrup instead of maple to drizzle over the French Toast and, just for good measure, add a dollop of whippped cream to the stack. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Chili for the Chocolate Lover

Chocolate chili??? Don’t be scared, chocolate CAN actually be used in a savory setting (and believe it or not, it’s actually quite tasty).

You can taste the chocolate in this chili, but it doesn’t overwhelm the dish (it doesn’t even seem weird that there’s chocolate in there). Our favorite part of making this was smelling it when the chocolate was added at the end. Try it, you’ll see what we mean.

Savory Chocolate Chili

Olive Oil
1 medium onion
3 cloves garlic
2 chipotle peppers, canned in adobo sauce
1 ½ tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. chili powder
½ tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
15 oz can pinto beans
15 oz can dark kidney beans
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
14-oz can vegetable broth
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate

Chop your onion, and mince your garlic and chipotle peppers.

Drain and rinse your pinto and kidney beans (you can keep them in a colander over the sink until you're ready to use them).

Heat olive oil, on medium heat, in a dutch oven. Add onion, garlic and chipotles to the oil. Stir until the onions are translucent.

Add the rest of the ingredients except for the chopped chocolate (hold until end). Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until broth has thickened up a bit.

While you're waiting for the chili to thicken, chop your unsweetened chocolate (don't be tempted to take a bite, unsweetened chocolate on it's own, not so good).

Remove the chili from heat and stir in your chopped chocolate.

If you want, garnish with green onions and sour cream.


- If you want, add some meat to make this a non-vegetarian chili. You’ll add it with the onion, garlic and chipotle.
- Adjust the heat by adding less or more chipotles, or even add in some hot sauce.
- Adjust the seasoning to taste. After you’ve added your chopped chocolate, taste and re-spice if you want!
- Add a little more color with a red, orange, or yellow pepper. If you do, add this in when you sauté the onion mixture.
-Serve this with a salad with a citrus vinaigrette and a nice slice of cornbread! 

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dinner for One

Well, the day is here. That’s right, it’s Valentine’s day. We’ve featured romantic meals for both vegetarian and non vegetarians and just to make sure we cover our bases, for all those parties of one out there, we've got a menu suggestion for you on this special day.

Don’t worry fellow singles (that’s right, here at TCC we do understand the pain of this day as a single person), whether you are celebrating SAD (Singles Awareness Day -- like we're not aware of it already so we need a day to point it out) or just trying to avoid the saccharin infusion of love in the air by staying home, here's a caution-to-the-winds dinner suggestion you might like to try out.

Party of One Valentine’s menu:

Buffalo wings
Onion Rings
Chocolate Cake and Special Valentine’s Cookies

Buffalo Wings:

Phone number for you favorite wings shop
Car to get you to and from the restaurant (alternatively, you can get delivery)
Celery sticks (be sure to throw these away, healthy green stuff is not necessary)
Blue cheese or Ranch dressing for dipping

Call the restaurant and order a dozen wings. We mixed it up by ordering half mild wings and half sweet chili style wings.

While you’re on the phone, go ahead and order your onion rings as well (this is a real time saver)

Go pick them up (or wait for them to be delivered)


-The best thing about eating wings at home, you can be as messy as you want to be. You don't even need a plate! Dive in and enjoy without having to worry about how you look when you're done.

Onion Rings:

See steps above for wings

Horseradish dipping sauce:

1 part horseradish
2 parts ketchup
½ part mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together. Adjust to taste.


-We do suggest you eat the rings right away, cold onion rings is definitely not the way to go.
- For the sauce, if you want your breath to be particularly foul add more horseradish, if you still want you pets to hang out with you, cut back on the horseradish some.

Choco-Choco Cake:

Bake up your favorite chocolate cake recipe.

After the cake cools, slather it with your favorite chocolate icing.

- If you want to go the box route, both Pillsbury and Dunkin Hines have really good mixes.
- The secret to making a box cake turn out fluffy and light is to beat it in your mixer for 5-7 minutes longer than it calls for on the box. This adds extra air to your batter and will result in a nice light cake.

Homemade chocolate icing:

1 stick of butter
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Melt butter in the microwave, add corn syrup and chocolate chips, stirring until chips are melted.

