Tuesday, May 22, 2012


the cake i baked for the (now) four year old.  (i will attempt not to mention that it is also a blogland redundancy.  damn, failed at that.  oh well.)

and the always blogworthy ;) four year old.

happy birthday to my beautiful georgia.  may you always believe that the world is your oyster but learn to share some of the pearls along the way.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

simmer for 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally, do not allow to burn*

*or what to do when you are housebound with a sad sick cuddly three year old who repeatedly says "hold you," will not let you read a magazine on the couch, makes you watch team umizoomi marathons (fyi--not as good as marathons of law and order on tnt) and allows you only brief moments of free time to either a) pee or b) stir a pot on the stove.

balsamic reduction:
pour an entire bottle of balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan.  simmer over low heat for 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally.  do not allow to burn.  remove from heat.  cool.  pour into awesome little squeezie container that you've had sitting in pantry for 3+ years waiting for a purpose.  Squeeze on anything and everything.  for example,  drizzle over this roasted caprese salad from last week.  or over half a sliced avocado.  or put large dollops onto a plate with olive oil and dip bread, preferable some non-nutritional french, but equally good with 100% whole wheat sandwich bread.   definitely delicious on any roasted veggies, and a roasted veggie sandwich on focaccia, even better.  i've also heard it's good with strawberries and vanilla ice cream, but i haven't tried that (yet.)

(back story: a few years ago, sparky and i were at this beautiful winery in napa where i bought a bottle of thick rich gooey sweet-tart balsamic reduction sauce.   i have been jonesing for it ever since i drizzled the last drop.  it only took me 6 years and two failed attempts to finally make my own the right way.  i found the process here.  (tip: do not be tempted to add sugar to the vinegar (failed attempt #1) and do not use anything other than low heat (failed attempt #2.))

next time you are held hostage in your house, you too should make this lovely sauce.  "they" say it will last indefinitely in the pantry.  (who "they" are, i'm not quite sure, but i'm going to trust "them" on this one.)

now for this week's real recipe... my friend torrie made a yummy indian split pea soup that looks like it would fit the bill for a cool winter's night.  go have a look-see.

Friday, February 3, 2012

in health and in sickness.

always a teacher at <3

Why is it that whenever Sparky is going to spend a father/daughter weekend away with the older one, without fail, the younger one, the little spitfire who is going to hang with me for a couple days, gets sick?  (I was going to write "falls ill."  Huh, what century are we in?  Maybe watching too much Downtown Abbey... but I digress.)  I had a three year old's fun filled weekend planned (with perhaps an overnighter at Gigi and Papa's so Momma could have a little fun with her friends.)  But instead of a Ruby's burger  for dinner on Thursday, a half day at Disneyland, followed by a nice long nap, then Fashion Island for a giant pretzel and gelato on Friday, and a Saturday Snuggle Fest with G-pa and G-ma, we'll be on the couch.  Oh, we've got our arsenals to keep us busy.  Her: Team Umizumi, Sesame Street, Giada at Home, Angry Birds, and Fruit Ninja.  Me: Pinterest, Blog Roundups, Instagram, Hey Girl tumblrs, The Kitchen House, and streamed Netflix when she's sleeping.  (Note to self (and others): Do not fall asleep to Damages.  It is very unpleasant to be startled awake by screams so real you think someone is being attacked in your bedroom.  Also very unpleasant to have dreams all night long of that experience.  Stick with falling asleep to the banter of Jerry, George. and Elaine.)  It isn't quite the weekend of my dreams...but I'll make it work.  After all, I'm spending it with one of my favorite people, poor sweet little sickie that she is.

Hope y'all have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

on too much wine and tuesday afternoons. (also a new recipe!)

And love your people.
I'm just finishing up the leftovers from the roasted caprese salad I made for two of my close girlfriends yesterday afternoon.  I wish I aged as well as this salad.  It was wonderful yesterday but today, well, it's almost ridiculous in its scrumptiousness.  I dare say, it's the best thing I've eaten in a long time.  I think the sweet carameliness (<----yes, that's a word) of the tomatoes was overshadowed by the copious amount of wine we deemed necessary to consume.  I blame that same wine on the reason I didn't take any (real) photos yesterday, why I ate a drumstick--the ice cream variety not the turkey variety--right before bed last night, and why I woke with a slight ringing in my head this morning.  Oh well.  It was worth it.  I love my friends.  (And this salad too!)

Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad from Ina Garten's Back to Basics

Fair Warning--you need two hours to roast the tomatoes, plus cool time!  


  • 12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds (not cores) removed
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced (I used garlic powder because I was feeling lazy.)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (I used 2 TABLESPOONS because apparently I can't read very well.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 ounces fresh salted mozzarella
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, julienned


This is where I stopped in my first reading of the recipe which is why when I began cooking, I was not so pleasantly surprised to find out that it takes two freakin hours to roast the tomatoes!  Just saying--READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  Unless you enjoy these sorts of surprises, then do whatever you want.)
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. 
Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with the garlic, sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast for 2 hours until the tomatoes are concentrated and begin to caramelize. Allow the tomatoes to cool to room temperature.
Cut the mozzarella into slices slightly less than 1/2-inch thick. If the slices of mozzarella are larger than the tomatoes, cut the mozzarella slices in half. Layer the tomatoes alternately with the mozzarella on a platter and scatter the basil on top. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Serve at room temperature.

Now go see Torrie's tried and true recipe for an iced cinnamon latte full of glorious caffeinated espresso.  Looks delicious.  I really could have used one this morning. ;o)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

roasted butternut squash salad with warm cider vinaigrette

I made myself a fancy lunch yestereday for this week's "new year, new recipe."  Although, it's not really fancy, the title just sounds oh so grown up.  Anyway, I prefer simple good ingredients to fancy.  What about you? 

Warm butternut squash mingles with the parmesan and spicy arugula, melting and ever so slightly wilting.  There is sweetness from both the squash and from dried cranberries, and a delicious nutty crunch from toasted pecans.  Not fancy, but very tasty.

It's really a shame I had this for lunch because it would have been lovely paired with a glass of full bodied cabernet.  (Um, full disclosure, I do sometimes drink at lunch.  Just not usually on a Tuesday.  Or if on a Tuesday, not usually alone.  But I suppose I could have should have made an exception.)

In all honesty, a glass of wine would have paired well with my frustration while peeling and dicing that damn butternut squash.  I am not a fan of that process.  But in the end, friends, it was all worth it.  Oh. yes. it. was.

Ah, and here it is deconstructed so that I can enjoy it again later tonight.  Most definitely with a glass of this.

by Ina Garten from her beautiful book Back to Basics


  • 1 (1 1/2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3/4-inch) diced
  • Good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
  • 1/2 cup walnuts halves, toasted*
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan*


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the butternut squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette* over the salad to moisten and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Cook's Notes:
*I toasted pecans (instead of walnuts because I love pecans, and walnuts, not so much) over a dry saute pan for about five minutes, stirring often.  I also made a lot more than suggested.  They are good to eat while you prep, plus I think the salad is better with more.
* I think the salad is better with less cheese.  (Rarely do I say that about cheese.)  
* The recipe makes a huge amount of dressing so you'll have leftovers for something else--always a good thing!

Don't forget to stop by to see Torrie's "new year, new recipe"-- Best Ever Boston Baked Beans.  (Something to make for that upcoming Sunday of Football!)

Monday, January 23, 2012

on the *end of an era

Over the weekend we moved G into her "big girl" bed and I couldn't stop the nostalgia from washing over me.  For the first time in almost 7 years, there wasn't a sleeping baby in the crib.

Now I realize that Georgia is not a baby, has not been a "baby" for quite some time.  She turns four in May!  She's been potty trained for well over a year.  She goes to school and writes her name in oversized uppercase.  She rides a two wheeler without training wheels.  (Yep, she's pretty much a stud!)  And in case I do forget, she tells me that she's a big girl and can "do it by myself!"  And by it, I mean everything. 

 And yet..."I hold you momma"-- that phrase, left-over from when she was first learning to form sentences, is spoken at least once a day.  Georgia climbs into my lap.  Or reaches her arms up.  Or wraps her legs around one of mine, looking up at me with the big blue eyes with the long dark lashes.  And she makes me STOP whatever it is I am doing simply to hold her.  The era of the crib is ending, but in those moments I am reminded that she will always be my baby.  Thank God for those moments.