Posts Tagged ‘chocolate’


Inflammation Fighting Foods

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 by Lisa

I am sure that I am not the only person that finds starting a new diet challenging – the knowing we need to is not the hard part, it really is in ‘the getting started’.

I was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, and so have needed to start, by necessity, to consider doing things a little differently. I have been ‘a work in progress’ indeed, and the need for constant medication is not the route I want to choose over the longer term.  My body also has a tendency towards inflammation, and this has not helped. What has helped is the guidance of my rheumatologist and also a conversation many months ago with Shelley (Owner/Founder of The Chopping Block) – that diet can make a difference.

Today I chose to ‘get started’.

During my lunch break I looked at food choices that actually work to fight inflammation – and there is a multitude of sources available to consult. Although not all make the exact same recommendations, there is considerable overlap in the topic generally.

After much reading, what I found very helpful was a visual – Dr. Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid. This really captured so perfectly much of the reading I had been doing.














I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was already practicing many of the recommendations such as fatty fish (what’s not to love about sardines?), low fat dairy, dark leafy greens, whole grains and nuts. Where I could do better – wine (more red, less white; that I can do!), soy (not sure on this one; edamame all day long yes, the salt on it is a

Ginger & Turmeric (Photo Courtesy of

Ginger & Turmeric (Photo Courtesy of

NO!), ginger and turmeric (love them both – need to find some fabulous recipes that will incorporate them well). Oh, and how could I forget chocolate – thrilled to see it at the top, and probably not with the caramel center or toffee chips in it that I love.

One of the things I am most excited about is adding tart cherries into my diet – starting with some tart cherry juice. The key is that it must be tart – not just a luscious, sweet cherry or its juice!

Photo Courtesy of

Photo Courtesy of














This has me pondering, very fleetingly, if a Cherry Ripe would work – and I know the answer already. This beloved, chocolate coated Australian candy, from Cadbury will not do the trick.






Today I am armed with a little more information than I started with, a quick list to take home and a better connection to what is possible with some relatively straight forward changes in the way I choose to eat, and cook.  It has also given me an incentive to look at how to incorporate these concepts into a full meal – and I am loving  that The Chopping Block has just the class for me – “Fresh Start” – which sums it up beautifully.

Since joining The Chopping Block in February of 2010 as Sales Manager of Private and Corporate Events, Lisa has truly been able to indulge her passion for all things food. Growing up in Australia, surrounded by family orchards in a rich rural farming community, she is an especially firm believer in supporting the dairy farmers, enjoying all things cheese related. When not working with her team to plan events and welcome guests, she enjoys gathering friends around her dining table at home, grilling outdoors, trying her hand at a range of classes at The Chopping Block, traveling and reading.


It’s One of a Kind Show Time

Saturday, December 6th, 2014 by Jennifer

I live for the One of a Kind Show. For four days, I get a break from traditional retail as I wander through booths showcasing over 600 talented artists work. Each year I treat myself to one special something for myself. Last year, it was a pair of rose earrings and the year before a beautiful black and white print which is now framed and hanging in my living room. I also take care of a TON of holiday shopping! This year I have at least four people on my list I know will love something unique, and as one of a kind as they are!














Did I mention The Chopping Block has a booth there as well? Basically, we set up shop and feature not only our fun holiday tea towels and accessories but our favorite one of a kind ingredients as well. You can find us in the Gourmet Aisle sampling out our house-made Holiday Cocoa Mix which our chefs make and package just for you! There’s a ‘To and From’ label on the front so it makes a perfect stocking stuffer. Pair this with our chocolate chip or peppermint stuffin’ marshmallows and you have the perfect gift.

Chocolate Mallow

Pep Mellow













We will also be sampling our Jalapeno Gold Candied Jalapenos. Now I’m not really a spicy food person, but these candied jalapenos are the perfect balance of sweet heat. I have served them on a crostini with cream cheese. I also put them in my Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread every time I make it. The possibilities are endless with these bad boys.

Candied Jalepenos









Stop by our store on the first floor of the Mart for more samples, great gift ideas and tons of fun. We’ll be hosting a Chocolate & Wine reception tonight from 4pm-6pm, so join us on your way up to the show or as you leave. Sweets and vino? Sounds like the perfect shopping combo to me!



Jennifer Rozman is the General Manager of The Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart location. Her favorite part of her job is sharing her cooking journey with others who are just beginning to explore the culinary world. When she's not taking a cooking class or researching her latest gourmet retail selection, you can find her working off all of the delicious treats the chefs share at hot yoga or on the tennis courts, when weather permits. Dining out at a restaurant she's never tried before is how she rewards herself, as she loves trying new things and celebrating others passions.


Put it on a Stick

Thursday, September 4th, 2014 by Jennifer

I just returned from my favorite place in the entire world. You guessed it – the Minnesota State Fair! Each year, they introduce something new, and this year was no different. Their ability to put almost anything on a stick never seizes to amaze me.

