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

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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

Chicken Bacon Ranch Meatballs

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Ground chicken breast is one of my favorite ways to build a base for a #Keto meal!  It’s so versatile, mixes so well with most of my favorite ingredients, and is so easy to meal prep for the week ahead, that it’s become my go-to for creating new #KetoRecipes

This recipe for #ChickenBaconRanchMeatballs is fun because you can eat them all alone or pop them on a skewer between a piece of lettuce and 1/2 a plum or cherry tomato and drizzle with some ranch dressing for a fun lunch, light dinner, or appetizer.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Chicken Bacon Ranch Meatballs

  • 2 Pounds Ground Chicken Breast
  • 4 Pieces Thick Cut Bacon
  • 3 Pieces Thick Cut Peppered Bacon
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 Cups Fresh Baby Spinach
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 4 TBLS Ranch Dressing
  • 1/2 Cup Panko
  • Olive Oil Spray

 

Using your hands, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl until well mixed.

Spray the basket in your air fryer lightly with olive oil spray, place a layer of meatballs, with space between for the air to flow around, set the temperature to 380° F, and set the timer for 8 minutes. Cook the meatballs, shaking them to turn them about halfway through so they brown evenly.

Quick, easy and oh so tasty!

 

Beyond the “5 Mother Sauces”

While I’ve managed to learn to make passable Béchamel and Hollandaise sauces, the other 3 “essential ‘Mother Sauces’ that all serious cooks should master,” just haven’t been at all essential to meals I prepare. However, the 5 sauces Food & Wine Magazine featured in an April 2019 article are definitely featured much more prominently in my favorite home cooked meals!

  • Chimichurri – Comprised of herbs, olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and garlic and/or minced shallot, Chimichurri is a quite versatile, and eminently adaptable sauce that’s great paired with grilled meat or vegetables, or used as a dressing tossed with greens or pasta salad.
  • Hollandaise – F & W’s Justin Chapple shared his secret to making the perfect hollandaise: A blender. Instead of using a double boiler to cook the yolks, Chapple purees the egg yolks in a blender and then streams in hot melted butter, thickening and cooking the hollandaise.  I love this sauce spooned over eggs benedict, steamed or grilled asparagus or as a compliment to a perfectly grilled piece of salmon or steak.
  • Pomodoro – Marinara’s thick, easy, cousin made by simmering crushed tomatoes with a touch of olive oil, garlic, and salt, until it’s thick and a deep rich red. As a sauce for pasta or chicken/veal/eggplant Parmesan, this sauce can easily have some pizzazz added to it by stirring in chopped capers and anchovies, or fresh basil and crushed red pepper.
  • Béchamel – This easy, roux based, sauce is the flavor stepping stone for layering in a lasagna, smearing on a croque madame, or adding cheese so it becomes a mornay sauce for macaroni and cheese.
  • Romesco – Pureed Spanish sauce, made with chilies, tomato, bell pepper, garlic, toasted nuts and olive oil that tastes good on anything from pasta to seafood, grilled vegetables, or even as a spread on a hearty sandwich. Just thinking about these bold, flavorful revisions to the traditional “Mother Sauces” gets my creative culinary juices flowing! #ThisGirlLovesToEat

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.

Turkey Day Prep: Creamed Spinach with Bacon

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Creamed spinach may not seem like a side dish that pairs well with the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but the creamy richness is an especially nice companion to turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing, and a nice change from the same old green bean casserole.  It’s also great with ham and, of course, any type of beef.  It’s #GlutenFree when you use #BobsRedMill Paleo Baking Flour and pretty #KetoFriendly too!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Creamed Spinach with Bacon

  • 2 – 16 oz pkgs Frozen Chopped Spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
  • 3 Cups Warm Whole Milk
  • 1 Pound Bacon, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 Cup Finely Chopped Onions
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 2/3 Cup Bob’s Red Mill Paleo Baking Flour (Grain & Gluten Free)
  • 6 TBLS Butter, melted

Cook bacon slowly until browned but not crispy.  Remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate and leave the grease in the pan.  Over medium heat, cook the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent.

RouxAdd the salt & pepper and stir in the flour.  Stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, until a very light brown, fluffy roux forms.  Slowly stir in the warm milk (I microwave mine in a Pyrex measuring cup for about 2 minutes) and stir until smooth.

cookedAdd the bacon back into the pan and cook for about another minute, stirring continuously.  Add the spinach and cook, stirring occasionally, over low-medium heat until all of the spinach is mixed in and warmed through.

Cover the top with the melted butter until ready to serve.

