I hope everyone had a wonderful FROZEN Valentines weekend! And a Happy Presidents Day to you, on yet ANOTHER frozen day. I don’t know about anyone else, but COVID, coupled with arctic weather conditions is enough to make anyone go stir crazy. I find that all I’ve been doing is BAKING, EATING, more BAKING and EATING, well, OK, truth be told, I do also try to paint here and there (if you get bored enough during these dire living conditions, you can check out some of them on my Instagram page.). If you’ve scrolled through my site, you may have noticed lots and lots of baking posts. HA. Yes, that is how bad it has been.
All thing considered, it truly is not all that bad. I appreciate all this time I get to spend at home, with no social obligations, traffic, or crowds, and getting to focus on all my hobbies. I’ve never had this much time to paint, garden, bake, cook, walk my two precious puppies, read, binge-watch shows…and share all the recipes I’ve been testing out since March 2020!
I am a huge fan of old-fashioned apple pies. No bells and whistles, just the delish dichotomy of sweet-salty with a touch of tart, wrapped in flakey dough. What’s even better is making them into little pockets that are freezer-friendly and great for when we can all finally get together again and have friends and family over! The photos you see here are empanadas made with whole wheat flour. I try to be healthy. 😉 I’ll post again when I make a more keto-friendly empanada. I found some recipes that use almond flour, which sounds promising to me! I also made savory empanada with a black-bean and veggie sauté (black beans, kale, arugula, yellow onion, celery, garlic, purple cabbage).
Apple Pie Filling
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoons light brown sugar, packede
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 of a large lemon)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoon cornstarch
In a large pot, thoroughly coat the apples with lemon juice. Add sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
In a medium pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add apple mixture and coat with melted butter.
Cover lid, allow to simmer about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, so that the mix doesn’t stick to the pot.
Remove from heat and transfer to heatproof bowl.
Set aside as you make the empanada dough.
Be sure the apple filling has cooled to room temperature when it’s time to start making the empanadas.
Makes about 8 large empanadas
2 1/4 cups organic unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) very cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes ~ I LOVE Kerry Gold unsalted butter. Add another stick of butter if you want this extra flaky.
1 large organic egg
2 tablespoons organic milk
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
1 glass of ice water ~ you will only use 1/3 cup
Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Add butter and blend with your fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal with some (roughly pea-size) butter lumps.
Beat together egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl with a fork.
Add to flour mixture, stirring with fork until just incorporated. Your dough will look shaggy.
Turn out mixture onto a lightly floured surface and gather together, then knead gently with heel of your hand once or twice, just enough to bring dough together. Do not overmix and over knead.
Form dough into a flat rectangle and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Position an oven rack at the top.
Line large baking sheet with parchment paper.
Gently roll out the dough into a log. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces and form each into a ball. I find that it’s easier to roll the dough ball on a hard surface, using the center of my palm. They do not have to be perfect.
>Roll out 1 piece on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 8″ circle. Keep remaining pieces covered with a cheesecloth, chilled if possible.
Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons filling to the center and fold dough in half, enclosing filling.
Press edges together with your finger tips, press a fork around edges to seal.
Transfer empanada to a large freezer-proof plate. Repeat to make the remaining 7 empanadas.
Freeze until just firm, about 15-20 minutes.
Lightly brush empanadas with some of egg wash and bake until golden, about 25 minutes.
Transfer empanadas to a rack to cool at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with some hot tea. YUM!
I am kicking myself for not making homemade yogurt flatbread way earlier in my culinary life! I guess most foreign dishes and foods seem mysterious until you get into the nitty gritty and TRY it at least once in your own kitchen. Well, folks, let me tell you, this isn’t that bad! LOL.
1 ¼ cups filtered warm water
1 packet active dried yeast
1 TBSP sugar
¾ cup Greek yogurt
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP seasalt
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup flat leaf parsley ~ finely chopped
Combine the yeast, sugar, and water into a mixing bowl and stir well. Cover the bowl with a cheesecloth or breathable cotton kitchen towel; set it in a warm place for 5-10 minutes to activate the yeast (mixture will be become foamy and bubbly).
