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Canja (Brazilian Chicken and Rice Soup)


Canja is the ultimate Brazilian “food for the soul”. It tastes like a warm, mild, comforting, and delicious bowl of chicken, thick broth, and vegetables.

When someone does not feel very well, you bet that the Brazilian grandma will show up with a big bowl of Canja to cheer up the heart and to sooth the body… I think that Canja is for the Brazilians the equivalent of what Chicken and Noodle soup is for the Americans. It is like love in a bowl.

In Brazil, Canja has another reason to be so popular: it is believed to prevent hangovers! Early in the morning during the week of Carnaval, often restaurants serve Canja for patrons who have partied all night long. Many times, the grandmas who don’t do Carnaval anymore wait for the younger with a big pot of the soup ready to be enjoyed. After eating some Canja, everyone goes to bed – usually at around 6 am. I have done that several times myself! Canja helps people recover so they can party the whole week straight. Viva a Canja!

I had been thinking about sharing this recipe for so long… Finally, with my mom here visiting from Brazil I found the right opportunity… Last week we all got kind of sick around here. Sure enough, my mom made a big pot of this soothing Brazilian remedy. It was deliciously comforting.

This is her recipe in which the rice serves as the thickening agent – the rice almost loses its shape into the broth. There are other versions where the soup is more “brothy”, therefor they spend less time simmering over the stovetop. I definitely prefer the thicker version of my mom’s.

Don't wait until you get sick to try this recipe. Enjoy it today and feel the love :)

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Lentil Soup with Kale (Sopa de Lentilhas com Couve)


I feel like crying when I realize it is just mid-September, but I am already posting soup recipes… It has been a cold September here in Indiana and the soup crave has started. I love soups and having lots of it is definitely my favorite part of winter – the only pleasant part of winter in my opinion. Yes, I am a summer girl!

So to make those cold evenings cozier, I think this soup fits the bill just fine! It is hearty and simple, yet it is packed with tons of good-for-you ingredients.

Lentils and kale is a combination that has been used in Brazilian cuisine forever (beans and kale too). In fact, kale is a very widely used ingredient in Brazil since pretty much forever… I honestly think it is so funny how just recently (I would say maybe in the last 3 or 4 years?) kale has become a trendy ingredient in the US. It became a synonym of healthy food, hard-to-drink smoothies and green-anything culinary. But I am SO glad America discovered kale and I really hope people keep experimenting with this nutritious ingredient! So get warm and feel good with this easy-to-make soup.

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Roasted Mini-Pepper Boats with Salmon and Mango-Papaya Salsa


This cute and tasty Roasted Mini-Peppers Boats with Salmon and Mango-Papaya Salsa are the greatest appetizer for summer time. Easy-to-assemble and super healthy, they are the perfect finger food to be enjoyed around the pool (I made these cuties to a barbecue party around the pool and it was a crowd pleaser). They are refreshing and spicy, but you can adjust the jalapeno to taste, so use just one or two if you prefer less heat. Serve with chilled rosé.

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Cream of Chayote Squash with Bay Scallops


Velvety and light, this recipe is one of my oldest ones: I used to make this creamy soup a lot when I wanted to lose a couple of pounds (probably in my early twenties, while still living in Brazil). I have always loved food, and loosing flavor along with extra pound has never been an option in my life; so everything I cook, either if it is light, low-carb, gluten-free or none of these, everything must taste good! So don’t make this creamy soup just because it is light, but make this recipe because it is creamy, velvety and delicious! One last thing: if you have never tried chayote squash, this recipe is an easy way to introduce this vegetable to your family. I hope you like it!

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Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pão-de-queijo)


Cheese bread is a Brazilian staple! Gooey and fluffly, this typical snack is a crowd pleaser: kids and adults love it! Many different versions are available, but this one is the easiest - and just equally delcious! All ingredients are widely available at the major grocery stores, including the tapioca flour. Serve warm, right off the oven. I dare you to have only one!

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Tuna Ceviche with Avocado and Wasabi


This traditional recipe from Central and South America got an Asian twist with wasabi! It tastes really fresh and it is perfect for summer!

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Salpicão (Brazilian Chicken Salad)


Salpicão is what is called a typical chicken salad from Brazil. Just like a Waldorf salad in the United States, this traditional Brazilian salad may have some variations - but the main ingredients remain the same. Chicken, apples, raisins and a mayonnaise based dressing are usually featured in Salpicão. Now, the best Salpicão that I ever had also has pineapple, lime juice, green apple and Media Crema (Table Cream).

This recipe is extra moist and tasty because it is made with rotisserie chicken, and one of the “secrets” to achieve a good blend of flavors and great texture is to manually shred the chicken into really tiny pieces. The fuits must be cut into a really small dice. This “secret” was passed to me by the two ladies who have been making this recipe for the past 25 years: my mom and one of her best friends, Leila (I think Leila, who is my mom's comadre, started making it first and my mom quickly followed).

Crunchy, slightly sweet and creamy, this salad is often found on the large salad bars at Brazilian steak houses. Serve on top of croissant, crusty bread, or inside lettuce rolls. Often in Brazil, we top it with string potatoes and skip the bread. Salpicão makes for a great appetizer, or a light lunch. I hope you enjoy the ultimate Salpicão recipe!

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Pastel with Meat and Cheese Filling (Pastelzinho de Carne com Queijo)


Pastel is one of the most loved bar foods in Brazil. This small savory pastry is usually served inside small baskets and it is ordered by the dozen or half dozen; so friends gather around the bar table to munch on the Pastelzinhos (small Pastel) while chatting, drinking a cold beer, and having a good time.

