oh my, such good apple pie

As I’ve noted previously, since having a child, I’ve had to make a number of concessions in the kitchen. My cooking is more functional than experimental nowadays; I hesitate to say that it’s not fun, but instead of taking pleasure in the process of creating, my focus is now on finding joy in feeding my family.

I’ve been eyeing the new BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts cookbook. So when Serious Eats posted Stella Parks’ Easy, Old Fashioned Apple Pie recipe, I knew it was just a matter of time. It wasn’t long before I found myself with a big bag of apples and a ravenous sweet tooth.

I purchased this apple peeler because it was reasonably priced; the reviews noted that it looks like a toy. So it wasn’t too surprising when my 3 year old came running over as soon as I took it out of the box. Yes, it looks like a toy, and doesn’t carry the same gravitas (or actual weight) as your standard metal apple peelers. But it was simple enough for Kai to use (with adult supervision of course; there are poky bits and sharp blades on this thing!) The mechanism is housed in clear plastic, so Kai enjoyed watching the bright red gears turn as he cranked the handle.

Another toddler friendly aspect of this project: this is such a low-fuss recipe, that the filling doesn’t require any cooking. You just let the apple slices, sugar, and spices macerate in a bag for several hours. So my little sous chef was happy to help combine the ingredients into a Ziploc bag, “massage” the apples every so often, and pour the filling into the pie pan. Even though I had a few missteps (mostly due to time constraints), the pie is still delicious (and totally appropriate for breakfast, right?)



banoffee pie

When my son was just a couple weeks old, I was feeling well enough in body and spirit to tackle the kitchen. As satisfying as Berger cookies are, my sweet tooth craved more. And we had reached a period where I could count on naps occurring frequently and somewhat predictably. So I took a few baby steps into the kitchen, starting with refrigerator cookies, rum balls, and icebox cakes. Cookies were easy; I could prepare the dough during one nap, refrigerate the dough until the next nap, and bake them during the next nap. Icebox pies were similarly easily and nap-friendly. There was nothing complex to them, and they felt a little more sophisticated than just eating slightly sweetened, freshly whipped cream and berries.

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tea cookies

Russian tea cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, almond crescents… whatever you call them, I am a sucker for a good nut flour cookie. I used toasted hazelnut flour for these, and I increased the ratio of nut flour to all purpose flour. This is a good, easy recipe to quickly satisfy a cookie craving. It’s easy to scale these up, too.

hazelnut tea cookies

Makes about 18-20

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 c confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 t vanilla extract (or hazelnut flavor!)
1 c hazelnut flour (any nut flour will do)
1/2 c all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using electric mixer, beat butter, 1/4 c powdered sugar, and vanilla until homogenous. Add flours and mix until thoroughly combined.

Chill dough for at least 10 minutes (if your kitchen is on the chilly side, this may not be necessary.)

Roll dough into balls – less than a tablespoon of dough per cookie. Arrange balls on a silpat or parchment paper-covered cookie sheet, allowing an inch between cookies. Bake for 15 minutes.

Cool cookies for 5 minutes before rolling in remaining powdered sugar.