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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


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


doubleberrycookies3_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Judging by the amount of pie searches on this site it looks like a lot of you are baking, so rock on! As long as you have the oven on you might think about throwing in a batch of these cookies. They are based on one I grabbed from a local coffee shop. I wasn’t expecting much, because it was obviously a scoop-and-bake, but it turned out to be amazing. Soft, and chuck full of oatmeal and yummy berries. It was probably also chuck full of sugar, so I decided to recreate them my own way.

These are still soft, bursting with oatmeal and berries, but they have lots of other good things as well – like a granola bar merged with a thick oatmeal cookie. I used dried cranberries and fresh blueberries, but you could sub in most any berry that strikes your fancy. With all the whole grains and berry goodness here, you might even be able to justify having cookies for breakfast!

Double Berry Cookies, Makes about 12 4″ cookies

  • 1/2 stick of butter
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. wheat germ
  • 1/2 c. milled flax seed (optional)
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 c. fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugar together well, then add the egg. Beat for one minute on high, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the cinnamon, salt, and vanilla.

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Add the rest of the dry ingredients, beat on medium until well combined.

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Then beat in the milk and continue beating on high for one minute, until the batter is thick and fluffy. Fold in the berries by hand.

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Drop the batter onto a greased cookie sheet.

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Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

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Cool on racks and store covered in an air-tight container.

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Two years ago: Cheesecake Ice Cream with Cherries Jubilee
One year ago: Fresh Raspberry Cake Roll

energybars3_little-house-dunes

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

Toppings:
Pistachios
Sliced crystallized ginger
Sprouted quinoa
Chocolate chips
Coconut
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.

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Then add the coconut, dates and goji berries.

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

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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.

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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!

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

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Store at room temperature in a covered container.


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

manoushe1_little-house-dunes

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.

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Then stir in the flour.

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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.

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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.

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Douse it with the spices.

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

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

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The bread tears easily and is perfect for sharing.

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

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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

calicocookies4_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

These are made with butter and chips after all, so I’m not going to pretend this is a health-food post. That said, if you’re looking for ways to work more whole grains into the diet and still feel like you’re living life to the fullest these are crispy and delicious – good enough to give any cookie out there a run for the money.

Calico Whole-Grain Cookies, Makes about 48 3″ cookies

  • 1/2 c. + 6 T. butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1-1/2 c. white whole-wheat flour
  • 3 c. old-fashioned rolled oatmeal
  • 1 c. butterscotch chips
  • 1 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.

Cream the butter and sugars together well, then beat in the eggs one at a time until the mixture is light and fluffy.

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Beat in the vanilla, then add the dry ingredients except for the chips. Mix well.

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Then stir in the chips.

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Drop tablespoons of dough onto greased baking sheets. Press each mound down with a sugared glass or a fork.

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Bake for about 10 minutes.

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Let the cookies stand for a minute so you can admire their crispy prettiness, then move them to racks to finish cooling.

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Store in an airtight jar or bag. These keep well, but will continue to crisp up during storage. If you want to keep them soft add a slice of bread to the cookie jar or storage bag.


Two years ago: Breakfast Cookies
One year ago: Quick Caramel Apple Cake


 

arepa12_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be working in some south-of-the-border recipes as we head toward Cinco de Mayo. Today I’m bringing you arepas. Now they might be street food in your neck of the woods, but should you not be that lucky the good news is – it’s easy to make your own.

You do need the special masa, pre-cooked cornmeal, which you can order online. Note: This is not to be confused with masa harina. It’s often called masarepa or just look for the bag marked P.A.N.

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I found it at my local Latino grocery, where the shopkeeper said most people prefer the Venezulean variety as opposed to the Colombian one. It comes in white cornmeal, yellow cornmeal and a sweetened variety. I’m using the plain white cornmeal.

You can cook these as patties, then split them for filling – or you can cook them filled with just about anything – cheese, refried beans, chopped veggies or meat. As you knead it the dough takes on a super-fun resilient texture that feels great when you work with it. These remind me very much of the fried cornmeal mush my grandma used to make, just in a different form. They’re gluten-free, easy, quick and delicious – and they’d make a terrific vegetarian entree.

Arepas, Makes about eight 3″ filled patties

  • 2 c. precooked cornmeal
  • 2 T. softened butter
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2-1/2 c. warm water
  • 1-1/2 c. filling ingredients (shredded cheese, refried beans, etc.)

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Combine the cornmeal and salt in a bowl. Swirl the warm water in with your fingertips. As the dough starts to come together knead in the butter. Continue kneading for two minutes until you have a soft, bouncy dough.

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Assemble your filling ingredients. I’m using leftover fajita chicken, chopped fine, and cheese.

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Pat a round of dough out into a circle and add a dab of filling.

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Top it with another circle and pinch around the edges to seal.

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When you have all your patties formed, heat 2 T. of olive oil in a heavy skillet. (You also grill these.)

