Holiday Bites: Naughty But Nice Peppermint Fudge

I was honest when I said that I abide by the adage that calories, fat, and carbs don’t count in December, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t try, where I can, to trim all of them to try and stay loyal to my Keto lifestyle.  So, this is the Chocolate Peppermint Fudge from a couple of days ago, just slimmed down a bit… As written, each of the 36 pieces clocks in at 77 Calories, 5.6g Fat, and 2.6g Carbs.  Because this fudge turned out so rich, and was so thick from the 8 x 8 pan, I cut each piece in half again so the nutrition information in that case would be: 38.5 Calories, 2.8g Fat and 1.45g Carbs.  My sweet tooth was completely satisfied with one piece halved. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

naughtybutnicefudge

Naughty But Nice Peppermint Fudge

  • 1 TBLS Melted Butter
  • 1 Cup Truvia
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3 TBLS Keto Light Corn Syrup
  • 2 TBLS Water
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
  • 4 Ounces Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
  • 2 Ounces 60% Bittersweet Baking Chocolate
  • 2 tsp Vanilla
  • 4 TBLS Butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/8 to 1/4 tsp Peppermint Oil (to taste – see tip below)
  • 2 Ounces Peppermint Candies, finely crushed

Line an 8×8″ baking dish with foil, overlapping the edges.  Melt 1 TBLS Butter and brush the foil with it thoroughly.

Heat Truvia, cream, corn syrup, salt, and 2 Tbsp. water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves.  Add chocolate.  Stir until melted and mixture is smooth, then bring to a boil.  Fit saucepan with candy thermometer and increase heat to medium-high.  Cook, brushing down sides of saucepan with a wet pastry brush as needed to dissolve sugar crystals, until thermometer registers 238° F.

Immediately pour mixture into a large bowl.  Dot top of mixture with butter; do not stir.  Rinse thermometer, removing any sugar crystals, pat dry, and fit on bowl.  Let mixture sit until thermometer registers 110° F, 30–45 minutes.

Remove thermometer.  Add vanilla extract and peppermint flavoring to mixture and beat with a hand mixer (I admit I used my stand mixer…I don’t own a hand mixer :|) on high speed until mixture is light and thick like frosting and has lost its high gloss (will still have a slight sheen), about 4 minutes.

Scrape into prepared pan; smooth surface, then top with peppermint candies, pressing gently into surface.  Cover with plastic and cool in refrigerator until set, at least 3 hours.

Using foil, remove fudge from pan, peel away foil, and cut fudge into a 6×6 grid to make 36 squares.

Nutrition Information: (Makes 36 Squares – 1 piece per serving)

  • 77  Calories
  • 5.6 g  Fat
  • 2.6 g  Carbs
  • <1 g  Protein

Do Ahead: Fudge is best stored in a tightly sealed container, between layers of waxed paper, in the refrigerator.

Tips: 1) Crush the candies in a zip bag using a rubber mallet or rolling pin, 2) Peppermint oil is quite strong so, for less intense peppermint punch, you can easily cut it to 1/8 tsp, and 3) A hand mixer is better than a stand mixer for this recipe, but I do admit that I got lazy this time and used the stand mixer and it turned out just fine.

Get Thee to Whole Foods!

Food & Wine Magazine shared the tip that, today, Whole Foods announced it’s bringing back its popular 12 Days of Cheese promotion. Because Whole Foods loves us and wants us to be happy, 😉 from December 12 to 23, we can eat our way through a choice of high-quality artisanal cheeses at ridiculously prices!

Each day from December 12 to 23, Whole Foods’ will make a different one of its “highest-quality cheeses available at a generous discount, from artisans like 2019–20 World Cheese Award–winner Rogue Creamery.” That discount: 50 percent off—with an additional 10 percent off if you’re a Prime member. This is reason enough to renew my #AmazonPrime membership! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Here’s a cheat-sheet of the 2019 sale lineup – bonus, Whole Foods loves to let you sample:

Dec. 12: Roth Pavino
“Rich, earthy, medium-firm Alpine cheese with notes of sweet hazelnut. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 13: Istara P’tit Basque
“Aged a minimum of 70 days, this creamy and smooth sheep milk cheese has a mild, nutty flavor with a subtle, sweet finish.”

Dec. 14: Uplands Cheese Pleasant Ridge Reserve
“A cow’s milk Alpine-style cheese modeled after favorites like Le Gruyère and Beaufort, with flavors ranging from milky to nutty and grassy. The Pleasant Ridge Reserve is America’s most awarded cheese.”

