Real

I’ve been down. The more I look at food/cooking blogs out there, melting and sizzling media accounts, minute-videos of how to make the “best dishes ever”, the more I realize I can’t keep up. The fakeness is real! I’ve been self-duped by a bunch of images, videos and endless stories that made me almost believe that I ,too, can make perfectly perfect looking real food.

Sadly, I tried. Luckily, I realize that I’m just too real to be fake.

I’m disappointed. I don’t have as many Instagram followers as I thought I could have. It may be because I fucking suck at pictures, creative #hashtags, catchy post phrases, and who knows what else. I’m an Instalooser and I know it! But I love to cook, and I make good stuff. I’ve been doing it for a long time and for the right reasons.

I have 17 precious blog followers. Seventeen!!! Two of them are my kids. The rest are…not sure who they are because I still can’t figure out how to see who subscribed to this stupidly complicated WordPress blog. Maybe because I’m not tech savvy. Maybe because I don’t do ‘give aways’. Maybe because I can’t write, spell or know how to SEO. But I keep doing it so my kids–and whoever else thinks it’s worth it–can look back at some of these life moments and feel inspired to cook, eat, and share.

In the abstract—which is to say, if I had all the time in the world and I didn’t need to attend to all but those parts of human life I chose to handle myself– the walnuts would be perfectly aligned in the salad, my apron+hair+nails would be impeccable, and my posts would be shining with sparkles.

Unfortunately, I do not live in the abstract, but rather here in reality, where I am sorry to report that a perfectly fake portrait is kind of a pain in the ass to keep up. It requires a special set of behaviors, camera lenses, routines and energies. I cook. My kitchen is messy, my aprons constantly dirty, and my nails…what nails?

Don’t get me wrong here: A well ‘seasoned’ presence is great, and there are so many inspiring food/cooking blogs, vlogs, instas, and stories out there. But I do realize it takes time, money and a pinch of bullshit to make it work–all three I don’t have!

I’ve been down but I’m proud– proud of my cooking, my pictures and writing. I own them all. The successes and the failures. I cook. I share. I document it. It’s sort of my own legacy. It’s messy and unpopular, but it’s REAL!

Smorgasburg LA for Mother’s Day

I can’t believe it took me so long to get to Smorgasburg but it finally happened, and ON Mother’s Day! This little piece of foodie heaven has been in LA since last summer and all I’ve done since then is drool over their Instagram pictures, dreaming of the day I’d have a bite of this place.

It was the perfect experience gift for this mom! Yup…I ate like a mother and can’t wait to do it again. No regrets. No shame. Only a thankful heart and expanded waist.

My orders, in order of consumption.

Caramelized bacon and avocado musubi from Mama Musubi.

Polar Berry Club from Donut FriendLemon glaze, fresh mixed berries, and mint on top of a traditional donut.

Empanadilla de Camarones from The Ricans Food; deep fried Puerto Rican turnover that reminded me so much of Brazilian pasteis.

I can’t even describe correctly all that it’s going on in this slush from Lade Slush Co. Basil watermelon pulp topped with 1/2 lemonade and 1/2 mint tea slushy. It was the best and most enjoyable brain freeze I ever had!

When I though I couldn’t handle anymore food there was Sticky Rice on Wheels and I somehow manage to eat this mango & coconut sticky rice treat.

And as I was on the verge of food comatose, I also tried small bites of my family orders of dumplings, fried chicken, weird tasting soda in a jar, and mandu–because it’s crucial that you try this head size Korean dumplings!

I think you should try ‘hard’ to check out Smorgasburg LA. Come hungry and leave guilt behind. Bring the kiddos but leave the fido–no pets allowed. They are open every Sunday from 10am-4pm. They offer 2 hrs of free parking. Most vendors accept credit cards but bring some cash too. New vendors are added frequently, so check their Instagram for updates.

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!

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

The Fry Kitchen is OPEN!

Nearly three months after demo, our kitchen is done and we’ve started to cook again, even though the work isn’t completely finished, and, as I write this, we still have unpacked boxes waiting for me in the garage.

I’m sure you heard that “The kitchen is the heart of the home.” Well, as much as our old kitchen was ugly, non functional, and outdated it was still the heart of our home.  And with that heart scattered all over the garage, I felt lost.

It’s definitely gratifying to have this brand new kitchen now! The cook in me, caged for what felt like a decade, is already use to the new setting. I love almost everything about the new kitchen but being able to cook on a GAS range is by far the best thing EVER!

So now that the heart of our home is once again beating, there are some things I don’t want to forget:

Our timeline doesn’t mean sh*t. We are at the mercy of ‘others’ time and they live on a different planet than us foolish non general contractor mortals.

It’s going to get worse…way worse before it gets better, so don’t mind the dust, the noise and the smells.

There will be music playing constantly so learn to love – or at least tolerate – Hispanic tunes.

Trying moments are inevitable.  For those there is always a nice craft beer, a favorite bottle of wine or straight up ice cream.

In the final stretch, things are beyond stressful, and I swear to G-d I will NEVER EVER do this again. Agh the painful home stretch just like childbirth and then finally… you have this beautiful creation!

Fry Kitchen Remodel dealiciouscooking.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fry Kitchen Remodel dealiciouscooking.com

Can I cook yet?

We’ve finally pulled the trigger on our kitchen remodel! After so many years of dreaming, months of planning and hours of pinning ideas – the remodel is ON!