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Cook for about four-five minutes, until nicely browned. Then turn and do the other side.

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Serve these hot with salsa or another spicy sauce of your choice.

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Two years ago: Fresh Ginger Carrot Muffins
One year ago: Chicken Kiev with Farro Pilaf

chocolateoatmealcookies1_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

These cookies look pretty homey but fresh out of the  oven they are freakin’ (that’s right, I said freakin’) amazing. They are thick, soft on the inside and crackly on the outside plus they’re super chocolately. I’ve posted my own recipe for this type of cookie before, but when I saw this recipe in Maida Heatter’s Book of Cookies I had to try it because it included hot coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker myself, but if coffee and chocolate are together in the right amounts magic happens. Like here.

Chocolate Chip-Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies, Makes about 50

1 c. (8 oz.) butter, room temperature
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. dark cocoa
1 t. vanilla
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 large egg
2 t. instant coffee
1/4 c. hot water
1-1/4 c. flour
1 c. mini chocolate chips
3 c. quick-cooking oatmeal

Heat the oven to 350. Cream the butter with the sugar for two minutes.

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Add the egg and vanilla, beat another minute. Dissolve the coffee in the water and stir in the cocoa powder.

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Beat that into the butter along with the salt and baking soda.

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Add the flour, stirring just until incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and oatmeal.

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Drop spoons of dough onto lightly greased cookie sheets.

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Bake 14-16 minutes.

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Let them stand a minute or two to cool slightly before transferring to racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

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Two years ago: Irish Hostess Cupcakes
One year ago: Dulce de Leche Banana Cake

branmuffins9_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Suffice to say, I am not a bran-muffin kind of gal. I am much more of a chocolate croissant kind of gal. However, even I like these so if you’re looking ahead to spring and starting to think lean these are a really good choice for desk snacks and the like. I used Jane Brody’s basic recipe from her Good Food Book and doctored it up with some banana, cinnamon and some chocolate chips as a reward for being so healthy 😉

This is a big batch and they freeze well, but you can always cut the recipe in half if you like.

Bran Muffins, Makes 24

  • 3 c. bran cereal (I used Fiber One.)
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1 c. boiling water
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1-3/4 c. milk with 1 T. vinegar added OR 2 c. buttermilk
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • One very ripe banana
  • 2 t. cinnamon
  • 2-1/4 c. unbleached flour + 1/2 c. wheat germ OR 2-1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 2-1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 mini chocolate chips (optional)

Combine the raisins, olive oil and cereal. Stir in the boiling water and let it sit for 15 minutes.

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Mash the banana well with a fork and whisk in the eggs, milk and brown sugar.

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Pour in the rest of the dry ingredients and the bran mixture.

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Stir well and set the batter aside for an hour.

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Preheat the oven to 375 and fill 24 muffin cups about 3/4 full with batter.

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Bake for 15 minutes, or until the center of the muffins spring back to the touch.

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Cool the muffins on racks and store them wrapped. They are nice and moist with lots of flavors that play well together.

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Two years ago: Spicy Greens
One year ago: Austrian Carnival Doughnuts

chinesesliders_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

Okay, so during the previous post we went over making steamed buns – today we’ll get to the filling. I used ground pork so I could get more of a patty but you could use ground chicken, ground beef or a slice of extra firm tofu – whatever suits your fancy.

If you follow this recipe you’ll have about half of your steamed rolls left over. They freeze well, so you can have a batch on hand – this filling goes together in about 15 minutes so if you have a batch in the freezer it will make a quick meal to get on the table. Otherwise, if you’re having a larger gathering, just double the quantities below.

Asian Sliders, Makes enough filling for about 10 sliders

  • One pound of ground meat (or extra firm tofu slices)
  • 1 c. baby carrots, sliced
  • 1/2 a red pepper, cut in strips
  • 1/2 c. sliced onion
  • 1 small head of baby bok choy, sliced with leaves set aside
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 3 T. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 t. red chili paste (or to taste)
  • 10 steamed buns (previous post)

Heat a saucepan over medium high and a tablespoon of olive, peanut or sesame oil. Saute the carrots until they are crisp-tender.

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Add the onion, red pepper and bok choy. Continue to saute until the pepper slices are crisp-tender.

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Set vegetables aside. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan.

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Followed by the ground meat.

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Stir in the spices and brown the meat thoroughly.

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When the meat is brown, wilt the bok choy leaves on the side.

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Make the sauce: Combine the peanut butter and chili paste in a small bowl.

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Stir in the soy sauce. At this point you can also add some fresh cilantro, lime juice, fish sauce, whatever.

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Split the buns and spread the sauce on the bottom of each one. Then top it with some of the meat.

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Add a large spoonful of veggies, ending with the bok choy leaves.

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Top it off and you’re ready to serve!

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One year ago: Soft Pumpkin Cookies

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