Gently whisk in Greek yogurt, olive oil, and sea salt. Add flour and parsley. Gently mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Flour surface of a large chopping block or kitchen counter. Turn dough onto surface and knead for 3-4 minutes. The dough should no longer be sticky and should spring back when lightly pressed. Sprinkle dough with more flour as necessary to achieve desired texture.
Divide dough into equal pieces, then cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
Heat sauce pan to medium-low heat.
Roll the dough balls to desired thickness and size with a rolling pin (mine is about 5-7″ wide). Lightly brush the dough surface with olive oil. Cook the flatbread oil side down, about 1-1.5 minutes, or until the surface is covered with bubbles and turns golden in spots.
Flip the bread, lightly oil the surface and cook oil side down until golden.
Serve with soups, curries, a dollop of sour cream, or just eat them on their own as a yummy snack!
Cassava is a starchy root vegetable or tuber native to South America. It’s a flowering plant that belongs in the spurge family called Euphorbiaceae (or Euphorbia for short) and can grow to 10 feet tall. It’s a staple consumed by many in developing countries.
Cassava is also called
yuca (pronounced yoo-cah): it is not the same as yucca (note: two C’s / pronounced yuh-kah). Yucca is the spiky ornamental plant you see in arid landscapes and deserts.
and sweet potato tree
Nigeria is the world’s largest produce of cassava.
West African Garri: A light snack made from cassava flour and is fermented and then fried in oil.
It used to make tapioca flour and pearls
All those FUN, educational facts aside, cassava, when grated, makes a gluten-free flour that can then be turned into delicious cake! This is a traditional Filipino recipe with a little added protein (by way of peeled split mung beans). I made cassava cake about 10+ years ago but cannot remember where I put the recipe, so off on an interwebs-expedition I went. I found three that I liked and blended the ingredients and quantities, because like Goldilocks, I need the texture, sweetness, etc. to be JUUUST RIGHT. 😉
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Two 1 lb bags frozen grated cassava ~ thawed, strained of all liquid
One 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
One 14 oz can coconut cream
6 oz dry peeled, split mung beans
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch sea salt
Thaw the cassava packets. Place contents in a mesh strainer and lightly rinse under running water. Strain cassava of all liquid and set aside.
Wash and clean the mung beans until the water becomes clear. Strain. Soak in hot filtered water for about 30 minutes. Add beans and water to a pot and bring to rolling boil for about 3 minutes. Reduce heat and allow to simmer on medium-low for about 10 minutes or until beans are soft. Purée to smooth yellow paste.
Preheat oven 350°F.
Grease 9×13 glass baking dish with butter.
Whisk ingredients together in a bowl ~ your batter should be runny. Pour batter into baking dish.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes on the center rack until the edges and top are a light golden brown. An inserted fork should come out clean.
Allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and serve chilled or room temp, drizzled with condensed milk.
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a grain, often mistaken for containing gluten due to its name, buckwheat. In fact, buckwheat is not a wheat at all, which come from grass plants like other cereal grains. Buckwheat is a flowering, broadleaf annual related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. The buckwheat we consume are seeds from that plant. It’s packed with a variety of nutrients necessary if you’re on a vegan/vegetarian diet. Medical News Today states one cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains:
5.68 g protein
1.04 g fat
33.5 g carbohydrate
4.5 g fiber
148 milligrams (mg) potassium
118 mg phosphorous
86 mg magnesium
12 mg calcium
1.34 mg iron
If you’d like to learn more about buckwheat or how to grow your own crop, check out Grow Journey.
I grew up eating lots of eggplant, thanks to my parents’ prolific organic home “Garden of Eatin’!” A dear friend of mine, a sweet Greek lady by the name of Vicki, introduced me to eggplant tomato stew years ago and I loved it from the start! She passed away at a very young age late November 2019, just days shy of her December birthday. I cannot find the recipe Vicki gave me, but I was able to modify this recipe from memory, and the help of similar recipes I found online. I hope you enjoy it!
