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.


Friday, January 20, 2012

have a weekend.

I'll be eating this.

Drinking this (the current {white}house pour.)

And listening to this.

Have a {fill in the blank} weekend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

what is it about a hot fireman...?

...that makes you want to get dressed and cook up something tasty?

New Year, New Recipe #2:  Mushroom Cream Sauce with Garlic Chicken Cutlets
8 chicken cutlets (or 4 skinless, boneless breasts pounded out and cut in half)
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound baby belle mushrooms, cut in half
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine  (or chicken broth if you don't have a bottle open)
1 1/2 cups cream
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped dill (depending on your taste)

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, going heavy with the garlic powder.  Let sit for a few minutes.  Then LIGHTLY coat in flour.  (I pour flour on a plate and quickly "dip" both sides of chicken cutlets in the flour, shaking off excess.)  Over medium heat, cover your pan with a couple swirls (about 2 tablespoons) of olive oil.  Saute the onion and mushrooms until the onions are soft and the mushrooms are golden about 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then.  Add the garlic and cook two more minutes.  Empty the mushroom mixture on to a plate.  Return pan to stove and add more olive oil.  When hot, saute chicken 2-3 minutes per side until chicken in golden brown and cooked through.  (You may need to cook chicken in batches depending on the size of your pan.  I did!)  Remove chicken to another plate.  Add white wine, scraping up the brown bits of goodness and simmer for one minute.  Stir in mushroom mixture, cream, and dill.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.  Pour over chicken cutlets.

Tyler, my husband's oldest and closest friend since babyhood, came for dinner and a sleepover (on our couch-- all 6 foot 6 of him) last week.  I love cooking for men who will eat whatever I put in front of them (as opposed to cooking for Finicky #1 and Finicky #2 AKA the six year old and the three year old.)  Since Torrie and I are determined to turn all those amazing recipes we collect into actual food this year, Tyler's visit seemed the perfect opportunity to make this ridiculously rich sauce I spotted on pinterest a while ago.  I adapted the recipe a bit for our household and created a chicken dish.  For the boys (men =) and girlies* I served the chicken and sauce over a bed of spaghetti with a side of broccoli.  I kept my plate low-carb. (Ya know--because cream is sooooooooo much better for you than a pile of pasta!)  I don't cook with cream much for the obvious reasons, but this sauce is SO WORTH IT.  I think it would be amazing over pretty much anything.  (Roasted asparagus comes to mind.)  I may or may not have poured all of the leftover sauce over some scrambled eggs the next morning.  Only my cardiologist knows for sure.

Be sure to visit ...a place to share to see the scrumptiousness Torrie created this week, a slow cooked chicken and mushroom pot pie.  (Apparently, we are channeling each other in both attitude and food choice. =)

(*Finicky version: I cut up the chicken, spaghetti, and broccoli into bite-size pieces, pouring strained sauce over the entire thing.  My littles want nothing to do with mushrooms.  They must be crazy.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

on not wanting to get dressed.

Since the third of January, when the hoopla of the holidays officially ceased, I've been struggling with the simple act of getting dressed in the morning.  I'd prefer to stay in my pajamas and mope (yes--mope) about the house most of the day.  Unfortunately, or rather fortunately I should say, the six and three year olds don't really allow for this kind of self indulgence (or mild depression.)  I think Sparky might take issue with it too, should he arrive home after a long kick-ass day at work to find me in my flannels eating a pint of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia in bed while watching netflixed episodes of the Gilmore Girls.  (Oh, that entire scenario sounds divine.)

Am I the only one that ever feels this way?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

new year, new recipes: death by oreo cupcakes.

Last week, Miss Torrie inspired me with her facebook status resolving to dig through her extensive library of cookbooks and "cook up a storm" this new year.   I'm joining her in her quest and also making this one of my (many) New Year's resolutions.  I too have an abundance of cookbooks with shiny tempting photographs.  I think I have five separate boards on Pinterest devoted to food I'd like to eat.  And what about those (hundreds of) magazine tearings from the last ten years?  I'm delving into all the collected recipes, and I'm actually going to COOK something, instead of, well, admiring all the pretty pictures.  (Oh but I do love a pretty picture... I digress.)  Torrie and I thought we'd attempt and post (at least) one new recipe a week.  Care to cook along with us?

For this week's recipe I'm sharing a ridiculously sinful oreo cupcake (which is pinned on my "frost me" board.)  I made them for a baby shower for G's teacher.  And in full disclosure, I want you to know I baked them back in December so I'm already cheating as far as the resolution goes... How apropos, yes?

All the mommies, teachers, and littles loved the cupcakes.  There's an entire oreo on the bottom; what's not to love?  I frosted them with an amazing butter cream, LOADED with pulverized oreos.  Oh man.  Really, just a scoopful of that with a large glass of milk, and call it a day for me.  You can find the recipe for the cupcake here.  And here's the frosting recipe:

Oreo Loaded Buttercream 
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk or cream
Oreos, finely crushed in food processor (I used what was left over in the package after making the cupcakes, you can adjust accordingly to taste.  In my opinion MORE is better. =)

In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together the sugar and butter on low speed until well blended.  Increase speed to medium, beating for another 3 minutes.  Add vanilla and milk, beating for 1 more minute.  Stir in crushed oreos.  Try not to eat too much of it or you won't have enough to frost the cupcakes.  Or better yet, double the recipe.  (That's what I did.)

 Georgia, enjoying the fruits of her mother's labor.

Torrie's baked up a lovely lemon cupcake for her first "new" recipe.  (We both have cake on the brain!)  Pop on over and see the deliciousness, which by the way, I've now pinned!

*The author of the cupcake recipe, Camber from Food Snots, uses a cream cheese frosting, but because my main audience for these cupcakes was a roomful of three year olds, I thought it best to stick with a butter cream!