Chicken Arroz Caldo Recipe

The lingering ghost of a cold/cough/flu still resides in our household. We’ve tried everything to evict it, from prescribed antibiotics to essential oils. Nothing seems to work. So I turn to the one thing I know for a fact will make me feel better: chicken arroz caldo.

Much like Chinese congee or Korean juk, chicken arroz caldo (literally translates as chicken rice soup) is the cure-all, hodgepodge bowl of comfort . If you grew up in a Filipino household, you know what I’m talking about. That glutinous sweet rice with tender chicken falling off the bone. The way your lola shoves a giant, steaming bowl in front of your congested face. The gingery warmth that coats your throat a few degrees too hot, which is actually the perfect temperature to will that infection away. We whip it up for any ailment, whether it be heartbreak, bronchitis, or even a funky rash. It’s made with heaps of love and browned garlic. Lots of browned garlic.

Since I can’t go crawling to my dad with my sick puppy face and plead for his special arroz caldo — he always obliges — I had to call him and inquire about his specific recipe. It was absolutely pertinent that I make it the exact way he does to unleash it’s true healing potential.

Chicken Arroz Caldo, Serves 4-6 | breakfast, lunch, dinner, or merienda (basically whenever you feel like it.)

1 head of garlic, minced
~ 2.5 lbs chicken parts*
1 cup sweet glutinous rice
1 onion, diced
~ 2 inches of fresh ginger, sliced and smashed
1 tbs fish sauce (patis) + 1/2 tbs more to taste
2-4 cups water
2 tbs oil
salt & pepper to taste

Optional garnish:
Hard boiled eggs, sliced
lemon or calamansi
green onion, sliced

1. In a medium pot, add a cup of rice with two cups of water and let simmer over medium to low heat. Add water in increments of 1/4 cup if rice absorbs water too quickly — you want to make sure that the rice doesn’t cook all the way through just yet. Simmer about 20 minutes.**
2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and slowly brown, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. When garlic is light brown and crispy, remove half and set aside for garnish.
3. Add onion, ginger, chicken, and 1 tbs fish sauce to the garlic in the large pot. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. When rice has absorbed about half of the water, add rice and water to the large pot with chicken. Stir and let simmer another 15-20 minutes, or until rice and chicken are cooked through and sticky. Continue to add water in small increments if rice gets too thick. Add salt, pepper, and fish sauce, adjusting to taste.
5. Serve with slices of hard boiled egg, crispy garlic, green onions, and a squeeze of lemon.

*You can use whatever chicken parts you prefer, or even a whole chopped up chicken. However thighs, wings and drumsticks yield the best taste (IMO)

**You can also opt to add the rice and water straight to the large pot after cooking the chicken for a few minutes, just adjust cooking times accordingly. Cooking in separate pots is my dad’s suggestion for cooking the rice and chicken evenly.

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Sides copyChicken Arroz Caldo finished copy

Happy cooking! And if you’re sick like us, wishing you a speedy recovery! Bon Appetit 🙂

P.S. #wifeloreealready


Two Zesty Quinoa Recipes

Now that the big secret that Chris won a trip to Belize on the Price is Right is out, we can start talking details. By details, I mean how it’s time to get beach body ready. We know so far that Belize is a Central American country right against the Caribbean Sea, boasting tropical weather that hovers around 80 degrees F on idyllic days. We can assume that we will spend a good amount of time in shorts, tanks, dresses, and swimwear…read: bikinis (gasp!)

So like a lot of folks out there in this winter month of January, I’m concocting ways to get rid of some winter fluff and make my beach body dreams come true. I’m trying to channel my inner springtime and imagine a slimmer, more toned version of myself wading in the Caribbean Sea. No, I haven’t quite started on a strict exercise regimen just yet, but I HAVE started getting rid of the junk in my diet and replacing it with yummy, nutrient-rich food.

So I’m here to share with you not just one, but TWO of my favorite- go-to quinoa salad recipes. They’re both easy to make, light, and packed with flavor, which makes them great for lunch along with another protein. They’re two great reasons to #wifeloreealready.

