(My Favourite) Brownies

Guess what?! This is my 50th post. It’s a small milestone, I know, but a milestone nonetheless. And… I made brownies. To celebrate.

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When I started this blog back in October, I didn’t really know what to expect. I have always loved to cook, but it’s only been the past year or two that I’ve started to really love finding new recipes and trying new, different foods. It’s turned into a huge passion of mine, and I love nothing more than wasting away an afternoon in the kitchen. However, I have SO much to learn about food and cooking and sometimes I think that I’m not really qualified to be writing a blog telling other people how to do it. I’m quite prone to screwing up recipes (you should have seen the Cauliflower Pizza Crust disaster I had the other night) and I don’t have fancy kitchen tools or even fancy ingredients.

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This blog has turned into a kind of journey, in a way. It empowers me to try new things and makes me think about food in a different way than I had before. I hope that when I look back on old posts, I’ll be able to remember a little bit about what my life was like at the time that I made it. I want to thank all of you, my readers, who have found this little blog and have followed along the way, and I hope that you continue to do so. This blogging community continues to inspire me, and I have loved being a part of it.

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These brownies portray a little bit of what I hope that Sweet Mayberry does when you visit and read through the posts – simple, cozy, pure, and a just little bit indulgent (okay, maybe this one is a lot indulgent). They are bittersweet and chewy, require 7 ingredients, 40 minutes, and only one bowl. They are brownies like they are meant to be.

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(My Favourite) Brownies:

Borrowed from Smitten Kitchen – they’re Deb’s favourite too

Makes 16 two inch squares

3 oz Unsweetened Chocolate, roughly chopped

1/2 cup Unsalted Butter, plus extra for pan

1 1/3 cups Granulated Sugar

2 large Eggs

1 tsp Vanilla Extract

1/4 tsp Salt

2/3 cup All Purpose Flour

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment, extending it up two sides, or foil. Butter the parchment or foil or spray it with a nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium heatproof bowl over gently simmering water, melt chocolate and butter together until only a couple unmelted bits remain. Off the heat, stir until smooth and fully melted. You can also do this in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each.

3. Whisk in sugar, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and salt. Stir in flour with a spoon or flexible spatula and scrape batter into prepared (8 x 8) pan, spread until even.

4. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out batter-free. Let cool and cut into desired size.

 

Black Bean, Corn, & Avocado Bowl

Yesterday was a sad day. Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow announced their separation. And before you roll your eyes at me and label me as some celebrity gossiper, hear me out. I swear I’m not always so obsessive about such things. I don’t read Star Magazine or US Weekly. But Gwyneth happened to announce it on her blog, Goop, yesterday, and I happen to be obsessed with that blog.

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The thing is that Gwyneth is one of those celebrities that you want to like because not only is her acting amazing, but her recipe books are so great and I kind of dig how private she keeps her personal life from the press. And Chris Martin… well, hello. As if I didn’t love them enough already, I happen to have practically met them. As in, I sat within arms reach of them (and Apple and Moses) while I ate breakfast one day in Hawaii. And you know what? They seemed to be some of the more down to earth people at the resort I was at. Also, Chris Martin is even better looking in person, incase you were wondering. So I am honestly a little devastated that they decided to separate, even though Gwyneth says it was amicable. Sad face.

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So what does all of this have to do with food? It’s Gwyneth’s recipe, of course. I had actually planned on posting this yesterday before I heard about the separation and found that her blog had crashed because of the announcement. So unfortunately I couldn’t see the actual recipe, and I didn’t want to guess at it, which is why I waited until today to post it.

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Gwyneth is pretty much the queen of simple, easy, fresh, and healthy recipes. I love both of her cookbooks and her blog and have gotten some of my most treasured recipes from her. This one is no different. This combination of flavours is one of my favourites, and this is so easily put together for a quick weeknight meal (I served it with some fresh tilapia). And aren’t the colours pretty?

Black Bean, Corn, & Avocado Bowl:

Serves two.  

