Über Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don’t even recall how many failed attempts I’ve had in all my years of baking and searching for the “Ultimate Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie.” I eventually—I am ashamed to admit this—bought store-bought baked cookies (always a great disappointment) or the Pillsbury or Tollhouse packages that you just pop in the oven. Folks, I am happy to say my search is over and this recipe is JUST.SO.DARN.DELISH. to not share it with the world…and *SHHH*, this stays between us “health nuts” and adults…I am using organic whole wheat flour! YES. Mwahahahahaha -insert purple smiley devil face emoji-.

INGREDIENTS

Makes about 12 large cookies.

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 TSP sea salt
  • 1/2 cup (one 4oz stick) unsalted butter ~ soft, room temperature (iIMPORTANT: NOT hot or melted)
  • 1 large free range organic egg
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups organic whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 TSP baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cup (12oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Leave the wrapped butter in a dish, at room temperature, for a few hours.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, and soft butter, until you get a smooth light yellow paste.
  3. Whisk in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Sift in the flour and baking soda, then very gently fold the mixture with a spatula. Do not overmix the dough, as this will result in cakey cookies. 
  5. Fold in the chips and gently distribute evenly with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Scoop out 12 cookie dough balls and place them on parchment, allowing about 4″ between each cookie and 2″ from the edges.
  8. Bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges start to turn light golden brown.
  9. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving with a nice tall glass of cold milk OR a cup of hot tea. ENJOY!

Turkish Yogurt Flatbread/Naan

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 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).
  2. Gently whisk in Greek yogurt, olive oil, and sea salt. Add flour and parsley. Gently mix with a wooden spoon or spatula.
  3. 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.
  4. Divide dough into equal pieces, then cover with a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat sauce pan to medium-low heat.
  6. 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.
  7. Flip the bread, lightly oil the surface and cook oil side down until golden.
  8. Serve with soups, curries, a dollop of sour cream, or just eat them on their own as a yummy snack!

Cassava Cake

What’s in a Name?
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.
    • manioc
    • macaxeira
    • mandioca
    • aipim
    • andagbeli
    • Brazilian arrowroot
    • tapioca plant
    • and sweet potato tree
  • Nigeria is the world’s largest produce of cassava.
  • Brazilian Farofa or Portugese Farinha de Mandioca: a traditional side dish made from cassava flour and is toasted
  • 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

Filipino Dessert

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. 😉

—— ♥ ——

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Thaw the cassava packets. Place contents in a mesh strainer and lightly rinse under running water. Strain cassava of all liquid and set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. Preheat oven 350°F.
  4. Grease 9×13 glass baking dish with butter.
  5. Whisk ingredients together in a bowl ~ your batter should be runny. Pour batter into baking dish.
  6. 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.
  7. Allow to cool completely. Cut into squares and serve chilled or room temp, drizzled with condensed milk.

Orange Creamsicle Cheesecake (NY Style)

One of my absolute favorite desserts ever since I discovered its existence in college (YES, can you believe my mom never baked cheesecake for us?!) is NEW YORK STYLE CHEESECAKE. Yum, yum, and YUM.  I remember my first few cheesecake flops years ago. The process seemed so daunting and foreign to me. Fast forward many moons and seasons…I now know why my cheesecake endeavors all tasted like “quichecakes” rather than cheesecake. Meh, live and learn. 🙂

I found a recipe on the side of a bulk cheesecake box purchased from Costco and thought I’d give it a try. I thought it was perfectly creamy and easy. The following recipe is the one I modified ~ making a crustless cheesecake, with a hint of lemon. If you’d like to try the original recipe found on the box, scroll all the way to the bottom. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 (8 ounce) packages full fat cream cheese ~ room temperature
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 TSP salt
  • 2 TBSP+ orange zest ~ adding more is better!
  • 1 TBSP lemon zest

Instructions

  1. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil to make it waterproof.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese. Add sugar and mix.
  3. Scrape down the bowl; add Greek yogurt, mixing thoroughly.
  4. Add eggs to mixer one at a time, mixing thoroughly on low speed.
  5. Scrape down the bowl add salt and lemon zest.
  6. Mix on low until well combined.
  7. Pour cheesecake batter into pan.
  8. Bake in a water bath at 325°F for 60-90 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Original “New York Style Cheesecake” Recipe

CRUST

  • 1 cup graham crackers crumbs
  • 2 1/2 TBSP unsalted butter. ~ melted
  • 1 1/2 TBSP sugar

FILLING

  • 6 (8 ounces) packages full fat cream cheese ~ room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 7 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 TSP salt
  • 2 TBSP lemon zest

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Wrap outside of 9-inch springform pan with aluminum foil to make it waterproof.
  2. Butter the bottom of pan.
  3. In mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter and sugar and mix well. Press into bottom of pan.
  4. In a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese. Add sugar and mix.
  5. Scrape down the bowl; add sour cream, mixing thoroughly.
  6. Add eggs to mixer one at a time, mixing thoroughly on low speed.
  7. Scrape down the bowl add rest of ingredients.
  8. Mix on low until well combined.
  9. Pour cheesecake batter into pan.
  10. Bake in a water bath at 325°F for 60-90 minutes until the cake sets.
  11. Remove from oven and chill completely before serving.

Buckwheat Groats

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.

HOW TO COOK BUCKWHEAT GROATS

  • 1 cup organic raw buckwheat
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 TSP sea salt
  • 1 TBSP chopped parsley (Curley or flat leaf)

Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Veggie Stew

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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
  • olive oil
  • sea salt ~ to taste
    fresh ground black pepper ~ to taste
    pinch cane sugar
  • fresh thyme
  • fresh oregano
  • fresh curly parsley ~ I like a giant handful of parsley (even before chopping)

 

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Lower heat, season to taste, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes with lid slightly askew.
  5. Remove from burner. Serve warm, garnished with freshly chopped parsley, with a side of polenta cakes.

Butter to Oil Conversion Chart

Recently when I was formulating my own recipe for cornbread, it dawned on me that all these years, I have heard that you can simply replace oil for butter, on an equal 1:1 ratio. I did some more digging and was convinced by Bob Mills that is not actually the case at all! In fact, a 1:1 ratio in some case may end up with greasy and oil results. Of course, you are the Chef in your own kitchen, so you be the judge of what works best for your recipe!

Source 1

Source 2

BUTTER OIL
1 teaspoon 3/4 teaspoon
1 tablespoon 2 1/4 teaspoons
2 tablespoons 1 1/2 tablespoons
1/4 cup 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup 1/4 cup
1/2cup 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons
2/3cup 1/2 cup
3/4cup 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup 3/4 cup

Sour Cream Cornbread

F81279CE-19D1-444A-8378-2978015C55AF

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??? 😉

PREP

  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • Lightly grease 9×13 baking dish with avocado oil

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups organic cornmeal (HEART HEALTH: supplement some with ground flaxseed)
  • 1 cup organic all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 cup organic rolled oats
  • 3/4 cups organic fine sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon seasalt
  • 2 cups organic sour cream (HEART HEALTH: replace with non-fat plain Greek yogurt)
  • 3/4 cup avocado oil
  • 3 large organic eggs

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Luluesque Recipe DigiCards_Sour Cream Cornbread-01

 

Homemade Fig Jam

HOMEMADE FIG JAM

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.

INGREDIENTS

  • 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

INSTRUCTIONS

  1.  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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.