Pear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Pear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

I photographed a beautiful birth last Monday night…and I still haven’t processed it all. Birth is one of those beautiful, sacred experiences that most people only witness a handful of times. As I move more into the world of birth photography, I still can’t believe I’m able to take part in these miracles month after month. Monday was a late night, a beautiful night, a night full of strength, primal energy, and the glorious first breaths of a new life. I’m already counting down the days to my next one. (You can see more pictures of the birth here).

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And so I filled my week with mothering, with editing, and with baking. Despite a VERY early cold snap a few weeks ago, Fall has seemingly left us again as recent days have been hot and the sun strong. But the change in weather hasn’t stopped me from baking some of my favorite seasonal treats. These pear and dark chocolate oatmeal cookies are moist and wholesome. I used coconut sugar instead of brown sugar, and two ripe organic pears. I also threw in dark chocolate chips because you can never go wrong with oatmeal and dark chocolate. The batter was wetter than most, but when dropped by the spoonful onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, it rose beautifully and created the most perfect, chewy, oatmeal cookies. They would make the perfect mid-day snack and they sit lovely next to a cup of good coffee.

Pear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal CookiesPear and Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1/2 cup butter, unsalted (room temperature)

3/4 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)

2 large pears, peeled and diced

2 eggs

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 cups whole oats

In a medium bowl, beat together butter, sugar, and diced pears for about 3-4 minutes. Add in eggs and beat until just combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Fold in oats and chocolate chips. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Dough will be very wet. Chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

A few weeks ago, my mom lost a necklace. A very important and dear necklace. We spent hours looking for it: retracing her steps, moving furniture, combing her car. The necklace was no where to be found. She was distraught. I was heartbroken.

Lost things deeply move me. They unsettle me. They annoy me. I will spend hours trying to recover a lost item (even if it’s of little significance.) But this necklace meant so much more. I love my mom, and I could see the pain in her eyes and hear it in her voice. I wanted nothing more than to find it, to restore it to her, and yet I felt completely powerless after two days of frenzied searching. But we let it go, because what else can you do?

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

On Thursday, I was asked to share a painful part of my own story. I struggled with a severe eating disorder for many many years, and only recently have I started to talk about it publicly. The days leading up to my “post date were wracked with a nervous energy. Should I share? Should I not share? What in the world was I thinking? How could I lay bare such a fragile part of my story?

And then, on Thursday, a cool fall morning, I went outside with Lucy to grab our mail. I had posted my story only a few minutes earlier, and my heart was racing as I thought about all the people who would be reading it…all the judgments that could quickly ensue. As I walked back towards our house, I saw it–the golden necklace. There it was, in the middle of our sidewalk, bare and beautiful and whole.

I have no idea where that necklace came from. We walk up and down that path all day long, and I know, without a doubt, it wasn’t there the day before. Somehow, a good two or three weeks later, my mom’s necklace had been found.

And as I picked it up, I realized that although my story had its own season of loss and struggle, it also had a beautiful moment of restoration. Just like the joy and shock and gratitude I felt when I found that gold locket. And so I held my mom’s necklace in one hand and my daughter in the other arm. I shared my story, and I’m so happy that it’s meant something to people. If you’d like to read it, you can find it here. And then I’m also going to share this roasted vegetable tart with you because the seasons are changing and this was a lovely way to welcome in fall.

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

Caramelized Vegetable Tart

1 disc pie pastry (for a single crust)

1 red onion

1 red bell pepper

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

2 tablespoons butter

Sea Salt

2 ounces Gruyere Cheese, shredded.

Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling

In a large skillet, melt butter. Add onion and red pepper and cook, over medium heat, for 15-20 minutes, until soft and beginning to caramelize. Sprinkle with sea salt. Set aside to cool. Then, in a medium bowl, gently mix together sautéed vegetables, cherry tomatoes, and gruyere cheese.

On a lightly floured surface, roll pastry into a 13 inch circle. Carefully transfer pastry onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon vegetable mixture over pastry to within 1-1/2 inch of edges. Fold up edges of pastry over filling, leaving center uncovered.
Bake at 450 F for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Handmade Marriage – Stak Ceramics

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Ryan and I are collaborating more and more, which couldn’t be more rewarding or exciting. We had the privilege of visiting the lovely folks at Stak Ceramics when we were out east visiting my sister. They generously opened their studios to us and shared their stories. We were thrilled to feature them as the first couple in our new Handmade Marriage series.

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Through the Handmade Marriage series we seek to highlight both the joys and the struggles of working in a creative field. We hope that it encourages and inspires others, makers and non-makers alike.

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I hope you enjoy the film that Ryan put together as much as I do!


