Chicken Afritada

Chicken Afritada, is Spanish-inspired but unmistakably a Filipino dish.  Cooked in a savory flavored tomato base, it’s chuck full of vegetables such as potatoes, bell peppers, carrots, and peas.  You can also substitute pork for the chicken in this dish.  Give it a try and savor something different…..



3 1/2 – 4 lbs. Chicken thighs, cut into halves, all traces of fat and excess skin removed
3 Tbsp.  Vegetable oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
6 whole Garlic cloves, minced
2 small Bay leaves
3 medium Russet potatoes, cut into chunks
2 – 3 Carrots, peeled and cubed
1 medium Green bell pepper, sliced
1 medium Red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 – 1 cup Petite frozen Peas, thawed
1 small can Tomato paste
3 cups Water
1/2 tsp. Black pepper
1//2 tsp. Salt, to taste
1 Tbsp. Chicken bouillon powder
2 Tbsp. Soy sauce
1 tsp. Onion powder
1 tsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Accent

Very lightly, season the chicken pieces with some salt and pepper.  Set aside.  Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fry pan, on Medium high heat.  Add the chicken pieces in batches, just to brown.  Remove and set aside and continue to brown the other pieces until all are done.  Set aside.
NOTE:  You are only adding color to the chicken pieces, not cooking them completely.











Once the chicken is all done and browned; pour off the excess grease, leaving about 2 Tbsp. behind.  On medium high heat, fry the onions and garlic and fry until slightly golden and translucent.











Return the browned chicken pieces and stir to combine with the onions and garlic.  Add the bay leaves.











Add the tomato paste and then the water.  Stir to combine well.











Add your seasonings and then the soy sauce.  Stir to combine well.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to MEDIUM or MEDIUM LOW.  Allow the chicken to cook for about 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between cooking time.











After 15 minutes, add the carrots and potatoes, stir to combine.  Cover again and cook for another 10 – 15 minutes, allowing the potatoes to become tender.











Add the bell peppers and peas; stir to combine well.  Cover and allow to cook an additional 5 – 8 minutes.











After the vegetable are cooked through, taste and adjust flavor according.  Turn the heat off and remove lid.  SERVE with steamed rice.


Pink Potato Salad

How do you get your kids to eat carrots, peas, and beets?  Make this Pink Potato salad, that’s how!  It’s one of those “don’t knock it until you try it” kind of recipes!  Latin inspired, it’s a great tasting potato salad, very different from the traditional relish and mustard laden version.  With the sweetness of the apples, to the earthy flavor of the beets, you’re gonna find this salad to be a welcome addition to your table!  Give it a try some time….. 😉

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5 – 6 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 – 5 Carrots, peeled and diced
6 – 8 hard boiled Eggs, peeled and diced large
2 – 3 Red delicious Apples, peeled, cored and diced
1 cup frozen baby Peas, blanched and drained
1 (15 oz. can) whole Beets, drained, rinsed thoroughly, and cubed
1 – 1 1/2 cups Hellman’s REAL mayonnaise
1/2 tps. Salt, to taste
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. ground Black pepper, to taste

1 small Onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1 cup White vinegar
1/4 cup Olive oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. ground Black pepper

Let’s begin by making the vinaigrette.  This can be done in advance or even overnight to allow the onions to permeate and flavor the vinegar, without having to add chunks of onions to the salad.

Combine the thinly sliced onions with the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Stir to combine well. Wrap with plastic wrap and set aside.  Allow this to sit for about 1 hour or even longer.  I sometimes make this in the morning and it’s usually flavored by the time I’m ready to make this salad.

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When you’re ready to prepare the salad, allow a large pot of water to come to a boil.  Once it hits a full boil, add the peeled and diced potatoes.  Bring this back up to a boil and then set your timer for about 10 minutes.  Allow the potatoes to cook for this time.

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Once the 10 minutes is over, add in the peeled and diced carrots.  Allow the potatoes and carrots to cook for about 5 minutes.  Test to make sure the potatoes are tender.

