I've only had a pear tart once.
It was at a fancy brunch in Seattle.
The tart was tasty and every fall since that one I've craved a bite of it.

For our fifth anniversary, Nic and I finally went on the Honeymoon we'd never had.
We returned to the city we became friends in. Seattle had always been good to us.
We had heard rave reviews about an awesome brunch.
It's awesomeness was only exceeded by it's expensiveness.
So we banked on it's reviews and decided to use it as our anniversary splurge meal.

We made our reservation weeks in advance.
We had to leave our hotel early.
We had to travel by taxi, bus and then ferry to get there.
We were expecting BIG things from this awesome brunch by the sea.

It was over-hyped and way over-priced.
It was essentially an upscale buffet, o.j. not included.
And just by looking at me, you may not be able to tell-
but I'm not a buffet type-of gal.

Nearing four-years later the bitter taste of pricey food has left my mouth.
However there remains a sweet-little memory morsel that was worth every penny:

You see, perhaps the most redeeming quality of the brunch was it's selection of fresh sea food.
While I was off gathering tarts (I suppose), Nic was off gathering shrimp.
We sat and talked (probably about how over-priced it was.)

We had been talking and eating for about 15 minutes.
As fate would have it, a lull in our conversation happened as an old-mans chuckle drifted loudly our way.
I glanced at his tabled and noticed a plate piled high with translucent, pink, shrimp carcasses.
I instantly stared at Nic.
Then down at his plate, which had been whittled down to two shrimp.

It's not like he'd never eaten shrimp before.
But apparently he'd never eaten shrimp with a shell-on before.
I asked him "Gross, didn't it taste crunchy?"
His response "Well yeah. But I just figured that's what fresh shrimp tasted like."

The meal was way-over priced, I cannot stress this enough.
But the image of Nic dipping a plate of shelled shrimp in cocktail sauce and eating them will always delight me.
So like I said, worth every penny.
Oh and the pear tart wasn't bad either.

glazed-almond-pear tart cookies

I made these cookies back in the Fall, you know clear back when pears and harvesting were all the rage. These cookies were pretty tasty, if you like pears. There is no way around it, you don't like pear then you won't like these. I like the idea of a pear tart cookie, but I would still tweak the shortbread-like tart crust used. I may even consider using a full on sugar cookie dough instead. I'm kind of high- maintenance, when it comes to cookies at least. It's not worth eating, if it's not as tasty as could be. 

glazed-almond-pear tart cookies
almond tart (dough):
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup frozen butter
1 large egg yolk

1. Mix dry ingredients. 

2. Cut frozen butter into small pieces.

3. Using either a pastry cutter or two forks incorporate butter and dry goods until incorporated.

4. Pulse in egg yolk with food processor until dough ball forms.

5. Once ball forms, roll dough onto surface and gently incorporate any unincorporated bits.

6. Roll out tart dough and cut into desired shape. I used regular muffin tins, but you could do mini.

almond pear glaze:
canned pears (I blanched fresh ones, don't waste your time! USE CANNED.)

6 Tablespooons butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup almonds
3 teaspoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg

1.  Mix all ingredients (except pears) in food processor until smooth.

2. Spread almond cream on top of prepared tart dough.

3. Slice pears into long thin pieces that can be fanned out on each cookie.

4. Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of each cookie and place a few almond slices on top.

5. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes until tart dough starts to brown around the edges.

6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with powdered sugar. 



egg launch '09

The Kentucky Derby is today. You probably didn't know that, unless you are my Grandma. Last year she told me that she loves horse races. I had no idea, I figured she was like the rest of us, you know- ambivalent. I'd never heard her talk about it before. And frankly my impression of the Kentucky Derby made it seem like way too stuffy of an event for her liking anyway. Everything about it seemed stifling to me- those giant hats, the mint juleps! Is it all really necessary? I don't get the giant hat, fancy dress wearing, watching horses run crowd. But to them it is all for the sake of TRADITION! And tradition is something I'm always willing to get on board with.

