As most of our travel usually goes, we pick a location, quickly book plane tickets and hotels and then head out three weeks later.  It doesn’t leave too much time for getting ourselves prepared, and that we left just after New Years, it didn’t even leave much time for getting excited because the thought of our trip was eclipsed by the excitement of the holidays!

I had my very first pregnancy/hormone/hysterical breakdown when I was searching for hotels.  Like, hyperventilating and hysterical crying.  Because I couldn’t find a hotel that was perfect.  In retrospect, it’s hilarious but at the time, it wasn’t pretty.   Costa Rica is small, but it’s big.  There are so many different areas and each one seems so different!   Even though they are fairly close together, getting from one to another is expensive and time consuming.  So I wanted to make sure we did it correctly.   We flew in and out of San Jose, spent three days on the Central Pacific Coast and then three days in the Cloud Forest.  It was all pretty spectacular and I’d highly recommend it!  For getting around the country, Chris was wary of renting a car, as we’d heard some pretty terrible stories and heard it was difficult.  You’ll definitely need a GPS (they don’t really have addresses in Costa Rica.  I don’t know how you’d do it without a GPS!), and it’s slow going because you’ll very likely to get stuck behind a large truck traveling very slowly on a one lane road, but definitely worth it.  It’s about the same price (if you go with the full insurance package) as paying for individual private transfers, but then we had the flexibility to explore as we pleased.

I know we wanted to go down into the Manuel Antonio Park, but I didn’t love any of the hotels in the area.  There are only two that have access to the beach, and I didn’t love either.  So we ended up at Hotel Clandestino.  You’ll definitely need a car (or spring for taxis), as it’s about 30 km from Manuel Antonio and 10 km down a long dirt road.  But it’s worth it.  The pool overlooks a gorgeous stretch of private beach.  The food is good beach food, but I was a little bored of the restaurant after three days.   On the days we went into town, breakfast at Hotel Mariposa (the buffet breakfast is decent, but the view is ridiculous!) and lunch at Cafe Milagro were delicious!
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We were just sitting on the beach when the concierge came out to tell us that a baby turtle release had just started down the beach!  It was so amazing to watch them make their way to the ocean!
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Manuel Antonio National Park is lovely!  We saw monkeys, sloths, birds, butterflies and so much green!  We didn’t hire a guide, and I’m sure we might have seen more if we had, but if you pay attention, you can see where people are looking and spot them on your own.
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My cankles are out of control.
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I just realized I didn’t take a single real picture of the beach, although there are a few on Instagram.   It was empty, there were hammocks, and the sunsets were spectacular.  You should go to see it for yourself!

After three days of sitting and a little bit of exploring, we packed up the car and drove the three hours into the Cloud Forest.  If at all possible, make sure you get there before it gets dark.  We didn’t quite make it and the last 20 minutes of our drive was terrifying.  The roads are TINY, on the side of a mountain, and the clouds are so thick you can’t see through them.  Plus, when you get to the amazing El Silencio Lodge & Spa, and it’s so dark you can’t see it, you’re missing out.

The Lodge is comprised of 16 small cottages, each with an amazing porch and hot tub.  You don’t have to leave the property after you arrive… there’s hiking, waterfalls, zip lines, horses, fishing, a working farm and an amazing spa.  They’ll also schedule trips to the market, the volcanoes, coffee tours… whatever you might want!  The food is incredible (I could still be eating there) and everyone was so accommodating.  At turn down, they put hot water bottles under the covers so it’s toasty when you slide into bed.  I want one for home now.  Chris had caught a few fish the day we left the beach, so the chef cooked them for our dinner one night.  We looked like crazy hobos, rolling in after dark with a trash bag full of fish (true story), but it was worth it!   You’re literally in the middle of nowhere, but can be back to the San Jose airport in around 90 minutes.  It was perfect, and I would definitely go back!
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At 3:00, they’ll deliver hot chocolate and chocolate chip cookies to those rocking chairs on your porch.  It’s heaven.
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We hiked, we ate and we napped.  It was all pretty spectacular and I would definitely go back to see the peninsula beaches and the Arenal volcano on another trip!

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I’ve been a bad blogger.  But it’s because I’ve been a bad drinker.  I’ve quit.  Well, kind of.  Just for 9 months!

JH2 2481 681x1024 Whiskey Spiced Cocktails… and where have I been!?