Handmade Marriage – Stak Ceramics on Vimeo
player.vimeo.com

Puff Pastry Apple Tarts

Puff Pastry Apple Tart

Lucy is buzzing in our bedroom. It’s her bedtime, and I’ve exhausted my reservoir. We’ve nursed, we’ve snuggled, we’ve read bedtime stories…and yet, she’s wide awake. And so her Papa is back there now. I can hear her climbing over him, her shirt rustling as it rubs up against the sheets, up against his plaid shirt. I have a feeling we’ll be at this for a good while.

And yet I understand. I know what it feels like to be filled up with possibility. She’s perceiving so much now; she’s interacting with her world. There are a hundred new places to explore…and she wants to find every one…especially when we want her to go to bed.

Puff Pastry Apple Tart

I’m also excited about what’s surrounding our family right now. We’re exploring Colorado together, falling in love with some of it’s hidden beauty and meeting people who are doing things that inspire us, make us feel more alive. Each Wednesday, we visit the Farmer’s Market at Ivywild, and I’ve been thrilled that along with those famous Colorado peaches, apples have been making an appearance at one of the stands.

These puff pastry apple tarts couldn’t be easier…or more delicious. I only buy Dufour puff pastry, and I highly recommend the investment. Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s devoid of all the preservatives and artificial dough enhancers that plague the cheaper varieties. What you get with Dufour is flour and butter (which is exactly what you want!) I cooked my apples in butter, cinnamon and coconut sugar on the stove to release their juices early and bring about caramelization. Then I spooned the apple mixture into the puff pastry shells. Within twenty minutes, I had a beautiful dessert in the oven.

Puff Pastry Apple Tart

Puff Pastry Apple Tart

1 package Dufour puff pastry

3 large apples, peeled, cored, and diced

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons coconut sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Allow puff pastry to defrost in refrigerator as recommended on package.

Melt butter over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add apples, cinnamon, and sugar. Cook until apples begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 F. On a lightly floured surface, unfold pastry dough. Cut into six equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, gently roll each piece into a square. Place squares on parchment lined cookie sheet. Scoop about 1/3 to 1/2 cup apple mixture onto the middle of each square. You want to leave a one-inch border around apples. Then, gently fold up edges of pastry dough, crimping lightly with wet fingers. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until pastry has puffed and turned a rich golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chewy Coconut Granola Cookies

Chewy Coconut Sugar Cookie

My daughter is twenty-some pounds of pure energy. She wakes each morning and clambers over my still-sleeping body. She leads us through our days with laughter, running, and shrieks of joy. And I’m loving the moments we share together. The way her eyes light up when we  see someone we love…the joy she takes in picking out her favorite book for us to read together on the living room floor. But I would be lying if I didn’t say there were hard moments. I think Lulu and I would agree that the “entering the carseat” serves as one of our most trying daily activities.

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Lulu doesn’t mind the carseat once we’ve driven out from our garage and picked up speed on the street. She’ll settle in quickly and often fall into a deep sleep. But when we bring her down to the garage and ask her to sit calmly while we buckle her in…she protests with all the strength that a 15-month-old can muster (and I promise you, it’s more strength than I ever would have guessed possible).

Chewy Coconut Sugar Cookies

Case in point: I pulled several muscles in my back on Monday. I’ve been icing and heating and stretching and visiting the chiropractor. I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I imagined it had something to do with having to reach over and keep my daughter from flying out of the car and onto the concrete. We never force her to get in…but she certainly tries to force her way out! And so I’ve been moving slower this week. I’ve been sitting down on the ground to play with Lulu instead of picking her up. I’m uncomfortable and slightly grouchy about the near-constant pain, but I’m thankful that my daughter is learning what it means to be assertive and independent (even though it’s a painful and trying lesson for us all).

But despite the swelling and the occasional spasm in my back, I made these cookies on Monday night. They’re soft and chewy, sweetened only with coconut sugar and then rolled in my favorite granola. They make the perfect afternoon-snack. A wholesome treat that comes together easily but tastes like something your great-grandma might have spent the whole day making. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. (And I also hope that when I talk to you next week…my back will be much much better!)

Chewy Coconut Granola Cookies

Chewy Coconut Granola Cookies

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cups butter, melted

1 cup coconut sugar (brown sugar works too!)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup granola (I use purely Elizabeth!)

Mix together the flours, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.

In a medium, whisk together the melted butter and coconut sugar. Whisk in the egg and the vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, combine the wet ingredients with the dry. The dough will be very soft, yet thick. Cover the dough and chill for 2 hours, or up to 3 days.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator and allow to slightly soften at room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 325 F degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pour the granola into a bowl. Take 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball, then roll into the granola. Bake for precisely 8-9 minutes. Remove from the oven and gently press the top of the cookie down with the back of a spoon. Place back into the oven for 1-2 more minutes. Cookies will be puffy and still appear very soft in the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for ten minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies stay soft and fresh for 7 whole days at room temperature. Cookies may be frozen up to 3 months. Rolled cookie dough may be frozen up to three months and baked in their frozen state for 13 minutes