A Morning With My Lulu


I don’t talk about it often enough, but I’m infinitely thankful for the role my husband plays in raising our daughter. He’s lucky enough to work from home, which means he gets to see her throughout the day. Not only does he see her, but he cares for her, loves on her, nurtures, her, teaches her. We co-parent, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


As you might imagine, most days at our home begin in the kitchen. Lucy plays at the same table I played on when I was a little girl. She sorts dried beans or roasted nuts. She arranges her fruit and then asks to wipe down the table with a wet cloth. Ryan and I both make hot breakfasts each morning, which means cracking eggs, toasting bread, and waiting for our tea kettle to boil.


We often sit together on the kitchen floor. Do away with the fussiness of setting the dining room table. Lucy likes us to sit right below the sink, on our flowered rug. If we try to change the routine, she grabs our hand and beckons us over to “our spot.” Despite what we prepare for her, she ALWAYS wants to eat what’s on our plate (even if it is the same exact cinnamon roll), and so we’ve gotten really good at sharing.


I treasure these mornings because I know they won’t last forever. In a few short years, we’ll have to worry about getting to school on time. We won’t have the luxury of unscheduled hours. And so I’m cherishing it…and I’m so very happy to share my cinnamon roll, or breakfast taco, or bagel with Lulu. I know Ryan is too.


Apple Slab Tart

Apple Cranberry Slab Tart

It’s been two weeks. I can’t believe it! Since I started blogging five years ago, I’ve never let that much time go by. But with a very active toddler…and with being on-call as a birth photographer…well, life has been busy in the best possible way. That being said, I’m still baking. I’m still relishing the mornings when I’m able to pull out my mixing bowls and create something simple and satisfying like this: an apple cranberry slab tart.

I found inspiration for this recipe after reading the November Bon Appetit. They had a beautiful apple slab tart, and as soon as I saw it…I knew I had to find a way to make something similar in my own kitchen. The only challenge I faced was rolling out my dough. Turns out, pie dough is much easier to roll out into a circle than a rectangle. No wonder our grandmas and great-grandams stuck to their pie pans. But after a few tries, I got it, and I loved how my apples looked, stacked carefully, one on top of the other.

Apple Cranberry Slab Tart

Since I talked to you last, I made this delicious and beautiful apple slab tart. I also captured the arrival of two babies into the world. If you want to keep track of what I’m doing, you can find our website here (Monet and Ryan Crafting Stories). And remember…I travel! So if you’d like me to photograph a birth or a wedding, just send me a message (monet@monetandryan.com).

Just Born

Apple Cranberry Slab Tart

¼ cup (½ stick) salted butter
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Basic Tart Dough
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
1 pound baking apples (such as Pink Lady; about 2 large), scrubbed, sliced ⅛” thick
8 oz cranberries, cut in half
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Place a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 375 F. Place butter in a small saucepan and scrape in vanilla seeds; add pod. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns (be careful not to burn), 5–8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and remove pod.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a rough 14×10” rectangle about ⅛” thick (alternatively, roll out into a 12” round). Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange apples on top, overlapping and leaving a 1½” border. Sprinkle cranberries on top. Brush apples and cranberries with brown butter and sprinkle with coconut sugar. Lift edges of dough over apples, tucking and overlapping as needed.

Beat egg with 1 tsp. water in a small bowl and brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with  sugar and bake, rotating once, until apples are soft and juicy and crust is golden brown, 40–50 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet before slicing.

Apple Pie Cookies

Apple Pie Cookies

I photographed yet another birth earlier this week. Baby girl was born easily and peacefully at home. With all these babies and births, I’m not posting here nearly as often as I used to…but for the first time since I started blogging, I feel like it’s the right time for me to take a small step back from Anecdotes and Apple Cores. (But don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere!)

Not only did I get to watch a baby make her way into the world, but I also had the joy of watching my baby fall in love with Halloween. Dressing up, walking around our neighborhood, knocking on doors, picking out candy…she loved the whole experience from start to finish. And what more perfect costume for my daughter than that of a french mademoiselle?


On Friday afternoon, I realized we didn’t have an ounce of candy in our house. So naturally…I baked cookies. Because who wouldn’t want to receive a homemade cookie? Thankfully, we live in a small close-knit neighborhood where cookie-sharing on Halloween wouldn’t be creepy. These cookies were in the oven and on this cakestand within an hour’s time. They were slightly sweet, buttery, and bursting with the best flavors of fall.

