Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Suprise visit, late nap, caught in a downpour = “fast food!” July 29, 2010

Filed under: "Fast Food" — gastromami @ 8:35 pm

I got a call yesterday from my old roommate Lynn Drury.  As Katrina moved into New Orleans, Lynn headed up to Memphis and ended up staying for a little over a year, getting back on her feet.  She headed back home to New Orleans but floats through town once in a while while out on the road.  She was heading up to some gigs in southern Illinois and needed a bed;  I needed some time with my friend!  This was the first time she had met Reny and he was smitten from the first moment he saw her!  Look at his face as she gave him his own little private concert!

Having our guest was a blast but we got a late nap and still needed to head out for a few errands!  We were in the store and I heard it:  rain pouring down on the top of the big box store!  It was coming down in sheets!  We browsed for a bit, but we all know that browsing leads to spending so I needed to get out of there!  So Ren and I made a mad dash for the car, getting completely and totally soaked on the way!  (Ren was laughing his head off and this fun “game!”)

So needless to say, tonight was just one of those nights that cooking was just not going to get done!  I don’t “do” fast-food, so I just had to make do with what I had:

Salmon Burgers

These are from Whole Foods.  I pick one or two up when I make a stop there.  Yes, I can make these, but buying them pre-made is actually more cost-effective (>$5/burger) and tasty!

Green Beans

Organic, out of the bag in the freezer

Fruity Couscous

3/4 cup carrot juice

3/4 cup water

1/2 cups couscous

* bring juice and water to a boil;  add couscous, cover, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes


1 can garbanzo beans

1 can mandarin oranges (or orange segments)

1 cup craisins

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

This entire meal took me less than 10 minutes to throw together and cost less than $5/person (we shared a burger, they are huge!)

Ren approved


Fish Tacos! July 28, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 9:43 am

It is summer and in Memphis, that means that it is too frickin’ hot to turn on the oven.  Seriously, we just got back from MIAMI and, compared to Memphis, it was Antarctica, or at least North Dakota.

However, I really don’t like grilling.  Reny sold our gas grill and I think that trying to prevent a 14-month old from rushing the fiery hot coal chimney is not my idea of a good time.  So after exhausting endless pasta salad variations, I need something new!  Memphians, if you have never gone to the Winchester Farmer’s Market, you need to go!   I usually go with Reny as there isn’t much English spoken at this Latin/Asian grocery store but Ren and I braved our Anglo-fears and headed out on our own!

Here is why I like to shop at either Viet Hoa (in Midtown) or the Winchester Farmer’s Market:

  1. You can get 10 limes for $1 instead of 2/$1 (at Kroger)
  2. At the Winchester store you can buy a whole fish!  A beautiful, any size you want, whole fish and then have them cut it any way you want!  You want to cook it whole?  You can have it whole!  You want 4 filets?  You can have 4 filets!  It’s wonderful!  And … it looks, even in the “dirty” market, waaaaay better than the fish counter at Kroger and costs about 1/10th of the price at Whole Foods!
  3. The music is muy entertaining!
  4. The abundance of produce inspires a week of dinners  (and it is cheap cheap cheap!)
  5. They have Warm! Homemade! corn tortillas!  yum yum!

So Ren and I headed to the market and I knew, as soon as I grabbed some warm tortillas out of the cooler (yes, just open up that everyday, red cooler and there they are!) and saw the fresh avocados that we were having fish tacos for dinner!  I grabbed some limes, a white onion, avocado, a bunch of cilantro, some lettuce, a tomato and headed to the fish counter.  There was some beautiful snapper so I asked for the nice man for a 3lb whole fish to be cut “#4” (fileted) – which, after being cut would be enough for tonight’s tacos and some fish to be frozen for another night!

At home, I threw half of the fish in the freezer, and, using paper towels, dried the fish (squeezing out any extra moisture).  I then coated the fish in olive oil and set aside.  To cook the fish I heated up an empty, dry saute pan over medium-high heat.  After the pan was hot, I placed the oiled fish in the pan (make sure the vent fan is on!)  Let the fish cook 4 minutes on each side, remove, and finish off with some fresh squeezed limes juice.   I then chopped up some white onion, cilantro and tomato; sliced some avocado and shredded some lettuce.  Voila!  Pair with some fresh fruit and/or rice and beans!

Ren approved!


Greek Lamb Burgers July 27, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — gastromami @ 8:17 pm

We just got back from a wonderful 10-day trip to Miami to visit the Alfonso family!  We spent a week down in the Keys and the rest of the time visiting with friends, family, the ducks, and eating yummy Cuban food!  Oh Cafe Cubano how I love you!  We had gotten back from Pennsylvania just four days before leaving for Miami so our cupboards were beyond bare when we got home today!  The whole family headed to Whole Foods and Kroger to do some major stocking but the thought of cooking was making us hot and tired!  We saw the ground lamb at Whole Foods and thought, yum!  Let’s fire up the grill!  A few sweet potatoes and we had dinner!

For the Burgers:

1 lb. ground lamb

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. paprika

salt and pepper

*  Mix and grill!

Greek Salad Slaw:

1/2 head Romaine lettuce

2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cup feta cheese

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

* Mix



Thin layer of mayo

Lamb Burger

Slice of Tomato

Greek Salad Slaw

Yum!  Serve with sweet potato fries!

Sweet Potato Fries:

Peel and cut sweet potatoes into strips

Toss with olive oil, oregano, salt and pepper

Bake at 425˚ for about 30 minutes (flipping after 15 minutes)

Ren approved!


We are obsessed …. July 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 11:52 am

With ice cream around here

And in Erie, there are ice cream stands around every corner

And everytime i drive by Sara’s, Whippy Dip, Denny’s once in awhile, I indulge.  Reny doesn’t really care for sweets

unless they are cold!  (cause man, it has been HOT this summer!)

Since I forgot to pack any sports bras and my penny-pinching husband won’t let me go to Target to get a new one have been busy busy busy with no time to go running, we are finding new and fun ways to get our cold and creamy fix!

Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothies

1 ripe banana

1 cup cold milk (vanilla soymilk for this mama)

1/4 cup peanut butter

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons wheat germ

(for an extra treat – throw in some chocolate chips!)

Blend and Enjoy!