Learning to cook … one kid at a time

Kid & Computers Don’t Mix January 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — gastromami @ 12:15 pm

I know, it doesn’t seem that long ago that I posted on this very subject from my phone but here we go again …

Our brand new, month old, MacBook fell victim to a full glass of water knocked over by my overexcited toddler

“good thing we bought the extended warranty” we thought – until Reny went to the Apple store where they informed us that the warranty does not cover water damage

Since November we have had one expensive item after another break or need replaced (computer, washer & dryer, camera to name a few) and had to spend money on our home in Memphis removing trees before the Spring tornado season – all while needing to put some love into the home we are living in! I’m beginning to wonder if all those smashed side mirrors of my early 20’s are collecting on their “7 years of bad luck” promises.

So for now, until we can figure out how to fix this computer without shelling out (what’s left) of our life’s saving or selling our firstborn (though temping as it may seem during these Terrible Twos), I’m signing off of GastroMami



Soft Pretzels January 23, 2012

Yes – I have posted a recipe for soft pretzels before

It is the recipe I grew up making with my mom – the smell of which brings back sweet childhood memories of shaping our pretzels into letters & smelling the rising yeast as the snow fell outside

Fiona was sick (for the first time poor girl) this week so Ren & I were experiencing some mad cabin fever

The kind of cabin fever that has you skip the “fast and easy” recipe in favor of the more involved kind

Since these pretzels achieve their crispy, brown crust from a quick boil in water & baking soda, this recipe comes from Mr. Kitchen Science himself: 

Alton Brown

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt

In your stand mixing bowl combine water, sugar & kosher salt

Sprinkle the yeast on top and let stand for 5 minutes, to form a ‘sponge’

Measure out the flour & melt butter

Add flour & butter to the sponge and, using your dough hook, mix on low speed until combined

Increase speed to medium and knead until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl – 4 to 5 minutes

Remove dough from bowl & wash bowl

After drying the bowl, coat the inside of the bowl with vegetable oil and place dough inside

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit, in a warm spot, until dough doubles in size (about an hour)

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease with vegetable oil

Pre-heat oven to 450˚

Bring 10 cups water and baking soda to a rolling boil on the stove

Once dough has risen, split into 8 equal pieces and let your helper roll into “snakes”

Make a pretzel shape by crossing each “snake,” twisting and doubling back over the ‘loop’ end

Place pretzels on oiled parchment paper

Drop pretzels, one at a time, into boiling water

Boil for 30 seconds

Remove with a slotted spatula (a fish spatula worked great for me!)

Return the pretzels to the baking sheets lined with oiled parchment

Brush each pretzel with the egg yolk & water mixture

Sprinkle with pretzel (or kosher like I did) salt

Bake at 450˚ for 12-14 minutes until dark, golden brown

Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving

Ren approved!


Pizza & “Monkey” Ice Cream January 21, 2012

Filed under: Dessert!,For Helpers!,Recipes — gastromami @ 12:37 pm

Ren & I are going through a rough mommy/toddler patch but at least, for now, we can still bond over cooking together!

For starters we had his favorite pizza:


Trader Joe’s herb pizza dough, pesto, sliced tomatoes, goat cheese, topped with arugula tossed in balsamic vinegar & olive oil

and we finished with some homemade “Monkey Ice Cream”

Chocolate Frozen Yogurt with Caramelized Bananas from Food & Wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large ripe bananas, cut into 1-inch rounds

(I used 3 small-ish bananas)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons 2 percent milk
2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

(I also added 1 ounce walnuts, finely chopped)

Peel bananas and slice into 1″ rounds

Melt butter in a nonstick saute pan

Place bananas in a single layer and sprinkle with the light brown sugar

Saute over medium heat until caramelized (about 8 minutes)

Remove the pan from heat and add rum, swirl around pan to dissolve the sugar

Place 2/3 of the bananas in a mini food processor with 3 tablespoons milk

Mix until smooth

Chop remaining bananas and put in freezer until ready to use

Whisk together the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, salt & 1/2 cup milk

Mix in yogurt until smooth

Mix in banana puree

Pour ice cream base into ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions

When the ice cream is almost frozen, add the walnuts and chocolate

Transfer to an airtight container and freeze until solid (at least 2 hours)


Ren approved!


Being Married to a Chef can be a Challenge … January 20, 2012

Filed under: Things that make me smile — gastromami @ 1:06 pm

… and that is what I’m blogging about over at Married to a Chef today!

And now, a token picture of my children & a little glimpse into my daily life


small style: leftover Christmas January 19, 2012

Filed under: Small Style — gastromami @ 8:05 pm

Is he not just the cutest?

