Penne with Sausage and Pumpkin Cream Sauce

Pumpkin in pasta sauce?!  Why, YES! 🙂

My daughter, Hannah, loves pasta.  Actually, my entire family loves pasta.  She wanted to make something off the beaten path of the usual alfredo or meat sauce so she browsed several websites and recipes and found one (by Rachael Ray I think) and wanted to give it a try.  I must say that it’s absolutely delicious (thank you, Rachael).

This is Hannah’s take on Rachael’s recipe (original recipe found here).

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

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Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Hannah made enough pasta for dinner for our family of four, plus enough for everyone to pack lunch the next day, so she cooked two boxes of penne pasta.

Drain the water from the pot; keep the cooked pasta in the pot (no need to dirty another serving bowl).  Set aside for now.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage in a large frying pan.  Hannah used sweet/mild Italian sausage, but if you like a spicier pasta, use spicy sausage.  Remove the browned sausage from the pan and place on top of paper towels to soak up any excess fat.

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Using the same pan you used to brown the sausage, cook the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent and beginning to caramelize.  To save on cooking time, we usually buy a jar of chopped garlic.  We like LOTS of garlic, so Hannah added a couple of HEAPING tablespoons of chopped garlic to the pan.

There was enough grease in the pan from cooking the sausage so there is no need to add more oil to cook the onions and garlic.

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Roughly cut the sage leaves and toss them into the pan.

Bay leaves are savory herbs used often in Italian cooking.  The photo below doesn’t look as if she did it, but Hannah slightly crushed the bay leaves before adding them to the pan.  Crushing bay leaves brings out more of its natural oils and intense flavors.  Be careful that you don’t crush the leaves and maket them too small; you want to remove them from the pan after cooking (don’t eat the leaves).

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Add the wine to the pan.  Hannah used a Pino Grigio for this recipe.  Because my kids are eating this (even though a lot of the alcohol cooks off), I wanted her to use a light-bodied wine with a clean and fresh taste — Pino Grigio was it.

Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil, cooking until the wine reduces by half.

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Add the chicken broth to the pan once the wine reduced.

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Stir in the pureed pumpkin.  Pumpkin in pasta, you ask???  Don’t fret; you won’t even notice the pumpkin is in there.  The taste is not overpowering at all, but it’s just enough for you to ask, “hmmm…what IS that that tastes so good?” 😉

Since Hannah made a large pot of pasta, she used a good amount of pumpkin, about 2 cups.

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Add the cinnamon and nutmeg to the sauce.  The nutmeg and cinnamon compliment the pumpkin flavor quite nicely.

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Stir in the heavy whipping cream.

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Reduce the heat to medium.  Bring the sauce back to a simmer; cook for a few minutes (about 5 or so).  Taste the sauce; add salt to taste.  Hannah added about 2 tablespoons of Dashida powdered beef seasoning instead of salt.  Don’t add too much, however; you’ll be adding cheese to the pasta, which also has salt.

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Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cooked pasta.  Hannah used LOTS of cheese here.  The cheese will melt when your pour the hot pasta sauce over the noodles, helping to thicken the sauce.

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CAREFULLY pour the hot sauce over the pasta and cheese.  Stir to combine.  It may seem very saucy at this point but the noodles will soak up some of the sauce (we love saucy pastas in our house).

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Serve with a side of cheesy garlic bread and more shredded Parmesan cheese and ENJOY! 🙂

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Penne with Sausage and Pumpkin Cream Sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds bulk sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 8 fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups 100% pure pumpkin
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dashida seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 box Penne Pasta, cooked per package directions
  • 1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package. Pour out the cooked pasta into a colander to drain out all the water. Return the cooked pasta to the now-empty pot. Set aside.
  2. Brown the sausage in a large frying pan. Remove the cooked sausage from pan; place in a paper towel-lined bowl to allow the excess fat to drain off.
  3. Cook the onions and garlic in the same pan used to cook the sausage. Cook until the onions begin to caramelize.
  4. Add the sage and bay leaves. Slightly crush the bay leaves before adding them to the pan.
  5. Add the wine to the pan. Turn the heat up to high and bring the mixture to a boil, cooking until it reduces by half.
  6. Stir in the chicken broth, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine.
  7. Stir in the whipping cream. Reduce the heat to medium. Bring the sauce back to a simmer; cook for a few minutes (about 5 or so).
  8. Sprinkle the shredded cheese over the cooked pasta. Pour the sauce over the pasta and cheese. Stir to coat the pasta with the sauce.
Serve with more shredded cheese and ENJOY!

