spinachpie12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I was in Greektown recently and it reminded me that’s it’s been a long time since I made a spinach pie, so when I saw the large boxes of spinach on sale I pounced on them. This is a great meatless entree in larger portions, and a lovely appetizer in smaller slices.

Spanakopita – Greek Spinach Pie, Makes one 8″ pie (about eight servings)

  • 11 oz.  baby spinach
  • 1/2 c. minced onion
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 t. dill weed
  • 6 oz. feta cheese (I used the tomato/basil flavor)
  • 10 oz. cottage cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 20 sheets of filo dough
  • 1/3 c. butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350. Wash the spinach.

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Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and add the fresh spinach. Saute for two-three minutes, tossing, until it’s wilted and bright green.

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Transfer the spinach to a bowl and add the seasonings.

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Then the cheeses. If you prefer a drier filling you can drain the cottage cheese ahead of time.

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Beat the eggs, pour them over the top and mix it all together.

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Lightly grease your pie dish and drape four filo sheets over the top. Brush them with butter and drape four more sheets over that layer, in the opposite direction. Brush those with butter and lay two more sheets over the middle of the dish.

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Pour in the filling.

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Fold the filo edges over the filling and lay two more sheets over the top. Tuck in all the edges and brush it all with butter.

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Continue layering two sheets at a top, brushing each set with butter, until you’ve used them all.

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Put the pie in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until the center is set.

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If the outside is browning too much for your liking you can finish it off in the microwave.

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Cut into wedges and serve hot or warm.

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Store any leftovers in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap. Rewarm them in the oven if you want to preserve maximum crispness.


Three years ago: Gougeres
Two years ago: Brown Butter & Sea Salt Rice Krispie Treats
One year ago: Burmese Chicken Soup


butterscotchpie12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

This pie was something of a revelation for me, because I decided to apply my “browned butter makes everything better” theory. And you know what? So far, browned butter does make everything better.

In this case, I used it in the crumb crust. Normally I find crust a little ho-hum, to be honest, but with the browned butter the crust became one with the pie and it was amazing!

Butterscotch Banana Cream Pie, Makes one 8″ pie

Crust:

  • 1 pkg. vanilla wafer cookies
  • 5 T. butter
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar

Filling:

  • 2-1/2 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
  • 3 T. cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 large banana

Put the cookies and the sugar in the food processor and pulse to fine crumbs. Set aside.

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Put the 5 T. butter in a saucepan over medium heat and cook until brown:

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Spread the cookie crumbs in your pie dish and mix in the browned butter.

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Pat the crumbs around the dish in an even layer and put the crust in the refrigerator.

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Combine the cornstarch and brown sugar.

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Put the milk in a saucepan over medium heat.

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Whisk in the cornstarch and sugar mixture, cook until thickened.

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Beat the egg yolks in a bowl, stir in some of the hot filling, and return it all to the pan. Whisk quickly until it comes back to boil and remove it from the heat. Stir in the 1 T. butter and the vanilla.

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Slice the banana over the crust.

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Then cover it with the filling.

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I saved a few crumbs for the top.

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The pie will cut into neater slices if you can refrigerate it overnight, and the flavors have time to blend that way too. To serve top it with fresh banana slices and a dollop of whipped cream.

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Store any leftovers covered in the refrigerator.


Three years ago: Preserved Lemons
Two years ago: Soft Buttered Pretzel Bites
One year ago: Skinny Brownies


alsatiancinnamonrolls12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I got a beautiful cookbook for Christmas, The Art of French Pastry, and I’ve read it from cover to cover. However, because we’ve all taken turns with colds since then it’s only now that I’ve actually gotten down to cooking from it. It’s a lovely book, very easy to understand with lots of great illustrations. While it does cover all the basics, the section at the end where Chef Pfeiffer talks about the pastries from his native Alsace is my favorite.

These rolls are from that chapter. They are different from American farmhouse cinnamon rolls in that they use a brioche dough and they have a layer of almond cream inside with the cinnamon. To keep this post a reasonable length I’m going to use my Julia Child brioche post for the dough, instead of the one given in The Art of French Pastry, and I’m adding a bit of orange to the glaze. If you use a quick-rise yeast you can have finished rolls in two hours, but a long slow rise for the dough in the refrigerator is even better if you have the time.

