Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bear Claws, Birthdays, and other delights!

It's my dad's birthday today and on this special occasion I like to treat him like the blessing he is in my life every day. His favorite thing is doughnuts, however since he turned diabetic about 10 years ago, those just aren't as easy for him to eat. So, I have adapted the Bear Claw recipe to make it sugar free, nutritious and delicious! I know you are saying, really? A healthy bear claw? How can that be tasty? Well, folks it is delicious. I halved the butter and used apple sauce, substituted splenda for sugar and fat free cream for regular. Then I used sugar free syrup instead of corn syrup and powdered sugar for the almond paste and I sprinkled them all with cocoa powder. Of course I added a little flax and what do you know.... They are delicious! They are now Bodacious Bear Claws!

We also have been cooking with a lot of fresh vegetables for health and delicious reasons which is why for this breakfast I decided to do south of the border and whip up some of my dad's favorite things. I whipped up some delicious Black Bean Cakes and we ate those with Fried Eggs and Half Crocked Pulled Pork on top with fresh salsa. The pork we had used for his birthday party the night before along with the Cheesey Artichoke Dip that was a huge hit! We had tons of leftovers so we thought, what the hell! Is pork ever really a bad idea? I don't think so! It was a delicious meal that I shared with my family to celebrate the fabulocity that is my dad. He's still sexy after all these years and I think the healthy food may have a little something to do with it.

I set the table with one of my family's favorite motto's "All love all the time" and called everyone to breakfast. Everyone couldn't wait to have my dad's famous fried eggs and try some bear claws that they had seen me making for the last two days. I did the whole refrigerate for 4-24 hours and had chosen to refrigerate for 24 hours, however you don't have to do that. It still works if you skip that part and go straight to the rolling out, cutting, and filling. Then let it rise in a warm place, which for us happens to be outside in the sunshine covered by a towel.

And since my parents had just seen a bear while they were hiking in Glacier park, this meal felt most fitting to celebrate my dad's 61st year. Well, if I don't say so myself, you are still sexy at 61! Here's to many, many more! And in all the 61 years that my dad has spent on this earth the most important thing he has learned it that it's all about enthusiasm. Nothing can be done well without enthusiasm. With relationships, plans, events, and life. Enthusiasm is what makes things happen, keeps things alive, and keeps people moving forward.

Bodacious Bear Claws

1 cup cold butter; cut into small pieces
1 cup apple sauce
3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup fat free half and half
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese (we love Philadelphia!)
1/4 cup splenda
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg white (separated)

Almond Paste

1 1/4 cup unsalted, blanched almonds
1/4 cup milled flax seed
1 cup sugar free maple syrup
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Combine 3 cups whole wheat flour with cold butter, and apple sauce in a large bowl. Toss to coat the butter with the flour and place in the refrigerator. Next combine the all purpose flour with the yeast. Set aside.

2.Heat a medium sauce pan and combine the fat free half and half and the cream cheese along with the splenda, vanilla, and salt. Heat over low heat just until melted and beginning to bubble. Add mixture to the yeast and flour mixture stirring until combined. Add the one egg. Then add the butter mixture and one tsp. cinnamon. Combine with your hands until a ball of dough forms.

3. Roll out the dough into a rectangle and fold both sides in to the middle making thirds. Roll out and continue folding over into thirds three times. Then cover and chill for 4 hours.

4. Now it's time to make the almond paste: Combine the almonds, flax, maple syrup, cinnamon, and vanilla in a food processor and process until smooth. Store until you are ready to use.

5. Once the dough has had a chance to sit, remove from the fridge and roll the dough out into a large cookie sheet sized rectangle. Slice in half width-wise. Roll each piece out again until you reach the desired size of a cookie sheet rectangle.

6. Spread the almond paste across the entire surface of your piece of dough and fold both sides up. Slice into 5-6 slices depending on how big you want your claws to be. Pinch the edges that have been opened to seal in the almond paste. Then cut 3-4 slits along the top folds of each piece to make claws and place on a greased cookie sheet. Repeat until all claws are made. Set the claws in a warm place and allow to rise for an hour. They should double in size.

