by Heather Harris Brady

A healthy sundae – whaaaa? Yes, maybe you just can have it all.

Again, I apologize for these photos. This time my camera battery charger disappeared, so please bear with me until my new one gets here. Here’s something to sweeten the deal, a light, healthy (mostly!), and refreshing but chocolately summer dessert. On the bottom we have a nice fudgy brownie square and on top – banana peanut butter ice cream.

Sounds normal enough right? Well hold on to your retro avocado-colored appliances because things are about to get weird. These brownies are made with an avocado (no other added fat) and only 1/3 c. of sugar. The ice cream – no added sugar or cream. I’m calling these fudge squares instead of brownies, because they are somewhere in between fudge and a brownie. It’s nice if you can do a little prep work the day before – put the banana slices in the freezer, make the brownies and refrigerate them.

Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream, Makes four 1 c. servings

  • Two large bananas
  • 1/3 c. natural peanut butter (the only ingredient should be peanuts)
  • 1-1/2 t. lemon juice

Fudge Squares, Makes nine 3″ squares

  • One large Haas avocado
  • Two eggs
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. dark cocoa
  • 3 oz. melted dark chocolate
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 c. greek yogurt
  • 1/3 c. unbleached flour (can use gluten-free)
  • Kosher salt and mini chocolate chips for sprinkling the top

Slice the bananas onto waxed paper and put them in the freezer until completely solid (preferably overnight).


Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the avocado, eggs, vanilla, yogurt and sugar in the food processor.


Blend well.


Scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Or be a rebel like I am and scrape it down after you put the dry ingredients in.


Blend to a dark creamy batter.


Spread it in a well-greased pan and sprinkle the top with the salt and chips.


Bake about 20 minutes, until the center is set.


Let cool, preferably refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to serve, combine the banana slices in the food processor with the peanut butter and lemon juice.


Blend well. After about 20 seconds it will smooth out to something very much like soft-serve ice cream.


If you want it firmer return to the freezer for a few minutes. To dish put a fudge square on each plate.



Top each square with a large scoop of the banana peanut butter ice cream.


Serve immediately.

Two years ago: Strawberry Shortcake
One year ago: Thousand Island Dressing


by Heather Harris Brady

I know, a whole lotta people hate beets. But if you’re one of them then you’re probably skipping this post anyway.

I happen to really like them. I like them even more when they’re ginned up with some vinegar and sprinkled with feta or goat cheese. Roasted beets are your friend. You can make a big batch on Sunday and enjoy them in your lunches for a week or two.

I like to use different colors of beets if I can find them, and if you can find heirlooms so much the better. I’m using golden beets and regular red beets here.

Roasted Beet Salad, Enough for six entree-sized salads

  • Six whole beets, about 4″ across, washed and scrubbed
  • Two c. water
  • 1 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 t. salt
  • 8 oz. feta or goat cheese
  • Fresh toasted nuts for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375. Rub the beets with olive oil and put them in a baking dish. Bake for about 60 minutes, until tender all the way through.


Let the beets cool, then peel and slice them 1/4″ thick. Keep the red beets away from the others or they will turn red! I put them directly in storage containers at this point.


Combine the water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Microwave for about 30 seconds and stir until the sugar and salt is dissolved.


Pour the mixture over the beets and refrigerate them. Let them sit overnight and they’re ready to use!


Arrange them on a plate and sprinkle them with the cheese and nuts. You can go crazy here, add some grains, put them over lettuce, drizzle on a little balsamic dressing, whatever you like.


This makes a great vegetarian entree too.


Two years ago: Seeded Crackers
One year ago: Classic Italian Buttercream


by Heather Harris Brady

These will be featured in a colossal sundae recipe yet to come, but I’m posting them now because they are a quick and festive thing for a Father’s Day breakfast or BBQ. They fry up light and pillowy on the inside, crispy and delicious on the outside. Plus, the house smells great with all that cinnamon. This recipe is a combination of ones from HomesickTexan and the Complete Book of Mexican Cooking by Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz.

I’ve never owned a deep fryer because it seems prudent not to. So, on the few times when I absolutely need something along that line I get around it with “shallow frying”. My sopas aren’t as all around puffy as the deep-fried ones but they taste the same – and I don’t have all that leftover oil to deal with later.

Sopapillas, Makes about 16 large 5″ pastries

1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
1 c. warm water
1 T. soft butter
2 t. baking powder
1 T. sugar
4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1 t. salt
olive oil
Cinnamon sugar: Mix 2 t. cinnamon into 1 c. granulated sugar

Combine the yeast, water, and sugar.


Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. When the yeast bubbles stir it in.


Knead it a few times in the bowl. It should only be slightly sticky but this depends on the moisture in your flour.


Let rise until doubled in bulk.


