pineapplepico4_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I hope all my American readers had a great Thanksgiving holiday last week! I had a few welcome days off to spend with family and one of the things I like best is shopping and cooking together. My son, in severe taco withdrawal after three months of college, helped me come up with this pico for chicken tacos but it would be equally good on fish – or just dipped straight up.

Find a nice fresh pineapple and you’ll have a batch of pico in just a few minutes. It is a little better the second day, and of course you can adjust the heat to your own preferences. Since it’s super-healthy, fresh, and gluten-free, it would be a great addition to a holiday potluck, and a way to wake up palates jaded from rich holiday foods.

Pineapple Pico de Gallo, Makes about 3 cups

  • One medium fresh pineapple, cleaned and cut into chunks
  • 1 c. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 t. fresh ground ginger
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 T. sambal oelek (fresh ground chili paste) (or to taste)

Put the pineapple chunks in the food processor. Pulse five-six times until you start to approach crushed pineapple.

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Add the rest of the ingredients.

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Pulse three-four times until everything is roughly chopped. Give a stir to make sure there aren’t any large pieces left.

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Spoon into a serving dish and chill. Serve on tacos, grilled fish or chicken, or as-is with a bag of lime chips!

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Now that we’ve been all virtuous it’s time to get out the butter and start on our holiday cookies – in our next post!


Four years ago: Swedish Visiting Cake
Three years ago: Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie
Two years ago: Pumpkin Gingerbread
One year ago: Orange Bites


lemonricottacookies13_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

First off let me note that I have not fallen off the wagon and gone whole-hog on the food coloring – that bright fuschia icing is from freeze-dried raspberries! I know, right? Perfect for upcoming holiday cookies! But I digress.

This cookie story starts with a trip my little slice of heaven on Earth – Whole Foods. I could wander that store for hours. In the bakery of the Whole Foods in question is a display of international cookies, including a lemon ricotta coated in pale pink raspberry icing. They are delicious.

So the quest began. Finding a recipe for the cookie was easy enough, and while I tinkered with it a bit they are basically the same. But the icing was going to be the hard part. I finally hit paydirt when I read a piece on a pastry chef who uses pulverized freeze-dried fruit for macarons.

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I got this bag at Target for $3.99 and only used about a third of it for this recipe. The color is spectacular and I’m going to experiment with this idea more in the future. I touched up the flavor with a bit of raspberry bakery emulsion and voila! These cookies are delicate, cakey and while you could use a lemon glaze if you want I think the raspberry really sets them off.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Raspberry Glaze, Makes about 30 3″ cookies

  • 1 stick of salted butter
  • 1 container of part-skim ricotta (15 oz.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 c. granulataed sugar
  • Zest of two lemons, finely grated
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 t. lemon bakery emulsion
  • 2-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/3 c. freeze-dried raspberries
  • 1-2 T. water
  • 1/2 t. raspberry bakery emulsion

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together well.

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Beat in the ricotta, then the eggs one at a time, beating well after addition.

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Beat in the flour and baking powder.

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Stir in the lemon zest, juice and flavor. You should have a thick, creamy batter.

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Drop by tablespoons until a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake about 12-15 minutes, until the edges are light golden brown.

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Cool the cookies while you make the glaze. The freeze-dried raspberries are an amazing color, and they taste like raspberry popcorn.

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Put the raspberries in a spice grinder and run until finely ground to a powder.

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Add the raspberry powder to the powdered sugar.

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Drizzle in water until you have the desired consistency.

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Spoon the glaze over the cookies. You can do the whole cookie, or just a lacy pattern if you don’t want as much raspberry flavor.

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Let the glaze air-dry for about two hours and then store the cookies in an airtight container.


Four years ago: Apple Pie
Three years ago: Peanut Butter Pie
Two years ago: Ginger-Chocolate Scones
One year ago: Quick Orange Cinnamon Rolls


cinnamondanish21_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

At this point we know there’s no escape. This next week is going to be miles of rough road, it’s going to call for coddling and coddling by definition calls for butter and cinnamon. Buckets of butter and cinnamon.

