Chicken Chalakiles

Chicken Chalakiles is one of my favorite Chamorro comfort foods.  It’s a soup made with chicken, onions and garlic, thickened with toasted ground rice, and made even more rich with the addition of coconut milk.

Chalakiles can be served as your main dish or as a soup served before your entrée.

I make my Chalakiles the way my mom taught me — with freshly toasted and ground rice.  A quick and easy substitute is to use Cream of Rice instead. Toasting rice is easy.  Place the rice in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook until the rice turns golden brown, stirring constantly to prevent any rice from over-browning (and burning).

Let the rice cool for a few minutes then place in a food processor (I have a mini food chopper/grinder that works well).

Grind the rice into a mixture that looks like cornmeal.  A few large pieces of rice is okay; it will add texture to your Chalakiles once cooked.  Set the ground rice aside.

Place your chicken into a large soup pot.  You can cut the chicken to your desired size.  I diced them small here so that we could have more of a soup. My mom would use chicken drummettes or leave the chicken pieces whole if we served this as a meal.  She’d make it more on the soupy side as well so that we could also serve this with some steamed rice. Cook the chicken with onions, garlic, coconut oil and black pepper.

Once the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink, add chicken broth (or water and chicken seasoning), achote powder, and the ground toasted rice.

Bring the mixture to a boil; cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes (keep the pot uncovered).  Stirring occasionally to prevent the rice from settling and sticking to the bottom of the pot.

This is what the Chalakiles looks like after the rice is done.  The mixture is quite thick at this point, but will thin down once you stir in the coconut milk.

Stir in the coconut milk.  Cook for another couple of minutes, just long enough to heat up the mixture after adding the milk.  Remove from the heat.

If you want a thinner soup, either add more water or another can of coconut milk.  Taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

My recipe makes enough for a family of four plus enough leftover for lunch the next day. Serve and ENJOY!

 

Chicken Chalakiles
 
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A savory soup made with chicken and ground toasted rice.
Author:
Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons chicken seasoning*
  • 10 cups water*
  • 1 packet achote powder
  • 1 can (14-oz) coconut milk
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)


  • *Note: You can use chicken broth instead of water; omit the water AND chicken seasoning if using chicken broth.
Instructions
  1. Place the uncooked rice in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for a few minutes until the rice is evenly browned, stirring occasionally to ensure even browning. Let the toasted rice cool then grind in a food processor until you get the consistency of cornmeal. Set aside.
  2. Place the chicken, onion, garlic, coconut oil and black pepper into a large soup pot. Cook over medium heat until the chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Add the chicken seasoning, water, achote powder and ground rice to the pot. Stir to combine the ingredients then bring the mixture to a boil. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk; cook for a couple of minutes then remove from the heat.
Serve and ENJOY!

 

Miso Donne’ Dinanche (Miso Pepper Sauce)

Donne’ Dinanche, or a hot pepper paste, has many variations.  It can be made with just peppers and no other seasoning, or you can add other ingredients such as onions, garlic, coconut milk, vegetables, crab paste and lemon juice.

One variation that is quite popular — tasty too — adds miso paste to the mixture.

The resulting sauce — it’s more like a thick paste — is a spicy, salty, savory mixture that goes perfectly with grilled meat (or any meat dish, really) and hot steamed white rice.

Give my easy recipe a try.  If you like spicy condiments, you’ll like this one. 🙂

These are some of the ingredients I used — a Japanese long purple eggplant (although any eggplant will do), yellow onions, fresh green beans, garlic (not pictured), lemon powder (not pictured) and ready-made Tinian donne’ dinanche.

You can make your own donne’ dinanche if you don’t have any of the pre-packaged kind.  Use a blender you’re willing to dedicate solely for grinding peppers; using the blender for after you use it to grind peppers will most likely add a spice to the other food.  I don’t know about you but spicy smoothies don’t taste all that good to me.  Blend about 3 cups of hot chili peppers, adding a few spoonfuls of some sort of liquid–coconut oil, lemon juice or water–if the blender is not grinding the peppers into a smooth consistency.

If you’d rather not use your blender to grind peppers, mince the fresh peppers as finely as you can.  You could also substitute the fresh pepper mixture with dried pepper flakes that you can buy in an Asian store.  Ask the store clerk for the dried pepper flakes commonly used to make kimchi.