“We’re usually red or rosé folks, but the newest Hazel will probably prefer white.  Baby Hazel, summer 2015″

Pregnancy has been a lovely time and I’ve really enjoyed it!   I miss tequila like crazy, but the occasional glass of red wine has been a suitable substitution!   So, I’m only making cocktails when someone else can enjoy them as I hate to waste good booze.  But this syrup I’m going to tell you about… It’s good in a cocktail.  It’s good in a cocktail.  It’s good in tea.  It’s pretty much good all around and it makes even a glass of sparkling water feel extra special.  And wintry.

I mixed this up for some of my lady friends last month and it got rave reviews!  I just left the whiskey out for myself and I still enjoyed it… it’s pretty special icon wink Whiskey Spiced Cocktails… and where have I been!?

The syrup is totally personal and you could add whatever spices you have on hand!   I like Cardamom seeds, cloves & coriander seeds (crushed a little bit in a mortar & pestle) and nutmeg, but you could really use anything you liked.

Whiskey Spiced Cocktail 0001 Whiskey Spiced Cocktails… and where have I been!?

 

Spiced Syrup

Ingredients

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup water

Spices, about 1/4 teaspoon each (cardamom pods, cloves, coriander seeds, nutmeg etc.)

Orange peel, three 3″ strips

2 cinnamon sticks

Directions

Add all ingredients to a sauce pan and heat until sugar is melted.  Allow it to cool, stirring occasionally.  Strain throw a fine mesh sieve and store, refrigerated, in an air-tight bottle.

 

Whiskey Spiced Cocktail

Ingredients

2 oz Whiskey

Juice of 1/2 Lime

1 oz Spiced Syrup

Sparkling Water

Directions

Add whiskey, lime juice & simple syrup to a shaker of ice.  Shake and strain into a glass with ice.  Garnish with cinnamon sticks or orange peel. Enjoy!

 

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Pumpkin season is my jam.  I love all the pumpkin breads, and cookies and pies and desserts.  I spend most of the year waiting until it’s appropriate to make all of the things on my “Things Made With Pumpkin” Pinterest board.  It’s a sickness.

So, I knew I wanted to try a pumpkin cocktail.  I knew I wanted to use real pumpkin as opposed to syrup.  And I knew I wanted it to be thick and delicious.  My good friend Heidi tasted bad cocktail after bad cocktail with me.  Really y’all, they were terrible.  I tried really hard to use your basic pumpkin puree… healthy, delicious.  But it just wasn’t cutting it.   Pumpkin Pie Filling to the rescue.  I’m sure there’s more sugar in it than I would have had to add to the pumpkin puree, but what you don’t know won’t hurt you, yeah?

Seriously, this is so good, I even made it for breakfast today.  Despite the name of this blog, on a Friday at 9 am, I’m not really craving whiskey.  So, I replaced it with a banana and it was heaven.  Maybe I’ll make a second one for lunch icon smile The Drunken Pumpkin Cocktail

Drunken Pumpkin Cocktail 2 The Drunken Pumpkin Cocktail

 

Drunken Pumpkin

Ingredients

1 part whiskey

1 part milk

1.5 part pumpkin pie filling (I used Libbys)

Ice

Cinnamon Stick, Pumpkin Pie Spice or Nutmeg for garnish

 

Directions

Add ice, whiskey, milk & pumpkin pie filling to blender.  Blend on high for one minute, or until ice is broken down.  Pour into glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick, pumpkin pie spice or nutmeg.  Enjoy!

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main logo copy Featured on Glitter Guide!

gg Featured on Glitter Guide!

 

I’ve been such a big fan of Glitter Guide for such a long time.  It’s just full of so much pretty I feel inspired every time I stroll through.  So, when my dear friend and amazingly talented photographer Heather Kincaid suggested we shoot my house and send it over to them I was excited/thrilled/nervous/nauseous.  I started and finished a major renovation, then pushed our shoot date back three times.  I was petrified.

But, I’m sooooo happy that we did this because I’m so happy to have these images and so honored that Glitter Guide featured our house today!  You can see the full home tour here, and expect more images coming to the blog soon!  Thank you so much Heather for doing the most amazing job photographing this place I love so much!  And Moira for making me look so amazing.  And the ladies at Floral Crush for the icing on the cake… flowers just make everything better!