These cinnamon danish are based on one of my old guilty pleasures, the McDonald’s cinnamon danish. I don’t even think they sell them anymore and I haven’t had one in years. So I rebuilt it from memory and it’s pretty close! The pastry is flaky, the filling is loaded with cinnamon and the icing adds vanilla to the mix. I’m cutting some photos below to save length, but if you’re new to bread dough you can find mixing instructions and photos in one of my other bread recipes.

This does need to rise overnight, so start them the day before. you can cut this recipe in half if you like.

Cinnamon Danish, Makes about 30 3″ x 4″ Danish

For the dough

  • 4-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 egg
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1 pkt. fast-rising yeast
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 12 T. butter (reserved, at room temp)

For the filling

  • 4 T. cinnamon
  • 1 c. fine bread crumbs
  • 1-1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2/3 c. white sugar
  • 5 T. butter

For the glaze

  • 3 c. confectioner’s sugar
  • 4 t. vanilla
  • 2-4 t. water

Make the dough:

Scald the water and milk together in a saucepan, stir in the sugar and 3 T. butter. Cool to lukewarm and stir in the egg, flour and yeast. Let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch down the dough and knead it well, adding flour if necessary to keep it from sticking, until the dough is satiny and elastic. Wash and grease the bowl, put the dough back in, cover it with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge overnight.

On baking day:

Divide the dough into two equal pieces.

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We’ll work with one half at a time. Roll one ball of dough out to 1/4″ thickness. Slice the reserved 12 T. of butter in half, and then take one half and cut it into halves lengthwise. Put it in the middle of the dough.

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Fold the dough over the butter, bringing the bottom up and the top down to flop over it.

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Yay! We’re laminating! Roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down.

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Repeat one more time: roll this back out to 1/3″ thick. Repeat the fold, bottom up, top down. Wrap your now-laminated dough in plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge and repeat the process for the other dough ball.

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix to fine crumbs.

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Get the first ball of dough back out of the fridge. Roll it out to 1/4″ thick.

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Let it rest for a few minutes and then cut it into squares. (This waiting period keeps them from shrinking.)

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If you want to be proper make an egg wash by beating an egg with 1 T. of water. We’ll use this to seal the edges as we fill. Take a square and add a tablespoon of filling to the center.

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Bring opposite corners up to the middle and seal them with egg wash or press them.

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Turn the danish seam side down onto a greased cookie sheet. Keep going until you’re done! It will be worth it, trust me.

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When the danish have nearly doubled in bulk take a sharp knife and make three slits across the top to show off that pretty filling.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes, until flaky and golden brown.

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Make the glaze while the danish are baking. Stir together the sugar and vanilla, and drizzle in water as needed for the proper pouring consistency.

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Lay the baked danish on a cooling rack and drizzle glaze over them contentedly, taking in deep healing breaths of the cinnamon steam as you go. You will immediately feel better.

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You will feel better yet when you take a bite.

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Four years ago: Calzones
Three years ago: Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Two years ago: Chocolate Sheet Cake
One year ago: Sugarfree Apple Butter


pearcheesetart10_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

With a couple ripe pears and a nice bottle of Chardonnay on hand, I threw this together one night when I got home from work. It has an olive oil crust, adapted from a recipe from Chocolate & Zucchini.

I like to use Bartlett pears because they’re so flavorful but d’Anjou work too and they’re not as juicy. Right when the tart came out of the oven I drizzled it with some local honey and a few sage leaves from my garden. It a nice versatile tart, and it would make a pretty little starter as minis too.

Pear Goat Cheese Savory Tart, Makes one 9″ freeform tart

Olive Oil Crust

  • 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. semolina pastry flour
  • 1/4 c. light whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. sea salt
  • 1 t. Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 c. cold water

Three ripe pears, cleaned and sliced

4 oz. soft goat cheese

Honey for drizzling

Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the first six crust ingredients in a bowl.

