The One Pot Pasta Disaster (What NOT To Do)

I was so excited about this recipe for a one pot pasta, that I dedicated a whole post, here on this miracle dish.

I AM still pretty excited about this dish. But two days after the first very successful and yummy attempt, I tried the recipe again, and it bombed. Big time.

Instead of using seafood and brocoli, I went with canned tuna and carrots. Yes. An odd combination, but it was the end of the week, and I had na-da in the fridge! I also had the very wrong impression that this, while an easy dish, was in no way a fail-proof dish.

So, in all fairness, I decided I needed to make a public service announcement on what NOT to do when attempting this dish.

How To NOT Mess Up The One Pot Pasta Dish:

#1: Use a suitable pasta. For this failed attempt, I only had one last packet of the Coles’ house brand thin spaghetti (or what we know as “angel’s hair”). BAD IDEA. Try a thicker cut like frattucine or penne instead – because my spaghetti became chalky and downright URGH, and there seemed no way to salvage the dish, except chuck it in the bin.

#2: Don’t forget to add olive oil to the mix. I forgot and did you get the memo? Disaster!

#3: Stir. Stir. Stir. So that the pasta wouldn’t stick together!

Now – which mistake did I make? All of the above, which translated to an unedible meal, and this cautionary post.

Getting Used To Being A SAHM

sahm

I used to be someone with ‘proper responsibilities’.

You know, working full time as an Office Manager meant I got to dress up every day. It meant I had emails to answer. Staff to manage. Problems to troubleshoot. Minutes to complete. Purchases to approve. People to meet. Contracts to draft.

Coming over to Australia meant I had to give up my job, and I found myself suddenly … Not important. Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids but if I was honest, it was a struggle, especially in the first few months. I had to find my footing, and more importantly, my sense of worth. As a person. After more than a decade in the workforce, suddenly “just” being a Stay at Home Mum sure needs some getting used to.

Suddenly my mobile phone could be left unattended for long stretches at a time.

Suddenly the term “deadline” seems… distant and remote.

And suddenly I felt a little like a fish out of water.

Not all changes are bad, of course. And in the last year, I get to a lot of time with my kids, whom I adore to bits.

I get to be there to snuggle beside them, shower them with kisses, watch them grow – and just in the last year alone, I look back at their photos and am shocked by how fast they’ve grown.

But it sure doesn’t change the fact that I feel a lot less useful. And probably this is the struggle other women are familiar with – the change of pace once you trade in that work dress for a shabbier albeit more comfortable pair of pedal pushers.

This post probably sounds a lot more morose than I mean it to be. I am in no way complaining about not having to work my butt off, or that I get to eat brunch at cool cafes, or that we get to go long road trips every so often. These are definitely the highlights of life in Sydney, and one that we are happy to live to the fullest, while God has placed us here. And I know full well that when we return to Singapore, we will be plunged right back into the full steam of things, and we would both probably miss life over here badly.

But.

It took me a while to get into a stage of acceptance.

To feel comfortable in my own skin, and to be happy. Right here, right now. So many of my friends would tell me they envied my lifestyle – but honestly, when I am doing my third laundry cycle for the day (and I do the laundry almost every day), and when I see the stack of unironed clothes just humming my name, or the mountain of dirty dishes twiddling their thumbs, and when it takes unbearably long for the boys to fall asleep (when I can sleep at the drop of a hat), when the baby girl gets all clingy and needy and hungry (and my boobs are threatening a boycott)… I must say it ain’t as glamorous or as “tai-tai” (Singaporean English meaning a lifestyle of a wealthy, laidback and carefree lady) a life.

But one thing that helped me get a move on – was the revelation that we all have different seasons in our lives, and we all go through changes, in one way or another. The worst thing you can do is to get “stuck” – in the old, in the past “regime” or the way it “used” to be – and if you get stuck in the past, well, you see life in the now through those tinted glasses, and you won’t get very far in the now.

When I was working full-time, my supervisors had a few changes through the years. And each has his or her own style. I found myself having to “adapt” to each because simply giving the reason that this was the way certain things were done “all along” just wouldn’t cut it! Now, I answer to four “bosses” in the home, especially when it comes to dinner-time, and it is a whole different barrel of fish having four different appetites and preferences! Looking back – I think my bosses at work were MUCH easier to please! Haha!

Being a SAHM sure has its challenges, but I *think* I am getting the hang of things… somewhat. Haha!

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The One Pot Pasta

Or, in other words… the miracle dish.

I read a couple of blog posts on this, and I got to admit, this seems TOO EASY to be true. And then I decided to risk some seafood marinara I bought from the Fish Market, and figured, it would either be a hit dish, or… we would be having MacDonald’s for dinner.

Now, if you read some of my posts, you would understand I am no domestic goddess, but life with three kids means dinner preparation needs to be easy and simple and delicious and a breeze to clean up, and sometimes preferably all of the above. In fact, one tip I have as a Stay At Home Mom is to do “one-pot meals“. Oh, but sometimes, one-pot meals may require more than one pot. Pastas are one example of this – cos one usually boils the pasta in a separate pot before combining with the sauce.

But not this recipe. Oh no, this is the ultimate one-pot meal. Cos you put DRY pasta in with all the ingredients and cook it all. TOGETHER.

Can you see why I was such a skeptic (in the beginning)? Even the hubby, seeing the “soup” probably readied himself for some burgers! Haha!

