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.”

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.

Treat Week: Truffle Tuesday

redwinetruffles

Due to the death of a close friend, this week’s postings got delayed, so, as you can see, Truffle Tuesday turned into Truffle Sunday

Day 2 of #TreatWeek is one of my favorites: #TruffleTuesday.  Or, as my family (& hairdresser) calls it, the day I start making make #BoozeBalls!

The first, and quickest to prepare are my soft centered Red Wine Truffles.  These truffles are only as good as the wine you use to make them, so I always use the last glass of whatever great blend I have open.  This year that meant that the truffles were made with #2013MountVeederReserve.  A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.  This blend worked beautifully with the dark chocolate and made for a decadent treat!  A few important words of advice about these truffles:

  • Make sure you chill your truffle filling for AT LEAST 3 hours so it’s easy to scoop.
  • Freeze your scooped portions for at least 30 minutes & try to make them as close to balls as possible.  These can’t really be rolled.  Mine never look #CandyShopPretty, but they taste good. 😉
  • If your truffle filling is not holding it’s shape; i.e. it’s too thin, don’t worry, HERE IS THE FIX: Return your truffle filling to your pan. Warm it over low heat so that it is easy to stir but not completely liquified. Turn off burner and stir in unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 TBLS at a time, until your filling reaches desired consistency.  You don’t want it too thick, remember it will thicken when it chills in the refrigerator.
  • Melt your coating chocolate while your scoops are in the freezer so your coating has time to cool a bit.
  • If you intend to use the candy melts to decorate the outer/hard layer get it prepared in advance.
  • If you are sprinkling any type of decoration that will stick to the outer coating do it as soon as you coat the individual truffle.  The coating hardens very quickly on the cold truffles.
  • Because of their soft centers, these truffles must be kept refrigerated for best presentation and taste.

Red Wine Truffles

  • 2 – 12 oz bag dark chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)
  • 3/4 Cup heavy cream
  • 5 TBLS Good Red Wine – Anything with Malbec, Cab Franc, or that’s BIG and BOLD
  • 2 tsp solid Crisco shortening

Heat heavy cream in a saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from stove and add 1 bag of the chocolate chips and red wine. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Stir until everything is fully incorporated and smooth. Remove to a smaller bowl, cover and chill for at least 3 hours.

Once the truffle filling has chilled, using a cookie scoop or small spoon, scoop out chocolate and form into truffle balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes

While truffles are in the freezer, in a medium saucepan, combine chocolate and shortening. Cook and stir over low heat until melted.

Take 6 truffles out of the freezer at a time and pinch them slightly to make sure they form a “truffle like dome” for the top side.  If, when you start working with the chilled truffles, they aren’t holding their shape, or seem to be getting runny really fast, STOP! and see the note in RED above.  If all is well, continue to the next step.

Working quickly, coat bottom of truffles first and place on a plate lined with waxed paper, then, using a spoon, coat the top of each truffle and decorate with red & gold sprinkles if desired.

They dry/harden on top quickly.  Move on to the next 6 and then move the plate to the refrigerator until it’s time to serve.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Treat Week: Spiced Keto Gingerbread Cookies

KetoGingerbreadMen

I love gingerbread cookies but hate making them.  The dough is a sticky mess and has to be refrigerated for hours and re-rolled before it can be cut and baked.  It’s an all day project that I just don’t want any part of, so I don’t make them.  This Keto recipe changed all of that.  It’s fast and easy, only has to be refrigerated for 30 minutes.  I can do that.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Easy Spiced Gingerbread Cookies

  • 1/4 Cup Butter softened
  • 2 Cups granulated Stevia (like Swerve)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 TBLS Molasses (Use whatever strength you like, or none at all)
  • 3 Large Eggs
  • 3 TBLS ground Ginger
  • 4 TBLS Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground Cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground Nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp White Pepper (optional)
  • 3 Cups Almond Flour (the finer ground the better)
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 TBLS Psyllium (helps the cookies stay firm & hold their shape)

In bowl of your stand mixer beat the sugar substitute, butter, molasses, vanilla, and eggs together until fully. Next add all the spices. Finally, add the almond flour, psyllium, baking powder and salt to the mix until just combined. Do not over beat.

