About a year ago, I traveled to Chicago on business. My client is Liberian and upon learning that, I was inquiring about authentic Liberian food. She told me of Pepper Soup and decided that I had to try it. When I first tasted it, I knew I had to learn this recipe. She was nice enough to not only share the recipe with me, but called her sister over to show me step by step.

Although a year later, I finally made it myself.  It is a hearty soup, with a base of okra and eggplant. It is full of different types of meats. When my client made it for me, she included snail meat and  fish. I can do without the fish and did not have time to clean snails, so I left those out of the soup I made.

It is not the easiest to photograph and looks like a hodgepodge of things but if you are like me and love to try different foods, this is definitely an easy one to make and so good!

You will need:

3-4 smoked neckbones
1 smoked turkey wing or leg
1 bag of mussels (cleaned, steamed and deshelled)
2 cups of cooked shrimp
3 medium crabs or crab legs
1 large eggplant (sliced into chunks)
2 1/2 cups of frozen or fresh okra
3 tbsp of Knorr Chicken bouillon

Fish (rainbow trout, cod)
Snail meat
Habanero pepper

Fufu or rice

Fill large pot with water and add in your chicken bouillon. Add in your smoked turkey and neckbone and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes or more, until meat is tender. Add in your okra and eggplant and cook for about 20 more minutes until they are tender. Remove the meat and sit aside. Remove the okra and eggplant and you can blend in food blender/processor until  smooth and blended. Pour okra and eggplant back into the soup stock. Pull the meat from the turkey and place back in the pot, discarding the bones.

On low heat, add in your shrimp and mussels. Cook for an hour on low. Serve with a squeeze of lime, habanero for spice and fufu or rice.  Find an easy recipe for fufu here if you are unable to get fufu mix.

Here in my wee little town, variety in foods is not something we have a ton of. We have your typical and 'expected' family style franchised spots and then we have a handful of ethnic spots. One Japanese, one Thai, and one Greek. That is it. When it comes to trying something new, I pretty much have to do it myself.

I saw this sandwich on Guy's Grocery Games and had to try it. I went for the grilled pork meatballs, seasoned with fish sauce, soy sauce and a bit of sugar. The grill gave it an amazing smokey taste.

My mom, who is very picky when it comes to stepping outside of traditional southern foods, loved it. I would say...it was a hit.

I used this recipe found at Rasa Malaysia.  I used ground pork instead of the pork butt.

My mom grew up in Texas and she reminds us all the time. Albeit she left that great state when she was 17 and has only visited since then, she often speaks small words in Spanish and says her favorite food is spanish.

She love Spanish food. Every chance she gets, she wants it. Of course for Cinco De Mayo, she made chicken fajitas, refried beans and rice. I of course needed a bit extra added to said fajitas and took to the grill to grill some fresh cut pineapple and jalapenos.

for 2-4 fajitas:

1 chicken breast (thinly sliced and rinsed)
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
1/2 tbsp of chopped chipotles
3-4 small sweet bell peppers
1 sliced jalapeno (with seeds if you like heat)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 slices of pineapple
Flour tortillas

In a skillet, pour your olive oil. Crank the heat to medium and add in your chicken breast slices. add in seasoning and chipotles. Once chicken is white, add in peppers. Cook for about 15 more minutes, stirring so it does not burn. Reduce heat to low, add your diced pineapple and cook for about 5 more minutes.

Warm your flour tortillas for about 5 seconds in the microwave. Add a dollop of sour cream and spread on the tortilla. Add your meat mixture and then enjoy.

Seriously. How easy and tasty is that? Serve with a slice of lime and avocado slices. YUM.

I remember growing up, this time of year and picking wild blackberries in the woods surrounding our house. We would venture off into the woods and battle the many thorns to come home with bowls of berries. Back then, we were fans of anything salty or sour so we would sprinkle our berries with salt. Oh the good ole days.

Blackberry cobbler/pie is one of my all time favorite desserts. I love these berries. I love the gooey filling in the cobbler and the pies. I love it.


2-3 cups blackberries, cleaned
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Juice of half a lemon
1½ cup water

In a pot, bring the ingredients to a boil, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Reduce heat to low and stir. Cook for 5 more minutes and remove from heat. The mixture should be thick when cooled.

