living the life fantastic:

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  • Low Carb Luxury: Shiritaki Noodles with Bacon & Brie

    A luxurious and decadent twist on the all-American comfort food: Macaroni & Cheese. This is an elevated version of an old favorite, and very low-carb, to boot! Quick, easy and oh-so-satisfying.

    If there's one food I missed above all others when I embarked on my Low Carb Lifestyle, it's pasta. I was beyond elated when shiritaki noodles entered my life; with proper preparation they make a satisfying stand-in for traditional pasta... without those pesky carbs. This is a very simple and economical main course dish, terrific for those of us who live a 'Low Carb, High Fat' (LCHF) lifestyle. If you are afraid of fat, this is not for you - the nutritional numbers at the end might give you a heart attack. I am eating this way due to Type 2 Diabetes, and since I have changed to the LCHF way of eating my numbers have improved dramatically and I have lost 30 pounds. I am really not interested in debating the nutritional merits of this soup, or LCHF eating; make it, or don't. It's your life, your choice, and I wish you well.

    This is a very simple recipe using readily available items.

    The Brie came from Walmart, $6.99 for a 16oz. wheel. We are using 1/4 of this. 

    (A note about buying Brie: Give it a sniff. It should smell light, fresh and creamy. If you smell anything pungent, sour or ammonia, put it down and walk away.)

    There are many different brands of Shiritaki noodles available in local stores as well as on Amazon. I am using these becasue they are what is available at my local WinCo for $1.79.

    Gather your incredients. I prefer freshly grated nutmeg.

    Drain the noodles and rinse well. Drain.

    Heat in dry pan for about two minutes to remove extra moisture. Set aside.

    Dice bacon. Cook until well-rendered. DO NOT DRAIN!!!

    Add cream, brie, mustard and nutmeg. Stir until melted. Reduce heat to low.

    Add noodles and stir to coat evenly. Let the noodles absorb the flavors for a few minutes.

    Season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

    _______________________________________________________

    Shiritaki Noodles with Bacon & Brie
    by Robin Taylor Delargy

    Two Servings. Each Serving: Carbs 6.17 / Fiber 3 grams / Net Carbs 4.15 / Calories 372.5

    Ingredients

    • 1 package shiritaki noodles
    • 4 oz. Brie (before trimming rind, optional - I leave it in)
    • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    • 2 slices thick cut smoky bacon
    • 1.4 tsp dry mustard
    • pinch of nutmeg
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    Directions

    Rinse shiritaki noodles well and drain. Heat in a heated dry pan for about 2 minutes on medium heat to drive out the excess moisture. Set noodles aside while you make the sauce.

    Dice bacon and cube the brie. Add bacon to hot pan and cook over medium heat until thoroughly cooked and the fat has rendered. DO NOT DRAIN - we want that delicious fat!

    Add cream, brie, nutmeg and dry mustard. Stir until the cheese has melted. Add noodles, stir well, reduce the heat to low and let the noodles absorb the goodness for a few munutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    Optional: add diced onions and/or mushroom (sautee with the bacon) for extra oomph!

    Serve and enjoy!

    Recipe © 2017 Robin Taylor Delargy. Feel free to share, with credit and link. Thank you.

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  • Chicken Florentine Chowder: Cooking with Fantasticality

    Chicken Florentine Chowder: Low Carb Luxury
    by Robin Taylor Delargy

    A completely from-scratch dinner soup, thick, rich, comforting and delicious. Ideal for those on a Low-Carb, High Fat (LCHF) eating plan. Makes about 16 one-cup servings, as pictured.

    I adore Autumn. The beautiful Fall colors, the moist, crisp air... the mosquitoes have returned to Hell, where they belong... and the soup. Autumn is the beginning of Soup Season! This is a very hearty soup - almost a stew, really - that is terrific for those of us who live a 'Low Carb, High Fat' (LCHF) lifestyle. If you are afraid of fat, this is not for you - the nutritional numbers at the end might give you a heart attack. I am eating this way due to Type 2 Diabetes, and since I have changed to the LCHF way of eating my numbers have improved dramatically and I have lost 30 pounds. I am really not interested in debating the nutritional merits of this soup, or LCHF eating; make it, or don't. It's your life, your choice, and I wish you well.

    For the sake of the less-experienced cooks, I'm going to walk you through this, then post the recipe at the end. Experienced cooks can skip the tutorial, if you wish.

    I'm using a heavy enameled cast iron Dutch Oven, I think it's a 7 quart size. The chicken thighs - whole thighs, with skin and bone - go in the bottom of the pot, then a sliced onion goes on top. Add a teaspoon of salt, then put the lid on tight and pop it into your oven at 325 degrees for about 90 minutes.

    Remove from oven. The chicken needs to be completely cooked through, to at least 165 degrees. There will be lots of exuded juices. DO NOT throw them out!!! With tongs, remove the chicken thighs from the liquid & onions to a rimmed cookie sheet to cool. Leave the onions and juices in the pot.

