West African Peanut Soup

Friday night I felt that familiar tickle in the back of my throat. “Oh no…I’m getting sick!” Sure enough, I woke up Saturday morning with a stuffy nose and cough. Cough syrup can only do so much as far as healing goes. By Monday night, I was fed up with not being able to breathe.

I knew I needed to make some pepper soup to clear me up. I was introduced to pepper soup by my dear friend Karen; I met Karen while we were both studying at WVU. She and her family came to America from Liberia in the early 2000s and brought many of their recipes with them. She makes pepper soup with bone in chicken, smoked turkey breast and fish, and chicken feet…and it is delicious. You have to drink milk while you eat it, but it burns so good.

When I went online to find a pepper soup recipe similar to Karen’s but without the meat I wouldn’t be able to find here in the Ohio Valley and without as much heat (I’m a wuss), I came across one for West African Peanut Soup (http://www.africanbites.com/maafe-west-african-peanut-soup/). I tweaked it a little. Here’s my take on this delicious soup. I think Karen will approve 🙂 (except she will definitely make fun of me for not being able to handle the heat)

Before I go on, I would like to say that I’m blessed to know many people who have come to America from other countries (Karen, Randell, Anu, and Angela especially). You’ve brought your food, your traditions, your families, your culture, and your love. Thank you for letting me take part in celebrations both big and small.

West African Pepper Soup


  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup of peanut butter
  • 4-5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 maggi cube (you can use regular bouillon cubes if you can’t find this ingredient)
  • 2 large boneless chicken breast
  • carrots (I chopped up about 15 baby carrots)
  • 2 large potatoes (chopped)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon of hot paprika (or just use regular paprika and cayenne pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon of adobo seasoning
  • 2 habanero peppers


Boil the chicken breast, the onion, and the maggi cube for 30 minutes (or until chicken is fully cooked and reaches 165 degrees). Set aside.

Blend the tomatoes, garlic, and parsley in a food processor or blender. Heat oil in a large pan. Add mixture and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning.

Add vegetables, paprika, adobo, peanut butter, habanero peppers, and stock. I usually add the peanut butter first, let it melt into the mixture, and then add my other ingredients. Cook until vegetables are tender. Add in the chicken (cut into cubes). Cook for 5 minutes or until soup reaches desired thickness. If you want the soup to be more mild, remove the peppers. If you want the soup to be hot, break the peppers when you add the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with rice…and toasted Yorkville Bakery bread!

*Next time I make this, I think I’ll add more root vegetables (sweet potatoes, turnips). Maybe some kohlrabi.

*This would probably taste even better with bone-in chicken.




Shepherd’s Pie: The Fall Edition

I’m here to shake up your pumpkin spice experience.

Shepherd’s Pie: The Fall Edition


  • 1-2 pounds of Pumpkin Spice Sausage
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 can of corn
  • Cinnamon, Adobo, garam masala, red pepper flakes, and whatever else you feel like throwing in there. Go crazy.
  • Cornbread batter * (plus black pepper, honey, and jalapeno seasoning)
  • Rice (I used minute rice to thicken it up)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the sausage from the casing, and brown. Then add your onion, carrots, & celery. Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat until the vegetables soften.

Add the corn, coconut milk, pumpkin puree, spices, and rice to the pan. Let thicken for about 10-15 minutes. Stir often.

While it’s cooking, prepare the cornbread. I use self-rising cornmeal mix and then add milk, an egg, oil, and whatever else I feel like putting in there. For this recipe, I added honey, jalapeno seasoning, and black pepper.

Spray a square baking pan with cooking spray. I used a deepdish 9X13. Spread your sausage mixture evenly into the pan, and then spread/pour the cornbread mixture overtop.

*If you use a thick cornbread batter, spread over the top of the casserole. If your batter is smooth and creamy and more of a liquid, pour it evenly and slowly into the casserole. It will sort of bake into the other ingredients. Both are good!

Bake for 22-25 minutes.

Enjoy! This is one of my favorite things I’ve made so far!

Pierogies Paprikash

I started out making a pierogie dish in the crockpot. It was supposed to have cheddar kolbossy, cream cheese, cheddar cheese, pierogies, and chicken stock. That’s it.

WELL. My dad didn’t want kolbossy today because we had it Tuesday. He wanted boneless thighs (he loves chicken and would eat it every meal).

I improvised, and it turned out VERY similar to chicken paprikash. You have to try this dish. It has everything I love.

Pierogies Paprikash


  • 2 boxes of pierogies
  • 1.5 cups of minute rice
  • one 8 oz block of cream cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 chunk of brick cheese – cut into cubes (you can use whatever cheese you want. Go crazy)
  • 1 container of unsalted chicken broth (4 cups)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 6 large boneless thighs
  • 1 tablespoon of crushed garlic
  • crushed red pepper
  • Adobo (mild kind; no pepper) (use enough to cover the chicken)
  • Paprika


Turn your crockpot setting to high. Add the garlic, paprika, cream cheese, cheddar/brick cheeses, chicken stock, and 2 boxes of pierogies. Cover and leave it alone. This part of the recipe needs to cook by itself, with occasional stirring, for at least 3 hours.