Adapted from Goop

1 can of Black Beans, rinsed

1 ear of Corn, shucked *

1 Avocado, peeled and cubed

1 Lime

3 tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 cup Quinoa, cooked

1/2 cup Brown Rice, cooked

Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

1/2 small Red Onion, diced

Handful of Cilantro, chopped

1 Jalapeño, deseeded and minced

Sriracha, to taste

1. Pre-heat a grill (or grill pan) over medium high heat. Place corn on grill and cook for about a minute on each side, until nicely charred all around. When cool, carefully slice off the kernels into the bowl.

2. Add the black beans and avocado to the corn. Drizzle the olive oil and squeeze the juice of one lime over the top. Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Place equal amounts quinoa and brown rice into two serving bowls or sealable food containers. Add the bean mixture over the top.

4. Place all the garnish ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over the bowls to your liking, serve.

* If corn is not in season, you can use a can of corn, rinsed.

Matcha Green Tea Latte

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How much do you guys know about Matcha? It’s one of those things that I know I like, but I realized I didn’t know a ton about it. I knew that it has a lot of antioxidants and that it is supposed to be good for weight loss. But this link tells me it is a detoxifier, fights against viruses and bacteria, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, is rich in fiber, and even has cancer – fighting properties. You certainly can’t go wrong with that.

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I am very curious about the rituals around serving matcha tea. One day I’m going to buy a fancy matcha whisk and bowl and learn, I think. Or maybe I’ll travel to Japan and learn how to make it there…

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The only negative thing about matcha is that it tends to be very expensive. Like, $30 for a small container. And you know, I understand it. It’s imported from Japan, and I’m sure it’s very good quality. However, I was on a mission to find some for cheaper. I went to T & T Supermarket, which is an asian grocery store in Canada, and came across a pretty decent sized bag of “green tea powder” for $10. I couldn’t exactly read the package because I do not read Japanese, but I took that as a good sign. It seemed legit. And you know what? It looks like matcha, it tastes like matcha, and I honestly can’t find any difference. Happy days!

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Matcha Green Tea Latte:

Serves one. 

1 tsp Matcha Powder

1/4 cup boiling Water

3/4 cup Almond Milk (or regular milk)

Honey or Agave, to taste

1. Bring water to a boil and pour 1/4 cup into a mug.

2. Whisk in 1 tsp matcha powder.

3. Meanwhile, froth almond/regular milk. I used my capresso milk frother (because it is the best/most convenient thing ever) but you can use whatever method you like.

4. Once matcha powder is dissolved into water, pour in the milk, stirring with a spoon to mix if needed. Sweeten with honey or agave as needed and top with a light dusting of matcha powder, if desired.

Pesto Prawn Risotto with Sun-dried Tomatoes

So this post is a little controversial. I initially wrote it a couple days ago, when the weather was warm, the sky was sunny, and everyone had hidden their winter jackets. Then, this morning, I woke up to this…
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Boo. I mean, it’s to be expected, really. But it just seemed so promising, you know? Early spring in Edmonton is not exactly like one would imagine spring to be. The city streets turn into lakes – not from rain, but from the melting snow. Everything is brown and dirty, and nothing is green or even remotely blooming. I waited in line for literally 45 minutes for a car wash (only for my car to be totally covered in dirt 3 days later, of course).
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But beneath all of that, you can feel the optimism. Even though the temperature is barely above zero (on a good day), Edmontonian’s have their car windows rolled down; everyone is barbecuing and people are wearing denim jackets and flats, having hopefully stowed away their Canada Goose jackets and Sorel boots. The river valley is filled with joggers and the farmers markets are packed.
Although I meant for this recipe to feel summery, it’s actually a perfect representation of the weather right now. The dish is warm and comforting, but the flavours remind me of a hot, summer day.
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I know that there are probably still some people out there who are afraid of making risotto. It sounds “fancy” and there’s that whole misconception that it takes an entire afternoon of labouring over the stove to perfect. Perhaps those people are lazy/don’t like to cook/are doing something wrong. Risotto does require some attention, yes. But I’ve made it about a dozen times and have never had it go wrong, and it doesn’t take too much longer then most other dinners I make. Plus, the possibilities for different ingredient variations are endless. If you are one of these people, please, try this; you won’t be disappointed.
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Pesto Prawn Risotto with Sun-dried Tomatoes
Makes two servings
1/2 small Yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Butter
1 cup Arborio Rice
1/4 cup White Wine
4 cups Vegetable Stock
2 tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated finely
2-3 tbsp Pesto (homemade or store-bought)
12 – 15 large Prawns
1/4 cup Sun-dried Tomatoes
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1. Heat the broth in a saucepan to almost – boiling, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook to prawns in a
small amount of butter in a frying pan or in the oven, as desired.
2. In a separate saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, making sure to coat the rice with the melted butter. Add the wine and cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed.
5. Add the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring often and waiting until it’s absorbed before adding more. Keep the risotto mixture at medium – low heat. You want it to be bubbling slightly when you are not stirring, but not so hot that it boils (does that make any sense?) It should take about 30 minutes for all of the broth to be absorbed.
6. Remove risotto from heat and stir in the parmesan, pesto, cooked prawns, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Serve hot.

