Archive for January, 2012

This is the simplest, most delicious salad you will ever make.  I swear.  It doesn’t even really have a recipe it’s so simple.  Here it is:


  • 1-2 ripe heirloom tomatoes (buy these at the farmers market or a reputable grocery store – if these don’t taste good, the salad won’t!
  • a handful of chopped basil
  • mozzarella cheese (again, the good kind that comes packed in liquid, not string cheese or pre-sliced)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt/pepper to taste

Slice the tomatoes in nice, thick slices, top each with a slice of mozarella cheese, sprinkle the chopped basil on top, splash some olive oil and balsamic around the whole thing and finish off with a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Now dig in.  Yummmmmmmmm…


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My good friend Rachel had a baby!  An adorable little girl who arrived quickly and almost right on schedule, bless her little heart.  We did things a little differently this time around and celebrated after her arrival, but it was no less exciting (we got to see the baby right away – instant gratification!) and mom got to enjoy a little relaxation time with the girls while daddy baby-sat 🙂  It was held at the Presidio Social Club in San Francisco and I was in charge of favors and wanted to make something instead of buying them – can’t remember how I decided on pumpkin butter (it was Winter and I have a thing for pumpkin butter) but I did, and after finding some mason jars on sale on Amazon, it was decided.  The shower turned out beautifully, the favors looked great on the table and the food was fabulous!  Here are a few pics of the event and the Pumpkin Butter recipe and instructions are below!

“Mommy’s Little Pumpkin Butter” Slow Cooker Recipe & Instructions:

Original Recipe Yield 10 – 1/2 pint jars

  • 2 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups apple juice
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 6 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 teaspoons ground nutmeg


  1. Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large slow cooker; stir well.  Set the crock pot on low or medium heat. Cover it loosely or use a large pot splatter-guard. It will spatter as it boils slowly, so I also cover nearby surfaces with towels.  You don’t want to seal it tightly because you want the steam to escape so it can reduce in volume and thicken.  Leave it to cook for 6 – 8 hours.   How long depends on the size and power of your crockpot, and how thick you like it.  If you want to stir it occasionally, that’s fine but not necessary.
  2. Once it’s done, transfer to your mason jars (I used these) seal them up and put in the refrigerator – as they cool, the warm air inside condenses and seals them up so the little button the top of the mason jar lays flat.  Also, I’m not a professional canner or anything, but apparently you need to store these in the refrigerator – they won’t keep in the pantry like other preserves.
  3. Decorate any way you’d like!  I used twine and kraft paper tags with instructions and put a little custom label I had made on the top for the shower, but the possiblities are endless.  These would also make wonderful holiday gifts for friends and neighbors, or a hostess gift for Thanksgiving.
PS: This is a low-sugar recipe – the original I had called for 3 cups, which just seemed ridiculous to me, so I halved it and never missed it – it was great.  If you like things on the sweeter side, feel free to add a bit more in the sugar and spice department!

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slow cooker tikka masala

The slow cooker is a working mom’s best friend – actually, it’s any mom’s best friend.  But to me, the whole point of a slow cooker is to “dump it in and push start” .  Any other prep besides washing, chopping and can opening makes the value significantly diminish – if I have to sauté, brown, oven cook or otherwise pre-make any of the dish, what efficiency is it really offering me?  For this reason, I’m pretty selective of my slow cooker recipes.  I like them to be healthy and use a minimal amount of processed ingredients (like “cream of” soups or soup packets for example).  I also like it to be as close to the entire dish as possible so I’m not left still making a bunch of sides to go with it.  In any case, you can see I’m picky when it comes to my slow cooker!  This recipe does it all – it’s practically 100% dump and go with a minimal amount of side prep and the additional piece that goes with it (the cucumber relish) is so easy (and worth it!) it really doesn’t matter.  All the ingredients are natural, healthy and the end result is superb – in all honesty, not the exact replica of the tikka masala from the local indian place, but a good substitute and delicious in its own right.  Please give it a try!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala (adapted from Real Simple):


  • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (Indian spice blend)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8)
  • 1/2 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup basmati or some other long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (1-2 tsp)


  1. In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste, garam masala, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place the chicken on top of the vegetables, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender, on low for 7 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours (this will shorten total recipe time).
  2. In a small bowl, toss the cucumber and cilantro with the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. (don’t skip this!  it really makes the dish)
  3. Twenty minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.
  4. Just before serving, stir the cream into the chicken tikka masala and add cayenne pepper to taste. Serve over the rice with the cucumber relish.

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Lately I’ve been loving all the subway art for the holidays – it’s such an easy way to decorate your house, and with a color printer, takes about 5 minutes tops!  Free and easy??  Love it!  Just download the pdf file (link is below), print as an 8×10 image on a standard 8.5 x 11 piece of paper, and stick it in an 8×10 frame.  Making this kind of thing has become a recent hobby of mine, so check back every Friday for more – subway art, children’s wall art, lollipop and cake-pop tags and more!  Enjoy 🙂


Download the pdf here:  VALENTINE’S SUBWAY ART

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