When you’re getting close to the 3 hour mark, chop and sautee the onions in butter. When they’re soft, add them to the crockpot.

After you’ve removed the onions, melt the rest of the butter in the same skillet (should be a little less than 1 stick). When it’s hot, cook your boneless thighs over medium heat. I season with the Adobo, paprika, and crushed red pepper. I kept mine covered and flipped them a few times. It took about 25 minutes. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool enough so that you can handle it.

Empty the crockpot hodgepodge into a LARGE skillet. Large enough to hold all that plus the chicken (ideally the same one you cooked the chicken in). Add the rice. Leave the skillet on medium heat, and do not cover. This part isn’t necessary. You can leave it in the crockpot; I just thought mine needed to thicken up. It’s probably easier just to add the chicken into the crockpot and let it cook for another hour.

Chop your chicken, and add it to the skillet (make sure all the delicious juices from the chicken cooking are also in there). Let everything cook, stirring frequently, and thicken for another ten minutes.

We ate an entire skillet of this with no leftovers. It was that good. I’m not sure how we each put down 2 bowls, but it happened.


Pumpkin Chili

I don’t care what you say. There’s never a time when you should or should not eat pumpkin. It’s a year round food that I adore. This recipe is easy and crazy good.

Pumpkin Chili


  • 1 can of pumpkin puree
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 1 box of unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 onion
  • 1.5 pounds of kolbossy
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic (I love garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon of green curry paste
  • cinnamon, chili spice, smoked paprika, pepper, garam masala, and adobo (whatever you think; just don’t make it too salty) (I add quite a bit of cinnamon because I love it)


Chop the onions, and sautee with the garlic until soft.

Chop the kolbossy into bite sized pieces and add to the onions and garlic.

Dump in everything else.

Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve over prepared rice; make cornbread to go with it, if you feel like it.

Rakott Krumpli

I attended the Hungarian Picnic this past weekend, and I wanted to make something Hungarian that I could bring. I chose this dish because who doesn’t like sausage and potatoes?

Rakott Krumpli (layered potato casserole)

Based off of this recipe: http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/layered-potato-casserole-rakott-krumpli

I added more or less of some ingredients, added paprika, and adjusted the measurements 🙂


  • 3 pounds of potatoes
  • 2 pounds of sausage (I used our delicious, homemade Hungarian Smoked Sausage) *
  • 8 boiled eggs (omit if you don’t like them; I don’t think they make or break this dish)
  • 1/2 cup of bread crumbs
  • 1 stick of butter (melted)
  • Salt & pepper + paprika
  • Sour cream (enough to cover 2 layers; get the big tub)


Fill a pot with enough water to cover the potatoes. Salt the water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low for 40 minutes. Drain, and let the potatoes cool enough so that you are able to handle them.

Cut the sausage into bite sized pieces, and fry until cooked through.

Preheat the oven to 390 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 pan with some of the melted butter.

Thickly slice the potatoes, and evenly layer them in the pan. Cover this layer with sausage, then cover the sausage with an even layer of the eggs (slice the eggs as well). Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Cover liberally with sour cream.

Layer with the remaining potatoes, season again, and liberally cover with sour cream.

Sprinkle the top with bread crumbs, and pour the rest of the butter over the bread crumbs.

Bake for 30 minutes; if the top isn’t crispy enough, bake it at a higher heat for another 10 minutes.

*This would be so good with the cheddar kolbossy too!

Sweet and Spicy Broccoli

I love broccoli. It’s my favorite vegetable!

Sweet and Spicy Broccoli


  • Soy Sauce (1/4 cup)
  • Honey (1/4 cup)
  • Rice Wine Vinegar (2 tablespoons)
  • Garlic powder (1 tablespoon)
  • Sriracha (1 tablespoon)
  • 2 large heads of broccoli


The night before cooking, wash and cut your broccoli. Put it into a large gallon ziploc bag.

Mix all the other ingredients together either with a fork, a whisk, or in the food processor. Marinate the broccoli with these ingredients.

The next day, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Use a spoon to scoop a tablespoon of coconut oil onto a tray covered with foil. If it’s solid, put it in the oven to melt.

Roast the broccoli for 10 minutes. Use a spatula to move the pieces around so they don’t get too cooked on one side. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.

* If you’re avoiding sugar, cut the honey. The coconut oil will provide a bit of sweetness.

Italian Ground Beef Casserole

Adapted from Taste and Tell

Italian Ground Beef Casserole


  • 2 pounds of ground beef
  • 5 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 28 oz can of diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 1 can of sweet corn (drained)
  • Italian seasoning (2 tablespoons)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Hot or regular paprika (1/2 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 24 slices of provolone cheese
  • 16 oz tube of refrigerated biscuit dough
  • butter
  • pepper


Season and brown your ground beef (adding the soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce as well). Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook until they soften (about 10 minutes).

