Shrimp with Tomato and Feta

roasted shrimp with tomatoes and feta cheese

“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new” Rajneesh

 

I never needed my mother more than the very first day I became a mother.

The day I delivered my daughter Maddy (who’s now 13!), I worked from 8:00a-6:00p and complained of cramps from 8:00a-6:00p.

How was I supposed to know I was in labor?

It was two weeks before my due date and I had never had labor pains before.  It was also the hottest day on record for April 17th, 2002.  The mercury rose to 92 degrees and unfortunately for me, I was only outfitted in maternity clothes appropriate for winter and early spring.

So, stretching a regular-sized small tank top over my 9-month pregnant belly was not an easy task.  Hence the cramps all day, right?

Fast-forward to 11:35p (that same day). I was holding my very healthy, beautiful, blue-eyed baby girl. And, one day later, I headed home panicked that I had a beautiful blue-eyed baby that was MINE.

MINE to bathe.  MINE to feed.  MINE to console.  MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE. MINE.

Help.

I was the youngest of three.  I was always the one babied.  Even when I was leaving for college, my mom packed with/for me (ask my sister if she packed for her).  Reluctantly I took my baby out of the car in her little snap-n-go, traveled up to my apartment carrying the “unwieldy load,” opened the door, and in that moment everything calmed.

I was engulfed by the sweetest smells.

The music playing.

The nursery set and read-to-go–and Mom in the kitchen.

Thanks to Mom –Mommy Poppins—I felt coddled, comforted, safe and more primed to face my newest challenge: motherhood.

She committed herself to be my confidante, post-partum punching bag, chef, shoulder-to-cry on, stroller walking partner, dirty-diaper changer and much more for my first two weeks home.  Two weeks of advice, comfort, wisdom and companionship with a very healthy newborn.  For those two weeks I felt more like a very lucky daughter than a new mother.

It’s strange to think that certain food smells can be reassuring.

I remember the sweet tomatoes and garlic wafting from the stove and how they immediately made me sense Mom’s presence the moment I crossed the threshold of our door.  These smells confirmed to me that I was going to be okay—at least for the two weeks Mom was staying with me.

Mom’s Shrimp with Feta and Tomato Sauce was all we needed for our “first meal.” It pre-empted  any type of potential stress associated with parenthood.  That night, we only relished in the good food being served rather than on the fear associated with the parental unknown.

That civilized meal earmarked our first night home as new parents about to begin our uncharted journey.

I decided to cook Mom’s Shrimp with Tomato and Feta dish for our first weekend night home alone as a family of two without my daughter and son who left for sleep away camp for 7 weeks!

I needed to cook something soothing and obviously this dish came to mind.  I was thrilled that I had all the ingredients on hand except for the shrimp.  The prep time was a breeze but equally emotional as I envisioned Mom prepping this meal in my apartment kitchen, anticipating my arrival from the maternity ward.

Shrimp prepped and waiting….

It wasn’t until I was staring down at my own skillet bubbling full of the familiar ripe tomatoes, garlic, shrimp and wine sauce that I felt transported back to April 2002– when I first crossed into my apartment not just as someone’s daughter but as a mother too.

The meal is always bittersweet for me as it is a constant reminder of  how intense it is has been for me to be a mother without having my own mother.

Mom and my daughter - although sick with only a cold at that point, nothing would stop her from helping out.

Mom and my newborn (circa 2002) – although sick with only a cold at that point, nothing would stop her from helping out.

 

Summer Broccoli Salad

broccolisalad

When I’m in a pinch for green side for a meal, I go to broccoli. Usually it’s served sautéed with some olive oil, sea salt and a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese.

During the dog days of summer, cool broccoli for crunch in a salad definitely sounds more appealing than some warm sautéed broccoli.

Fresh chilled broccoli salad is an ideal side to any lunch picnic or dinner. With raisins, raw broccoli, BACON, some red onions and a bit of mayonnaise, it satisfies all the taste buds and more! And, it tastes just as good the following day.

The confluence of the sweet, salty, creamy flavors is insane.

Just another side dish add to your repertoire.  Feel free to experiment with other vegetable additions and share here.

Try it!

Mango, Avocado and Black Bean Salad

mango avocado black bean

My prerequisites for a summertime salad are: it must be easy to make,  it muse take little to no time in the kitchen, and it must taste light and refreshing.  Oh, and bonus if it incorporates the use of fruit.

This Mango, Avocado and Black Bean salad recipe is one of my favorites because it contains all of the qualities listed above.  And, it’s beautifully colorful too.

We do love mango and try to get our fill during the summer either as a casual snack, sliced into pieces, or in our soup recipe, chilled Mango Gazpacho –it’s a nice precursor to any grilled meal.

The beset part about the salad is that it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days and the flavors keep improving.  And, you can get creative and  serve it with crunchy vegetables like cucumbers and/or jicama.  Obviously this is ideal for BBQs and picnics.

 

Chocolate Pudding Pops

finalpop

This snack is perfect for any hot summer day.

I originally got the genius pudding pops idea from the blog Chocolates and Dreams. It immediately peaked my interest. Although, I knew I would have to tweak it to make it kid-friendly (in place of coffee and rum I added in some pure vanilla).

Jello Pudding Pops were my childhood fave so, why not try to create something similar from scratch at home? Plus, the recipe is quick and easy (all the ingredients can be found in your well-stocked pantry) another seamless opportunity to involve the kids.

When school’s out for the summer, you can spend an afternoon with your“Pudding Pop Experiment “ where the pudding base (cocoa and sugar and milk) is mixed and whipped by your mad scientists.

The recipe is simple (requiring no real culinary skill) so both of my kids are able to make their own “pop potions” with very little guidance (except for the microwave — I was the designated “heat helper” here).

puddinmolds

We poured the chocolate pudding into ice pop molds, placed them in the freezer, and waited for our molds to transform into [Read more…]

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