Punch it down and divide into sixteen ping-pong ball sized bits. This will go fast so it’s easier if you get all the rolling done ahead of time. Also, pour your cinnamon sugar onto a dinner plate and have racks or a brown paper bag ready for the finished pastries. Heat a saucepan to medium and add about 1/2″ of olive oil to the bottom. Roll out your first ball into a circle about 5″ across.


Put it in the pan. Fry on each side for about 30 seconds.


I turn them with a fork and transfer them right from the pan to the plate of sugar. Give them a turn in the sugar and place them on racks or papers to cool.


These are best eaten right away, but we had a few leftover and they still disappeared at breakfast the next day.

Two years ago: Rhubarb Raspberry Crumble
One year ago: Raspberry Ribbon Ice Cream


by Heather Harris Brady

I thought I’d share this recipe now, because it’s a lovely way to showcase fresh summer fruit. You can have this in the oven in under 10 minutes too, leaving you more time for summer fun. I’ve shown a thick layer there but you could also do two thin layers, to sandwich together with berries and whipped cream (or cherries and whipped cream for a great black forest). No matter what the size this is one great, moist cake that also keeps well thanks to the yogurt.

This recipe is based on one of my favorite cookbooks, More Home Cooking, by Laurie Colwin. She called it Happy Winter Fudge Cake, as she in turn adapted it from a children’s book called Happy Winter. I used an IKEA dark chocolate bar for this cake, but you can use any type that catches your fancy.

Quick Fudge Cake, Makes your choice of: one 3″ thick 8″ round and six cupcakes; 14 cupcakes; two 1-1/2″ thick 8″ rounds; one 9″ bundt

3 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
2 T. dark baking cocoa
1 t. salt
2 eggs
1/4 c. soft butter
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. plain greek yogurt

Preheat the oven to 350. Combine the eggs, butter, vanilla, yogurt and melted chocolate in a mixer bowl and cream.


The melted chocolate might turn into little bits but that’s okay! Keep going. Add the dry ingredients all at once.


Mix on medium for about two minutes. You’ll have a thick creamy batter, that incidentally, is delicious.


Spread it into your lightly greased pans. If you want flat layers be sure to make a depression in the center.


Baking time will depend on your pans and your oven. This thick 8″ layer took about 25 minutes, thin layers and cupcakes take 12-15 minutes.


Even fresh out of the oven it will cut nicely into neat slices. I like to serve it warm with fresh cold berries and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.


Two years ago: Rhubarb Streusel Pie (a reader favorite!)
One year ago: Greek Chicken Pita Wraps


by Heather Harris Brady

I confess to being suspicious of tiny plastic cartons that cost $6.99, unless they contain dark chocolate sea salt caramels – in which case they are obviously worth the price. So when the DH brought home said carton and it was full of what appeared to be little more than grains I thought “surely I can do that.” And guess what? I can. You can. And provided you have a food processor it’s as easy as falling into a recliner.

So whether you’re binge-watching American Ninja Warrior or actually heading out and doing some of ninja things these tasty little bites are great to take along for the ride.

Energy Bars, Makes about 48 bite-sized bars

1-1/2 c. rolled oats
½ c. ground nuts (I used hazelnuts.)
8 oz. dried dates (I used California dates but medjool would be good.)
1/3 c. dried goji berries
2/3 c. unsweetened coconut powder
2 t. salt
2 t. cinnamon
2/3 c. flaxseed
1/2 c. chia seed

Sliced crystallized ginger
Sprouted quinoa
Chocolate chips
Soak the dates and goji berries in warm water until soft, about two hours. Drain but reserve the water.
Preheat the oven to 325. Put the rolled oats in your food processor and grind them to a coarse-ish powder. Add the ground nuts.


Then add the coconut, dates and goji berries.


Add the salt and cinnamon. Process for 30 seconds to a thick dough.


If you find you need a little more water, drizzle in up to 1/3 cup of the water you reserved from soaking the dates.

Turn the dough out and knead in the flax and chia seeds.

Press the mixture onto a greased baking sheet in one thick layer. Decorate the top with the rest of the ingredients, pressing them in slightly to make them stick. You can use whatever you want here, that’s the fun part!



Slide the sheet into the oven and bake for about 15 minutes.
Let the bars cool and then cut them into two-bite squares.



Store at room temperature in a covered container.

Two years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
One year ago: Chocolate Waffles


by Heather Harris Brady

Man’oushe is a Lebanese flatbread, spread with olive oil and the spice blend za’atar then cooked quickly on a stone or clay. Not that there’s anything wrong with pulling some pita bread out of a bag to have with your hummus or baba ghanoush, but there’s no comparison once you’ve had this beauty right off the heat. So find an excuse to have cocktails in the kitchen or around the grill while you slide these off the stone and onto the serving plate. It will smell wonderful, taste even better and you’ll feel like you’re giving Ina Garten a run for her money this summer.

