Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Mediterranean Barley Salad March 31, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Lunch,Recipes — gastromami @ 2:29 pm


If you’ve been reading my blog longer than a month

you know two things

1.  I love Cooking Light


2.  I love “just throw it together” meals and ‘salads’


This recipe falls under both of those categories


My only real changes were adding some (frozen) peas and corn and a little lemon zest



Cook 1 cup pearl barley according to package directions, omitting salt

(I cooked in chicken stock)


In a large bowl combine:

Cooked barley

1 cup packed arugula

1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup corn

1 cup peas

(next time I’d probably add some red onion and a bit more arugula!)



In a small prep bowl whisk together:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

the zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

(wasn’t too spicy but gave it great flavor – would only skip if your kids are super-sensitive to heat)



Drizzle dressing over the barley mixture and toss




Top with chopped pistachios for a little extra crunch!!




We ate this salad as our meal along with some celery and roasted red pepper hummus




Ren approved!



This makes for a fantastic “take to work/school” lunch over the next few days,

or as a side dish for dinner!


Asian Chicken Salad March 28, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Recipes — gastromami @ 3:11 pm



I have to preface this with saying that I’m not really a salad person

I’ll order a salad at a restaurant as an appetizer

but for a meal?

Not so much


But every once in a while,

like when I’m pregnant and only want fruit and vegetables

a salad sounds right up my alley


And sometimes,

there’s lettuce from my BLT craving and I need to use it up


We had roasted chicken left from the previous night’s dinner

some romaine lettuce

a can of water chestnuts


and celery

so I threw it together in a bowl


and on the stove mixed

1 cup coconut milk

3 tablespoons peanut butter

2 tablespoons soy sauce

a sprinkle of crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon brown sugar

some freshly squeezed lime juice

Bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes

Remove from heat

and let cool for a few minutes


Pour over salad mixture and mix

Top with some crushed peanuts and fresh squeezed lime juice




Ren approved!


Ok …

On to another subject


There is rarely a time that my husband is outside without sunglasses on

He claims sensitive eyes

I don’t get it

But lately ….


My kids that loves getting his picture taken

can’t stand the flash

or the sun for that matter

So as I tried

to take pictures of “dessert”


These were the best shots

I got


Looks like someone is going to need sunglasses this summer

But seriously … really!?

It’s all in their head!

(isn’t it?)


3rd Trimester Survival Kit March 25, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy — gastromami @ 9:17 am

#2 is due one month from today!


We are so excited to meet this baby,

Ren laughs every day as his brother/sister fights for space while nursing

(sibling rivalry?)

Neutral clothes are out and ready to be washed, folded and put away

The box of small baby diapers are pulled out, ready to be washed and stacked

Our new double jogger is here, just waiting to be unloaded from its box

We are at that “it’s almost here but not close enough to set up completely” stage


I am at that, I am NOT ready to have this baby yet stage

(because this time around I KNOW it is easier to take care of this baby while he/she is INSIDE!)

but I am almost ready to have this baby stage

basically, because

My back aches

my feet are swollen and

my energy level is, well, what energy??

This last hump of pregnancy, as my own “hump” grows and grows and grows, can be one of the toughest points and there are certain things that can make life more pleasant, or at least tolerable!



Sneakers and Flip-flops

Basically the only shoes that will fit my feet at this point


Earth Mama Angel Baby Heartburn Tea & Tums

I can’t really complain about frequent heartburn but it does come and go in spurts and

this tea is amazing!  I don’t know how they do it but nothing works better on pregnancy-induced heartburn!

And Tums, it doesn’t work “great” but is better then nothing when we are out!



Earth Mama Angel Baby Natural Stretch Oil

Soothes my stretched out tummy

(can also use for perineal stretching during the last 4-6 weeks of pregnancy)


Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Balm

I alternate using the stretch oil and this thicker balm to help soothe my belly!


Greenbrier Herbalist Varicose Ease

Varicose Veins rank right up there with stretch marks as one of the worst “marks” of pregnancy.

At least, however, they (usually) go away!

This salve is a great alternative to the heavy, hot compression tights usually recommended – it immediately soothes my sore, achy legs.

Love, love, love it  (even if I hate, hate, hate the painful veins!)


Blossoming Bellies Organic Pregnancy Blend Tea

Drinking red raspberry leaf tea during pregnancy helps to strengthen and tone the uterine wall, relax smooth muscles, and make labor and delivery easier and speedier by helping the uterus contract more efficiently.

There are many sources out there for “Pregnancy Tea” but I love this blend from our doula, Brittany, which includes red raspberry leaf, nettles (for iron), oatstraw, alfalfa, spearmint and rosehips

I start drinking raspberry leaf tea by the start of my 2nd trimester but definitely up my intake during these last crucial weeks!


Big Leg Emma DVD

any concert DVD

For when I   Can’t.  Do.  Any.  More…

… Entertains Ren for a bit 🙂



Birthing Ball

I use a Pilates ball because

a.  it forces correct posture and doesn’t hurt my back as much as sitting on the couch


b.  by rocking back and forth and in circular motions this ball helps open your pelvis and tone your hips and butt, all beneficial to helping in labor!