Alsatian Cinnamon Rolls, Makes about 24

One recipe brioche dough

Almond Cream

  • 1 c. + 2 T. almond flour
  • 7 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. almond extract

2 T. cinnamon

Orange Glaze

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 t. orange bakery emulsion or orange extract
  • 1 – 2 t. cold water

Make the brioche dough and set it out to rise until doubled. When it’s almost there start your almond cream.

Combine the ingredients for the almond cream in your mixer bowl.

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Beat them together until smooth and creamy, then set it aside.

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Punch down the brioche dough and divide it in two. Roll one half out on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle.

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Top it with half the almond cream.

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Spread it out to cover the dough,

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and top it with half the cinnamon. You can add some dried fruit too at this point if you like. Raisins are a traditional choice.

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Roll it up like a jelly roll and cut it into segments 1″ thick. Nestle them into a lightly greased baking dish. Repeat these steps with the second half of the dough.

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Preheat the oven to 375. When the rolls have doubled in bulk put them in the oven.

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While they are baking mix up the glaze. Combine the sugar and the extract, then drizzle in the water until you have the right consistency.

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I took the rolls out when they were a medium brown, but the cookbook says its traditional to leave them in until the tops are very dark.

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Drizzle the hot rolls with the glaze.

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They are best warm, and they come apart easily.

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The brioche gives you the beautiful lacy texture.

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The almond cream bakes into the rolls and they are fantastic with a cup of hot tea.

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Store leftover rolls wrapped airtight at room temperature. I froze half our batch for later, even though the one pan didn’t last a full 24 hours!


Three years ago: Cake Cookies
Two years ago: Easy Almond Coffeecake
One year ago: Creamy Tomato Sauce


 

oatmealbread8_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

I’m going to spare you the details of the horrific sinus/cold/whatever I had last week and jump right into this week’s recipe. I’ve been experimenting with ways to cut down on our use of regular wheat flour, and incorporate a wider variety of grains into our menus. This bread uses some regular wheat flour, oat flour and sprouted spelt flour.

There is a nice Amish store that we get to once in a while where we stock up on these fresh alternative flours. However, if those are difficult for you to get you could substitute a light whole wheat flour instead.

Buttermilk Oatmeal Bread, Servings: Two short loaves, a loaf and a pan of dinner rolls or one tall loaf of bread

  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 package quick-rise yeast
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oatmeal
  • 1 c. sprouted spelt flour
  • 1 c. oat flour
  • 2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 t. butter, softened

Combine the buttermilk and water in a bowl, microwave for a minute. Add the oatmeal and let it stand until lukewarm, then add the yeast and sugar.

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Add the rest of the flours, salt and butter. Stir to a shaggy dough.

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Let rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

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Turn the dough out onto a floured worksurface.

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Knead for 3-5 minutes, until smooth.

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Divide the dough between lightly greased pans. Preheat the oven to 375.

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When the dough has doubled again, put the pans in the oven.

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Bake for 35-40 minutes. When the loaves sound hollow when you tap the top take them out. I like to rub the top crust with butter right of the oven.

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Run a knife around the loaves and let them rest in the pan for about five minutes, then turn them out on a rack to finish cooling.

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These loaves slices in a pretty way, and while they look substantial they are very light and fluffy inside.

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Very nice warm, with butter and a drizzle of honey.

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Three years ago: Profiteroles
Two years ago: Grandma’s Chocolate Cookies
One year ago: Chocolate Babka


Store them well-wrapped at room temperature. In a cool house they will keep for about four days. Freeze for longer storage.

saltinetoffee9_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Happy 2016! Thank you guys so much for sticking with me during these days of sparse posts. As you probably know, I work full-time and this year my son’s a senior so I’ve been trying to take time to enjoy this year-that-will-not-come-again. This toffee is something new I auditioned over the holidays and since it was a big hit I wanted to share it with you because it would make a great thing to put for any upcoming game or Oscar parties.

