Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Alfredo with Roasted Asparagus November 23, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Recipes — gastromami @ 6:59 am

This quick and easy dish comes from my favorite magazine – Cooking Light!

Basically it tastes like rich, homemade macaroni & cheese and who doesn’t love that on a cold, rainy, late fall night?

2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/3 cup (3 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
16 ounces uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425˚ and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray

Cook pasta according to package directions

Trim asparagus and roast at 425˚ for 10 minutes until browned (stirring once)

In a blender (or mini-prep) combine the flour, milk, cream cheese & salt

Melt butter over medium-high heat

Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds

Whisk in milk and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly

Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheese

Cover and set aside until ready to use

In a large bowl combine cheese sauce, drained pasta & asparagus

Ren (sorta) approved

He doesn’t really like Mac N Cheese so this dish was more for me!  He did eat he asparagus!


Roasted Vegetable Pasta with Chicken Sausage November 21, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Recipes — gastromami @ 9:13 pm

Pasta Pasta Pasta

with Roasted Veggies

There is something about roasted red peppers and broccoli that makes my mouth water

Roasting vegetables just gives basic pasta a whole new, hearty dimension and pairs so nicely with some garlicky sausage

This is the perfect “use what needs to be cooked in the fridge” recipe!

In a large bowl combine veggies (I used 1 crown of broccoli, 2 red peppers, 1 medium onion & 1 1/2 cups baby bella mushrooms) with a generous amount of olive oil, 1 tablespoon oregano and salt & pepper, to taste

Roast at 375˚ until the broccoli begins to brown, about 10 minutes

Add 1 pint of grape tomatoes

Roast 3 minutes and remove vegetables from oven

While vegetables are cooking brown some seasoned chicken sausage (I used 3 links of Garlic Chicken from Trader Joe’s)

Cook pasta according to package directions

In a large bowl toss vegetables, sausage & pasta

Plate and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese


Ren approved!

Fiona approves of the ciabatta


Japanese Noodle Soup November 20, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Recipes — gastromami @ 7:16 pm


I love a quick and easy recipe!  I came across “5 Ingredients.  5 Minutes.  5 Meals.  – Simple Noodles” about a month ago and bookmarked the page for future dinners;  I am so happy I did!

Philadelphia was blessed with a beautiful 60˚ day in November (perfect weather for the Philadelphia Marathon – kudos to all the runners!) and so the kids and I spent the whole day at parks, window shopping, enjoying Starbucks BOGO with Reny’s hostess & scoring some killer deals on homegoods at Urban Outfitters!

We arrived home happy, but tired, so I was grateful I had these few simple ingredients on hand!

5 cups water

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced into ribbons

14 oz udon noodles

4 tablespoons soy sauce

12 oz (2 bags) spinach

1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into ribbons

the juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste

Bring the water to a boil

Add chicken ribbons and simmer until cooked (2-3 minutes)

Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside

Bring the water back to a boil and add noodles & soy sauce

Cook 2-3 minutes until noodles begin to soften

Add spinach and allow to wilt (you may need to add in batches)

Add red bell pepper

Cook 2 minutes

Add lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it tastes “fresh & zesty!”

Divide chicken into 4 bowls and top with hot soup

Serve immediately


Ren approved!


TJ’s Corn & Coconut Curry November 16, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Recipes — gastromami @ 8:27 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with Trader Joe’s

I love:

that it is small

cheap goat cheese!

99 cent (yummy) pizza dough

convenience food for easy dinners

most items are reasonably priced

I hate:

that it is always super crowded

the plastic wrapped vegetables

that I have to tailor my grocery list to the fact that I am shopping at TJ’s

I have learned that my best bet is to do a google search for Trader Joe’s recipes so that I can take advantage of what the store has to offer.  This recipe I found on the Love Trader Joe’s blog.  It was super easy, super quick and yummy!

2 cups vegetable stock
3 cups broccoli or cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cups potato, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 package of Trader Joe’s Roasted Corn
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 cup light coconut milk
1 bottle Trader Joe’s Simmering Curry Sauce

1 1/2 cups shrimp, cleaned (optional)

In a large pot place the potatoes & broccoli, cover with 2 cups vegetable stock

Cook over medium-low heat until the potatoes start to soften

In a blender combine 2 cups stock, roasted corn, coconut milk & curry sauce

Add curry mixture to vegetables and bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are tender

Add shrimp and cook 5 minutes

Serve over rice

Ren approved!


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!!


Chicken Fried Rice with Cranberries April 27, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food",Recipes — gastromami @ 2:10 pm

His Cuban roots are beginning to emerge

He’s always loved beans (thank goodness because he barely eats any meat!)

but lately, give the boy some rice and beans

and he’s in heaven.

Side Note:

Rice and toddlers don’t mix

Our vacuum is getting a workout!

The thing is,

leftover rice usually stays just that:


in the fridge

until I throw it out

I know, I know

Heat up in the microwave with a wet paper towel

Still, really, it doesn’t taste all that great

That is,

unless you fry it up!

I was flipping through my favorite magazine

Cooking Light

and saw this recipe


3 1/2 cups cooked and chilled long-grain brown rice

(leftover rice works best!  If cook “day of,” let cool in fridge for at least 4 hours)

1/2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ pieces

3 cups thinly sliced leeks

1 1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh sage

1/4 cup dry white wine

** I crushed up some pistachios for a little extra crunch on top!

Season chicken with salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat

Add chicken to pan and cook until browned (about 3 minutes)

Remove from pan

Add leeks to pan, season lightly with salt and pepper

cook until golden (about 5 minutes)

Remove from pan and add to chicken

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot pan

Add rice and stir until well coated with olive oil

Cook 2 minutes without stirring (or until edges begin to brown)

Stir rice and cook again 2 minutes (until edges begin to brown)

Add chicken, leeks, cranberries and sage

Stir to combine

Add wine and cook 2 minutes until mixture is dry,  stirring constantly

Ren approved!!

Mama, however, is getting tired of vacuuming!

What I wouldn’t give to have our hardwood floors back … !


Pasta with Bacon and Asparagus April 6, 2011

Filed under: "Fast Food" — gastromami @ 12:57 pm


Pasta Pasta Pasta


I know, I know, I know


It’s not ALL we eat

(but it’s A LOT of what we eat!)



I didn’t eat bacon until I was pregnant with Ren

Ok, well actually I started eating raw bacon when Reny first got into charcuterie

But the classic, “fry up on the stove” bacon made me want to throw up when I was a child


That said, I can’t even tell you how many BLTs I ate during my first pregnancy

(all that excess salt was probably the reason why I developed carpal tunnel!)


While my desire for bacon is not nearly as strong this 2nd time around,

it still lurks somewhere in my mind

crying out to be satisfied


I know, gross huh?


So, for a “twist” on my pasta and veggie dinner



Cook pasta (whole wheat) according to package directions, omitting salt

Drain and keep warm



In a large skillet, fry up some (4 pieces or whatever is left over from your BLTs!) bacon until crispy

Remove from pan and set aside




While the bacon is frying

dice 1/2 onion

cut 1 lb. asparagus into 1 1/2 inch pieces

shred leftover chicken from last night’s dinner





After removing the bacon,

Add the diced onion to the hot drippings and cook over medium heat until soft





Add asparagus and chicken,

Cook 2 minutes




Add about 1 1/2 cup stock

Bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer 5-7 minutes

Generously season with freshly ground black pepper




Add 4 giant handfuls (I know, accurate measurements today, huh?) spinach



The pasta



And 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix well




Top with crumbled bacon and some more parmesan cheese




Comfort food at its finest!



Ren approved!