Archive for Thanksgiving

How to Roast a Fresh Pumpkin — a Pedro “PoP” Aguon Tutorial

Pedro “PoP” Aguon was a chef in the Navy. PoP passed down to his family his extensive knowledge of cooking, and his daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon, is kind enough to share some of PoP’s recipes and cooking tips with us. That was PoP’s way, sharing with the younger generations in order to keep the knowledge of our Chamorro culture and heritage alive. Rest in peace, PoP…your family and friends miss you terribly.

From Arlene:
“My PoP’s taught me how to roast a fresh pumpkin. It makes the best pies, Buchi Buchi & Turnovers. It makes the home smell like Thanksgiving too. ENJOY. ” ~ @untie R

Freshly roasted pumpkin tastes better than any canned pumpkin you buy in stores. Try roasting pumpkins PoP’s way. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂

Roasted Pumpkins ~ A Pop Aguon Tutorial

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Roast the pumpkins at 350 degrees.  The roasting time varies based on the size of your pumpkins.  Medium pumpkins can take between 45 minutes to one hour.  Check at the 45-minute mark; the pumpkin flesh should be tender when pierced with a fork.  Continue to roast until tender.

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Riyenu ~ Chamorro Stuffing

Chamorro stuffing, or Riyenu, is a delicious side dish usually served during special holiday meals, alongside baked turkey, ham, or roast pig.

My mom taught me how to make this a very long time ago, when I was a very young girl.  In fact, this recipe is one of the few I added to a recipe book that I made when I was perhaps 8 or 9 years old.  I remember stacking small pieces of paper and gluing one side to make a spine, then creating a cover out of stiff cardboard and gluing a piece of scrap fabric with blue polka dots on it to make the cover soft and pretty.  Even at that young age, I loved to cook, and I made my very own recipe book, which I still have to this day.

I’ve been asked what makes this a Chamorro stuffing.  Well, I guess it’s the addition of potatoes, pimento and olives, kind of like our Chamorro Potato Salad.

A few optional ingredients that my mom sometimes puts in her Riyenu are finely diced celery and a small jar of sweet pickle relish.  I prefer my stuffing without those two ingredients, so I leave them out.

You don’t need to wait for a holiday to make this yummy stuffing.  Give my recipe a try.  I think you’ll like it. 🙂

Riyenu ~ Chamorro Stuffing

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Ingredients:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 box Stove Top Stuffing Mix for Turkey
  • 2 small jars diced pimento, drained
  • 1 small can chopped black olives, drained
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Peel and dice the potatoes into small pieces, about 1/4 inch square.

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Place the vegetable oil in a shallow frying pan over medium heat.

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Fry the diced potatoes in batches; cook until the potatoes are a very light golden brown and cooked through (use a fork to test for doneness).

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Drain the cooked potatoes on a paper towel-lined plate.  Set aside.

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Brown the ground beef in a medium sized pot.

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Add the contents of the stuffing mix (dried bread pieces and seasoning), the cooked potatoes and onions to the pot.  Stir to combine.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

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Add the pimentos and olives to the pot.

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Stir to combine.  Continue to cook over medium heat for a minute or so, stirring occasionally.

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Add the raisins.  I actually like lots of raisins in my stuffing so I tend to add more than a cup.

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Pour in the evaporated milk.  You can also use vegetable or chicken stock instead of milk.

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Add the melted butter.  Cook for another minute or two.  Taste, then add salt and pepper if needed (the seasoning packet from the stuffing is already quite salty, so you might not need to add more salt).

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Place the stuffing into an oven-safe baking dish.

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Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Serve and ENJOY!

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This makes a wonderful side dish, served alongside my smoked/grilled turkey and brown sugar glazed ham.

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ENJOY!

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Smoked & Grilled Turkey

Turkey doesn’t have to be served only during Thanksgiving or other holiday meal.  Chamorros love to BBQ, but occasionally, we like to smoke and grill a turkey instead of the traditional BBQ fare of ribs and chicken.

Whether baking, frying, grilling or smoking a turkey, I recommend brining the turkey at least 24 hours prior to cooking.  Brining not only adds flavor to the turkey, but it seals in the juices during the cooking process, yielding an incredibly moist, juicy, tasty turkey.

