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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Bread and Butter Refrigerator Pickles

Pickles.  I like them but I can usually live without them.  But sometimes a crunchy pickle is tasty.  And typically, we can't find them here. Or at least I can't find them.  So, I decided to make my own.
The ingredients are simple enough, especially for me because I have a ton of spices in my pantry.

So first I made the pickling spice

2 Tablespoons whole mustard seeds
1 Tablespoon whole allspice
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1 teaspoon red pepper fakes
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 bay leaves, crumbled
7 whole cloves

Add all ingredients to a jar (I used an empty spice jar) and shake up to combine. Obviously you won't need all this for the recipe so you have extra on hand.  In case of a pickle emergency.

Now you're ready to make the pickles.

3 small cucumbers, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon pickling salt
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon pickling spice

Place onions and pickles into jars.  Put all the rest of the ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Boil for several minutes (4-5) then carefully pour liquid over cucumbers and onions.  Let cool on counter then put the lids on and place in refrigerator for a week.  After that you are free to eat them.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce (Shakshouka)

This is a delicious, quick, and easy meal that our family loves!

It only requires a few ingredients and minimal prep/cook time, making it a great choice for a weeknight meal (or those nights you forget to defrost meat).

2 tablespoons olive oil 
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika 
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne 
Salt and pepper to taste
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
4-5 oz feta cheese
4 eggs
chopped cilantro 

Preheat oven to 375. Heat oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet, add onions and peppers and cook until the onions are translucent. Add spices and stir for about a minute. Add tomatoes then lower heat and simmer about 20 minutes. Add feta cheese and mix it in well. Make four little holes in the sauce and carefully crack the eggs into the holes. (Alternatively, you can also crack eggs one at a time into a small dish, then pour it into the holes). Salt and pepper the eggs then transfer to the oven. Cook until the eggs are set (7-10 minutes). Sprinkle with cilantro and enjoy with some crusty bread or pita bread. 

Oh and I probably could have fit another egg in there so keep that in mind when you are preparing it.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


This was definitely one of my favorite trips from our African travels!  We went to Livingstone, Zambia but also managed to squeeze in two other countries (one day in Botswana and one in Zimbabwe).  This trip was all about the outdoors - exploring Victoria Falls, land and river safaris, elephant rides, family morning runs, and lovely sunsets on the Zambezi River.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Baked Potato Soup

Typically, I prefer a big steamy bowl of soup during winter when it's nice and cold outside.  But if I waited for cold weather here in Luanda, I would never make soup.  So, I have adapted.  Now, I make soup and turn the air down and pretend like it's winter.

Potato soup is delicious and comforting and so easy to make.

7 slices bacon, diced
1 med onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 - 8 med potatoes, peeled and diced small
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning
1/2-1 cup cheddar, shredded
chopped parsley

Fry bacon until crisp.  Removed and drain on paper towels.  Pour most of the bacon grease out (save it in a jar for other recipes).  Add onions, carrots, and garlic and cook until about until onions are translucent.  Add potatoes and cook 5-10 minutes. Add seasonings (salt, pepper, cajun seasoning). Add stock and bring to a simmer. Cook until potatoes are done (approx 15-20 minutes).  Use immersion blender and blend soup until smooth.  Add cheese and stir. Garnish soup with bacon pieces, parsley, and more cheese (if desired). Confession - I didn't have any parsley so I used chopped arugula.  It was a great substitution.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016


Pesto is one of the easiest things to make and it makes such a delicious meal!  Of course, the trick here in Luanda is actually finding basil in the grocery store.  When I DO find it, I buy a bunch and make this pesto sauce.  You can serve it over baked chicken or mix it with pasta, or have it on toast or just eat it straight from the jar (no judgement here).  There are only five ingredients and it takes just a couple minutes to prepare.

2 cups basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pine nuts (you can substitute walnuts or pecans if you prefer)

Place everything in the food processor except the oil.  Pulse a few minutes until everything is chopped well. With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Continue to process a few more seconds. And that's it.  You're done!  I'll be posting my chicken pesto pasta recipe in the next few days, so watch for it :)

Spicy Potato Curry

It was one of those days.  I had no meat thawed for dinner and no real plan on what to cook. Luckily, I had some potatoes that needed to be cook soon anyways, so this is what I threw together.  It was delicious! I had  leftovers twice the next day (lunch and dinner). It is spicy so if you don’t enjoy the heat, either reduce the cayenne or leave it out altogether.

6 medium potatoes, cubed
Vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper (less if you don’t like spicy)
4 teaspoons curry powder
4 teaspoons garam masala
2 teapsoons salt
¾ cup cauliflower, cut in bite sized pieces
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
½ cup frozen peas
14 oz can coconut milk

Bring large pot of salted water to boil then add potatoes.  Simmer until tender (15-20 minutes). Drain thoroughly.

Over medium heat, place oil in a large pot.  Add onions and garlic and saute until onion is transuclent. Add seasonings and stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Add cauliflower and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, garbanzo beans, peas, potatoes and coconut milk.  Bring to a simmer and allow to cook 10 minutes.

Great over basmati rice or with some delicious naan or both!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

Here is a simple recipe for a condensed cream of chicken soup to use in recipes.  It's so easy and takes about 10 minutes to prepare.  It makes 3 cups so if you don't need all of it, you can freeze the rest of it.

This is especially helpful here in Angola, where you can't find this soup. This can be a problem because it's found in so many quick-cooking casserole recipes that we all need to make sometimes when we are having one of those crazy busy nights where we barely have time to breath.

Here is your super easy, 10 minute condensed cream of chicken soup recipe:

2 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon seasoning mix of your choice (I used a mix of seasoning salt and garlic powder)

Bring chicken broth and 1/2 cup milk to a boil.  Mix remaining ingredients together and whisk until smooth.  Reduce chicken broth/milk to low. Add the milk/flour mixture and whisk for about 5 minutes or until thickened.

For the seasonings, you don't have to use a prepared seasoning salt.  You can use whatever you like and/or have on hand (onion powder, garlic powder, tarragon, rosemary, etc).  

Simple, easy, and fast!

Cape Town, South Africa

I am so late getting this post up!  My excuse is that I had hundreds of pictures to sort through to try to give you the best idea of our lovely family vacation in Cape Town.  Just looking at these pictures again makes me want to hop on a plane and head down to this magnificent city and take in the beautiful views and enjoy a lovely glass of shiraz.

This trip was filled with great sites and lasting memories.  We experienced gorgeous views at Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point, we visited with the penguins at Boulders Beach, we spent a few days at a vineyard and had some amazing dinners and wine and we learned some great lessons at Robben Island. We also had some great outdoor time with runs through the vineyard, hikes in the mountains, and a few outdoor chess games.

Cape of Good Hope


Penguins at Boulders Beach

Robben Island


All recipes are on Petitchef