Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka MasalaChicken Tikka Masala 2

As I’ve switched to working from home full time, I’ve really come to appreciate the value of a frozen meal that I can quickly pop in the microwave and be eating just a few minutes later. I’m not a picky eater, but I don’t like eating something when I’m not in the mood for it, which means having a wide variety of foods filling my freezer from burritos to Indian means I can always have something delicious quickly, no matter what’s fresh in my fridge.

You guys know I’m in love with my slow cooker. From my pumpkin bread that I just shared to this to-die-for bacon jam spread, it always creates really rich, succulent flavors without any work at all. While we have lots of great Indian restaurants around our house (we actually live in the “Little India” neighborhood of the East Bay), I have to admit this well-spiced dish is pretty awesome on a Wednesday afternoon on my lunch break. I make one batch on the weekend and split it between three or four glass storage containers for the freezer, then I just pop one in the microwave the next week when I’m ready to chow down.

What are your favorite freezer-friendly or slow cooker dishes?

Chicken Tikka Masala


  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cups cooked rice, to serve


  1. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and then put in a large ziplock or tupperwear. Cover it in greek yogurt and mix well. Leave it in the fridge for six hours or overnight. When ready to use, pat the chicken with a paper towel to remove excess yogurt.
  2. Heat a pan to medium heat with olive oil and saute onions and garlic for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Stir in the ginger, tomato paste, garam masala, paprika, and salt and mix for 3 minutes or until spices are fragrant.
  3. Put the onion and garlic mixture into the slow cooker and top with the chicken and tomatoes, then mix it all together. Cook it on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
  4. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk. Leave it to cook uncovered for the last fifteen minutes.
  5. Finish by putting the chicken tikka masala on top of the rice and covering in cilantro.

*Adapted from this recipe from the Kitchn. Can be refrigerated for 4 days or frozen for 4 months.

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Tech Wars: iPad Mini 2 vs. Kindle Fire HDX

A few years ago, I bought my first tablet, a first generation iPad, from my mom’s then boyfriend who worked at Apple headquarters. It had originally been used as a teaching tool, and although it looked like it was in excellent shape (plus I got a great deal on it), I found that apps were constantly crashing. I’m not sure if it’s because it had been well-used or if it was just outdated, but within about six months, I resold it and switched to a Kindle instead.

I realize that saying I loved using my Kindle Fire to buy and read books is kind of the worst thing ever (Amazon = evil, destroying the publishing industry, destroying small bookstores, etc), but I really, really loved it. I loved how I could buy the next book in a series while sitting on my couch or download books while I was half a continent away in Belize. And I loved how I could reduce the amount of bookshelves filling our apartment (we already have three of them) while knowing I’d have these books forever.

Then a few weeks ago, I decided to give Apple tablets another try. Mom and I just got back from a big trade show, and I wanted a way that I could easily take notes, pictures, and keep track of everything while I am doing freelance reporting. So I picked up a quite affordable iPad mini 2 from the Apple Store down the street and haven’t looked back.

Tech Wars

As a user of two of the most popular tablet types, here are my thoughts on both of these gadgets:

Quality and Comfort: Mostly Tied

Apple products tend to be the ruler here no matter the electronic product. With a sleek design and a high-quality construction, there’s nothing quite like an iPad. However, once you get both the iPad and the Kindle safely tucked away in cases, there isn’t as much of a difference, including in screen quality. One point in the Kindle’s favor is it’s so light, it’s great for hours of more comfortable reading.

User Interface: iPad

Nothing beats Apple’s user interface. Nothing. It’s super clean and sophisticated, and as an already long-time iPhone user, I’m very used to the intuitive setup. Kindle’s isn’t bad, but it’s a little clunky and takes a second to find that app you haven’t used in days or switching between many programs.

Apps: iPad

Apple hands-down wins here too. It should come as no surprise that the iOS operating system still has really the best apps, although I was disappointed to find that many of my favorites on iPhone aren’t supported on tablets (like Instagram… really?!). The Kindle still supports many of the tried and true favorites, though, like Facebook and Candy Crush.