I recently read a post, or FB status, or tweet or something online about moms

and how we can’t wait to get our toddlers into bed

and then, once they are asleep, we moms look at pictures & cry about how fast they are growing up

That is me tonight

Ren has discovered that the best way to get my attention is to Wake Fiona Up


So, after getting angry & stressed & re-rocking my baby for the 3rd time & hugging my toddler so tight because I really just want to yell

I went into iPhoto to organize and saw this picture from my parent’s caroling party

Can’t resist this kid …

On Ren:

Hat:  Zeus’ “Danta” hat

Shirt:  Bit’z Kids

Pants:  Gap

Linking up at Small Style on Mama Loves Papa


Grapefruit Pound Cake January 16, 2012

Filed under: Dessert!,For Helpers! — gastromami @ 6:47 pm

My family placed bets on how many pieces of cake I am going to eat tonight

(Update:  I’m up to 2 … ok 2 1/2)  (now it’s 3 1/2)

If I were to think about my mom’s favorite meal it would be breakfast. 

If I were to think about my mom at breakfast I would think 3 things: 

blueberry pancakes, Red River  & grapefruit – the woman loves grapefruit

I really want to talk to my mom right now but instead I’m housing this cake I found in Cooking Light

I’m not really a huge pound cake fan but the cream cheese gives this an oh, so cheesecake, but not cheesecake, taste that is just fabulous

(Looking online I saw a woman who made it with lemon – I think next time I may do half & half (lemon & grapefruit) on the zest for a bigger “oomph!”

Baking spray with flour
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
5/8 teaspoon salt, divided
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
6 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons grated grapefruit rind (or 1T lemon rind, 1T grapefruit)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
1/2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

Pre-heat oven to 325˚

Coat a tube pan with cooking spray

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder & 1/2 teaspoon salt

Stir to combine

i.e. keep your toddler busy

Cream butter, cream cheese & sugar

Add eggs, one at a time

Add oil, zest & vanilla

Mix to combine

Alternately add dd flour mixture and milk to batter, beginning and ending with flour

Spoon batter into pan and bake at 325˚

** The recipe says to bake for 70 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean – our cake was done after 55 minutes so keep an eye on it! **

Cool the cake in pan for 15 minutes

Turn out on a wire rack and cool completely

In a small saucepan bring 1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice to a boil

Boil until reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 4 minutes)

Cool slightly (if you are in PA that may or may not involved placing outside for a mere 2 minutes!)

Stir in powdered sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt

Wisk until smooth and drizzle over cake

(I had a 2 year old demanding “dessert now!” so I forgot to take a picture of the cake before we dug in!”

After all the excitement in making the cake and wanting it “now!” (his new thing) …

Ren wouldn’t even try the cake – I think he wanted loads of frosting and I failed to deliver!

(notice the boxes?  yet another symptom of my mother’s influence … spring cleaning in January!)

I, on the other hand, am up to 4 1/2 pieces … my husband knows me all too well!



African (Apple Goat) Peanut Stew January 12, 2012

Filed under: Recipes,Slow Cooker — gastromami @ 7:54 pm

I’m Back!

A new computer and fantastic, free service on my camera from the Canon Factory and I should be (hopefully!) back in business for awhile!

And what a fantastic recipe to come back with:

Does anyone remember these cute little fellas?

That’s Apple the Goat (Ren’s goat) & his mama

My dad had 5 goats this summer (along with 2 sheep, 2 pigs, ducks & rabbits) and these grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic & very much loved animals are now dispersed among the Dahlkemper freezers!

Just look at how gorgeous & lean goat meat is!!

Nanni and Zeus left the Northern hemisphere today so, in honor of their journey, I made this African Goat stew!

I found this recipe and altered it to my own liking;  the dish can just as easily be made with beef or chicken and would still be great!

I think that next time, however, I will just brown the meat and then throw everything in the crock pot (besides the peanut butter & flour) to both save on time and so I can smell this delicious combination of flavors all day long!

1 1/2 lbs. goat (or any other stew meat)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 1/2 cups onion, diced

4-6 large carrots, sliced (I used 4 and it wasn’t nearly enough for my family’s taste!)

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 red potatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

dash of cayenne pepper

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 lemon, juiced

4 cups beef stock

3 -4 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon flour

Season the meat with salt and freshly ground pepper

In a dutch oven heat 3 tablespoons olive oil

Brown meat, about 7 minutes

Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan

Saute onions until translucent

Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds

Add carrots and saute until they begin to soften

Add potatoes & cook 3 minutes

Add bay leaf, ginger, cloves, cayenne pepper, tomato paste & the juice of 1 lemon

Stir to combine

Add meat and stock

Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover

Cook until tender, about 2 hours

Mix peanut butter & flour

Add to stew and combine

Season with salt & pepper to taste

Serve over rice & enjoy!

Fiona & Ren approved!