Learning to cook … one kid at a time

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!


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!



Pumpkin Scones: Take 1 November 5, 2011

Filed under: Dessert!,For Helpers!,Recipes — gastromami @ 10:21 am

I seriously love me some pumpkin scones, bread, soup, pie, lattes ANYTHING!

I really do love a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks

I’ve actually made my own and they were good – but not as good as Starbucks

See, I used to spend a lot of money without thinking about it:

I loved to shop, to eat out (still do!), to order a $12 martini followed by a $38 entrée and then follow-up with a night on the town

Now?  I scour eBay for the latest deals in order to dress my kids (still in style however!)

and I am more apt to whip up dinner here than eat out every few nights

(but, as the wife of a chef, I do get my fair share of fine-dining in, no worries!)

For the most part though, after having kids, I did give up those “no kids” extras:

Smoothies on the go

Take-out once a week

“Wash & Fold” when it just became too much to haul to the laundromat

A stop at TJ Maxx “just to see what was there”


Coffee from the coffee shop for morning, noon and, sometimes, night

But now?  Since I live in a city where there is a Starbucks on EVERY corner (or at least every few blocks) and I walk past at least 5 on my way to Reny’s restaurant, & my favorite drink is back on the menu, I allow myself an indulgence every other day  once in a while

But I have learned my lesson on one thing:

Don’t buy food from Starbucks

Sure, it looks scrumptiously delicious sitting there in that case, right at eye level

Those muffins with their cinnamony, crumbly topping, the cake pops with the perfect amount of sprinkles and the scones – oh, those pumpkin scones glistening with yummy glaze … They.  Are.  Gross.

Ok, not gross, but not good either

I do have to admit that, after leaving the gym (when I usually indulge!) it is hard to pass up those treats – especially the pumpkin bread & pumpkin scones – but I have done it for the sake of my taste buds

I also know that I can recreate those yummy treats at home, for half the price and 10x the satisfaction

This recipe is not perfected (I actually made some interesting additions but more on that later) but this was a great start, adapted from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen

For the Scones:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup canned or fresh pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons half-and-half, milk or buttermilk
1 large egg

For the Spiced Glaze:

1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground cloves

(I skipped the powdered sugar glaze but you can follow the link to Sweet Pea’s Kitchen for her complete recipe!)

Pre-heat the oven to 425˚

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients

Add the cold butter and mix with your hands until crumbly

Mix together the wet ingredients (eggs, milk, pumpkin)

Fold the wet ingredients into the dry – be careful not to overwork your dough!

Using a half-cup measuring cup or your hands – “plop” onto the parchment paper (like you would for drop biscuits!)

Bake at 425˚ for 14-16 minutes until lightly browned

While the muffins are baking:

Mix ingredients for the spice glaze

When the scones are finished baking, drizzle the glaze over top



Cinnamon Breakfast Bites September 7, 2011

Filed under: 'Nack! (Snacks!),Dessert!,For Helpers! — gastromami @ 2:34 pm


First off …. a GastroMami FYI

I know that the “tool doesn’t make the artist” but in the restaurant world we do say “how good a steak is depends on the sharpness of your knife”

and here I’m going to say,

My good camera is broken so all pictures are being taken with my very-handy-love to have with me-waterproof camera and, although sufficient for my needs, it doesn’t always produce the best shots, especially in our windowless kitchen!



Although I don’t ever want him to become a chef (I’d love to have him around for holidays!) it is one of our favorite things to do together when Fiona is sleeping!

Last week I had totally forgotten that we had a playdate scheduled and our cupboards still looked like we were on vacation.  I found this recipe on Lovin’ from the Oven and it was perfect since we had everything on hand!

The best part of this recipe – Ren, seriously, did almost everything “all by self,” as he likes to say

Honestly, I was amazed but hey, with his father, I shouldn’t have been surprised!

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup crisp rice cereal, coarsely crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted

(with little fingers doing the dipping – we had to modify the original recipe in response to spillage!)

Put the rice cereal in a plastic baggie and let your little helper crush away!

In a bowl mix the flour, crushed cereal, 2 T sugar, baking powder & salt

Let your helper mix in the butter, with their hands, until the mixture is crumbly

Slowly add the milk

Mix until just moistened

Roll into balls

While your helper is rolling the batter into balls, melt 1/4 (or 1/2) cup butter and mix together 3/4 cup sugar & 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Dip balls into butter & then sugar/cinnamon & place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper

(we were out of parchment paper so I lightly greased a cookie sheet – but, due to the stickiness of the melted sugar I would use parchment!!)

Bake at 425˚ for 15 minutes

Ren (and friends!) approved!


Do you like Pina Colada (Cupcakes)? August 30, 2011

Filed under: Dessert!,Entertaining — gastromami @ 1:27 pm

My oldest and best friend Liz is getting married in 18 days!

We have been friends for as long as I can remember and spent probably thousands of hours playing with Barbies, jumping in the pool, laying out at the beach, sharing dinners & listening to “Chicken Man” on our way to school

Liz is now a special ed teacher which comes as no surprise to anyone that knows her;  her kindness, patience and generosity (along with her stunning beauty) are her greatest attributes – and the reason that she has been able to put up with me for all these years!  She teaches, she’s a runner, she’s an amazing mother to her (soon to be) step-kids and on top of all that she is attending the University of Virginia for her masters!  She is quite the amazing woman & an amazing friend and I am so excited to be a part of her and Stephen’s day!

