I am passionate about food, my people, and any combination of the two. I had no intention of started yet another food blog.  The internet is pretty saturated with a lot of great ones already.  Instead, I envisioned a place that equips readers with the ability and confidence to embrace his or her community through hosting!  I don’t mean fancy multi-course meals but laid-back, kick-off-your-shoes, casual gatherings where everyone feels welcome to be themselves.  I’m not fancy enough for table linens, worrying about napkin placement, or discussions of “which fork do I use?” anyways.

My vision for almostproperly.com was to make modern entertaining and cooking for a crowd easier, less stressful, and more enjoyable – even for the host(ess).  I want to provide readers with simple and delicious ways to love your people well.

But its not just about those big get togethers.  Its about the people in our lives.   Maybe a friend needs a listening ear on a Tuesday….  Well, the truth is, my house isn’t always clean, organized, or Pinterest ready.  Sometimes there are dishes in the sink (gasp).  Or unfolded laundry.  Because, you know what, PEOPLE LIVE HERE.  Shocking, I know.  So, for me, embracing the people in my community often means pushing that basket of clothes into a closet and sitting down to tea with a friend – regardless of how many dust bunnies are forming a colony under my couch.

So, I want to refocus my energy on staying true to that original vision.  So in the next few weeks you can expect to see some different types of posts on here: Girls’ Night in under 5 ingredients, Non-Pastel Easter Table Settings, ways to put a twist in your pizza and movie night, and ideas for what to Bring to Easter Brunch.  Of course there will be the occasional easy to make cookie or freezer friendly weeknight meal thrown in there for good measure;)

Speaking of throwing something super tasty in for good measure…..Lets talk apple pie. How’s that for an awkward transition?   

Apple pie is such a classic favorite.  It is one of my favorite desserts of all time.  My parents birthdays are both this week and Apple Pie is my Dad’s favorite!  So in honor of them, here is my absolute FAVORITE apple pie recipe ever.

The brown sugar and lemon juice mixed with the apples gives them the right caramelly-tartness.  And the addition of apple cider vinegar in the all-butter crust gives the flaky crust a light tart flavor that complements the apple filling perfectly.  My mom can make any pie crust stay together perfectly, but I am not that person.  So I place a high value on an EASY to work with crust.  This crust is EXTREMELY easy to work with.

But if you are like me and that top layer of crust is always a touch intimidating, you can always cut the crust into shapes and strips or twist it into braids like I did.  Plus, its pretty.  I  just love the whimsy it adds.

So, while I’m gearing up for a focus shift, I want to know what topics/posts would be helpful!!  Or maybe you can tell me: What is the most intimidating part of hosting?  What parts do you dread?  What parts do you love?  What is your go-to meal when you have people over?  Please let me know in the comments or, if you prefer, shoot me a message!  I would love to hear!

A Pivot in Direction and Apple Pie

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Serving Size: 1 slice

    For the Crust:
  • 2 1/2 cup all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 sticks, unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 tbsp. vodka (or additional water)
  • For the fruit:
  • 3 lbs. mix of tart apples (like granny smith and gala), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • For topping:
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp. coarse sugar (like Demerara sugar)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees fahrenheit. Have 9" diameter pie plate handy.

Reserve pieces of butter, but place all other ingredients for fruit filling in a very large bowl and toss to combine. Apples should be coated in sugar mixture. Cover with a dish towel and allow the juices to combine while you make the crust.

To make the crust, combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add butter and work into dry ingredients with a pastry spatula or potato masher until pea sized clumps form. Then drizzle in apple cider vinegar, vodka, and water. Continue mixing in the same manner until dough just barely holds together. Divide dough into two equal parts. Set one aside and cover with plastic wrap. On a lightly floured surface, shape the first piece of dough into a large disk. Lightly dust disk and rolling pin with flour and roll out the dough until it is roughly 1/4" thick and large enough in diameter to generously hang over the edges of your pie dish.

Arrange apples to fill pie crust and arrange the bits of reserved butter around the top. These will melt throughout the apples as the pie cooks.

With the reserved pie crust, either roll out the top of crust as you did the bottom layer and be sure to cut some steam vents in the top after you lay it over the apples. Alternately, roll out and cut into strips to inter-weave, braid, or some combination of the two. I like to cut scraps with cookie cutters for some other fun shapes. Pinch the edges of the pie crust to seal the top crust with the bottom. Paint the top and edges of the crust with beaten egg. (Note: The egg can also act as glue to help stick any cookie-cutter shapes to the crust.) Sprinkle top with coarse sugar.

Bake pie for 20 minutes. Crust should start to turn golden brown during this time. Then reduce the temperature to 350. Cover top of pie with foil to prevent the crust from getting too dark or burning. Bake for 40-50 minutes. Juices should be thickened and bubbling.

Remove from oven and cool before slicing.

Notes:

Pie can be covered and kept at room temperature for up to 24 hours. After that, cover and refrigerate.

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