7. Place sliced almonds on the fingers of the claws and sprinkle with cocoa powder. Place the claws in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Black Bean Cakes

2 (14 ounce) cans low sodium black beans (reserve one cup to the side)
1 cup prepared polenta (we used store bought garlic and basil)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. minced dried onion
1/2 tsp. cayanne pepper
1 egg
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup minced green onion
1 1/2 cup corn meal

1. Combine drained and rinsed black beans, polenta, garlic, salt, dried onion, and cayenne pepper in a food processor. Reserving one cup of black beans to the side. Process until smooth. Once smooth add the egg and cilantro and continue to process until all ingredients are combined.

2. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Then add the cheddar cheese, green onion, and corn meal along with the 1 cup reserved whole black beans. Stir together with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick like a cookie batter. Shape into burger sized patties.

3. Heat a large skillet with vegetable oil. Place the black bean patties in the hot pan and saute on each side for 2-3 minutes or until they are crisp on each side. Continue cooking each patty until all are cooked. Sprinkle with coarse salt after removing from the skillet. Serve with a dollop of low fat sour cream for added deliciousness!

Half Crocked Pulled Pork

7 pound package pork shoulder
2 cans beer (we used Bud Light Lime, but you can use whatever you have in the house)
1 white onion; sliced
4 tablespoons minced garlic
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup green onion
2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 1/2 tablespoon coriander
Salt and pepper (one tablespoon each should do it)

1. Place the pork shoulder in your favorite 10 quart Crock Pot. Pour in the two cans of beer, onion, garlic, green onion, bay leaves, and a healthy portion of salt and pepper.

2. Set the crock pot on low and allow to cook overnight for 8-10 hours.

3. Go to bed and in the morning. Turn off the crock pot and allow to cool for a few hours. Then pull the pork apart which will be easy as it will fall apart. You can use two forks to shred it or you can use your fingers and separate any remaining fat and remove.

Artichoke Dip

2 (8 ounce) packages low fat cream cheese
2 can artichokes (14 oz cans); minced
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. pesto
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. dried minced onions
1/2 tbsp. Italian Seasonings
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (A little extra for topping)
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/2 tsp. paprika

1. In a large bowl combine all of the ingredients above. Mix with a wooden spoon.

2. Preheat oven to 350. Pour the creamy mixture into a 5 X 5 baking dish and top with fresh grated parmesan cheese. Bake for 20 minutes.

3. Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve with crostini, pita chips, or your other favorite dipper. This is sure to please any crowd. Even your pickiest!

Mental Health Benefit: All of these recipes are diabetic and waste-line friendly. Actually that is my specialty. So please allow yourself to try something different. Try cooking with whole grain, try using splenda instead of all that sugar. It is better for you and TRUST ME you won't notice the difference and you may even feel a whole lot better and maybe even loose a few pounds if you want to.. Hey anything's possible right! And remember like my dad always says, It's all about ENTHUSIASM!

All love all the time from our kitchen to yours,

~"Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The One Thing I Believe In...

The other morning, my mom, dad, and I were in our normal vortex of coffee, writing, and reading the paper. When there was a swirl. My mom suddenly was on the move. She was in the kitchen with her check book before my dad and I even knew what hit. She was asking questions like, "Do I just make the check out to her?" And she was pretty feverish about it. I had some catching up to do. I had no idea what was going on. "Mom what are you doing?" She is wild-eyed, "I want to donate to this girl. She is doing something great." My dad is yelling from the deck, "Just come out here and finish reading the paper."

I'm saying, "Mom what are you talking about? Who are you donating all of our money too?" She ignores me, "How much is enough." More yelling from my dad encouraging mom to take a deep breath and finish reading the paper. Then she says, "This is the one thing I believe in..." She is desperate now. To which I say, probably not really compassionately, "Really? You only believe in one thing?" And we are laughing about my mom's feverish drive to help. And it makes me stop and think. What is the one thing that I believe in.