Well, I started with preparing the ingredients. I poured 500g of the seafood marinara, 500g of dried pasta (I used penne, but really any kind of pasta will do – just choose one with a longer cooking time of more than 10 minutes, or it might get too soggy), broccoli florets, 1/2 onion (sliced), 3 cloves of garlic (minced) and enough water to cover all the ingredients. As I didn’t have enough low-sodium chicken stock (which I planned to use), I popped a small chicken stock cube into the mix as well.

one pot 1

And I put this on the stove on high heat, And waited.

Once the water started boiling, I would stir the mixture – so that nothing would get stuck at the bottom of the pot. And the clear water slowly turned murkier as the starch from the pasta worked some magic. Continue cooking till most of the water has evaporated, and you will be left with something that looks like this:

 

one pot

Cooked pasta. Cooked seafood. In a creamy sauce.

Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t think I will ever cook pasta any other way again.

This recipe is so, so versatile. Add chopped tomatoes, or chilli flakes, or a variety of other ingredients to whip up your favourite pasta recipe, and dinner will be done in under 20 minutes.

(Recipe has been adapted from Martha Stewart, link here.)

One Pot Seafood Marinara Pasta
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Using just a single pot, cook up a yummy pasta dinner in under 20 minutes!
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Pasta
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500g dry pasta (use one with a longer cooking time of between 10-13 minutes for best results)
  • 500g seafood marinara
  • 3 cloves of garlic (grated)
  • ½ onion (sliced)
  • 1 cup of broccoli florets
  • Low-sodium chicken stock or water (enough to cover the ingredients in pot)
  • Salt & pepper (optional)
  • Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients in a pot. Cook on high heat. When the water starts to boil, make sure you stir and turn the pasta frequently. Boil off most of the water.
  2. Serve with grated parmesan cheese

Not my typical Talkative Thursday post, but hey – I was so stoked to have prepared dinner in under 20 minutes, I am sure you get my excitement to blog about this! Haha! Come and share your link if you have a lengthy Thursday post too!

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The One Week Of Happy-ness

So I was totally bogged down the last two weeks.

The family came over for a week-long visit. I had some freelance work due. And I was busy, busy, busy.

Now that the family is back in Singapore, life has resumed some semblance of normalcy.

But boy oh boy, having my mom and sisters here sure reminded me of the one good thing about having family close by. There is someone else to help with the kids.

Yes. Someone to offload the boys on.

Hallelujah!

I’ve had some Sydney friends offering to babysit the boys so Nic and I could have some alone-time. We’ve never taken them up on this offer because (1) I feel bad about putting someone out just so I can hang loose with the hubby and (2) we hang loose every morning when the three kids are in school already! Haha! So I’ve never caught on to this “babysitter” thing, and we are happy to spend time with the boys AND with friends, so it’s worked out well so far.

But.

Family is different.

Especially family whose primary purpose in the 8-hour flight is to spend time with the kids. Sure. Sleepover in the hotel. 5 people in a single hotel room on a single king-sized bed? How will they cope? Till my sis said, “No worries, we will settle it la.”

Hallelujah.

Someone ELSE to put the boys to bed.

2014-06-14 09.43.34

And where they get to chill like kings. Turning on the telly the MOMENT they open their eyes in the morning. Having breakfast served to them. Being fed (even though they are perfectly capable of eating on their own). Toy shopping galore. Ok, in terms of quantity, they don’t have a lot – but they did burn a big hole in their grandfather’s wallet, by getting a Wii-U for the house. I managed to scoot three more games in (cos the console in one thing, but the games ain’t cheap either!) and we “ration” out play time for the boys almost every day.

Is it any wonder why Jay is having “withdrawal symptoms” after the family left?

P6130046

Oh, but we discovered this most delightful little place – and I hope to find time to blog about it soon!

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What was your child’s first word?

My kids are late-starters. By that, I mean they started walking late, talking late. As compared to the “normal” standards, that is.

But I am not too concerned or bothered about these developmental milestones. Jay started walking only when he was about 13, 14 months. So did Xavier. And it looks like my little princess isn’t keen to beat her brothers in that either (she is 13 months and still prefers crawling).

When it comes to the first word, it is pretty much the same. Jay’s first recognizable word came at around 14 months – with a distinct “GEEE-TAR”. Not “Mummy” or even “Daddy”… but his favourite red guitar toy. By 18 months, he soon sped along, and was happily yakking away. Now at 6, his vocabulary has expanded and his love for talking no less diminished.

And I am sorry to say this, but I cannot for the life of me recall Xavier’s first word. I am not talking about the babble or the inaudible, hard-to-make-out words, but something that is instantly and undisputedly recognized, and I cannot recall what Xavier’s first words were. #BestMumEver

Xavier also wasn’t as chatty as Jay. But that was a year back. Now, at three years old, it is like he has turned the corner and something switched on in his brain… and his mouth is talking. All. The. Time. If it is hard to get a three year old to listen, it is 10 times harder to get one to keep quiet!

So with Zoie, we were pretty blase about her speaking ability. Can she call Mummy or Daddy? Nope – sure she mumbles and chatters indistinctly, and even without words, she gets her point across very well. Such as gritting her teeth and growling at Xavier when he tries to get a toy back from her hands.

But a few days ago, we heard our little princess say her first word. The same word many times. Jay, Xav, the hubby… we all heard it. And it is pretty unanimous what that word was.

choclat

Yes. Zoie’s first word is… “Chocolate.”

Or, as how she pronounces it, “cho-clat.”

I kid you not.

What was your kid’s first word?