Smoked & Grilled Turkey

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Ingredients:

  • 1 turkey, about 12-15 pounds
  For the Brine:
  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 cup sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary-garlic mix (or 1 tablespoon rosemary, 1 tablespoon garlic powder)
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons good quality honey
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon powdered chicken bouillon
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 limes, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 gallon ice cubes
   Stuffing:
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 apples, cut into wedges
  • 1 whole head of garlic

Directions:

1.  Make the brine.

Place one gallon of water into a large pot.

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Add the sea salt to the pot of water.

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Add the herbs/spices and bay leaves to the pot.

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Add the honey.

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Add the brown sugar.

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Add the chicken seasoning.

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Give it a stir then bring the mixture to a boil.

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Pour the brine into a clean bucket (we bought a PBA-free bucket at Lowe’s).

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Add the sliced limes, orange and onion to the bucket.  My daughter was being funny and called this “turkey punch”. 😉

Let the brine cool completely before adding the turkey.

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Remove the giblets and neck from the cavity of the turkey.  Rinse well then add the turkey to the cooled brine.  I don’t think there’s a “wrong way” to place the turkey into the bucket, but I like to place it with the legs pointing up so that most of the turkey meat is submerged in the brine.  Of course, you could just add more water to the bucket until the bird is completely drowned. 😉

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Pour in the two gallons of ice cubes — about 2 pitcherfuls.

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Place the lid on the bucket (if yours doesn’t come with a lid, use aluminum foil to cover it) then place the bucket in the refrigerator.  Let the turkey soak in the brine for at least 24 hours.

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2.  Smoke/Grill the turkey.

After 24 hours, remove the turkey from the brine.  Chop up 2 apples and 1 onion, and peel the skin/paper off each clove in an entire head of garlic.

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Stuff the apple, onion and garlic mixture into the cavity of the turkey.

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Place the turkey in the smoker/grill.  Follow the smoking/grilling directions for your smoker.  I have a Traeger smoker/grill that has automatic temperature settings.  Here are the procedures for using a grill (like a Traeger) that has automatic temperature settings.

After turning on the grill, set it to 450 degrees; let the heat build up for about 15 minutes.  Turn the heat back down to the Smoke setting then place the turkey on the grill, smoking it for approximately 9 hours.

NOTE:  If you want to cut down the cooking time, do NOT stuff the turkey until about one hour from being done.  An un-stuffed turkey cooks faster than a cooked one.  If you decide NOT to stuff the turkey, smoke it for 6 hours instead of 9.

This is what the turkey looked like after 3 hours of smoking.

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After 8 hours of smoking, turn the heat up to 275 degrees and grill the turkey for one more hour or until the skin turns a nice dark brown color.

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If you don’t own a smoker/grill, bake the turkey at 325 degrees using the chart below as a basic guide.

TURKEY ROASTING TIMES
Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight (Pounds)Cooking Time (Hours)
6 - 83 - 3 1/2
8 - 123 1/2 - 4 1/2
12 - 164 1/2 - 5 1/2
16 - 205 1/2 - 6
20 - 246 - 6 1/2
Un-Stuffed Turkey
Turkey Weight (Pounds)Cooking Time (Hours)
6 - 82 1/2 - 3
8 - 123 - 4
12 - 164 - 5
16 - 205 - 5 1/2
20 - 245 1/2 - 6

Serve with your favorite side dishes.  I recommend Chamorro Red Rice, Chamorro Stuffing (Riyenu) and Fina’denne’.
ENJOY!
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Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes aren’t traditionally found on a Chamorro menu, but there are times when my family craves something other than rice with a meal.

We like mashed potatoes–GARLIC mashed potatoes, that is–with the “classics” like fried or baked chicken, baked turkey, ham steaks, and meatloaf.  If it’s prepared right, you don’t even need gravy.  Oh, I just cringed–me, who LOVES to drown my food in lots and lots of gravy!  Well, my mashed potatoes are delicious with our without gravy.  It’s light, creamy, and garlicky…it’s just plain YUMMY!

I made this with russet potatoes, but it’s also fantastic with red potatoes (leave some of the skin on if you use red potatoes).

Give my mashed potatoes a try.  It’ll go great with your next meal. 🙂

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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Ingredients:

  • 4 medium russet or baking potatoes
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free half and half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1.  Wash and peel the potatoes.  Cut into evenly sized pieces.

