Tag Archives: spinach

Lau Lau

18 Sep

Lau Lau’s are leaves stuffed with sweet potatoes and steamed.  This is a very typical luau dish in Hawaii.  I have made plenty of times stuffed cabbage leaves (not to self…  share these recipes on the blog), but I have never worked with collard greens, as the recipes I found on the internet called for.   I was prepared to make this recipe with large kale leaves or even cabbage.  I was so pleased to see collard greens in the supermarket. Yay!!!!

Again… this recipe is not difficult at all.  It just has a few steps to it to ensure the end result looks and tastes as good as it can be.

I don’t know how large they make these in Hawaii…  but I had to cook for at least 40 people, and we had 10+ dishes for people to choose from, so I made them small.  I used half a collard green leaf for each lau lau packet.  If the leaf was small, I used one whole leaf.  You can certainly make them as large or as small as you wish.

The folding takes a little getting used to just until you figure out the best way to keep all the delicious sweet potato mash inside the green leaf.

Recipe from KarmaFree Cooking


10-12 collard greens leaves

2 medium-sized white sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-2 inch chunks

10 cremini mushrooms – chopped

2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 large onion, chopped small

1 red bell pepper, chopped small

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 vegetable bouillon cube

About ½ cup coconut milk

Olive oil

Salt and Freshly cracked Black Pepper

  1. In a medium saucepan, add sweet potato pieces and salted water to a boil.  Cook until they’re cooked and can be pierced easily with a fork.  Set aside leaving them in the cooking water to maintain warm.
  2. Fill a large but shallow pot with about 2 inches of water and bring to a boil.  Salt water heavily, as if you’re cooking pasta.  Place a few collard greens leaves at a time and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until slightly soft and color gets bright green.  Transfer to a bowl filled with salted ice water for leaves to cool and stop cooking.  This will also preserve the bright green color.  When leaves are cool, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.  Set aside.
  3. In a large skillet, drizzle a little olive oil and sauté onions, peppers, garlic with the vegetable bouillon cube.   Add cremini mushrooms and cook until they get a little color.  Add spinach and combine all the flavors together.  Season with salt and pepper one last time and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, add the boiled sweet potatoes and mash them with a drizzle of olive oil.  Add the cooked mushrooms, spinach and veggies to the sweet potatoes and mash it all together.  Soften the mash by adding coconut milk.  Go little by little to make a soft mash.  Try not to add too much coconut milk or it might get soupy.
  5.  Pat dry the collard greens leaves.  Cut away the stem from each leaf.  I then cut each leaf, which are generally pretty large in half, along the same line where the stem used to be.
  6. Place about ¼ cup of mash in the bottom part of the leaf, leaving about 1 inch border, and roll it like you would a burrito…  fold bottom edge   of collard green over filling, fold in sides and roll away from you, creating as tight roll as possible.  Do this until you run out of leaves and/or filling mash.

At this point… you can save them to steam later or you can steam right away.  For the Hawaiian Festival, we rolled them the night before and steamed them the morning of our lunch festival.

  1. Set up a steamer pot with boiling water.  Transfer rolls to a steamer basket, cover pot and steam for 2-3 minutes.  Increase steaming time to 5 minutes if you made these in advance and are coming cold out of the fridge.  Transfer to serving platter carefully with tongs.

The collard greens are hearty, but are already tender enough that they cut easily.  The filling is sweet and savory.  This is great new way to enjoy cooked greens that still look vibrant green.

Top 10 Mom’s Favorite Recipes

7 May

I love my mom to death… we disagree on many things, we argue, but we also have tons in common.  We both love to travel, to shop, to decorate, work on home projects, and we have also a mutual love for yoga, meditation and the spiritual lifestyle.

And what do you do to honor and celebrate someone who has giving you everything but also has everything she needs??  You cook for them… because everyone is bound to get hungry sometime and especially if they ask you for something in specific.

Sometimes, when my mom and I go to The Boys Farmer’s Market in Florida, she will see products/ingredients and tell me, “Madelyn…  Why don’t you make this tonight?”

So to honor all my mom’s cravings I want to share some of her favorite recipes in KarmaFree Cooking.  The ones she requests over and over and over again.  Maybe YOUR Mom will enjoy them as well.

My mom's favorite recipes published in KarmaFree Cooking


Spinach Pinwheels

Cottage Cheese Dip

Tofu with Snow Peas and Bean Sprouts

Quinoa Pasta with Fresh Baby Spinach and Lemon

White Lasagna with Spinach

Spinach-filled Mushrooms

Tomato Bruschetta

Asparagus Tart

Whole Wheat Bread Budín

Pumpkin Cuatro Leches

Apple Crisp


This is a list of 11…  but the cottage cheese can’t be called a recipe, but believe me, If I have cottage cheese and chips and my mom passes by, she will undoubtedly stand guard in front of me and eat my stuff until I tell her to stop.