Pie Crust via Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Coat your pie pan with the pie crust, trim edges. Fill with your filling and use remaining pie dough to cover or decorate your pie as you wish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream, or ice cream and fresh blackberries.

We are huge fans of tacos around here and we are huge fans of pulled pork. Getting ready for Cinco De Mayo, I decided for us to try these for the first time. Oh my, they were a hit. I invited some friends over and made some Mexican Street Corn and blackberry pies. It was just such a good dinner and a great time. I topped my tacos with red cabbage, queso fresco , chipotle bbq sauce and some pickled red onions. Oooooowweeeee.

Chipotle BBQ Sauce

1 cup ketchup

2 slices of lemon

3 tbsp of chopped chipotles

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 tbsp white vinegar

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a sauce pan on low heat, begin adding your ingredients. Squeeze the slices of lemon and then add the slices into the mixture. Stir well. Let cook for about 15 minutes and then remove from heat. Allow to cool and place into your container.

Pickled Red Onions

1 large red onion, sliced

1/2 cup of water

1 cup of apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp of sugar

Mix well and add in your slices of onion. Let the onions sit for at least 2 hours before serving. 

Grilled Pulled Pork

1 Pork Shoulder

8 tbsp of Creole Seasoning

4 tbsp of Tajin classic seasoning or Trechas Spicy Powder

Mix the dry ingredients together and using your hand, pat the dry mix all over the shoulder. Be generous. If you need more, add more! The idea is to coat the outside of the pork with a nice layer of seasoning.

Place your shoulder on a hot bbq grill, fat side up and allow to cook for 7 hours.

From the Food Network for cooking your shoulder in the oven: "Set the meat on a rack set into a roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F. Continue to cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into theshoulder reads 185 degrees F, about 4 hours. Remove the pork from the oven and let stand until cool enough to handle, about 30 minutes.

Once the pork is cooked, allow it to rest for about 30 minutes to an hour. Using your hand or two forks, begin separating the meat or "pulling" it into strands. Remove and discard the fat. (My mom likes to leave a bit of the fat inside the pulled meat for moisture as pork will dry quickly)

Corn Tortillas

2 cups masa harina

1 1/2 to 2 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

In bowl mix your ingredients together. The dough should begin having a consistency similiar to play dough. If it is too dry, add more water. Knead into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rest for 15-20 minutes. Separate the ball into 15 smaller balls. Place one of the dough balls in between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll flat. I used a bowl to 'cut' out my circle shape. You can use a tortilla press but I did not have one.

Place in skillet lightly greased with olive oil on medium-high heat and cook on both sides for a minute each. Remove from heat and serve warm.

I love sandwiches. Lunch around here almost always consists of a sandwich in one shape or fashion. There are just so many possibilities, so many variations, so many tasty combinations to try and it takes little prep time.

I always base my sandwich combination off of the type of bread. I love a really nice bread that will not get soggy and fall apart or worse, stick to the roof of my mouth. I want a delicious sturdy bread. Most of my sandwiches are made from fresh rolls from the deli.

For your next sandwich, why not try focaccia?  Bake for about 5 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees to heat the bread and add a slight crustiness, then slice in the middle. For this sandwich, I did basic toppings and dressing. I slathered the bottom bread in mayo, topped with slice turkey, layered salami, pepperoni, canadian bacon, fresh spinach, tomato and crumbled feta cheese. I also sprinkled a nice olive oil and vinegar mixture that I made by infusing italian seasoning in the bottle. Of course, I also added hot peppers because I love spicey!

What is your favorite sandwich combination?

I traveled to Chicago last week and as always it was a food addict's paradise.

I had the honor and my stomach had the priviledge of dining on a traditional African dish: Pepper Soup.

Oh. My. Word.

It is not the easiest or most appealing thing to photograph but trust me. It. Is. GOOD.

Aint nothing like this soup. It kinda reminds me of the story, Stone Soup. A little bit of everything is put in this but the crushed eggplant, okra and tons of seafood make this dish spectacular.

Crab. Chicken. Roasted turkey. Fish. Neckbones. Snails. Mussels. Shrimp. Steak.  It is like a meat heaven.

Add in some fufu and yes!

I will be recreating this dish soon. I only hope I can find snail meat locally. Here's to hoping the Asian Food Market has something for me. The snails is my favorite part.
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