It’s best to have a pizza stone or clay tile for this. Za’atar is available from most ethnic groceries, or online. Here’s an example. Start the dough about an hour before you’re ready to serve, and put the stone on to heat 20 minutes before cooking.

Man’oushe, Makes about eight 8″ flatbreads

  • 1 c. water
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. za’tar

Warm the water and milk together to lukewarm. Add the sugar, yeast and olive oil.


Then stir in the flour.


Let rise until doubled and then knead smooth for two-three minutes. Put your baking stone on to heat. I set my oven at convection roast 450, but you could do this on the grill as well.


Divide the dough into eight portions and roll out to 1/8″ thick. Give it a good drizzle of olive oil, and then brush the oil all over the top.


Douse it with the spices.


Sprinkle the stone with some semolina and slide on the first bread.


Bake for about seven-eight minutes, until bubbly and well-browned.



The bread tears easily and is perfect for sharing.


But I ate a whole one by myself, right out of the oven. And I’m not sorry.


Stored in plastic wrap these are still okay the next day if you reheat them in the oven (400 for five minutes). Don’t microwave, it makes them soggy.

Two years ago: Chocolate Eclairs
One year ago: Michigan Fruit Pie


by Heather Harris Brady

In addition to the sprouted bread this is another thing I’ve never tried to make before. I’m not sure why. But it was fun! I started these on a lazy Sunday morning about 9 am and we had fresh muffins for brunch. This recipe is a hybrid of Elizabeth David, from her English Bread and Yeast Cookery, and James Beard, from Beard on Bread.

I had the idea of using my egg poaching rings, but of course I couldn’t find them when I needed them! So I used a large cutter ring. You could also use clean tuna cans with the top and bottom removed. You don’t need a lot of them, two would be good. The rings are more for containing the dough for the initial browning, as you will see. If you have tiny rings you could make cute little muffins for appetizers.

English Muffins, Makes about 3-1/2″ 10 muffins

  • 3 loosely packed c. flour, I used a mix of whole wheat and regular all-purpose
  • 1 pkg. active dry yeast
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1-3/4 c. milk
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • Rice flour, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 285. Put the flour in a baking dish and bake it for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, stir together baked flour, yeast, salt and sugar. In a small saucepan, heat milk until warm. Stir in oil or butter.
While stirring, slowly pour warm milk into flour mixture until just incorporated.


Stir until ingredients are well combined. (Dough will be sticky.)


Cover bowl with a towel, set in a warm place and let dough rest until it has doubled. Then stir the baking soda into the dough to deflate it.
Divide the dough into 10 equal-size pieces and turn them out onto a rice-floured surface. Flour your hands, then roll each portion gently between your palms to form a rough ball.


Preheat the oven to 400 and preheat a large non-stick griddle to 350. Grease the griddle lightly. Put the ring in the griddle and press the dough down into the ring.



Cook for about five minutes on one side, then turn it, ring and all. Cook for another five minutes and remove the ring. (I used toast tongs for this part.) Push the first muffin to the back to finish cooking and repeat the procedure for the rest of the muffins.


When all muffins have been cooked, return to a baking sheet and place in oven for 5 minutes.


They will have lots of pretty holes for butter and other nice things.


They also makes the world’s best egg sandwich.


These are quite perishable, so store leftover muffins in the refrigerator and eat within 2 days or freeze.

Two years ago: Breton Butter Cake (Kouign Amann)
One year ago: Cookie Protein Bars



by Heather Harris Brady

This pie happened and things got ugly at our house. When the last few slices got divvied up a riot practically broke out. And it all started innocently enough, when my son when to Chicago on a field trip and brought me back this from the Ghirardelli store:


Which was nice. So I thought I’d pass on the wealth and make something for everyone to share. If you decide to do the same a word of advice – make sure the slices are even! This would be easy to adapt to gluten free with GF crumbs for the crust and GF cornstarch.

Chocolate Raspberry Cream Pie, Makes one 9″ pie

  • One graham cracker pie shell
  • One raspberry chocolate bar (this isn’t a sponsored post, use whatever kind you want!)
  • 2 c. half and half
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 1/3 c. dark cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla or Chambord
  • Fresh raspberries & white chocolate for garnish

I’m not doing a complete step-by-step here because we’ve done pastry cream lots of times. (Here’s a step by step if you want it.) Put the half and half in a saucepan over medium heat. Combine the sugar, cocoa and cornstarch well, whisk them in. Stir continuously as the cream thickens. Beat the eggs in a bowl and add half of the hot cream. Stir, and return it to the pan, whisking constantly. Break up the chocolate bar and whisk it in as it melts.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flavoring. It should look like this:


Pour the cream into the pie shell.