Add the can of diced tomatoes and the can of corn, and cook for about 20 minutes over medium heat. Stir frequently.

Stir in the cup of ricotta cheese.

Spoon half of the ground beef mixture into a 9 X 13 baking dish. Layer the 12 slices of provolone. Cover with the rest of the mixture, and then layer in the other 12 slices.

Top with the biscuit dough. Brush the biscuits with butter and sprinkle them with pepper.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Homemade Sloppy Joes

Sloppy joes are pretty easy to make when you have ground beef and a can of Manwich. I had the ground beef…but no Manwich. I decided to make my own!

Homemade Sloppy Joes


  • 2 pounds of fresh ground chuck
  • 1 onion
  • 2.5 cups of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoons of mustard
  • 4 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon each of the following: salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of the following: crushed red pepper flakes, sriracha, red curry powder, turmeric

*You can add whatever spices you want. I threw in whatever I felt like. Just make sure you have enough salt & pepper.


Season your ground beef with all the dried spices. Brown your ground beef, and drain the fat.

Add your onion to the skillet (with the ground beef), and cook til it softens.

Mix up the sauces and water. Pour over the ground beef mixture and stir. Let this cook over medium heat for at least 10 minutes. The longer it cooks or the longer it sits, the better it tastes! If you have time to let it cook longer, cook over medium/low heat.

Serve with delicious hard rolls, buns, or over hot dogs. Enjoy!

Crispy, Glazed Chicken Wings

I have never marinated chicken wings before. The smart thing to do would be to Google some recipes, and check and see what other people do. I did none of these things. I made up my own marinade with no measuring and no plan.

Can you even bake marinated wings? Will they get crispy enough? I knew I was going to find out. I’m lucky though…Because these wings turned out DELICIOUS.

Crispy, Glazed Chicken Wings

Ingredients for the Marinade

  • Rice wine vinegar (1/4 cup)
  • Soy sauce (1/2 cup)
  • Sriracha (1 tbsp, more if you like it hot)
  • Brown sugar (2 tbsp)
  • Curry paste (1 tbsp)
  • Crushed or chopped garlic (1 tbsp)

*This doesn’t have to be exact.

Ingredients for Baking

  • Jumbo cut chicken wings (I used 2 pounds)
  • Olive oil (enough to brush on each wing, maybe 2 tbsp)

Ingredients for Glaze

  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped/crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup of honey

Directions (marinade)

Mix all your ingredients together in a large Ziplock bag. Add your wings. Let sit overnight (or for at least 2 hours before cooking).

Directions (Glaze)

Bring all the ingredients to a boil, and stir it frequently to dissolve the honey. Turn it down to low, let it simmer, and cook for about 8 minutes.

Strain (to remove the garlic). Set aside and let thicken.

Directions (baking)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Pat your wings dry. This will take quite a few paper towels, but it’s worth it.

Brush your wings with olive oil. Bake (on a roasting pan-this is the key to crispy wings) for 45-50 minutes.

Brush your wings with the glaze, and bake for another 10 minutes.

*I don’t have a roasting pan…But I do have cooling racks that you use for baking. I made my own roasting pan using a brownie pan and the cooling racks!

**Special shoutout to the Facebook users that assured me you can, in fact, marinate wings!



Pork Chops

I love pork chops. I would cook them every single day…but we only cut them on Wednesdays and Thursdays! Today, Chops (or Michael. Whatever you call him) was cutting some bone in chops on the saw, so I grabbed some for lunch.

Pork Chops


  • 6 cups of water
  • 6 tablespoons of salt
  • pepper (however much you want to use)
  • dry rub seasoning (I used our Smokey BBQ rub)
  • olive oil
  • bone in pork chops (this brine recipe worked for 6 of them)


Boil 1 cup of water and add the salt so that it dissolves. Add the rest of the water to bring the brine up to room temperature. You can then add the pepper and whatever spices you want. Make sure the pork chops are fully submerged, and brine for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a cast iron skillet on the stove top (along with the olive oil) so it can preheat as well. Pat your pork chops dry, and season on both sides with the dry rub.

When your cast iron skillet is hot enough (check by flicking some water into the pan. If it sizzles, it’s ready), cook the pork chops for 3 minutes. Flip, and cook for another 3 minutes. Flip again, and transfer to a baking sheet. After all the pork chops have been seared and are ready on the cooking sheet, bake for 15-20 minutes until the chops reach 165 degrees.

*If you’re only make 2-4 pork chops, just cook them directly in the cast iron skillet! I had to transfer to a baking sheet because I was cooking for 8 people.

*Note to self: buy another cast iron skillet.

Enjoy! Let me know what seasonings you use in your brine and on your chops!