NOTE: The stew tastes much better the following day, if you can refrigerate it overnight. Otherwise, allow a few hours before serving warm, and garnished with fresh chopped parsley. I serve this with toasted or pan-friend polenta cakes.
2 large eggplants ~ peeled alternately lengthways (leave skin on every other section), sliced in halves or quarters, tops removed
2 large red bell peppers ~ sliced in halves, tops and seeds removed
2 large zucchinis ~ slided in halves, tops removed
1 large yellow onion ~ peeled, diced
3-4 organic roma tomatoes ~ cut into chunks
1 can (16 ounce) garbanzo beans ~ rinsed and drained
1 can (28 ounce) stewed organic tomatoes
1 container (32 ounce) broth ~ I use vegetable
sea salt ~ to taste
fresh ground black pepper ~ to taste
pinch cane sugar
fresh curly parsley ~ I like a giant handful of parsley (even before chopping)
Roast the eggplant, bells, and zucchini on the top rack at 450°F for 10 minutes each side. When they are done, set aside for a few minutes to cool down.
While the veggies roast, heat some oil in a large stainless steel pot and sauté the onions until golden and aromatic. Cut the roasted veggies into chunks. If still warm, hold them with tongs in one hand, and cut with the other.
Add the broth, garbanzo, roasted veggies, fresh and stewed tomatoes, and 3/4 of the chopped parsley, into the pot. Bring it to a boil for about 2 minutes.
Lower heat, season to taste, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes with lid slightly askew.
Remove from burner. Serve warm, garnished with freshly chopped parsley, with a side of polenta cakes.
I am extremely excited to share a NEW PROJECT I’ve been working on: Luluesque Recipe DigiCards! You can save them right to your phone; no need to bookmark my recipe blog page or wait for glitchy internet to pull up this recipe post. One of the finished products is on this post — scroll all the way to the bottom for the recipe digicard. Simply save the recipe to your device in the “Luluesque” Folder…wait, what do you mean you don’t have a folder saved just for me??? 😉
Preheat oven to 375°F
Lightly grease 9×13 baking dish with avocado oil
2 cups organic cornmeal (HEART HEALTH: supplement some with ground flaxseed)
In a large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Gently fold in sour cream, oil, and eggs with a spatula until the batter is evenly mixed (do not overmix). Our goal is to get out the clumps of ingredients.
Pour batter into the prepared baking dish. Gently slide the dish from side to side on the counter, to even out the batter. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until an inserted fork comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.
It’s summertime, which means all the fig trees in my area are full of ripening fruit! Figs are flowering shrubs that belong in the mulberry family. They do not bear flowers on branches; the fruit we see are actually inverted flowers! If you slice a fig open, you’ll see all the little “petals” on the inside. The flower matures and eventually forms little edible seeds, which gives figs its crunch when you bite into one.
According to Brittanica, there are approximaltey 900 species of figs and the “fig wasp” is responsible for pollinating most of the world’s figs! And often the female wasps don’t make it to the correct flower (male) to lay her eggs, thus dies inside the female fig. SO, yes, there is a possibility we are getting some insect protein as we consume figs. Want to learn more? Here’s an educational article and video about the relationship of figs and their pollinators: LINK.
2 pounds figs (purple or green) ~ stems removed and figs coarsely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
¼ cup and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
In a large saucepan, toss the figs together with the sugar and allow to sit for about 15 minutes, until the figs become juicy and the sugar has mostly dissolved.
Add the water and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 20 minutes. The fruit should be soft and the jam should slide down the spoon in heavy drops.
Allow the jam to cool to room temperature, then spoon them to mason jars and store in the refrigerator. These should last up to 3 months. They can also be frozen and thawed overnight in the refrigerator for later use.