Their wedding will be on the beach so it was only appropriate that I made these Pina Colada cupcakes (found on The Cupcake Project) for her “Cocktails & Cupcakes” bridal shower.

For the cupcakes:

1/3 C coconut rum (or any rum you have on hand)
3/4 C coconut milk
1/4 C pineapple juice (reserved from the crushed pineapple)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C + 3 tbsp sugar
3 large eggs
1 C shredded coconut
1 C crushed pineapple

Drain the crushed pineapple and reserve 1/4 cup of the juice

In a bowl combine the rum, coconut milk, pineapple juice & vanilla

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt

Cream the butter and sugar

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Slowly add 1/3 of the flour mixture – beat well

Add 1/2 of the rum mixture – beat well

1/3 of the flour – beat well

Remaining rum mixture – beat well

Remaining flour mixture – beat well

Fold in the crushed pineapple and shredded coconut

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full and

bake at 350˚ for 25 minutes

For the Cream Cheese Coconut Frosting

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
2 C powdered sugar
3 tbsp coconut cream (such as Coco Lopez)

Beat cream cheese & butter until light and fluffy

Slowly add powdered sugar

Add coconut cream

Pipe (or spread) onto cupcakes

Top with toasted coconut

(bake at 350˚ on an ungreased cookie sheet until lightly toasted)


Ren & (my adorable niece) Charlotte approved!!



He’s 2! May 27, 2011

Filed under: Dessert! — gastromami @ 8:02 pm

Hello there world.

Yes, I am alive

And, thankfully, so are the kids

Really, that’s all I can ask for these days

Having 2 is hard

For every sweet “bring tears to your eyes” show of affection between my beautiful children

There are 3 moments of utter chaos, crying and despair

But 3 weeks ago the ratio was 1:5 so things are on the upswing!

Just kidding, sorta.

I know I haven’t been posting much,

but the fact is,

I haven’t been cooking much!

However, my freezer is running low so I will be back at it soon!

But today my baby

my “best big brother ever!” (as he calls himself) baby

turned 2.


I can’t even begin to explain to you how much he has changed my life

From the moment I knew he was here the path of my life took a complete 180˚

and that is a good thing!


while I may be sad that my baby boy is growing up

this past year,

this passage between a baby of one

to a person of two

has probably been the most joyful year of my life

Never, ever ever in a million years could I have imagined just how amazing this year would be

To see him grow from, well, what Fiona is like

to the hilarious, rambunctious, sweet, strong-willed, spirited, and loving boy he is

means to me that I am at least doing something right

because this kid is down-right awesome!

How lucky this world is to have him in it!

How lucky I am to be able to call him my own!

Today, May 27th 2011,

I just want to wish him the happiest of birthdays

I love you kid

– Mama

We had our big party on Sunday with the Abuelos (more to come on that!)

but today we simply celebrated with some cupcakes and my favorite frosting!

Nana’s Maple Syrup Frosting

1/2 cup maple syrup

(PURE maple syrup – preferably New York State maple syrup!)

1 egg white

1/8 teaspoon salt

Beat egg white until stiff peaks form, adding salt at the end

Boil syrup until it forms a 2″ “hair”

Pour slowly into egg white while beating

Beat at high speed, constantly, until the frosting cools completely (it will thicken as it cools!)

Ren approved!


“Lara Bar” Truffles April 4, 2011

Filed under: 'Nack! (Snacks!),Dessert!,Entertaining,For Helpers!,Pregnancy — gastromami @ 4:09 pm


Thanks to my wonderful husband

I was able to sleep in this morning!


The blissful morning took a 180˚ turn, though,

when, after coming home from Smith Memorial Playground‘s Opening Day Celebration

my poor kid came upstairs in new clothes,

asked for “leche,”

curled up next to me

and promptly passed out.


With a fever of 103.5˚


Poor kid.


Besides a few ear infections

which are pretty much a given in the Dahlkemper family

this kid has never been sick like this.


After refusing food all day,

I finally got some ibuprofen in him to lower his fever for a bit

and we had to make a Whole Foods run for some chicken soup, bread and coconut water

in hopes of getting something in him!


I’ve actually been meaning to stop by WF for some labor food and drinks so,

as I was writing Luna/Lara Bars down on my list

I remembered a recipe that I saw for recreating Lara Bars.

A quick search turned up this post by The Nourishing Gourmet

so I added dates and coconut oil to my list (the rest we had in house!)



These decadent treats are a guilt-free way for me to give (both) of my kids a (pretty much) healthy snack!

(And Mama her chocolate fix!)

You can easily forgo the chocolate for little kids – which I might just whip up for Ren to ease my guilt a bit!


20 dates, pitted
1 cup of coconut flakes, fine
1/4 cup of coconut oil
Heaping 3/4 cup of walnuts, pecans, or nut of choice
2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla
A few dashes of unrefined salt




Pit your dates




In a food processor combing:

pitted dates


coconut oil




Process until finely ground




Toast nuts over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning

Add to food processor and process until nuts are finely ground




Add chocolate to the warm pan you just used to toast the nuts and allow to slowly melt

(if you need extra heat, place over warm on the stove but do not let it burn!)




Add to food processor along with vanilla and salt

Process until smooth




Place mixture into bowl and refrigerate until firm enough to shape into balls

(about 30 minutes – 1 hour)



Roll into balls and refrigerate until hard

Will keep in a container in the fridge for a few weeks (if you can resist that long!)