This is a large recipe, it will yield about two gallon-size ziplock bags of toffee, so feel free to cut in half if that works for you. It does freeze well too. This is a variation of the saltine toffee recipes you see other places, but I’ve changed it a little bit based on an old magazine clipping I found in my files. I’ve topped it with broken pretzels but you could go to town with whatever you like – sprinkles in game day colors, gold leaf, nuts, you name it.

Sweet and Salty Toffee, About 2 lbs. of finished toffee

  • Two sleeves of regular saltine crackers
  • Three sticks of butter
  • 1-1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 12 oz. chocolate couverture or good quality chocolate chips (Like Ghirardelli 60%)
  • Toppings (optional)

Line a sheet pan with foil and grease it lightly. Lay the crackers out in one even layer, with as few gaps as possible. There is something very OCD and enjoyable about this part.

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In a heavy saucepan combine the butter and the sugar over medium heat.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, to the medium-crack stage. It will start out like this:

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But over time it will thicken. Keep an eye on it as it thickens, once it starts to darken to a toffee color you’re there.

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Stir in the vanilla and pour it immediately over the crackers as evenly as you can.

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Take a knife and coax it out to fill the gaps, work quick because we need to keep it hot.

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Spread the couverture discs or chips over the toffee.

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As they melt spread it out.

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Before it sets top it with your extras, in this case, broken pretzels.

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Put it in the refrigerator to finish hardening up. When it’s hard lift the foil to crack it into serving-size pieces.

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Store the finished toffee in an airtight bag or tin. It will keep for several weeks, but ours disappeared as soon as I set it out.


Three years ago: Zuccotto
Two years ago: Chocolate Chestnuts (Bernachon)
One year ago: Chocolate YOLO Grenades


image

Wishing you the sweetest of holidays!

blintzsouffle13_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Since you may be thinking about entertaining now as we head into the holidays I’m going to put up a few recipes in that line. Brunch is my go-to, pretty much anything goes food-wise and such a nice, casual way to have people over.

This is sort of a beginner’s souffle, in that it doesn’t call for all of that whipped egg-white/white sauce business. You do have to time it so you can whisk it out of the oven and serve it hot, because it will fall some as it cools. For the blintz flavoring, I added some orange to accent the cream cheese filling. I put powdered sugar over the top and served it with sausage and fresh fruit, but a fruit sauce would be nice too – especially strawberry or raspberry. This recipe is based on one from a slim little Pillsbury paperback cookbook.

Blintz Souffle, Makes an 8″ square pan – 12 3″ squares

For the batter:

  • 3/4 c. dairy sour cream
  • 3/4 c. greek yogurt
  • Three eggs
  • 1/4 c. butter, softened
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 t. orange bakery emulsion or 1 T. orange zest

For the filling:

  • 1 8-oz pkg 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. sugar

Preheat the oven to 375. Combine all the batter ingredients in the food processor.

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Blend until smooth. Transfer the batter to another bowl.

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Put the filling ingredients into the food processor and blend until smooth. Note: I didn’t wash the food processor bowl, I just put the filling ingredients in.

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Grease an 8″ square baking pan. Put two-thirds of the batter into the pan and then spoon the filling over the top.

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Cover the filling with the rest of the batter. At this point you can refrigerate the pan if you like (for up to overnight), or move ahead and put it in the oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until well-browned and domed in the center.

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Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

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Cut in squares and serve.

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Promptly refrigerate any leftovers and use them within two days.

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Three years ago: Ginger Thins
Two years ago: Fruitcake
One year ago: Tagine


minicheesecake8_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

This is a nice recipe if you feel like cheesecake but would rather forgo having extra tempting servings sitting around. This gives you four polite-sized servings for a dinner party with no leftovers! I used orange and mini chips, but feel free to vary the flavorings however you wish. I bake these in ceramic ramekins because they’re easier to put in the water bath. Plus, they go together really quickly and with no crust you’re not only cutting calories you’re cutting down the gluten free as well.

Mini Cheesecakes, Makes four 3-1/2″ servings

  • 4 oz. 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
  • 2/3 c. greek yogurt
  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • One egg
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 T. all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the first three ingredients in a food processor.