Let’s start with my personal favorite this year, and I have to admit I did not see this coming: Deep Fried Buckeyes on a Stick. What’s that? A sweet, creamy peanut butter ball coated in chocolate, dipped in funnel cake batter, deep-fried, dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served with a strawberry sauce. It was warm, gooey goodness that my boyfriend literally had to fight me for just to get a bite.




















Now, for my favorite classic. I return to the State Fair year after year for these bad boys, and it is undoubtedly the first stand I stake out every visit. Now a lot of places ‘do’ cheese curds, but no one, and I mean no one does them like the Mouse Trap at the State Fair. They are all cheese and very little batter. Crispy, salty grease filled bundles of pure joy.




















While I managed to personally enjoy a pronto pup on a stick, cheese curds, buckeye on a stick, Italian beef on a stick and a bucket of Sweet Martha’s Chocolate Chip cookies, I did not have the capacity to try the other new bites featured this year like ‘Chicken in the Waffle,’ ’Caribbean Style Lobster Roll’, and ‘Beer Gelato.’ I did take a picture of the ‘Spaghetti and Meatballs’ on stick to send to my boyfriend’s very Italian mother to which she responded, ‘Authentic – I’m sure. ;)’















All in all the fair was a huge hit, as always. I encourage anyone who has a State Fair near or far to venture out because you never know what you’re going to discover!

The Chopping Block loves to put food on a stick as well. In our Street Food class, our Kofta Kebabs are skewered. In Thrill of the Grill, we make Spicy Coconut-Glazed Shrimp. In Beef on the Grill, you’ll enjoy Cumin-Spiced Beef, Onion and Pepper Kebabs with Chimichurri and Couscous. Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce is one of the stars of Vegetarian Thai, and Mix and Mingle Appetizer Party features Fresh Mozzarella Marinated with Artichokes and Roasted Red Peppers.

What’s your favorite fair fare?

Jennifer Rozman is the General Manager of The Chopping Block's Merchandise Mart location. Her favorite part of her job is sharing her cooking journey with others who are just beginning to explore the culinary world. When she's not taking a cooking class or researching her latest gourmet retail selection, you can find her working off all of the delicious treats the chefs share at hot yoga or on the tennis courts, when weather permits. Dining out at a restaurant she's never tried before is how she rewards herself, as she loves trying new things and celebrating others passions.


Pairing Perfection: Why Beer Pairs Better than Wine

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 by Mike

ScordatosThe Chopping Block is celebrating Chicago Craft Beer Week with different beer-focused classes, including last Friday’s “He Said, She Said: Food & Beer Pairing Dinner”.  The evening featured five courses demonstrated by Chef Mario Scordato, while his wife, Stephanie, a certified Cicerone, poured and discussed five expertly aligned brews.

As someone lucky enough to get one of the last seats, it was the perfect way to start #CCBW and I learned an interesting fact, with which wine people will probably disagree.  Beer pairs better with food than wine (gasp). I know, but it’s true.

Take a minute and let that sink in… don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Beer can complement or contrast and even prepare your tongue for a brand new bite each time thanks to carbonation. When is the last time a big, bold Bordeaux gave your taster a scrubbing between each mouthful?

All that remains from that delicious meal is a recipe packet with a few giddy notes about how “I must go to Penrose immediately” and “Tonnato is the greatest thing I have never tasted”.  So needless to say, pictures were not happening as the dishes rolled out. I was more interested in being in the moment with exceptionally balanced food and beer.

Here’s the menu with the pairings:

I would be happy to discuss further with anyone who has questions… that’s what the comment section is for.

Sweet Pea and Pecorino Crostini – Penrose P2

–          Fresh taste of spring that complimented the fresh, slightly tart flavors of the P2 (which was fresh from the tap and served out of a Growler).

Ricotta Gnocchi with Leeks, Fried Lemon & Fava Beans – Metropolitan Krankshaft Kolsch

–          The crisp, clean citrus notes in the Kolsch enhanced the seasonal flavors of this dish.  The beer emphasized the lemon while reinforcing the light, fluffy nature of the ricotta “pillows” as Chef Mario called them.

Pork Tenderloin with Arugula Salad and Tonnato Dressing – Solemn Oath Whisper Kisses

–          “Whisper Kisses” has a great/creepy origin story for the name and I will leave it at that.  Tonnato sauce can be seen in a similar light.  However, both when tried are outstanding, and I would recommend giving each their fair shot if you ever have the chance to indulge in either.

Herb-Crusted Lamb Chops with Crispy Artichokes & Wild Mushrooms – Two Brothers Cane & Ebel

–          The lamb was rich, earthy and comforting, and begging for the roasted, malty flavor of the Cane & Ebel, which is a hoppy rye beer.  The meaty flavors of the lamb and mushrooms were complimented by the rye, while the hops cut nicely through the fat and added a slightly grassy, herbal note which refreshed the palate.

Profiteroles with Espresso Chocolate Sauce – Finch Secret Stache, Milk Stout

–          Stouts and Porters typically pair well with desserts and this was a great example of this concept.  The Chocolate in the dessert seems to draw out the chocolate, vanilla and toffee flavors in the beer.