Reading: Kindle

Now this is what Kindles were really built for. Their screen is really designed for long-term reading and doesn’t bug my eyes out if I’m glued to a book for hours. It also fits slightly better in your hand for long-term holding. Again, iPads aren’t terrible (and their Kindle app works just fine), but it’s just not what the tablet is made for.

Battery and Wi-Fi: Kindle

Surprisingly, Kindle wins here as well. I was dismayed to find that my iPad has trouble getting much wi-fi on the opposite side of the house, while my Kindle has no problem at all. Their batteries are fairly comparable – the Kindle claims to have 12 hours while the iPad mini has 10, but I haven’t noticed a difference.

Price: Kindle

Less surprisingly, Kindle wins here as well, although not by much. I purchased my Kindle Fire HDX for a bit over $200, while the iPad Mini 2 goes for about $300.


It’s a tough call, and depends mostly on what you plan to do with it. If you’re mostly purchasing a tablet for books, the Kindle is clearly the way to go, with a screen and size that’s built for hours of reading. For a more versatile tablet, however, the iPad has a superior construction, supports more/better apps, and has a superior UI. Either way, these are both amazing tablets and feature stunning screen displays, quality construction, and impressive battery life.

Do you have a Kindle or an iPad, or have you thought about getting one? Which one do you feel is superior?

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INFJs, ENFPs, and the Myers-Briggs Personality Test

I’m fascinated by personality tests. Not the cheesy ones that you see floating around Facebook announcing what character from Disney you are, but the real personality tests developed by psychologists. In my AP Psychology class my senior year of high school, we took a number of them as a way to explore studies of the human psyche.

Of all of these, the Myers Briggs personality test is the one I found most fascinating. It is made up of just four opposite pairs, resulting in 16 personality types. These types are referred by an abbreviation of four letters, such as ESTJ or INFP.


Here are the four opposite pairs:

Extraversion (E) and Introversion (I)

I covered this a bit in my recent blog post on introversion, but essentially extroverts are are focused outward and gain energy from action, while introverts are focused inward and gather energy from inaction. Some defining characteristics, according to the test, are extroverts prefer frequent interaction while introverts prefer substantial interaction. Extroverts recharge when spending time with people and introverts recharge when spending time alone (and both “consume” energy when engaged in the opposite task).

Sensing (S) and Intuition (N)

These are informational gathering and perceiving functions, and they describe how information is understood and interpreted. Individuals who prefer sensing tend to trust information that is directly in front of them, tangible, and concrete. Individuals who prefer intuition tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical. For example, a scientifically oriented person who doesn’t trust hunches but only his five senses is likely more sensing oriented, while a spiritual person who believes there are larger meanings beyond the obvious might be an intuition oriented person.

Thinking (T) and Feeling (F)

Thinking and feeling are the decision making functions that are used to make decisions based on the perceiving functions above. Those who lean towards thinking for decision making prefer to weigh decisions and measure them with primarily hard logic. Those who lean towards feeling make decisions by empathizing with the situation, looking at it from the inside to achieve the greatest harmony for the people involved. Note that thinking decision makers are not necessarily better at thinking while emotion decision makers do not have superior emotional reactions.

Judging (J) and Perception (P)

The last one is by far the most complicated, but I’ll explain it as best I can. Basically, think of each of these types not as isolated characteristics, but as interacting with each other to create a complex human being. Judging and perception explains whether an individual relates to the world through their preferred judging function (thinking and feeling) or their preferred perceiving function (sensing and intuition). So TJ types tend to appear as more logical while TF types appear as more empathic. SP types tend to appear as more concrete while IP types as abstract. According to Myers, judging types “like to have matters settled” while perceiving types like to “keep decisions open.” For example, J types might prefer to make plans in advance, while P types enjoy being spontaneous.

Okay, now that I’ve bored you guys to death explaining that, I highly recommend you try taking a Myers Briggs test for yourself to see what type you are. Since I’d imagine none of you want to spend $50 taking the official one, here’s a free one to try.