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Remove from heat and drain in a colander.  Allow the potatoes and carrots to cool completely before proceeding.  While the potatoes and carrots are cooling off, peel the apples.  Core and dice them and place them into a bowl.  Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the apples and toss to coat.  This will flavor them and also help them from turning brown.  Set this aside, but toss often.  When it’s time to add the apples to the salad, make sure to drain them in a colander first.

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Drain the canned beets and rinse several times.  Dice them and set this aside.

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Once the potatoes and carrots have completely cooled, you’re ready to assemble the salad.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the potatoes, carrots, eggs, peas, drained apples, mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the ingredients well. Taste for flavor and add more salt and pepper if needed.

For a bit of tang, add more tablespoons of the vinaigrette, this is all to taste.  At this stage of the salad, you can wrap it until ready to serve.  Keep it in the refrigerator until then.

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OR go for the “pink” look and add some Latin flair!   Toss in the diced beets and stir to combine well.  This will give it that pink look.  When you’re satisfied with the flavor, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve!  ENJOY!

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Easy Manju

….once again, this recipe was shared with me by my good ol’ friend Vikki!  Japanese Manju are those pillows of soft dough, surrounding a filling of sweetened Azuki beans and then steamed to perfection.  For those that don’t like the time consuming process of making Manju dough, using a can of biscuits and then steaming them, is the next best thing.  Give this technique a try, you’ll be very surprised!



1 (16.3 oz. can) GRANDS Biscuits (I used the Homestyle, Southern)
1 can Sweetened Red bean paste



NOTE:  Do not use the flakey biscuits or the ones that have several layers.

Begin by preparing your steamer according to manufacturer’s directions.

Open the can of beans, and if there are large pieces of beans, add them to a food processor and allow to process until there are no longer large pieces of beans.  Set this aside.










Open the can of biscuits.










On a cutting board or counter, using a rolling pin, roll them out thin.










Now, add about 1 tablespoon of sweetened beans to the center of each.










To seal, bring up the edges to meet in the center and then pinch them together, giving it a little twist to seal tightly.










Cut pieces of waxed paper and place a piece under each Manju.  This will prevent them from sticking to the steamer.










Carefully place them into the steamer basket, which should already be producing a rolling boil with steam; and allow them to steam for about 15 -20 minutes.


Yummy Biko with Latik (Toasted Coconut Milk Crumbs)

BIKO, the quintessential Filipino native dessert, that has been loved and adapted by many Chamorros.  Sweet sticky rice or the Filipino term “Malagkit”, is cooked with coconut milk and brown sugar; then topped with a yummy coconut milk glaze and baked to perfection.  Give my recipe a try!  😉


1 (13.5 oz.) can Coconut milk, I used Chaokoh brand
2 cups Water
3/4 – 1 cup Brown sugar
2 cups Malagkit sweet sticky rice, uncooked and washed
1/2 tsp. Salt

1/2 cup unsweetened Coconut milk, I used Chaokoh brand
4 Tbsp. Brown sugar


In a non-stick, medium sized pot, combine the coconut milk, water, brown sugar, and salt.  Stir this mixture to combine well and dissolve the brown sugar.  Add the washed and drained sweet sticky rice.

NOTE:  Make sure that you are using Malagkit Sweet Sticky Rice and not regular calrose or jasmine rice; it will not work in this recipe!










On a stove top, on MEDIUM HIGH heat, bring the mixture to a boil.  Stir.










Cover the pot and reduce the heat to LOW and allow the rice to cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.

NOTE:  Make sure to stir the rice often!










Every few minutes, lift the lid and stir the rice mixture; cover again.










While you continue to cook the rice, make the coconut glaze.  In a small bowl, combine the ingredients together.  Stir to dissolve the brown sugar.  Set this aside.

NOTE:  I sometimes double the glaze mixture because I like a thicker topping.  This is just my preference. (I doubled the glaze in this picture, but didn’t use all of it.)










Check on the rice again, continually stirring until the cooking time is done.  Once the cooking time is over, the rice will resemble a thick risotto and the rice grains will only be partially cooked.  Remove the mixture from the heat.










Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease or spray an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch baking dish.  Pour the rice mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.










