Monday, November 16, 2015

Low Carb Sweet & Savory Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

About a month ago, my family and I enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing trip to my family's lake house on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia. Moneta is a little, tiny town and I don't anticipate that any of you have ever heard of it, but to me, it's been a second home and one of my favorite, most beautiful places on earth and is the epitome of "growing up Liz". You know how one place can just take you back to a certain time of your life? Or a smell? Or a food? For me, that whole place holds my favorite childhood memories of cookouts, putt-putt, day trips through the Blue Ridge Mountains, family reunions with the most incredible spread of southern food you'd ever dreamed of, time with family and long, beautiful summer days spent on the boat tubing with my cousins.  And we did the latter on repeat. Every. Single. Day. For two weeks each summer. I'm fairly certain that if you counted it all up, my cousins and I have spent days upon days being pulled by that boat and every time we'd fly off of our tube, we'd laugh and laugh.. and then jump back on and do it again. And again. We'd tie up the boat long enough to come up to the house midday for a quick sandwich but we were right back on the boat through the evening and those are the memories that I cherish the most.

As I've gotten older and all of the cousins have spread out in different states, the trips have gotten quieter and the sunburns of summers past have left their permanent mark on my shoulders and arms with millions of little freckles which I'm quite certain that, any day now, will inevitably come together as one and turn into the most beautiful tan you've ever seen. But that's neither here nor there. The point is, this place is special and holds a piece of my heart and my life like no other place on a map possibly could.

I'm lucky to still have family in the area when we go back and each time we visit, time with my aunt is essential. She's sweet, fun, always knows how to make me laugh and is always laughing with me, and has the exact same "up for anything" attitude that I loved most about her as a kid. (And she had horses and cows in her back yard when I was a kid- which pretty much qualified her into the Coolest Aunt Ever category for a 6 year-old suburban kid). As long as she's known me, she's held the key to my little heart: her cooking. Time with the fruits of her labor in the kitchen is even MORE essential, though, let me just tell ya. The woman can cook. She can bake. Her 7-Up cake with coconut cream frosting would make you cry and her mac and cheese is hands down the best in the south. Hands down. And then there's her peanut butter chocolate fudge that is literally better than Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I kid you not, but I digress. She's an incredible cook and an even more incredible second mom to me, so when I give you a recipe that's straight from her kitchen to try, just know that it's an order and not a request. :) 

So there we were in the middle of October celebrating a Thursday at the lake with a luau: leis, shell necklaces, decorations, plastic pineapple cups, the whole nine yards. Because who doesn't want to luau in October? Like most of my lake memories, we laughed, we ate, we told stories and took trips down memory lane and we laughed some more. She and my uncle just returned from a dreamy Hawaiian cruise and I was a total fan of going through them on the television with a flower lei around my neck. I'm telling you, she gets me. Ben and I had just made it off that dang mountain and we were STARVING. And in came this platter of heaven AKA bacon wrapped pineapple and it's been love ever since. They were delicious little bites of savory, sweet gloriousness and they were devoured in minutes. 

Since I'm no longer on vacation and trying to stay away from as much fruit as I can, my aunt and I talked about all of the endless possibilities of things that could be wrapped in bacon and shrimp instantly came to mind. And these little guys are just as heavenly and after doing the calculations, only have 1.4 carbs per shrimp! With all the holiday parties and potlucks in your future, these are a must try and I can guarantee you will go home with an empty platter and recipe requests from your friends and family. And who can be mad about that? 

Low Carb Sweet & Savory Bacon Wrapped Shrimp 

1 lb. bacon, each strip cut in half vertically down the middle
22 raw jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined 
8.5 tsp Splenda Brown Sugar 
22 toothpicks 

1. Preheat oven to 375 
2. Cut bacon strips in half so that strips are half as long
3. Peel and devein shrimp 
4. On a plate, dredge bacon in the Splenda brown sugar. (It won't completely cover bacon strips but a little goes a long way with this stuff)
5. Place shrimp in bacon to wrap. Secure with toothpick.
6. Place on raised rack on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes 
7. Place under broiler for a 3-5 minutes to crisp and watch closely!
8. Take out of oven and let cool
9. Arrange on a platter and prepare for no shrimp to be left behind at your holiday party 

*If you want to substitute pineapple for shrimp, just use 1 can of large chunk pineapple and roll the same way*

 First things first! Any appetizer dish with this as the main ingredient is gonna be a home run, let's be real here. 

 Measuring out the Splenda brown sugar. Note: It was surprisingly hard to come by in north Texas. I found mine at Kroger. 

I just used the amount of shrimp I had on hand. It just so happened to be exactly the right amount of bacon per shrimp.

 I dredge the best when I set up stations for each step. Easy peasy.

Dredge that bacon! It won't feel like dredging with your typical brown sugar as it definitely has a different consistency. So, really get in there and don't be afraid if the sugar doesn't coat every last inch of the bacon because it won't. I tried to use as little brown sugar as I could when tweaking this recipe to lower the carb count.

Start rolling up those shrimp! 

This is a close-up of about how much sugar is on the bacon. I didn't want to go crazy with it but I promise you- these little guys are divine.

Yum, right?

 All ready for the oven! Note: Learn from me and place aluminum foil so it lies flat on top of the baking sheet. I may or may not have spent way too much time scrubbing the sugar drippings off of my favorite and oldest baking sheet after all was said and done. And watch that bacon closely! As my aunt reminded me, sugar burns easily. Very easily. So keep an eye on it. 

And look at them fresh from the oven! The shrimp are cooked perfectly and the bacon is crisp.. #getinmymouth

I can't even tell you guys how delicious these bad boys are and what a crowd-pleaser this appetizer is. I am so excited to serve them to friends and family during the holiday season and also for football parties and work potlucks. Tis the season around here! I know you will love them and can't wait for you all to make them, too. 

And a side note: One of the many things that has left me and my husband in awe during this health journey is the sheer amount of support, encouragement and recipe ideas that our friends and family have inundated us with. From my mom introducing me to my first bite of cauliflower mash, to my aunt going out of her way to count every last carb in her dishes she prepares for us, to co-workers bringing trays of meat and cheese to work parties so that I can have something, anything that is somewhat special in lieu of cookies and doughnuts, we just feel so blessed by all of you. Knowing that we're not doing this alone and that every last pound we lose and hurdle we surpass is done so with excitement and enthusiasm from our people means the world to us.

 I, personally, get so many recipe ideas from all of you and being able to share them with others who may not know that cauliflower does, in fact, have 9 lives or that there is such a thing as a sweet and savory low carb appetizer is something that I love the most about this little corner of the internet. Because you can still go to parties. You can still eat delicious food. It's just about finding something you love and doing some tweaking. Nearly 70 pounds lighter and I'm still tweaking. Always learning. Always tweaking. And that's exactly the way I like it.

Happy Monday! Make these soon and thank me later. 

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