FryKitchenRemodel dealiciouscooking.com

Tile countertop, painted cabinets with misaligned doors, exposed hinges, ancient ceramic cook top, no hood, no counter space, jammed drawers, tiny sink, and the worst of it all…disgusting and fugly linoleum floors. This old shoebox kitchen had it all!

FryKitchenRemodel dealiciouscooking.com IMG_9103

Demolition was the easiest and most rewarding part. When you love cooking and do it everyday in a kitchen you have very little love for, seeing it being hammered down piece by piece is orgasmic highly enjoyable!

FryKitchenRemodel dealiciouscooking.com

This kitchen was the worst part of the Fry shack and even with all the family memories we’ve made in it I was so satisfied to see it just like this…totally naked!

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FryKitchenRemodel dealiciouscooking.com

I’m thankful for my awesome grill and great SoCal weather which it was perfect for the first 3 weeks of the remodel. We barbecued a lot and ate in the patio. Now that the weather has cooled down, the crockpot and toaster oven have been lifesavers!

We were hoping for our kitchen to be at least useable by Thanksgiving but it looks like we’ll have to barbecue the Turkey. Keeping our fingers crossed to be able to bake cookies for Santa in our new kitchen.

Put an apron on!

I love to cook but hate to clean up. I know a lot of people identify with this statement. And I’m not only talking about the amount of clean-up I do just to prepare the meal. I’m referring to all the cleaning involved with cooking, including the clean-up waiting for me as soon as everyone has left their seats and disappeared from sight.

Cooking is messy, and splashy, sticky, and gross at times. It takes a fair amount of space, tools, planning, patience and cleaning. But then there is the flip side. Chaos precedes creation. Somehow in all the mess making I create something good. Something tasty enough to make my kids go hmmmm and that makes up for all the clean-up I did or still have to do.

Yesterday’s Chaos

dealiciouscooking.com

The creation

http://dealiciouscooking.com/

What I learned from Martha Stewart

Stuffed Chicken Breast Rolls

When I first saw Martha Stewart on TV many years ago after I just moved here from Brazil, I  thought it was something seriously wrong with her. The slow talking, slow moving, the half smiles, the irritating hair in the eye, the missing sense of humor. What exactly is she? A baker?Designer? Not a chef, not a decorator…Wedding planner? I learned later that boring Martha was is an American icon and everyone loved loves to hate her.

I’m not exactly a fan but she has my respect. After all she has survived fame, prison, divorce, building an empire twice, and she has taught me how to pound a chicken breast properly.

Now, since I couldn’t find a video of Mrs. Stewart herself pounding the chicken breast here are the non-illustrated directions:

  1. Take a full chicken breast and place it on your cutting board.
  2. Take a piece of plastic wrap 2X bigger than the breast itself and put it over the chicken breast.
  3. With a meat mallet start pounding the chicken. Start from the center and work your way out. Use short and even strokes.

I use this method frequently to make chicken piccata, chicken scaloppini and chicken rolls. Stuffed chicken breast rolls is a quick ‘make ahead’ recipe. I usually stuff it with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and basil, ham and provolone, and even stuffing. First you need to pound the chicken breast like you were Martha and then:

  1. Season the thin fillets with salt/pepper/garlic powder.
  2. Place a mound of stuffing on each breast.
  3. Wrap and roll the fillets over the stuffing.
  4. Secure breasts with toothpicks.
  5. Place rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet.
  6. Bake at 380F for at least 40 minutes (depending on the size of the rolls)

Wrap the rolls in bacon or prosciutto for extra flavor. If we could only do the same to Martha Stewart!!!!

 

Thanksgiving past, present and future

First Thanksgiving Family Dinner

Until not too long ago, Thanksgiving was just something which I had no understanding of, whatsoever. Growing up in Brazil, turkey was a protein that we mostly ate at Christmas…and Christmas only. Since I moved to US zillion years ago this holiday and its special meaning has evolved with me. Thanksgiving used to be a nice long break from work and time to shop the best deals. Nothing else. Then some Brazilian friends married some American friends and unexpectedly we’re  all gorging on turkey and cranberry sauce and all the rest of the food that we traditionally saved for Christmas. Next, I married my American Hawaiian husband and we created our own Thanksgiving tradition. We feasted on ‘feijoada’ (a delicious Brazilian pork and beans stew); ‘kalua pig’ (because one can’t get enough pig); and even paella because we felt thankful for our cultural diversity and taste buds.

It was not until our first born started kindergarden that we had a real traditional Thanksgiving meal and only because he actually requested. Since then, many turkeys have been roasted and many side dishes made it to our favorite list. Every year, something different is introduced to our ever evolving menu…a side, a appetizer, a dessert or even a cocktail. Our last year winner was this amazing Balsamic-glazed brussels sprouts from The AOC Cookbook.

The OAC Cookbook recipe-Brussel Sprouts

For this year Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve been collecting some fall recipes from my favorite chefs, cooks, cookbooks, bloggers, pinners and instagrammers. So many dishes I’d love to cook but there’s always that ONE recipe that pops out and makes me want to run to the kitchen and start the magic.  I may not even wait for Thanksgiving to try them out.

Here are the 2014 Thanksgiving recipe nominees!

Sourdough Stuffing With Kale, Dates and Turkey Sausage

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Roasted Squash & Whipped Feta Tartine with Pistachio Dukkah

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Black Rice, Kale & Aubergine Pilaf

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