Pour about 1/2 cups to 3/4 cups of the coconut glaze over the top of the rice mixture.  It may or may not seep into the nooks and crannies of the rice.  Once the oven is preheated, carefully place the baking dish into the oven and bake the Biko for 40 – 50 minutes.

While the Biko is baking, you can make a popular topping called Latik or “toasted coconut milk crumbs”.  This is OPTIONAL and will not take anything away from the Biko!  Once the Biko is done baking, allow it to cool before slicing, and it is ready to serve.

To make the Latik or “toasted coconut milk crumbs”; you’ll need regular coconut milk.  I used1 cup of the remaining Chaokoh brand of coconut milk that I had left from making the glaze.  This 1 cup will yield about 1 – 2 tablespoons of Latik.

In a medium sized pan, on MEDIUM HIGH heat, add the 1 cup of coconut milk.  Bring this to a boil.










Reduce the heat to MEDIUM and allow the coconut milk to literally “cook down”.  MAKE SURE TO STIR OFTEN!










Continue stirring, making sure to watch your stove top’s temperature!










Stir often, making sure to break up the crumbs.










I looked away a bit too long and it turned darker than I would have liked it; but it was still good.  Remove from heat, and drain on paper toweling.










Once you Biko is removed from the oven, sprinkle the Latik over top of the Biko and allow it to cool completely before cutting.  Don’t rush this or you’ll burn the roof of your mouth, like I did, OUCH! 😉


Chicken and Ginger Soup with Malunggay Leaves

This soup, typically a Filipino dish, flavored with ginger, garlic, and fish sauce; is a great “stick to your ribs” kind of soup.  It’s refreshing and healthy, with the addition of Malunggay leaves aka Horseradish leaves.  Although fresh is always better, these leaves can be found at local Asian markets located in the freezer section.  Here is a link that can provide you with some of the awesome health benefits of eating these leaves   Give my recipe a try and make it a part of your meal planning!


8 medium/large pieces Chicken thighs, excess fat and skin removed
2 Tbsp. Vegetable oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
4 – 6 whole Garlic, finely minced
1 (2-inch piece) fresh Ginger, peeled and sliced
3/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 tsp. ground Black pepper
1 tsp. Accent seasoning
1 Tbsp. Chicken bouillon (I used the powder version)
4 – 6 Tbsp. Fish sauce, to taste
6 cups Water
1 (8 oz. pkg.) frozen Malunggay leaves, thawed and rinsed
1/2 head Cabbage, cut into chunks

-1 Chayote squash, peeled and cut into chunks, add before the cabbage and Malunggay leaves.

-1 firm Green papaya, peeled and cut into chunks, add this after the chicken has boiled with the water for about 15 – 20 minutes. Then add your cabbage and Malunngay leaves.


Trim the chicken and remove excess fat and skin.  Using a cleaver, cut the thighs in half, making sure to remove any bones that have cracked or slivered.










Let’s begin by heating up a 6-quart pot to MEDIUM HIGH heat. Add the vegetable oil. Add the ginger pieces, onions, and garlic.










Once the onions have turned translucent, add the chicken.  Stir to combine well.  Cover and reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Allow this to cook for about 10 minutes.  This is going to bring out the moisture from within the chicken, thus helping to make a great broth.










Remove the lid and bring the heat back up to MEDIUM HIGH.  Add the salt, pepper, bouillon, and Accent.  Stir to combine well with the chicken.










Now add the water and about 3 – 4 tablespoons of the fish sauce.  Stir.  Bring this back up to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to MEDIUM.  Cook the chicken for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until they become tender.










Throughout the cooking time, make sure to remove any excess fat and scum that accumulates at the surface.









While the chicken is cooking, drain the thawed Malunggay leaves into a colander or strainer.  Rinse and remove any leaves that are yellow or dark.  Remove the larger pieces of stem from the leaves.  Set this aside.










Cut the cabbage in half and then using half of the head; cut the leaves into chunks.  I prefer to use half but you could add more if you’d like.










Once the cooking time is up and the chicken pieces are cooked and tender, add the cabbage and Malunggay leaves.  Bring this up to a boil.  Cover and allow to cook for an additional, 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cabbage is cooked but still tender.










