Lemon Brownies with Crusty Glaze

Quick take; too many lemons in the fridge. Searched recipes on my favorite blogs. Came across this Lemon Brownies recipe from Wicked Good Kitchen. Faced my baking insecurities. Worked really hard on being precise with measurements and directions. Ended up with the truly most amazing “Best Ever” lemon brownies and a token of baking confidence in my pocket.

If you have been here before you already know I’m not a good baker. No matter how hard I try, the baking stars seem not to align for me. So I was ecstatic when this recipe turned out as one of the best things I’ve ever baked!

Well, maybe not all stars were aligned. My glaze for the brownies looked great but tasted horrible. I blame the confectioned sugar that, although not expired, tasted like plastic. It has happened to me before and, according to Google, it happened to many other people too. So I dumped the glaze and the confectioned sugar, dust off my apron and got creative.

I made this simple Brazilian “calda” (syrup):

  • All tablespoons (5 sugar/2 lemon juice/2 water)
  • Combine in a small saucer/pan and cook until transparent and thick (about 6 minutes)
  • Spread over the baked brownies and let it sit until hard (We didn’t wait but if you do know that these brownies were even better the next morning)

Once the syrup dried it formed a beautiful sugary crust with a moist layer underneath that complemented the lemon brownies so perfectly.

Big shout out to Stacy from Wicked Good Kitchen. Thank you! I love this recipe and your blog!

Falafel Stuffed Eggplant with Yogurt Mint Sauce

I love falafel and I love eggplant. Putting them together this intimately was one of the best things it ever happen in my kitchen. No exaggeration here. And topping it all up with a creamy and tangy yogurt sauce makes this combo even better. Sounds like vegan porn to me.

Here is how you make it:

Wash and dry 2 medium eggplants. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and score cut sides with a crosshatch pattern. Drizzle some olive oil and salt on the eggplant halves. Place them cut sides down, on a baking sheet lightly coated with olive oil. Bake at 475° for 7 minutes or until slightly tender.

While the eggplant halves are baking prepare the falafel mixture according to box directions–I used a whole box of Cashab Falafel Mix for this recipe and it was almost the perfect amount of stuffing. I overfilled mine halves and, if you love falafel as much as I do, you should overfilled yours too!

Remove from oven and carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/4-inch shell. You can reserve the pulp for another use or you can shamelessly eat it right away just like it did!

  

Spoon the falafel mixture into each eggplant shell. Bake at 450° for 25-30 minutes or until the falafel is browned and crispy.

To make the Mint Yogurt Sauce, follow the recipe below. You can serve the sauce on the side or drizzle it all over the eggplant. Why not do both?

Since I made this recipe I keep thinking what else can I possibly stuff with falafel. I’m obsessed!


Yogurt Mint Sauce
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt. No regrets!)
  • ¼ cup minced mint
  • ½ clove garlic, finely diced or grated
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt to taste (Start with a little and add as much as you like, always tasting in between. I'm horrible when it comes to salting my recipes. Still learning!)
Instructions
  1. Place yogurt, mint, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and cayenne in a small bowl and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. It'll be best to let sit for 30 minutes but it can be served right away. Store on an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

 

Our San Diego Food Finds

When we travel, one of the first things I do is figuring out where and what to eat. I couldn’t be more excited to share with you some of the places we tried in San Diego during Spring Break. Although we’ve been in San Diego many times before this was our first time exploring some ‘ecliptic’ places to eat with our kids. I can tell you how proud I was when my picky eater gave braised rabbit pie a thumbs up– clearly, she didn’t know she was eating rabbit until after she finished it. Oh the horror!!!

Here are some of the places we ate at and loved in San Diego.

Puesto

Delicious tacos, great cocktail menu and the best Palomas I have ever tried.

Oh…the pickled mezcal watermelon is a must!

Donut Bar

This donut on the left corner is their famous Big Poppa. Get this: It has an entire homemade blueberry Pop Tart in it!

The Lion’s Share

Maybe not the best place for kids but we took a chance and we were one happy family–especially after the first set of hand-crafted cocktails.

The menu included the braised rabbit hand pie I mentioned earlier and this lean but creamy and 100% deliciousness bison tartare.

Gelato Paradiso

How can something so creamy taste so light? Arguably, one of the best gelatos around. I had the most delicious chocolate hazelnut (Bacio) and my daughter’s strawberry gelato was to die for.

Four amazing days celebrating family and spring in sunny San Diego! It was the perfect SoCal ‘staycation’ with special eating bonus. San Diego left me hungry for more! Until next time.

Sunday Cooking Warrior!

If you follow my Instagram account you’ve seen my Sunday meal prep effort. Making or prepping food ahead is the only way to eating ‘healthyish’ in this household. Investing a couple of hours on the weekend shopping, cooking, and prepping ahead makes it much easier to eat well balanced meals during the week. And by well balanced meals I really mean less take-out and more homemade.

This week was a fail for me on the “homemade dinners” department. Too tired. Too lazy. Now I’m paying the price. I’m feeling it in my gut, pocket and conscience–there was a lot of guilt that came with last night’s take-out.