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November 7, 2014 Caramel Apple Pie

 

Whew, I didn’t realize I’d been so absent!  Wedding season is finally gearing down and I just realized how much I’ve neglected this poor  blog that I just adore so much.  But yah for fall, yah for sweaters and pumpkins and apple pies!

If you follow me on Instagram (Cocktails For Breakfast or Hazelnut Photography) you’ll know that Chris and I went out to Riley Family Farms a few weeks ago for some apple picking!   It was obviously adorable, a super cute little place with some super delicious apples.   It was a lovely little trek out of LA for the day and we came home with the most delicious apples.  So, pie.

On the drive out, I was reading Sunset Magazine and they had a recipe for a Caramel Apple Pie.  Done & done.

It takes forever.  Like, three days forever.  Mostly because I didn’t really read all the way through to make sure I built in time for all the chilling and cooling and sitting.  There’s a lot of it.  But the dough can sit for a few days.  The apples can sit overnight.  It’s not so overwhelming to break it down into a few separate baking sessions.  It’s just the massive amount of patience you must have.  Lots and lots of patience.  Guys, it’s worth it!
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Caramel Apple Pie from Sunset Magazine

Ingredients

Pastry
3 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-in. cubes

1. In a food processor, whirl flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and pulse until pieces are almond- and pea-size. Sprinkle 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. ice water over mixture and pulse 3 or 4 times just to distribute.

2. Dump mixture into a mound on a work surface. Working quickly so butter stays cold, firmly press dough with heel of hand, pushing dough outward from center. Scrape dough from work surface using a bench scraper, and toss to redistribute wet and dry patches. Repeat, pressing on dry patches and tossing to create a soft dough with no dry spots. Don’t overwork; you should see pieces and streaks of butter.

3. Divide into 2 portions and gently press each into a 3/4-in.-thick disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

Make ahead: Up to 1 month, frozen airtight.

 

Filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. sugar
About 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 pounds mixed apples, such as Granny Smith and Cripps Pink, peeled and cut into eighths to make 3 qts.
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream

1. Make pastry and chill.

2. Meanwhile, melt butter with 1 cup sugar and 1/2 tsp. salt in a heavy 5- to 6-qt. pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until a smoky haze comes from mixture and it turns deep golden brown, 6 to 9 minutes. Carefully stir apples into caramel (it will bubble and seize up). Cook, stirring often and reducing heat if needed to maintain a steady simmer, until apples look mostly translucent and are tender when pierced with a fork (a few will have fallen apart), about 20 minutes. Transfer apples and caramel to a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool a bit, then chill until cold.

3. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolk, cream, and a pinch of salt until well blended. Chill egg wash airtight up to 1 week.

4. Unwrap and lightly flour 1 pastry disk, work surface, and rolling pin. Working from center with short strokes, roll pastry into an even 13-in. round. As you work, lift pastry using a bench scraper or long metal spatula, and reflour board and pin as needed to keep it from sticking.

5. Fold pastry in half and open up into a buttered regular 9-in. pie pan, easing it into place without stretching. Fill shell with cold apples and caramel; pat into an even mound. Fold overhanging pastry over apples and trim with scissors to a 1-in. border. Chill scraps and pie shell.

6. Roll out second pastry disk the same way as the first to an 11-in. round. Cut shapes close together with a floured 2 1/2-in. cookie cutter. Transfer to a baking sheet. Gather and reroll all scraps and cut the same way (you’ll have about 25 cutouts total). Chill cutouts until firm, 15 minutes.

7. Brush pie border with egg wash. Lay 10 cutouts in a concentric circle around rim of pie, barely covering the border and barely overlapping one another; brush with egg wash, so they adhere to one another. Make a second circle the same way with 5 cutouts, overlapping the first by about 1/2 in. Set 1 cutout in the center.

8. Freeze pie and remaining cutouts uncovered until cutouts feel very firm, 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° with racks in center and lower third. Brush pie with egg wash again and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp. sugar.

9. Bake cutouts on baking sheet until well browned, 20 to 22 minutes. Bake pie until crust is deeply browned, juices are bubbling, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center reaches 180°, 1 1/2 hours; after 45 minutes, set a drip pan on rack under pie, and after about 1 1/4 hours, tent pie with foil. Cool pie on a rack at least 2 1/2 hours. Serve with extra cutouts for nibbling.

Make ahead: Up to 1 day at room temperature.