And it's easy. I believe in love. I believe also that love can be delivered through food. Food that is nutritiously selected and lovingly prepared. I recently have taken on a client and am teaching her these skills. I know! I can hardly believe my luck too! And she is absolutely wonderful. Together we prepared the Sesame Chicken and Sticky Rice N' Peas. We also made some delicious Seshwan Edemame to snack on or add to salads to replace croutons, or add to pasta salads, etc!

I also believe in swimming in the great adventure that is life and exploring. Exploring with life, love, and lots and lots of different foods. Don't get stuck in a rut, branch out, put on your swimsuit and dive in. Don't worry, the water might not always be warm, but it is refreshing! These recipes were created with love and prepared with skill, heart, and soul. Not only are they good for you, but they are delicious. I am proud of my mom and her convictions as I too have my own "One thing I believe in". What's yours?

Sesame Chicken 

1 pound chicken breast
½ white onion; sliced into long slivers
8 ounces fresh snow peas
1 tbsp. ginger (can be fresh or dried)
2 tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. olive oil
Fresh basil; minced
½ cup cashews or your favorite nut

~Cut the chicken into slender bite sized pieces using a sharp knife.

~Optional: Marinade the chicken in a large zip lock bag for a few hours or even overnight. Combine the chicken, soy sauce, sesame oil, lemon juice, ginger, and garlic and shake to coat the chicken.

~Using a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the pan is hot add the chicken and the marinade juices or the seasonings and oil separately to the pan, depending on if you marinated the meat. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

~Add the white onion slivers and continue to cook over medium heat for another 2-3 minutes. Next add the snow peas and the cashews. Toss to coat with the juices from the chicken for another 2-3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

~Serve with the sliced green onion on top and alongside brown rice or quinoa for a healthy and delicious meal.

Notes: If you have fresh peppers, shredded carrots, bamboo shoots, or another vegetable on hand that you like, feel free to add it in here. This is your recipe and you can do anything you like with it! Make it completely yours!

 Sticky Rice N' Peas

1 cup brown rice (you can use quinoa as well)
2 ½ cups water
1 tsp. sesame oil
Pinch of salt
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup green onions; diced

~In a large sauce pan combine water, sesame oil, salt, and rice. Heat over medium heat until the mixture has come to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

~Remove from heat and add frozen peas and green onions. Toss and fluff with a fork. Cover for an additional 2 minutes to heat peas through.

Note: You can also add curry or cumin to this rice, in addition to bamboo shoots or any other vegetable that you like to make this rice yours and personalize with your favorite flavors!

Health Benefits to Brown Rice:
  1. Provides all necessary carbohydrates requirements.
  2. Rich in fibers.
  3. Helps control blood sugar.
  4. Helps control cholesterol.
  5. It is a body building food.
  6. Beneficial for stomach and intestinal ulcers and for diarrhea. It is easily digested starch food.
  7. Because of the mineral content, it supplies important nutrient for the hair, teeth, nails, muscles, and bones.

 Edible Seshwan Edamame

Health Note From a Hot Mess: Edamame is an excellent source of low-calorie protein; a half-cup of these young beans has eleven grams of protein and is one of the few vegetarian protein sources that have all nine of the essential amino acids the body can’t make. The fat in edamame is the heart-healthy kind, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that help to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, they’re a caloric bargain at only125 calories!

The isoflavones found in edamame and other soy products can help to lower the risk of heart disease and may also lower blood cholesterol levels. When edamame is used as a protein source in place of meat, the cardiovascular benefits are further enhanced. Edamame is also a good source of folate and vitamin K which are important for heart health.

1 pound frozen edemame
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fresh ginger
2 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. low sodium soy sauce
½ tsp. kosher salt

~Heat a large sauce pan filled with water until it reaches a rolling boil. Add the frozen edemame to the pot and boil for 6 minutes. They will be crisp, yet tender.

~Drain water and add the remaining ingredients tossing the beans to coat with the oils and seasonings.

~Cook for another 2-3 minutes so the flavors have a chance to marry together.

~Serve sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds if desired. Can be served hot or cold as a snack or a side dish!

Mental Health Benefit: These recipes are basic and the fun part about them is that you can add your own favorites. Your favorite veggies and nuts. Make this meal what you and your family love! After all food is love. So why not make it exactly what you want and create the best meal for you!

