Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Trying New Things December 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 10:51 pm

Tomorrow is Reny’s birthday

and I just made a 4-inch New York style cheesecake

and Beef Bourguignon

(make ahead dishes so we can play all day!)

I have never made either of these dishes and if there is one thing is blog has done,

It has given me confidence in my cooking abilities.

I’ll let you know how they turn out …


Christmas Peanut Blossoms December 16, 2010

Filed under: Dessert!,For Helpers! — gastromami @ 1:26 pm



When I was growing up, baking cookies was an event

An all night, Frisina/Dahlkemper family event


3 kinds of cookies were always made:

Nana Helen’s cutouts

Peanut Blossoms

Press Cookies (ala Mr. Pete’s electric cookie press)





In recent years the tradition of baking together has fallen victim to the fact that all of us kids are now married/away/in school but the tradition of these cookies has not.

This year I decided to let Ren help … that is why there are no pictures – you try taking pictures while fingers are sneaking towards the dough mixing in the ‘will cut your fingers off’ Kitchenaid!


My “no pants” helper

How do kids KNOW that licking the batter off the spatula is the best part!?!?

Is it instinct?  Part of our evolution?


1 3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

About 48 milk chocolate kisses



Combine all ingredients except kisses.

Blend well at low speed.

Shape into balls.

Roll in red and/or green sugar

Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake at 375˚ for 10-12 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Top each cookie with a candy kiss, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around the edge.

Kisses become soft so they will need time (overnight) to firm up.


… mmmm … chocolate!


It was freezing … December 15, 2010

Filed under: "Fast Food",Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 8:48 pm

… but we went to the park anyway

No one was there but us

‘Cause, like I said, it was freezing.

20˚ – brrrr!

But we needed to play, outside.

So we did.



As we were walking home, the wind blowing our faces numb, my mind traveled to the warm world of hot cocoa.

My plan for the afternoon, however, was to decorate cookies, and I just couldn’t bring myself to give my 18-month old a cup full o’ chocolate just a few hours before he inevitably eats cookies and frosting.

So my mind continued traveling, right into the world of baked apples.





Growing up in Erie, we had bushels of apples hanging around throughout the fall.

My mom would core out the center, fill with cinnamon and sugar and bake while we were eating dinner – topped with some vanilla ice cream it was, and still is, one of my all time favorite desserts!

The main reason I don’t make baked apples often?

They take about an hour and I don’t usually plan my desserts that well.








But, the 5 block walk home was begging for some sweet, cinnamony, warm apples so we:

Diced 2 apples

Sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar


and tossed in the microwave for 4 minutes, stirring halfway

…. mmmmmmm …


I have a feeling that this simple snack will become a winter staple!


Crockpot Chicken December 14, 2010

Filed under: Slow Cooker — gastromami @ 9:30 pm

While we were staying at the hotel during our first month in Philadelphia, I fell in love with Di Bruno Bros.

Ren and I would walk around the city and stop there on our way home to grab some cheese, a baugette, milk or whatever else was needed in the fridge!  One night, with no real plan for dinner, I grabbed a rotisserie chicken from the prepared foods area.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

It was heaven in my mouth.

The tender, juicy meat was so good that even Ren, the vegetarian that he seems to be, gobbled up every last morsel on his plate.  Myself, I couldn’t help picking the sweet meat off the bones as I cleaned up our dinner dishes!

We are now in our new apartment and, with our bank account handling both a big-city rent and Memphis mortgage, (not to mention the, um, rather large weight gain between my last two OB visits), we are back to eating meals from scratch at home.  Not that I mind.

However, there is a still a great big city out there to explore and, I for one, don’t want to spend most of my day cooking!

Good thing I spent some time rediscovering my slow cooker before we moved!

I had read somewhere before that you could roast a chicken in a slow cooker and then, just a few days ago, I saw this post.

All those sweet memories of that rotisserie chicken came flooding back, filling my water mouth with desire.

My dad was coming in to town, so, instead of spending the first few hours of his visit cooking, I would have dinner going before he got there!

Amy from New Nostalgia adapted her recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking and I changed it to my liking from there:

In a bowl, mix:

3 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon oregano

pinch of chili pepper

Set aside.

Quarter 1 onion and peel 4 cloves of garlic.

Set aside.

Remove the gizzards from a 5 lb. organic chicken and rinse with cold water.

Pat dry.

Rub 1/4 of the spice mixture in the chicken cavity and stuff with the onion, garlic, and a few springs of fresh thyme.

Rub 1/2 of the remaining spice mixture on the breast side of the bird and place the chicken, breast down, in the crockpot.  Using the remaining spice mixture, coat the remainder of the bird, working into each and every yummy little crevice!

Do Not Add Water!

Cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4-5 hours.

Longer Cooking = Tender Meat

** Don’t throw away the chicken carcass!  Save and use for homemade stock!

Ren approved!

(that’s a sorta ‘cheese’)


Hotel Food, Part 3 December 7, 2010

Filed under: Dessert! — gastromami @ 12:23 pm



How #2 is different … December 5, 2010

Filed under: Pregnancy — gastromami @ 8:30 am

While doing my prenatal yoga

I focus my energy on

not losing it on the toddler

who just emptied my newly stocked, folded drawers

rather than sending loving energy to

“the growing life within”


Hotel Food, Part 2 December 4, 2010

Filed under: "Fast Food" — gastromami @ 1:11 pm

New York Strip

Cooked in saute pan, 5 minutes each side

Rest for 15 minutes

Mashed Potatoes

365 Brand, Boxed – NEVER AGAIN!

Sautéed Spinach

As the steak is resting, add 2 cloves garlic to the hot meat drippings.  Cook 1 minute and add handfuls of fresh spinach.  Cook until wilted;  about 5 minutes.


Ren goggled-up to dig for dinosaur bones at the Academy of Natural Sciences