By Charlene Smith
Pine Bluffs Post staff 

Ode to Food: A Valentine’s Day treat


How do I love thee, let me count the ways. I love the scent of seasons mixed with melted butter. I love whipping egg whites with sugar to get fluff. I love how you fill my gut.

I love food.

I love my kids. Not the same way, of course. I could serve the kids up a serving of discipline, but never serve them up for dinner.

Today, the loneliest, er, most romantic day of the year, it’s difficult to decipher the different types of love.

Sort of like a novice in the kitchen trying to explain the difference between fresh garlic, minced garlic and garlic powder or salt. “Uh, they all make yer breath stink?” Not quite, Dracula.

Or a little girl talking to you about different chocolates in the Whitman Sampler. “One is sort of bland and then there are sweeter ones until I find the sweetest.” A bit better, Little Debbie.

However you describe or define your love of food, as I have said before, there are few better ways to show love for someone than by cooking or baking for them.

Let me help you whip up a few easy recipes for your adored one to melt over as they feel butterflies in their gut.

Garlic may not be the biggest fan of new love, but it can be the crush of a dish when used to season properly. And proper seasoning is the spice of life.

Shrimp Scampi

1 pound large (16-20 count) shrimp, shelled and de-veined, tail-on


3-4 garlic cloves, slivered, or 1 Tbsp minced garlic

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 Tbsp lemon juice

Heat a sauté pan on high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the olive oil and butter. Once the butter melts, foams up and subsides, add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté for a minute, or until you see the edges of some of the garlic just beginning to brown.

When the garlic is just brown, add the shrimp and the wine to the pan. Stir to combine and coat the shrimp with the butter, oil, and wine. Keep the shrimp in an even layer in the pan. Turn the heat up to high and let the wine boil vigorously for 2-3 minutes. Turn the shrimp over, or toss them so the cooked sides are mostly facing up, and boil the wine for another minute. Remove from the heat, add the parsley and toss to combine. Add the lemon juice and black pepper. Serve.

Bacon means love in the Midwest, right? I heard a comedian once say if it weren’t for bacon some foods wouldn’t have made it off the shelves. Any food is better wrapped in a little slice of loving bacon. Add a bit of butter, sour cream and cheese, and you have a tripped out tater to go gaga over.

Twice baked potato requires little effort and looks lovely on a dinner plate. For each person you are serving bake one large russet potato in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Take the potatoes out. Using a mitt or towel to hold, trim off the top of the potatoes to make a canoe-like shape. Keep the tops for later. Scoop out most of the potato into a bowl, but leave enough potato in the skin so the shells stay together. Mash the potato lightly with fork along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter and sour cream. Add two tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese and two tablespoons bacon bits. Stir in one finely chopped scallion, salt and pepper to taste. Season the skins with salt and pepper. Refill the shells with the potato mixture mounding it slightly. Sprinkle more cheese on top of the potato filling. Brush the reserved top with butter and season with salt and pepper. Set the potatoes and lids on a baking sheet, and bake until heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

You might be old enough to remember fondue pots. Back in their day, whole meals were built in pots of gooey cheese, hot oil and finished dipping chunks of cakes and fruit in warm chocolate. You might not fall in love over a heated pot of cocoa and sugar but the conversation and fun will go a long way to fan the flame.

Chocolate Fondue (recipe by

12 ounces of dark chocolate chips

8 ounces of heavy cream

A pinch of salt

Dippables such as strawberries, banana pieces cut into 1-inch chunks, pound cake, brownie pieces, pineapple, marshmallows

Warm the cream over moderate heat until tiny bubbles show and begins to lightly and slowly boil. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and full incorporated. Immediately transfer to a fondue pot heated at low or with a low flame, or serve straight from the pot. Arrange the dippables on a platter or plates around the chocolate pot. Use a fondue fork, bamboo skewer, seafood fork, or salad fork to dip the dippables into the hot melted cream chocolate mixture. Eat immediately.

If the fondue begins to feel a little stiff, add a tablespoon of heavy cream and stir. It will help it go a little longer. Eventually, it will cook down though and you may need to start a new pot.

Add a tablespoon or two of Bailey’s Irish Cream to the chocolate. Other liquors such as Grand Marnier, Amaretto, or Kirsch are equally yummy. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and ancho chili pepper for a nice Mexican Chocolate.

The contents of a vanilla pod or some vanilla extract are always a decadent touch to chocolate. A good pinch of espresso powder can do wonders. Orange zest or grapefruit zest is nice way to create a slightly fruity chocolate.


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