Put in fridge for 30 minutes, or until icing has firmed up (be careful, if you keep it refrigerated to long, it will turn into a block of chocolate. If this happens, stick the bowl in the microwave at 20 second intervals until it’s soft enough to whip)

Whip with a handheld or stand mixer until light and fluffy (icing will change from a dark brown to a lighter brown color).

End This Conversational Hearts Cookies:

4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 sticks butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla

Mix butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla, and continue to beat for 2 minutes.

Stir in baking powder and salt.

Add flour in slowly and mix until just incorporated.

Divide dough into three portions. Flatten each portion into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour.

Preheat oven to 325.

Bring one disk of dough to room temperature (takes about 10 minutes). Roll dough between two sheets of plastic wrap (this helps keep your counter clean, and keeps from having to add more flour to your mix). Dough should be about ½ inch thick after rolling.

Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to cut shapes.

Transfer to a plastic wrapped covered pan, and place into the freezer until hard.

Place hardened cookies onto a parchment covered baking sheet, and bake for 15-18 minutes, rotating pan about half way through baking.

Cool and ice with your favorite royal icing recipe (see notes for icing recipe links).

Using a really small pastry piping cone, we decorated our hearts with a couple of choice words or sayings, just for fun, of course (really...but not really).


- If you've never made a pastry cone before, here's a handy how-to link with photos and instructions:
- We used wax paper to make ours, works just as well as parchment paper.
- Royal icing is relatively simple, egg whites (or meringue powder), confectioners sugar, extract and water. Below are some links to different icings: (this is the one we used, with the addition of some water for thinning the icing down) (great link, Ms. Humble goes step by step with how to decorate, as well as giving her basic recipe for royal icing)

So there you go, a tasty treat fest for one...who needs company to have a good eatin' time? Whether you are kickin' it solo today or hanging with your better half, we hope you have a fun and Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dinner for Two Version 2 – Vegs

And now, for all those romantic vegetarians out there, here’s a menu designed especially for you.

MON PETIT CHOU Chou Menu for Two

* Mini Tray of Grapes and Fancy Cheeses

* Parmesan Polenta with Saucy Rustic Vegetables

* Strawberry Mousse with Meringue and Chocolate-covered Strawberries

Okay, this menu may sound simple, and it is fairly simple to make, but it’s packed full of flavor. K2’s dad, who is the most meat-and-potatoey of meat-and-potato people we know, went back for seconds on the main course. We call that a job well done.
Mini Tray of Grapes and Fancy Cheeses

For our cheeses we chose fresh mozzarella, sharp Vermont cheddar, and a petite wedge of brie because these are some of our favorites. You can team up any variety of cheeses for your tray – goat cheese, Havarti, Gouda, Jack, etc. There are so many great cheeses to choose from.

We recommend you stick to two or three cheeses at most and that you don’t do all strong or all mild because having contrasting flavors adds a nice variety to your plate. And you definitely want to pass on the more pungent cheeses, ‘cuz c’mon, this is supposed to be a romantic dinner; stinky cheese breath might not be the way to go (unless you like that, we’re not here to judge…though we might).

We paired our cheeses with purple grapes, mostly because the grocery store was out of green. If you haven’t tried them before (and can find them), you should check out champagne grapes. They are eensy and cute and very, very tasty. They have a nice crisp refreshing flavor and face it, they are just plain adorable! Yes, adorable grapes is our recommendation.

And finally, we tossed some pecans halves on the tray. The crunch they provide will add another layer of texture to your dish.

Grapes and cheese make for a nice light-tasting start to the meal. Here again we decided to bookend our dinner with lighter fare because of the heavy main course.
Parmesan Polenta with Saucy Rustic Vegetables

We got two words for you – Yum Mee!

Parmesan Polenta

1 cup cornmeal (either white or yellow, we used white)
1 tsp salt
4 cups water
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (we used store bought, but you can upgrade)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
Dash of hot sauce (Texas Pete or Tabasco)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray

Grease an 8 x 8 baking pan (we used a glass one).

In a mixing bowl combine cornmeal, 1 cup of cold water, and salt.

Bring the remaining 3 cups of water to a rolling boil and stir in the cornmeal mixture.

Stirring constantly, bring the mixture back to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in the cheese. Stirring frequently, let the mixture simmer for 20-30 minutes until it becomes very thick.