 

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies

Gingerbread cookies are so much fun to make — and eat!  My daughter even says they “taste like Thanksgiving and Christmas.” 😉

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These aren’t the kind of cookies that you bake and form into shapes suitable for ornaments or making gingerbread houses.

In fact, this dough cannot be rolled out like traditional gingerbread.  Rather, the dough is soft and moist (and actually requires chilling in order to handle it better), and the cookies bake up super fluffy, soft, and chewy.

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Funny story here…

I brought a couple dozen cookies to work and offered them to my coworkers. They all smiled politely when I said they were gingerbread cookies, but then politely declined to eat any. The SECOND I told them they were SOFT and CHEWY, not the hockey-puck-rock-hard-gingersnap cookies, they ate them like they hadn’t eaten in days! 😀

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So, let’s get to it, shall we?

Start by placing the flour into a medium sized mixing bowl.

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Now for the heart and soul of these incredible gingerbread cookies.  You’ll need baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, nutmeg, salt and ginger.  Even before the cookies bake, the aroma of these spices make you think of fall and Thanksgiving, and all that comes with holiday baking.

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Mix the spices with the flour.  I use a whisk to really mix it all together.  You don’t want any of the seasonings to clump together when you mix it with the wet ingredients.  Set this flour mixture aside for now.

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Place the softened butter in a large mixing bowl.  I use a stand mixer because this makes a lot of cookie dough, but you can use a hand mixer as well.

As mentioned above, this makes a large batch of cookie dough, but don’t worry.  These cookies are so good, you’ll be glad you made a lot of them. 🙂

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Beat the butter until creamy.

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Add the brown sugar to the mixing bowl.

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Mix until light and fluffy.

This is a great mixture to spread over hot dinner rolls, by the way.  Just add a teaspoon of ground cinnamon and voila! Sweet Cinnamon Butter!

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Now I want to make some dinner rolls, but I digress.

Anyhoo…back to the cookies.

Add the molasses, eggs and vanilla extract to the mixing bowl.

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Mix on low speed for a minute or so, or until you get a nice creamy consistency like what’s pictured below.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl if you need to then mix again.

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Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, mixing on low speed just until the flour mixture is incorporated into the wet batter.

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Continue mixing in the dry ingredients, a cup at a time, until a dough forms.  Stop mixing when you no longer see clumps of dry ingredients.  Do not over mix the dough.

Because this is a really wet dough, you need to chill it for several hours before making dough balls.  I usually prepare the dough while dinner is cooking, then I pop the mixing bowl into the freezer while we eat dinner.  After dinner, I take the dough out of the freezer and bake the cookies.

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Now that your dough chilled sufficiently enough to handle, scoop out small amounts (about 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons) and form into balls.  I use a small cookie scoop to do this — I have a bit of OCD; I like all of my cookies to be the same size. 😉

Roll the balls of dough in a bowl of granulated sugar.  Ensure the entire ball is well-coated with sugar.

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Place each ball of dough onto a baking pan.  If you have regular baking pans, make sure to line the pan with parchment paper first.  I use stoneware pans; there is no need to line them with parchment paper.

Place the balls about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.  These cookies will spread, but they won’t spread too much.

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Bake the cookies for 10 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the pan for a couple of minutes then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.

See how nicely they puff up?  As the cookies cool, they will settle just a little bit, but they will still be a bit puffy, and they will most definitely be soft and chewy.

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Place any uneaten cookies in an airtight container.  They will stay soft and chewy for several days (if they last that long). 🙂

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Here’s my complete recipe.  I think you’ll really like this one.  ENJOY!

 

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread Cookies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
SOFT & CHEWY gingerbread cookies that make you think of Thanksgiving and the holidays, all year round. These are NOT at all like the typical rock-hard gingersnap cookies.
Author:
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: American
Ingredients
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1½ cups (or 3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1½ cups dark brown sugar
  • ⅔ cup dark molasses
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup white, granulated sugar (for coating the cookie dough balls)
Instructions
  1. In a medium sized bowl, place the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and ginger. Whisk to combine all the dry ingredients then set aside.
  2. Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Using a stand or handheld mixer, beat the butter until creamy.
  3. Add the brown sugar to the creamed butter. Mix until fluffy.
  4. Add the molasses, eggs and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture. Mix until well incorporated. Scrape down the sides if required and mix again.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients, one cup at a time, with the butter mixture. Stop mixing once the last bit of the dry ingredients are mixed into the dough (do not over mix).
  6. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for 2-3 hours. (I placed my bowl in the freezer for 30 minutes to speed things up.)
  7. Scoop out some chilled dough and roll into a ball. I use a small cookie scoop that holds 1½ tablespoons.
  8. Roll each ball of dough in the granulated sugar, coating the entire ball. Place the coated balls onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet (if you use a stoneware pan you don't need to line it), about 1½ inches apart. These cookies will spread only a little, so you don't need to space them too far apart.
  9. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the pan for a couple of minutes then remove to a wire rack to finish cooling.
These cookies are soft and chewy, and will stay soft for several days (if they last that long!) when stored in an airtight container. This recipe makes about 6 dozen small cookies.