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2.  Place the potatoes into a medium sized pot then cover with cold water.  I also salt the water, about a teaspoon of salt will do.  Bring the water to a boil, keeping the pot uncovered.

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3.  When the potatoes are done, turn off the heat and pour out the water.  Keep the potatoes in the pot.  Why dirty another bowl?  Everything gets mixed in the same pot. 🙂

Slice the butter into small pieces then add it to the pot of potatoes.  Stir gently; the heat from the pot and potatoes will melt the butter.

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4.  Add the garlic powder and cheese to the pot; stir to combine.

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5.  Place the half and half in a microwave-safe measuring cup or bowl.  Heat for about 90 seconds.  Pour the hot liquid into the pot of potatoes.  This may appear to be too much liquid, but trust me…it’s just the right amount.

In case you’re wondering, those green flecks in the photo below are dried parsley (I used garlic powder with dried parsley in it). 😉

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6.  Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes.  Mash only to the point when you don’t have any large chunks of potatoes anymore.  A few small chunks are okay.

This is IMPORTANT:  DO NOT over mash, and by all means, DO NOT use a hand mixer to mix your potatoes.  Over-mixing or over-mashing potatoes turns the whole thing into a sticky, gummy mess.  If you stop mashing–as I stated above–when there aren’t anymore large chunks, I guarantee you’ll have light, fluffy, tasty mashed potatoes your family will love.

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7.  Add salt and pepper, to taste.  Stir (no more mashing), then taste again.  Adjust seasonings if required.

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Serve and ENJOY!

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Pumpkin-Carrot Crunch Cake

Fall is one of my favorite seasons, not just because of the beautiful fall colors and cooling temperatures, but because I love the smell of the house when I bake up a batch of pumpkin anything.  I say anything because my family loves most everything made with pumpkin.  Pumpkin pie, Pumpkin Turnovers (Pastit or Buchi Buchi), and one of our favorites — Pumpkin Carrot Crunch Cake.

This recipe is my take on the popular Pumpkin Crunch Cake that you must have seen making its rounds on the internet.

I make mine differently.  One thing I do differently is instead of sprinkling dry cake mix over the pumpkin filling, I make a cake and nut layer by mixing together melted butter, chopped nuts and the cake mix, then spreading it onto the bottom of a pan, making a delightful crust of sorts.

My pumpkin filling is essentially a custard, forming a rich and creamy layer on top of the cake and nut crust.

And finally, the top layer is not just plain old Cool Whip Whipped Topping, but a thicker version made so by adding sweet vanilla pudding to it.

My version also uses carrot cake instead of regular yellow cake mix, although yellow cake is perfectly fine if that’s what you prefer.  We love carrot cake in our house, so I incorporated two favorites into one, and voila, there you have my Pumpkin Carrot Crunch Cake!

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

PUMPKIN CARROT CRUNCH CAKE

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INGREDIENTS:

Pumpkin Filling:
  • 1 15-oz can pumpkin puree
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup evaporated milk OR heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cake & Pecan Crust:
  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1 box super moist carrot cake mix
Whipped Topping:
  • 16 ounces Cool Whip
  • 1 box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding & pie filling
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2.  In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the Pumpkin Filling (pumpkin, eggs, evaporated milk OR cream, sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt). Set aside.

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3.  Finely chop the nuts using a food chopper or processor.

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4.  In a separate bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Cake & Pecan Crust (melted butter, chopped nuts, cinnamon and cake mix).  Spray the bottom and sides of a 13×9 cake pan with cooking spray (butter flavored, or the one for baking that has flour in it).  Spread the cake mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan.

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5.  Pour the pumpkin filling over the cake and pecan mixture.  Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and continue to bake for 45-50 more minutes. The cake is done when a knife inserted comes out clean and the sides are set (the pumpkin filling will look firm and dry from the edge of the pan inward about two inches) but the middle may still be jiggly.  When you take the cake out of the oven, it will continue to cook as it cools.  Allow the cake to completely cool on the countertop.  Top with Whipped Topping when the cake is completely cooled.

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6.  To make the whipped topping, place the Cool Whip into a large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle the dry pudding mix over the Cool Whip.  Add the milk.  Using an electric mixer, mix until all the ingredients are combined.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes to set.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.

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7.  After the cake has cooled, top with the whipped topping mixture.

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8.  Serve and enjoy!

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