The first time I attempted beer pairings for a group was my wedding last month, and was shocked by the positive feedback about the combinations.  Especially when it comes to the craft beer uninitiated, the idea that beer could pair with food was akin to the discovery of fire many, many years ago.

Whole Roasted Pig – Freehouse Battery Brown Ale

Boiled Peanut Falafel – Westbrook IPA

Lowcountry Boil – Holy City Pilsner

Dessert from Dulce Food TruckHoly City Pluff Mud Porter

The biggest takeaway I got from these pairing adventures is that beer and food belong together, and I would be happy to create a custom beer experience for you. As a planner of private events and armed with the knowledge of great local craft beers in Chicago, I can make this happen for any adventurous soul who wants to be buds with tasty food and suds!

Mike Lintal grew up in a suburb of Charleston, South Carolina. He studied Broadcast Journalism at The University of South Carolina, and upon graduation took a job as a local news producer at a TV station in Charleston. Soon after, fate called Mike to Chicago when his girlfriend received a dream job offer. Mike quickly realized that his interest in good food and beverage, cultivated by the Lowcountry's high quality and standards, was known in the "Big City" as being a "Foodie". After spending 3 well-fed years enjoying Chicago's vibrant and blossoming dining options and attempting to convince rural car dealers that the internet was not "THE Devil" he knew it was time for a change. Constantly looking for a way to turn his love of all things gourmand into his professional endeavor, he accepted a position as Private Events Coordinator with The Chopping Block. When he's not out pursuing all things taco or brewed, he can be found cooking at home with his fiancée or playing with their infectiously cute puppy.


Lincoln Square’s Good Eats & Drinks

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014 by Robyn

One of the biggest perks of working at The Chopping Block is that I get to be in Lincoln Square every day. Nestled in the armpit of Lawrence, Western and Lincoln, this neighborhood is host to lovely scenery, attractive young couples, playful puppies, a shocking number of babies, and lots — LOTS — of good eats.

That being said, it’s great to work here, and it’s nice that on lunch breaks and after work I can pop out to any of the following good spots for nosh and/or beer and/or wine. But, I have to admit, it’s getting a little out of hand. Every day? I mean, EVERY day?

This is how Lincoln Square gets you:


  1. genesRegional, curious shops. Gene’s Sausage Shop across the street from The Chopping Block is always a fun place to pop in and explore (woah, the candy Polish kids eat is so weird!), and it’s definitely got the best prices on meats and deli salads in the area. With this in mind, I always walk in planning to grab a cheap little something, and walk out with a $5 bottle of Kombucha.
  2. Provenance Food and Wine? Same idea. It’s a place you enter to gaze at the beautiful oils, vinegars and chocolates and leave with a $15 block of delicious cheese.
  3. selmarieCharming, tiny cookies. At Cafe Selmarie, the romantic French pastry shop, you will feast your eyes on gorgeous tarts and bonbons sitting fresh-made in the pastry case. The vision: you’re sitting with a book on their bistro-style patio, sipping red wine and taking an hour to nibble through a single, quarter-sized sugar cookie because you’re French now. The reality: 10 sugar cookies, two beers, and half a quiche later, you’re sunburned and full.
  4. badappleBad ass burgers and damn delicious beers. The Bad Apple, a bit down Lincoln from the square itself, is one of our favorite places to pop in for a few beers and some laughs. Of course, when the menu comes around I suddenly realize I’ve been robbing myself of the true stuff of life—unique bar food and fancy beverages—for too long. I know we were going to go home after and cook, but who knows if I’ll ever have the opportunity to try a bacon and peanut butter veggie burger again! This could be my only chance! And I have to get this one funky beer to go with it! Fail.
  5. taqueriaSalsa verde. Okay, so we’ve all been eating red salsa at Chi-chis since we were seven. We’re over it. Salsa verde, though? With the chips? Now that’s something to sit down and wait for! Taqueria El Asadero down at Lincoln and Montrose has the right idea with this. At least once a week when I’m off work and starving, I can’t not go to this ten-table joint for some of the best vegetarian tacos and, yes, salsa verde, in Chicago. That is, I do this instead of going to the Jewel right next door and getting the goods to cook for myself. Because my tacos just aren’t that good. I don’t know what “el asadero” means, but I’m guessing it’s close to “place where you spend all your money.”

What’s your favorite place to blow your paycheck in Lincoln Square? Reply here and let me know.

Robyn recently moved to Chicago from Boston, where she taught math and reading in an urban high school. During that time, she discovered with dismay a huge lack of food knowledge and access in her students' communities and got totally fired up. She started cooking with the kids and created a class in which students learned how to budget for and select healthy, ethical, sustainable food. She is now at The Chopping Block with the hope to further the mission of getting the world to cook! In her free time, Robyn enjoys cooking and eating, bicycling and running, blogging and reading and adventuring.