Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Baked Pasta with Summer Squash August 31, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",For Helpers! — gastromami @ 12:19 pm


I’m pretty much in love with blogging from my phone – it may not look “pretty” but by the time the kids are sleeping, the dishes are washed, the toys are picked up, a load of laundry is shuffled, the camera is found, the cord is located, pictures are uploaded and I’m logged into WordPress, one of the kids is back up wanting to be nursed!

By blogging on my phone I can BLOG WHILE NURSING!! (yep, currently it’s Fiona)

So, as long as I know the recipe off the top of my head I’m ready to go!

I found a recipe for Summer Squash Baked Ziti in my most recent issue of Cooking Light and, since my mom sent us back to Philly with a harvest from their garden it seemed like a perfect dinner! My sister-in-law Stephanie was talking about Baked Ziti as being her “go-to meal” but to be honest, I’ve never even thought of making it myself. It was so incredibly easy, yummy & hearty – and healthy with the addition of fresh veggies, that variations will definitely be making it into my dinner rotation!!

Pre-heat oven to 350˚

Cook 4 oz of pasta (such as rotini, penne or ziti)


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat

Add 3 cups summer squash (I used a combination of yellow squash & zucchini) and sauté for 5 minutes


Add 2 cups of tomatoes (chopped or cherry) and 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Sauté 3 minutes

Season with dried oregano, salt & pepper, to taste


In a separate bowl mix:
1/2 cup light ricotta cheese
1 eggs, lightly scrambled
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Salt & pepper, to taste


In a large bowl mix:
Cooked pasta
Sautéed veggies
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped


Mix and add in ricotta cheese mixture


Transfer to an 8×8 baking dish and let your helper top with extra shredded mozzarella

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes until the pasta bubbles and cheese is browned


Ren approved!!


Do you like Pina Colada (Cupcakes)? August 30, 2011

Filed under: Dessert!,Entertaining — gastromami @ 1:27 pm

My oldest and best friend Liz is getting married in 18 days!

We have been friends for as long as I can remember and spent probably thousands of hours playing with Barbies, jumping in the pool, laying out at the beach, sharing dinners & listening to “Chicken Man” on our way to school

Liz is now a special ed teacher which comes as no surprise to anyone that knows her;  her kindness, patience and generosity (along with her stunning beauty) are her greatest attributes – and the reason that she has been able to put up with me for all these years!  She teaches, she’s a runner, she’s an amazing mother to her (soon to be) step-kids and on top of all that she is attending the University of Virginia for her masters!  She is quite the amazing woman & an amazing friend and I am so excited to be a part of her and Stephen’s day!

Their wedding will be on the beach so it was only appropriate that I made these Pina Colada cupcakes (found on The Cupcake Project) for her “Cocktails & Cupcakes” bridal shower.

For the cupcakes:

1/3 C coconut rum (or any rum you have on hand)
3/4 C coconut milk
1/4 C pineapple juice (reserved from the crushed pineapple)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C + 3 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs
1 C shredded coconut
1 C crushed pineapple

Drain the crushed pineapple and reserve 1/4 cup of the juice

In a bowl combine the rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice & vanilla

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt

Cream the butter and sugar

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Slowly add 1/3 of the flour mixture – beat well

Add 1/2 of the rum mixture – beat well

1/3 of the flour – beat well

Remaining rum mixture – beat well

Remaining flour mixture – beat well

Fold in the crushed pineapple and shredded coconut

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and

bake at 350˚ for 25 minutes

For the Cream Cheese Coconut Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
2 C powdered sugar
3 tbsp coconut cream (such as Coco Lopez)

Beat cream cheese & butter until light and fluffy

Slowly add powdered sugar

Add coconut cream

Pipe (or spread) onto cupcakes

Top with toasted coconut

(bake at 350˚ on an ungreased cookie sheet until lightly toasted)


Ren & (my adorable niece) Charlotte approved!!



small style: the slinky August 25, 2011

Filed under: Small Style — gastromami @ 6:51 am

We rolled back into Philadelphia around 2am yesterday

and jumped right back into urban living today

No tractors here … the kids were strapped into a stroller

No country lane run … I watched MSNBC while on the elliptical at the gym

No gathering of eggs, cucumbers & tomatoes … we stopped by Whole Foods for some staples