Add the eggplant, onions, garlic, and coconut oil to a large frying pan.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the vegetables from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to prevent burning.

Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions and eggplant soften.  Press the mixture with the back of your cooking spoon to start to mash the mixture — you don’t want to mash it completely, but the final consistency should be a spreadable, paste-like mixture.

Add the beans to the pan.  Cook for a few minutes until the beans soften.

Add the miso to the pan.

Stir the mixture to combine all the ingredients together.  Cook for a few more minutes, pressing down with your cooking spoon to mash any large pieces.

Turn the heat off then mix in the donne’ dinanche (mashed hot peppers).  Be careful — ensure your cooking area is well-ventilated.  The fumes from cooking pepper are quite potent!

Taste the mixture.  Add lemon powder or freshly squeezed lemon juice if you want to cut back on the saltiness.

Serve with BBQ meat (or your favorite meat dish), hot steamed rice and ENJOY!

Miso Donne' Dinanche (Miso Pepper Sauce)
 
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A spicy concoction with hot chili peppers, garlic, and the saltiness of miso paste ~ it's perfect with any meat dish.
Author:
Serves: 2½ cups
Ingredients
  • 1 large Japanese purple eggplant (or 2 medium)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup fresh green beans, thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups Japanese miso paste
  • 3 tablespoons donne' dinanche (mashed hot chili peppers)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon powder, optional
Instructions
  1. Dice the eggplant into small pieces; place in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and coconut oil to the pan. Sauté over medium-high heat until the onions are translucent and the eggplant softens, about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the bottom from sticking to the pan and burning.
  2. Add the beans to the pan; stir to combine. Cook another 5 minutes to soften the beans. Add an additional tablespoon of coconut oil if the mixture appears too dry and is sticking to the pan.
  3. Add the miso paste; stir to combine. Mash the mixture slightly with the back of your cooking spoon.
  4. Add the pepper paste to the pan then turn off the heat (ensure your cooking area is well-ventilated when you add the pepper).
  5. Add lemon powder, to taste (optional).

Apple Baklava

If you’ve visited my “kitchen” before, you’ll know there is probably no dessert I won’t like. 😉  Baklava is no exception.  A bite of the sweet nutty filling sandwiched between crispy, buttery phyllo dough with a gooey honey syrup is like heaven in your mouth.

I also love most apple desserts — apple pie, turnover, donuts, cobbler, cake — there are so many delicious things you can make with apples.

This recipe is a combination of apple pie and baklava.  It’s the sweet, nutty, syrupy stickiness of baklava with the flavors of apples and apple pie spices.

Give it a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

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 Use a total of 3 cups of your favorite nuts.  Because I’m adding apples, I omitted the pistachio nuts traditional in baklava and used only pecans and walnuts.

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Toasting the nuts in the oven for a few minutes brings out the natural oils in the nuts and intensifies the nuttiness.
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Pulse the nuts for a couple of minutes in a food processor until finely chopped.
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Add brown sugar and cinnamon to the chopped nuts.
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The nut mixture smells so good already!

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Peel and core two small apples, three if you want more apples in the baklava.  I used granny smith apples in this recipe but your favorite apples will do.

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Slice the apples into very thin slices.  Squeeze a little bit of lemon or lime juice over the sliced apples to keep them from browning.

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 Now this is the tricky part — working with phyllo dough.

A frozen package of phyllo dough usually has two rolls of dough in it.  You will need one roll of phyllo dough for this recipe.  One roll of dough has about 25 sheets.

Phyllo dough dries out very quickly when left uncovered, making them quite brittle.

Defrost the dough at room temperature then carefully unroll it until the sheets are flat.  The dough comes pre-wrapped in parchment or wax paper, but there isn’t enough parchment paper to completely encase the dough.  Wrap the dough with plastic wrap so that it’s completely covered, then place a very damp kitchen towel over the plastic-wrapped dough.

DO NOT prepare the phyllo dough until you’re ready to start layering your baklava.
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Spray the bottom and sides of an 8×8 baking pan with butter flavored cooking spray.

The baklava is made by alternating layers of phyllo dough, nuts, apples, then more nuts.

Begin by placing several sheets of phyllo dough in the bottom of the pan.  You’ll need 6 sheets of dough for each layer.

Place one sheet of dough on the bottom of the pan.  Spray the surface of the dough with butter-flavored cooking spray.  You can use melted butter instead of the spray, but I’m trying to cut back on the calories from butter.  Butter spray works just fine in this recipe, but if you use melted butter, use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter over each sheet of phyllo dough.

