One of the smartest things Rob and I did when our boys were born was to quickly establish a solo night out once a week for each of us. He had a tendency to take every Thursday night, as that’s when his friends would meet up at a driving range, followed by chicken wings and beer at a nearby pub. I took whatever night worked best for me, or the friends I was meeting up with for dinner and/or a movie, but we had an unspoken rule that neither of us went out alone on a Friday or Saturday night, as those nights were reserved for us.
We did this for years – probably seven or eight – until the boys reached an age where homework and hockey, and all other types of extra-curricular activities, took precedence and our free time during the week was truly at a premium. Our friends were busy with their work and families too, so it worked out well for everyone, but we still encouraged each other to get out alone when possible, even if it was just for a run, a pedicure, or a peruse through the bookstore.
I don’t know that we’ll repeat the practice of solo nights out when our baby arrives. The older boys keep our calendar pretty full so I imagine we won’t have the luxury of the same free time that we had all of those years ago. It’s okay though - we’ve learned that we do need some time away from the house on our own (it’s makes us better parents and partners) and as long as we plan for it, we can almost always make it work, even if there’s a baby in the house.
The boys would say that while they don’t require any kind of solo time, they’re definitely in need of homemade cookies as often as possible, and truth be told I sometimes find it challenging to keep up with the demand given how voracious their appetites are. My new secret is to keep a few rolls of puff pastry in the freezer, making palmiers – those classic French pastry-cookie combos - a possibility whenever the requirement strikes. These three-ingredient cookies are easy enough for the kids to make on their own, as evidenced by the picture above, and tasty enough that even their mom will sneak a few from the stash to accompany her afternoon hot chocolate/magazine reading break from time to time.
These are perfect for serving alongside a small pot of chocolate pudding, something we've been doing regularly for Sunday supper, or for dipping into mugs of hot cocoa after school.
- 1/3 cup granulated or cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. Scatter half the sugar over a flat work surface (counter, table, cutting board) and press the puff pastry sheet onto the sugar.
Spread the remaining sugar evenly over the top of the puff pastry and, using a rolling pin, shape it into a 10" x 13" rectangle, pressing the sugar into the pastry as you go.
Starting at the short end of the rectangle, fold one end over halfway to the middle of the pastry. Fold the other side over the same way, and then fold each side in half again so the folded edges come together in the middle. Fold once more so the folded halves are stacked on top of each other. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove the plastic wrap and cut the pastry rolls into 1/2" thick pieces (about 24 per roll) and place them face up on the baking sheets spacing them 2" apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until caramelized and brown on the bottom, then flip with a spatula and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes or until caramelized on the other side. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Optional: Melt 4oz dark chocolate in the microwave or on the stove top using the double-broiler method. Dip half the palmier into the melted chocolate, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet to set.