No beach after naptime … we stuck our feet in the “hippo” fountain after an afternoon Starbucks/saying hi to the firetrucks outing

All that said, it is kinda nice to be home, with too many toys shoved on every available surface, piles of laundry & the restless energy spurred by only 1100 square feet of living space that forces us up and out the door to explore what our “12 acres” has to offer

Not to mention the greatest part of being home:


What is even more amazing is how much Fiona has changed since we left

The girl is doing some serious cobra while on the floor

and then promptly smushes her face into the floor while trying to get up on her knees

(won’t be long)

She laughs, smiles, recognizes people and most exciting:

She plays with toys!

Gone are the days of staring into space and the flailing of arms

Hand the girl a crinkly animal and she’s happy


or a slinky:


On Fiona:

Mysterio T-shirt:  gifted from Uncommon Goods

Pants:  Sckoon Organics via Zulily

Linking up to Small Style on Mama Love Papa



Now that’s relaxed … August 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 7:38 am



small style: pattern blocking August 18, 2011

Filed under: Small Style — gastromami @ 7:55 am

One thing I love about cottages are the outfits that end up in pictures

You know what I’m talking about:

Aunts making breakfast in nightgowns with sandals and sweatshirts thrown on

Sitting around the campfire in a swimsuit with sweatpants and flip-flops

(or are those just my memories?)

Being “out there” and “alone” while on vacation can lead to some pretty interesting clothing combinations and, although this is now my parents home, running from the house to the barn to the pond to the beach to the fire to the blueberry patch leads to multiple changes of t-shirts, shoes (Ren’s been running around in bright pink crocs left by his cousin most of the month!), swimsuits, and shorts!

I mentioned to my fashionista sister that I needed to figure out something for today’s Small Style on Mama Loves Papa and was enlisting her help because, since 100% of Fiona’s clothes have been gifted, 95% of her clothes are Carters and I was having a pretty impossible time coming up with cute combinations when, well, everything at Carters already comes in “combos”

After rummaging around in Fiona’s drawer she called out, “can I do pattern blocking?” and I thought, “Voila!” 

Not only does it fit in perfectly with our cottage mentality this month, it was exactly the inspiration I needed to make her wardrobe even better for the next few months!

On Fiona:

Carters, both pieces


Going … Going …. Going … Gone

Oh, and while eating ice cream, I noticed that Fi wasn’t the only one “pattern-blocking”:

On Ren:

Shirt:  Children’s Place

Shorts:  Jumping Beans (a hand-me-down from his buddy, T)

Shoes:  Keens

Lovin’ the lazy, hazy days of summer at my parents

One more week until we head back to the city!

Thanks Tia Tricia!!!


Linking up to Small Style at Mama Loves Papa


The Perfect Date August 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 4:37 pm

I love going out to dinner with Reny

Being married to a chef has it’s perks – and eating out is one of them – the food keeps coming, the wine keeps flowing & with his “insider” information on where to go, the food is usually so good I don’t care that he is obsessively checking his watch and timing our courses

But, it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve even seen my husband (sans computer screen) so I took the next best thing:


It was pretty much the perfect date:

We didn’t talk about bills, instead we talked about beaches & boats & rocks

We didn’t talk about the schedule, well beyond the fact that Dada comes in “dos sleeps”

We did actually talk about “the kids,” but in Ren’s book that means Apple the goat


Yep, pretty darn great


Cucumber Soup August 9, 2011

Filed under: Lunch,Recipes — gastromami @ 10:47 am


“Use up the cucumbers,” she said.

There were cucumbers in the door, in a basket, in the vegetable drawer, pickled in jars, and more popping up in the garden every day.

One can only eat so many pickles

So cucumber soup it was


Peel, de-seed, and roughly chop 2 lbs of cucumbers

Peel and quarter 1 red onion

de-seed 1 jalapeno

pick 8 large mint leaves

Juice 1 lemon

For a batch that will feed 4-6 people:

2 lbs. cucumbers (peeled, de-seeded)

3/4 cup greek yogurt

1 jalapeno, de-seeded

8 large mint leaves

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 quarter of a medium red onion

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic

Mix in food processor until smooth