Spicy Bacon Baby Potatoes

petitepotatoesBeing Keto doesn’t mean you can’t have ANY carbs, in fact, depending on the stage you are at in your weight loss journey, you can actually enjoy a fair amount of carbs as part of your lifestyle maintenance.

At this point in my journey, I am enjoying 20 to 40 grams of carbs a couple of days a week, especially when I want a real sandwich, sweet potato, or something fun like this mini-potato recipe.

One trick I use to control my carb portions is to only prepare small amounts so I am not tempted to gorge myself on them and derail my health goals.  This recipe is perfect for doing just that.

Nutrition Information for this entire recipe (2 servings)

  • Calories 290 (145 ea)
  • Fat 18.5 grams (9.25 g ea)
  • Carbohydrates 22 grams (11 g ea)
  • Protein 7 grams (3.5 g ea)

The potatoes are an excellent source of potassium (more than a banana) and vitamin C.  Petites are also a good source of vitamin B6 and are fat, sodium and cholesterol free.

If you prefer these to be Vegetarian, omit the bacon.  The Vegetarian nutrition information is:  Calories 219  Fat 13.5 g  Carbs 22 g  Protein 3 g

Spicy Bacon Baby Potatoes

  • 5 oz (About 1 Cup or 20) baby/petite potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 Slices Bacon, diced while raw (I use kitchen shears)
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Chopped Garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Red Pepper Flakes (+/-)
  • Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

In a skillet heat the oil and red pepper flakes for about 1 minute on medium heat.  Add the bacon and the potatoes.  Cover and cook for about 4 minutes.  Remove the lid, turn the potatoes and finish browning the bacon.  Remove the bacon to a paper towel to drain.  Add the garlic to the potatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook for 3 – 4 more minutes.

When potatoes are fork tender (total of 7-8 minutes cooking time), remove them to a small serving bowl and add the bacon back in.  Toss to distribute and add more red pepper flakes if desired.  Serve warm.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Keto Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

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Your family will have no clue this is Keto!  Throw a green salad alongside and it will be just like eating a bunless burger at a restaurant!  I had barely put this on the plates before my family was scarfing it down and asking for seconds.  Next time I will definitely need to double this recipe!

Keto Bacon Cheeseburger Casserole

  • 1/2 pound thick cut bacon cut into 1/2″ chunks
  • 1/2 small red onion chopped fine
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound 90/10 ground sirloin
  • 2 dill pickles chopped
  • 2 Roma tomatoes chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 TBLS tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2+1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • Cajun seasoning (if desired)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

Cook the bacon and onions in a high sided dutch oven or over sized skillet.  Drain, put into an 8 x 8 baking dish, and put into a pre-heated 350° F oven. Season the beef with the Cajun seasoning, and brown it with the garlic in the same pan used for the onion & bacon.

Combine the eggs, whipping cream and 1 Cup of the cheese and set aside.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the browned meat from the pan to get as much of the grease/liquid out as possible.  Combine the meat with the tomato paste and then layer the meat mixture on on top of the bacon.  Next add tomatoes and pickles to the top of the meat layer in the pan.  Pour the egg mixture over the top of everything (Do NOT stir).  Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 15 – 22 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and browned on top.  Let the casserole set 5 – 10 minutes before cutting.

Mine served 6 very generous portions. Serve with Frank’s Red Hot sauce. You could also make it fancy and top with lettuce and some diced tomato & avocado. This recipe is definitely a keeper.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Chunky Bacon Creamed Spinach

SpinachThis is the recipe made famous by the Southern California prime rib institution, Gulliver’s, with the barest of modifications to take away the baby food consistency and make it meatier.  There is also a seamless modification to make this a perfect Keto side dish.

Chunky Bacon Creamed Spinach

  • 2 – 16 oz packages frozen chopped spinach
  • 12 pieces thick cut bacon (Usually a 12 oz pkg) I buy from the butcher so it may be more than 12 oz
  • 3 cups milk (I recommend whole milk)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped (1 1/2 tsp if jarred minced garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup all purpose flour  (for Keto use 1/3 cup almond flour)

Thaw spinach and squeeze as much liquid out as possible.