Nutrition Information: (Makes 12 – 14 Half Cup Servings)

  • 165 Calories
  • 5 g  Carbohydrates
  • 6.4 g  Fat
  • 8.2 g  Protein

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Instant Pot Spicy Tomato Bisque

TomatoBisque

I bought some organic tomatoes on the vine and a pint of grape tomatoes that I hadn’t finished but didn’t want to go to waste.  Tomato soup is my favorite, but the canned variety is SO full of carbs…enter the #InstantPot and, 20 minutes later, viola #LowCarbTomatoBisque!

Spicy Tomato Bisque

  • 2 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Chopped Onion (1 Small to Medium Onion)
  • 3 Ribs Celery, Chopped (About 3/4 Cup)
  • 2 Medium Carrots, Peeled & Cut into 1/2″ Slices
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
  • 4-6 Medium Tomatoes, Quartered (I used 4 + 2/3 Pint of Grape Tomatoes)
  • 1/2 TBLS Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 TBLS Dried Parsley
  • 1/2 TBLS Dried Basil
  • 1 – 10.5 oz Can Beef Consommé (or Vegetable Broth for Vegetarian) + 1/2 Can Water
  • Dried Red Pepper Flakes (if desired)
  • 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese (if desired)

Set the Instant Pot to saute mode and add the oil to warm.  Add onion, celery, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, oregano, basil and parsley cook for about 3 minutes.

Add Consommé/Broth and red pepper if using.  Mix well.  Close the Instant Pot with pressure valve to sealing and set to cook for 9 minutes.

When cycle is complete, set valve to quick release, open the Instant Pot, and puree the soup using an immersion blender.  I prefer mine a little bit chunky.

Set the Instant Pot to Saute mode.  Stir in cream and adjust spices with salt & pepper as needed. Ladle into bowls, and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

Nutrition Information:  Serves 6

  • 152.5  Calories
  • 13g  Fat
  • 6.5 g  Carbs
  • 2 g  Protein

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Keto Asparagus Soup

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While my market still has asparagus in the produce department, I’m making soup!  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Quick & Easy Keto Asparagus Soup

  • 1 Sweet Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 Pounds Fresh Asparagus, chopped into 1″ pieces (discard ends)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 3 Cups Low-Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 Cup Chopped Pancetta or Prosciutto, sautéed
  • 2 TBLS chopped chives
  • Freshly Gound Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste

In a large dutch oven, over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil until onion becomes translucent.

Add the asparagus and chicken stock to the pot.  Cover and boil until the asparagus is tender, about 5 minutes.  Check for tenderness by stabbing with a fork.  Add the heavy cream to the pot and cook for an additional minute.  Season with salt & pepper.

Transfer the soup to your Vitamix, blender, or  food processor and process until smooth.  Make sure there are no chunks of asparagus.  You want a really smooth soup.

Divide soup between 6 bowls and garnish with the pancetta/prosciutto and chives.

Filet Mignon Chili & Pepper Jack Crisps

My husband’s company, #Connectria, is so much different than anywhere he’s ever worked.  They do fun morale & team building activities and this week, following “come as your favorite Marvel character day,” they are having a chili cook off.  The fact that they are just outside St. Louis, Missouri, while we are in Irvine, California, is no impediment to my husband participating in all of their fun activities.  He submits photos and videos of himself participating from his one-man executive suite in his remote location.  After a $300 trip to the grocery store 😕, I will be sending his chili submission to St. Louis on dry-ice via Federal Express tomorrow.

This chili doesn’t burn your face off at first touch of your tongue to the spoon.  It’s more of a second spoon sneak up on spicy experience.  Kind of like a great glass of wine…it has a long finish!  I prefer it that way.  I serve it with lots of additional chopped peppers, onions, cilantro and hot sauce for anyone who absolutely needs to feel the burn.  #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Filet Mignon Chili with Pepper Jack Cheese Crisps

  • 2 Pounds Filet Mignon (Beef Tenderloin), cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 2 Pounds 90% Lean Ground Sirloin
  • 3 Small Yellow Onions, chopped (About 4 cups)
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 2 Yellow Bell Peppers, chopped
  • 3 Jalapeño Peppers, stemmed/seeded & chopped
  • 1 Pasilla/Anaheim or Poblano Chili, stemmed/seeded & chopped
  • 1 Cube (8 TBLS) Butter
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
  • 4 tsp + 1 TBLS Olive Oil
  • 2 – 6 oz Cans Tomato Paste
  • 2 – 14 oz Cans Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1-2 tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper (to taste)
  • 2 Heaping TBLS Unsweetened Cocoa (divided)
  • 1 tsp Chipotle Chile Pepper Powder (divided)
  • 1 tsp Hot Mexican Style Chili Powder (divided)
  • 1 tsp Ancho Chile Pepper Powder (divided)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg (divided)
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper (divided)
  • Juice of 1 Medium Lime
  • 1 – 10.5 Ounce Can Beef Consommé
  • 5 – 15.5 Ounce cans Reduced Sodium White Kidney (Cannellini) Beans, drained
  • 1 – 11.2 Ounce Bottle Guinness Draught Beer
  • 2 Cups Very Strong Brewed Coffee (I used Starbucks™ Verona Blend)

