Kate’s Heirloom BBQ Pulled Chicken

I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making my own barbeque sauce since I read a blog on Local Milk by Beth Kirby that had a recipe for blackberry barbeque sauce. After successfully making her barbeque sauce recipe, I decided to make up a recipe of my own.

I had a fabulously extra large heirloom tomato just waiting to be consumed. Most recipes call for tomato paste, so I incorporated the tomato paste into my recipe, to help thicken the sauce alongside my tomato. I used apple cider vinegar, I had just a little bit of white wine leftover, so I threw that in there and I used some locally produced dark honey that my cousin’s stepfather harvested. It came out sweet and tangy with a slight kick!

A lot of recipes that I looked at used cayenne pepper to get that kick, but I used a teaspoon of ancho chile pepper powder for its mild heat, rich, fruity and intense flavor. I also added a few splashes of Tabasco sauce for a tangy enhancement to the flavors happening.

My recipe yields at least two 12 ounce mason jars, if not a little bit more.  Having so much and no plans for dinner, I decided to make up a dish with my homemade bbq sauce! I had a lot of frozen chicken that I wanted to use and I was just gifted a slow cooker by my mother in law. She suggested I try it with my busy schedule and boy do I love it.  I’ve enjoyed slow cooking in my Le Crueset pots and I still use them often, but today, I had a lot of things to do that required me to be out of the kitchen. I started browsing through slow cooker recipes, since I’m really not used to how to do it. I found one that sounded intriguing. It called for store bought barbeque sauce and store bought Italian dressing. I thought, well, since I’ve already made my own BBQ sauce, I may as well try making my own Italian dressing!

I have a fabulous herb garden, so I picked what looked best from the garden and chopped it up and mixed it with some herbs & spices from my cabinet. I used some purple basil, Mexican oregano, sweet basil and some fresh thyme. I really enjoyed making my own dressing and it’s so simple, fresh and easy.

The slow cooker recipe is ridiculously simple. Place frozen chicken into the crock pot, cover with 1/2 cup of Italian dressing, 12 ounces of barbeque sauce, two tablespoons of Worsteshire sauce. One that I found called for 1/4 cup of brown sugar, but I omitted it from mine because my heirloom tomato barbeque sauce is definitely on the sweeter side. I had a bag of white, red & blue fingerling potatoes and some corn, freshly picked from the farmer’s market that were just calling my name to be served with this chicken. Voila! Dinner is served and my whole family enjoyed it very much!

Here’s the recipe for my take on barbeque sauce.

Kate’s Heirloom Tomato Barbeque Sauce

1 extra large heirloom tomato
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 of a 6 oz. can of tomato paste
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP worsteshire sauce
2 TBSP dark honey
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ancho chile pepper powder
a splash of white wine

Optional: a few splashes of Tabasco sauce to taste

1. Sauté onions & garlic in olive oil in a medium saucepan until tender & opaque. Don’t burn.

2. Add chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, Worsteshire sauce, dark honey, ground dry mustard, salt, paprika and a healthy splash of a good white wine. If you like a little more kick to your barbeque, throw in a teaspoon of Ancho chile pepper and a few splashes of Tabasco sauce.

2. Let all the ingredients simmer for 10 minutes or so, continually stirring so as not to burn the sauce.

3. Take it of the heat for a few minutes and transfer to a blender for a few minutes.

4. Store your barbeque sauce in jam jars.


Homemade Italian Dressing

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp basil (I used purple & Italian), chopped
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (remove leaves and discard stems)
6 leaves of Mexican oregano, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp dry mustard seed
1 tsp celery seed

1. I reuse my glass dressing bottles. Add oil, vinegar & water to the bottle. Next, add in all of your spices and chopped up herbs. Shake it all about!