 

Thai BBQ Pork

My Thai BBQ Pork is one recipe you’ll definitely want to try.  The secret is really in the marinade and basting sauce.  Cilantro, soy sauce, lots of garlic and fish sauce form the base for this yummy marinade.  Lime juice not only adds wonderful flavor to the meat, but the acid also serves to break down the meat, allowing the marinade to work its magic.

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The basting sauce, a mixture of rich coconut milk and some of the reserved marinade mixture gives you an added layer of flavor.  The heat from the grill caramelizes the basting sauce as the meat cooks, creating beautifully browned and juicy pork with a slightly sweet and savory coating.

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Now that I’ve got you drooling, here’s how to do it.

Place the cilantro (leaves AND stems) and garlic in a food processor along with the soy sauce.  You’ll need the liquid in there to help break down the cilantro.

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Pulse or grind the mixture until your mixture looks like the photo below.  You want the cilantro chopped as finely as possible.

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Place the cilantro mixture into a large bowl or pan.  Add the rest of the marinade ingredients to the bowl, stirring to combine it all.

Remove about 1/4 cup of the marinade mixture; place it into a small bowl along with coconut milk. This will be your basting sauce.

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Place the pork into the marinade.  Use your favorite cut of pork, but make sure you use something that has some fat; lean pork will dry out too quickly for this dish.  I like using pork shoulder or pork butt, cut into strips or cubes (for shish kabobs).  Let the pork marinate for 2 or 3 hours, longer if desired.  Keep the mixture refrigerated if you don’t plan on grilling this right away.

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To make shish kabobs, place several pieces of cubed pork onto a skewer.  I have metal skewers so there’s no soaking required.  If you use bamboo or wooden skewers, be sure to soak the skewers for several hours (overnight is good too) before grilling.

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Skewer the meat AFTER it’s been marinated.

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Place on a hot grill and baste immediately.

Grill the meat over relatively high heat.  I have a Traeger grill that has a temperature gauge built into it.  I grilled this at 325 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours, basting and turning every 15 minutes.

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Turn the meat over occasionally, basting each time.

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The coconut milk mixed with the reserved marinade caramelizes into a lip-smacking coating that will have you oooh-ing and ahhh-ing (trust me, it’s that yummy). 🙂

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I know some people who absolutely won’t eat charred BBQ, but that little piece of charred goodness in the photo below was TO-DIE-FOR-delicious!!!

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Mmmmmm…soooo good served with hot steamed white rice and fina’denne’.

The next time I make this, I’m going to make just a little bit more marinade, reserving some to use as a dipping sauce when the pork is done.

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

 

Thai BBQ Pork
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup fish sauce (I like Three Crabs brand)
  • ½ cup lime juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 4 pounds pork (preferably boneless pork shoulder), cut into strips or cubes
Instructions
Make the Marinade:
  1. Place the cilantro, soy sauce and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until well blended. Pour the mixture into a large bowl or pan.
  2. Add the brown sugar, fish sauce, and lemon juice to the cilantro mixture. Stir to mix the ingredients together.
Make the Basting Sauce:
  1. Remove ¼ cup of the marinade mixture and place into a small bowl. Add the coconut milk; mix to combine and set aside.
Grill the Meat:
  1. Place the meat in the marinade mixture. Let the meat marinate for 2 to 3 hours (longer if you like, but refrigerate the mixture).
  2. Place the meat on the grill. Immediately baste with the reserved coconut basting sauce. Turn the meat occasionally, basting each time. Stop basting when the meat has started to caramelize and is a rich brown in color.
  3. Grill until the meat is done and nicely caramelized.
Serve and ENJOY!

 

Lumpia Dipping Sauce

Lumpia is delicious all on its own, but occasionally I like serving them Vietnamese style — on a bed of rice noodles atop a lettuce leaf with a side of tangy dipping sauce.

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Here’s my recipe for the dipping sauce.  Don’t let the fish sauce deter you — this is a must-try the next time you make lumpia.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Here’s the link to my Lumpia recipe if you’d like to try it as well. 🙂

 

Lumpia Dipping Sauce
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons white, granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Instructions
Mix all the ingredients together. Serve with lumpia and ENJOY!