Apple Pie Cookies

Apple Pie Cookies

1 cup diced and peeled apples

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 stick (8 tablespoons butter) room temperature

1/2 cup coconut sugar (brown sugar works too)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter. Add diced apples and maple syrup. Cook until apples are tender and begin to caramelize slightly. Set aside.

In a medium bowl attached to a stand mixer, beat together coconut sugar and butter until smooth and creamy, about five minutes. Stir in egg and vanilla. Beat until combined. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir dry ingredients into butter-sugar mixture. A soft dough should form. Allow to chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Scoop dough out in one-inch balls. Place about two-inches apart on baking sheet. With your thumb or the back of a spoon, form a small indentation into each piece of dough. Generously spoon cooked apples into center. Bake cookies until the edges are lightly golden, about 12 minutes. Remove and serve warm.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

In case you weren’t aware, apples are a favorite around here. I eat an apple every single day (even in the off-season, which I hate to admit). So when Fall finally rolls around and local US-grown apples begin to fill the fruit stands, I bake with them as often as I can.

Cinnamon rolls aren’t something I grew up eating. To be honest, my earliest memory of a cinnamon roll is located in the middle of a suburban food court. Thankfully, when I learned to bake, I made a batch of cinnamon rolls early on. My house smelled just as delicious as those ubiquitous cinnabons, and I couldn’t believe that I could produce something even lovelier (with real, normal ingredients too!)

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Last night, after a long day of teaching, I knew I needed to bake to unwind. With cooler days increasing my desire for comfort food, cinnamon rolls floated to the top of my list. But then I thought of my beloved apples; I wanted to do something with the apples sitting in my fridge. And so, I decided to grate an apple. Grated apple can do wonders in quick breads…and I thought, why not try adding one to the dough of my cinnamon rolls? And just as I hoped…the grated apple added moisture and just the right amount of flavor. We enjoyed these apple cinnamon rolls with a drizzle of maple syrup the next morning.

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

Apple Cinnamon Rolls

1 packet instant yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup lukewarm whole milk

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes

1 large apple, peeled and grated (about 1 cup)


1/4 cup coconut sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

2 teaspoons milk, to brush on dough

Vanilla Glaze (optional):

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream

Combine the yeast, the lukewarm water, the lukewarm milk, the flours, the butter, the sugar, the salt, the potato flakes, and the grated apple. Mix and knead everything together–by hand or mixer–till you have a smooth dough. This will take about seven minutes if you are kneading with your stand mixer. The dough should clean the sides of the bowl, perhaps sticking a bit at the bottom.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise till it has nearly doubled in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.

While the dough is rising, grease two nine-inch cake pans. Make the filling by combining the coconut sugar and cinnamon.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and pat it into a 16″ x 12″ rectangle. Brush the dough with the two teaspoons of milk and sprinkle the filling over the dough, covering the entire surface. Roll the dough into a log the long way. It will stretch to about 20″ as you roll.

Using a serrated knife, slice the log into 16 slices. Space eight rolls in each of the prepared pans. Flatten them slightly. Cover the pans and let them rise for an additional 1 1/2 to 2 hours. They should spread out and start to crowd each other. While the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the rolls until they’re golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove the rolls from the oven, loosen their edges with a knife, and turn pan onto a rack. Spread with icing (simply combine powdered sugar with vanilla and cream) and serve.


Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

Bananas….and chocolate…and a slight sprinkle of cinnamon. I know you can already imagine how good your house will smell. This banana chocolate snack cake was delightfully simple to throw together and received rave reviews from everyone who tried it at my house. My seven-year-old nephew said, “I think I’m falling in love,” after his first bite (and we all know that seven-years-old aren’t afraid to tell the truth!).

Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

I found this banana chocolate cake to be the perfect hybrid between dessert and snack. You could even enjoy it for breakfast! The dark chocolate chips make it feel a bit more decadent, but then the bananas and whole wheat flour throw a few points towards wholesome. But whatever you want to call it or whenever you want to enjoy it…this cake is good.

What’s also good? Sweet Lu is sixteen months old this week. She grows brighter by the day. We are so very blessed.

Lulu Sixteen Months

Banana Chocolate Snack Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup mashed, ripe bananas

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup whole milk

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 x 9 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Allow foil to slightly hang over sides. Grease lightly with butter.

In a medium bowl, beat together softened butter and sugar, until creamy. Add in egg and vanilla extract. Stir well. Fold in mashed bananas. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold dry ingredients into banana-butter mixture, alternating with the whole milk. Once combined, gently fold in chocolate chips. Spread into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before removing from pan.