Green is for Spinach…

2 Mar

I did not grew up eating “greens” …  I only knew spinach was something “kinda gross” that Popeye ate out of a can to become strong and powerful.

I can’t recall when my perception of spinach changed, but I am thankful it did.  Spinach is now my go to salad green, especially baby spinach, that’s so ready available in every supermarket nowadays.

So in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, I wanted to celebrate my love for spinach.  Cooked, raw, frozen and thawed… all this recipes take advantage of the goodness of spinach.  I hope that if you’re still on the fence about spinach, to give a few of this recipes a try… they might change your mind too.

Spinach Recipes Collage 2015 - ENG


Spinach Salad with Strawberries

Spinach Salad with Figs, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Spinach Fried Quesadillas

Spinach Pinwheels

Spinach-Stuffed Mushrooms

Spinach Croquetas

Smoked Gouda Rissotto with Mushrooms and Spinach

Bucatini with Goat Cheese, Spinach and Tomatoes

Spinach and Almond White Lasagna

Kick-butt Spinach and Mushroom Lasagna

Quinoa Pasta with Baby Spinach and Lemon Vinaigrette

Sweet Plantain Canoes Filled with Creamed Spinach and Pine Nuts

If I had a Valentine… what would I cook for him?

15 Feb

I love going out to dinner to a nice, fancy restaurant as much as the next girl… especially, if someone special is inviting.  But experience has taught me that on Valentine’s Day or around that date, it’s the WORST TIME to go out to dinner.  There may be some exceptions, of course…  but usually during this time, restaurants are extremely crowded, putting extra pressure on all the staff.

To me,  it’s more romantic to plan something special at home.  Make something you know you’re extremely good at and that you know your partner will love – for the awesome flavors, but also for the effort and care you put into it. Besides, when you have dinner at home… dress code is optional. ;)

Unfortunately, this year, I am spending Valentine’s weekend with a nice construction crew who’s remodeling my tiny, little kitchen into a very chic and modern tiny, little kitchen. And to top it all…  no romantic Valentine for me this year.

But… let’s play pretend.  If I had a romantic Valentine to invite over for dinner, what would I cook for him to let him know how much I care?

This is my menu…

Vegetarian Valentine 2015

Start with a Spinach, Arugula, Figs and Blue Cheese salad with a Balsamic Vinaigrette

Main course would be the exquisite Baked Pasta with 4 Cheeses,  that usually floors anyone who has it for the first time.

On the side, and because we’re in Puerto Rico, I need to have sweet plantains with vanilla and cinnamon.

And for dessert, I would make a batch of Carob Syrup to dip some strawberries in…  I would even add a pinch of cayenne to keep things interesting.


Do you like my menu??  What are your go-to dishes if you want to show someone you care?

Spinach Fried Quesadilla with Goat Cheese

29 Jul

I went to a very well-known Mexican restaurant that just opened in Puerto Rico… one that has many locations in cities around the US, but apparently according to the hard-core fan base, it’s not a chain restaurant. Well… back to my experience, the thing was, I was underwhelmed. After all the fanfare of this restaurant opening in PR and having friends telling me such “wonderful” things about it, I was not impressed. My net takeaway was – I can make better Mexican food at home!

This is how these quesadillas came about… Why make quesadillas with only 1 cheese, or only one ingredient for that matter? And newsflash to all the “fancy schmancy” restaurants out there, quesadillas can be made with something other than just chicken.

Inspired by the fried quesadillas of Guadalajara, here is my take on a great vegetarian option for lunch on even dinner…



3 sprouted corn tortillas
1 cup baby fresh spinach – what you can fit in a 1 cup measuring cup
1 cup grated mozzarella or Italian blend cheeses
2 ounces of goat cheese – cream cheese will do in a pinch
Kosher Salt
Freshly grated Black Pepper
Olive Oil


You’ll be able to make 2 quesadillas at a time using a large skillet, but you need to make them in staggered steps. I consider 3 quesadillas is a good serving portion for one, but if you think you are better off with 4 quesadillas, just add one more tortilla and adjust the rest of the ingredients. This is more a method than a recipe…


  1. In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, add a drizzle of olive oil and place one tortilla… flip it over on both sides so there’s some of the olive oil on both sides.
  2. Place some of the shredded cheese on top of the tortilla. Now place a few fresh baby spinach leaves on top of the cheese. You can rip them into smaller pieces with your hands if you’d like. Season the spinach with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Place a few pieces of goat cheese over spinach.
  3. Carefully, fold tortilla in half so you end up with a half moon filled with spinach and cheese. At first it will seem as if there is too much spinach for the small tortilla, but the heat from the skillet will wilt the spinach and it will reduce the bulk considerably.
  4. Flip the tortilla a few times so that it gets golden brown on both sides.

While one quesadilla is getting golden brown to the side of the pan, you can use the remaining space to heat up tortilla #2. And start the process all over again.


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