We will use this ball both at home and in the hospital during labor as a comfortable way to squat and to help position the baby correctly


Here’s to surviving the next few weeks!


Got leche? March 23, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy,Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 11:52 am

I clearly remember saying,

“As soon as he can ask for it, I’m done”



But let me tell you,

the first time your child signs for “milk”

(or to nurse if you can’t figure that out)

your heart just melts

(and really, babies sign at just months old – not giving up nursing then, right?)



And honestly,

within moments after being born

your baby naturally nuzzles your chest

and isn’t that,

“asking for it?”



So, Ren isn’t really ready to stop nursing

And I’m not really ready to stop nursing

if my son isn’t



Ok, tangent.

If one. more. person. says,

“well it’s really also for you isn’t it?”

I.  Will.  Scream.


you try having a 25 lb. kid attempt to do acrobatics while attached to your nipple

and then come tell me that it’s

“all for mommy.”




But, to be honest

I have been pretty nervous about him sharing “leche”

once #2 arrives



So, we talk about all the things he is going to teach the baby:

caws (cars)


avi’s (planes)



ooo-ahhs (monkeys)

bubbles (in the midst of swim class can you tell?)


and leche


But I didn’t really know if he got it


And then we had a friend over the other day

and she nursed her new baby

and he said,

“baby, leche”

and then pointed to my belly,

and my “leche”

and said,

“baby, leche”


and I smiled.



And then tonight …

I told Ren to get “monks” and “blankie” for bed

and I went to the bathroom.

When I came back:




I think we’ll be ok 🙂




Happy St. Patrick’s Day! March 17, 2011

Filed under: Pregnancy,Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 3:56 pm


Reny, 29 weeks





Reny,  22 months

#2, 34 weeks





Happy St. Patrick’s Day


la familia Alfonso

(the Irish-German-Cubans)


All I really want is a cheeseburger … March 15, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Lunch — gastromami @ 9:57 am




It is officially the first Friday of Lent and all I want is a

Big.  Juicy.  Cheeseburger.

With Fries.

(and not sweet potato fries – no nutritional value extra crispy fries with aioli)


But it’s Lent.

And it’s Friday.

s … i … g … h


Speaking of Lent, I think it was pretty stupid of me to give up ALL desserts rather than my standard ice cream.

(especially since this I’m convinced is a girl due to my sweet tooth child really really wants something sugary!)

Also, I can see this whole “no dessert” thing killing our grocery budget as I’m substituting with fruit, and not just a few strawberries,

No, I ate almost an entire pineapple the other night.

(Time to start buying our grapes at Costco.)


Ok, enough ranting and raving about Lent.

I made the decision I made;  here’s to 37 more days of keeping it!

(and a few glorious days of ice cream sundae indulgence!)



So, since a cheeseburger wasn’t in the picture tonight

(and seriously, my kid won’t eat that (meat) anyway)

I scoured the cupboards and made one of my favorite summer dishes:


Fruity Couscous with Shrimp


This is a simple, simple dish.

It constantly changes, depending on what I have on hand.


First, cook the couscous according to package directions,


instead of water or stock,

use fruit juice!

Tonight, not wanting “too sweet” of a meal, I used 1 part vegetable stock to 1 part mango juice.


Then, throw in whatever you want!



Tonight I included:

1 can mandarin oranges

1 handful craisins

1 can baby corn, chopped into 1/2″ pieces

1 can garbanzo beans

1 bunch (seen better days) cilantro, chopped

1 handful fresh basil, chopped

(fresh and light herbs are key!)

** the “salad” was a little bit drier than I like so I also added about 3/4 cup mango juice



For the shrimp:


I seasoned with the juice of 1/2 lemon


freshly ground black pepper



Saute in olive oil until cooked!





Ren approved!


But Mama was seriously missing a cheeseburger ….


Makes a great “next day” lunch!!









Happiness …

Sometimes it comes in the form of meat



Even Ren ate 1/2 a cheeseburger!


Pasta with Roasted Veggies March 13, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 6:31 pm


We are on a serious pasta kick.

Although my sweet tooth has me leaning toward a girl …

I also ate pasta and veggies my entire 3rd trimester with Ren.

So, who knows?


A box of pasta

beans or shrimp


* these ingredients save dinner at least twice a week *


But, on this day:

We were having such. a. great. day!

It was one of those days that just ran like clockwork …

we were getting along, the house wasn’t a complete disaster zone, we both got good naps in, etc. etc.

It was going so well that making dinner, when I would rather be doing puzzles,

seemed like such a chore.

So, instead of spending my time cooking,

I grabbed some vegetables:



1/2 red onion (leftover from a salad)

1/2 crown of broccoli

1/2 pint of cherry tomatoes

1/2 bunch asparagus

1 red bell pepper


Doused the with olive oil

Herbs (basil, oregano, salt, pepper)



And threw in the oven

until they looked like this:



While the vegetables were roasting I boiled some water,

cooked some pasta,

and threw in a can of chickpeas for the last 2 minutes



Drain the pasta

Mix in the veggies




Ren approved!


In fact,

Ren ate all that pasta,

Asked for seconds:



Ate all of that!

and then asked for ice cream!

(and, who can ignore an ice cream request after eating such a good meal!?)