custardy crème fraîche apple pie

custardy creme fraiche apple pie | two red bowls

What a strange, hard week this has been.  It feels like it has been hard in every sense of the word — difficult, unyielding.  I hope everyone is okay.  This is the first of a number of recipes I’ve had saved up for these first few baby-filled months, and, thankfully, it is so very easy.  I think “easy” was going to be my mantra in the kitchen for the foreseeable future no matter what, now that we have a little person to cuddle and feed and care for, but right now it feels particularly apt to share something that comes together without much effort, without any stress, to be a treat that soothes and indulges.

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cheesy garlic pull-apart bread

cheesy pull-apart bread | two red bowls

cheesy pull-apart bread | two red bowls

We’ve had adventures this week!  Last Friday, I braved the pre-blizzard craziness at the supermarket to buy the only things I thought we needed for a snow day — (a) pork and (b) bok choy for (c) lion’s head meatballs.  And maybe also some seltzer. While the person ahead of me lugged gallons of water out of the store and the person behind me lugged gallons of water onto the conveyor belt, I went home with my pork, bok choy, seltzer, and zero gallons of water, and I’m fairly sure I texted B2 something like lol the supermarket is crazy as usual even though nothing ever happens, what is this storm even called again.  I think you know where this is going — 24 hours later (and just as B2’s cousin came to stay with us, sorry Justin!) the water in our little building did go out, then the heat did too, then right when the water got fixed our sink flooded the kitchen. Haha. And I learned the storm was called Jonas.

It was actually not that dramatic — the building owners are wonderful and live right on the first floor (okay, so I think it was more dramatic for them), the heat came back in about the time it took us to zip up our jackets, and even though our overflowing sink didn’t get fixed until yesterday, it was really just an excuse to eat take-out for three days straight and imagine myself as Mickey in Fantasia whenever I had to dump out the water.  But I think this means I’m officially disqualified from making fun of water-buying fellow citizens ever again.  You are wiser than me, neighbors.  (Although this all happened after I made the meatballs!  And they were hearty and comforting and sustained us through our no-heat no-water day!  So.)

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date & maple butter tarts

date & maple butter tarts | two red bowls

date & maple butter tarts | two red bowls

date & maple butter tarts | two red bowls

So I think I’m about five years late to this party.  But I am newly, and really, obsessed with dates. They are so good. How are they so good? I don’t know how I was so woefully misinformed, but up until a couple months ago I had this idea that dates were just a vague something to be nibbled on at your grandmother’s house if all the cookies were gone, or maybe used as a convenient vehicle for goat cheese and bacon, or admired from afar as a healthful “substitute-for” things I am generally reluctant to substitute. And then I was gifted a box of really great ones, with fancy things like orange peel and almonds tucked inside, and my world was totally rocked. This is probably news only to me at this point, but it turns out dates are pretty much candy. They have a consistency like caramel and nearly the same buttery taste; they’re sticky and soft and reminiscent of wonderful things like honey, cinnamon and molasses.  B2 was unmoved by my date revolution (although he hasn’t gotten tired of responding to “Want a date?” with “I thought we were already married. Get it?”) but, with or without him, I’m fairly sure I’ve eaten my weight in them since April.

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lavender goat cheese cheesecakes

lavender goat cheese cheesecakes | two red bowls

lavender goat cheese cheesecakes | two red bowls

Before these little cheesecakes, my cheesecake experience was solely and shamelessly limited to this — the seven-ingredient recipe on the back of the Philadelphia cream cheese box.  It was five ingredients if you bought the Keebler crust in its own ready-to-go tin, which my college self definitely did, it was easy, and it was good; sometimes I swirled blueberry jam or pumpkin pie filling (the recipe from the Libby’s pumpkin can, naturally) into it and felt fancy even though the pumpkin burned faster than the cheesecake could cook.

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