Pannekoeken (Dutch Pancakes)

One of the main reasons that I am so excited to go to Europe this summer is because I have a ton of relatives over there that I haven’t seen in forever. Both of my parents were born in Europe. My dad is from England (which explains my affinity for tea and those lovely accents) and I actually have a British passport. My mom is from The Netherlands, which brings me to another big reason why I’m so excited – the food.

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I travelled to Europe quite often when I was younger, and have very fond memories of dutch food. I love liquorice and gouda and speculaas and french fries with mayo and chocolate sprinkles on toast (duh). The dutch, like many other countries, have their own take on pancakes.

Pannekoeken are traditionally eaten at dinner time (and we all know I love breakfast for dinner) and can be sweet or savoury. Their texture can be filed somewhere in between French Crepes and American Pancakes. They are large, like crepes, but not as thin, and are more dense than American Pancakes. The apple/raisin topping is quite common in Holland, plus it is delicious and a little different.

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This recipe is a lot like the ones that my mom made when I was growing up, but alas she is terrible for keeping recipes, so I found one elsewhere and changed it slightly. Coincidentally, Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday was 10 days ago, so I’m only a little late for that. I think Pannekoeken are a nice change from your regular American pancakes – you should give them a try!

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Pannekoeken (Dutch Pancakes):

Makes 4 10-inch pannekoeken

Adapted from The Foodery

1 cup All Purpose Flour, minus 1 tbsp (measure 1 cup, then remove 1 tbsp)

1/4 tsp Salt

1 1/4 cup 1% Milk

2 Large Eggs, beaten

6 tbsp Unsalted Butter

3 Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin

2 tbsp Brown Sugar

1/3 cup Raisins or Currants

Cinnamon, for serving

Dutch Stroop (syrup) or Maple Syrup, for serving

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour and salt with a whisk. Make well in center. Add whisked egg to milk & combine. Pour into centre of flour mixture and gradually mix wet ingredients into dry, being careful not to over mix. Let batter sit for 15 minutes.

2. While batter rests, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a skillet over medium heat. When butter starts to bubble and begins to brown (about a minute) add sliced apples and cook for 3-5 minutes until the undersides begin to brown. Turn over pieces, sprinkle in brown sugar and currants and another tablespoon butter, if needed. Cook for 5 minutes more or until tender and apples are nicely caramelized, stirring frequently. Transfer to plate and scrape pan of any remaining sauce with rubber spatula. Set aside.

3. In same pan, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Pour a little over 1/4 cup batter into pan, tilting the pan to spread the batter into a wide circle (you want it to cover most of the pan). Cook for 1 – 2 minutes or until underside of pannekoek begins to brown and top begins to firm up. Turn over and cook for 1 or 2 more minutes, until it turns a golden brown colour. Transfer to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.

4. Top pannekoek with the apples and raisins or currants, a pinch of cinnamon, and a syrup of your choice. Enjoy!

Kale, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Quiche

My dad was in town last week and I decided to bring over some supper to share with him. He is vegetarian, and I’d been meaning to make quiche for a while now. I started thinking about different vegetable combinations (the possibilities are pretty much endless!) and here is what I came up with.

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When I brought this over, my dad told me that quiche was “girl food,” but he quickly changed his mind after trying it, even calling my step mom to tell her what she was missing out on. What do you think? Is quiche “girl food”? I guess typically men tend to be more “meat & potatoes” types, so does that make “girl food” anything that varies from this? I’m a little curious now. Perceptions are a funny thing, friends.