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Work in the oil to crumbles.

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Stir in the water and gently knead a few times a soft dough. Don’t overwork it.

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Dust the counter and roll out the dough like you mean it, with a few broad strokes.

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Lift the dough onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Pile the pears in the middle, leaving a few inches of clearance all around. Then add dollops of goat cheese on top. Bring the sides of the crust up over, and arrange them to show the filling.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, until the edges are a deep golden brown. Right when the tart comes out of the oven drizzle it with honey and some fresh herbs for color.

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Serve hot or warm. Cut into fourths for a generous appetizer.

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Four years ago: Apple Crisp
Three years ago: Malakoff Torte
Two years ago: Cinnamon Bread
One year ago: Brownie Cookies


pumpkincake14_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Now I like a good four-page recipe probably more than the next girl, but there are times when you have to come up with something FAST. You found a slip at the bottom of the school backpack asking you to bring in something for the bake sale/party, you’ve been invited to a tailgate, or you just need cake like NOW.

This recipe is for those times. If you can stir you can make it. I promise. If you’re an experienced baker it’s still a lovely thing to throw together for a treat after working all day. It keeps well, it’s moist and velvety and it has that irreplaceable homemade thing going. It would also make a great Halloween dessert, just bake it in a round and drizzle a spider web-ish design in chocolate over the top. Boom.

Pumpkin Cake, Makes one 8″ cake or about 12 cupcakes

  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 c. flour
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • 1 t. fresh ground ginger
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda

Frosting

  • 4 oz 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 3 T. soft butter
  • 1 t. milk
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 2 c. powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the pumpkin, eggs, sugar and oil. Stir together well.

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Stir in the spices.

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Then the flour, baking soda and baking powder.

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Spread it evenly in a greased baking dish.

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Bake for about 25 minutes, until the center springs back to the touch. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.

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While the cake is cooling make the frosting. Combine the powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl.

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Beat in the vanilla and the milk. Add a little milk if you need it to reach the desired consistency. Beat for two minutes.

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Spread the icing on the cooled cake.

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Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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I sprinkled some candied nuts on top.

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Keep leftovers refrigerated, and lightly covered.


Four years ago: Farmhouse Cornbread
Three years ago: Cheese Fondue
Two years ago: Brioche Coffeecake
One year ago: Apple Dumplings


snowballs16_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Believe it or not, I woke up a few days ago thinking about coconut snowballs. Now mind you, the last time I actually had a Hostess snoball I was probably also gazing dreamily at my Duran Duran poster and Nick’s purple eyeshadow. I knew I wasn’t after an actual duplicate, but rather the experience of cutting down through that pristine exterior to find amazing chocolate cake underneath.

Dorie Greenspan, because she is my spirit baker (like a spirit animal, but you know, a baker), understands such things. So much so that she has almost exactly that on the cover of her Baking cookbook. I’ve adapted her cake recipe here, covered it in an old-fashioned seven-minute frosting, and then coating the whole thing in coconut.

Unlike their inspirational counterparts these aren’t for keeping, you have to make them and eat them up shortly thereafter because the icing can get sticky in humidity. You’ll want to eat them right away anyway, the chocolate cake is meltingly delicious inside the fluffy frosting.

Coconut Snowballs, Makes six individual desserts

  • 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/4 t. baking powder
  • 5 T. butter, softened
  • 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • 1 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. hot strong coffee
  • 1/3 c. mini chips
  • Frosting (recipe below)
  • 2-1/2 c. fine shredded coconut

Combine the first four ingredients together and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350. Put the sugars and butter in a mixing bowl, cream well.

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Add the egg and beat well, until very light and fluffy, about three minutes.

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Beat in the melted chocolate, then add the dry ingredients alternately with the milk. Beating well after each addition.