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Choosing A Bottle of Rose 2 Choosing The Perfect Bottle of Rose

(Domaine Saint Mitre, Chateau La Galiniere Cuvee Le Cengle, Commanderie de la Bargemone)

When it’s really hot outside, and I feel too lazy to make a cocktail, all I want is a bottle of rosé.  From May through September, there is always at least one bottle in the fridge, waiting for me.  Sitting in the front yard with a pretty pink bottle on ice, chatting with my neighbors as they take the evening (or afternoon) walks… well, there’s nothing better.

I want rosé to be simple, and unassuming.  I don’t want to taste too much of it, it should be pretty quiet.  While I don’t necessarily have a favorite vineyard, or a favorite bottle (ah, there are so many out there!), I do have two simple rules when I head to my favorite wine shop.

 

1. It should be from Provence, France.  Now, I’m sure there are other places that make a pretty good bottle of wine, but Provence has never let me down and other areas seem to be a little more hit and miss.  Mostly, too sweet for my taste.

2. It should be the lightest, faintest, just-a-hint-of-color pink.   That middle bottle up there, that’s almost too dark, but it’s delicious, so I let it slide.  Anything darker and it just misses the mark for me.

 

The hardest part about rosé is that I haven’t found a grocery store bottle that works, so you do have to make an extra stop at a wine shop or liquor store.  But, I promise it will be worth it!

And one other favorites… Chateau de Campuget Costieres de Nimes.

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yaaah!  It’s been a while since we did a Flipping Pages feature, but Jess has been hard at work flipping through so many pages to pick only the best for recommendations!   And there are a LOT of them this time around.  I just finished California myself and absolutely loved it!  Perfect for the last bit of summer!
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Hey, There! It’s been ages! I’m transitioning into a semi-new job and was lucky enough to have the summer (well, July) off. Though I yearned to travel, I thought it better to stay home and get myself organized and rested after a really busy spring. But without realizing it, I actually traveled the world this summer and I’ve put together a list of my favorite spots (and the books that transported me there this summer), just for you! xoxo, Jessica
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Post-Apocalyptic USA
California by Eden Lepucki and The Stand by Stephen King.
I’m crazy about both of these books. California got a ton of press, mainly because Colbert recommended it on his show and it’s next in my book club’s lineup. So, I was basically forced to read it. But I’m so glad I did. Lepucki paints a very realistic (and terrifying) portrait of America after a series of ecological and financial disasters and one couple who tries to survive in the wilderness, in complete isolation. The story, and the various characters’ secrets, unfolds slowly, but steadily, with bits of information cleverly and gradually imparted to the reader. I could not stop reading and read it over two sittings. Yay, vacation!
The Stand is a book I’ve been meaning to pick up after discovering King’s later work. I used to turn my nose up at him. It’s true. But I’m trying not to be a jerk and have to admit he’s a top-notch storyteller. The best, really. And The Stand is one long (1,200-pages!), adventurous ride across America as a military-engineered virus kills most of the population. It’s so much fun. Plus, one of the survivors is from Ogunquit, Maine, one of my favorite small towns!
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Post-Apocalyptic London and the Surrounding Countryside
I didn’t know a whole lot about this book going in and I’m so glad. (I joked that M.R. Carey is actually Mariah Carey, but no such luck.) Since I don’t want to ruin the surprise, I won’t say a whole lot about this book, except that it’s about a little girl who is locked in prison. At first, we’re not sure why, or why she’s treated with as much caution as Hannibal Lecter. Finding out was a real treat, and this is my favorite novel within the genre…and I don’t even want to say which genre it belongs in!
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New York and Florida
This is sort of a memoir about Schwalbe and his mother and their informal “book club”, after his mother is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They use the last years of her life to discuss books they’re reading (often at the same time). Their discussions about books turn into deeper conversations, allowing them to also talk about their lives in general. It’s just the sweetest thing…to see how much literature has meant to Schwalbe’s family and how they make connections to their lives through certain books. His mother is also incredibly inspiring.
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New Hampshire
The Last Policeman by Ben Winters.
How could I not read a mystery novel (the first in a trilogy) SET IN MY HOME STATE?! Aside that I had to believe a murder could take place in Concord, NH, TLP also takes place in the months before an asteroid will collide with Earth. I mean, that’s a lot of crazy, but Winters somehow grounds the novel and the characters in reality and I ate it up. I’m looking forward to reading the next two installments…before the world ends.
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Vermont
Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore.
Oh, Vermont, I just love you. And I ate up this book, about a scholarship co-ed (Mabel…even her name says “I’m poor”) who is invited to spend the summer at her uber-wealthy roommate’s family summer compound. The family has a lot of secrets. I mean, so many. And our gal Mabel wants to know all of them. So did I. And boy, were those secrets juicy. This was such a great summer read.
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1980’s London
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe.
This is a collection of Stibbe’s letters to her sister while she was a nanny for a family in London in the 80’s. In the letters, she describes her life and conversations with the family and I found myself laughing through the whole thing.
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Tokyo, London, New York, Cape Town
The Three by Sarah Lotz.
This book creeped me out. Majorly. (I have a soft spot for genuinely creepy thrillers. They’re hard to find.) There are a series of plane crashes on the same day, and three children are the sole survivors from three of the crashes. But when they return home, the children aren’t the same as they used to be. And I cannot sleep anymore.
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Ontario/Muskoka Lakes District
This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki.
A sweet starting-to-come-of-age tale about a little girl whose family spends every summer at their lake house. She has a Summertime BFF and her parents fight a lot. She likes horror movies, which she probably shouldn’t be allowed to watch. It’s just darling. The Tamaki sisters perfectly capture that awkward slice of time right when childhood ends, but the teenage years have yet to begin.
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Brooklyn
This graphic novel by the famed New Yorker cartoonist is just perfect. With a dose of depressing. But not really. It’s about her aging parents and their last years of decline. Does that sound depressing? No! It’s really funny and touching and even thought-provoking. I particularly love Chast’s drawings and descriptions of her parents’ Brooklyn apartment, which they lived in for something like 50 years.
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Mallorca
The Vacationers by Emma Straub.
This is the perfect summer vacation book…about a summer vacation. It’s not too heavy, not too serious, just the right amount of mystery and humor. You’ll finish it by the pool and feel accomplished, but you’ll find you’d much rather be by the pool in Mallorca. Can’t have it all.
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Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and beyond
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.
This is the fluffiest, guiltiest thing I read all summer and it hit the spot. Though it’s long, you’ll sail through it. A NYU professor’s boyfriend invites her to visit his family in Singapore…and when she arrives, she finds out he’s from one of the richest families on…the planet? And his family is not pleased to meet her. Scandal! It made me want to fly to Singapore and gorge myself on the famously delicious street food, which apparently you don’t have to be a Crazy Rich Asian to afford. Score.
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It’s really summertime, and for me, that means lots of fruit and lots of cocktails.  But I really can’t stand drinks that are too sweet.  So, all of our requirements are met here, without too much sweet and not too much sugar.  All around, delicious.
Whiskey Watermelon Cocktail 0001 Whiskey Watermelon Cocktails