The variety of fillings is endless, but one of the most popular is ground beef and cheese. Crunchy on the outside with a creamy, meaty filling, this typical Brazilian appetizer is often called “Empanada” in the US. Empanadas are usually baked, instead of fried; and the dough is different. But… I am "cheating" on this recipe and using store-bough empanada dough!!!  Store-bought dough is faster and easier to use (and it tastes great too, because if it didn’t I wouldn’t tell you to use it). Make sure you check my Hearts-of-Palm Pastel recipe if you want to make the authentic version with home-made dough. Enjoy this delightful appetizer with a cold beer!

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Shrimp and Yuca Bowl (Escondidinho de Camarão)


When I participated in the ABC show “The Taste” I had the honor to serve this traditional Brazilian recipe to four amazing culinary talents: Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lafebvre and Brian Malarkey. After trying the “bite” I served, they gave me great intake on ways to improve the flavors and texture of my recipe (especially Ludo). I was very appreciative and certainly took their advice seriously. So this is my ultimate version of this classic Brazilian appetizer, to which I added some extra spices and crunchy textures. Enjoy with a caipirinha, just like the Brazilians!

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Fig and Prosciutto Phyllo Appetizer


Sweet and savory at the same time, my flaky Fig and Prosciutto Phyllo bites have a touch of creamy mascarpone and a drizzle of honey. Its shape resembles ravioli and it is an easy-to-make finger food. Also, it can be made one day ahead, which makes it handy for the Holidays and large gatherings. I hope you and your friends enjoy!

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Cream of Mushroom with Orzo, Couscous and Red Quinoa


Orzo, couscous and red quinoa add an unexpected texture to this creamy soup. The Portabella mushroom is so meaty and delicious and it goes very well with the sage and fresh scallions. Finish with Parmigiano-Reggiano for a nutty bite. This a great "Meatless Monday" dinner! 

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Risotto Cakes with Tomato Compote


Risotto Cakes are the best way to use up risotto leftovers, but there are a lot of people who like to make risotto and keep in the fridge for the next day just to make these delicious patties! They are also versatile: serve as an appetizer, or as a side for steak, fish, chicken, veal or pork. My recipe is topped with an easy, tangy Tomato Compote, for extra moist. Tomato Compote is also quite versatile and can be served as a topping for chicken and fish too. I hope you enjoy!

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Pumpkin Crostini


My Pumpkin Crostini is creamy with a hint of sweetness. It is an appetizer that almost tastes like a dessert. The pumpkin is seasoned with dark brown sugar and spiced rum before roasted. The syrup that is formed in the baking pan is drizzled over the bread, but it is so tasty that it could even be used over pancakes. I hope you enjoy this easy fall appetizer!

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Spinach Salad with Caramelized Pumpkin and Goat Cheese


Pumpkin is such a wonderful, nutritious ingredient that can be added to sweet and savory dishes. In this spinach salad, the pumpkin is caramelized in the oven and paired with goat cheese, for a touch of tartness. Lightly caramelized almonds compliment this rich salad and add a crunchy bite. This salad is all about enjoying holiday flavors with healthy greens!

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Acarajé – Black-Eyed Pea Fritters from Bahia, Brazil


Acarajé is a traditional street food in Brazil, it is especially popular in the state of Bahia. This fritter is light in texture and bold in flavor: the red palm oil (where it is deep-fried) and the unique ingredients in the filling make the acarajé extremely distinctive. This is a little piece of some of the best things that Brazil has to offer! If you have been to Bahia, you know exactly what I am talking about. Enjoy!

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Traditional Brazilian Cheese Balls (Pao-de-Queijo Mineiro)


This is the traditional recipe for Brazilian cheese bread (or cheese ball). It is a staple from the state of Minas Gerais and, just like my other cheese bread recipe, it is a favorite among kids (and adults)! Great for breakfast, as a snack or with any main course. Eat warm, just right off the oven. Cheesy, fluffy and delicious!

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Creamy Hearts of Palm Soup


Hearts-of-palm add a very delicate and distinctive flavor to this traditional Brazilian recipe. My version has cream and Parmesan cheese for a velvety and nutty finish. Enjoy!

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Goat Cheese Roulade with Roasted Bell Peppers


The roulade dough is a savory sponge cake really light in texture with a touch of Parmesan cheese for a great, nutty flavor. The filling is very creamy and the slightly sour bite from the goat cheese is complimented by the sweetness of the roasted red pepper. My good friend (and big time foodie) Geo made this for us while we were in Brazil a few months ago and I did not leave her alone until she gave me the recipe!

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Arugula Salad with Goat cheese and Red Pepper Dressing


Red pepper jelly gives a touch of sweetness and spicy to this simple salad recipe. Mango white balsamic gives a tart bite to the dressing, which can be used with other combinations of greens. Try this light and flavorful salad today!

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Coconut and Salmon Soup


Some of my favorite Brazilian ingredients are in this creamy soup: coconut milk, lime juice and cilantro. I created this recipe a copuple of years ago; and even as delicious as it is, I did not repeat it for a while until my husband decided that he wanted to try the paleo diet. That made me research back to some of my recipes that I had not touched in a while... Well, it was well worth it because my husband was raving about this dish after I made it for him - and for me too of course ;)

This delicious soup is perfect for this time of year: rich and delicious, but also healthy! It fullfiled perfectly his "paleo demands" - which means no dairy or grains. This easy soup can also be served over rice, if you prefer.

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