Spoon the mixture into the baking pan, spread out evenly then refrigerate at least 4 hours before cutting.

If you want to experiment and change the flavor then change the seasoning. The recipe is pretty inexpensive and easy to make, so it’s a good one to experiment with. Have fun with it.

Saucy Rustic Vegetables

1 zucchini, rough diced
1 yellow squash, rough diced
1 carrot, rough diced
6 oz. jar artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
14 oz can petit diced tomatoes, drained
11 oz can tomato puree (can use flavored)
1/2 -1 tsp crushed red pepper
Olive oil
To season – salt, pepper, marjoram, basil, oregano, thyme, Italian seasoning blend, and/or garlic salt

What do we mean by rough diced? It just means we’re not looking to win a beauty. We’re going for a chunky, hearty feel to the sauce so we don’t want everything to be the same size.

Reduce the tomato puree by letting it boil over medium-high heat. Leave it to reduce for about 8-10 minutes. Make sure to stir every couple minutes so the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan

In a deep skillet sauté the carrots with a dash of olive oil for about 2 minutes. Add in garlic, cook for another minute then add in the chopped zucchini and yellow squash. Continue to cook about 3-4 minutes over high heat.

You only want the veggies to cook slightly, leaving them al dente ("crunchy") makes the sauce a nice contrast to the softer, squoogier polenta.

Reduce heat to medium and add in diced tomatoes, artichokes hearts, tomato puree reduction, and crushed red pepper.

Season to taste.

Yep, we’re leaving that to you, training wheels are off. But don’t worry, doesn’t matter what spice combination you put in (from the list above), it’s going to be good. If you’re crazy about basil, chuck it in there. If you’re an oregano addict, then go nuts. Thyme, it’s on your side. Here’s where you can make this sauce your own and season it to your liking. If you are feeling a bit nervous about going it on your own, just take it in baby steps. Add just a bit at a time then taste it. Keep going until you find a flavor combo you like. We know you can do it, champ! (insert cheesy thumbs up here)

For all the non-vegs out there, you can meat this up with some Italian sausage or pancetta, but it’s still pretty filling without it.

Let the veggies simmer while you prepare the Parmesan Polenta triangles for serving.


Cut the polenta into large triangles (right triangles, not isosceles or scalene, though you could probably make those work too). Only fry up what you plan to use, the boiled polenta will keep for several days.

In pre-heated skillet over medium-high heat, cook the polenta on each side for 3-4 minutes until it has a nice light golden color and is crispy to the touch.

Be careful when flipping the polenta and when removing from the skillet, the edges get a wee bit fragile (experience talking).

Set the triangle upright on your serving plate and ladle the saucy vegetables over and around the bottom. Top with shredded mozzarella or parmesan and serve.
Strawberry Mousse with Meringue and Chocolate-covered Strawberries

Strawberry Mousse

True confessions – this is a genuine faux mousse recipe, but just as satisfying as the real thing.

2 vanilla pudding snack packs
4 oz cool whip (half a regular size container)
1/4 cup strawberry puree (fresh or frozen) or strawberry preserves

Mix until well blended well. Serves 4 (like you were only going to have one dessert).


2 egg whites, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven on to 375° – this is a must for this recipe.

Beat egg whites until the hold peaks then gradually add in the sugar.

Add in vanilla and continue beating until mixture is very stiff.

Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet or sheet lined with parchment paper.

Put meringue in oven, close the door, and turn oven off.

Leave in oven for several hours (at least 3-4) or overnight.

We used a decorator’s tip for making leaves to create the fern-like meringue. You can simply make drops or if you want something with more shape and don’t have a pasty bag, put the meringue mixture in a zip lock bag, snip off one corner and squeeze the mixture out to make puffy lines or squiggles or hearts. If you make shapes, just remember to handle gently because there is a bigger chance of breakage.

Chocolate-dipped Strawberries

We used Candi-Quik dipping chocolate, but you can use melt chocolate chips to dip your berries in.

We experimented and found that using frozen fresh strawberries is not the way to go. Yes, the chocolate hardens faster, but the strawberry becomes very squishy and not very delectable (though the chocolate coating is still very good).

