Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lavender Lemonade + Garden Pics

Now that it is semi-officially summer (i.e. post-Memorial Day and weather-wise), make some lemonade! This lavender lemonade recipe is great as is, but is also amazing if you substitute fresh rosemary for the dried lavender flowers. You could also swap the water for club soda for a carbonated version. Maybe add some vodka. There are a lot of possibilities, but all versions should be drunk outside or at least by an open window.

Check out my makeshift strainer - I used a sifter, like for powdered sugar. Very hard to clean lemon pulp out of but I can't find our fine mesh strainer!
Some leftover lemonade soaking in those afternoon rays on the hammock.
From Green Acres Lavender Farm via the Kitchn

5 cups water, divided into 1 cup & 4 extra cups
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp dried lavender flowers
1 cup lemon juice (I used 5 lemons)
Ice cubs
Lemons, sliced for prettiness (optional)
Lavender sprigs for prettiness (optional)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Vegan Black Bean Soup

We have shelter! Now everyone can come visit. We move in this Saturday but we won't fully be living in the apartment until later this month. The kitchen floor is being converted from carpet (ew) to hardwood floors or tile. My sister is in town from California so we're spending time with her aka she is free labor to help me move in.
I made this soup for dinner last night. It's so versatile. I just threw whatever veggies we had in the fridge and it came together nicely. The inspiration for this soup came from a vegan restaurant we ate at over the weekend plus a recipe from It was served with a green strawberry salsa. So, so delicious. Strawberry season is only days away so I'm looking forward to some strawberry picking!
This soup is not so photogenic.

Soup Ingredients:

1 large yellow onion
4 stalks celery
3 carrots
5 cloves garlic
2 red bell peppers
2 jalapeños
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1 lb dried black beans
1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper


Fresh cilantro
Spicy salsa
Sour cream
Tortilla chips
Cheddar cheese


Soak the black beans in double the amount of water overnight.
Dice all the veggies and mince the garlic. At this point, you can throw everything into the crock pot...which I couldn't do since mine is in Pittsburgh! I would imagine the soup would take all day to cook, maybe with some extra water added in.
Anyways, if you're doing this over the stove, rinse and drain the soaked beans. Add to a large pot with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour. This may take some more time depending on how old the beans are. Keep the cooking liquid when straining the beans after they are cooked!
In a separate soup pot, sauté the onions, celery, and carrot over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the spices and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, half the black beans, and half the can of tomatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
Take the other half of the black beans and tomatoes and blend. Add about a cup of the cooking liquid from the beans to thin out. Add to the soup and simmer for about 20 minutes more until all the vegetables are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Lemon Chickpea Lentil Salad

As we've been crashing with my parents, I've been cooking a lot for my family. It's my way of contributing rent I suppose. This salad was the perfect mix of tangy dressing and lots of spring vegetables! I found the recipe on Cookie + Kate and just knew I had to make it. 
By the way, Happy Memorial Day! It's our year anniversary (I know, crazy) so we spent it in the little town of New Hope. It's right on the Delaware river and full of antique shops, used bookstores, and great food. Elizabeth Gilbert lives right by the town so we got to explore her import shop! It was filled with goodies from Asia (lots of Buddha statues). Right next door to Two Buttons was a great vegetarian restaurant. We had some to-die-for chocolate caramel tart with pink sea salt. It was so good, it was featured on the food network. Must replicate recipe!

  • 2 cups dried black beluga lentils
  • 2 large garlic cloves, halved lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon dressing
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
  • ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 big bunch of radishes, sliced on mandolin
  • ¼ cup packed fresh, leafy herbs, chopped (combination of mint and dill 
  • 1 bunch fresh arugula
  1. In a medium pot, combine the lentils, halved garlic cloves, olive oil and 4 cups water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook until the lentils are cooked through and tender, which will take somewhere between 20 to 35 minutes. Drain the lentils and discard the garlic cloves.
  2. Whisk together the ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. Taste and add more of anything if you like.
  3. Add everything together except for arugula in a large bowl and ideally let marinate in fridge for a couple hours before serving. Serve with a small handful of arugula on each plate.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Quick Chickpea Coconut Curry

A few days ago I went to Whole Foods around dinnertime, so obviously I was tempted by the hot food bar. I got some of a delicious chickpea side dish, and I figured it would be pretty easy to copy at home. It is!

My version does has the advantage of not having to sit around in a buffet tray for hours, and curry is one of those things that is way easier than some people think to make homemade. Last night Linda made a great chicken tikka masala that she should post!!