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Add the egg, flour and sugar.

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Blend until smooth.

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Fold in your flavoring and addins, in this case I added 1 t. orange bakery emulsion and 1/3 c. mini chocolate chips.

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Lightly grease four ramekins and divide the batter between them. Fill an 8″ baking dish one-third full with warm water. Set the ramekins in the dish and put them in the oven.

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Bake for about 30 minutes, until the centers are set and the sides start to pull away from the dishes.

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You could serve these warm but I put them in the deep freeze to cool them quickly for dinner.

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Three years ago: Finnish Teaspoon Cookies
Two years ago: Lemon Poppyseed Scones
One year ago: Brigadeiro


holidaybiscotti3_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

If you see the word biscotti and automatically picture those behemoth jawbreakers in the cannisters at the coffee shop, let me just say, these are not those. These are both crunchy and tender, and are gone in two-three bites. Because of their small size they are just as at home on a cookie plate as they are in pretty bags for gift giving.

They include dried cranberries (you could use dried cherries too), pistachios and a coating of white chocolate on one side – because it’s the holidays and we’re being fancy. However, you could mix in anything – or leave them plain.

Holiday Biscotti, Makes about 36 2-1/2″ cookies

  • 1/2 c. butter, soft
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1-1/2 t. baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-1/2 c. flour
  • 3/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 3/4 c. pistachios
  • 8 oz. white chocolate couverture (chocolate tempered for melting)

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together well, then beat in the eggs and baking powder.

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Beat in the flour.

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You’ll have a lovely soft moldable dough.

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Divide it in three parts, divide the berries and nuts evenly among them, and knead them in.

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Roll each one into a log about 9″ x 2″. Put them on greased cookie sheets and push them down with a spatula to flatten them a bit.

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Bake them at 350 for about 20-25 minutes, until firm and lightly browned.

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Reduce the heat to 325 and take them out of the oven. Let the logs cool a bit, then slice them into pieces 1/2″ wide. Lay them on the cookie sheet on their side.

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Put them back in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, flip them, and bake for another 10 minutes. This will toast each side lightly without the bottoms getting too dark.

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Cool the biscotti on racks while you melt the white chocolate. Spread the chocolate on one side of each cookie.

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Let it harden, then serve or store them at room temperature in airtight containers. These will keep nicely for about two weeks, freeze for longer storage.

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Three years ago: Swedish Visiting Cake
Two years ago: Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie
One year ago: Apple Clafouti


ojas7_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

This is going to be a short post today since here in America we’re heading into the big Thanksgiving holiday. If you are going out or visiting this coming holiday season these little bites would be a perfect hostess gift, especially tied up in a clear box with ribbon. Not only are they delicious, they are snowy-pretty and they check all the boxes – vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, raw, paleo, etc.

I had these at an ayurveda workshop, where they were said to boost immunity. Give these a try even if you don’t like dates – I’ve never been crazy about dates myself but I love these. You can substitute more ground almonds for coconut if you like. If you can grind your spices fresh, and make these ahead, as the flavors blend and improve over time.

If you wanted an interesting cheese course you could roll these in minced nuts instead and serve them with a goat cheese, gorgonzola or a seared halloumi.

Orange Bites, Makes about 24 1-1/2″ treats

  • 2 c. medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • Zest of two organic oranges
  • 1/2 c. raw almonds
  • 1 t. fresh ground gingerroot
  • 1 t. fresh ground cardamom
  • 1 t. cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 2 T. olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 T. coconut powder plus extra for coating

Put the dates in the food processor.

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Add the spices, honey, nuts and oil. Roughly chop, then add the orange zest and 2 T. of the coconut powder.

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Pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough.

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Spread some coconut powder on a plate.

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Scoop out heaping teaspoons of the date mixture and roll them in the coconut until they are well-coated.

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Store finished treats in an airtight container at room temperature. These will keep nicely for up to two weeks. Safe travels and happy weekend everyone!

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Three years ago: Cranberry Orange Bread Pudding
Two years ago: Parker House Dinner Rolls
One year ago: Vanilla Sauce


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