Each sheet of dough is larger than the 8×8 pan, so after spraying the top, fold over any excess dough and spray once more over the un-sprayed part.  Repeat the layering process until you’ve used six sheets of phyllo dough (dough-spray-fold excess-spray-repeat).

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Spread a half cup of the nut mixture over the layer of dough.
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Add a layer of apple slices over the nuts.

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Add another half cup of nuts over the apple slices.
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Repeat the layering two more times. Each full layer consists of six sheets of phyllo dough, followed by nuts, then apples, then more nuts.

Don’t forget to spray each layer of dough with butter spray, or brush melted butter on each one.

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After adding your last layer combination of dough-nuts-apples-nuts, you should have about 6 or 7 sheets of phyllo dough left.  These last few sheets go on the top of the baklava.  Layer them as before, ensuring you spray each one or brush with melted butter.

Using a sharp knife, cut the baklava into 16 pieces.  It’s essential you cut the baklava before baking it.  The baked phyllo dough is very crispy so cutting BEFORE baking will make things easier. 🙂
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Bake for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

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While the baklava bakes, prepare the syrup.  Although I love the nuts and apples and the crisp phyllo dough, I think the syrup is what makes baklava so special.

Traditional baklava syrup is usually made with a mixture of honey and fragrant rosewater, and sometimes with the added zest of lemons and oranges.

Because I want the flavors of apple pie, I’m making a syrup of honey, sugar, water, lemon extract, cinnamon (I use a cinnamon stick in the syrup since I added lots of ground cinnamon to the nut mixture), whole cloves, and a tiny bit of ground ginger.

Place all the ingredients into a pot, bring it to a boil over low heat, and cook until the syrup reduces by half.

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 Once the syrup reduces by half, set it aside to cool.  I poured the syrup into a measuring cup so that I could easily pour it over the baked baklava.

Be sure to remove the cinnamon stick and cloves!

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As soon as the baklava comes out of the oven, pour the syrup all over it.

Let the baklava cool for a few minutes before serving.

I prefer to let the syrup soak into the baklava for at least an hour before digging in.

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SERVE & ENJOY!

Look at the apples peeking out below! 🙂

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Apple Baklava
 
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Apple Pie meets Baklava in this delicious and decadent dessert.
Author:
Serves: 16 pieces
Ingredients
BAKLAVA INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup pecans
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 small apples, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 roll frozen phyllo dough, thawed (25 sheets)
  • Butter-flavored cooking spray (or 4 sticks of butter, melted)
SYRUP INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 cup white, granulated sugar
  • ½ cup good quality honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 6 whole cloves
Instructions
Prepare the Nut Mixture
  1. Spread the nuts onto a large sheet pan.
  2. Bake at 275 degrees for 5 minutes or until you start to smell the aroma of the toasted nuts. Set the nuts aside to cool.
  3. Place the nuts in a food processor; pulse for a couple of minutes or until the nuts are finely chopped.
  4. Add the brown sugar and ground cinnamon to the chopped nuts; stir to mix. Set aside.
Prepare the Phyllo Dough
  1. Defrost one roll of dough (about 25 sheets) at room temperature then carefully unroll it until the sheets are flat.
  2. Place plastic wrap over the dough so that it's completely covered, then place a very damp kitchen towel over the plastic-wrapped dough.
Layer the Baklava
  1. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8x8 baking pan with butter flavored cooking spray.
  2. Layer 1:
    Place one sheet of dough on the bottom of the pan. Spray the surface of the dough with butter-flavored cooking spray or brush melted butter over it. Fold over any excess dough, spraying any dry dough with cooking spray. Repeat this process until you've used six sheets of phyllo dough -- dough-spray-fold excess-spray-repeat.
    Spread ½ cup of the nut mixture over the layer of dough.
    Add a layer of apple slices over the nuts (use ⅓ of the sliced apples).
    Add another ½ cup of nuts over the apples.
  3. Layer 2:
    Repeat the layering process as you did for Layer 1 (6 sheets of dough, nuts, apples, nuts). Be sure to butter each sheet of dough.
  4. Layer 3:
    Repeat the layers one more time (6 sheets of dough, nuts, apples, nuts).
  5. Layer 4:
    By now, you finished all of the nuts and apples, but you should still have about 6 sheets of phyllo dough left. This last layer uses the remaining sheets of phyllo dough (brush melted butter or spray between each sheet).
  6. Use a sharp knife to cut the unbaked baklava into 16 pieces.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Make the Syrup
  1. Place the syrup ingredients into a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce to low and simmer until the syrup reduces by half. Set aside to cool, discarding the cinnamon stick and cloves.
  2. Pour the cooled syrup over the baked baklava.
Serve and ENJOY!