What really fascinates me about this personality test is, like I mentioned above, how each characteristic interactions with each other to create a complex human being. An ESFJ is a very different human from an ESTJ, despite the fact that they only have one characteristic difference. You can read all about the variety of different types here.

As for me, I’m an INFJ, which makes perfect sense to me. That means I’m introverted more than extroverted, I trust my intuition more than my five senses, I make decisions more with my feelings than by pure logical thought, and I relate to the world through my emotions and prefer to have matters settled. But that’s just a simple breakdown of each of the types. When you put all those characteristics together, the test points out far more complex personality traits, such as:

  • Soft-spoken, but with strong opinions
  • Thought of by others as a quiet extrovert, but sometimes needs to withdraw
  • Has a talent for warm, friendly connection with others
  • Creative and insightful, with an inspiring writing style
  • Decisive, determined, and passionate
  • Sensitive, extremely private, and perfectionistic

The personality type goes on and on, outlining romantic relationships, friendships, career, and many other aspects of the INFJ type’s life. Interestingly, my boyfriend Reg’s personality type is the type most compatible with my own, ENFP. We have just enough in common to be able to see things from each other’s perspective, while having enough differences to keep each other on our toes and provide something fresh to the relationship. It would certainly explain how we’ve made it nearly seven years!

What’s your Myers-Briggs personality type? Do you feel it describes you?

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Pumpkin Bread with Slow Cooker Pumpkin

Pumpkin BreadPumpkin Bread 2

A couple of months ago, Reg and I signed up for a CSA box. The basic idea is it’s a subscription service with a local farm where you pay a given amount every month and they hook you up with weekly (or in our case, bi-weekly) fresh fruits and vegetables. I talked about it in this post on how to be a more conscientious consumer, but it’s a really great way to support a local grower and make sure you have fresh and organic produce filling your fridge.

As a result, I’ve been eating fruits and vegetables that I’m less familiar with, which has been super fun. One week we got a giant bag of asian pears (kind of between an apple and a pear) and then two weeks in a row we received mini “pie” pumpkins. While I love pumpkin, I had never cooked with it before, and I was fairly baffled about what to do with them. Fortunately, gourd produce like squash and pumpkin tends to last a looooong time on your shelf. I finally spent an afternoon breaking the pumpkin down and cooking it on low in my slow cooker for five hours, finishing it with a puree with the hand blender and – voila – a delicious pumpkin puree.

Once you have a pumpkin puree, there’s a whole lot you can make with it. You can add it to smoothies or put it on yogurt and granola. Of course there’s pumpkin pie. You can freeze it for later. Or, in my case, I decided to make a very simple pumpkin bread.

It was more-or-less total coincidence that I decided to share this post on the first day of autumn, but it is a kind of lovely coincidence. I topped it with cream cheese here because… cheese.

Are you a fan of pumpkin flavored things? Or is it just all an overblown hype?

Pumpkin Bread with Slowcooker Pumpkin


  • 1 medium sized "pie" pumpkin, or two cups of pumpkin puree
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice


  1. Cut the pumpkin in half from top to bottom. Use a spoon to scoop out all the pulp and seeds (discard or save seeds for roasting later). Break down the rest of the pumpkin by removing the stem, then cutting into large chunks roughly 1 inch.
  2. Put pumpkin chunks into slow cooker on low and cook between 4 and 6 hours, or until pumpkin's skin can be easily punctured with a spoon. Turn into a puree by using either an immersion blender, a food processor, or a stand blender. Let the pumpkin cool until it's around room temperature.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350. Heavily grease two loaf pans with butter.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking soda. In a separate large bowl, mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, water, and spices, then add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Be careful not to over mix. Evenly pour into the two loaf pans.
  5. Bake the loafs 50-60 minutes, or until a knife poked into the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan by flipping over and let it cool on a rack.

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Subscription Box Review: Golden Tote

Golden Tote provided me with a complimentary month in exchange for sharing a review on my blog, but all opinions expressed here are my own (honestly!).