My family is big into traditions. There are the usuals like our Christmas brunches, Birthday dinners and new Christmas Eve PJ's. But then there are the unusuals. The ones that newbies, like my brother-in-law, may call "a little extreme." Yes, Jack Frost refills our Christmas stockings on New Years Eve! Yes, we always get a bag of green goodies on St. Patrick's Day! Yes, we always have 7-layer rainbow JELL-O salad on Thanksgiving! Yes, some of us do celebrate our half-Birthday's with vigor! And strangely enough, yes, every Easter we do launch twenty dozen colored Easter eggs off a cliff with a water balloon launcher! To me they don't even seem weird anymore, even Nic has been around long enough that he knows how important things like Halloween sugar cookies are! But all this tradition takes some getting use to. It wasn't always like this either. Most of our most beloved traditions started on a whim- we tried something new one year- loved it and never stopped doing it, ever again.

So for the sake of tradition I'm giving the Kentucky Derby a pass. One lady, one year, probably thought it would be fun to wear a giant hat and the rest is history...Maybe in 136 years people all over the place will be launching their Easter eggs over cliffs too. Why? Because it's tradition!

not derby pie cookies

One day this week I dropped the remote while I was feeding the baby- because of this error I was forced to watch the craft and cooking segments of a local morning show. They were making their version of Derby Pie.* Which is supposed to taste like a giant chocolate chip cookie pie. I thought but how could I make those into bona fide cookies? My first thought was to just use my mini muffin tins and make tiny cookie pies using a pie crust. But my mini muffin tin is in storage and those would still technically be considered pies not cookies. So I swapped the pie crust for cookie dough and the mini tin for a regular muffin tin voila! Not Derby Pie Cookies. 

Not Derby Pie Cookies
Cookie Crust:
1 batch of chocolate chip cookie dough (um, yeah I just bought some pre-made stuff)

1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Line muffin tins with papers and  spray with cooking spray to avoid sticking. Roll a little more than 1/2 of your cookie dough flat and press in to each muffin tin like a pie crust. Fill each tin with about a tablespoon of filling. Roll remaining cookie dough out and cover each cookie pie with a cookie lid (but I tried one without and it's not necessary if you'd prefer them roofless.) Cook for about 20 minutes or until centers are set. Best served warm.

My Notes:
*Apparently the name Derby Pie is trademarked- and the owners will sue. So people have to make up other names like "Kentucky Derby Pie" to pretend like it is something different. But I think just adding "not" to the beginning should pass basic legal muster, right? Yipes people! It's just a pie.

I can't attest to how accurately this represents a traditional Derby Pie-like taste. But if you like gooey cookie dough you'll love this. The outside of the cookie pie is just a traditional chocolate chip cookie and the inside tastes like a melted chocolate chip cookie. You'll need a spoon to eat it gracefully.

If I were to ever make this again, I'd make homemade vanilla ice cream to go on top of it (kind of like an extreme cookies and milk thing.) It's like a cobblerized version of a chocolate chip cookie.


lemon squeezy

Nearly every Mother with more than three kids told me the same thing "Three is the breaking point you know." Apparently the scale officially tips when your kids outnumber your arms. My Mom had it especially rough. Her third was a moody, inconsolable baby. Lack of sleep alone can wear you out but a chronically fussy baby is enough to drive anybody into a major postpartum funk. With three kids under four years of age my siblings and I are lucky my Mom didn't Andrea Yates us.

Needless to say everyones well intended "the third is the hardest" advice had me a little freaked out. I think Moms always have a small nagging feeling of incompetence and with my third on the way I was feeling it big time. But somehow (at least thus far) I have escaped the brunt of the third child curse. I attribute it to three things:

1. The girls are old enough to help. When Scarlett was born not only could Ruby not really help, she couldn't even understand what was going on. That's the difference between having children 20 months apart and 4 1/2 years apart. They understand "Grab me a diaper", "You need to be quiet" and "Don't squeeze his head" which has made the transition so much smoother.
She even managed to find what Nic affectionately refers to as her "chemo hat" 

2. My Mom. Having such a horrible, terrible experience her third go around she has been like a saint in making things as easy for me as possible. She makes sure I've eaten (even making grilled cheese sandwiches on demand), she's picked up Newborn diapers I've forgotten, and most notably substitute Mothered my girls.  She's taken them to school, bathed them and generally made sure they don't look homeless (as evidenced in the picture taken above, from a day when she was not around to help and Ruby dressed herself.) If it weren't for her I think I'd be immersed in full on postpartum crazies right now. 