Apple Cranberry Muffins with Streusel Topping

Apples and cranberries go so well together.  Pair them together in these muffins topped with sweet streusel topping and you’ve got a real treat on your hands.

I made these for a PTA-sponsored Teacher Appreciation Day one year and it was wiped out in no time.  These muffins are great for potluck breakfasts, and they make great snacks for a packed lunch.

Top the muffins with my apple cream cheese frosting (recipe below) and now you’ve got a decadent dessert.

Give my recipes a try.  I think you’ll like them. 🙂

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Apple Cranberry Muffins with Streusel Topping
 
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Apple and cranberries baked in a moist muffin and topped with a sweet streusel and buttery apple frosting
Author:
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
Ingredients for the Muffins:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour (set aside 4 tablespoons out of the 4 cups of flour)
  • 2 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups white, granulated sugar (you can use Splenda or Truvia made for baking)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup orange juice (with pulp)
  • 1 cup craisins
  • ⅔ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, optional
Ingredients for Streusel Topping:
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • ⅔ cup finely chopped walnuts, optional (or use your favorite nut)
Ingredients for the Apple Cream Cheese Frosting:
  • 1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 box powdered sugar
Instructions
Directions for the muffins:
  1. Place cupcake liners in two regular sized muffin pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl toss 4 tablespoons of flour with the diced apples; set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl cream the 2 sticks of butter with the granulated sugar. Add the eggs, vanilla and orange juice; mix until creamy.
  4. Mix together the remaining flour, baking soda and salt; add to the butter mixture.
  5. Fold the apple mixture, craisins and chopped walnuts into the batter (it will be quite thick).
  6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling about ⅔ full.
  7. Top with streusel topping then bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cupcakes/muffins in the pan for 10-15 minutes then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
Make the Streusel Topping:
  1. In a medium bowl combine the brown sugar, 4 tablespoons of flour, lemon zest, melted butter and chopped nuts (you can use a food chopper to chop these nuts very fine).
  2. Mix well (you can use a fork) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Make the Apple-Cream Cheese Frosting:
  1. Place the diced apples, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the apples have softened, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Place the cooked apple mixture in a blender or food processor to finely chop the apples (small bits are okay). Set aside to cool completely.
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese together with an electric mixer. Add the apple mixture; mix until combined. Mix in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until creamy. Refrigerate the frosting until you’re ready to ice the cupcakes/muffins.

 

Easy Ultra-Moist Red Velvet Cupcakes

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Ahhh…the delicious aroma of cake baking is rivaled only by that of gooey chocolate chip cookies baking and filling your home with happiness. 🙂

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Red velvet cake topped with sweet cream cheese frosting is one of my favorites.

These cupcakes were topped with a marshmallow flower made by slicing marshmallows (use a pair of kitchen scissors for easy cutting) then sticking the petals together to form a flower.

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This is a super-easy recipe.  Mix a box of red velvet cake mix with eggs, milk, oil, instant chocolate pudding, and red food coloring (for a deeper red color).

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Fill cupcake lines 3/4 full.
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Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
Let the cupcakes cool then frost and ENJOY! 🙂
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Easy Ultra-Moist Red Velvet Cupcakes
 
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Author:
Serves: 2 dozen
Ingredients
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe red velvet cake mix
  • 1 box (3.9 oz) instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup oil
  • ¾ cup milk*
  • 12 drops of red food coloring
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Pour into cupcake tins lined with paper liners, ¾ full.
  4. Bake 18-20 minutes.
  5. Frost with your favorite frosting.
High Altitude Adjustments (for altitudes higher than 3000 ft):
  1. *Use 1 cup of milk (instead of ¾ cup)
  2. Do not preheat the oven. Prepare the batter and fill the cupcake tins, THEN turn on the oven. When the oven temperature reaches 250 degrees, place the pans in the oven.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes; the time starts when the temperature reaches 350 degrees (check for doneness at 10 minutes). The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

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