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I really like the different textures that the squash and goat cheese bring to this, and the colours are very pretty as well. I love how easily quiche comes together, and even though this recipe has quite a few steps, especially if you make your own pie dough, it is insanely simple to make and doesn’t take too long.

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This is my favourite recipe for any quiche, and like I said before, there are SO MANY possibilities. I should make quiche more often.

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Kale, Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Quiche:

Makes One Quiche 

Adapted from Oil and Blue 

1 Recipe for Pie Crust (or store-bought) *

1 Butternut Squash – peeled, seeded, quartered, and sliced cross-wise 1/4 inch thick

1 bunch Kale (I used Tuscan Kale), chopped

Olive Oil

1 small Yellow Onion, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced

5 Eggs

1/2 cup 2% Milk

1 pinch Red Pepper Flakes

Sea Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste

1/2 cup Cheddar or Swiss Cheese, grated

1/3 cup Goat Cheese, crumbled

1.  Preheat oven to 425. Place the squash slices in a bowl and toss with just enough olive oil to coat. Season with salt & pepper. Spread the slices on a baking sheet and roast until tender and beginning to brown—about 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven heat to 375.

2. Meanwhile, steam the kale until tender (but not soggy).

3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it is very tender and beginning to caramelize (10 or 15 minutes). Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the steamed kale and stir to combine. Set aside.

4. Whisk the eggs and milk in a small bowl and then add in red pepper flakes and salt & pepper, set aside.

5. To put together the quiche, scatter half of your cheddar or swiss over the bottom of your pie crust. Then, arrange as much butternut squash as you can fit in one layer. Spread the kale/onion mixture over this. Crumble to goat cheese over all. Then, pour the egg mixture over everything. Lastly, top with the remaining cheddar or swiss.

6. Bake in preheated oven (375) for 25 to 30 minutes, until the surface is lightly golden and eggs are set. Slice and serve hot.

* I used this recipe for my pie crust, which I love. It gave me enough dough for at least 1 more pie crust, so I rolled it into a ball, wrapped it in saran wrap, and put it in the freezer to use on a rainy day (yay!) I did blind-bake the crust before putting together the quiche. See this link for instructions on that.

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus

Oh man, you guys. I have been soo busy lately! Being in clinical 5 days a week, doing homework on top of that, applying for jobs, working out, cooking, blogging, cleaning, and visiting family out of town makes a girl a little exhausted. I’m so close to being done university though (less than a month!) so I’m really trying to power through it.

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I have exciting news… My brother and sister in law welcomed a brand new baby boy last Wednesday. They live pretty far from here, so I won’t get to meet the little guy for a while, but he is so adorable and I am so excited to cuddle him! This is not my first time being an auntie (I have a 9 year old nephew, a 6 year old niece, and a 10 month old niece) and my sister is actually expecting a baby in a week as well, but literally nothing makes me happier than new babies. Thankfully I have a ginormous family and will probably spend my career working with newborns, so I won’t have to have 15 of my own.

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Do you guys pack your lunches for work? I’m usually pretty good with them because I generally have an endless supply of freezer leftovers, but I’m always having to remind myself to pack my veggies. I try so hard to love vegetables and make sure that I get enough in my diet (I put spinach/kale in smoothies, roast vegetables, make stir fries) but I will never be one of those people who enjoys eating endless amounts of raw veggies. In order to force myself into doing it anyways, I need to have a dip. Seriously. I’m kind of childish like that.

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Hummus is my dip of choice, mainly because of the protein and the endless variations I can create. Or make that, could create. I went a little heavy on the almond butter and hummus a couple weeks ago and burnt out the motor in my food processor. It was very sad. But lesson learned, next time I will not be cheap and buy the small version. Also, I will let it rest between recipes.

I made this recipe because it’s a little different from any other that I’ve tried, and also I have a minor obsession with caramelized onions (I looove them). If I’m being honest, I’m not usually a huge fan of balsamic vinegar – but I really did like it in this! Oh, and by the way, those Sweet Potato Wheat Thins are the best. Try them.