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1 cup red quinoa

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can yellow corn, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup cilantro, roughly minced

1 stalk green onions, chopped

1 avocado, cut in squares (optional)

salt & pepper, to taste



1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large lime, or 2 small limes, juiced

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes



1. Prepare quinoa as directed on the package. I like to use my rice cooker, 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water or chicken broth. Let cool.

2. In a small, separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lime juice, cumin, salt, and red pepper flakes.

3. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, tomatoes, cilantro, and green onion. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture and toss. Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, then serve immediately or cover and chill.

I love eating this quinoa with grilled chicken, pan seared carne asada, or even with a corn tortilla.


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1 cup quinoa, red or yellow

1 tbs olive oil, for cooking

1 bunch asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup crushed, toasted almonds (or sliced however you like it)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (fat free, if you’re being real serious about cutting calories)

zest of 1 lemon



1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tbs honey

juice of 1 large lemon



1. Prepare quinoa as directed on the package. I like to use my rice cooker, 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water or chicken broth. Let cool in large bowl.

2. Grate the zest of 1 lemon on top of the cooked quinoa.

3. In a small, separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, honey, and half of the minced shallot.

4. Heat 1 tbs of olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the other half of a minced shallot until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

5. Add asparagus and cook 5-8 minutes, or until you can insert a fork into asparagus and it comes out easily.

6. Once cooked, add asparagus to cooked quinoa and stir to combine. Sprinkle in almonds and feta cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. For best taste, add dressing right before serving.

I imagine this recipe tasting wonderful with grilled salmon or white meat. Enjoy!

What tasty food do you eat to shed winter fluff?

Homemade Chicken Phở + #wifeloreealready

This morning I spent a good five minutes staring blankly at the spice rack at Albertson’s. Nowadays they stack that sucker with an abundance of spices from all over the world in alphabetical order to make it fast and efficient for confused folks like me to find their weapon of choice. Despite alphabetization, this was the third store I visited to try to find STAR ANISE. So there I am, staring at the “S” section, like I’ve done two times prior, where saffron threads hang out, and I can’t find STAR ANISE for the life of me. Does it not exist? Must I venture outside the country? Right when I’m about to throw my hands up and give up, I glance at the top of the rack only to find ANISE STAR. Lesson learned for next time I’m on a mad hunt for STAR ANISE/ANISE STAR. This turned out to be the most crucial spice for homemade chicken phở, as insisted in this Smitten Kitchen recipe (<— click that link for the recipe!), originally adapted from chef Charles Phan.

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Why the heck would I make homemade phở when you can get it for $5 a bowl? Well, because for starters it yields more than you would get for less money. And in case you aren’t caught up, I’m on a quest to get Chris to move closer and closer to marrying me. Now, I can make homemade pho! Whaaaaaat!?! #wifeloreealready. If you follow this recipe and manage to find ANISE STAR/STAR ANISE, you gotta set aside a few hours and try it one day because it is soul-warming and mighty delish.

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While I was standing over the table trying to take pictures of this soup I slaved over all morning, Chris stood on the sidelines licking his lips, asking me how much longer I was going to take. Hence, these pictures are rushed and taken on my phone. I gave him the very bowl of soup pictured here, and told him it was worth it to marry me one day.

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Super Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies + Hey, Why Don’t You #wifeloreealready

Chris and I are not married. Don’t get me wrong, we have a wonderful relationship. We just celebrated our 3 year anniversary and have grown tremendously as young adults and as a parenting team. We’ve talked about marriage and all the wonderful reasons to wait, and ways that we can continue to strengthen our relationship together no matter what our labels may be.

Nevertheless, I started a hashtag project called #wifeloreealready. It was mostly a joke that began a couple months ago when I posted a picture on instagram of a beautiful cold marinated steak bowl I made from this recipe, and I snuck in the hashtag “#wifeme.” This quip appeared on subsequent foodstagram posts with the more urgent hashtag, “#wifemealready.” I wanted to make a lighthearted point that I can make some pretty damn delicious homemade meals that increase my wifey potential,* meal by meal. So then I thought, why not take it a step further and create my own unique hashtag so folks can follow my culinary journey to getting wifed up. Thus, #wifeloreealready was born.


