Quick & Easy

Sundae best

Sundae best: add quick toppings to ice cream for deliciously easy desserts - Food: Summer EntertainingIce cream means instant dessert. It waits in the freezer, always on call, ready to appear au naturel or dressed up for a celebration.

Date food

Date food: trick her into thinking you're a gourmet cook with this quick and easy mealBeef, like this filet mignon, is a great source of CLA--CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID--a type of good fat that has been shown in studies to help increase muscle mass and decrease levels of body fat.

Quick, healthy dishes

Quick, healthy dishes - recipesChicken and Vegetables With Penne makes a hearty one-dish meal. Note: To save time, prep foods-slice, dice and so on-as other items cook.

Go fish

Go fish: start with seafood for a quick, tasty dinner - WeeknightPutting a balanced meal on the table every night is a challenge when work and family compete for your attention. But eating well might be easier than you think--if you think fish. It cooks quickly and is a lean source of protein and iron.

Salad days

Salad days: rice chills out for an easy weeknight meal - Food: Quick CookThis salad is a simplified, lightened version of Richard Wong's original. Make your own seasoning sauce as directed here or, for a shortcut, use a purchased sauce such as his Chinablue Sesame Soy Sauce.


How Chocolate Is Made

Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, and cocoa beans come from the equatorial zones of South America. Cocoa is also grown in Africa, having been imported to that continent a long time ago. Outside of equatorial Africa and South America, the only place I know of that Cocoa is grown is in the Hawaiian Islands.

After harvesting, the beans are fermented. They are placed in large, shallow, heated trays. If the climate is right, they may simply be heated by the sun.

Workers come along periodically and stir them up so that all of the beans come out equally fermented. The first thing that commercial chocolate manufacturers do with cocoa beans is dry roast them. This develops the color and flavor of the beans to what our modern palates expect from chocolate. Cocoa nibs, as they are called consist of two important components, cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is basically fat, and the cocoa solids are essentially coarse cocoa powder. Separating the two is crucial to producing smooth, high quality chocolate candy.

After all, you can't stir up crumbled up cocoa beans with some sugar, press the mixture into a bar, and call it chocolate. There is one main process used today for getting the cocoa butter out of the cocoa solids. In the first, the cocoa nibs are converted into a non-alcoholic liquid called cocoa liquor. The liquor is then subjected to high pressure in a press to squeeze the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids. What remains is a cake of solid cocoa. The cocoa butter is further refined for later use in chocolate production, where it is added back to the refined cocoa powder.

Some cocoa butter also finds its way to the cosmetics industry. After pressing, the cocoa solids are taken from the cocoa press and ground to a fine powder. If the cocoa powder is destined to be made into chocolate candy, it is then combined with other ingredients. Dark, bittersweet chocolates are made by adding cocoa butter and sugar, at a minimum.

Milk chocolates add milk as well. Nearly all chocolates have some emulsifier to help the ingredients blend, as well as vanilla. The ingredients are mixed under heat into molten chocolate.

This goes into huge vats where it is "conched". To conch the chocolate, there are large smooth granite rollers in the vats that keep the mixture stirred and further grind the cocoa powder into extremely small bits. Some companies use smoother steel rollers which give their chocolate a very smooth, velvety feel. The longer the chocolate is conched the smoother it becomes.

Good chocolates are often conched for several days straight, while cheap mass produced chocolates may be conched for as little as 12 hours. Finally, the chocolate is poured into molds, and allowed to cool. It is then wrapped, shipped and sold for us all to enjoy.

Gregg Hall is a business consultant and author for many online and offline businesses and lives in Navarre Florida. For the finest chocolates go to

Health Food

How To Make Chipotle Chiles At Home - How To Make Chipotle Chiles At Home Americans who love the smoky taste and fiery bite of chipotles have recently been hit with high prices and a scarcity of product.

Strawberry Jammed Out - Latest news from the strawberry jam front - the tide of strawberries is advancing, threatening to engulf me in a wave of strawberries waiting to be processed, taking up whole shelves of the fridge, lurking in corners just when I thought I'd done the.

A perfect cup of coffee - There are several steps and many factors that help to create the perfect cup of coffee.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp - Thanks to the heart-healthy garlic and olive oil and the cayenne pepper in this recipe, it is a great, healthy recipe that works well as an appetizer or a main dish.

Knock Your Socks Off Brownie Recipe - Knock Your Socks Off brownie recipe, is a very fitting title unless you're not wearing socks.