Quick Chickpea Coconut Curry

1 tbsp oil (I used peanut but coconut would make sense)
1/4 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp (or more for extra spiciness) fresh hot pepper, seeds taken out and minced (I used serrano)
1 tbsp red curry paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
salt and pepper

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Chicken with Roasted Rhubarb Sauce

I've never made gravy because I find it too intimidating... but this dish makes it's own delicious rhubarb "gravy" without even trying! It's amazing. This is exactly the kind of simple recipe with very few ingredients that I'm always on the lookout for.

I made this for our roommate dinner. So PREVIOUS ROOMMATES (Michelle, Nick, Britt): check out what you're missing. Aren't you glad you abandoned me for Vietnam/Philly/DC.

Chicken with Roasted Rhubarb Gravy
Adapted from Cooking Books

8 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in (fyi: the family pack at Whole Foods is surprisingly affordable)
3-5 stalks rhubarb, chopped (remember the leaves are poisonous)
1 tsp sugar
sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the chicken thighs skin side up in an ungreased baking dish. Lightly sprinkle with salt. That's all! Cook for 30 minutes.

Chop the rhubarb and mix it with the teaspoon of sugar. Let it sit.

After 30 minutes, add in the rhubarb, fitting it around the chicken in the pan. Put it back in the oven for another 15 minutes.

All done! Serve the chicken and spoon on the sauce. Prepare to be amazed.

Another very simple but delicious meal to add onto this post:

Avocado Toast/Bagel

Toast or bagel
1 avocado
hot sauce

Smash an avocado onto toast or a bagel. Lightly salt and top with hot sauce. It's nothing new, but I always forget how good it is!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Jamaican Rice & Peas

I'm pretty confident that I will never get tired of rice and beans. When I lived in Costa Rica for a month, that was a huge portion of my diet and it never got old - although the steady supply of avocados fresh from the tree in the backyard to serve alongside the rice probably helped. And hot sauce!

This is (my take on) the Jamaican take on rice and beans. Evidently it's called rice and peas because they use pigeon peas there, but I've only ever seen it with red kidney beans in the US. I also used a whole habanero pepper in place of a scotch bonnet pepper because they don't have scotch bonnet peppers in Giant Eagle (at least the one I went to). This is one of those dishes I remember making back in high school when I had no idea what I was doing, and everything still worked out fine!

Jamaican Rice & Peas
Adapted from Bobby's Flay's recipe on the Food Network

2 cups cooked red kidney beans (I slow cooked them a couple nights before)
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 cup chopped green onions (and another tbsp or so for mixing in after cooking)
1 Scotch bonnet pepper (or habanero)
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
salt and pepper

Soft Scrambled Eggs with Ramps

It's ramp season! After mass on Sunday, we've been stopping at the Emmaus Farmer's Market. It's the cutest market that is even bigger than in Pittsburgh. There's even a flower CSA that is being offered. Nick and Kelly snuck away to surprise me with some locally sourced wood-fired pizza.
Growing up, I was never a big fan of my hometown. Being here for about a month has given me time to actually explore the area where I grew up. It's surprisingly pretty awesome. What I didn't like back in high school has turned into what I love about this place- the farms! 
I live a couple miles from Rodale Institute which is one of the frontrunners of the organic farm movement, for example. I snagged the ramps from a farmer who has about 40 acres of them growing wild on his farm. They are essentially wild leeks and taste like garlicky goodness. Add them to everything, seriously. It's spring! Go wild!

I decided to create a recipe for scrambled eggs since Brittany, Laura, and I had life changing undercooked eggs at Bar Marco. This is how I want my eggs for the rest of my life. Since you'll essentially be eating raw eggs, source them from someone you trust! 

5 ramps
4 eggs
1 tbsp butter
Goat cheese
Salt and pepper

Discard any yellowing leaves off the ramps. Trim off the roots. Chop the entire ramp from the white to the green part.
Heat a skillet on low heat. Add pat of butter. When melted, sauté the ramps until tender. Just 1-2 minutes. Add the eggs straight into the pan. As the eggs cook on the bottom of the skillet, gently scrape and fold the eggs with a spatula. This process should take about 5 minutes. If they're cooking too fast, take the skillet off the heat for a minute or so. It takes some time but completely worth it. To be honest this took me a couple tries to get the hang of undercooking the eggs.
The eggs are done when they are super soft and still kind of runny. Take the eggs off the stove right before you think they're ready as they will continue to cook even when taken off the heat. Drop some dollops of goat cheese right on top of the eggs and season with salt and pepper.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fresh Raspberry Goat Cheese Brownies

The best word to describe these brownies is decadent! The recipe is from The Kitchn just like Laura's last recipe. I've been baking constantly in exchange for crashing with my cousins. Apartment hunting has been a fail but we're having a lot of fun with my family. Yesterday we went to a night market filled with about 40 food trucks. The best parts were the funfetti macarons and macncheese topped with braised short ribs.
If you're not planning on feeding a ton of people, I would cut this recipe in half. We have a lot of leftover brownies in the fridge.

