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

1 comment:

Cris said...

Happy Birthday Abby's Dad! It sure is nice to have such a wonderful daughter to spoil you! Hope the day was wonderful.