My dad is still bringing me buckets of tomatoes and carrots, I love it! This is a great recipe to use up your garden's harvest and it freezes wonderfully so you can enjoy the fresh tomato taste all winter long. It's a good basic recipe for marinara sauce but feel free to add or change whatever you like; however, this is my favorite version.

Slow Cooker Fresh Marinara Sauce
Makes approximately 6-8 pints

2 large onions, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
1 poblano pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup olive oil
16 cups plum tomatoes, seeded, skinned and chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1/4 cup white sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Prepare you tomatoes: wash and slit the bottoms of the tomatoes in the shape of an "x".

Boil a pot of water and set a bowl of ice water next to the pot. Put groups of tomatoes in the boiling water for about 30-60 seconds, remove and set in the ice water for a few seconds. Take out of ice water, place on a cutting board and peel back the tomato skins from the "x" on the bottom of the tomato. If the skins don't peel off easily they need to go back in the boiling water for a few seconds more. Continue to do this for all the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are peeled, cut them in half, horizontally. Scoop out the seeds and put the flesh in a measuring cup.

Add the tomatoes to a slow cooker until you have approximately 16 cups. Set the slow cooker to low.

In a large saute pan heat the olive oil and add onion, carrots and poblano pepper. Cook until onion is transparent. Then add garlic, oregano, basil, parsley, sugar, salt and ground black pepper. Cook for an additional few minutes.

Add this to the slow cooker and cook overnight or for a minimum of 7 hours.

Note: I usually start this at about 10pm and then blend it in the morning when I wake up, so it cooks all through the night..your house will smell wonderful!

When the sauce is cooked...
use and immersion blender and blend the sauce. If you don't have an immersion blender use a regular blender in small batches and blend the sauce.

Let sauce cool. Pour sauce into 2 quart or 6-8 pint sized glass jars, don't fill all the way to the top because the sauce may expand when frozen or store in fridge if you will be using within a few days.


My daughter is desperate to lose her first tooth, she feels like she is the only child in her class that hasn't lost the first tooth yet. So to make her feel special I made her a magical tooth fairy door. She is so excited to leave her tooth on the stoop for her fairy to pick up. I am going to make tiny notes personalized from the tooth fairy along with coins and dollars that she is not use to seeing, like silver dollars and $2 bills. It is such a blessing to have children and create magical memories! What are your tooth fairy traditions?

This is what I made for my son. His own personal race track, that I happen to benefit from too!



I have so many wonderful childhood memories of raking the yard with my family and creating monstrous leaf piles for hours of jumping fun. Trying to recreate those memories for my kids we set off to make our first official leaf pile this year. Unfortunately, my rake disappeared so I was left with no option other than the leaf blower which felt a little wrong and nontraditional (secretly, I swear it has been the best $20 I have ever spent in my life). The kids had a blast and I of course got a few jumps in too. It was all fun and games until we were at the top of the hill, took off racing for a big jump when the dogs ran up to the leaf pile first and both peed on it. Seriously, I swear they always know how to ruin our fun.

This is a great fall cookie recipe or a perfect way to use up your left over pumpkin puree. At first when I tasted the dough I was a little skeptical because the flavor was kind of bland and I was wishing I just made regular chocolate chip cookies but as they baked in the oven the spices really kicked in and made a really soft, moist, cake-like cookie. It is almost a cross between a cookie and a muffin top.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from George Duran
Makes 43 cookies from medium scoop (approx 2 tablespoons)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cups (12-ounce bag) milk chocolate chips, not semisweet

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using a mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Beat in the white and brown sugars, a little at a time, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin puree. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the batter in thirds. Stir in the chips. Scoop the cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for 15 to 20 minutes* or until the cookies are browned around the edges (I removed after 11 minutes). Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let them rest for 2 minutes. Take the cookies off with a spatula and cool them on wire racks.

* Note: I used a medium size pampered chef scoop (approx 2 tablespoons) for the dough and I baked for 11 minutes in 350 degree oven. Also these cookies are really soft so they cannot be stacked when stored or they will stick together.



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