Roll out the dough with a rolling pin between two sheets of parchment paper.  You want the dough to be somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4″ thick.  Put the dough into the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes before cutting.

Preheat oven to 325°F and remove dough from the refrigerator.  Cut dough using cookie cutters and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Do NOT use parchment paper or any other type of liner.

Bake 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of your cookies.  They may not feel like they are done, but they will firm up as they cool.  Leave sitting on the pan for a few minutes and then finish cooling on a wire rack.

Decorate with Keto Royal Icing if desired:

  • 4 TBLS Powdered Stevia (like Swerve) + 1 TBLS Water / Heavy Cream or Milk.  I use 1 TBLS Heavy Cream and about 1/2 TBLS of water to thin it down a bit.
  • You can use a decorating bottle or bag fitted with a decorating tip, or a plastic lunch bag with the corner cut off and the decorating tip slipped inside.

Peanut Buttery Fudge

PBFudgeChunkStackI love Sees® Butterscotch suckers but they do a number on my teeth.  I had an extra bag of butterscotch chips and knew that I couldn’t make straight fudge.  It would be far too sweet.  I played around melting a few chips, threw in some spices & natural peanut butter….and came up with something that almost satisfied my desire for the teeth cracking hard sucker.

A few important things:

  1. Cooking with natural peanut butter (no sugar added) is tricky when you’re making candy.  I didn’t take into consideration the additional oil, and had problems with getting it to set up properly.  After waiting 4 hours for the fudge to set between, I had to re-melt it 3 times before I got the consistency right so it would set up hard enough to not be sticky and cut into squares that would hold their shape.  The peanut butter you use really mattersDo NOT use a natural peanut butter that has to be stirred!
  2. If your marshmallows are not real fresh, add a tablespoon or two of butter to the bottom of your pan to help get the melting process started so they don’t scorch.  Although, I did scorch some of mine and it didn’t hurt the final product.  Just added a little extra nuttiness to the end result.
  3. If you want to save some time, you can substitute a jar of marshmallow cream.  I prefer to use marshmallows when I make fudge, but it’s entirely up to the individual cook.

Peanut Buttery Fudge

  • 2 – 5oz cans evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 6 TBLS no sugar added natural peanut butter (I used Skippy Natural Creamy)
  • 1- 11 oz bag butterscotch chips
  • 1 Bag Jet Puffed large marshmallows or 1 jar marshmallow cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.

In a medium saucepan, over medium-low heat, warm the evaporated milk but do not boil.  Add the peanut butter and continue stirring until peanut butter is melted and completely incorporated.  Stir in the pumpkin pie spice.

Add the butterscotch chips and stir until melted.  Don’t worry if you end up with a few unmelted chunks. You have 3 options at this point.  You can either:

  1. In a separate pan, melt your marshmallows with a tablespoon or two of butter (if desired) until almost all the way melted, then add the marshmallows to the peanut butter mixture and stir in the vanilla; or
  2. Turn the heat down to low and stir the marshmallows and vanilla into the peanut butter mixture.  Be patient while incorporating the marshmallows.  You want to make sure you stir continuously so you don’t scorch your fudge.  I use both a silicone whisk and the back of a heat proof rubber spatula to press them against the sides and bottom of the pan as they melt down; or, finally (and quickest)
  3. Turn the heat down to low and stir a jar of marshmallow cream into the peanut butter mixture, until fully incorporated, then add the vanilla.

ButteryFudgeinPan

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and put into the refrigerator for about 2 hours, or until fudge is completely set up.  Cut into 1″ chunks.

It’s really rich, so one piece satisfies this girl’s sweet tooth.  The pieces look pretty in a WesterlyChardpaper candy cup and go nicely in hostess gifts, or those you make for friends during the holiday season too!  Make sure that you keep the fudge in a sealed container in the refrigerator.  Unlike chocolate “fantasy fudge” that can be kept in a cool place, the oily content of the peanut butter requires that it be refrigerated.  Not that it’s likely to last very long. 😉

I love to have a piece with a nice cold glass of #WesterlyWines Bentrock Chardonnay.  The fudge brings out the butterscotch notes in the wine beautifully and makes for a really nice pre or post dinner treat.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Sweet Holiday Gifts From Your Kitchen – They’ll Never Know They’re Keto!

truffleboxOnce we get into December the invitations to holiday celebrations, cookie exchanges, progressive dinners, cocktail parties, office parties, and the like start rolling in and that means there will be many times you’ll need to bring a dish, a treat, or hostess gift.