 

Chicken Soup (Kådun Månuk)

Kådu is the Chamorro term for soup or broth.  Think of it as Chamorro Comfort Food.  It could be 90 degrees outside on Guam, but serve some kådu for lunch or dinner and chances are, you’ll forget your worries–and the hot weather–as you enjoy a steaming bowl of delicious soup.

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There isn’t a particular occasion that kådu is served.  If made at home, kådu is usually served as the main course — chicken, beef or other kådu is the starring attraction, served over steamed rice with fina’denne’ on the side.  Whereas if you see kadu at parties, it’s usually something more along the lines of a drinkable soup, like Chamorro Corn Soup or Beef Soup with Noodles and Vegetables.

Growing up, kådu was made using whatever we had on hand.  Most often my mom would make chicken kådu, using the chickens raised in our yard, of course.  She’d also add whatever vegetables my dad happened to be growing at our ranch, or vegetables growing in the back yard.  My favorite vegetables to add to kådu were squash and pumpkin tips, and if we had some potatoes and onions, into the pot they went as well.  Freshly squeezed coconut milk was a must; that was usually my job when I was younger — grating the coconut then pressing out the thick and creamy milk.

Give my recipe a try.  It’s great for those bleary days when warm chicken soup seems to be the only thing to chase the cold away.  Find my complete recipe at the bottom of this post.  My recipe makes enough to serve 6-8 people, plus enough left over to pack lunch the next day.

You can also try my recipe for Beef Shank Kådu with Vermicelli Noodles and Vegetables.  I think you’ll like that one too. 🙂

Here’s how to make my Chicken Kådu.

Prepare your vegetables.  Peel and cut your vegetables in to large chunks.  I used zucchini, potatoes and baby bok choy in this version; you can use your favorite vegetables.

Peel the zucchini and thickly slice them.  I sliced these about 3/4 to 1 inch thick.

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Separate the baby bok choy leaves.  Rinse each leaf thoroughly to remove all dirt trapped in between the leaves.

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Peel and cut the potatoes into large chunks.  I used small red potatoes and cut them half.  Place the cut potatoes in cold water to keep them from oxidizing and turning brown.

Set all the vegetables aside for now while you cook the chicken.image

Place the chicken into a large pot along with sliced onions, chopped garlic, chicken seasoning and black pepper.

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Cook the chicken over medium-high heat until done.

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Add the potatoes to the pot along with enough water to cover the potatoes.  Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil.  Cook the potatoes for about 8-10 minutes or until they are almost done (the potatoes should still be a bit difficult to pierce easily with a fork).  The potatoes will continue cooking when you add the rest of the vegetables.

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Add the zucchini to the pot once the potatoes are just about done.  It doesn’t take long for squash to cook, so be sure to add them to the pot at the end.  Replace the lid on the pot; cook the squash for just a few minutes.

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Baby bok choy also cooks very quickly.  In fact, the steam from the pot will cook the tender leaves sufficiently.  Add the bok choy leaves to the pot once the squash is done then turn the heat to low; replace the lid on the pot.

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It takes just a couple of minutes for the bok choy to wilt.  Turn off the heat once it does.

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All that’s left to do is stir in the coconut milk.  You don’t want to boil coconut milk or it will separate after prolonged cooking.  The soup is quite hot at this point, hot enough to warm the coconut milk, which is all you need to do.  Give it a stir, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.  Add more salt (or chicken seasoning) and pepper, to taste.

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Serve with steamed white rice and fina’denne’ and ENJOY! 🙂

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Chicken Soup (Kådun Månuk)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is not your ordinary chicken soup -- it's chicken soup with a Chamorro flare, made with potatoes, squash, baby bok choy, and thick coconut milk.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Chamorro
Serves: Serves 6-8
Ingredients
  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 6 drumsticks
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons chicken seasoning (or powdered chicken bouillon)
  • 10 small red potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 4 cups water
  • 8 bunches baby bok choy, leaves separated
  • 6 medium zucchini squash, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cans coconut milk
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken, onions, garlic, black pepper and chicken seasoning in a large pot. Cook over medium-high heat until the chicken is done.
  2. Add the potatoes and water to the pot. Bring the soup to a boil; cook for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are almost done.
  3. Add the squash to the pot; cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the baby bok choy leaves to the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook just until the leaves wilt.
  5. Turn the heat off then stir in the coconut milk.
Serve with steamed white rice, fina'denne' and ENJOY!

 

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