I’ve gained new appreciation for lots of things I’d never before considered before I became a walking dairy cow mom. Showers, for instance. I didn’t know I was such a proponent. (In fact, I am pretty sure I was on the low end of the shower bell curve.) No longer, my friends. I am PSYCHED when I get to shower. Ramps are another biggie – our first bout of activism: lobbying our condo board association to reinstall a lobby ramp. Chairs with arm rests – helpful to have something to push off of when trying to stand up. My friends, who brought us lunches and dinners and sent me funny Bitmojis and fruit to the hospital. My mom. Oh, my mom. My mom was everything those first few weeks. Cook, grocery shopper, house cleaner, baby changer, bottle washer, life giver. At one (let’s be honest, very low) point, I found myself breastfeeding my baby in a Wendy’s parking lot, my mom spoon-feeding me a Frosty, and I realized: this is motherhood, and it is NEVER. GOING. TO. END.
I also have a new appreciation for one-handed meals. And a fast and loose definition of what “meals” entail – these cookies, for instance.
Banana Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, brought to room temperature
1 super ripe banana
splash vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1-2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 – 1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
optional – pecans, almonds, your preferred nut.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl. Slowly beat in the egg, banana and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda and fluff it all through with a fork; slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture.
As a last step, stir in chocolate chips, coconut & (optional) nuts.
Use an ice cream scoop to measure out about half a scoopful onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for about 9-12 minutes, depending on your oven.
Goodness these are delicious and I am pretty sure that’s not just because I am always ravenous. Fluffy and light, they don’t keep longer than a day or two before they start to lose their texture…which wasn’t a problem around here.
This is what happens when it’s fall: you break out your tall, brown boots. You buy that army green vest you’ve been eyeing at the Gap for a while, hoping maybe the Husband might just spring it on you but then you get the coupon in the mail, and oh, whoops, I’ve just conveniently bought it for myself. You get overly excited about the fact that you can now turn off the air conditioning, open the windows, and stick it to Pepco.
Also: you decide it’s time to go apple picking and bring home 32.8 pounds of apples. That’s right. 32.8 pounds. The nice lady only charged us for 32 pounds. Probably because she felt badly for my husband, who had to carry them, and who definitely was the smart one asking “do we really need another apple?” while my sister, sister-in-law, and I announced that we had found the perfect addition.
We spent all of Sunday baking. We made only a very small dent. Expect more apples on the blog.
for the crust (this will make a top and bottom crust):
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
3-4 tablespoons ice water
for the pie:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar, plus a pinch for dusting the top of the pie
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
5-6 tart apples (we’ve got more Pink Ladies than we will ever eat. Let me know if you live in DC. We will give them to you.)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch (to thicken the filling)
1-2 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits
splash milk, in a bowl
Make your pie crust. In the container of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and butter and pulse until mixed through (about 10 seconds). Place the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water, forming it into a ball (use more ice water if needed). Divide the ball in half (one for the top, one for the bottom) and place in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
While the dough chills, peel, core, and slice your apples. In a large bowl, combine the sugar and spices, and add the apples. Add lemon juice and cornstarch and give the whole thing a good toss.
Roll out both sets of dough. Kitchen God Mark Bittman recommends rolling the dough out between two sheets of saran wrap, and I couldn’t agree more. Makes the whole things less sticky, and less apt to stick to your rolling pin. Roll it out until it fits to your pie plate, and then carefully place it in (helps to put the plate over the dough and then flip it over.) Trim excess dough.
Add the apples to the bottom of the plate and try to arrange them semi-neatly, so they cook relatively evenly. Dot with the little bits of butter (confession: we forgot this step & it was fine. There’s enough butter in the crust to go around.) Add the top crust and crimp the sides together.
Now’s the time to preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Turning back to your pie, brush the top with milk and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar for some extra fun. Make a few small slits in the top of the pie, to allow steam to escape. Refrigerate until the oven is ready.
Bake the pie on a cookie sheet (easier maneuverability) and cook at 450 for ten minutes. Turn down the heat and bake for 40 minutes at 350.
Make whipped cream/buy ice cream/rejoice.