Garnish with the berries and white chocolate. Chill thoroughly before serving.


It will cut in neater slices if you make it a day ahead.


Two years ago: Macarons, French Pastry Week
One year ago: Fresh Rhubarb Cake with Cardamom Syrup


by Heather Harris Brady

On a weekly basis my husband will happily shell out $5 a loaf for what the rest of us have come to call “woodpecker bread” – a term coined by my son who said that if woodpeckers ran a bread factory this is the kind of bread they would make – chuck full of seeds and good health. It is, in fact, sprouted grain bread. There lots of online research you can do on sprouted grains, but basically, the act of sprouting frees up a lot of nutrients that are now easier for the body to absorb. You can mix up the grains for sprouting, and add other things like flax seeds, sesame, whatever strikes your fancy.

I’m actually a little surprised it’s taken me this long to get around to making it myself, given my lifelong Laura Ingalls Wilder penchant. You need a weekend and two pounds of wheat to take on this project – so get’s started!

Step One: The sprouting

  • Two lbs. wheat kernals
  • Two quart glass jars with tops
  • Water

Take two pounds of whole wheat kernals, sometimes called wheat berries. They might look like this, or this. Wash them well and divide them between two quart canning jars. Put the top on and put them under the cupboard. Rinse them every twelve hours. They’re ready to use when each one sends out a tiny white shoot, like so:


In my room-temperature house this took a full 24 hours. If they sprout before you’re ready to bake, put them in the fridge otherwise – continue on!

Step Two: Making the dough

  • 1/3 c. honey or granulated sugar
  • 1 pkg. fast-rising yeast
  • 1-1/3 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 T. salt
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • Sprouted wheat from step one

Rinse the wheat and dump it (you can only work with one jar at a time) into your food processor. Process for about two minutes, until it’s finely chopped.


Put it into a large mixing bowl and stir in everything but the olive oil.


Put half the batch in the food processor. Add half the flour and half the olive oil, process to a thick dough. Repeat with the other half of the wheat.


Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface.


Knead for about five minutes. It’s a little rough at first, then it gets better. Resist the urge to add a lot of flour, or your finished loaf will be dry.


Put it in a bowl and let rise until doubled. Punch it down. (I got carried away and almost forgot to take a picture.)


Divide it in half. Roll each half out and roll it back up jelly-roll style. Put it in a greased loaf pan. Repeat for the other half.



Again, let rise until doubled. Preheat the oven to 350.


When the dough reaches the top of the pan it’s ready.


Bake for about 40 minutes, until nicely browned. I brush the tops with butter.


Turn them out on a rack and cover them with a tea towel. When they’re cool wrap them in plastic and store the bread in the refrigerator.


When it’s cool it slices nicely. The bread is definitely more substantial than what most people are probably used to, but it has a nice toothsome chew with lots of flavor.


It’s good for sandwiches, or just on its own with a schmear of something. It makes two loaves, which is two weeks’ worth in our house. It’s definitely worth a go if you like whole grain breads. It tastes a lot better than store loaves.


Two years ago: Quick Cuban Black Bean Soup
One year ago: Asparagus & Wild Mushroom Risotto


by Heather Harris Brady

I worked on this recipe over the holiday weekend since we’re heading into prime picnic/beach season. Just about everyone loves smores but sometimes they’re a pain. You’ve got to tote all the ingredients with you, make sure you can get a fire going and keep people from eating the marshmallows and chocolate beforehand – which, let’s face it, is not an easy task. You can bake these squares in a leisurely, civilized way and even wrap them individually for your picnic basket. All the goodness of smores neatly in hand, and if the firewood’s wet you can still have dessert. And did I mention they’re whole-grain?

S’mores Bars, Makes one 13×9 pan (about 20 squares)

  • 4 T. butter
  • 2/3 c. packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • Two eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 3/4 c. white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. graham flour
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. quinoa flour
  • 1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 c. marshmallow creme
  • 6 oz. mini chocolate chips

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


Beat in the eggs and vanilla.


Then the dry ingredients.


Then the applesauce. You should have a thick creamy batter.


Spread half the batter in a lightly greased 13×9 pan and sprinkle it with the chocolate chips.


Add dollops of marshmallow creme. I smoothed it a little bit with a wet spoon.


Then cover it with the rest of the batter.


Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until nicely brown.


I sprinkled some more chips on top right when it came out of the oven.


When it’s completely cool you can cut it into squares.


The marshmallow will stay nice and fluffy. Store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap. The applesauce will keep them nice and chewy.


Two years ago: Baked Beans in a Beanpot
One year ago: Quick Peach Turnovers

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