Archives for July 2016

Quick summer cooking: Chicken Tikka Masala

The yard in July
Tomatoes are taking over the yard! Cucumbers aren’t doing too shabby either. Hard to believe it is halfway through summer already.

I bought big old heap of bargain notebooks on sale the other day. John looked at them, reminded me of another heap I still had in the pantry and said, “You might need to slow down your notebook buying now that most of the kids are graduated.”



One thing about summertime is I tend not to spend a whole lotta time cooking. OK, being honest, that’s actually been me in the last year or so!  First it was the new job, then fixing up our house to sell.  Then moving.  Then landscaping at the new house.  Oh, and planning the beach house. <3

(No wonder I haven’t been cooking! We’ve been having adventures!)

Another factor has been than there are fewer of us home during the day.  With the 18-20 year old set gone at work most days, usually it’s just Em and Julianna and sometimes John and me.  We are happy to forage breakfast and lunch on our own, leaving only dinner for me to handle.

One thing that has been a good tool for me in the past few months is my Smart Pot. I can’t remember if I’ve told you about this.  But it can do all sorts of cooking tasks, including boiling eggs, cooking rice, making stew, and cooking chicken, all very quickly.  One of my favorite ways to use it is to make Indian food.
Chicken Tikka Masala

Here’s a recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala that’s super quick in an instant pot. And bonus– it uses tomatoes, something I have in abundance right now. I’ll see if I can get a good picture up later today, but for now, here’s the recipe.


Chicken Tikka Masala

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: Serves 6

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 3 large tomatoes, diced (or 3 cups canned crushed tomatoes)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken pieces (thighs or breasts)
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter


  1. In the instant pot, press the 'saute' button and add butter and oil. Add minced onion and saute 5 minutes. Add the spices and stir, cooking about 1 minute, until fragrant. Then add garlic, ginger, and tomatoes.
  2. Place chicken pieces into the instant pot, submerging under tomato-spice mixture. I like to cut the breasts in halves before adding them. I usually leave thighs in one piece.
  3. Lock the lid, make sure the vent is sealed, and press the 'manual' button. Adjust time to 15 minutes.
  4. When the pot beeps, release the pressure and allow the steam to escape before removing the lid. Remove chicken from pot to a bowl and depending on your serving preference, leave it in large pieces or shred the meat using two forks.
  5. Using an immersion blender, blend the tomato-spice sauce until smooth and creamy.
  6. Stir in peanut butter and yogurt. Add the chicken back to the pot, and serve over rice. Yum!

If you’re in the mood for even more Indian recipes in the instant pot, here are a couple I have pinned lately. And if you don’t have an instant pot, I am sure than any of these can be cooking in a pot on the stove. It’s just a matter of adjusting cooking times to allow things to cook thoroughly.

Beach time

Here’s a snap from a quick trip we made to the beach this week.

Beach in July

Felt weird to be traveling with only two kids, but all our bigger kids were working, and so we took the plunge and went off to play without them.  We missed them all lots, but had fun with the youngest two anyway.

And if you’re interested, here’s an update on the great beach house adventure.

Any paint fanatics out there?

I’ve been poring over paint colors lately, trying to decide what color to paint inside at the beach house.  I’ve also been working on the baby beginnings of the beach house blog.  It is not super pretty yet, and doesn’t even have many posts, but I’d love for you to go over there and vote on paint colors!   I am stuck trying to decide on a nice grey, and not too many people have the patience to peruse all the similar greys I’ve been looking at lately.

agreeable vs repose

Here’s the link to the house website:  Click on the link titled Building a Beach House to vote on paint colors.  In other house news, we are hoping to break ground NEXT week– crazyness!!

Summertime party!

July4-2016 (14)We have the family tradition of a big 4th of July party complete with a barbecue, games, prizes and a water balloon fight.  Since we moved into the new house, I’ve been puzzling how we could pull all this off in our tiny back yard.

So in planning for the party, I hunted for games that took a little less space. Pinterest came to my rescue as always, and I settled on a plastic horseshoe game, a ring toss game made with kiddie swimming tubes and pool noodles on stakes, a squirt gun/cup race, and a relay race using kitchen spoons and water balloons.



Also, a BIG bowl of candy to improve teen participation in the kid-games. Here are a few pictures of the festivities.

Thanks to a little breeze, the ring toss and horseshoe games were surprisingly challenging even at close proximity, enough that several adults played for quite awhile.

Ring toss game

food and funIMG_20160702_190804767_HDR (169x300)


The teens clustered around the candy bowl. And soaked friends with water toys. And also stole mom’s phone for a selfie or two.





The little ones loved the tub full of water balloons, somehow even managing to resist throwing water balloons until it was time for the ‘big’ water balloon fight.


Cousin fun


Below, behind Julianna, you see the cups on string that the kids had fun shooting down the ‘track’ with squirt guns.

AllwetAnd as always, the water balloon fight was the highlight of the party.

Water balloon fight
See how big my tomatoes are getting there in the background?  Not to mention the kids– it blows my mind that our little grandsons are already FOUR.

Getting wet

Along with the usual family group, several of the teens invited friends, which added to the fun of the party.

Wild water

Here you see Ascher and Ranger delightedly soaking Daniel with their squirt guns, and John in the background playing horseshoes.

Spraying DanielOur little back yard proved very up to the water-party challenge.  We only tossed things over the fence once, and lots of good fun was had by all the participants!

Sweet babies