Easy Recipe: Mushroom Pasta

Easy Recipe: Mushroom Pasta

mushroom pasta recipe

Contributed by Mariel Uyquengcio of The Learning Basket

The excitement of looking up recipes on All Recipes and whipping up hearty and good-looking meals for my husband during the early days of our marriage waned as soon as I had my first child. I realized early on that I’d rather give messy baths, wipe smelly bottoms, read endlessly, dance like crazy, and sing off-key with my kids than chop, mince, sauté and stir.

But we still have to cook, don’t we? And preferably healthy and easy-to-prepare meals that will allow us to blissfully and quickly go back to what we would rather be doing. So, I’m giving you the easiest pasta recipe that you’ll ever make. It’s from my kitchen wizard of a mother-in-law who was cooking gourmet at home way before everybody else was taught by television chefs.

I had to learn this recipe because it’s my daughter’s absolute favorite. She even gave it its name in our home… Black Pasta. (And there’s no squid ink anywhere.)

mushroom pasta recipe - mushrooms

Here’s what you need:

  • 1/2 cup garlic
  • 1/2 cup black mushrooms (rehydrated)
  • 1/2 cup champignon mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup black fungus mushrooms (rehydrated)
  • 1/2 cup black olives
  • 1/2 cup capers
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

mushroom pasta recipe

What to do:

1. Mince your garlic, mushrooms, olives and capers into almost the same size and put in separate containers.

2. Heat up your pan and olive oil.

3. Sauté garlic, add the mushrooms and stir occasionally until cooked.

4. Add the black olives and capers.

5. Add the red wine and simmer. Add olive oil if it dries up.

6. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

I’m not going to tell you how to cook your pasta, which may be penne, spaghetti or the thinner angel hair. What’s really great about this olive oil-based pasta sauce, though, is that you can keep a lot in the fridge and use it on things other than pasta! My husband likes it as a dressing on his sandwich or as an omelette filling. You can also put it on crackers for some fancy hors d’oeuvre.

mushroom pasta recipe

Once you’ve tried making this once, feel free to experiment and use any mushroom that you have on hand, in any measurement. I just had to include measurements here so you can try it, but really, I just chop, mince, and eyeball how much I put in it. If you want it salty, add more capers. Really, no matter how I play around with it, it still comes out delicious every time!

I hope you’ll enjoy this tasty and healthy mushroom pasta recipe. Though all that mincing might take some time, storing it in the ref will be a lifesaver especially on those days that you’d rather focus on what you love to do.

What’s your easiest pasta recipe? Do share!

(My friend Chiqui of Delight Food Styling & Photography was by our house for a playdate when I cooked this. Thank you, Chiqui for taking the photos!)
Blissful Parenting with Positive Discipline

Blissful Parenting with Positive Discipline

positive discipline

by Mariel Uyquiengco of The Learning Basket

Being a mother is hands down one of the best things that has ever happened to me.

Parenting my 7- and 4-year old provides me with one learning experience after another. It’s a never-ending cycle of getting to know myself and my kids as I learn how to parent them in different phases and stages.

Just like most new moms, I was overly excited when my firstborn arrived. I did everything that parenting books and my older sister recommended… and probably more haha!Though I’d rather not label myself, you can say that I was a breastfeeding, baby wearing and cloth diapering mama… and will be again soon.

Of all that I learned, though, stumbling into positive discipline has been one of the milestones in my parenting journey. It has become my framework for building the foundation to my kids’ hearts and characters.

Positive Discipline

Positive discipline is all about teaching children in a kind and respectful way. After all, the word discipline comes from the Latin word “disciplinare,” which means to “teach.” (No, I don’t know any Latin but I do know how to ask  Mr. Google!) There’s no need for punishment, humiliation and scaring tactics when dealing with children.

It has definitely made parenting more blissful in our home.

Positive discipline made me realize that there is a better way to parent, one that does not suck out my energy the way that yelling, nagging and spanking do.

We hug. We talk. We connect. I let the children figure things out on their own and just step in when they’re about to hit each other… or have already.

These positive tools have helped pave the path for the generally peaceful way that my husband and I parent our kids. “Generally” because we are not perfect and we continue to work at being positive parents everyday.

Determining my long-term goals for my kids, rather than just putting a temporary plug to prevent undesired behavior, has undoubtedly improved my relationship with them. Seeing their mistakes as opportunities to learn – and showing them how to deal with these mistakes – not only saves me the trouble of doing everything for them, but also helps teach them resilience, patience, and perseverance.

As my kids get older and the family gets bigger with another daughter coming soon, I am fairly certain that our responsibility to discipline and instill values in our children will be an ever-changing affair.