Dec. 15: Neal’s Yard Dairy Keen’s Cheddar
“This cheese is dense yet creamy with complex flavors ranging from fruity to sweet butterscotch. Each wheel has been hand selected by our experts.”

Dec. 16: Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog
“A goat’s milk soft-ripened American original with a beautiful ribbon of edible ash through the center. Floral, herbaceous overtones, buttermilk and fresh cream flavors.”

Dec. 17: Emmi Cave Aged Le Gruyère
“A firm, almost crumbly Alpine cheese. Robust, deeply flavored, with tangy fruit notes and classic nuttiness.”

Dec. 18: Sweet Grass Dairy Thomasville Tomme
“Raw cow’s milk, handcrafted cheese with a semi-firm texture. Rich, earthy flavors with a finish of light salt, grass and tangy cream.”

Dec. 19: Mitica Cordobes
“Made with Castellana and Merino sheep milk from Spain. Rich and buttery flavors balanced by bright acidity and nutty undertones. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 20: Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue
“Aged at least 90 days in Roquefort modeled caves, this organic cheese has briny, earthy flavors with notes of sweet cream and huckleberry. Rogue Creamery recently made history by producing the first American cheese ever to win top honors at the World Cheese Awards in Bergamo, Italy.”

Dec. 21: Klare Melk Truffle Gouda
“Rich, flavorful, semi-firm cheese. Velvety notes of sweet cream and butter, generously laced with earthy truffles.”

Dec. 22: Cellars at Jasper Hill Harbison with Prosecco
“Soft-ripened, buttery, woodsy and sweet with balanced tones of mustard. A wash in Presto prosecco brings out bright citrus flavors. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Dec. 23: MonS Mary dans les Étoiles
“Stunning, ash-coated geo-rind goat cheese. Creamy and grassy, finished with light citrus notes. Exclusive to Whole Foods Market.”

Low-Carb Homemade Corn Syrup

There’s no way to avoid it, if you’re baking or making candy: you are going to need light corn syrup at some point to get a good result.  After a few trials (and errors), I finally came up with a corn syrup recipe that is close enough to maintain the integrity of the recipes without adding any weird after tastes or textures!

lightcornsyrup

Low-Carb Light Corn Syrup

  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 1/2 Cup Truvia
  • 3/4 tsp Vanilla
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 3/4 tsp Xantham Gum

In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the water and Truvia.  Bring to a low boil and stir in the Vanilla.  Reduce Heat to low.

Spoon out 1 TBLS of the hot Truvia mixture and, in a small bowl, stir in the Xantham Gum.  It will be quite thick and sticky.  It’s ok if it’s not entirely smooth.

Stirring continuously, add the Xantham gum mixture to the saucepan.  Return the heat to medium and bring the mixture back to a low boil.  Cook for one minute until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from heat.

Pour the corn syrup thru a fine mesh strainer, pressing the corn syrup thru while leaving any unincorporated Xantham gum solids in the strainer.

Allow to cool slightly before using.  As this cools further it can become crystallized, although mine did not.  Mine just thickened into a jelly like consistency.  If either happens, just put it in the microwave for 10 – 15 seconds and stir it again before you’re ready to use it.  Makes about 1/2 Cup and doesn’t keep real long, so plan to make it when you will be likely to use it up.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Holiday Bites: Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

One of my favorite things about the December holiday season is the permission we all seem to give ourselves to indulge in every hearty, rich, gooey, decadent dish and treat we can before the calendar changes over welcoming a new year. Calories, fat, and carbs don’t count in December, right? 😂😂

Some treats I make year after year, but I’m always looking for new ways to indulge my love for all things food. This year I tripped across a 2016 recipe from Bon Appétit that has two of my favorite holiday ingredients: chocolate and peppermint. It’s one that’s joining the annual must haves list for sure! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Chocolate Peppermint Fudge

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2¼ cups sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring or extract or ¼ teaspoon peppermint oil
  • 2 ounces soft peppermint puff candies, finely crushed

Line an 8×8″ baking dish with foil, pressing into edges. Lightly coat with nonstick spray. Heat sugar, cream, corn syrup, salt, and 2 Tbsp. water in a medium saucepan over medium, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add chocolate and stir until melted and mixture is smooth, then bring to a boil. Fit saucepan with candy thermometer and increase heat to medium-high. Cook, brushing down sides of saucepan with a wet pastry brush as needed to dissolve sugar crystals, until thermometer registers 238°.

