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 šŸ™‚ (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 partĀ in celebrations both big and small.

West African Pepper Soup

Ingredients

  • 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)
  • 2Ā 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

Directions

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.

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

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.

 

Shredded Chicken Sandwiches

Mike looked at me this morning around 8:30 and said, “So…what’s for lunch today?” Good question, Mike. Good question. I decided to make a french toast bake for tomorrow’s lunch but had nothing in mind for today! I wanted something quick and easy that I wouldn’t have to babysit. Ā I love pulledĀ pork but didn’t have enough time to make any. So I thought, why not pulled chicken!?

Shredded Chicken

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sriracha (or pepper)
  • 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh, chopped garlic

*I didn’t really measure. Just add what you think, but remember that soy sauce is salty!

Directions

Add everything to a crock pot, and cook on high for 2.5 hours.

After 2.5 hours in the crock pot, remove the chicken and sauce and add itĀ to a heated skillet on the stove-top. Cover and simmer for 1 hour, flipping at least twice during that time.

Remove the chicken and shred while the sauce is still cooking/reducing.

Add the chicken back into the sauce and cook for a few more minutes.

We ate ours on Yorkville Bakery hard rolls with a little bit of barbecue sauce. It was SO good! Serve with homemade chips (or not…no judgement here).

*Don’t let the picture fool you. That pan was completely full of chicken. I made the mistake of waiting to get a picture! The guys had already gotten to it.

Oven Baked Chicken with Salsa & Cheese

I’ve been nominated to cook lunch…again. I actually don’t mind, but I need to find something a bit healthier that we all like to eat.

Oven Baked Chicken with Salsa & Cheese

Ingredients

  • Boneless breasts (small to medium size)
  • Seasoning (your choice; I used our rotisserie seasoning)
  • Salsa (we LOVE corn salsa)
  • Cheese (I used slice cojack, brick, & hot pepper)

Directions

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Rub your chicken with seasoning. Cover the chicken with salsa. Wrap the pan in foil, and make sure it’s sealed enough so that the moisture won’t escape. Cook the chicken for at least 30 minutes (it’s fully cooked when it reaches 165 degrees).

Uncover the chicken, and then cover with sliced or shredded cheese. I really loaded them up, using 3 slices per breast. Bake for another 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.

That’s it! You could serve it over a bed of rice or eat it like a sub sandwich. I also like to sautee some peppers and onions to eat with it. Bonus points for making your own salsa or using sriracha mayo. I mashed up some sweet potatoes and served it over that because they’re good carbs. Well, that and I love them.

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Jebbia’s Market (located in Wheeling, WV) had some nice quality fingerling potatoes the other day, so I bought some to cook for the guys. I love going to buy fresh produce because you just never know what you’ll find!

Fingerling Potatoes

Ingredients

  • Dill
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Oil (I used olive oil)
  • Potatoes

Directions

I like to get my skillet nice and hot (6-7 on the stove top), and then throw in the potatoes. I don’t cut them because they’re small. I use like 3 tablespoons of olive oil. You really have to watch them to make sure they don’t burn. Stir them often to make sure they’re browned on all sides (at least 10-15 minutes).

Reduce your heat to 4 or 5, and keep cooking and stirring. After about 15 minutes, add your seasoning. Start small, taste, and then add more. You can always add more, but you can’t take away salt once you’ve used too much!

That’s it! I usually take one out after 30 minutes, let it cool, then taste. If I’m able to cut into it easily, the potatoes are finished.

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Meat Info

We get lots of questions asking us how to cook meat and how long it can be left in the refrigerator. I will admit that because we work with meat, we’re vigilant about germs and safety.

BuzzfeedĀ has a great info-graphic with all different kinds of foods. Check it out!

Pork and poultry have to be cooked until they reach a temperature of 165 degrees. Invest in a meat thermometer. You won’t be sorry. Chicken is cooked when the juices run clear (they’re pink and cloudy when the chicken is raw). Beef should be cooked until it reaches 160 degrees. E-coli is killed at a temperature of 155 degrees which is why the FDA recommends 160-165 for meat.

Raw pork, poultry, and beef should not be kept in the refrigerator for more than 2 days.

I think the easiest way to thaw meat is to pull it out of the freezer the day or night before you would like to cook it, and thaw it on a plate in your refrigerator. You can also submerge your meat in cold water. Not hot, not lukewarm. Cold. Anything warm could potentially cook the meat, and that is gross.

Any other questions? Leave ’em in the comments!