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Lastly, fold in the coffee, followed by the mini chips.

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Spoon the batter into six ramekins. (I had to bake mine in two batches.)

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Bake for about 10 minutes, until puffed and just firm to the touch in the center.

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Turn them out to cool. They will fall slightly but that’s okay!

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While the cakes are cooling make the icing.

Frosting (from King Arthur Flour)

  • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/3 c. cold water
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 t. light corn syrup or 1/4 t. cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the top of a double boiler, combine the sugar, water, egg whites, corn syrup or cream of tartar, and the pinch of salt. Beat with an electric mixer set at low speed for 30 seconds, then set the pan over boiling water (the pan shouldn’t touch the water).

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Beating at high speed, cook the frosting for about 7 minutes, or until it’s stiff and glossy. Remove it from the heat, add the vanilla, and beat an additional 2 minutes.

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Put each cake right side up on a plate and cover it with frosting, mounding it on top to get a half-spherical shape.

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Sprinkle coconut on to cover and put the finished cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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Three years ago: Hot Fudge Pudding Cake
Two years ago: Cream Cheese Coffeecake
One year ago: Sandwich Bread


gingergoldcake8_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris-Brady

Local apples are starting to come in and I made this cake as a way to use up some of the beautiful Gingergolds I picked up.  Gingergolds are a cross between Golden Delicious and Newton Pippins. They are a lovely golden green:

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with a gorgeous sweet-tart flavor and crisp bite. These apples are not built for long-term storage, so you have to enjoy them early in the season. I decided to pair them with a mix of spices, sugar and local honey. The recipe below is based on Eliza Acton’s classic gingerbread recipe from the 1800s, with a few tweaks of my own.

Gingergold Cake, Makes one 9″ cake

  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. molasses
  • 3/4 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 2 T. ground ginger (Not powdered, actual ground gingerroot)
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. allspice
  • Zest of one lemon (important!)
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. light wholewheat flour
  • 6 T. butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. buttermilk
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • Four Gingergold apples, cleaned and chopped in a fine dice, set aside in acidulated water
  • Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 and put the eggs in a mixing bowl. Beat them until light and frothy.

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Beat in the sugars.

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Then beat in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and butter. Beat until well-combined, then beat in the buttermilk. Lastly, beat in the wholewheat flour.

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You should have a thick, creamy batter.

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Fold in the apples and pour the batter into a greased 9″ cake pan.

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Bake for about 35 minutes, until golden brown. The center should spring back when touched lightly.

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Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or dressed up. This cake is a good keeper, and I think it’s actually better on the second day. Store any leftovers wrapped, freeze for storage longer than a few days.

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Three years ago: Berry Crumb Cake
Two years ago: Icelandic Almond Rolls
One year ago: Fried Rice


peachcrepes9_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

You might think that you need a special pan or one of those spectacular large griddles to make crepes – you don’t. You just need a really good non-stick pan with rounded sides and flat bottom – and some patience. Because no matter what, the first few crepes are going to be something less than perfect.

But keep going! A couple crepes in, things will get better. By the end you’ll feel like a pro. In my experience it’s the same story, every time. The good news is, even the ones that aren’t as pretty are still delicious. Just roll them up, cover them in fruit and add a dollop of cream if you feel fancy.

This recipe (my stand-by from The Joy of Cooking 1975 Ed.) doubles easily, and while I used peaches because they are in-season and gorgeous, any fruit will work. If you can start this batter three hours ahead and let it sit in the fridge, so much the better – but in the pics below I only let it side for 30 minutes.

Peach Crepes, Makes four servings

  • 3/4 c. flour
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. double acting baking powder
  • 2 T. powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/2 t. vanilla or 1/2 t. grated lemon rind
  • 4 c. chopped sugared fruit
  • Cream topping
    • 1 pint heavy cream
    • 1 T. sugar
    • 2 T. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
    • 1 t. vanilla

Break the eggs in a bowl and beat well. Beat in the milk, water, and vanilla.