It’s easy to go with a stand by recipe full of sugar and all of the ingredients that many are trying to consciously avoid, myself included, but wouldn’t it be fun to be the person who brings the treat that secretly isn’t quite as #badforthehips as all the others?  Here’s one that’ll let you tuck that secret into a hidden recipe card as the real #giftthatkeepsgiving:

Chocolate Mint Truffleschocolateminttruffles

  • 2 large room temperature eggs
  • 1 stick softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 drops (safe to ingest) peppermint essential oil OR 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 10 drops liquid Stevia
  • 1/3 cup granulated Stevia (Swerve or the like)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey’s)
  • 2 TBLS coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350°F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream butter and both sweeteners until light & fluffy.  Add eggs, vanilla, and peppermint.  Beat again until well incorporated.  Add coconut flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix until a dough forms.
  2. Spread dough out onto your lined cookie sheet.  It should be about 1/2″ thick. Bake for 15 mins or until set up and starting to get firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.   Once cookie has cooled, break into chunks and put into your food processor.  Pulse until cookie is well crumbled.
  3. In the cleaned out bowl of your stand mixer, put 8 oz block of softened cream cheese and the crumbs from your cookie.  Using the paddle attachment, stir until cream cheese and crumbs form a sticky dough.
  4. Roll dough into about 3/4″ balls and put onto wax paper lined cookie sheet.  When all of the dough is rolled, put into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes while you prepare the chocolate coating.
  5. In a 2 to 4 Cup, microwave safe, Pyrex (glass) measuring cup, combine 2 TBLS Heavy Whipping Cream and 1-12oz bag of Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate ChipsMicrowave on HIGH for 30 seconds at a time until melted.  Stir between each 30 seconds until chocolate chips are melted.
  6. Dip each truffle into the melted chocolate and put back on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with colored sugar free cookie/candy sprinkles if desired.  Refrigerate until chocolate sets.  Store in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container between layers of waxed paper.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

You should be able to make 24 truffles and the nutrition information for each is:

  • Calories:  109
  • Fat:  10.45g (Sat fat 6.5g)
  • Net Carbs:  2.5g
  • Protein:  2g

 

Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls

lemon-turmeric-energy-balls

I came across this recipe on Pinterest and am so excited to try it.

I have a tree bursting with Meyer Lemons in my backyard and just got a fresh delivery of Medjool Dates from Hadley Fruit Orchards in Cabazon, CA.  I can’t possibly ONLY drink date milkshakes (although I’d love to try), and I need to find a way to get more turmeric, with it’s anti-inflammatory gifts, into my diet, so this is a win-win.

I may even make a batch that substitutes blood orange for the lemon because I also have a tree full of ripe Blood Oranges. #CaliforniaGirlCitrusProblems

In the ginger family, turmeric is used to flavor both sweet and savory dishes in many different regions’ cuisines: South Asia, Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia), India, Eastern Asia, the Middle East, Iran, South Africa, and Thailand among others. In Medieval Europe it was known as Indian Saffron because it was used as an alternative to the more expensive and harder to get spice.

Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls

  • 12 dried Medjool dates
  • 1 cup old-fashioned gluten-free oats
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ cup shredded coconut, for dusting
  1. Remove the pits from dates and soak them in hot water for several minutes. When the dates are softened, drain them and place in food processor. Save the water.
  2. Add the other ingredients to a food processor and blend until mixture turns into a dough-like consistency. Add 1 tablespoon of water from soaking the dates if the mixture is too dry.
  3. With the small spoon scoop the mixture and roll into balls. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and place on the baking sheet.
  4. Store energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator until serving.

    Notes: Energy balls can be kept frozen up to 3 months.

    You can find the original recipe at http://www.natalieshealth.com/

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