Oh my goodness, you guys, it has been awhile since I’ve posted on here! I went back to work on October 12 after being off on a year-long maternity leave, and life has taken on a whole new level of busy! Here are some random things I’ve learned about being a working mom after a month of being back at work:
Working is a break from parenting – at work, I’m able to go to the bathroom whenever I want, enjoy my coffee uninterrupted, have a free lunch hour where I can go to the gym or go shopping, etc. I am so grateful to have had the luxury of a year-long mat leave, but I’m not going to lie, I love the independence of being back at work again.
That being said, there is no better feeling in the world than going home and seeing my baby’s big smile and outstretched arms, ready to embrace me!
I am exponentially more efficient at work after coming back from mat leave. With a baby and parental responsibilities waiting for me at home, I am not able to put in extra hours at work anymore. As a result – I am superhumanly efficient at work. Time spent away from my baby is a huge sacrifice so I make sure that every minute is utilized smartly. I’ve surprised myself with how much I’ve gotten done at work this month!
I am so tired. All the time.
I’ve never meal planned so hard in my life. With me working Mondays through Fridays, and my husband working shiftwork, all of our meals and grocery shopping trips are planned out at least a week in advance. Lunches are packed the night before, I know exactly what I’m having for breakfast the next morning, and our dinners are planned out for the week.
If you follow me on Instagram and watch my Insta-stories, you would have seen me experimenting with a new pasta recipe. This shrimp, asparagus and sun-dried tomato penne is definitely one of my new weekday favourites. I’m always on the lookout for easy weekday recipes that my baby can also enjoy, and pastas are usually a huge hit with both the baby and husband. We were over at a friend’s house for dinner last weekend, and they had served a shrimp and asparagus pasta. I had never thought to combine shrimp and asparagus in a pasta before, so I was inspired to create my own recipe.
This recipe was so delicious! The combination of tomato paste and heavy cream made a perfect rose sauce and the addition of freshly grated Parmesan added another hit of creamy texture. Make sure to buy a hunk of Parmesan cheese and grate it yourself though. It’s worth the expense! Pre-grated, canned Parmesan contains fillers in it and it doesn’t melt and combine as well.
I loved having these leftovers for lunch the next day, so I will for sure be adding this to my regular weekday meals rotation!
1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, chopped and drained
1 tbsp of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes
1 lb (one small bunch) of asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
15 pieces of uncooked Black Tiger shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined (feel free to use more shrimp!)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried crushed chili flakes
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used an Italian pinot grigio)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup heavy cream
one box (500 g) of penne
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and saute for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a bowl.
Add the sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, 1/4 cup basil, garlic, oregano, and chili flakes to the same skillet and saute until the shrimp are just pink, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the asparagus.
Add the chicken broth, wine, tomato paste and heavy cream to the same skillet. Boil until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring occasionally, about 7-8 minutes.
Turn the heat down low and add the shrimp/asparagus mixture into the sauce. Let it simmer on low.
Cook the penne according to package instructions. Drain and add the pasta to the skillet with the sauce.
Add remaining 1/4 cup of basil and the grated cheese.
Toss the pasta until the penne is well coated with the sauce.
My husband was the first man (first person, really) that I ever cooked for. We started dating on December 31, 2010, and it was my New Year’s resolution for 2011 to learn how to cook. Prior to 2011, I never cooked and all I had in my fridge were Diet Cokes, Grey Goose vodka and bagged salads. I still remember the first dish I made for my husband – it was a chocolate hazelnut banana french toast.
So he’s been my guinea pig from day 1, and he’s witnessed and experienced the evolution and improvement of my cooking. From that very first French toast, to date night steak dinners for two, and now to Vietnamese food and family meals.