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, place the butter, 2 tsp olive oil, the garlic, onions, red and yellow bell pepper and jalapeño peppers.  Cook until all start to soften and the butter starts to brown, about 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add the 2 cans diced tomatoes, 1 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp cumin and salt & pepper.  Stir occasionally while simmering.

Coat a large skillet with 1 tsp olive oil and, over medium heat, brown the ground sirloin but don’t cook to well done.  You want the meat to be a little pink, not rubbery.  Mix in the tomato paste, 1 can at a time, until completely incorporated, and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes until warmed through.  In a small bowl combine: 1 heaping TBLS unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder, 1/2 tsp hot Mexican style chili powder, 1/2 tsp Ancho chile pepper powder, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  Stir combined spices into the beef and tomato paste mixture and stir over low heat until well combined.

Add the ground beef mixture to the vegetables, stirring well to combine.  Increase heat to medium-low and stir in the Guinness, coffee, and beef consommé.  Bring mixture to a boil and allow to cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the beans.

Combine your remaining spices in a small bowl: 1 heaping TBLS unsweetened cocoa, 1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder, 1/2 tsp hot Mexican style chili powder, 1/2 tsp Ancho chile pepper powder, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper.  Put 1 tsp olive oil and the juice of the lime into a large zip bag.  Add the 1/2″ chunks of filet mignon then sprinkle the spice mixture over the meat.  Zip the bag closed and shake the bag to coat the meat.  I massaged the meat from outside the bag to make sure all of the spices were stuck to the meat.

Heat your skillet with the remaining TBLS of olive oil and add your meat.  Cook for about 2-3 minutes until just seared then add the meat to the chili.  Add your chopped Anaheim/Pasilla/Poblano chili to the remaining cocoa/spice-oil mixture in the pan and stir fry for about 2 minutes until the peppers begin to soften.  Add the peppers to the chili and stir to make sure all of the ingredients are combined.

Increase the heat to medium and bring just to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 90 minutes or until chili is nice and thick.  Adjust seasonings as needed before serving.

To make the pepper jack crisps:  Shred your cheese and mound onto parchment paper lined baking sheets.  Bake at 400° F for 8 – 10 minutes, or until edges start to brown.  Tip:  Don’t pile too much cheese on your mounds or your crisps will be chewy instead of crispy.

Serve chili with: an ice cold Guinness, a pepper jack crisp, and topped with diced onions, peppers, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, and sour cream if desired.

Nutrition Information:  Makes 24 – 2 Cup Servings

  • 292 Calories
  • 10.65 g Fat
  • 16.41 g Carbohydrates
  • 24.86 g Protein

Total Recipe Information:

7012 Calories / 255.61 g Fat / 393.97 g Carbs / 596.76 g Protein

Quick Portobello Chicken

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When you follow a Keto, Whole Food, or Paleo diet, weeknight dinners can easily derail your progress if you don’t keep an arsenal of quick and easy recipes on hand.  This recipe is both. #ThisGirlLovesToEat

Quick & Easy Cheesy Portobello Chicken

  • 9 ounces Frozen Tyson Grilled & Ready Fully Cooked, Diced Chicken Breast (Thawed)
  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Chopped Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Thinly Sliced
  • 4 ounces Sliced Portobello Mushroom
  • 1/4 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Slices bacon, cooked & crumbled
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Tarragon
  • Freshly Ground Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

Preheat oven to 425° F and grease a 4 cup baking dish with butter.

Heat oil in a medium skillet.  Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.  Add the chicken, Parmesan, tarragon, bacon, and mushrooms to the skillet.  Cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the wine and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Transfer to the greased baking dish and top with the shredded mozzarella cheese.  Put (uncovered) into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown.  I served this over a bed of mashed cauliflower for a perfect #KetoMeal

portobellochicken2Make Ahead Tip:  If you are making this dish ahead, put into the buttered baking dish and cover/refrigerate.  When ready to put in the oven, throw the dish in the microwave for about 3 minutes, at 50% power, to take the chill off, then top with the cheese and bake as directed.

Nutrition Information (Serves 3)

  • 447 Calories
  • 39 g Fat
  • 4 g Carbohydrates
  • 27 g Protein