Kate’s Heirloom BBQ Pulled Chicken

4 large frozen chicken breasts
10 ounces homemade Heirloom BBQ sauce
1/2 cup homemade Italian dressing
2 tbsp Worsteshire sauce
A few splashes of Liquid Smoke

1. Place chicken into a slow cooker. Pour barbeque sauce, Italian dressing and Worsteshire sauce on top of your chicken. Set the slow cooker to high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-7 hours. When the chicken is cooked, open the slow cooker and use two forks to pull your chicken apart. Leave the slow cooker open while still cooking to allow the liquids to thicken and cool slightly.

2. Chop up some multi colored potatoes and one half of a red onion. Toss both in olive oil, kosher salt, freshly cracked pepper and some fresh thyme. Roast for 20-30 minutes at 400°F and serve.

3. Boil up a few multi colored, organic ears of corn and serve with a parmesan butter.





Local Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber & Maize Salad

It’s been ages since my last post. It’s summer. It’s hot out. I have been looking for delicious and oven-free ways to make dinners for my family. We just had a friend come from out of town and she was telling me about her CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program back home in Montana. It inspired me to seek out the local farms in our new neighborhood. (We just moved a month ago!) I drew up only two places that are open on Sunday, as most places were pop up markets on Fridays and Saturdays. I discovered two places, Pete’s Produce Farm in Westtown and the SIW Vegetable market in Chadds Ford. We scored some fabulously fresh produce and I couldn’t wait to get home to make something delicious for dinner.

Everything was local. We picked up some red potatoes, sweet bi color corn, some gorgeous purple peppers, lemons, sugar baby watermelon, cucumbers, peaches, some fabulous heirloom tomatoes among others.

When we got home, I immediately starting thinking up what to make for dinner. The other night, I had made a salsa with tomato, cucumber & peppers. I really wanted to use the gorgeous non-GMO corn we bought. So, I decided I’d do a take on a corn & cucumber salad recipe I saw at the farmer’s market. Actually, I changed the entire recipe, but it was where I started. Here’s my summer salad…completely locally grown. That’s what I call a successful summer dinner salad. I served it up with some local roasted red potatoes in olive oil and some garlicky lemon basil chicken. I may not like the intense summer heat, but this is one way I can enjoy the tasty fruits (and vegetables) of summer’s harvest.

Local Heirloom Tomato, Cucumber &  Sweet Maize Salad

2 freshly shucked ears of corn, slice off corn

1 large heirloom tomato, cubed

1 large cucumber, seeded and cubed

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1 small vidalia onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed

6 or 8 fresh basil leaves (grow it yourself!)

Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt

cracked pepper to taste

1. Slice the corn off two ears of corn into a large bowl. Peel, seed and dice up a large cucumber. Chop up your heirloom tomato and sweet vidalia onion and put all of your vegetables together. Use a garlic press with two garlic cloves.

2. Add 1 TBSP of extra virgin olive oil and mix in the juice of 1/2 of a lemon. Season with kosher salt & cracked pepper to taste. Mix it well and chill or serve at room temperature.

Pink in Paris for Genevieve!

Colette Pastore of Pastore Events was my wedding planner and she’s amazing at what she does. It was a joy having a friend of mine since high school work with me on perfecting my own wedding and guiding me through so many things throughout the process. When Colette asked me to help her with her daughter’s first birthday party, I was THRILLED and felt like it was a small chance to pay her back for all the help she provided for my husband and I on our most special day.

Genevieve’s birthday party was themed “Pink in Paris!” because much like I do, her mother LOVES Paris. What’s not to love! It’s so romantic, there’s so much history, there’s a sense of mystery and love in the air in Paris that you don’t find anywhere else on the planet. At least no where else I’ve been yet anyway. Montreal comes close, but it’s just not Paris. When I was in Paris, I felt like I was mistakenly walking into the pages of a love story written ages ago. You must go. It’s so hard to truly pen exactly how I felt when I was there.