They will go through different phases and stages as they grow and I have to be equipped to handle these changes as they come. I am hoping though that because we are intentional about training them by practicing positive discipline, the journey will be nothing short of blissful.

Are you blissful in parenting your children? Do share in the comments!

Are You Fashioning the Life You Want to Live?

Are You Fashioning the Life You Want to Live?

life is what you make of it _

by Mariel of The Learning Basket

I was the most miserable person in all my years of working in my previous career. But money, job security and fear of the unknown made me stay for more than a decade. What a waste of time, right?

It was also because I felt guilty for wanting to do away with the opportunities that my “exclusive” education has given me. I even asked my mom, in one teary conversation, if I would be wasting their efforts in giving me the education that I had if I jumped ship and took care of the kids.

But motherhood gave me the impetus to clarify my priorities and the courage to pursue my happiness. I wasn’t happy with one aspect of my life (good thing it was just my career!) and I told myself that enough was enough – I was going to fashion the life that I wanted.

I think that it is important, especially as we celebrate Women’s Month, to feel empowered to design the life that we want for ourselves. I knew in my heart that I had to be home with my kids but at the same time pursue what I wanted to do, which was to build my business.

And after finally taking the leap two years ago, I am much happier now and proud that I was brave enough to change my life.

life is what you make of it

It wasn’t an easy road. I started, retreated fearfully and just tried again. Here are some of the things that I learned as I crafted the life that I wanted.

1. Throw away the “shoulds”

I threw away the “shoulds” in my life, as in “I should slave away in the I.T. industry because that’s what I was trained for.” I threw away “I can’t quit because I should be earning this much.”

Throwing away the pressure on yourself to be something or someone is the first step in living the life that you want.

2. Acknowledge your passion

I’ve been into writing ever since I can remember and have used it as a creative outlet. My passion for early childhood education, on the other hand, was unlocked when I became an aunt and then eventually a mom.

The thought of pursuing my passions scared me at first, because after all, I did not have formal training in them. But acknowledging my passions led me to the next step, which was to…

3. Take small but consistent steps

I did not shirk away from my interests and instead embraced what came my way.

One advice that I got from a friend when I asked her about wanting to write was, “Just write. You don’t have to wait for a project in order to write.” So I made my own project (my blog) and wrote away.

It excited me and gave me something to look forward to. After almost four years, I’m still writing for it and other publications to boot!

4. Jump

All those small, consistent steps gave me a bit of confidence to say, “Hey! I can do this!” I jumped and left my old life when it seemed like I could make something of myself. I was ready to make life the way I wanted it.

Looking at the life I led before, at how I tried to brush away the feelings of discontent, I wonder what took me so long to do this.

Everyday now, I am thankful for the life and career I have fashioned for myself. I get to homeschool my children, go to the salon on weekdays (and write this on my notebook while my feet are up), and still work on my own terms.

What steps have you taken to make your life the way you want it? 

3 Ideas for Intentional Social Media Engagement

3 Ideas for Intentional Social Media Engagement

meaningful social media engagement

By Mariel Uyquiengco of The Learning Basket

Confession: The time that The Learning Basket could make a lot of sales selling children’s books online (Christmas season!) is also the time that I naturally withdraw from social media without really meaning to. This has gone on for three years now, against all reason.

Maybe by the end of the year I am already tired of all the sharing and liking over Facebook and Instagram that has taken place over the previous months, so when the holidays come around I’m just dead beat on social media.

What happens then is that I start to limit my online exposure to once-a-day email checks rather than my usual compulsive checking throughout the day. I turn off the WiFi connectivity on my phone and write my articles by hand. I set aside the work that continues to pile up and instead spend lots of quality time with my kids, which is how it’s supposed to be anyway, right?

I’ve always been ambivalent about social media. I know I need to be out there, constantly clicking away, uploading, commenting and liking, as I rely on social media for my business. But at the same time, I’ve made a commitment to myself not to miss out on the magic of the moments that pass by with my kids at home.

Pulling away is something that my instinct has naturally led me to during the holiday season, and for that I am actually grateful. Come the new year, it wasn’t easy getting back into the groove of blogging and interacting digitally. Now, after more than a month of restful silence, I still find myself a bit reluctant to come out of my peaceful shell.

Slowly but surely, though, I am getting back out there, enriched and refreshed by the time I spent outside the web and in the real world. I’ve also firmed up and become more confident of my intentional and blissful approach to social media.

1. Post with intention.

I rarely post about my personal life, and this works for me. Even on my personal accounts, I focus on sharing things that are related to my advocacies – hands-on parenting, homeschooling and reading.