Cut bacon into about 1″ pieces and cook in a large saucepan or medium dutch oven on the stove top over medium heat until it’s brown but not yet crispy.  You want as much fat to render as possible so it’s not too chewy. Using tongs, remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel.

Add onion and garlic to the pan and cook until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  While onions are cooking, microwave your milk on high for 4 minutes.  Stir in pepper and flour, stirring continuously for about 2 minutes.

TIP: Pre-packaged bacon tends to be fattier, so you’ll have more grease and a better roux.  You may need to add a little butter (olive oil if you used almond flour) to the pan to give your mixture a better consistency if it’s too dry, if you used bacon with less visible fat.  If your bacon gave off more grease than whichever flour you used could absorb, add more a teaspoon at a time, thoroughly stirring in between additions until your roux is holding together and not too wet or dry.

Add milk and whip until smooth. TIP: If you don’t like the consistency of your almond flour, at this point you can use your immersion blender to smooth everything out, including the onions and garlic.

Stir and cook another 2 minutes, or until a slow boil starts.  Add bacon back in, then add spinach  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  TIP: I like the creaminess of adding an additional 1/4 cup of heavy cream when it’s done cooking, but before the next. step, especially if you are doing the Keto version.  Cover top with 1/2 cup melted butter and lid until ready to serve.  If you can make this the day before, it is one of those dishes that gets better the longer it sits in the refrigerator.  Just warm it up slowly in the oven.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

I like My Chowder Red

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I love seafood!  Cooked or raw, I love it all, so I was pissed when I developed an allergy to one of my favorites, scallops!  Lobster, crab, & clams are my first choices if available, so, thankfully, that was the only shellfish that I’m affected by or it would definitely be #HoustonWeHaveAProblem!

Because I actually like to taste the clams, and don’t want to have to dig through a murky sea of potatoes in search of a few scattered slivers, there are few places, outside of Ivar’s clemin Seattle & Atlantic Fish Company in Boston, where I choose the cream based New England Clam Chowder that most people are familiar with.  If given the choice, I much prefer the spicier, tomato, broth based, Manhattan Clam Chowder.

Because few places on the west coast offer a decent version of the chowder I prefer, I found a couple of recipes that I was able to pull parts from to create one that’s both satisfying and can be made with minimal effort.

Manhattan Inspired Clam Chowder

  • 48 little neck clams
  • 2 – 8 oz bottles clam juice
  • Quarter pound bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 7 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Pinch dried, crushed red pepper
  • 2 celery stalks, quartered & chopped
  • 2 carrots, quartered & chopped
  • 2 large white potatoes, cut into half-inch cubes
  • 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 Cup dry white wine (Chardonnay is fine)
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly ground salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 TBLS chopped fresh parsley (for garnish)
  1. Wash the clams well under cold running water in colander.
  2. Place clams in a large pot, and add enough water to cover clams by 2 inches.
  3. Cover the pan and place over high heat.
  4. When the water comes to a boil, give the pan a good shake.
  5. Turn the heat to low, and cook clams another 30 seconds or so.
  6. Remove from the heat, and take out all the clams that have opened, using a slotted spoon. If any clams remain closed, put back on the heat, with the lid on the pan, and cook another 1-2 minutes.
  7. Remove remaining clams, reserve, discard any clams that have not opened.
  8. Pour the clam juice through a fine strainer and measure.  If you have more than 4 cups, simmer to reduce to 4 cups.
  9. Put the bacon into a large, heavy saucepan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the bacon begins to brown. Pour off excess fat, leaving behind the bacon and about 3 tablespoons of fat in the pan.
  10. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and crushed red pepper and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes.
  11. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping up all of the brown bits
  12. Stir in the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute more.
  13. Tie the parsley sprigs, fresh thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine and add to the pot.
  14. Add the reserved clam cooking liquid, the bottled clam juice, the potatoes, and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.
  15. While chowder is coming to a boil, remove clams from their shells and chop coarsely. Add to chowder and reduce heat to low.
  16. Cook over low heat for another 5 minutes; check to make sure potatoes are soft and chowder is well seasoned.
  17. Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Divide among warm soup bowls and sprinkle with the parsley. Serve immediately.