I invite you to get on Instagram and check out my #wifeloreealready, where I make mouthwatering food like hazelnut brown butter cookie bars for dessert and shakshouka for breakfast.

Joking aside, there is some underlying truth that one day I’d like a special someone to put a ring on it (when the time is right for both of us). For now, I suppose I’m cool with my girlfriend-baby-mama-wifey-decent-cook-supermom status. But on a final note, if this hashtag project collects more than a hundred unique pictures of scrumptious concoctions and I become some kind of wizard in the kitchen, I better have a ring on it at that point.

Super Easy Mini Chicken Pot Pies: yields 10-12, 45 min-1 hr prep


1lb Chicken Breast, cut up in small bite sized pieces
2 – 10.5oz cans Cream of Chicken (I used Campbell’s)
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 – 1 cup frozen peas
(or use frozen vegetable medley, or any vegetables around the kitchen)
2 tablespoons butter or oil
2 lbs frozen pie dough, thawed (I used puff pastry)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 egg + 1 teaspoon of water for eggwash
cooking spray

Other tools:
2 circular cookie cutters, 1 larger than the other to fit into muffin tins (You can use the rim of drinking glasses, used tin cans, or used plastic tubs.)
Muffin tin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

1) In a deep saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add onion and carrots until onion is translucent and carrots are bright orange, about 3 mins. Add the chicken and stir until mostly cooked, 3-5 mins. Then, pour in the cream of chicken, peas or other veggies, thyme, salt, and stir. Reduce heat slightly to avoid splatter. Cook until chicken is cooked through, another 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool.

2) On a clean surface, sprinkle flour and lay out thawed pie dough. Cut up 10-12 big and little circles. Press down the bigger circles of dough into the muffin tin cups and up the side. Spoon in the chicken mixture until it levels out on top, and cover with the smaller circles of dough. Pinch the sides of the dough to seal in the chicken mixture. Repeat until all pies are formed.

3) Beat a whole egg and a teaspoon of water to make eggwash. Brush the tops of the pot pies with mixture.

4) Put in oven for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cool for 15 minutes before enjoying!

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And remember, #wifeloreealready 🙂

* I am not saying that a woman needs to be a good cook in order to be a good wife. I’m saying it would be nice to make me your wife if you want something good to eat every now and then. Especially if your name is Christopher Valenzuela and you can barely cook.

Food Fridays: Arugula, Prosciutto, & Strawberries

Note: I’m spending so much time in the kitchen these days (to my great pleasure, because I love food and making food, and it forces me to spend time NOT holding the baby) I thought I’d share some successful recipes here every Friday.

Spring is here! Never in my life have I noticed how quickly and beautifully plants bloom until now, while hanging around home with the baby day in and day out. We’ve got a bed of arugula outside that’s growing in every direction, and not picking it daily would be a sin. 

So in light of the new season and the rampant arugula, I whipped up a light lunchtime arugula salad adapted from  this recipe. I’m excited to see spring, but I’m secretly hoping summer would arrive because I spent last summer so pregnant and swollen I could barely bring myself to the refrigerator. Given that the original recipe was intended for fresh summertime figs, I replaced the figs with more accessible strawberries (yum!) While arugula is known for its peppery flavor, the prosciutto adds salty depth and complements the light tanginess of the strawberries. I ate this salad over an hour ago and I’m still satisfied – which is a good sign in my book. 

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1/2 lb arugula, about 2 bunches
6 medium strawberries
6 slices of prosciutto
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan 

2 tbs balsamic vinegar
6 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
dash of freshly ground pepper
In a tightly closed jar or container, mix all the dressing ingredients together and shake it like a polaroid picture. Some prefer to whisk dressing ingredients together, which you can also do. 
Over washed and stemmed arugula, thinly slice strawberries lengthwise. Trim fat off prosciutto if desired, and gently tear each slice in 2 or 3 pieces. Add thin slices of a shallot, toss together and sprinkle Parmesan cheese over salad to your liking. Serves 6.

Happy Friday, and Happy Eats!