Ingredients (all at room temperature please)
2 cups raspberries, lightly mashed
10 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Raspberry Goat Cheese Swirl
4 ounces plain goat cheese
8 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350ºF and lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking pan. 
Melt the chocolate and butter until liquid in a saucepan over low heat. When the chocolate is completely melted, remove from the heat, whisk in the milk, and cool for about 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and vanilla. Stir in the eggs one by one. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and fold in until just combined. Fold in 1 cup of the raspberries and spread this brownie batter in the prepared pan using a spatula. 
In a medium mixing bowl, beat the goat cheese with the cream cheese, butter, egg, sugar, and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. Gently fold in the other half of the raspberries and their juices. Drop the goat cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter in spoonfuls, then swirl the batter gently with a knife. 

Bake for 45 minutes until just set. If the cream cheese is browning too fast, cover with aluminum foil for the rest of the baking time. The topping should just be the lightest golden brown.
The longer the brownies sit, the better the flavors become. But they probably won't last that long. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Roasted Rhubarb Clafouti

Monday was the opening day of the East Liberty farmer's market! Very exciting! There wasn't a lot of variety at the market quite yet but plenty of rhubarb. 

Last year I made some rhubarb gallettes that were absolutely amazing and must be made again soon, but this time I wanted to whip something up a bit quicker. This rhubarb clafoutis from a Kitchn recipe fits the bill perfectly. It's so simple and tasty - like a sweet, barely set custard. Roasting the rhubarb is a good way to avoid having to put tons of sugar with it since it helps cut the tart flavor.  

I'll have to get some more rhubarb at the farmer's market next week so I can make Michelle's coffee cake and the rhubarb mash that my grandparents always make.


For the Rhubarb
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces, about 3 long stalks) diced rhubarb
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the Clafouti
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk (I used 1/2 cup 2% milk, 1/2 cup half & half)
1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon lemon zest
pinch of salt

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hershey's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake

I've been making this cake ever since high school. It was a standard birthday cake among my cross-country friends. The first time I had it, I couldn't believe how good it was! Occasionally I make different variations such as adding in some almond extract or lavender flowers. This time, I fancied it up even more since the cake was made for my dad and Nick's birthdays. Browned butter frosting, coffee, and real vanilla bean made this cake extra special.

For the cake:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup Hershey's special dark cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1/2 cup whole milk or almond milk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 vanilla beans, split and scraped
1 cup strong, hot coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2-9 inch cake pans or 1 -9x13 inch baking pan. These make great cupcakes too. Just take them out a little earlier.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Make a well and add eggs, milk, yogurt, vegetable oil, and vanilla bean goo. Whisk together until everything is incorporated. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot coffee until the batter is smooth.
Pour into pans and bake for 30 minutes until a toothpick can be removed cleanly from the center of the cake. Let cool completely before unfolding and icing, preferably overnight. The flavors of this cake really develop after a day or so.

For the frosting:
1 stick butter
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
1 whole vanilla bean, scraped

Brown the butter! In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Stir constantly until the butter foams up twice and you can see reddish brown particles on the bottom. The butter will smell nutty and toasted. Immediately take off heat and whisk in cocoa powder. Add the vanilla bean insides. Then add the powdered sugar alternating with the milk, whisking until smooth.
I have to say, the frosting is the best part and this recipe makes a lot! All the better for eating right off the whisk!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

In addition to Peanut Butter Pie, I was also responsible for bringing an appetizer to Mother's Day at my sister's.  My go-to appetizers are my mom's cheese ball and my paternal grandma Laverna's olive nut spread, which some day I'll post, but I wanted to do something different. My girl Raleigh (Rae's sister-in-law-to-be) planned to make a hot caprese dip, and I thought I'd compliment it with another hot dip.  Spinach Artichoke Dip it was, but I couldn't find a recipe I liked.  There were a couple good candidates including some interesting ones with Alfredo sauce, but I wanted to use mostly ingredients on hand.  Will all this in mind I did something I am still new to; I looked at a bunch of recipes and from them made my own.  Turned out pretty well with no major critiques from Momma D.  I served it with toasted mini pitas.

Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip
1 (10 oz) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1 can artichoke hearts, chopped (doesn't have to be a fancy jar)
1 cup shredded mozzarella
8 oz cream cheese 
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup grated Parmesan 
2 teaspoons garlic 
1/2 teaspoon salt

Monday, May 12, 2014

Simple and Delicious Peanut Butter Pie

Hi all.  Like Kate, I have returned from the depths to blog my first recipe since October, which had been my first since February 2013.  At the end of April, I moved away my home of 8 years, my friends, and my job.  I'm now living outside of DC in Takoma Park, Maryland with all sorts of time to cook and blog.  I'm cooking more than I ever have, mostly because of the no job thing, and hope to share more of my recipes.

Peanut Butter Pie is probably the only food where I always prefer my own recipe.  It's actually a recipe of my mom's from a "Grange Cookbook".  I tried to research what that is and I'm still not exactly sure, but it's a go-to for my mountain momma.  For Mother's Day, we go to my sister's house, and being that this pie is her mother-in-law-to-be's favorite, I always make it.  It's a pretty simple recipe and easy to adapt.  In the past I've added in M&Ms, used a mix of crunchy and creamy peanut butter, and the past few times I've added chocolate to crust and drizzled it on top.  The chocolate was definitely a crowd pleaser during yesterday's Mother's Day dinner.  I use to make this so much that I had the recipe memorized and after having it again yesterday I had to wonder why I stopped.  It's fluffy, delicious, and so easy and quick to make.  I highly suggest making it asap, or at least taking it to your next potluck.

So few ingredients needed.

Simple and Delicious Peanut Butter Pie

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (I've always used cheap stuff, never tried natural)
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1 (8 oz) container of Cool Whip
1 graham cracker crust (I always buy mine)
1 cup milk chocolate (optional, but just do it)

Orange Cranberry Bread (for bread machine)

I had an epiphany over the weekend: Homemade bread is a damn miracle. Especially when a machine practically makes it for you.


It's Kate here. It's been a long while since I last posted, so I hope you enjoy my new and slightly ambitious cooking adventure!

Mark and I inherited his grandma's bread machine after she passed away a few years ago. I guess they had used it a lot together growing up. But for one reason or another, the bread machine sat in our laundry room until Saturday night, when I thought it would awesome to have some homemade bread in the house. I've baked sweet breads, and I've baked breads with yeast, but I've never made bread using a bread machine. I'm now a believer.

I found this Cranberry Orange Bread recipe from, and knew I had to make it because we already had all of the ingredients for it.

• 3 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup dried cranberries (the cool kids call them Craisins)
• 3/4 cup plain yogurt
• 1/2 cup warm water
• 3 tablespoons honey
• 1 tablespoon butter, melted
• 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon orange oil
• 2 teaspoons dried orange zest (my own addition, for additional orangey flavor)

Add ingredients to bread machine, wet ingredients on bottom, dry ingredients in middle, and yeast on top. Press start button.


Full disclosure: I didn't realize the machine even mixes everything for you. It's like magic. Also, the bread machine has an overnight setting, for fresh bread first thing in the morning, so we opted for that. It came out with a slightly dark crust, but aside from that, it was delicious.

We decided to make french toast with it, and we topped it with cinnamon and sugar. Perfection.



All hail to the bread machine.



In other news, I had to show off the breakfast-themed clock I finally hung up in the kitchen. It still needs batteries, but it looks great up on the wall. My sister Ashley got it for me for Christmas. :)

You can also view this recipe on my blog, Thriftburgher.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Creamy Broccoli Soup

As you all can see I've been obsessed with making vegetable soups lately. It could be because I recently acquired a Vitamix and now blend everything I can. My latest favorite is this soup from A Cup of Joe which is a gorgeous lifestyle blog. It tastes like there is cream in the soup because of the potatoes. I made this in Portland while visiting my friend Lauren. It was the last leg of my journey and so much fun. We hiked, biked, ran, and did yoga. I also got to snuggle with her cute puppy, Khaleesi.

1 medium yellow onion
2 leeks
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
1 stalk celery
2 heaping cups potatoes, cubed
2-3 heads broccoli
1 1/2 tsp cumin
salt + pepper

Roughly chop the onion, celery, and carrot. Slice the white part of the leek only. Sauté in some coconut oil or ghee over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Throw in the garlic cloves and cumin  and cook for a minute. Then add the potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Chop the broccoli including stems and add to the soup pot. Add more water to cover and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
Blend until smooth and season with salt and pepper. Serve with some shredded cheddar and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. Another delicious alternative is adding a spoonful of pesto just before serving.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Flourless PB&J Cookies

It's peanut butter and jelly, America's favorite combo, in cookie form! The coolest thing about these tasty little cookies is that some of them turned out like stained glass windows - the jelly sunk right through. 