    When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and set it aside for later – the bones, skin, etc. goes back in the pot. Add 1 stalk of celery (rough chop), half the garlic (smashed a bit, no need to peel it), the rosemary, herb and water to cover. Simmer for at least a couple hours (I like to give it at least 4 hours). I like to add about ½ tsp. crushed red peppers and ½-1 tsp. whole peppercorns, too. Personal preference.

    I throw in clean onion skins and the trimmings, they add color and flavor.

    My rosemary bush with a rose growing through the middle of it. It doesn't seem to mind.

    I love my pot filling faucet!

    Add water to cover, then simmer for at least 2 hours. I start this in the morning and simmer until about 90 minutes before dinner.

    While the stock simmers, let's get the mushrooms roasted.

    Set the oven to 350 degrees and add the butter to the cookie sheet you had cooled the chicken on. Put in oven until butter melts, then add the mushrooms, toss to coat, then roast until browned (approx. 20 minutes if sliced, 45 minutes if whole), stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on them! Set aside.

    Mmmmmm... melted butter.

    Roll the mushrooms around in the chickeny buttery goodness, then pop them in the oven. I roast them whole, then halve them later. I like big pieces of mushroom in my soup.

    Browned deliciousness! I like to add a bit of good sea salt (I like Himalayan Pink salt) as soon as they come out of the oven. A couple of these babies never made it into the soup.

    Aren't they beautiful???  OMG, SO good.

    I did the bacon and onions ahead, in a seperate pan. You can totally do them in the dutch oven, while straining the finished stock into a bowl. Up to you.

    This is half pound of smokey bacon (not the maple sweet stuff) and a yellow onion (not a sweet onion), both diced.

    Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and the bacon has rendered. Do not strain the fat! That stuff's GOLD!!!

    Put a colander inside a large bowl and strain the stock. I then wipe the pot and put it back on the stove with a fine mesh splatter screen (sold for frying bacon, but I do bacon in the oven) on top. I then put the colendar on top of the screen, filtering out the small bits. I pour the stock from the bowl through the fine screen, into the pot. Let it sit here for a bit so all the liquid can drain. Discard (we compost) the solids.

    Fine mesh strainer on top of wiped Dutch Oven

    The mesh splatter shiel keeps the colander above the liquid in the pot, plus it strains out small particles for a much cleaner stock.

    Skim some of the fat off the top, if desired. I remove enough to avoid ‘greasy’, but fat = flavor. I don’t get too militant about it.

    To the stock, add the chopped/diced celery, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic and minced herbs and simmer over medium heat until the cauliflower is soft. 

    Add the spinach and cooked chicken.

    I used about 2/3 of this bag, which is what I had in the freezer.

    Cook over medium heat until everything is hot, stirring ocasionally.

    Reduce heat to Medium-Low. Add the heavy cream and cheese. Stir often until hot and the cheese has melted through. Add salt and pepper to taste. I prefer a thicker consistency, so I stir in about a teaspoon of Xantham gum.

    Garnish with more cheese and some chopped green onions, if desired. Put a large napkin in your lap and dig in! I like to serve this with homemade low-carb biscuits. Yum!!!


    Chicken Florentine Chowder
    by Robin Taylor Delargy

    A completely from-scratch dinner soup, thick, rich, comforting and delicious. Ideal for those on a Low-Carb, High Fat (LCHF) eating plan. Makes about 12 generous dinner size servings.

    • Chicken thighs w/ bones and skin – large package, about 5 lbs.
    • 2 large yellow onions (NOT sweet)
    • Celery, 2 ribs (or to taste)
    • 1 lb. Crimini mushrooms (or any other mushroom)
    • ½ lb. bacon (smoky, NOT sweet)
    • Cauliflower, 1 medium head (5” to 6”), chopped. Broccoli works well, too.
    • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
    • ½ stick butter
    • 4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated, plus more for garnish (if desired)
    • salt & pepper
    • fresh rosemary (6” sprig)
    • fresh or dried herbs – personal preference. OR use Old Bay Seasoning!
    • garlic, 1 bulb (divided) (can sub jarred chopped garlic, or dried – it’s a personal preference)
    • 10 oz. To 16 oz. frozen spinach

    In a large cast iron Dutch Oven, place the chicken thighs and 1 onion (sliced or roughly chopped), put the lid on and pop it into a low (325 degree) oven until cooked through, approx. 1-1/2 hours.

    Remove from oven. With tongs, remove the chicken thighs from the liquid & onions to a rimmed cookie sheet to cool. Leave the onions and juices in the pot.

