Brussels Sprouts to the rescue and a little sweet potatoes on the side of my side dish

I absolutely adore going out to restaurants. One of the things I love the most is coming across a dish that I never would have thought to make myself. I love cooking but it is easy to run out of ideas. If it were up to me we would eat out more often than we actually do. My husband loves home cooked meals and likes to occasionally eat out. So, after I had these two side dishes at a restaurant I just had to learn how to make them myself. If I can’t go out to eat them then I’ll cook them right in my own kitchen. I was never a big fan of Brussels sprouts. To be honest I always thought they had a funky smell and not much in the taste department but after having them at a restaurant I soon became of lover of all things sprouts!! When it comes to fries I believe they should be a main dish and not just a side. They are delicious, so imagine my surprise when I discovered sweet potato fries. Even better and a welcome change from the regular french fries.

Hope you enjoy!

 

brussels sprouts.jpg

 

INGREDIENTS

1 ½ pounds of Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half through the core

¼ cup olive oil

1½ teaspoon of salt

½ teaspoon of pepper

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F.
  2. Place the Brussels sprouts on a sheet pan.
  3. Cover the sprouts in the olive oil, salt and pepper and mix around with your hand to ensure they are all covered.
  4. Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they are tender and browned.
  5. Remove from the over, drizzle immediately with the balsamic vinegar, and toss again.
  6. Taste for seasoning and serve hot.

 

sweet potato fries

 

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

5 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch long slices, then ¼ wide inch stripes

½ teaspoon of paprika

1 cup salt

¼ cup black pepper

¼ cup garlic powder

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Line a sheet tray with baking paper
  2. In a large bowl toss the sweet potatoes with just enough olive oil to coat them all.
  3. Sprinkle the paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper on the sweet potatoes.
  4. Spread the sweet potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender and golden brown, turning them occasionally.
  6. Let them cool 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: Mix some mayonnaise with Sriracha sauce and you have a delicious dipping sauce for the fries!!!

Slow Cooker Baked Ziti

finished zitti

Baked ziti is an Italian-American staple. I love that it’s so comforting, yet full of fresh, herby flavors. I decided to make things a little easier on myself and use the slow cooker instead of the oven. The best part is I didn’t have to boil the noodles first – they cook perfectly in the marinara sauce!

To brighten up this dish I add fresh basil from our herb garden, rosemary, and lemon juice to the ricotta. And with so much cheesy goodness I decided to leave ours vegetarian, but you could easily add a variety of different meats.

I love the slow cooker because after a long day I can come home to a tasty meal!!

 

INGREDIENTS

Ricotta Mix:

  • 2 eggs
  • 15oz ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tbsp rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Other:

  • 1lb Penne pasta
  • 4 cups marinara sauce
  • 3 cups parmesan cheese

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Make the Ricotta Mix by beating the two eggs, adding all of the ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup basil, 1/2 tbsp rosemary, 1 tbsp lemon juice and salt & pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside.

basil.jpg

 

ricotta mix.jpg

2. Grease the inside of slow cooker with nonstick spray or butter.

3. Add about 2 cups of pasta sauce in the bottom of slow cooker. Layer ⅓ of penne noodles on top of sauce, followed by ½ of ricotta mixture, and ⅓ of Italian cheese blend, then repeat all steps so there are 2 layers of all ingredients.

layering

4. Top with remaining penne and sauce, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, until noodles are al dente.

5. Top with remaining cheese and cook an additional 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted through.

6. Serve hot and enjoy!

Bruschetta for me and Bruschetta for you!

I love love love restaurants. Being served, choosing from a variety of dishes knowing that I don’t have to lift a finger is bliss. Then the fact that I don’t have to clean up or wash any dishes is also what fills my heart with joy.

Other than going out to restaurants to dine, I enjoy cooking for friends and family. When I lived in London we couldn’t always go out to dinner. Having a new baby meant that we were confined to the house when our friends had plans. So I decided to start inviting people around for dinner. Best solution ever. We got to spend time with our friends and socialize while the baby was asleep in the next room.

One of the dishes I loved making for my guests is tomato, basil and mozzarella bruschetta. As a starter it is simply delicious. It is quick to make and people always really seemed to enjoy it.

 

Brushette

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 handfuls nice mixed ripe cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil , leaves picked
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil
  • good-quality white wine or herb vinegar
  • 2 large French baguettes, sliced
  • 1 ½ pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice bread and toast under the grill/broil in the oven or in a griddle pan
  2. Rub each slice of toast with a cut garlic clove then drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
  3. Wash the cherry tomatoes, place the cherry tomatoes in a deep bowl and squash them roughly
  4. Tear the basil and put into the bowl, season with salt and pepper and add some olive oil and some vinegar
  5. Slice the mozzarella and place into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients
  6. Place the mix on top of each sliced piece of bread and drizzle with the remaining sauce, then put under the grill to lightly warm them.

 

Enjoy with friends in the comfort of your own home!

 

Bon Apettit!

 

 

 

 

 

Honey Garlic Shrimp to the rescue!!!

tube anger

One of my all-time favorite meals is shrimp. Shrimp cocktail, popcorn shrimp, you name it, I’ll eat it. Aside from the delicious taste one of the things I love about shrimp is that it is quick and easy to cook. When I lived in England I worked full-time and I was a full-time mom and wife. After work I would have to rush to the tube station to catch my train or I would be late to pick up my daughter from nursery. If you have ever put your child into a nursery you know that they are ruthless. For every minute you are late they charge you $15 (its extortion)! After a very stressful journey on a sweaty, crowded train I would arrive to pick up my daughter at 6pm. After her 10 hour day in nursery she was exhausted so the bus journey home was less than ideal, especially during her terrible two’s when she would have full blown meltdowns and slither off the seat onto the floor as strangers silently judged me. Once we got home (by this point I’m exhausted and running on fumes) I had to figure out a way to keep her happy while I cooked dinner. This meal filled my tummy and put a smile on my face many times, hope you enjoy it.