Twilly, as a big fan of peanut butter, would definitely approve. The only jelly/jam/preserve I had on hand this time was plain old Concord grape jelly, but it would be fun to make a mixed batch with a variety of different centers. 

Twilly perching his front paws on a chair to gaze longingly into the backyard

Flourless Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 cup peanut butter (I used normal, creamy PB, so not all-natural or chunky but maybe you could use that?)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spiced Tomato Soup

I know I've posted this recipe already, but I've made it so many times with so many variations that I feel it deserves a repost. This version is for people that don't like the addition of coconut cream. It is originally from 101 Cookbooks and one of my go-to recipes when cooking while traveling. There are minimal ingredients and the soup can be adapted to just about anyone's tastes. I just made this for our friends that recently had a baby girl, and they were very happy for some hearty soup. Who wouldn't be?
This picture was taken in Portland. I ate this soup for lunch with my leftover carnitas burrito smothered in green hot sauce. Such good food in that city.

4 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
2 medium yellow onions, roughly chopped
lots of garlic cloves
1 heaping tbsp curry powder
1 heaping tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (for even more spice)
2-28 ounce cans Muir Glen fire roasted, whole tomatoes

plain Greek yogurt infused with herbs
fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil, etc.)
olive oil
farro or brown rice

Saute the onions over medium heat in the coconut oil for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and spices. Saute for another 2-3 minutes until really fragrant. Add the canned tomatoes plus 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender.

Lentil Soup

We've been home for about 3 weeks now and enjoying the spring weather. Apparently we got back just right after the last snow. This vegetable lentil soup was my favorite meal in Bali. The hot soup was really cooling even on the hottest days (it sounds counterintuitive but hot soup really does cool down your body). We kept coming back to the Kafe for more. I made it for my family as soon as we got home. I've really been enjoying having a kitchen again and also veggie burgers! There's actually a lot of recipes on backlog since I haven't had too much time to blog yet. So get ready!!!

3 carrots
3 celery stalks
1 large red onion
5 cloves garlic
1/2 butternut squash
2 1/4 cups dried green lentils
1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cups baby spinach, packed
2 sprigs thyme
1 bunch parsley
plain greek yogurt

Peel the butternut squash and scoop out the seeds. Slice into small cubes and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with coconut oil and roast at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until tender. Dice the carrots, celery, and onion to pea sized pieces. In a large soup pot, sauté vegetables in some coconut oil over medium heat until softened for about 11 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the mirepoix. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, butternut squash, and the green lentils. Add about 6-7 cups of water. I like to add less water and add more as the lentils cook to keep the soup pretty thick. If you like a thinner soup, I would add about 8 cups of water.
Bring the soup to a boil. Add the sprigs of thyme. Then lower the heat, cover, and bring to a simmer for about half an hour. Check to see if the lentils are cooked at the end of the cooking time. Add more water if needed. Throw in the spinach and cook for a couple more minutes until wilted. Then season with salt and pepper.
Serve with soup with a dollop of yogurt, lots of chopped parsley, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. It's a perfect lunch with some bread on the side.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Mango Chaulafan

When I studied abroad in Ecuador, I spent about a month of the semester living in the capitol, Quito, with a great host family. There were chaulafan places all over the city, literally on every block in some neighborhoods. Chaulafan is Ecuadorian-style fried rice - it's crazy easy and is a perfect comfort food.

A lot of the great flavor comes from cooking the rice in chicken broth. I made some homemade broth.
I made a big dutch oven full of the normal, typical chaulafan (at least as normal as it can be made by me in my Pgh kitchen!) for my birthday dinner (more than a month ago... I am very bad at blogging!), and it was all eaten up. But the next day I wanted more, so I made another batch for Britt and me. For the second batch, I substituted mango for shredded chicken since I had used all the chicken the day before. Britt liked the mango version even better, but I love it both ways

I made aji criollo, Ecuadorian cilantro-y hot sauce, to serve with everything, including chaulafan.
Adapted from Laylita's Recipes

Want to make your own chicken broth to cook the rice in?

5 lbs whole chicken, or assorted pieces
10 cups water
1 white onion, diced
2 carrots
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
5 cilantro sprigs
Salt to taste

Boil it all up for about an hour or until the chicken is cooked through. Make sure you don't overcook the smaller pieces - you might want to take them out a little earlier and let the bigger pieces boil for a bit longer.

Remove the chicken and shred once cooled. Strain the broth and save for cooking the rice. There should be plenty left over. I had a couple bowls of plain broth, soooo good.


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