    When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones and set it aside for later – the bones, skin, etc. goes back in the pot. Add 1 stalk of celery (rough chop), half the garlic (smashed a bit, no need to peel it), the rosemary, herbs, 1 tsp of salt and water to cover. Simmer for at least a couple hours (I like to give it at least 4 hours). I like to add about ½ tsp. crushed red peppers and ½-1 tsp. whole peppercorns, too. Personal preference.

    Turn the oven to 350 degrees and add the butter to the cookie sheet you had cooled the chicken on. Put in oven until butter melts, then add the mushrooms, toss to coat, then roast until browned (approx. 20 minutes if sliced, 45 minutes if whole), stirring occasionally. Keep an eye on them! Set aside.

    When the stock is done, strain into a large bowl and discard the solids. I strain the large pieces out with a colander, then through a fine mesh splatter guard to get the fine particles out. Skim some of the fat off the top, if desired. I remove enough to avoid ‘greasy’, but fat = flavor. I don’t get too militant about it.

    Give the pot a wipe out. Chop the bacon and dice the remaining onion, put in the pot over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and the bacon has rendered. Do not strain the fat!

    Add the stock, chopped/diced celery, cauliflower, mushrooms, garlic and minced herbs and simmer until the cauliflower is soft. Add the spinach, cooked chicken, heavy cream and cheese. Stir often until hot and the cheese has melted through. Add salt and pepper to taste. I prefer a thicker consistency, so I stir in about a teaspoon of Xantham gum.

    Garnish with more cheese and some chopped green onions, if desired. Spready a large napkin over your lap and dig in!

    Nutrition Facts: 16 Servings Amount Per Serving (approximate): Calories 550, Total Fat 43.0 g, Saturated Fat 18.6 g, Total Carbohydrate 14.394 g, Dietary Fiber 3.011 g, Sugars 14.033 g, Protein 28.927 g

    *Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


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  • sharp as a tack, or dumb as a doornail?

    Interview with Robin Delargy of LooLoo's Box and Fantasticality
    (dancing with myself)

    Q: Why on earth would someone change a business name that already has a following?

    A: Good question. I can state with great certainty that it isn't a decision that's made lightly. In my case, I've been knocking the idea around the back of my mind since shortly after LooLoo's Box was launched.

    Q: Really? Why's that?

    A: Well, when LooLoo's Box was conceived, back in 2009, I was partnered up with a longtime friend. In fact, she was the one who convinced me to make the leap and go pro. We came up with the name, the story and the logo together. However, the friendship didn't survive the startup, and she exited not only the business, but my life. I still don't really understand it, but I have had to learn to accept it. I hope she is well. Anyway, LooLoo's Box has never really felt 'mine', but it seemed to be working, so hey - no big deal.

    Q: You've been pondering a change since 2009?

    A: Yes, but I never could settle on a new name. I considered using my name, but 'Delargy' isn't the easiest name for people to pronounce, and my full name 'Robin Taylor Delargy' just seems too formal for my type of jewelry. I needed a name that made sense in terms of my style, and ideally one I didn't need to explain. I wanted a name that didn't elicit occasional snickers, either from people associating the name and logo with a kitty litter box, or from infantile men whose mind immediately conjured up another meaning for the word 'box'. Sigh... I needed a name that not only felt right, but that I could also secure the domain for. Everything I tried was taken. This went on for years.

    Fast forward to January 2015. I was showing my elderly mother some of the features of her new smartphone. I demonstrated voice searching by saying "LooLoo's Box"... and every single Google result started with 'LuLu' or 'Lou Lou'. LooLoo was nowhere to be found, at least not on the first page - and that's the only page that matters.

    Q: Wow, that must have been quite a shock!

    A: You bet it was! It also told me - in no uncertain terms - that I was missing business. The only people who were finding me were those who knew to spell LooLoo's box with double O's. I was missing word of mouth business, because who on earth is going to tell their friend "Yeah, I got this wicked cuff from LooLoo's Box, spelled L-O-O- L-O-O!"

    Q: I wouldn't think to do that, no.

    A: As I sat at my dining room table trying to work on my business goals for the year, I realized that I couldn't really move forward until I'd sorted out the name. I didn't want to invest more time and money into a name that wasn't working for me.

    And then it hit me! I use the slang term 'fantastical' quite often, so Fantasticality was a natural progression. I did a quick domain search - available, whew! - and bought it on the spot. The mental picure of the F as a dragon sprang up before my eyes almost fully realized, so I sketched it, scanned it, and finished it. In less than a week I came up with the new name, secured the .com, finished the logo and built the website. I'm on fire, baby!

    Q: You are rebranding! Are you concerned about losing your current LooLoo's Box customers and fans?

    A: Of course I am, but I am hoping that if I tell the world about the rebranding, have both cards available at my shows this summer and wait to change my name on Etsy until the end of the year, when Fantasticality isn't so new, I should be fine.

    Q: So, I guess the only question that remains is: sharp as a tack, or dumb as a doornail?

    A: Time will tell, my friend - but my money's on the tack.