As subscription clothing boxes have blown up over the last year, a constant brand I’ve been hearing about is Golden Tote. The premise is similar to many other boxes – you pay a given amount and a stylist selects a few items of clothing especially for you – with two unique features. The first is you get to keep everything in the box with no additional costs. You either choose a small tote with 2-3 items for $49 or a large tote with 5-6 items for $149. Then, depending on your tote size, you either pick out one or two items of clothing yourself. Then, your stylist surprises you with the rest!

Although it can be a little hard to stomach the $149 cost up front with no idea what you’re receiving and no possibility for returning the items you don’t like, the truth is it works out to about $26 per item, which I have to admit is pretty awesome! If you really don’t like your tote, you can return it for a full refund (under the condition you return all the items), but there’s also the option of their Golden Tote Trading Group on Facebook, where members sell and trade items they don’t want.

First, let me show you what I received in my Golden Tote box, then I’ll share my thoughts on the pros and cons:

Golden Tote September 1

Tribal Pattern Sweatshirt – Love It!

Despite my expression in this photo (I was having a bad TMJ day), I love this top! I told my stylist that I wanted southwest-inspired clothing, and this is exactly the sort of look I had in mind. It’s super comfortable, and I’ve already worn it a ton since I received it last week.

Golden Tote September 2 Golden Tote September 3

Embroidered Chambray Shirt – Love It!

This is one of the items I picked out when I ordered my box, and it’s just as adorable in person as it was online. I’d been wanting a chambray top for a few years, and I just adore the embroidered detail on the shoulders, which adds a bit of character without being overwhelming.

Golden Tote September 4 Golden Tote September 5

Cat Print Striped Long-Sleeve – Meh

This one was a miss for me. I like the idea of a cat print, but the cats in front were a bit hard to clearly identify as cats, even up close. I’m not a huge fan of tops that have a different pattern in the back, and as you guys might remember, horizontal stripes aren’t exactly my thing (because seriously, who looks good in them?). It’s comfortable, but I’m just not sure I’ll wear this.

Golden Tote September 6

Brunch to Boardroom Blouse – Love it!

This was the second item I picked out myself, and I’m pleased to report that it was a great choice. I was a little worried it would look too baggy and unflattering, but I like the looseness, especially when paired with leggings for casual days around the house. I’ve already worn it a few times since I received it, and I can’t wait to again.

Golden Tote September 7

School Teacher Dress – No Way

I don’t know what this dress is actually called, but Reg said I looked like an elementary school teacher in it (not the kind of thing you want to hear from your boyfriend). I feel like my stylist was maybe trying to fit my request for southwest-inspired clothing, but this was totally off the mark. It’s not a look I like and it’s not very flattering, so this one is definitely being gifted to someone who might appreciate it more!

Golden Tote September 8

Bold Patterned Rainbow Top – Nope

Another miss that I think was the result of my request for southwest inspired looks. It’s not 100% off the mark (I have a top that looks a little similar), but I don’t like the overly billowy sleeves, the pattern isn’t quite right, and the material honestly feels a bit cheap. This is another one that will be gifted to a more appreciative friend.

So, overall, out of my six items I absolutely adore three, feel meh about one, and really don’t like two. Of course, two of the items that I love are the two that I picked out myself, but I was pleased with the quality and the fit once they got here. I’ve worn my three favorite items a few times over the last week, so I know they’ll get some good use. That basically works out to about $50 an item, which isn’t horrible but also isn’t great.

In summary, here are my pros and cons:

Pros: The best part is subscription boxes are just really fun, period. It’s a blast to get a giant “gift to myself” in the mail every month and be surprised by what my stylist selected for me. I like that you can pick two items out yourself, so with any luck, two will be clear winners. I also felt like my stylist really tried to listen to my request for southwest-inspired clothing, which I appreciated even though two were pretty big misses. It’s also nice that I don’t have to pick between my favorite items to stay on budget, like I do with some other subscription boxes.

