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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Company's Coming - How To Impress Your Guests

I don't often have guests over for dinner, but when I do I almost always serve my signature dish. The secret ingredient is lemon zest. When I first encountered a version of this recipe, I looked at the list of ingredients and I thought, "Lemon zest? Seriously? I'm not going to waste my time making lemon zest. Who do these people think I am, Martha Stewart?" Not that I have anything against Martha - I think she's fabulous and very creative. But I'm no Martha Stewart. However, I am interested in challenging myself to try ingredients that are new to me and so I got a zester and added the lemon zest to the recipe. I now understand why people go to the trouble - it really does make some dishes more flavorful.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom with Ricotta and Bell Peppers


1 portobello mushroom
1/4 C full fat ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 T olive oil
1/4 T coarsely chopped basil
1/2 T finely chopped fresh chives
2 oz bell pepper, any color
1/4 T fresh lemon zest
1/2 T pine nuts



*Preheat oven to 425 F.

*Using a teaspoon, gently scrape the gills (the black underside) from the mushroom and remove the stem.  Cut the pepper into strips. Lightly brush vegetables with olive oil and arrange in a shallow baking dish. Add sea salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 minutes.


*Brush grill pan and vegetables with olive oil. Arrange vegetables in pan and cook, covered over a medium- high heat for 2-3 minutes on each side.

*Combine ricotta cheese, garlic, lemon zest, and fresh herbs in a small bowl and set aside.

*In a dry non-stick pan, roast the pine nuts until slightly browned, stirring often. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

*Place mushroom stem side up on a plate and fill with the cheese mixture. Add bell pepper strips and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Makes 1 serving and has 296.9 cal, 7.1 net carbs, 16.4 g fat, 1.4 g fiber and 8.73 g protein.

Cheesecake is, quite simply, one of those desserts that tastes decadent, even when it's low carb. It's the kind of dessert that's great for pigging out on your own, yet is good enough for company as welI. I first got the idea for a no-bake cheesecake from watching Gordon Ramsey on BBC America. I know, he's obnoxious and arrogent, and eventually I just could not take him anymore. But he's a talented chef who knows how to take a few ingredients and make them into something special. It was easy enough to convert his recipe to low carb and single serving. Actually this recipe makes two servings, though it's up to you whether you want to be good and save the other portion for another day or devour it all in one sitting. I've been guilty of doing both, and I really must say, that considering the circumstances, I made the right decision every time.

Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake (Low Carb/Gluten Free)


2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 C heavy cream
1 T erythritol, powdered
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
2 drops liquid stevia
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract 


*Using an electric beater ( I use my hand- held Braun), beat cream cheese until smooth (there must be no lumps).

*In a separate bowl, using the same mixer, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the cream cheese into the bowl with the cream. Beat until completely blended. Add the erythritol, cocoa powder and stevia and mix until smooth.

*Spoon into individual ramekins  - for 1 serving use a 4 oz, for 2 servings use two 2 oz ramekins. Cover and refrigerate until ready to eat. I can attest to the fact that this can be eaten directly from the bowl, though you may prefer it chilled.

Makes two servings and each has 207.5 cal, 4 net carbs, 21.5 g fat, .5 g fiber and 1.5 g protein.

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