Wishing you love and health today and every day!
~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

Monday, July 12, 2010

Friendship and Fish

I find myself alone for two whole days. It has been a while since I have had the whole house to myself without a real agenda. Just my own agenda. It is quiet. Me, my one kitty circus, Frankie, my manuscript, and the water. It is peaceful and I feel like I can finally pony up to do some editing.

After finishing my manuscript over a month ago, I have toyed with the idea of editing. Done some reading, taken notes, scratched out pages, and wrestled with my manuscript at arms length. I kissed my parents good-bye as they set off on their camping trip and decided to dive in head first. There is no 'waiting' for the right moment or 'hoping' that the genius will come to me. Nope. I have to have the courage to begin and continue. And I do. I opened up the manuscript on the dock yesterday with Frankie nestled in the shade of  my lawn chair and began the process. I can do it, and in I went. To the kitchen that is.

I know that is yet another distraction, but I think detours, as I have said before, sometimes reveal everything. Taking a deep breath, looking around, and smelling the flowers sometimes is exactly what the doctor ordered. I used to call these 'mental health' days when I punched the corporate clock.

And thinking about punching the clock, I am thinking about one of my dear friends and the fun we had in Baltimore at a conference eating tons and tons of crab cakes. We spent time doing exactly what we should have been doing.. eating crab cakes like it was going out of style. So while thinking of her and listening to my idol, Michael Jackson, with my sun-kissed skin in my favorite summer dress from Italy, I am making these friendship, Flathead lake inspired Fish Cakes

What I found out during this 'kitchen detour' was that I was going about it all wrong. That what I was doing wasn't really me, and during those these two days of quiet, my solution came to me. A successful memoir author, Laura Munson, who lives close by has inspired me and through reading her outstanding memoir, This isn't the Story you think it is: A Season of Unlikely Happiness (a MUST read) I was able to move passed my blockage. Now I am successfully doing the re-writing and back in my hum.

Today is a good day. And after biting into a bite of our Rosemary Lemon Eclairs looking at the sun shine on the mountains.. I change my mind.. Today is a great day. And I've decided tomorrow will be even better.

Fish Cakes

3 cups fresh fish; baked (recipe below) and shredded with your fingers
1 tsp. minced dried onion
1/2 tsp. dried dill (fresh is great if you have it!)
1/2 tsp. seafood rub
1 egg
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. corn meal
1 tbsp. lemon grass minced
1 tsp. minced capers
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked peppers

~Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl using your hands. Form into 7 even sized medium patties.

~Heat a large skillet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Place each cake in the pan and cook each side for 3-4 minutes.

~Serve on a bed of lettuce and on top of a garlic crustini! Top with Yogurt Dill sauce (recipe below) and devour.

To bake the fish:

~Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

~Place the fish fillet on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place 4 lemon slices along the top of the fish. Sprinkle with dill if you like. Wrap the fish in the foil closing the foil to seal in the moisture.

~Bake for 15-20 minutes. Then remove and allow to cool before flaking to make the fish cakes.

Yogurt Dill Sauce

1/2 cup low fat Greek yogurt
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. dried dill
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Pinch of salt and pepper each

~Mix together all ingredients together with a whisk and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Rosemary Lemon Eclairs 

For the pastries:

Servings: 6 pastry shells

1/2 cup water
4 tablespoons butter
1 pinch of salt
1/4 cup baking splenda
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs

~Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~Combine the water, butter, and salt in a large sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil.

~Remove from heat and add the flour and sugar whisking vigorously until the ingredients are combined. The dough will be thick but glossy. It will want to stick together-- this is a good sign!

~Add the eggs one at a time; whisking the ingredients together. The dough will be glossy and smooth and thickened and should resemble a thick pancake batter.

~Pour into a plastic zip lock bag or a pastry bag and pipe onto a greased cookie sheet. Give each eclair enough room to spread out and grow. They will puff up in the oven. Use two cookie sheets if yours isn't large enough to accommodate and give them room to swell and grow.

