Do You Have an Echo or Echo Show?

I have an Echo Show that I bought on #PrimeDay with the intention of watching cooking videos, but the truth is I rarely use it for anything more than when I need some music to sing along to in the kitchen.  Then it’s, “Alexa play Guns N Roses,” “Alexa play me 80’s (or 70’s) music,” or “Alexa play me 80’s hair metal.”  😉

My dad lives in assisted living and I just bought him an Amazon Echo Show for Christmas. Because this is an interactive device that has educational, entertainment, books, music, TED talks, motivational speakers, video and so many other skills that can fill a lot of empty hours, think about what a wonderful #VoiceActivated gift this would be for an elderly or house bound friend or relativeThe Echo Show even allows you to talk via video messaging using your smartphone & the Alexa app!

AmazonEchoShowHP

I don’t do many product endorsements that fall outside of tools I use everyday when I am cooking, but this is one time I’m going to.  Just so we’re clear,  I do not get paid for product placements or endorsements.  But, since it IS the main #GiftGivingSeason of the year, I recommend you watch for the discounts & bundled deals on the Echo Show, and the rest of this device series, in Amazon deals of the day.  #ThisGirlLovesToShop

Now, back to the post…..

I was replacing the silicone inner seal for my pressure cooker on Amazon this morning, **TIP – keep an extra one on hand so you don’t carry heavy smells (like garlic) between dishes, when I saw the tab for Alexa Skills.  That reminded me I hadn’t used my Echo Show lately.  I started looking around and found that there are actually some useful things my Echo Show can do to help do things other than just cook in the kitchen, like stick to my diet.  Maybe they can help you too.

If you are following any particular diet plan, there are many great tools that you can access with just your voice when you need some help or reassurance, like:

  • Primal Potential Daily Bites:  A daily, non-preachy, bit of coaching on mindset, attitude, fat loss strategy and everything you need to win the day & reach your goals.
  • Healthy KETO:  Dr. Eric Berg’s Healthy KETO & Intermittent Fasting Daily Podcast
  • The KETO Police:  Ask the KETO Police to tell you if a specific food is KETO or not
  • vegi.style Vegan Guide:  Vegan Search Engine.  Examples – Ask for all vegan restaurants in a particular city or for vegan foods containing certain nutrients
  • Vegan Chef:  Thousands of vegan recipes
  • Is it Paleo?  Ask Is it Paleo? to tell you if a specific food is paleo
  • Mediterranean Diet Daily:  Everyday you will hear ideas for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner to help provide inspiration and motivation for your Mediterranean inspired lifestyle
  • Food Expert by Selectivor:  Always know what everyone can eat and their favorite foods – without the hassle of remembering complex food lists for allergies, most diet plans, etc.

Overall this tool is one that I need to remember I have and put into use more often.  I am loading new skills in as I am typing and will start tomorrow…#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

Turkey Day Prep: Keto Friendly Appetizers That’ll Please the Whole Crowd

Spinach-Stuffed-MushroomsTo serve appetizers or not on Thanksgiving is always one of my biggest questions.  I don’t want to have people be so stuffed they don’t eat the main meal, but I don’t want to have people complaining if things get delayed, as always seems to happen.

The problem with appetizers is twofold: if someone else brings them they bring way too many, and if I do them it’s something else I have to do while also cooking the meal.  Then there is the dietary debate…who eats how, etc.  The beauty of these Keto appetizers is that they will appeal to everyone (give or take) in the crowd when a couple of them are paired with a simple cheese and/or veggie tray and that should be just enough to keep the troops happy until the main event.

These could also be great side dish options.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

  • 8 oz cream cheese softened
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 20 – 30 white mushrooms or baby bellas

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and mix well. Stir in spinach.  Spoon filling into the mushrooms and place in a buttered baking dish.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the mushrooms are soft.

Parmesan Crusted Crushed TurnipsParmesan-Crusted-Smashed-Turnips

  • 12 small to medium turnips, peeled
  • 3 TBLS extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1+1/2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground sea salt & black pepper
  • finely chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Place peeled turnips in pot of cold salted water and bring to a boil.  Cook 25 to 30 minutes, or until they can be easily pierced with a fork.  Drain and cool slightly.

Place the turnips on a clean, lint-free, dish towel on your work surface.  Using a spatula or other large utensil, press down on each turnip until they are all about 1/2″ thick.  Let them drain for 10-15 minutes then flip over to a dry part of the towel and let the other side dry.

Combine olive oil, garlic, and salt & pepper in a small bowl.  Brush both sides of each turnip with the oil mixture, press each side of each turnip into the Parmesan cheese, and place each turnip on a baking sheet.

Bake 20 minutes then flip each turnip over and return to oven for an additional 15 minutes until they’re nice and golden brown.  Garnish with fresh chives.  Serve with sour cream if desired. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Pie for the Keto Crowd

easy-keto-low-carb-pumpkin-pie-recipe

This week is all about making Thanksgiving desserts that those in your family who live the Paleo or Keto lifestyle can enjoy with you.  Yesterday was Pumpkin Mousse, and today we’re taking on traditional pumpkin pie in a keto crust.