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(RIP)

Balsamic Caramelized Onion Hummus:

Adapted from Once Upon a Cutting Board

Makes a large jar

1 tbsp Butter

1 small Yellow Onion, thinly sliced

1/4 cup + 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar, divided

1 1/2 tsp Brown Sugar

1 can (19 fl. oz) Garbanzo Beans (chick peas)

3 tbsp liquid reserved from can

3 tbsp Tahini

1 clove Garlic

2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Black Pepper

1. Heat butter in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and stir to coat. Spread onions out evenly across the pan and let cook, stirring about every 3-4 minutes, until softened and golden brown, about 20-30 minutes total.  In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add 1 teaspoon brown sugar and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and stir to coat.  Once they are caramelized to your liking, remove from pan.  Save a small amount of onions to top the hummus later, if desired.  Add the rest to the large bowl of a food processor.

2. Reserve 3 tbsp of the liquid from your can of garbanzo beans and drain the rest, rinsing the beans well. Add the garbanzo beans, liquid from the can, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, salt, and pepper to the bowl of your food processor (along with the caramelized onions).  Process until smooth.  Taste and adjust any ingredients, if necessary.

3. To make the balsamic reduction, add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and let simmer until reduced to a thick, syrupy liquid, about 1-2 tablespoons worth.  Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Serve hummus topped with reserved caramelized onions and balsamic reduction, or blend all ingredients and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Aguadito (Peruvian Chicken Soup)

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I made soup. Soup that is deliriously good, spicy, and will fight off any cold that you have lurking. It is also green. Green foods are cool right now, right? And cilantro is full of antioxidants and is said to have antibacterial and immune-boosting properties. It is also a digestive aid, and could even decrease anxiety.

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A Cozy Kitchen has been one of my favourite food blogs for a while now, and this recipe was her Mother’s, who is from Peru. I used this recipe exactly as written, not adjusting anything at all to my own tastes, in hopes that I would get a truly authentic result. While I’ve never been to Peru, this soup is spicy and so chalk-full of flavour that I can’t imagine anything could possibly make it better.

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I don’t have a lot of experience in international cooking, but I do love finding new recipes for ethnic dishes and I can’t wait to travel more and experience the world through food, learning recipes along the way. In fact, I am already dreaming up my next trip (after Europe, this summer) to travel South America.

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I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to choose a favourite “type” of cuisine to eat or even to cook, because I love all food so much. I love Italian, Japanese, French, Spanish, Indian, Vietnamese (to name a few), and now Peruvian, so how could I possibly pick one? I couldn’t.

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Aguadito (Peruvian Chicken Soup):

Borrowed from A Cozy Kitchen

Serves 4 

3/4 cup Cilantro Leaves

1 Serrano Pepper, halved & deseeded

4 Garlic Cloves (2 whole and 2 minced), divided

4 1/4 cups Chicken Broth, divided

2 tbsp Olive Oil

2 Chicken Thighs, skin on & bone in

2 Chicken Drumsticks, skin on & bone in

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

1/2 Red Bell Pepper, diced

1/2 tsp Ground Cumin

1/4 cup White Rice

1 ear of Corn, cut off the cob (or canned if not in season)

Salt to taste

1 Lime

1. Add cilantro leaves, serrano pepper, 2 garlic cloves and 1/4 cup of chicken broth to a blender. Blend until mixture is thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When hot, carefully add chicken thighs and drumsticks, skin-side down. Cook on first side for 4-5 minutes, and until skin is crisp and slightly browned. Flip on second side and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.

3. If the chicken absorbed all of the oil, add one more tablespoon of olive oil. Add yellow onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Next, add red bell pepper and ground cumin, allowing to cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add minced garlic atop of mixture and cook until fragrant.

4. Add the rice and cilantro liquid mixture to the pot and mix, being sure to completely coat the rice. Gently add the chicken back to the pot and cover with the remaining 4 cups of chicken broth. The broth should just cover the chicken. Cook for 20-30 minutes, and until rice is fully cooked.

5. When you’re ready to serve, add salt to taste. This will all depend on how salty your chicken broth was. Mix in corn right before serving.

6.Add a few cilantro leaves to each bowl of soup, along with a few wedges of lime. It’s important.