So to shake the crap out my tired and lazy self, I’m sharing some of my favorite dishes to make ahead.

Whole Chicken Roast

Roasts are easy to throw together. You can roast a whole bird, juicy piece of pork or beef loin. Some potatoes and root veggies on the bottom and sides, meat on top, herbs+spices+liquid (lemon/orange juice, wine, beer…) and that’s as effortless as it gets in the homemade dinner business. Fridge to oven to table.

Belluga lentils

Lentils don’t need to be soaked and they cook quickly. Can be done on stovetop, slow cooker, and even pressure cook. It’s healthy. It’s filling. It taste even better the next day…and the following. It keeps for over one week in the fridge and It’s the perfect leftover for lunches. I like any kind of lentil but the Beluga is our family favorite. Cook it in chicken broth, crushed coriander+cumin+mustard seeds, bay leaf, onion and garlic. Serve with a scoop of steamed rice. I can eat this for days!

Lasagna with Spinach and Sweet potato layer

Lasagna! The best thing about lasagna is that you can make so many variations of the same dish. Of course we love the rich cheesy kind but I try to make healthy substitutions. My apologies to my true Italian friends but I like to alternate a layer of noodles with a layer of thin sweet potatoes, replace ricotta with cottage cheese, add spinach and other veggies to the sauce. Whatever the flavors are, lasagna is always a family pleaser and a favorite leftover for lunch too.

 

Make ahead Stuffed Bell Peppers with curry couscous

Stuffed bell peppers, eggplant, squashes…any chubby veggie goes. I’ve stuffed vegetables with couscous, quinoa, leftover rice, and even falafel mix. Think about a thanksgiving stuffing recipe but replace the bread part with some cooked grain and you have a ‘dealicious’ filling for any vegetable that can handle to get stuffed!

Vegetables ready to roast

Roast vegetables and keep it in the fridge ready to side any protein or add to pastas and salads. My favorite combo is eggplant, bell peppers and zucchini. Dress it with plenty of olive oil, salt, pepper, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and a couple of whole garlic cloves. 430F for 15 minutes. Not too mushy. Not too raw. Perfect!

Not feeling kneady

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

There’s a lot that happened in my kitchen & table between the last post and this recipe, but I’m running short of time these days. But I had to stop and write this down because it’s too good to keep it to myself. I tried NO knead bread and it worked…it works!!!!!! I’m in absolute bread nirvana and I hope  you will be too. Here is my ‘NO knead bread’ story:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour (I used Gold)
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1½ cups room temperature water

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

I combined flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl. Added water and stir gently. Allowed to sit overnight (over 12 hours) in a airtight container. This is how it looked like after sitting in my counter for 13 hours…sticky and bubbly.

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

Shaped/folded into a loaf gently. I had to remind myself it’s a NO knead bread because I was still skeptical!

No Kneading Bread www.dealiciouscooking.com

I think the most important part of this process is how you bake the bread. It has to be baked in a covered dutch oven type of pot AND it has to be preheated at a high temperature for at least 20 minutes. I drizzled a bit of olive oil on the bottom after I preheated at 500F. Dusted the loaf with some whole wheat flour and dropped in the pot. Baked covered for 30 minutes, uncovered for 12 minutes (still 500F) and this is how it came out.

dealiciouscooking.com

Outside…Crisp, crackly, bread with a crust that pops as it cools. Inside… tender, moist and chewy texture. I’ll be definitely making this again, and again, and again.

dealiciouscooking.com

Breakfast Bowl: Roasted yams and apple with Greek yogurt, maple syrup and pumpkin seeds.

Yam Apples and Yogurt

Ahhhh…I would eat toast with butter and jelly everyday but that will end up crashing my 40 something metabolism and leave me hungry by 10am. It’s hard to come up with exciting choices when eggs and oats get old.

I’ve been obsessed with Greek yogurt and maple syrup lately. It’s a tasty combination. Adding roasted yams and apples to it may not sound very appetizing but it tastes truly ‘dealicious’!

RoastedYamsApples

Peel and cut in cubes 1 large yam and 3 honeycrisp apples. In a bowl, mix approximately 2 tbsp. of coconut oil, 1 tbsp. of brown sugar, pinch of salt and 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. Toss the yams and apples, place on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. That was the hardest part. Now the easiest; top with plain Greek yogurt, maple syrup, pumpkin seeds for a bit of a crunch and enjoy this nutritious and wholesome breakfast!

YamsApplesYogurt

When your kid’s homework is to cook dinner for you!

My kid made dinner for us!

I’m pretty sure he would have rather spent his Saturday evening playing Call of Duty but he had an assignment for his Life Management class; cooking dinner. And by dinner the teacher meant an appetizer, a main dish, a dessert and a drink.

I was so surprised with his level of enthusiasm. He planned a menu. He shop for ingredients we didn’t have. He prep. He cooked. He set the table and he served dinner. Of course I supervised and help! But only with verbal instructions. I did not touch anything but my glass of wine!

The menu: Caprese salad; Carbonara pasta; Brownies and sparkling wine (which he opened on his own.)

My kid made dinner for us!