Use wax paper or parchment paper to put your dipped berries on. They are easy to peel off the paper and you won’t have to pry them off a plate.
And there you go, a little something for all our eaters out there. Hope this helps get those romantic idea wheels turning. Bon appetit!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dinner for Two Version 1 – Meat

As everyone is aware, there’s a special little holiday looming on the horizon. As a break away from the traditional bear, chocolate and roses, we thought you might consider putting together a romantic homemade dinner for two. Nothing says love like hovering over a hot stove. So this week, we’ve got two meal suggestions for you – today’s post is for the meat lovers out there and then on Wednesday, we’ll have something for the vegetarians among us. We’re going with a simple three-course meal – appetizer, main course with two sides, and dessert.

Menu for Two

* Spicy Shrimp Cocktail

* Pepper-crusted Filet Mignon with a Honey-Dijon-Horseradish Sauce, served with Steamed Sugar Snap Peas and Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower

* Raspberry Shortcake with Chocolate Biscuits and Chambord-flavored Whipped Cream


Spicy Cocktail Sauce

1 cup ketchup
2 tsp horseradish
2 tbsp lemon juice (we recommend fresh)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Texas Pete (or your favorite hot pepper sauce)
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh-cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, stir to blend well. (Sauce will keep for up to a week if covered and refrigerated.)

Boiled Shrimp

In a pot of boiling water, add 1 bay leaf, some fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Drop raw, shelled shrimp into pot and cook until pink (approx. 2-3 minutes). Remove, rinse and set in the refrigerator to cool. Peel all but the tail before serving.

We cut a small nick in the shrimp to make it sit neatly on the edge of the serving dish. Serve with fresh lemon slices.



Pepper-crusted Filet Mignon

2 6-oz filets
2 tsp. pepper blend*

*For the pepper blend, you can buy pre-made pepper blends or make your own mix with any combination of fresh-cracked black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, pink pepper, or green pepper. We mix at least three types, but you don’t have to. We do highly recommend that you have some fresh-cracked pepper as well as powdered to add a texture, as well as a taste, difference.

Trim any excess fat from the filets. Rub each side with the pepper blend.

In a hot skillet over high heat, cook the filets on each side until sealed.

Drop the temperature to medium and continuing cooking on each side until you reach the desired temperature. If you’re not sure how to tell what the consistency is, here’s a handy way to do it:


Trust us, this works. Once your meat is cooked, remove from skillet and let it relax for a few minutes.

Steak gets very tense when you cook it, so if you let it sit for a few minutes before serving the meat will be nice and tender and still very moist when you cut it.

Honey-Dijon-Horseradish Sauce

1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp Dijon mustard (or your favorite brown mustard)
1 tbsp horseradish

Mix the three together in a small bowl until well blended.

You can vary the amounts depending on your taste. If you want a sweeter sauce, go heavier on the honey. If you enjoy a tear or two during dinner, go crazy with the horseradish (and for those aficionados out there, use actual horseradish, not horseradish sauce as the latter is much milder in taste).

Drizzle over the filet or make each of you your own small dish with made-to-order sauce.

Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

Fresh snap peas (amount depends on how much you need for two)

In double-pot steamer, steam snap peas until tender, but still slightly crunchy (about 5-10 minutes). Rinse briefly to stop cooking and serve.

Because snap peas are so sweet and have such great flavor on their own, we serve them plain without salt or pepper, but you can season to taste.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower

1 sweet potato
1/3 head of cauliflower
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Cut the sweet potato into medium-sized cubes. Break the cauliflower apart into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients until the two vegetables are well-coated.

Rub a light coating of olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish and pour the veggie mix onto. Bake at 450° for about 30 minutes stirring often.

Once the sweet potatoes are cooked through and the cauliflower has touches of brown color on it, put the oven on broil and let them cook another 5-10 minutes to give them extra color.


Raspberry Shortcake with Chambord-flavored Whipped Cream

Fresh raspberries
Chocolate biscuits
Chambord-flavored Whipped Cream
Chocolate glaze

Slice chocolate biscuit in half. Brush the bottom half with the chocolate glaze.

Cover the bottom half with a generous helping of whipped cream.

Place fresh raspberries on whipped cream.

Prop top half of biscuit at a rakish angle, then drizzle with the chocolate glaze.

