I know, I’m a bit late on the post, but I promise, today, the wait is over! And we have a great recipe for you. Bonus!

As you can imagine with the start of school this year we’re again in the throws of busy-ness. Mr. N and Miss A are off to good starts in school and activities this year, and Mr. N has again landed himself in a new role for another theater in Chicago this fall. Fortunately, I was able to roll my part-time downtown work into my own business, so now I am once again fully working from home. That’s a few less miles on the car and in the train! So, at long last, it’s time to announce some exciting changes that will be coming to the blog over the next year.

ingredients for apple cake

When Mike and I were first talking marriage, we set out some lofty goals. First, was Mike wanted to earn his PhD in Economics. Second, we didn’t want to live in Chicago for all our lives. Third, we wanted to travel as much as possible – and someday do that with our family.

Sifting flour and sugar

Well, fast forward several years later…We got married, moved to Arizona, moved back to Chicago, Mike earned his PhD, Mr. N was born and I started my own business before moving to Minnesota. We now had some new goals including continued travel, visiting wine regions, Mike wanted to earn tenure and eventually a sabbatical, and I wanted to keep my business going through the economic downturn.


As our readers know, we have since returned to the Chicago area, Miss A was born and we started a blog. We settled into our new home, Mike quickly advanced in his new job and my business successfully turned directions. We added new goals, and kept up many of the old. We still wanted to travel, Mike still wanted tenure and a sabbatical, we wanted to continue visiting wineries and expanding our wine knowledge, and we wanted to share the world with our kids through cooking and culture. Yes, we have lots of goals!

making a cake

Well, we’ve traveled. We’ve had a blast learning to cook with our kids and writing a blog for nearly five years. We’ve delved into the wine world with both feet. Mike’s earned tenure. My business has provided the lifestyle I wanted with kids. We’ve worked our tails off and we keep reaching. In fact, in the next few months, we’re about to reach one of our other long-time goals. A goal set by Mike and I very early in our life together. One we didn’t know was possible, but kept working toward. It never left our sight. Now it’s becoming reality.

making dough

Eat Play Love blog will be taking on the world. After years of planning, saving, working extra jobs and lots (and lots) of hard work, it’s sabbatical time! Mike received his post-tenure sabbatical this year, which means he’s free to pursue opportunities outside of his university for the next semester and we’re taking full advantage.


In January, Mike, Mr. N, Miss A and I will say goodbye to family, friends, our kitties, school and work, and board a plane bound for Spain! After spending several weeks traveling throughout Spain, we’ll be making our way through France and Germany before settling in Częstochowa, Poland in mid-February. While in Poland, Mike will teach a few graduate classes at the Częstochowa University of Technology while also collaborating with the Warsaw School of Economics in Warsaw, Poland. Between mid-February and mid-June we’ll be adapting to Polish life, exploring Poland high and low, and touring throughout Eastern Europe (Prague, Budapest, Berlin…so much to see!). And finally we’ll end our trip with six weeks in Italy, returning home just in time to start the next school year.

apple pie mixture

So long story short, Eat Play Love is truly going global! We’ll be cooking new international dishes, visiting wine regions throughout Europe, delving into local cultures and blogging along the way. You may even see a few posts from Mr. N and Miss A, who we’ll be homeschooling during the sabbatical.

making the cake

As we travel, we’ll be posting regularly here on the blog as well as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag, #EatPlayWorld. For more frequent updates and pictures, make sure to follow and like us! We’d love to bring you along.

cooking apples

And if you have any suggestions of places to visit – cities, small towns, museums, wineries, restaurants, cooking schools, historical sites, anything – please, let us know! You can email us or post to us on social media (#EatPlayWorld). While parts of our trip are set in stone, we plan to do a lot of our traveling on the fly – particularly throughout Eastern Europe. So please, share with us! We’d love any and all ideas.

cake crust

As for our recipe, well it only seemed fitting that we share a Polish dish. This beautiful, fall-inspired dessert is called a Szarlotka, or an apple cake. Both Mr. N and Miss A helped in the preparation which is very different than anything I’ve ever made.

cinnamon and sugar

Most notably, the cake base is prepared more like a pie dough. That said, it’s too moist (even after refrigeration) to roll out like a traditional pie crust, so it must be pressed gently into the pan before pre-baking. As for consistency, it’s much more cake-like than a pie pastry.

apple cake crust

The filling is pretty standard apple pie filling – apples, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon. I can almost smell it now. Easily one of the most enticing fall aromas! Now my favorite part of this apple cake was the topping. I had never seen a cake prepared this way. The top portion of the crust is frozen for an hour (unlike the bottom crust which was refrigerated). It’s then grated over the top of the apples using a cheese grater! It’s actually kind of fun – well, at least Miss A and I thought so.

grating cake topping

Before baking the cake, Miss A sprinkled a cinnamon and sugar mixture over the top. We’ve provided estimates for measuring the cinnamon/sugar mixture in the recipe, but it’s really only a guide. We prefer ours with more sugar to cinnamon, but feel free to go the opposite direction. It’s really a matter of taste.

sprinkled cake topping

We made our cake in a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish, which makes a substantial portion. We sent a couple plates to Girl Scouts and a dish to Mike’s office. Of course, we sampled ours straight from the oven. It is definitely a beautiful taste of fall. Mike, Mr. N and Miss A all gave this a resounding 4 spoons. This time I was the lone defector at 3 spoons.

apple cake

The szarlotka is delicious. The topping is full of cinnamon and sugar delight, and the apple filling is juicy and sweet. The cake itself is tasty as well – it feels light, crunchy on the top and soft on the bottom. The only reason this fell below 4 spoons for me, is purely based on personal preference. I’m a pie person and not a cake person. While this dough is prepared similarly to a pie (my kind of cake!), the consistency is much more like a cake. Still, I wouldn’t pass up a slice if offered.


