Hostess Trifecta - Valentine's Dinner For Two

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary, Wine and Chocolate Sauce

Hostess Trifecta - Valentine's Dinner For Two

Today's blog is brought to you by Laurie..."The Gourmet"

I really love food. I revel in researching recipes, shopping for food, planning menus, and preparing meals for the people I love.  It's my gift to them.  My love of food started as a child, spending summers with my Grandma. (Now, there’s a woman who could cook). I became a bonafide grown-up “foodie” in 1998 when I was introduced to a little slice of heaven on earth, The Good Earth Cooking School..  

I'm mom to 3 hungry boys and have an awesome husband who is always willing to be my "food guinea pig." When I'm not cooking, which is rare, I work at a group insurance consulting firm.  Life is busy, but never too busy to experiment with new and exciting recipes.  

Here's a perfect recipe for Valentine’s Day – a meal made with love....and wine and chocolate. What could be better??  Serve with some lightly buttered, steamed green beans and roasted fingering potatoes and voila – a gourmet dinner for you and the ones you love.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Rosemary, Wine and Chocolate Sauce


2 lbs beef tenderloin roast
pinch of salt and pepper
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup chopped sweet onion
1 carrot and 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 cups of red wine
2 cups of beef broth
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1 bay leaf and 1 sprig of thyme
2 tbsp of cocoa powder
1 tbsp of fresh rosemary leaves
Season the meat with salt and pepper.  In a pan, heat half of the olive oil.  Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery and garlic.  Add the meat and sear until browned on all sided.  This will seal in the juices.  Transfer the meat to a baking sheet and bake at 425F for 30 minutes for medium rare. DO NOT OVERCOOK.
While the meat cooks, using the pan with the onion, carrots, celery and garlic mixture, add the wine, broth and tomato paste and cook over a medium-high heat.  Add the bay leaf and thyme and cook the liquid until it reduces to about ½ to ¾ of a cup or about 30 minutes.  Strain through a fine strainer.  Stir in the cocoa and rosemary with a bit more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with a couple slices of beef tenderloin.



Hostess Trifecta - A Treat For Your Valentine

This sweet treat whispers....love

Hostess Trifecta - A Treat For Your Valentine

Well, here I am…..one third of The Gourmet, The Baker and The Cocktail Shaker.  Why was I asked to fill in the role of Baker?  I can’t imagine it has anything to do with my natural love of baking.  Or perhaps it's because I own a 14.8 cu ft freezer filled to the brim with home baking which is often visited by friends who raid goodies from it.  Or is it that when friends and neighbourhood kids enter my house their first sentence is “What did you bake today?”  Or could it be that I play Santa every year and surprise a few lucky friends with a treasure chest full of it?  Regardless of the reason, here I am. I hope you enjoy the tips and recipes I have to share with you.  Here is one of my favourite desserts, perfect for Valentines Day. Enjoy! ~ Shelley

Chocolate Strawberry Mousse

½ cup shortening
3 squares unsweetened chocolate
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2/3 cup flour
½ tsp baking powder 

1 pkg (425 g) frozen sliced strawberries in syrup, thawed
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 cups whipping cream, divided

1. Base: Melt shortening and chocolate over low heat. Remove from heat and add sugar, vanilla and eggs. Mix well. Combine flour and powder. Add to chocolate mixture and blend well. Spread into a greased 9 inch spring form pan. Bake for 22 minutes at 350.

2. Drain strawberries but reserve liquid. Add enough liquid to the juice to make 1 ¼ cup. Combine gelatin and sugar in saucepan. Add liquid and lemon juice and bring to a boil until sugar has dissolved. Refrigerate for 1 ½ hours. Beat mixture on high speed of mixture until light. Beat 1 ¼ cups whipped cream and fold into gelatine mixture. Gently fold in drained, sliced strawberries and spread over chocolate base. Set overnight.

3. Whip remaining ¼ cup whip cream with ½ tsp vanilla, and 2 tbsp of powderedsugar. Put a dollop on each slice and decorate with a chocolate dipped strawberry.


Feeling Left Out Of The Party?

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to. But, I don't want to.

Feeling Left Out Of The Party?

sad statue

Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are a lot like a real life cocktail party. People meet, hang out and chat (wine may or may not be involved).  It’s “virtual mingling”. As Deborah, a friend on Twitter said, “Everyone’s invited to the party.”  And she’s absolutely right. Everyone IS invited, but just because we’re all there, it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone feels included. Nobody should be left out of the party – online or in real life.

Here are ten things to consider before you put on your party dress (these suggestions apply to both url and irl mingling):

1.    Shy can be misperceived at snotty. One of my closest friends is a tall, gorgeous woman who many consider to be cold and aloof upon first meeting. In reality, she’s kind, warm and wacky. She’s also painfully shy. I’m glad I took the time to get know the real her. Twenty years later, we’re still friends.

2.    Silence is sometimes golden. Especially if you don’t have something nice to say. If you simply must speak up, why not take up your cause in private?  There’s nothing festive about an angry mob.

3.    Don’t assume that just because someone is popular, they won’t talk to you. This fall I went to a blogging conference and I’m kicking myself for not gathering up the courage to speak to a particular blogger I really admire. Not only did I miss out getting to know her, I fear I came off as a snob. see point #1

4.    If someone reaches out to you, reach back. Acknowledge them. If they don’t respond, cut them some slack. You never know what else they might having going on in their lives.

5.    Though it’s comfortable to stick within your crowd, try to circulate. Some of my most real connections online and in life have been made OUTSIDE my comfort zone. But don’t spread yourself too thin. You don’t need to participate in every conversation at the party. Stick to the ones that mean something to you.

6.    We all put our foot in our mouths, call someone by the wrong name or unintentionally leave somebody out.  People aren’t generally hurtful on purpose. Give others the benefit of the doubt.

7.    You can't expect to enjoy the party if you don’t participate. You might be nervous, but like anything else, mingling takes practise.  Share information about yourself so that people can get to know you. And ask people questions. You'll be amazed at how much you have in common with other people.

8.    If you like what somebody is wearing or what they wrote or if you agree with a point they made, tell them. But don’t be fake. Be sincere.

9.  If you talk about something like a great event you attended, where others weren't invited...it can tick people off.  I know, high school may have been decades ago but, sometimes it feels like we're still walking the halls.  Ya know? I'm not saying you shouldn't share the fun moments, but just be aware that some conversations are best held in private. I know this from experience... from both sides.

10.  Be yourself. If people don’t like you for you...move on.

See you at the party! I'll be the one with onion dip on her pants and spinach in her teeth.

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/10280972@N04/1471909568">La soledad es de piedra/ Sorrow</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>