I was recently on an adventure in Croatia and visited a park that had been on my must-see list for about 20 years. Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the world that i have ever seen! It is Croatia’s first and largest national park of the country’s seven parks. The park was instated into the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage List in 1979.
We booked AirBnB accommodations in a village about five minutes away and was famished by the time we had arrived after a day of sightseeing along the way. We asked around about dining options and the restaurant at Plitvice National Park was decidedly a fantastic choice! My dinner consisted of fine local Croatian offerings: white wine, grilled trout, salad topped with finely shaved pickled red cabbage, and stewed carrots and green beans, served with a basket of a dense but amazingly moist bread with sir (pronounced seer) cheese. The stewed carrots were soft and buttery, seasoned to perfection. I have no earthly idea how the chef cooked that dish, but this is my take on it—with a Lulu twist of course! Enjoy! 🙂
On another note, like the unknown wine region of Switzerland (YES, there is one, and it’s gorgeous!), Croatia does not export their wines! You must enjoy their creations there and buy some to bring home.
While you’re reading this post and possibly going to attempt this recipe, you should try to learn some basic Croatian food words. It’s one of the most difficult languages I’ve ever had to learn for my travels, but it’s quite challenging but fun! I learned that the language uses few vowels in their words. Instead, the uses of accent marks over some letters create some of the sounds that would otherwise have been created with vowels. Quite minimalist! 🙂
molim = please/you’re welcome
Dubro Jutro = good morning!
hvala = thank you
kruh = bread
sir = cheese
butter = maslac
radish = rotkvica
mrvka = carrot
salata = salad
grilled fish = riba na zaru
trout = pastrva
wine = vino
coffee = kava; coffee with milk = kava s mlijekom
water = voda
2 tablespoons butter
1-2 bunches organic red radishes ~ ends and tops (leave 1/4 of the green stems) removed, radishes cut into halves or quarters
1 cup organic baby carrots ~ cut into sections of two or three
1 pint sunflower sprouts
Splash of white wine ~ I used chardonnay
Sea salt ~ to taste
Freshly ground black pepper ~ to taste
In a stainless steel pot, heat the butter on medium heat until melted. Add the carrots, sauté for a few minutes then allow to cook for about 3 minutes, covered.
Turn up the heat slightly and add a splash of white wine. Immediately add radishes and cook for about 5 minutes, covered. Be sure to stir occasionally so that nothing burns. Add more butter and/or wine if needed. Your root veggies should be soft and tender.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over a bed of sunflower sprouts. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and a sprout.
My mama used to give me chilled slices of jicama when I was a kid. Back then, I used to pronounce it “jee-ka-muh”—only as an adult did I learn that I had been butchering this sweet juicy tuber’s name. I had no idea it was a latin name, thus should be pronounced “hick-uh-muh.”
If you follow my blog, then you may already know that I don’t like to drone on and on about my boring life. Instead, I like to share the interesting facts about ingredients for each recipe, be it nutritional value, how the produce got its name, etc.
Jicama (Pachyrhizus Erosus), also called Mexican turnip, Chinese turnip, is a native Mexican vine that belongs to the legume family! Each vine can climb as high as 14-20 feet tall with gorgeous flowers of white or blue, and the edible tuberous tap roots are what we eat. However, everything else on the plant above ground is toxic, so take precaution if you decide to grow this in your garden. The leaves, stems, flowers, and seed pods all contain rotenone, a colorless, odorless broad spectrum insecticide/pesticide that naturally occurs in some plants, such as the jicama. It takes roughly 9 months from seed to harvest.
1 medium jicama (about 1 pound) ~ diced
2 small Ataúlfo mangos ~ diced
1 medium shallot ~ finely diced
1 jalapeño or serrano ~ finely diced
1 cup organic cilantro leaves ~ chopped
juice of 3 medium limes
freshly ground black pepper
freshly ground sea salt
Prepare all your ingredients. Combine all the ingredient in a large mixing bowl and gently mix with a spatula.
Serve chilled with fish tacos, topped on salads, or with chips. Enjoy! 🙂