The great things about this crust is that it can be used for either sweet or savory pies and that, even if you have the most vocal of coconut haters, they shouldn’t be able to smell or taste that coconut is your secret ingredient.

Keto Low Carb Crust

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract- eliminate for savory
  • 1/4 cup Swerve sweetener -eliminate for savory
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup butter cold cut into cubes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Whisk the eggs, oil and vanilla extract in a food processor or stand mixer.
  3. In another bowl whisk the remaining ingredients together until combined.
  4. Pour the dry and wet mixture into a food processor.
  5. Add the cubed butter. Process by pulsing until it looks like crumbles.
  6. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray and pour crumbles into pie plate.
  7. Press with hands to form dough right in the pie plate. Alternately you can also roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper and flip over into a 9 inch pie plate.
  8. Using a fork randomly make holes into the bottom of the crust.
  9. Bake the crust 10 minutes or until golden.
  10. Cover the crust edges with aluminum foil if using this for a savory or sweet pie that needs to be baked again, otherwise it will burn.
  11. Take crust out of the oven, cool completely, and add your filling.

Easy Low Carb Keto Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 15-oz can Pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup Heavy cream (or coconut cream for dairy-free/paleo)
  • 2 large Eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2/3 cup Powdered erythritol (Truvia)
  • 2 tsp Pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp Sea salt
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 tsp Blackstrap molasses (optional)
  1. Beat together all ingredients at medium-low speed, until smooth. (Don’t over mix.)
  2. When the pie crust is done baking, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Cool the crust on the counter for at least 10 minutes, longer if you have time.

  3. Pour the filling into the crust. Gently tap on the counter to release air bubbles.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until the pie is almost set but still slightly jiggly in the center. (Check on it occasionally, and if you see the crust starts to brown too much, cover the crust edge with foil and return to the oven until the filling is done. It should still jiggle a bit in the center, like a custard before it sets.)

Cool completely on the counter, then refrigerate at least an hour before slicing. Pie can be refrigerated overnight.

Serving size: 1 slice, or 1/12 of entire pie

Nutrition Information Per Serving

Calories: 244 | Fat: 21g | Total Carbs: 8g | Net Carbs: 4g | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 2g | Protein: 7g

Big thanks to Maya Krampf at Wholesome Yum for creating the pie filling & getting the recipe just right!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Turkey Day Prep: Pumpkin Mousse for the Keto Crowd

KetoPumpkinMousse

One of the biggest bummers for the Keto crowd during the holidays is feeling left out of all the baked goods and treats that others share at parties and family gatherings. Well, not this year! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Shape Magazine gathered and shared some recipes that help those living the Keto lifestyle enjoy the flavors of the season without sacrificing their diet goals.

The mousse below takes 10 minutes to make and can even be put into a keto pie crust.  If, by some chance, you don’t eat it all in one sitting, this mousse can be stored in air tight containers or in glass cups covered with plastic wrap for 5 days in the fridge.

Keto Pumpkin Mousse

  • 8 oz Mascarpone or whole fat cream cheese (room temperature for at least 15 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup Swerve Confectioners
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract optional
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (+additional to whip & top the dessert with)
  1. Place mascarpone and low-carb sweetener in a deep bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low for 2 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla, pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Beat on low until incorporated.
  3. Slowly, with the mixer running on low, add the heavy cream. Beat just until incorporated and fluffy, or for 2 minutes. Do not over beat.
  4. Top with whipped cream (optional), chopped sugar-free chocolate and mint
Nutrition Facts
Amount Per Serving
Calories 247 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 37%
Saturated Fat 15g 75%
Cholesterol 64mg 21%
Sodium 29mg 1%
Potassium 56mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 4g 1%
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 80%
Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 7.3%
Iron 1.9%

 

Turkey Day Prep: Stock

TurkeyStockI have been cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my own family for the past 25 years, or so, and have never attempted to make home made stock.  I never saw my Grandpa (THE Thanksgiving GURU in our family) make his own stock, as far as I knew, canned stock was the only stock there was. #1970sCannedFoodKid 

This year, since I’m trying to keep the meal as clean (read: uncanned) as I can this year to try and keep close to my Keto goals, I thought I’d try to make my own stock ahead of time and put it in the freezer to have for basting the bird and making the (Not Keto) stuffing and gravy.

The biggest hassle with making turkey stock is the fact that you have to make a whole turkey first to have a turkey carcass on hand.  I did find a way around this: I use turkey thighs, because I like the moister dark thigh meat, which I buy at my local grocery store, in this case, the Gelson’s a couple of miles from my house.  I like the upscale Gelson’s Market because it offers antibiotic-free, fresh, organic, and kosher (if that is important to you) turkeys and turkey pieces.

While not an all day process, it is a two part process.  First you have to cook the turkey parts and then you can make the stock.  Luckily the pressure cooker makes both parts easy.

