Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Not Me! Monday June 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 10:52 am

Since going “back to work” this week, I have definitely NOT been feeding Reny some combination of blueberries, strawberries, edamame, yogurt, toast, tofu, mozzarella pearls or anything else that I can just grab with minimal effort for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

I definitely DID NOT use the shower hose as a glorified wipe (after all that fiber mentioned above!)

I also did not let my child continue with his death-defying climb on a movable object while I went in search of my camera

Nope, not me!


Salsa June 26, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 9:38 pm

Homemade Salsa

I have been neglecting my blog

Well I have been a little busy … I spent a few wonderful days with Reny and Ren before heading back to Erie to finish up a few more weeks of the campaign.  I have decided to head back to Memphis in the middle of July for a few months and will head back up sometime in September to work the last 6 weeks of the campaign!  I’m looking forward to getting home for real this time!  That said, it is SO EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL HERE IN ERIE!  The weather is perfect!  The sun is shining!  We can play outside – e.g. it is not a million degrees out!

Nothing says summer to me more than a card game on the deck with a beer, chips, and salsa!

I made this easy, easy salsa a few weeks ago to help celebrate “big boy” Terran’s 2nd birthday!

I love love love the extra flavor the fire-roasted tomatoes give dishes.  If you have a ton of tomatoes in your garden, feel free to use those in place of the can and voila!  Pico de gallo!

1 to 2 fresh jalapeno chiles

3 garlic cloves, unpeeled

1 15-ounce can tomatoes in juice, preferably fire-roasted

1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice


1. Roast the chiles and garlic. In a small ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the chiles and garlic, turning regularly, until they are soft and blotchy brown, about 10 minutes for the chiles, 15 minutes for the garlic.  Cool until you are able to handle, then pull the stem(s) off the chile(s) and roughly chop.  (For hot salsa, leave in the seeds.  For more mild salsa, remove seeds before chopping!)  Peel the skin off the garlic.  Scoop into a food processor and pulse until quite finely chopped.

2.  Finish the salsa. Add the tomatoes with their juice.  Re-cover and pulse until you have a coarse puree.

3.  Scrape into a serving dish.

4.  Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

5.  Taste and season with salt, usually about 1/2  teaspoon.  You’re ready to serve!

(For the salsa pictured here, I wanted it more chunky and did not puree the tomatoes!  I also added some diced white onion!  yum!)



Strawberry Bread June 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 3:46 pm

As soon as I read this recipe I immediately thought “Oh Nana would love this!  I should call her!”

It was one of those moments (and I have had a lot of them since March 6th) that hit me like a freight train – kinda like the card showing up for Reny last week from “Nana and Papa”

So I just went into the kitchen and made it, sorta like my own little prayer to her

And … since I can’t share this with my beautiful Nana,  I’ll share it with y’all …

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cups strawberries, mashed (the recipe calls for fresh but I can think of a lot of things to do with fresh strawberries – strawberry shortcake, as a topping for Sunday morning waffles, etc. – rather than cooking them in bread …. so I used frozen)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp.  salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Mix together dry ingredients

Add wet

(oil, eggs, strawberries)

Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and

Bake at 350˚ for about an hour, until knife inserted comes out clean!

Yum!  Yum!


Summer Salad June 17, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 2:23 pm

There were so many yummy things lying around our kitchen that I was able to whip up this

yummy  and easy summer salad!

2  cups rice, cooked and chilled

1 tomato, chopped

1 o, chopped

1/2 – 1 (depending on your love of onion) red onion, diced

1 cup corn (frozen works best for me)

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

about a 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup olive oil

4 tablespoons lime juice

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. sugar

1 clove garlic, crushed and minced

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, cumin, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper.

In a large bowl mix together the rest of your ingredients

Combine!  Mixing with your hands works best!

Serve with tortilla chips for a quick and easy dinner, use as a garnish on grilled chicken breasts, etc etc etc ….

Ren approved


Homemade (Whole Wheat) Pizza June 16, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 1:52 pm

We loooooove pizza around here

(well not as much as my sister-in-law loves pizza)

but since Reny is a food snob a little picky about what he eats, and there is seriously only one place that he will get pizza from, and it is on the scariest place on Earth Germantown Pkwy, (i.e. big box store heaven), we NEVER want to drive out there and contend with all the cars on an 8-lane “parkway”

So – we make our own.

And since Ren started eating pizza with us, we make (insert Reny eye-roll) wheat crust!

