Treat Week is Here!

dippedmacaroons2

Christmas is two weeks from tomorrow.  Those words just struck fear into most of the people who read them, me included.  I haven’t gotten my tree yet, very few decorations are out, but all is not complete chaos, I have gotten my baking organized.  Organized, not done. 😉

We’ve all got to get our acts in gear though, it’s time to take treats into the office, get them sent to the kids’ schools, and have them ready for coaches, babysitters, postal carriers, UPS drivers, dry cleaners, house keepers, gardeners, pool cleaners, and the rest of the village we need to show our appreciation to for helping make our lives a little bit easier.

One of my favorite cookies to make is the macaroon.  While many people proclaim themselves #CoconutHaters, I push them out of the way and take the stand that it just leaves #MoreForMe!  I love the big glob of sweet, juicy coconut with the browned bottom and edges, and I don’t skimp when I dip my macaroons in the chocolate either, they get a solid coat!

I’ve tried all the fancy recipes and frankly none are better than the one found on the  #BackOfThePackage of Baker’s Angel Flake Coconut!

CoconutMacaroons

Baker’s Coconut Macaroons

  • 1 – 14 oz pkg Baker’s Sweetened Angel Flake Coconut (5 Cups)
  • 2/3 Cup Sugar
  • 6 TBLS Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 4 Egg Whites
  • 1 tsp Almond Extract

Heat the oven to 325°F then, using butter, lightly grease and flour two cookie sheets.

Put the coconut into a medium mixing bowl and run a large fork through it to separate any clumps.  Sprinkle the sugar over the coconut and mix it in thoroughly, then do the same with the flour and salt.  Using a rubber spatula, mix in the egg whites and almond extract until all is well combined.

Using a tablespoon as a scoop, place 18 loosely packed mounds of the coconut mixture onto each of the cookie sheets.  Do not overload the spoon, roll into balls or pack too tightly.  You want the heat to circulate and get inside so the cookies bake completely without burning underneath.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown and you start to see edges crispy brown on some of the pieces on top of the cookies.  Remove from oven and take immediately from the pan to a wire rack to finish cooling.

If you are going to dip in chocolate, it’s easy:  I use milk chocolate chips, but you can use any kind you like, you can even get the dipping chocolate they sell in the fruit department by the bananas and strawberries.  I melt about 1/2 cup at a time in 30 second increments and then dip half the cookie in until it has as much chocolate as I like.  I move the cookies to wax paper to harden.

Store the cookies in a sealed container with wax paper between the layers.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

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

Avocado Lime Ranch Dressing

indexyresolutions

For those who make them, the time to set your resolutions for 2019 is quickly approaching.  If you’re one of the many vowing to lose a few pounds, why wait until after the first of the year to start?  You can get a head start on your goals quite easily.

It’s not hard at all to cut carbs and sugar from your diet while still enjoying the things you like, and making just that small change can make a big impact on your scale quite quickly.  A great place to start, where even guests at your holiday parties won’t notice a difference: Dips & dressings for vegetables or salads.

Avocado Lime Ranch Dressingavcadodipdressing

  • 1 medium ripe avocado
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 TBLS mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1+1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 2 TBLS olive oil
  • juice from 1 medium lime (about 2 TBLS)
  • 1-2 TBLS shallot finely minced

Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Using a rubber spatula, take a taste.  Adjust your seasonings then scrape all contents into a container with a tightly fitting lid and store in your refrigerator.  Use up within a week.

**TIP:  If the dressing is too thick, pour some into a smaller bowl or cup and add a TBLS or two of milk to thin it down to a better consistency.

This is great on salads, over steamed vegetables, as a dip for fresh vegetables or tortilla chips, and even with Mexican food.

Nutrition information:  Calories 80; Fat 9g; Protein 1g; Net Carbs 1g  #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

 

Peppermint Mocha Latte – Keto Friendly

starbuckPMLatteI love my Starbucks® and my normal latte is #KetoFriendly, but once the holiday peppermint drinks come out it’s really hard to stay away.  Instead I experimented in my kitchen until I got close enough to not feel completely deprived.

Keto Peppermint Mocha Latte

  • 2 – Medium to Bold K-Cup Coffee Pods (Brewed so you have 20 oz of coffee) OR 2+1/2 Cups Bold Brewed Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 2 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Stevia® Liquid Sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp Pure Peppermint Extract OR 1-2 drops #SafeToIngest Peppermint Essential Oil
  • 1 Square (about 1/2 oz) Bittersweet 70% Dark Chocolate
  • Canned Whipped Cream (If Drinking as a Mocha)

peppermintmochalatte

To drink as a Mocha:  In a small saucepan, combine the brewed coffee, the whipping cream, the milk, and the cocoa powder.  Stir until the powder is incorporated.  Add the square of chocolate and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the Stevia® and peppermint.   Divide evenly between 2 oversized coffee mugs that hold at least 16 ounces and top with whipped cream.

To drink as a Latte:  In a small saucepan, combine the brewed coffee, the whipping cream, and the cocoa powder.  Stir until the powder is incorporated.  Add the square of chocolate and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat and stir in the Stevia® and peppermint.  Divide evenly between 2 oversized coffee mugs that hold at least 16 ounces.

I have a milk steamer that foams as well, but if you don’t there is a very easy solution that I found online:  Place the cup of milk in a microwave-safe 2 1/2 cup container with a lid. Shake vigorously for 1 minute or until milk is frothy and doubled in volume. Remove lid; microwave milk at HIGH for 30 seconds. Top each coffee cup with a dollop of milk froth. Divide any remaining hot milk evenly between the cups.