Anyway, so Pink in Paris was obviously all that’s pink and glitters! Colette did an amazing job and I offered to do flowers for her because I wanted to contribute something special for Genevieve’s special day! It’s also a day to celebrate the parents…so I wanted to give them something special that I love, flowers. Here are the floral centerpieces I made for baby doll Genevieve.ImageImageImage

Thanksgiving 2012




Thanksgiving has come and gone. It was a beautiful Thanksgiving and the dinner was fantastic. This year, we had a very small and intimate Thanksgiving dinner. It was definitely different from what we’re used to, but it was nice to have a change. The food was amazing and our daughter actually loved the cornbread, chorizo and cranberry stuffing I made! I set the table with silver, gold and the colors of autumn. I used a beautiful mercury glass vase leftover from my wedding decor. I used two different types of mums, a few hydrangeas from the garden that were changing from its pale purple to deep blues, purples and reds. They were spectacular. I also used found branches and sprayed them gold for a hint of sparkle in the arrangement. I placed a tiny white pumpkin in there for a bit of an autumn surprise and used some wax flower. I don’t know what it is about those little tiny flowers, but I love using them to fill the gaps in between the larger flowers. They’re so pretty, especially the ones I found, they faded from orange to magenta in one single flower. Gorgeous.

Because dinner was so small this year, we were able to sit at the table! Fancy that! Usually our dinner parties are SO large that we have to do a buffet style. I think there’s something so special about having a place setting and a marker with your name on it. It makes it feel like you were carefully chosen for that seat and a lot of thought was put behind where you are going. I like it. I used pears and sprayed them gold and pinned a tiny little white place card that I found from Martha Stewart. I used a gold paint pen to paint the edges of the card and used ink to write the names out in cursive.

We used my Mom’s wedding china for Thanksgiving with black and silver edges. My grandmother left behind a ton of tablecloths, so I used one of hers as a nod to the many memories I have of Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmom’s. I miss her and I miss my childhood, it was so wonderful. She was such an inspiration to my life.

Anyway, that’s the dinner table for Thanksgiving. Enjoy the pictures!


Pumpkin Chili!

I LOVE making chili in the fall – the tradition stems from my Dad. To this day, my Dad still gets together with the same group of guys since high school to watch football on Sundays. He busts out the chili for the big games and especially for playoff games. (I never got too into football, it was always around me, but I just don’t have much interest in the sport. I DO have interest in the chili though!) His staple ingredients to every chili is always a can or two of beer, kidney beans and a few bay leaves. I’m always open to trying a new recipe or adding in new ingredients to the basic chili recipe, but THIS ONE is share worthy. PUMPKIN chili. It’s so hearty, unexpected, tasty and brings the heart of the season into your chili to warm you up. It’s an awesome dinner for a chilly fall night!

For Six Servings:

2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced in a press

1 small yellow onion, chopped

1 green pepper, seeded, cored & chopped

1 jalapeno, seeded, cored & chopped

1 lb. ground turkey OR 1 package of SmartLife “ground meat” for a vegan option OR ground beef

1 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree

1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes, with its liquid

1 cup water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 bay leaf

1 15 oz. can of black beans or kidney beans

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper


Organic Corn Tortilla Chips (I’m all about organic corn)

Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese or a fabulous Mexican Queso Fresco

If you’re really feeling up for a fiesta, make some homemade guacamole to top off this chili!

In a large pot, saute your garlic and onion in olive oil until tender. Add jalapeno and pepper, cook until tender. Add your ground meat of choice and cook it thoroughly. Next, add your diced tomatoes (with the liquid), the pumpkin puree, water, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Add sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to your liking. Bring contents to a boil and reduce to medium low, add beans, cover your pot and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally. Fantastic! Serve with ground up organic corn tortilla chips, grated Mexican Queso Fresco or sharp cheddar and a dollop of fresh, homemade guacamole is sure to satisfy and delight your dinner guests.

I love making this chili with turkey, but I’ve tried it with ground beef and SmartLife ground beef substitute, and they’re both fantastic. I actually LOVE making it with SmartLife ground “beef”. It is fabulous as a vegan dinner for vegans and meat lovers alike.