Immediately pour mixture into a large bowl (do not scrape bottom or sides of pot). Dot top of mixture with butter; do not stir. Rinse thermometer, removing any sugar crystals, pat dry, and fit on bowl. Let mixture sit until thermometer registers 110°, 30–45 minutes.

Remove thermometer. Add vanilla extract and peppermint flavoring to mixture and beat with a hand mixer on high speed until mixture is light and thick like frosting and has lost its high gloss (will still have a slight sheen), about 4 minutes.

Scrape into prepared pan; smooth surface, then top with peppermint candies, pressing gently into surface. Cover with plastic and let fudge sit at room temperature until set, at least 4 hours.

Using foil, remove fudge from pan, peel away foil, and cut fudge into a 6×6 grid to make 36 squares.

  • Do Ahead: Fudge can be made 3 days ahead. Keep stored at room temperature.

  • Tips: 1) Crush the candies in a zip bag using a rubber mallet or rolling pin, and 2) A hand mixer is better than a stand mixer for this recipe.

Holiday Bites: Crab & Brie Wontons

If you feel like the dishes have barely been done following Thanksgiving dinner when discussions and planning for December holiday parties and dinners begins, you could be right.  For those of us who love to entertain and treat our friends and family to fine meals, there are never enough days to plan the perfect meal.  This appetizer, from the December 2019 issue of #EatingWellMagazine, is rich and flavorful while also being surprisingly low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates!  #ThisGirLovesToEat

crabandbriewontons

Crab Wontons with Brie

  • 4 ounces Lump Crab Meat, drained & picked over
  • 4 ounces diced Brie Cheese
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 2 TBLS Minced Jalapeno
  • 2 TBLS Minced Chives
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Salt
  • 24 Wonton Wrappers
  1. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven; preheat to 350°F.
  2. Combine crabmeat, Brie, mayonnaise, jalapeño, chives, pepper and salt in a medium bowl. Scoop about 2 teaspoons of the crab mixture into the center of each wonton wrapper. Use your finger or a pastry brush to moisten the edges of the wrapper with water. Carefully lift two opposite points up until they touch. Gently pinch together to seal. Fold the remaining two points up toward the center just to close the opening. Pinch the edges together to seal into a four-pointed star.
  3. Carefully transfer the wontons to the hot baking sheet. Generously coat them with cooking spray. Bake until golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes.

To make ahead:  Assemble wontons (Step 2) up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size 2 Wontons

  • Calories – 121
  • Fat – 7 g
  • Carbs – 10 g
  • Protein – 5 g

Sausage Stuffing for Beef

Although I am not making the traditional Thanksgiving fare, there are still some foods that accompany the feast that I need to have, like stuffing.  This stuffing recipe is great alongside roast beef, so it could be your go-to for Christmas #RoastBeast too!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Sausage Stuffing for Beef

  • 1 Pound Ground Italian Sausage (Mild or Hot – your choice)
  • 1 Cup (2 Sticks) Salted Butter (1/4 Cup Melted Butter)
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
  • 1 Bunch Celery (including the tops), chopped
  • 1 Medium Granny Smith Apple, chopped
  • 1+1/2 to 2 Cups Beef Broth (Or 1 Can Beef Consommé + water to desired moistness)
  • 1 – 16 oz Bag Dried Bread Chunks for Stuffing (Any type of bread)
  • 1 TBLS Chopped Parsley
  • 1 Large Egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • Pinch Nutmeg (to taste)

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Butter a 9″ x 13″ Baking pan and set aside.

In large dutch oven, brown the sausage (I like big chunks).  Remove the sausage from the pan and melt the butter, scraping up the browned pieces.  Add the oonion and celery and cook until onion is translucent.

Add the apple and stir the sausage back into the pan.  Add the pepper and nutmeg, the parsley, and adjust the salt if needed.  Turn off the heat and add your cubed bread.  Slowly stir in your beef broth/Consommé and then add your egg.

Spoon the stuffing into the prepared baking dish and drizzle the melted butter over the top of the stuffing. Baker for 40 minutes covered and an additional 10 minutes or so uncovered, to crisp up the top!

Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Hummus

You know you need something to let people snack on before the big meal, but you don’t want them to be too full to eat the meal you’ve been slaving over for days…

This recipe, from November 2015’s Food & Wine Magazine, takes the edge off but won’t ruin anyone’s dinner! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

How to Make It

In a food processor (I used my Vitamix), combine the chickpeas with the pumpkin, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne and 1/3 cup of water and puree until smooth. Season the hummus with salt and pepper and serve with pita chips or crudités.

Make Ahead

The pumpkin hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.