My husband is very appreciative of my cooking skills and thanks me after every meal. I am appreciate of the fact that he will eat anything, because let me tell you, there have been times where my cooking experiments have gone awry and some of the meals are barely edible. My husband is a small town Saskatchewan boy so he’s a meat and potatoes kind of guy. I’ll make a fancy tagliatelle short rib bolognese and he’ll compliment it and eat it, but he’ll devour and rave over a simple steak and mashed potatoes dinner. Lately there’s been one very simple, very quick Italian sausage tortellini recipe that I make that he just loves. I made it the other day and he said “thank you for making my favourite meal”. I mean, that makes me feel great but why do I bother making fancy meals when this 20 minute meal makes him that happy?!
This pasta recipe is basically all packaged ingredients thrown together so prep time is minimal. All you need is a package of Johnsonville mild Italian sausage (I buy the ground version, not the actually sausage version), a package of Olivieri fresh filled pasta (I buy the one filled with Italian sausage), a jar of marinara sauce, some spinach or other type of greens, some chicken broth, an onion, a couple cloves of garlic and some olive oil. The greens are optional but I try to sneak vegetables and greens into every meal that we have and they do add a nice pop of colour to the dish.
Follow the instructions below and you have a quick and filling meal that literally takes 20 minutes to make! It’s such a simple meal that I pair it with one of our favourite wines, Liberty School Cabernet Sauvignon, just to elevate it a bit! Give this recipe and the wine a try and let me know what you think!
Hi everyone! Sorry for the long absence away from this blog. I’m still working out my schedule of when to cook and blog as a new mom. I think I have it figured out though. My husband works shift work, where he works blocks of four or five days and nights, and then has four or five days off. For the days where he is working, I for sure will not be posting on this blog as it is just me at home taking care of the baby and there are days I don’t even shower, let alone cook and blog about it. I will still be present on social media though, as it is amazing how much time I’ve spent on my phone while nursing the baby around the clock! On the four or five days that he is home, I will binge cook and binge post as much as I can while he watches the baby!
So for that reason, I am posting on this specific recipe on this chilly Saturday morning because:
The husband is upstairs napping with the baby
Butternut squash is in season
Butternut squash was on sale at Sobeys this week
I’ve been craving something hearty like pasta, but at the same time, I’ve been feeling super guilty that I haven’t been eating enough vegetables lately. This recipe is the best of both worlds – a creamy pasta that contains a whole squash in it!
This recipe calls for a cup of Parmesan cheese for the sauce, as well as some as a garnish on the pasta. I cannot stress enough that it is important to buy good quality Parmesan cheese, the kind that comes in a block and you have to grate yourself. Don’t buy the pre-shredded cheese that comes in a bag or a can – that stuff is preserved with chemicals and will ruin any recipe. For this recipe, I used a nice piece of Grana Padano cheese.
This recipe is adapted and modified from a recipe that I saw on those Tasty videos on Facebook.
This recipe would make for a great ‘Meatless Monday’ dinner, just substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock. We don’t have Meatless Mondays in our house as the husband is a huge carnivore so he actually adds a chicken breast onto his pasta.
Enjoy this recipe and I will be back soon with another one!
Melt the butter on medium heat in a large pot and add the onion, rosemary and sage. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the onions are soft. Turn up the heat to medium-high until the butter begins to brown (be careful not to let it burn).
Turn down the stove to medium again, and add in the diced butternut squash and the chicken stock. Give it a good stir, then cover the pot with a lid and let it cook for 15 minutes on the medium heat.
Uncover the pot and mash the butternut squash with a potato masher until all the squash is pureed. Add in 2 cups of milk and stir. Add in 1 cup of the grated Parmesan cheese and stir. Then add in the brown sugar, nutmeg, some salt and pepper to taste and stir until well blended.
Add in the fettucine noodles, then pour in 2 more cups of milk and 2 cups of water. You can break the fettuccine noodles in half if you want. I just stick them in the pot until the bottom half of the noodles are soft, then gently fold down the rest of the noodles until they are all submerged in the sauce.
Stir the pasta continuously so that it doesn't burn to the bottom of the pot and cook for 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
Top with salt, pepper and some more grated parmesan cheese for a hearty meal!