Nathan had already helped me a lot in the kitchen before and learned basic safety rules, like not leaving the room when a burner is lighted, and how to hold his fingers when chopping. He had mastered making a few dishes from scratch before like this Thai Curry  dish.

My kid cook dinner for us!

I admit it was a heartwarming (and heart stopping at times) mother-son bonding experience. I am pleased to report that there was no house fire and all fingers are accounted for. We had some yummy A++  home-cooked meal. And, best of all, my boy was proud of his handiwork.

The ‘Deal’ About Kale!

Kale deal @Sprouts

Kale is one trending vegetable. Even if you’re not a foodie or health conscious, it’s been hard to avoid it for the past 3, 4, 6? years. I’ve seen kale T-shirts, books devoted to kale (Fifty Shades of Kale? seriously), hundreds of Instagram images and entire Pinterest boards dedicated to this cruciferous (I had to double check the spelling on that!!!)

Some say kale is good for you. Same say it can be bad. I’m not here to debunk kale myths or reinsure kale benefits. I like kale. My kids like kale. Like any other food, we eat it mindfully which is hard to do when you come across a deal like this one above! (today at our local Sprouts!)

I got excited and probably bought more kale than my family can handle to eat! At the risk of having my kids convert to non-kale-lovers, I’m going to make a whole lotta of kale this weekend.

Below is our family kale favorites but I would LOVE to hear your favorite kale recipe, kale dish from a restaurant or any kale sugestion.

#1 Kids kale dish: Kale Chips (pump up the volume and click on the link!)

Kale chips @dealiciouscooking.com

#2 My favorite way to eat kale: Kale and Quinoa Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing

Kale and Quinoa salad dealiciouscooking.com

#3 Breakfast kale fix: Sweet Potato & Kale Hash 

Sweet Potato and Kale

#4 The family pleaser: Kale Caesar salad

Kale Caesar Salad

Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup

Split Pea soup

Today I woke up wanting nothing more than to make a big pot of hearty split pea soup. Now, as much as I love it, I don’t make it more than twice a year. It’s delicious, satisfying and great for leftovers but OMG the gas it produces is outrageous. I bet if someone lights up a match at this household tonight we’re all doomed!

I made this batch on the slow cooker with mini hotdogs from Trader Joe’s (all beef, no nitrates, uncured) instead of the usual ham hock or bacon. Add some key spices (turmeric+mustard+oregano+white pepper+bayleaf), some drops of liquid smoke (totally optional) and you have the most fart worthy pea soup ever!

Start by setting up the slow cook for 3-5 hours on high. Diced and saute a medium onion on 1 tsp of olive oil.

Split Pea Soup

Place one package of mini hot dogs (OR the smoke meat of your preference OR no meat for a vegetarian version) and sauteed onions in the slow cooker.

Split Pea Soup

Add one box of chicken or beef broth (1 QT). Fill up the empty box with water and add to the mix. If you like your split pea soup on the thicker side add only half of the water.

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Next add the 1lb package of rinsed split peas and 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric, oregano, white pepper, mustard; 3 small bayleaves; 1 1/2 tablespoon of salt; 3 drops of liquid smoke (optional); also optional 1 tablespoon of Blackstrap molasses (I put this black-sticky-full of nutrients syrup on just about everything.)

Split Pea Soup

Cover and cook on high 4 to 5 hours or 8 to 10 hours on low until peas are mushy.

Cranberry Sauce Crumble Cake a thanksgiving leftover recipe

Cranberry Crumble Cake

Thanksgiving came and went fast…really fast. For the first time in years, I cooked the right amount of food. Not too much. Not too little. Enough to make a couple of sandwiches the day after. Not enough to make us sick of turkey.

One thing we didn’t manage to finish was the canned cranberry sauce. Yes…CANNED! I’ll whip salad dressings, avoid jar tomato sauce, but when it comes to cranberry sauce the can gets a pass.

And because we had nothing left to go with the it we baked this ‘oh so good’ Cranberry Sauce Crumble Cake. The recipe came from a holiday baking class I took at The Gourmandise School in Santa Monica many years ago. It never fails, no matter what the choice of jam is. I’ve even used Nutella instead of jam. Good every time!

The plan is to eat it with some hot cocoa as we decorate the Christmas tree tonight.

Cheers to a ‘dealicious’ Thanksgiving…onto Christmas countdown!

Cranberry Sauce Crumble Cake

Butter the sides of an 8″ cake pan and preheat the oven to 375F.

In medium bowl, whisk together in this order:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 6 tablespoons of melted butter

Add the following dry ingredients to the wet mix in this order:

  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder

Pour cake mix into the pan and spread evenly. Top the mix with dots of cranberry sauce (I used approximately 1 cup of cranberry sauce. May substitute with any jam or Nutella.) Reserve.

Cranberry Sauce Crumble Cake

Mix the following ingredients for the crumble topping:

  • 6 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1cup of flour
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt

Rub the ingredients until crumbles form and top the cake and sauce/jam with it.

Cranberry Sauce Crumble Cake

Bake for 30 minutes or until crumble top is lightly browned.

Cranberry Sauce Crumble CakeCranberry Crumble Cakeimg_4954