Reny’s Whole Wheat Crust

This recipe will make 2 10″ pizzas

We double it and par-bake 2 crusts to freeze

1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (110˚)

2 tsp active dry yeast

1 cup unbleached bread flour

1 cup wheat flour

(you can also just use 2 cups of bread flour – but NOT 2 cups of only wheat)

1/2 cup lukewarm water (110˚)

1/2 tsp salt

1.  To make a sponge, combine 1/4 cup + 2 T. lukewarm water, yeast, and 1/4 cup of the (we use wheat here) flour in a large   bowl.  Let stand for 20 minutes until it bubbles up

2.  Add the remaining 1 3/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup lukewarm water and salt

If using wheat flour, incorporate the ingredients and let sit for 5 minutes so that the wheat flour hydrates

3.  Knead dough with dough hook on medium speed for 7 minutes or by hand for 15 minutes

4.  Shape dough into a ball and place into a bowl coated with cooking spray.  Let rise for 1 hour

5.  After the dough has risen, cut into 2 (or 4 shown here since we doubled the recipe) pieces, shape into balls, and let rest in the fridge until you are ready to bake!

Putting it all together ….

We are purists … we just use the mini food prep to make a simple sauce with the yummy Cento tomatoes!  They already have basil in them, feel free to add a little oregano and/or garlic if you so choose

Fresh basil, yellow peppers, tomato, mozzarella balls – yum!

6.  Preheat your oven to 500˚

7.  If using a pizza stone (which is already in the preheated oven):  Shape your pizza dough and place on a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal (or flour).  Brush lightly with olive oil (this prevents the dough from becoming soft)  Top with whatever your heart desires and bake for 7-10 minutes (keep an eye on it!)

8.  If using a baking sheet:  Shape your pizza dough and place on an oiled baking sheet.  Brush lightly with olive oil and top with your desired toppings!  Bake for 10-15 minutes (keep and eye on it!)

9.  Here at the Alfonso house we love to top our pizza’s with fresh basil!  Yum! Yum!

(Ignore the Thanksgiving bib)

Lovin’ Da-Da’s pepperoni pizza!


Ratatouille June 14, 2010

Filed under: Farmers Market,Recipes — gastromami @ 12:07 pm

After our trip to the Memphis Farmer’s Market on Saturday to visit Reny, Ren and I came home with all the “fixin’s” for ratatouille – a perfect meal to take with us to see The Boogers and The Cowboy Junkies at the Levitt Shell that evening!

I had a picture of the fresh ingredients but the cord to the camera I had on hand seems to be missing …. (I think I know who the sticky fingered (literally) culprit may be!)

  • olive oil (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 1/2 cup diced yellow squash
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (if using canned, the fire-roasted tomatoes give a nice flavor!)
  • 3 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat (12 inch saute pan)
  2. Once hot, add the onions and garlic, cooking until they are wilted and slightly carmelized (7 minutes or so)
  3. Add the zucchini, squash and green peppers, cooking for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the tomatoes, basil, parsley, cook for 5 minutes
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook ratatouille to desired softness

This can be served hot for dinner right away, room temperature at a picnic (how we ate it that night), or cold (how we ate it for lunch the next day!)


Loaded Baked Tomatoes June 12, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 11:34 am

Fresh from the farm!

Makes 4 servings

4 large ripe tomatoes

4 medium eggs (farm fresh are best!)

4 tablespoons goat cheese or feta

1 pound spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 425˚
  2. Cut off the top of the tomato and using a paring knife, carefully cut out the inside of the tomato – I find it easiest to make the initial cut with a knife and use a serrated grapefruit spoon to finish hollowing out the tomato (save the insides for making fresh salsa!)
  3. Sprinkle the insides of the tomato with salt and pepper and place opening down on paper towel to drain out any excess fluid
  4. While the tomatoes are resting, steam or saute the spinach – drain any excess water out of the spinach after it has been cooked
  5. Place about 1/4 cup cooked spinach in the bottom of the tomato, pressing down to make room for other ingredients
  6. Crack one large into the tomato shell on top of the spinach
  7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and top with goat (or feta) cheese
  8. Bake at 425˚ for 20-25 minutes, making sure the yolk doesn’t become too firm (for Ren I cook on the longer end for a pudding-like yolk)

This recipe is so yummy and so easy!

It would be great for a Sunday brunch get-together!

Ren ate 1 1/2 himself!

*Recipe from