For a fancy touch you can leave a few clams in the shell and float a couple in the bowl.  Serve with crusty sourdough bread and butter and a salad for a hearty meal. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

You have a few wine options with this chowder:

  • (White) Partially-Oaked Dry California Chardonnay pairs nicely with the crushed red pepper, potatoes, thyme and onion in this dish
  • (White) Unoaked Medium-dry German Riesling is a nice compliment to the tomatoes, onions, peppers and potatoes in this dish
  • (Red) Oaked Italian Barbaresco pairs beautifully with the peppers, potatoes, onions and celery in this dish

WesterlyChardWesterly Wines 2014 Bentrock ChardonnayRated a 93 by Wine Enthusiast: Available at The Original Wine Club

DrHeidemannsBernkastelAuslese2016Dr. Heidemanns Bernkastel Auslese Riesling – Rated a 93 by Wine Enthusiast:  Available at Totalwine.com for $19.99.

RivataBarbarescoRivata Barbaresco – Intense, cherry spiced, medium bodied, and available at Totalwine.com for $21.99. #GirlsGoneWine

Amaretto Poached Peaches

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PHOTO: Chelsea Kyle, PROP STYLING: Alex Brannian, FOOD STYLING: Dawn Perry

I’m planning a weekend dinner party and love having a make ahead dessert that allows me to spend as little time during the party in the kitchen as possible.  Considering that it’s peak peach season, and very few people have a strong aversion for them, I’d consider it  prime time to dig into my favorite peach recipes at www.californiagirlsgonewine.

This one is fast, can be made ahead, and only tastes better the longer it sits before being reheated!  The very best thing about this recipe is you have two choices when you make it:  Hands on by cooking it on the stove top or hands off by cooking it in the slow cooker!  For what it’s worth, I prefer the more focused control over the end product that comes from using the stove top method.

Amaretto Poached Peaches

  • 6 peaches (about 3 pounds), pitted, thinly sliced
  • 4 strips lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
  • 3/4 cup Amaretto
  • 1/4 cup + 1 TBLS honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves, torn if large
  • 2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp cold water OR 3 tsp arrowroot + 2 tsp cold water
  • Vanilla bean ice cream (for serving)

For Stove Top:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Heat peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in a medium pot over medium heat until simmering.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cook until peaches are tender, about 25 minutes.
  4. Cover and remove from heat until 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.
  5. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  6. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  7. Return peach mixture just to a boil.
  8. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then remove from heat.
  9. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

For Slow Cooker:

  1. Rinse and dry your basil leaves and peaches, and scrub the skin of your lemon thoroughly before you start your recipe.
  2. Toss peaches, lemon zest, amaretto, honey, salt, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and 1 cup hot water in slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook on high until peaches are tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour.
  4. Mix cornstarch OR arrowroot with the cold water until a thin paste forms.
  5. Stir cornstarch or arrowroot paste into peach mixture until sauce starts to thicken then turn slow cooker off.
  6. 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, scoop ice cream into serving bowls and place bowls into freezer.
  7. Spoon peach mixture over the ice cream and add a full basil leaf or two. Serve immediately.

**Tip  You can save yourself time during your dinner party by scooping your ice cream into your serving bowls and putting them into your freezer before the party starts.  #GirlsGoneWine

Note that I made a few changes & notes to the original linked recipe:

  • They didn’t specify whether to peel the peaches or not, but the photo shows unpeeled peaches;
  • The Amaretto (almond liqueur) you use matters to the amount you use.  If you ci-disaronno-originale-amaretto-02f22ebe37e1d171are using Amaretto Disaronno use the amount shown in the recipe.  If you are using another brand you may want to slightly reduce the amount as some tend to have a more pronounced almond flavor.  Adjust according to your taste;
  • I found the recipe to be “too saucy” and the sauce to be too thin the first time I made it so I made 2 changes: I increased the peaches from 4 to 6 and added a thickening agent to the sauce (cornstarch or arrowroot).  In this case, use cornstarch or arrowroot to maintain your shiny sauce;
  • I read the reviews of the original recipe, on www.epicurious.com, and agreed that it needed just a touch more honey, so I added an additional tablespoon; and
  • I added 1/4 tsp cinnamon to compliment the peaches, and tame the spice of the red peppers and the peppery basil.