~Place them in the middle rack of your oven for 20 minutes. The eclairs will puff up as they cook. Make sure to monitor. If they start getting brown in the first 10 minutes, reduce the heat in your oven to 350 and continue cooking.

~Once done, remove from the oven and move them to a cooling rack to cool immediately.

For lemon rosemary filling:

2 packages Lemon Mouse Sugar Free mix (or sugar free lemon pudding mix will work)
1 tbsp. dried minced rosemary
1 1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup fat free half and half (regular milk will do too)
Juice of half a lemon

~Mix the sugar free mouse mix, with the rosemary, yogurt, milk, and lemon juice. Stir with a whisk until smooth and silky.

~Pour into a large plastic zip lock bag and snip the corner off.

~Slice the eclair pastries in half and pipe the pudding into the middle of each pastry shell.

~Top with Rosemary Vanilla sauce (recipe below)

Rosemary Vanilla Sauce
1 cup vanilla chips or white chocolate chips
1 tsp. smart balance butter
1/2 tsp. dried minced rosemary

~Combine the vanilla chips, butter, and rosemary. Microwave for 45 seconds. Stir until mixture is melted and smooth. Microwave for 20 more seconds if need be. Then splatter the vanilla over the eclairs for a delicious topping. The flavors on this merry perfectly! You won't regret eating these for a second!

Mental Health Tip: Like I have said before, detours are what we live when we are trying to do other things that don't really work out the way we planned. Follow me into this bliss-filled space and give yourself a little pat on the back and allow yourself a breath with me. We are alive, let's not miss a minute of this trying too hard. Life is too short... let's breathe... together...

Deep breaths from me to you.. one on one!

~One Hot Mess in solitude

Monday, July 5, 2010

Serenity NOW!

The other day, mom and I decided to take ourselves off the grid and go off into the woods. Summer is the perfect time for that. We took our first trip up to Glacier park and enjoyed a fabulous trip camping, hiking, and seeing how gorgeous and green everything is. It has been raining here like there is no tomorrow and the run off is fierce and the forest is green. During one of our hikes we half expected to see leprechauns skipping through the trees.

My other favorite part of camping is cooking over the open fire. Nothing tastes quite as good as meat that has been charred over an open fire and there isn't a sensation more pleasurable than holding that said meat over the open fire and hearing the popping and fizzing that lets you  know that the meat is getting good and delicious!

In this blog I want to share the magic of Glacier National Park with you as well as the perfect camp fire meal that is easy and still somewhat healthy! Here are some perfect summer recipes for my Easiest Coleslaw Known to Woman and Charbroiled Brats!

Sit back and unplug and allow yourself a little SERENITY NOW! That is exactly what my mom and I found in Glacier during our camping trip and I hope you all feel a little of that good stuff watching the nature video! We took a long hike through the woods along the rushing river and then had a brew on the bridge. Join us in this serene moment. I hope you are having a wonderful summer and had a great 4th of July! 

Easiest Coleslaw Known to Woman 2 cups shredded cabbage (we love the red cabbage) 1/2 cup low fat sour cream 1/4 cup low fat vinaigrette (We love Paul Newman's)

Mix the sour cream and vinaigrette together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, place the shredded cabbage and pour the sour cream mixture over the top of the cabbage. Stir to combine and frigerate until you are ready to serve. Yes! It's that easy! Brats over the Fire

1 package of brats 1 camp fire 1 brat cooker (metal preferred) 1 package of buns 1 package string cheese Thread as many brats as you like onto the metal hot dog cooker. Place directly over a raging camp fire and turn every few minutes until the casing is charred and begins to burst. Serve on a bun with the string cheese pealed into 3 or 4 slices and a hearty dose of mustard. At least that is how we like it!

Mental Health Benefit: Serenity.. what a great word. And how cheap it is to find it! I found it in the woods, with rivers, waterfalls, and a charred brat. What is your idea of serenity? Mine cost about $33 dollars. What does yours cost? And don't worry about the calories. As long as you don't fall out of the boat every day, a few more calories one day will come out in the wash as they say! Especially after a long hike through the woods!

Wishing you some serenity during the Hot Days of summer!

~ Serenity and other outdoor sports from our outdoor kitchen to yours!