Buffalo Shrimp Lettuce Boats

northwoodpizzaI just ate my first true #CheatMeal since going Keto 4 months ago.  3 huge, luscious, cheesy, hand tossed pieces of pizza from my favorite neighborhood pizza place, #NorthwoodPizza.  I loved all 3 of them but I couldn’t feel any worse about myself right now.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

I don’t feel bad about myself for eating the pizza.  I wanted it so I ate it.  I feel bad about myself because I’ve reprogrammed my body to not overeat carbs and now my body feels awful.  I’m bloated, I have a stomach ache and my digestion is all out of whack.  Tonight just proves Keto is working for me.  It’s time to go right back to adapting my favorite cheats so they work FOR my body, not against it.

One of my very favorite meals is deep fried buffalo shrimp eaten alone or in tacos.  My take on this recipe, from Delish, allows me to get my buffalo shrimp fix without destroying my diet goals or the improved way my body functions and feels.

Buffalo Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 TBLS Butterbuffshrimplettucewraps
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Cup Hot Sauce, I prefer Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1 TBLS Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Pound Shrimp, peeled & deveined with tails removed
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Head Romaine, leaves separated
  • 1/2 Small Red Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Rib Celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Cup Blue Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 Ripe Avocado Chopped (optional)
  • Ranch Dressing (optional)
  1. Make buffalo sauce: In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. When melted completely, add garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add hot sauce and stir to combine. Turn heat to low while you cook the shrimp.
  2. Make shrimp: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Add shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook, flipping halfway, until pink and opaque on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Turn off heat and add the buffalo sauce, tossing to coat.
  3. Assemble wraps: Add a small scoop of shrimp to the center of a romaine leaf, then top with red onion, celery, avocado (if desired), and blue cheese.  Drizzle with additional Hot Sauce and Ranch Dressing if desired.

Dessert Wine Pairings

dessertwines

It’s no secret that I love food and wine, but even I have to admit that sometimes the wine you drink with dinner may not be the same wine that you want to keep drinking when it comes time for dessert. #GirlsGoneWine

Generally, it’s not a bad idea to follow the rule: the darker the dessert the darker the wine.  If you don’t feel secure with a rule that is so non-specific, there are a few other taste guidelines according to the different dessert types:

  • Custard and Vanilla
  • Fruit and Spice
  • Caramels and Chocolate

Custard and Vanillacremebrulee

When your dessert is based around the light, mild, buttery flavors found in most custard based desserts you want your wines to have the same basic flavor profiles.  So, if you are serving a vanilla custard, pudding, flan, crème brûlée, tart or pie, you’ll want to serve a white wine like a late-harvest Riesling, or a sparkling wine like an Asti Spumanti or demi-sec Champagne.  This Vanilla Crème Brûlée from The New York Times is #FastAndEasy and needs only 5 ingredients!

Vanilla Crème Brûlée

  • 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • ½ cup sugar, more for topping

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot. Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)

In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light. Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir. Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish; fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set. Cool completely. Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.

When ready to serve, top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer. Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Serve within two hours.

Most crème brûlée recipes need a torch, but this one is simpler & safer: it uses your oven’s broiler to get the crackly top.

**TIP: Make sure the custard sets for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top so you don’t end up with soupy custard.

vanillaspicedpoachedpearFruit and Spice

When your dessert is fruit based with a spicy profile, like those with apple, pear, pumpkin or cinnamon in them, you’ll want to lean toward white wines that have more character to them.   In this case you’ll want to consider Pink or Rosé Champagne, Sauternes, or late-harvest Gewirtztraminer.

Caramels and Chocolates

When your dessert is rich and full of any of the flavors across the chocolate spectrum turtlebrownies1(except white chocolate) or has the gooey richness of caramel’s toffee goodness, then the wines you’re looking for will be Red.  Late-harvest Pinot Noir, Banyuls, Grenache, Australian Shiraz, Port (the classic chocolate pairing), and Grappa all are excellent pairings for these rich dessert choices.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

Kumquat Margaritas

Kumquat-Margaritas

We have a Kumquat tree in our backyard and I honestly never know what to do with them!  Now I do.  As they say about lemons, when life gives them to you, make lemonade…well, apparently kumquats and tequila are a thing too!  Who knew?

Kumquat Margaritas

  • 1 Pint Kumquats (About 40)
  • 2 Medium Limes
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Silver Tequila
  • 1/4 Cup Grand Marnier
  • 3 Cups Crushed Ice
  • 3 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • 4 wedges of lime (for serving)

Pressing down, roll the limes on your counter, or a cutting board, to release the juice.  Cut your limes in half, remove the seeds, and put 3 of the halves in your blender container.  Cut the remaining half in half again, then use the wedges to wet the rims of your margarita or old fashioned glasses, dip the rims in the salt, and set aside.  Drop the lime wedges into the blender container.  Slice the kumquats in half, remove the seeds, and add them to the blender container.  Add water to the blender and puree until mostly smooth.

Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a medium saucepan, pressing the solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Discard skins and pulp.  Add sugar and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, 20-25 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes, then refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Mix tequila and Grand Marnier with 1/3 Cup of the kumquat reduction.  Serve over crushed ice in the salt rimmed glasses with a wedge of lime.  Makes 3 Drinks (about 2/3 Cup each)  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Highland Springs Ranch Lavender Cheesecake

lavenderbannerEvery year, for about 5 weeks, at the Highland Springs Ranch in Cherry Valley, California, one of the best smelling, and best tasting, festivals takes place on the largest organic lavender farm in Southern California.

During the Annual Lavender Celebration, guests can tour 20 acres of the grounds in hay filled, horse drawn wagons sipping on lavender lemonade or licking creamy lavender ice cream cones.  There’s an organic marketplace to buy lavender infused honey, balsamic vinegar, essential oils, fresh lavender bouquets, plants and even lavender-stuffed toys.  There’s an oil distilling demonstration and plenty of fun activities for the kids, but, more than anything, it’s the food people come to sample.

Although The Ranch Restaurant closed in 2018, my favorite festival treat is still their Lavender Cheesecake with a crust made from homemade graham crackers.  It’s #ToDieFor but it takes some time to prepare (much of which is chilling time), so don’t plan to make this as a last minute treat.  Thanks to Betsy Andrews at Eating Well Magazine, I can make this treat at home anytime I want to!

Highland Springs Ranch Lavender Cheesecake

  • 6 TBLS Unsalted Butter, softenedHSRanchLavenderCheesecake
  • 2 TBLS Light Brown Sugar
  • 2 TBLS Granulated Sugar
  • 2 TBLS Honey
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1+1/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1+1/2 TBLS Light Olive Oil or Canola Oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine butter, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth. Add honey and ¼ teaspoon vanilla; mix until combined. Add flour and ¼ teaspoon salt; mix until combined. Form the dough into quarter-size chunks, about ½-inch thick, on the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown and firm around the edges, about 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer the crust pieces on the parchment to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes. Pulse in a food processor until finely ground
  4. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Mix the crust crumbs with oil in a medium bowl; press into the bottom and about 1½ inches up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake until set, about 8 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack.

For the filling:

  • 3 – 8 ounce packages reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 TBLS Ground Lavender
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 4 Large Eggs, room temperature
  • 1 TBLS Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  1. To prepare filling: Put a tea kettle of water on to boil for the water bath. Combine cream cheese, sugar, lavender and salt in the stand mixer bowl. Beat with the paddle attachment until smooth and fluffy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add lemon juice and vanilla; mix until combined.
  2. Tightly wrap the outside of the pan, bottom and sides, with heavy-duty foil. Pour the filling into the crust. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come 1 inch up the side of the springform pan to create a hot water bath. Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the center of the oven. Bake until the cheesecake is set around the edges but the center still jiggles slightly, 1 to 1¼ hours.
  3. Let the cheesecake cool in the water bath on a wire rack until the water is room temperature, about 1 hour. Remove the pan from the water and remove the foil. Refrigerate, uncovered, until very cold, at least 4 hours.

This cheesecake can be made ahead and kept very cold for 3 days.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Quick Keto Crab Cakes

crabcake1After accomplishing my goal of losing the 33 pounds that 3 foot surgeries and 5 breast surgeries (for a total of 8 in a 5 year span) piled on me, in just 12 weeks, it’s become second nature to convert my regular recipes into #KetoFriendly versions.

See how this quick & easy version of crab cakes compares versus other preparations in terms of net carbs per serving of 1 crab cake:

  • Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs – 15 g carbs
  • Panko – 11 g carbs
  • Almond Meal (or Almond Flour but not super-finely ground) – 1.5 g of carbs

Quick Keto Crab Cakes

  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 TBLS Mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Pepper
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup Chopped Scallions
  • 12 oz Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, drained and picked over
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Meal (or Regular Grind Almond Flour)
  • 2 TBLS Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Lime Wedges

Whisk egg, mayonnaise, mustard, pepper, salt, and cayenne pepper in a medium bowl.  Squeeze in the juice from one wedge of lime and whisk until well combined.  Stir in scallions and almond meal.  Fold in the crab.  Form the mixture into four patties.

Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Add the crab cakes and cook, turning once, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Serve with lime wedges and cilantro lime aioli (if desired).

Serving size: 1 Crab Cake  Calories 265 / Fat 15 g / Carbs 1.5 g / Protein 22 g

crabcake2

Cilantro Lime Aioli

  • 1/3 Cup Fresh Cilantro
  • Juice and Zest of 1 medium Lime
  • A drop or 3 😉 Franks Red Hot (or your favorite) Hot Sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Large Clove Garlic

Combine all ingredients in your blender container and process until well combined.

Serving size: 1 TBLS  Calories 100 / Fat 11 g / Carbs 0 g / Protein 0 g