Monday, October 30, 2017

Delve into Dexter

Although Dexter Michigan is the state’s newest city, receiving its charter in 2014, the former village’s history dates to 1824 when the area was first settled. Located just 15 minutes west of Ann Arbor, Dexter’s 14 parks, charming downtown, and unique businesses and eateries, make it one small town worth delving into.

Dexter Cider Mill
Don’t let fall slip away without a visit to Dexter Cider Mill for apple cider made the same way for 120 years, using an oak rack press. Located on 3685 Central Rd., the mill is the oldest continuously operating cider mill in Michigan.

Dexter Cider Mill

The mill also offers homemade sweet, cinnamon donuts and other apple-related goodies such as pies, strudel, turnovers, caramel apples and apple butter. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday until Thanksgiving. 

Mill Creek Park North

Parks and Recreation
Opportunities abound for recreation in Dexter. Bordered by three metroparks - Hudson Mills, Dexter-Huron and Delhi, outdoor activities near Dexter abound. In addition, Mill Creek Park North and South is easily accessible from downtown. Split between Main Street, the park has two distinct areas. 

The north side consists of 2.15-acres of parkland along Mill Creek, a picturesque, old stone railroad bridge, and a boardwalk for bicycling, running and walking your dog.

An elevated walkway under the old stone bridge at Mill Creek Park North.

The south side features four more miles of parkland, foot trails and an elevated walkway which winds through wetlands.

Asters line the walkway at Mill Creek Park South.

Stroll along the wetlands at Mill Creek Park South.

Cowboy Cuisine
When it’s time for some chow, mosey on down to Hotel Hickman's Chuck Wagon BBQ, 8050 Main St., where proprietor Scott Thomas and his Hotel Hickman Gang rustle up barbecued pulled chicken and pork, Texas style beef brisket, smoked sausage and baby back ribs. Enjoy your grub on the covered pavilion or in the adjacent Mercantile where you can also pick up some cowboy cookware, penny candy and Hotel Hickman’s “Not so world famous” Whiskey Bent BBQ sauces, seasonings and slaw dressing. 

Hotel Hickman's Proprietor Scott Thomas. 

Finish your meal with apple, cherry, or bourbon peach cobbler, or opt for the bread pudding all of which are served from cast-iron skillets. 

Texas style beef brisket, I-44 potatoes and cobbler at Hotel Hickman's Chuck Wagon BBQ. 

And…  don’t leave without asking how the 1-44 Potatoes got their name and for the story behind Hotel Hickman. The Chuck Wagon is open Thursday – Sunday for breakfast, lunch and dinner, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Monument Park and Downtown Dexter, Michigan.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Perfectly Pumpkin Bars

It was a much-anticipated yearly tradition at my former workplace when coworker Marilyn Muranyi, often referred to as “mom” around the office, would bring her fabulous Pumpkin Bars. The giant sheet pan of mouthwatering seasonal treats, topped with sweet cream cheese frosting, was usually wiped out within an hour. 

These bars are the perfect sweet treat to accompany you to any fall family gathering, or simply, enjoy them with friends or your favorite coworkers.

Marilyn Muranyi
Marilyn's Pumpkin Bars

2 cups sugar
½ cup oil
½ cup applesauce
4 eggs
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt

3 ounces cream cheese
6 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

Heat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, mix all bar ingredients together.

Pour into a 10” x 15” greased pan with sides. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool.

Combine frosting ingredients. Spread over cooled pumpkin bars.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Apple Cranberry Crunch Salad

There are probably a few folks who think bringing a salad to a holiday gathering is sacrilege. Why would anyone bother with salad, when there are sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, green bean casseroles, creamed corn, rolls and pies to gorge on?  Well, this is exactly why.

A trick I learned from Weight Watchers was to always bring a “safe food” for yourself. It may sound a bit selfish; however, what I found is that more people appreciate a big bowl of greens, fruits and nuts than I thought, especially those who have multiple events in one day.

This salad is the perfect combination of ingredients to serve throughout the fall. The glazed pecans provide the crunch and sweetness to balance the tartness of the apples and cranberries. If you happen to invite me, I’ll be bringing my “safe food,” but rest assured, I’ll bring plenty to share.  

Apple Cranberry Crunch Salad
Serves 8
1 cup glazed pecans (recipe below)
1 head romaine lettuce
1 head red leaf lettuce
½ cup dried cranberries
2 unpeeled apples (any variety) cored and sliced
4-ounce container blue cheese
Balsamic vinaigrette

1 cup pecan halves
1 tablespoon salted butter
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

Melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the pecans. Add sugar and stir constantly for two minutes.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spread out nuts, making sure they don’t touch. Allow to cool.

Wash, pat dry and arrange lettuces in a large serving bowl. Arrange remainder of ingredients over lettuce. Drizzle with your choice of balsamic vinaigrette.