Once the cabbage is cooked, taste for flavor.  Because the cabbage can add extra liquid, that will “water down” your broth; add more fish sauce as needed.  I myself wanted a little more “ginger” flavoring so I added a tablespoon of ground ginger, pictured below.

Stir to combine well and allow to finish the cooking time.  Serve with hot steamed rice and Vinegar style fina’denne’!












Easy Sushi Bake

SUSHI BAKE…..definitely a real crowd pleaser  This is an easier way to serve up a favorite; eliminating the tedious and time consuming process of rolling up individual Sushi.  Bake up a batch and serve it up with seasoned toasted seaweed sheets and prepare to watch it disappear!


4 cups COOKED Sushi rice (use a stickier short grain type of rice)
1 lb. Imitation crab sticks, shredded
1 lb. baby scallops, thawed OR baby shrimp, optional
1 cup Japanese Mayonnaise, more if needed (Hellman’s REAL mayonnaise may be substituted)
1/2 cup Green onions, chopped
1 – 2 Tbsp. Sriracha hot sauce, add to your taste
1 jar Nori Furikake seaweed sprinkles
2 Tbsp. Tobiko fish roe, optional
Seaweed sheets, each cut into 4ths (I prefer the Korean sushi wraps)


Using an open fry pan, add about 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil.  On HIGH heat, brown the scallops until nicely golden and somewhat cooked.  Pour off into a colander and drain excess grease.  Set aside.

NOTE:  You can also substitute the scallops for shrimp.










Into a mixing bowl, combine the shredded imitation crab meat, the scallops, mayonnaise, green onions, and Sriracha sauce.  Stir to combine well.  Add in the Tobiko fish roe.

NOTE: You can add some prepared Wasabi paste to the mixture OR add some Wasabi Mayonnaise for a bit of a kick.  Try a different variation by using:   1 cup Sour cream mixed with 1/2 cup Hellman’s mayonnaise in place of the Japanese mayonnaise.










Now, into an 9×9-inch baking dish, (I like it a little thicker), place the cooked sushi rice into the bottom and spread throughout the pan.  Press down to compact the rice into the dish, making the first layer.

NOTE:  You can use a 9×13-inch baking dish for this recipe, just realize that the layers will be thinner.










Generously sprinkle the seaweed Furikake over top of the layer of rice.  Save some for garnishing the top of the dish!

NOTE:  A variation to this recipe, you can add a layer of thinly sliced avocado to the dish as well.  Pretty much, anything that is in a regular rolled up sushi, you can add as a layer into this dish.  BE CREATIVE!  😉










Now add the crab/mayonnaise mixture over the Furikake and spread out to cover completely.










Top with more Furikake sprinkles.










Place under the broiler and cook just to turn the top of the dish a golden color, turning the dish often to brown evenly. Keep a watchful eye on this as it will burn quickly….Serve topped on toasted Nori sushi sheets that have been cut into small rectangles.


Easy Bibingka

Bibingka is a type of rice cake, that is made with rice flour and coconut milk and usually baked in banana leaves; that is usually quite buttery.  Here is an easy recipe that I’ve been making for a while.

1 cup Rice flour, pictured below
2 1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
3/4 cup Sugar
4 Tbsp. unsalted Butter, softened
3 large Eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. Vanilla paste or extract
1 cup Coconut milk
Banana leaf, optional

Let’s begin by preheating the oven to 350°.  Prepare an 8×8-inch baking dish, by spraying it with JOY baking spray OR grease lightly with shortening.  Set this aside.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the rice flour, baking powder, and salt. Set this aside.










Now, in a larger mixing bowl, combine the butter and sugar.  Stir and cream together.










Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.










With the last egg, add in the Vanilla paste or extract.  Combine well and mix until smooth.










Add the coconut milk to the egg mixture and blend to combine well.










Add in the flour mixture and mix to combine well and smooth, about 2 minutes.  Pour the batter into your prepared baking dish.

NOTE:  Instead of spraying or greasing the baking dish, a clean piece of banana leaf is traditionally used to line the baking pan.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have any.  Pour batter over the banana leaf and bake as instructed.










Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 – 40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool slightly before removing to a cooling rack to cool off completely.