Cons: The most obvious one is that there are a couple of pretty big misses in here and now I’m saddled with the clothing, which seems like a waste (both financially and environmentally). I found some of the fabric to feel a little bit cheap and some of overall fits to be a bit frumpy. And although in theory my clothing is hand-picked for me, the lack of a card from my stylist makes it a little less personalized than some other subscription boxes. Also, I know it’s a detail, but the items were pretty wrinkled when they arrived at my house, which was a bit annoying.

Overall, I think this could be a really great service if you are the type of shopper that likes to try a ton of new clothes every month and aren’t very particular when it comes to styles. I’m also willing to bet that the looks picked out would only improve over the course of a few boxes.

Have you ever tried Golden Tote before? Which of the items I received are your favorites?

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Planned Parenthood: The Unfair Target for Anti-Abortion

Planned Parenthood

When I was 19 years old I was struggling with a severe depression and my battle with acne was at the heart of that. Expensive trips to the dermatologist weren’t an option, so I went to Planned Parenthood and got a year’s supply of the birth control pill for free. Within a couple of months, my acne had 90% cleared up. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Planned Parenthood saved my life, and it didn’t have anything to do with preventing babies or, heaven forbid, killing them.

For those of you who don’t live in the US, let me give you a bit of background. Planned Parenthood is a huge non-profit that focuses on women’s health, especially reproductive issues and STDs, as well as maternal and childcare health services. It provides mostly on breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV and other STD testing, and contraception options. A very small amount of its services (less than 3%) include abortions, and because of previous controversy, it can not use any government funds it receives for its abortion services. Planned Parenthood has been in the news a lot lately as bills have arisen that could entirely defund this absolutely vital women’s healthcare provider, specifically targeting them as the scape goat by those who would like to make abortion illegal altogether.

The massive campaign against Planned Parenthood issue angers me to the core. And while I feel strongly about a woman’s right to choose whether she wants to keep or terminate an early stage pregnancy, I also truly understand why people feel passionately about “saving the life” of a fetus. It’s a complicated issue hinging on when we believe life starts – at conception when the “baby” is basically the equivalent of a seed or a bit later when it develops a brain, a heart, and hands. I get it, I really.

No, what really angers me is that Planned Parenthood does a hell of a lot more than abortions…. In fact, those other services like pap tests, breast cancer exams, STD screening and treatment, and birth control prevention are 97% of their services. My first pap smear was at a Planned Parenthood, and I have no idea where I would have gotten birth control pills from the age of 19 to 22 without them. One out of five women in the United States have visited a Planned Parenthood at some point in her life and they provide services to more than five million people, men and women, every YEAR. Many of those people are lower-income who would otherwise struggle to get access to the healthcare and treatments that Planned Parenthood provides.

What really blows my mind is that the same people who are so passionately against abortions are the same ones who are working to shut down the #1 non-profit organization that provides birth control prevention to women! How do they not understand that if Planned Parenthood is shut down, women are not going to simply stop having sex? Increasing access to birth control is the best way to decrease the amount of abortions women are having – I’m pretty sure I don’t even need to provide statistics on this one.

The “undercover” videos that have been released are essentially a smear campaign taken out of context. I’m sure if you heard surgeons or morticians talking to other people in their industry, the language used might also sound shocking. Planned Parenthood is not selling baby parts for profit. That’s utterly absurd. All women who have abortions at Planned Parenthood are asked if they would like to donate to these research facilities, and while the idea of scientists “carving up babies” may sound grotesque, their findings may help save the lives or provide a better standard of living for other children. How is that worse than cremating them?

I was deeply relieved when the bill to defund Planned Parenthood was overturned a few weeks ago – already, no federal money can go to abortion services. Is that not enough? Somehow Planned Parenthood has become the symbol of abortion, which is utterly unfair to the many women who rely on them for so much more. No matter where you stand on “pro-choice” or “pro-life,” surely you can understand why taking Planned Parenthood down is the wrong tactic. And I’m very sad to say that it’s clear the fight to save this organization is far from over.

Have you ever been to Planned Parenthood before? How do you feel about the government giving this non-profit money, as long as it’s not for abortion services?

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