This recipe served 8 and was a definite crowd pleaser!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Creamy Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi

creamymushroomspinachgnocciThis recipe is #FastFillingandFlavorful which makes it a perfect weeknight choice.

This dish serves 4-6 and will pair well with a dry white wine like this 93 Point $16, 2015 Casablanca Valley Arboleda Chardonnay from Chile or this 90 Point $22, 2017 La Marea Kristy Vineyard Albariño out of Monterey County on the Central Coast of California.  Open one of these bottles of wine, add a crisp green salad and you’ve got an elegant #MidWeekFeast.

Spinach & Mushroom Gnocchi with Creamy Parmesan White Wine Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 ounces portobello mushrooms, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 dashes Italian seasoning
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy/whipping cream
  • 1 pound uncooked potato gnocchi
  • 1 generous handful baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste
  1. Add the olive oil to a skillet on medium high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned.
  2. Add the mushrooms, garlic, and Italian seasoning. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the Dijon mustard and white wine. Let it cook for a minute or so.
  4. Add the cream and gnocchi. Wait until the sauce just starts to boil again, then cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Stir in the spinach, cover the pan again, and cook for 3 minutes.
  6. You can add a chopped up cooked chicken breast to this when you are adding the spinach into the sauce if you want to add meat.
  7. Stir in the Parmesan and season with salt & pepper. Give it a taste; gnocchi should be soft. If not, continue to cook for another few minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley. Serve immediately with more Parmesan cheese grated over top if desired.

For weeknight cooking I am always looking for recipes that combine three criteria:

  1. No exotic or expensive ingredients I have to search high and low for
  2. Ready in thirty minutes or less
  3. Can be made with meat or without

This recipe fit all of these plus two others that make it a winner in my book:

  1. When a main dish recipe can be doubled so it can be a side dish or a lunch later in the week
  2. When one of the ingredients is wine or the finished product naturally pairs with wine #GirlsGoneWine approved! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

It’s finally cool enough in California, at least once the sun goes down, to justify getting the stock pot out to make a hearty soup that can serve as dinner with a big salad & crusty bread that can then live on as a couple of workday lunches too!  Great for the wallet AND the waistline!  This soup is so rich, and has such depth of flavor, that it seems like a cheat meal, which is a plus during the non-stop holiday feast season.

Tart & Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

  • 1  –  2 to 2+1/2 lb Butternut Squash (Peeled/Seeded/Chopped into about 1″ Cubes)
  • 1  –  Large Granny Smith Apple (Cut into about 1″ Pieces – seeds/core/stem removed)
  • 3  –  Large Ribs Celery Chopped
  • 3  –  Carrots (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 1  –  Medium Yellow Onion (Peeled/Chopped into about 1″ Pieces)
  • 4  –  TBLS Butter
  • 1  –  32 oz Container Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1+1/2 Cups Water
  • Freshly Grated Sea Salt (To Taste)
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper (To Taste)
  • Freshly Ground Nutmeg (1/4 tsp)
  • Cinnamon (1/2 to 1 tsp)
  • Cayenne Pepper (Pinch to 1/8th tsp)
  • Chopped Parsley (if desired)

Melt the butter in a medium stockpot and add the onions, carrot and celery.  Sauté over low heat about 10 minutes.  When onions just start to brown, add the squash, apple, salt, pepper, chicken stock and water.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring just to a boil.  When bubbles appear at the edges of the pan, reduce heat to low.  Cover pan tightly and simmer soup for 45 minutes until squash is completely softened.

Remove soup from heat and either process soup until smooth using your blender (I use my Vitamix) and returning to the pan after processed or an immersion blender as shown in the video.

Once soup is smooth, add the Nutmeg, Cinnamon and Cayenne.  Adjust spices to taste.

I came across a video that uses the same technique I use to make my soup, with slightly different measurements, and it’s much prettier, so I’ll give the standard #ShoutOut and #HighFive to Simply Recipes for producing a great (and quick) video that I can also use to demonstrate how to assemble my soup!

I’ve already been remiss at keeping up with my blog, so not having to produce a video is a definite bonus! #ThisGirlLovesToEat