Pressure Cooker Turkey ThighsEasy-Roasted-Turkey-Thighs-3-688x1032

  • 4 turkey thighs
  • 4 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, and chopped into large chunks
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
  • salt and pepper (if not using the Creole seasoning)
  • 24 oz low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  1. Set your pressure cooker to the “Brown” setting
  2. Add 1-2 TBLS olive oil to the pressure cooker.
  3. Season your thighs liberally.  I prefer to use Creole seasoning but you can use salt and pepper.
  4. Brown your thighs, two at a time, on all sides.  Make sure that the skin side is a deep, golden brown to ensure that the fat is rendered and the flavor is sealed into the meat.  Remove the browned thighs and set aside.
  5. Slip the skin off of the thighs and return to the pressure cooker to render as much of the fat into the pot as possible.
  6. Add the rest of the olive oil and the chopped onion. Saute the onion for about 5 minutes and then add the garlic.  Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the thighs back to the pot. Stir the onion and garlic up onto the chicken then season with salt & pepper, add the red wine vinegar and the stock.
  8. Lock the lid and cook on high pressure for one hour.  When cooking is finished, allow to return back to pressure naturally (about 30 minutes).
  9. Remove thighs from pressure cooker and put on plate for removal of meat from the bones.  Leave everything else in the pot.

**To Use Thighs For Stock:  The meat will easily shred right off the bone, but don’t worry, plenty remains to flavor the broth.  Store the shredded thigh meat in a covered container or zip bag to use in sandwiches, add to soup or eat in other meals.

Continue Preparing the Stock

  • bones from cooked turkey thighs (retained from recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup chopped turkey thigh (from recipe above)
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and roughly cut into about 1″ pieces
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 2 tsp pink Himalayan Sea Salt (you can use any sea salt – I like this one)
  • 3 cups water
  1. Add the skin, bones, chopped meat, celery, carrot, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, peppercorns, and salt to the vegetables and cooking liquid already in the pressure cooker pot, then add water.
  2. Pressure cook on high for 60 minutes.
  3. Let the pressure come down naturally – about 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop the bones and vegetables out of the pot with a slotted spoon and discard.
  5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solids.
  6. After the stock is completely cooled, I portioned it into quart-sized zip lock freezer bags.  It can be frozen for up to 3 months.

**Tip – If you use glass jars make sure to leave about an inch of head room or your jar could break when it freezes. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

 

 

Aguachile de Camarón

AGUACHILE-DE-CAMARÓN-18072016
Photo By Chelsea Kyle

It seems like every appetizer served at parties, large or small, is forbidden to those who follow the low carb lifestyles touted by the Keto, Paleo and Atkins diets, but who has the time, or patience, to spend making some of the recipes for snacks that are allowed?

I went to a couple of my favorite “regular recipe” resources, Epicurious.com and Emeril’s on Planet Green, to see if there were any easy snack recipes that were low carb friendly and was pleasantly surprised! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Aguachile de Camarón

  • 2 Quarts Water
  • 2 TBLS Kosher Salt
  • 1 Pound Fresh Jumbo Shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 English Cucumber, peeled
  • 1 Cup Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Water
  • 2 to 3 Fresh Serrano Chiles, sliced
  • 1 TBLS Chopped Fresh Parsley
  1. Combine 2 quarts water and 2 TBLS cup salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.
  2. Butterfly the shrimp, leaving the tail intact.
  3. Add shrimp and immediately turn off the heat.
  4. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, 2-3 minutes.
  5. Place shrimp in colander, run under cold water to stop the cooking, then drain.
  6. In a blender, combine the lime juice, olive oil, chiles, and 1/4 cup of cold water. Process until smooth then season to taste with salt.
  7. In a non-reactive bowl combine the shrimp with the dressing.  Cover and put into the refrigerator for 1 hour. (Can be made up to 4 hours before serving)
  8. Cut the cucumber into thin rectangular slices, about 3 inches long, and divide among 4 small plates.
  9. Arrange the shrimp on top of the cucumber slices, season as needed, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately.

**Non-Reactive Bowl:  Stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—is necessary when cooking with acidic foods, such as lemon, to prevent the food from reacting with the pan.  Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart an off color and/or off flavor

Salami Crisps (Epicurious)Salami-Crisps

  • 1/4 Pound (very thinly sliced) Genoa Salami, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Pancetta, Jamón Ibérico, Finocchiona, Coppa, or other charcuterie type dry cured meat
  • Cracked Black Pepper (if using an unspiced meat)
  • Parmesan Cheese (if desired)
  1. Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Arrange salami slices in 1 layer on 2 large baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  3. If using Parmesan Cheese, sprinkle slices lightly.
  4. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are crisp and beginning to curl, 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Transfer slices to a rack to cool. (They will crisp as they cool.)

Serving Suggestion:  Small slices of cheese, olive oil marinated feta, or some herbs mixed into cream cheese are all Keto-friendly and would be good served with these crisps.