For instance, during last year’s Blissmakerie, I was in a bit of a bind trying to figure out how to meaningfully post about a cronut. In the end, I shared about how cronut making-could be a fun activity to do with the kids. Mission accomplished.

Here's the cronut I designed! You can find it on my Instagram @thelearningbasket

Here’s the cronut I designed! You can find it on my Instagram @thelearningbasket

2. Market ideas and inspiration.

I aim to always uplift and inspire in my posts. I try to do this by taking on a positive tone and filtering out unnecessary negativity. Ultimately, I share parenting and learning ideas and pass on inspiration every day. This is how I make interactions meaningful for those within my network.

3. Be myself.

Last and most important, I aim to be happy with who I am. I do most of my work out here in the big, wide web, but I still prefer to just share myself up to a point, and without revealing all of myself. And though there is increasing pressure to be “more friendly” and “more approachable” and “more personal” in my social media dealings, I am happy with my self-imposed online code of behavior.

I believe that we engage meaningfully in social media when we wisely choose what we share out there.

How do you make your social media interactions more meaningful?

On forgiving ourselves and moving on

On forgiving ourselves and moving on

tomorrow is another day etsy

Photo credit: Etsy’s AllisStudio

I’ve been feeling a bit tired lately. Well, okay, a lot actually. Juggling a business, a writing career, family life, and homeschooling has never been and will never be easy; but the past month has been particularly tough and I am tired.

Articles are hurriedly written, business tasks are put off, my kids’ lessons can be more thought out. Oh, and blog posts can be written more regularly. Slowly burning out, perhaps?

But I’m not given to complaining. This admission of tiredness is just to provide you context as I share with you my secret mantra that keeps me going even when the going gets tough:

After all, tomorrow is another day.

Isn’t that beautiful? It comes by way of Scarlett O’ Hara at the end of my all-time favorite book, Gone with the Wind. Through all the hardships that she faced, she was still full of hope and optimism. She believed that the past belongs to the past and the next day is another chance to do better and to succeed.

Despite all her scheming and cheating (she’s one tough gal), her indomitable spirit is what she is most remembered for. She, who lost everything, had a bottomless well of hope to carry on and face the next day and the next and the next.

Whenever I feel tired, listless, and disappointed in myself for being too lazy and gasp, for daring to feel tired, I remember Scarlett’s wise words and give myself another chance to be better. I erase yesterday and start anew today.

Of course, this is not to say that I can excuse myself because “tomorrow is another day.”  When I begin to feel the stirrings of tiredness, discontentment, and guilt, I learn from the past and take action to really make tomorrow into a new day. Here’s what I do.

 1. I reflect

When I’m in the doldrums and find myself wanting to just sleep all day, I take it as a sign that there’s something wrong with how I’m doing things. To be honest, it’s usually because I feel that I’m working too much and might be shortchanging my kids. Totally not what I had in mind when I started working from home!

So, I think about what’s taking my precious time away from my little ones, what I can give up, how I can do things differently, and proceed to number two.


2. I tweak

I know what my priorities are, but having found my vocation just recently, I really can’t stop myself from working all the time!

So, the first thing that I tweak is our routine. I analyze when my kids are more open to learning, and I work around it. I used to dedicate my mornings to them, but since a lot seems to be going on at breakfast, I decided to change it around. I now work in the mornings and I’m much more relaxed because of it.

I play around too with their bath time. Instead of insisting on giving them a bath after breakfast, I tried to just let them go and play the whole morning away. So far, bath time after lunch and before learning time seems the best.


3. I purge

I’m a naturally slightly untidy person. I let paperwork clutter my desk until you can’t see any part of the surface anymore. However, I recently made up my mind to do a better job at looking after my mess.

Hmmm. I lasted about three weeks before things got left unsorted on the desk again. Oh, and I forgot to mention about our piles and piles of children’s books all around.

So, when I’m feeling grumpy and a little bit off-center, I clean up my desk, which is very therapeutic, and straighten up our books too. Though this takes a lot of time (three bookshelves of children’s books, anyone?), I feel relieved and energized after cleaning up.


4. I act

After I’m done reflecting and cleaning up, I find myself ready for a reset. I just do the changes I’ve thought of and hope for the best. I force myself to slow down and relax, to enjoy my kids more because they’re the reason why I’m doing all these.

This capacity to forgive myself and move on from whatever failings I feel I have keeps me sane and upbeat. It makes me get up every day, brave to start anew in everything that I do. As Scarlett determinedly said, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”


What do you tell yourself to keep yourself from succumbing to tiredness and feelings of failure?