Watermelon Whiskey Cocktails

Ingredients

2 oz rye whiskey

2 oz watermelon juice

1 oz Chambord

.5 oz lemon juice

3 sprigs of rosemary (2 for shaking, 1 for garnish)

Instructions

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake well and then strain into a glass.  Garnish with the last sprig of rosemary.  Enjoy!

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It is July.  And it is HOT.  Valley Hot.  Sitting at my desk, while the sun burns through the windows, has been a little bit miserable. Happy to be so busy, miserable to be so hot in my bright white office.  So, popsicles.

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Cold, and satisfying and super healthy, because it’s just juice!   My lovely friend Megan posted a juice recipe a while back that is so perfect.  It’s sweet and so full of flavor, and I always sneak in a little bit when I’m juicing the kale and other boring healthy greens.  I juiced a bit and then added some solids to the blender so they wouldn’t freeze too hard (although, I guess if you like a solid hard-as-a-rock popsicle, you could skip the solids and just freeze the juice.) So delicious, so perfect to get through that 5:00 hour when I really want to quit, because the sun is burning through my retinas, but I must keep going.  Enjoy!

Pineapple Apple Mint Popsicles

4 large green apples

2/3 pineapple

4 sprigs of mint, leaves removed from 2 sprigs

Put the apples, 1/3of the pineapple and 2 sprigs of mint into the juicer and juice.  Transfer the juice to a blender, adding the remaining 1/3 of pineapple and the leaves from 2 sprigs of mint.  Blend.  Pour mixture into popsicle molds and put in the freezer until frozen.  Enjoy!