Add a dollop of whipped cream next to your creation and top with a raspberry. Enjoy.

Chocolate Biscuits

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup light cream

Heat oven to 425° F.

Thoroughly mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa, and salt in a bowl, then gradually add the cream, mixing with a spoon until mixture holds together.

Lightly knead dough on a lightly floured board for about one minute. Spread out with a rolling pin to about 3/4 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter.

Place onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes.

You may need to add a bit more flour or cream depending on how the mix comes together and the weather, yes weather. Because we were baking on a day after a week of snow and rain, there was still enough moisture in the air to make our dough sticky so we added more flour.

Chambord-flavored Whipped Cream

1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
Chambord or raspberry liqueur, to taste

In a chilled bowl, whip cold cream until stiff. Add in liqueur to taste. If it whipped cream gets too thin, add in some powdered sugar and re-whip to thicken. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Chocolate Glaze

2 tbsp Powdered sugar
1 tsp cream or water
1 tsp cocoa
Chambord or raspberry liqueur, to taste (optional)

With a small whisk, mix ingredients together until thick, but still runny (may have to adjust amounts).


We’d like to make a shout out to k2’s parents who so willingly allowed themselves to be our romantic dinner guinea pigs (and provided the big ticket ingredients so we could do so).

Just a note for our local followers – if you are ever interested in being TCC guinea pigs and don’t mind providing or supplementing for supplies, just let us know because we would love to work something out.


One of the things to keep in mind as you plan your meal is that if your main course is a heavier fare, like beef or pork, you’ll want to bookend it with lighter dishes so that you don’t put your sweetie into a food coma when all is said and done. Alternately if you choose a lighter main dish, like fish or chicken, you can start and end with something a bit more substantial.

Try to vary your main course in both color and texture. For example, we used steamed snap peas which offer a nice bright green to offset the browns and oranges, as well as provide a little crunchy element to the plate. For that reason, we recommended steamed or stir-fried vegetables.

When you plan your meal, try to envision what it will look like on the plate together, you don’t want it all the same shape or color or height.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Vive le Chocolat!

So here we are, February, the month of l'amore and roses and CHOCOLATE! Over the next couple of weeks we’re going to focus on just that, the chocolate that is.  And not just the sweet stuff, we’ve got a couple of savories to throw your way as well.

To kick things off we've got a fun chocolate dish to share (not necessary, but highly recommended) – fondue. Who doesn't love fondue, it’s easy to make and, once again, any time you can put food on a stick it’s a party just waiting to happen.

Simply Wonderful Chocolate Fondue

24 oz. milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks
10 oz. half-n-half or a light cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Heat all the ingredients in a pan over medium-low heat until blended and smooth (once it’s melted, add in chips or cream as necessary to reach the desired consistency).

Transfer to a fondue pot and continue heating over Sterno (chafer fuel).

Stab yummy things on a fork and dip.

What? You were expecting it to be more difficult? Yeah, it’s dangerously easy. (In a stage whisper: "hey, you don’t really even need a fondue pot to eat fondue, just hover around the stove dipping poked things in the pot and you’ll be fine…but you never heard that from us" wink, wink.)

Tasty things to dip:

Fresh fruit – strawberries, orange sections, apple slices, tangerine sections, seedless grapes, pineapple chunks, peach slices, cherries, banana chunks

Dried fruit – apricots, apples, pineapple, mango

Baked goods – angel food cake squares, pound cake squares, short dough cookies, pretzels, brownie bites, Rice Krispies treats

Misc – marshmallows, small caramels, mini popcorn balls, your finger

This recipe will produce a nice basic chocolate fondue, but if you want to jazz it up a bit, here are some variations you can play with.

* Vary the chocolate by using white chocolate, dark chocolate, butterscotch, or (during the winter holidays) mint chocolate chips in lieu of milk chocolate or semi-sweet chips.

* Add a couple of teaspoons of your favorite liqueur like Grand Marnier, Kirsch, or Crème de Menthe.

* Make it a mocha by adding powdered instant coffee or a shot of expresso.

* For the Reese’s fans out there, melt a tablespoon or two of peanut butter into the chocolate mix (this combo works especially well with bananas – ooh la yummy!).

* Add in some chopped peanuts, walnuts or pecans.