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Add the dry ingredients and beat. If there are lumps just leave them be. Set the batter aside. (Refrigerate if you’re going to let it sit for longer than 30 minutes.)

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While you’re waiting you can prep the cream topping. (I forgot to take pictures of this part.) Beat the heavy cream to soft peaks, beat in the sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese until smooth and whipped. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to plate.

When you’re ready to cook the crepes put your pan on to medium heat and lightly grease it with olive oil. Measure out 1/4 c. of batter.

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Pour it in the pan and quickly swirl it around to cover the bottom in a very thin layer.

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When the edges start too look dry flip it over.

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Stack the cooked crepes on a plate as you go.

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To plate, roll two crepes up on each plate.

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Top each set with a cup of fruit and a nice dollop of the cream.

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These are nice for brunch or dessert. If you make the crepes ahead of time it would only take a few minutes to plate it all up.

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Three years ago: Fresh Peach Pie
Two years ago: Apricot Crostata
One year ago: No-Bake Chocolate Torte


cheesecake9_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I came home from a weekend away to a large container of cottage cheese VERY close to its expiration date. It was too much for bread or other uses but just enough for a cheesecake. This makes a nice, different cheesecake with the added bonus of less fat and a lot more protein.

Cottage Cheesecake, Makes on 8″ round cheesecake

  • 1 large 14 oz. container low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 sm. pkt. instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1 c. graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 T. melted butter
  • 3/4 c. milk

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the cottage cheese and pudding mix in a food processor.

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Blend until smooth.

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Add the milk and eggs, blend until smooth.

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Add the flour and baking powder.

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Blend smooth once more.

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Combine the crumbs and butter in a 8″ springform pan. Press them over the bottom and spoon the batter over the top.

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Bake for about 40 minutes, until lightly browned. It will still jiggle a bit. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least three hours and preferably overnight.

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Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

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Store all leftovers covered and refrigerated. This best eaten within two-three days.

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Three years ago: Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake
Two years ago: Badabing Chewy Cherry Bars
One year ago: Peach Crumb Pie


coneysauce7_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I was downstate last week for my son’s college orientation and it reminded me how much I miss the coney islands that are on nearly every corner around the Detroit metro area. When we lived there the coneys were our go-to, the best ones serve breakfast all day every day, so even the little people could always find something on the menu. They also have amazing greek salads, gyros and – yes, coney dogs.

I’m not enough of an authority to fine-slice the differences between the Flint and Detroit-style coney sauce, to me they are equally delicious. And if you order a proper Michigan coney it will arrive on a snappy Koegel dog with a soft bun.

This recipe is based on a post by goldendog in the Chowhound forum, and I’ve adjusted it a little bit. It may look red to you if you’re used to the brown stuff out of a can, but it’s got a nice balance of tomato, spice and kick. If you want more chili and less tomato use tomato juice instead. This would be a good crockpot sauce.

Coney Sauce, Michigan Style Makes about 1-1/3 c. sauce (enough for 6-8 coney dogs)

  • 1 small white onion
  • 1/2 lb. ground chuck
  • 3 T. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 t. garlic powder
  • 1 t. Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1-1/2 t. salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce

Peel and chop the onion, put it in a food processor bowl.

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Pulse the onion until it’s finely chopped. Add the ground chuck.

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Pulse again to a fine homogenous mixture.

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Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add the meat and stir until browned.

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Add all the rest of the ingredients.

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Cook on a low simmer for about two hours. The sauce will get very thick. Remove the bay leaf.

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Serve the coney sauce on a freshly grilled dog. If you want a ballpark feel wrap it up in a piece of aluminum foil.

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The sauce will keep, refrigerated, for about three days. Freeze in a ziplock for longer storage.

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Three years ago: Hamburger & Hot Dog Buns
Two years ago: Pork Tacos with Mango Salsa
One year ago: Double Berry Cookies


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