**TIP  You can make this recipe as fat or thin as you want it based on the milk you choose.  If you don’t need as much fat for your day you can eliminate the whipping cream and use Whole or 2% milk instead.

#ThisGirlLovesToEat

 

Mexican Meatloaf – Keto Friendly

slicedmexicanmeatloaf

Another day – another discovery of a #KetoFriendly main dish that your family won’t miss the carbs in!  You can satisfy them by throwing potatoes into the oven while this is baking and throw some cauliflower into a pan to steam for yourself to mash up for a simple meal.  The best part is that this one is SO low carb that you can easily have your wine PLUS it makes enough for leftovers.  #EverybodyWins #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Keto Mexican Meatloaf

  • 3 pounds ground sirloin (90/10) – if you need more fat you should use 80/20 ground beef
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup medium chunky salsa – or whatever heat level you desire
  • 1-2.25 oz can sliced olives
  • 2/3 cup crumbs from saltine crackers (I processed the crackers in my Vitamix)
  • 1 to 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1+1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2+1/2 tsp salt
  • 1-10 oz can enchilada sauce – I used Las Palmas (<1g carbs per serving)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 Roma tomatoes diced
  • 1 ripe medium avocado diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • sour cream

Heat your oven to 350° and line the inner grease catch tray of your broiler pan with foil.  Place the top portion of the broiler pan back on top after spraying it with olive oil spray.

In a small bowl, combine all of the dry spices with your cracker crumbs.

In a large mixing bowl combine your ground beef/sirloin, eggs, salsa, 1/2 the can of olives, and cracker crumb/spice mixture using your hands.  Form the meat into one long loaf or two smaller loaves.  Cover with 1/3 of the can of the enchilada sauce and put into the oven.

After 30 minutes pull far enough out of the oven to pour another 1/3 of the can of the sauce over the meatloaf and put back into the oven for another 30 minutes then put the rest of the enchilada sauce over the meatloaf.  Cook for another 15 – 20 minutes and take out of the oven.

Let the meat loaf sit for 5 minutes before slicing.  Serve by adding the as little (or as much) of the cheese, avocado, tomatoes, olives, cilantro as you want to the sliced meatloaf.  Drizzle sour cream and additional hot sauce or salsa on top as desired.

platedmexicanmeatloaf

It tastes just like a taco!  Now I’m really looking forward to the leftovers.

 

Holiday Rush Cooking: Cheesy Cauliflower Casserole

roastedgarliccheesycauliflowerWhen the hustle and bustle of the December holiday season is in full swing, the last thing I want to worry about is making dinner.  This main dish casserole can be made ahead and served with a salad for a great weeknight meal.

If you don’t eat, or don’t like pork products, you can easily substitute shredded chicken (grocery store rotisserie or home prepared) for the ham and either leave the bacon out or substitute turkey bacon.  Another option is to cut leftover steak or prime rib into cubes as a substitute for the ham and leave in the bacon.  If you are vegetarian you can leave the meat out completely and add more bell pepper (red, yellow, orange or green). It’s a recipe that’s easy to get creative with.

Roasted Garlic Cheesy Cauliflower

  • 2 Heads of Cauliflower
  • 2 Cups Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese
  • 8 oz Cream Cheese
  • 2 Cups Shredded Aged Gouda (or Trader Joe’s Gouda/Parmesan Blend) Cheese
  • 4 TBLS Butter
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper Diced
  • 3 Chopped Green Onions
  • 6 Slices Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Cups Diced Cooked Ham
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Roasted
  • 3 Shallots, Roasted
  • Freshly Ground Pepper
  • About 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 TBLS Almond Flour
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream or 1/2 & 1/2

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 13 Pyrex baking dish and set aside.

roastedgarlicPeel away the papery skin and cut off the top of the garlic clove.  Place inside a square of foil, drizzle with olive oil, close up the foil package, and place in a shallow pan in the oven.  Do the same for the shallots.  Bake 30-40 minutes and remove from oven.  Set aside for a few minutes then open up foil pouch to let cool.

Break apart cauliflower heads, discard the stem and steam in a steamer in a large pot until tender but not mushy (about 20 minutes per head – you may have to do it in 2 batches).  Transfer cauliflower to Vitamix Container or Food Processor and pulse until florets break apart but do not pulverize.  Remove the cauliflower and put into a large mixing bowl.  Add diced bell pepper, ham, half of the chopped green onions, and half of the crumbled bacon.  Toss to combine.

In heavy saucepan squeeze the roasted garlic and shallots out of their skins and add 3 TBLS butter.  Cook over medium heat until butter melts.  Using a fork or an immersion blender stir/blend until the garlic and shallots are crushed and well combined.  Add a generous amount of pepper, the cream (or 1/2 & 1/2) and bring just to a boil.  Combine the last 1 TBLS of butter (melted) with 2 TBLS of the Almond flour (all purpose if Keto isn’t a concern for you) and blend or whisk into the mixture in the pan until the mixture begins to thicken.  Add the cream cheese then 1 Cup of the pepper jack and 1 Cup of the gouda, stirring constantly until melted.  It may not be a flowing sauce, but resemble a big melted blob – that’s ok.  Remove from heat and pour into the cauliflower mixture in a large bowl.  Use a large rubber spatula to stir together until well mixed.

Spread into prepared 9 x 13 pan, sprinkle remaining bacon, green onion and cheeses over the top, cover loosely with foil and bake for 30 minutes; remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is brown and bubbly.  Remove from oven and let cool 5-10 minutes. I serve with a bottle of Frank’s Red Hot for those who like more spice. #ThisGirlLovesToEat