Honestly, I think you could switch up this recipe any way which way you wanted… more pineapple, more apple or more mint.  It seems to work really well in whichever combination you desire!

If you wanted a more delicious adult snack, I bet a little bit of vodka would be just perfect.  Will try that one out sooner rather than later icon smile Pineapple Apple Mint Popsicles

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When we bought our house, the entire backyard was covered in concrete.  It was so sad back there!  One Thanksgiving, we ripped it all out and started the long and arduous process of planting every square foot.  It took a really long time, a lot of plants died and I learned what might work best for our backyard.  I decided that everything we planted though would need to have a purpose… either it should create shade where we needed shade, or it should produce something that we could eat.  The apple tree was one of the very last additions to the yard, but I’m so happy I decided to plant it!  I guess it’s been there for about three years now, and it has grown so well!  A few times a year, my husband takes a chainsaw to it, under the guise of pruning.  It looks absolutely ridiculous because Chris pays no attention to aesthetics.  But, I guess it’s worked pretty well because it’s producing buckets and buckets of apples now.

So, with all these apples (really, so many apples) I’ve got to do something with them.  So far, pies & tarts.  But, I figure that since I planted the tree, cared for the tree  and harvested the apples, anything I cook with them is calorie free.  Bring on the tarts!

First up, Dorie Greenspans Crispy, Crackly Almond-Apple Tart.  It’s simple, it’s delicious and an absolutely perfect way to end a meal!  Enjoy!

Dorie Greenspans Apple Tart 0007 Dorie Greenspans Apple TartDorie Greenspans Apple Tart 0001 Dorie Greenspans Apple TartDorie Greenspans Apple Tart 0002 Dorie Greenspans Apple TartDorie Greenspans Apple Tart 0003 Dorie Greenspans Apple TartDorie Greenspans Apple Tart 0004 Dorie Greenspans Apple TartDorie Greenspans Apple Tart 0005 Dorie Greenspans Apple TartDorie Greenspans Apple Tart 0006 Dorie Greenspans Apple Tart

 

Crispy, Crackly Apple-Almond Tart

For the Almond Cream

1 1/4 cups almond flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

5 tablespoons heavy cream

For the Tart

8 sheets filo dough (each 9×14 inches)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

About 1 tablespoon sugar

3 medium sweet apples, such as gala (she suggest peeling them, I didn’t and it’s delicious)

For the Glaze

2 teaspoons water

About 1/2 cup apple jelly or strained apricot jam

 

To make the almond cream:  Whisk the almond flour and sugar together in a bowl.  In another bowl, beat the egg, vanilla and salt together.  Whisk in half of the almond flour mixture, and when it’s well combined, whisk in the heavy cream.  Finish by whisking in the remaining almond mixture.  Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the almond cream and chill for at least 3 hours.  (The almond cream can be refrigerated for up to three days)

When you’re ready to construct and bake the tart, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.

Place one piece of filo dough on the lined baking sheet (keep the remaining pieces of filo covered with plastic wrap), brush it with melted butter, and sprinkle it with sugar.  Cover with another sheet of dough, then butter and sugar the sheet.  Continue until you’ve stacked, buttered and sugared all 8 sheets. Using a small offset spatula or the back of a spoon, very gently spread the almond cream over the top of the filo: you can leave a slim border of uncovered dough on all sides – it will curl in the oven and that’s rather nice – or you can spread the almond topping all the way to the edges.  Work slowly and be gentle, since filo is extremely delicate – if it tears (and it probably will), patch it with almond cream.  Cover the tart lightly with plastic wrap while you cut the apples.

Slice each apple in half from top to bottom and remove the core.  Cut each half lengthwise into very thin slices, keeping the slices together – you should get about 14 slices per half – then use the palm of your hand to flatten and fan them.  Arrange the fanned -out apples on top of the almond cream, placing them in 3 long rows down the length of the tart or in as many short crosswise rows as you can fit.  Keep the rows fairly close together, but allow a little almond cream to peek out between them.

Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the apples are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife and the almond cream is set.  Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack.

Stir the water into the apple jelly or apricot jam and bring it to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave oven.  Gently brush the glaze over the entire tart.  Using a cookie sheet or two large metal spatulas or pancake turners, transfer the tart to a serving platter or cutting board.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

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