And if our recommendation isn’t enough, Mike is co-teaching this semester with a Polish professor from the Warsaw School of Economics. He was able to sample a slice and declared they were “perfect!” I consider that some high praise! Whew! Maybe we will get by in Poland.

Polish Apple Cake

Print this recipe: Szarlotka

apple pie cake

After several successful Polish recipes under our belts, we’re definitely looking forward to actually visiting Poland. It’s going to be an amazing year at Eat Play Love, but my absolute favorite part of this whole upcoming adventure is that it will be the four of us. No distractions, simply unencumbered family time.

Polish Szarlotka

Over the next few months, as we’re busy preparing details – visas, a car, potential travel routes, work, school, etc. – we’ll be sharing some new recipes from around the world, highlighting a few events and wineries, and updating on our sabbatical plans. We’ll also have some fun new media news as well as a few exciting giveaways – so stay tuned!

Polish apple pie cake

And remember, if you’re not already following us on social media and want to keep up on our plans, adventures and travels (oh the food and wine to come!), we encourage you to follow, like and of course, please share! When we started this blog nearly five years ago, while we hoped, we really had no idea we would actually have the opportunity to literally cook around the world! Here we go! #EatPlayWorld

29 thoughts on “#EatPlayWorld

  1. Eha says:

    So you are en route to the ‘Black Madonna’ . . . what a wonderful journey – I had no idea your husband had Polish connections. What a humongous passage thru’ Europe to follow!! What a learning experience for your two!! I have kind’of ‘kept apace’ thru’ Celi but just have to follow more closely now . . . 🙂 !! May the Powers be with you . . . and yes, I had three cousins in Poland and a husband from Hungary and most friends in my birthplace of Estonia and all the way t’out Eastern Europe . . . so eager to follow you . . . good beginnings: have huge fun!! . . .


    • Kristy says:

      Indeed we are on our way to the “Black Madonna” Eha! Mike has been once before and his university has connections to several Polish universities, thus our adventure. Thank you for the well wishes. It’s definitely going to be an adventure and I can’t even fathom what it will do for the kids (and us as a family!). The countdown is on. Less than a month to go now! Looking forward to having you along for the ride. 🙂


  2. Bam's Kitchen says:

    The suspense was killing me and now I am sooooooo happy for you and your family. What an amazing opportunity and lifestyle. Awesome! This is a great time for the kids to travel and enjoy an over seas assignment as they are like human sponges and absorb everything around them. Maybe they can learn a bit of the language along the way. Seriously they are at that perfect age. Congrats again my friend and take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says:

    Eat Play love goes global – love it! Congratulations to the whole family on this very exciting news and incredible opportunity. Sabbatical years are gifts and I know your family will make the very best of it. Looking forward to stories, recipes and images decorating my inbox… enjoy the planning and anticipation!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Eva Taylor says:

    I must say, your plans are extremely exciting and I can hardly wait to ‘tag along’! Do you need a Hungarian interpreter? Or perhaps a tour guide? At the very least, you’ll need to try some Hungarian recipes (the blog has a Hungarian category). On the serious side, I will put on my thinking cap and make some recommendations for what to see and do; Budapest (and Hungary) are rich in history, even with a little from the Roman Empire (believe it or not!).
    Now this recipe sounds lovely and perfect for this time of year. I’m pretty sure (100%) that JT would love it. I’m going to make a pit stop at an apple orchard on the way to the cottage next weekend to make this treat! Thanks for the apple pie component of our Thanksgiving Feast (Oct 10-12 weekend).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. thecompletebook says:

    How absolutely fantastic and super exciting Kristy. Kudos to you and Mike for being so focused and disciplined to achieve all your goals. What a wonderful experience this is going to be for you all. I am packed and ready to travel along.
    Have a happy day.
    🙂 Mandy xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dawn says:

    WOW!!! Such amazing news for you!! After just coming back, I can tell you that sabbatical is the best experience EVER – we had the summer of a lifetime. And you will get to enjoy a lot more than just a summer! Can’t wait to follow along in your travels!!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Debra says:

    This is incredibly exciting news, Kristy! How wonderful to realize such a dream. To share this opportunity as a family will be a joyous adventure and it is going to be so much fun to travel along with you via your beautiful blog. I love this delightful recipe you’ve shared today, but it is somewhat overshadowed by your big news! I’m just thrilled for you! ox

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Norma Chang says:

    I felt your excitement through your writing, I too am excited for you and your family and agree with Charlie that this is “such a terrific educational experience for your children”. You sure have a lot to take care in the next 3 months. Looking forward to reading about your adventures and your journey. All the very best to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hotlyspiced says:

    Fantastic! What a great post. It’s so good to hear you’ve set goals and worked hard and stayed focused towards achieving them. What an exciting time for you all and such a terrific educational experience for your children. I know you’ll have a blast and I look forward to following your journey virtually xx

    Liked by 1 person

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