 

Bon Apettit!

Honey-Garlic-Shrimp-and-Broccoli-1b

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined with tail on
  • Bag of Couscous
  • 1 ½ cup of broccoli
  • 1 teaspoon of minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon of minced ginger
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cook Couscous as per packet instructions
  2. Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a dish creating a marinade
  3. Place the raw shrimp in half of the sauce and allow to marinade (ideally for 15-30min). Discard the marinade
  4. Over medium to high heat in a skillet pan sear the shrimp in some oil , about 1 min per side
  5. Warm the remaining sauce in the skillet with the broccoli
  6. Place the shrimp on a bed of couscous and drizzle with the remaining sauce and broccoli

Totally addicted to……ME!!!

As a mommy (actually as a human)  I think it is very important to have a sense of well-being, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises. Just like you go to the gym or an exercise class to look after your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. You can boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy for your family by following a few simple steps.

  1. Connect with others. As a mom its easy to sacrifice your own friendships and get completely swallowed up in your kids lives. It’s important though to maintain your friendships and develop new ones with people who will support and enrich your life.
  2. Take time to enjoy. Making sure that before the day is over you have set aside time for hobbies, activities or projects you enjoy is important. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you. You may not be able to take time to enjoy yourself everyday but make sure you get a babysitter, set up a playdate or get your other half to look after the kiddos while you indulge in something that makes you happy. Hiking
  3. Participate and share interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health. Taking the time to join a club or a group who share your interests will keep you motivated and will help you connect.
  4. Contribute to your community. Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Do something nice for a friend, a neighbor. Get involved in your child’s school. There are so many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. They say that an effort to improve the lives of others is sure to improve your life too.
  5. Take care of yourself. As I have said before being active and eating well are important – these help maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. You don’t have to go to the gym to exercise – stay active. Combine physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish your body and mind and keep you feeling good, inside and out.              healthy mind.png
  6. Challenge yourself.  I find that as a mother I am challenged every day. Perhaps you need an extra challenge so you could learn a new skill or take on a challenge to meet a goal. You could take on something different at work; commit to a fitness goal or learn to cook a new recipe. Your mental fitness is improved when you learn. Meeting your own goals builds skills and confidence and gives you a sense of progress and achievement.
  7. Deal with stress. Be aware of what triggers your stress and how you react. Stress is a part of life and affects people in different ways. It only becomes a problem when it makes you feel uncomfortable or distressed. Find a way to wind down every day.
  8. Rest and refresh. Sleep restores both your mind and body. As a new mom it is hard to make sure you get plenty of sleep. It is important to try to go to bed at a regular time each day and practice good habits to get better sleep.
  9. Notice the here and now. As life gets chaotic around you don’t forget to simply ‘be’ in the moment. It’s easy to be caught up thinking about the past or planning for the future instead of experiencing the present.
  10. Ask for help. This can be as simple as asking a friend to babysit while you have some time out or speaking to your doctor about where to find a counsellor or community mental health service. The perfect, worry-free life does not exist. Everyone’s life journey has bumpy bits and the people around you can help. If you don’t get the help you need first off, keep asking until you do.

A mentally stable and happy mother is the best thing for her kiddos. It is easy to push our needs and prioritize those of the family. It’s tempting to do this but it is not sustainable, eventually you will crash and burn. You may find yourself screaming at your three year old for something minor or that you are constantly arguing with your other half. Before you know it things will be a mess and you won’t even know where to start to fix it. Make mental health and wellbeing a priority in your life today- Your family will thank you for it!

Be the Chef when you can’t have a Chef!

Growing up I was blessed & privileged enough to have a live in cook. This tends to be the norm in Mexico. Basically, my mother was never in the kitchen. In fact my mother HATES cooking and will tell you that with a smile on her face. The only downside to having a cook was that I never got to learn how to cook. Imagine what it was like for me when I got to University and couldn’t even cook pasta. I did what any normal student does and bought takeout but eventually my bank account was taking too much of a beating so I had to learn how to whip something up in the kitchen myself. I’m no Julia Child but at least I try. Now with two kids I have no choice but to cook healthy. Below is a recipe that I love to make that is quick and easy. When you have kids spending hours in the kitchen is simply not an option. I have to get in and get out in 30min or chaos ensues. Hope you enjoy the meal!

Bon Apettit

Honey orange glazed salmon

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 salmon fillets, skin removed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 14 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 18 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger, dried ground
  • Rice
  • Asparagus

 

DIRECTIONS

Salmon

  1. In a small bowl mix together honey, orange juice, soy sauce, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and ginger. Make sure you thoroughly combine the honey.
  2. Place salmon filets into the bowl and let it marinate for almost 1 hour. Turn occasionally to ensure even marination.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 F. Place the salmon into a dish and pour the remaining marinade over it.
  4. Place the salmon in the oven and roast in a 375 F oven for 12-15 minutes. Fish will be done when it flakes easily with fork.

 

Asparagus & Rice

  1. Cook the rice according to packet instructions.
  2. Trim the dry ends off of the asparagus. If the spears are thick, peel them lightly with a vegetable peeler.

Place them in the top half of the steamer pan set. Steam for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus, or until asparagus is tender.