Is that an apple crisp you note in the picture? Why yes, yes it is. Expect more apples, as noted above. (And, this pie recipe is the pie recipe to beat. Thank you Mark Bittman.)
Just a few weeks ago, I wrote about the epic bridal shower my mom threw for one of her BFF’s daughters. She made lobster paella and smoked salmon canapes. We drank champagne and rose. I left home feeling happy, full, and totally in awe.
So, it was sort of a hubris-filled idea to host a bridal shower for one of my BFFs this past weekend. You will note from the picture below what was not on the menu: lobster paella or smoked salmon canapes. (Obvi on the champagne and rose, though).
For everyone’s benefit (and so that I’d actually have something to feed 15 people), I stuck to some tried and true standards. These are truly the go-tos in our house: I realized as I was posting this that every single item is something I’ve already posted about here. Which tells you I’m either really uncreative, or just totally confident in these recipes. Probably both.
(I think) it turned out beautifully. And most important, my friend Sasha seemed really touched.
I hope everyone went home happy and full. Unfortunately, I was already home, which means I was also in charge of cleaning up.
Good thing I had lots of leftover champagne and rose. And basil vodka lemonade. (Main idea: create a basil-infused simple syrup by boiling 1 part water, 1 part sugar and 1 big handful basil. Add to lemonade, another handful basil and a big old splash of vodka. Start showering/TPing the bride/asking the embarrassing “how well do you know your future spouse” questions.)
I’m no baker. All that measuring and sifting and waiting for the butter to get to just the right temperature…give me a recipe I can muck around in, any day.
It is insanely, insanely good. AND since I made it, hard to mess up.
Smitten Kitchen’s Flourless Chocolate Cake
6 tablespoons butter (doesn’t matter the temperature!)
4 oz semisweet chocolate
3 eggs, yolks separated from whites
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch ground cinnamon
topping: a pinch powdered sugar, berries, and homemade whipping cream – about 1/3 cup whipping cream whipped with a tablespoon or so powdered sugar,
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small round pan (6 or 8 inches) with a circle of parchment paper and grease with butter or canola oil, generously.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate, melting it as well. Set aside and let cool until lukewarm.
Beat egg yolks, brown sugar and vanilla together with an electric mixer until the mixture thickens (it’ll be a gross yellow color). Slowly add in the cooled chocolate/butter combo and mix thoroughly, until very thick.
Wash and clean the beaters, and in a separate bowl, beat egg whites and salt until peaks form – add a pinch cinnamon if you like. Stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then slowly and gently fold the rest in. The batter should be nice and light. Pour into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes if using an 8 inch pan and about 25 if using a 6 inch pan. The center will be nice and puffy…and will quickly deflate when you remove it from the oven.
Let the cake cool sufficiently and then flip it out on to another plate. Sprinkle a tiny amount of powdered sugar over the top and serve with whipped cream and berries – and maybe a pinch of cracked salt. Consider yourself a culinary genius.
Well, now everyone knows what they’re getting on their birthday from me.
The year after we graduated from college, I brought my group of friends…which included one certain future Husband, home to the Cape.
My dad, naturally, found it to be the perfect time to enlist the boys into helping him chop wood, telling them “any day you get to use a chain saw, that’s a good day.” It’s a wonder the Husband stuck around.
And yet, I feel the same way about my standing bowl mixer, which I wrestled out of its storage place to make this lemon poppy seed pound cake in celebration of our book club anniversary.
Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake
for the cake
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus LOTS of butter for greasing the pan
2 cups cake or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, yolks separated from whites
about a teaspoon grated lemon zest
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 small container of poppy seeds (about 1/4 cup)
for the glaze
about 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
juice from the other 1/2 lemon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Seriously butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan. And then butter it again, because this pound cake likes to stay in there.
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl; set aside.
Use your mixer (yay!) to cream the butter until smooth. Add about half the sugar, mix through, add the other half. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time. You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything mixes through.
Slowly add the dry ingredients…and here’s where it gets less fun: by hand. You might actually need to put your hands in the bowl and smoosh the ingredients together. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Fold them into the rest of ingredients, gently, along with the poppy seeds.
Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 70 minutes. In the meantime, make the glaze by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Let the cake rest about 5 minutes before extracting from the pan. Let cool completely before glazing and slicing.