3. Finally, Adam. He has been the best baby. He's the kind of baby who only cries for the textbook reasons babies cry (feed me! change me! put my diaper back on me!) He's the kind of baby you have to wake up to feed. The kind of baby who just seems happy to be alive. He's as Ruby says "Easy peasy, mac and cheesy, lemon squeezy!" You couldn't find a happier more content baby if you tried. I thank heaven for that. Plus it still allows me time to sneak in the occasional batch of cookies.

raspberry lemonade cookies

These cookies are a hybrid of the lemon cookies my Mom makes. I decided to switch-up the regular lemon flavored cookie by creating a raspberry one instead. I think you could transform them into any fruity combo though (orange-orange, lemon-orange, orange creamsicle, pineapple-pineapple, etc.) However one thing to note with this particular recipe is that it isn't the cookie that has the most flavor it is the icing so plan your flavors out accordingly...Also you might want to note they have a weird texture- they aren't chewy or flaky they are more like dry and fluffy (similar to a Mexican Wedding Cookie.)  They are the kind of cookie you would eat a tea party or bridal shower (when I told Nic this he said "Do you go to a lot of tea parties?") What I'm trying to say is they are just kind of dainty cookies I guess. And don't except them to be incredibly sweet either, they're dainty tart cookies. 

Raspberry Lemonade Cookies
2 cups butter, room temperature
2/3 cups powdered sugar
@ 1 cup fresh raspberries*
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon raspberry extract
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups cornstarch 

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter until creamy looking. Add powdered sugar; mix until light and fluffy. Add raspberries, vanilla and raspberry extract; beat well. Add flour and cornstarch into butter mixture and mix until well combined. The dough may look dry- but don't worry, it will slowly come together as you mix it. 

uncooked dough is super soft- looks like pliable whipped yogurt

Roll cookie dough into 1-inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheets and bake for 15 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Remove from oven, carefully remove from  baking sheet, and cool on wire racks (cookies are very delicate when warm.)

lightly browned bottoms

Lemon Frosting:
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/3 to 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 cups powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, combine butter, lemon zest, lemon juice and powdered sugar; beat until well mixed. Add additional lemon juice if frosting needs to be thinned out. I did it too thick it's better if it is almost glaze like.
Thin enough you can just dip tops of cookies in to frost rather than spread onto cookies.

My Notes:
*I used fresh raspberries. But as you probably know fresh raspberries also have seeds. My Mom suggested I use juice instead so that there aren't seeds in the cookies. So really that is up to you.


bags are packed, ready to go.

My bags, waiting to go. Again. 

Today could have been one of two things- the day I made brownie cookies, or the day I gave birth to my son. But with only four hours until midnight it looks like it's shaping up to be the former. And to be honest despite a restless, crampy nights sleep I still expected it to be the former when I woke up this morning...But then things changed.

I was having some alarming labor symptoms that would require a trip to the Labor and Delivery unit ASAP. I called Nic home from work, jumped in the shower and attempted to re-paint my toenails green while I waited for him. Having never had a chance to pack and plan for delivery ahead of time I was excited to throw my pre-packed bags in the van and drive away.

By this time I was mentally prepping myself for labor. But after a couple of hours of fetal monitoring and symptom checking I was surprisingly given the red light, to watch my symptoms very carefully, and head home for now. Despite my legitimate labor worries, I still felt like one of those girls who comes in after her first contraction, as I did the walk of shame from the Labor and Delivery unit to the elevator.

So in my personal life history March 22, 2010 could have become the day I gave birth to my first-born son. Instead it will forever be marked as the day I made my first batch of brownie cookies. Which overall still made for a good day.