Food from Belize

I love cooking in general, and I really love cooking for this blog. I am learning so much in so many ways and enjoying every minute of it. That goes double for the main dish I cooked for Belize. This was my first encounter with a recado, and now I am obsessed.

A recado is a spice rub common in the Yucatan Peninsula, and is a gift straight from the ancient Mayans. I don’t know if I’ve ever had such an intense sense of connectedness while cooking: during the whole process of making the recado and putting it on the chicken…I don’t know…it just felt like a direct line to something else, something older than what I normally encounter. Pretty damn cool for a Thursday night in Ohio.

The recado is just part of the Stew Chicken recipe, which in general was really fun to make. Rich in flavor and color, served with rice and beans, potato salad and cole slaw on the side, it’s something that would make a fan of American BBQ sit up and smile.

The dessert is a little bit of a cheat, since it uses boxed cake mix, but the recipe popped up over and over again during my research. And it’s really tasty, so there you go…

Belizean Stew Chicken


  • A whole chicken, cut into pieces, OR 4-5 chicken legs and thighs or breasts with rib meat, skin on (no skinless chicken breasts for this! Dark meat is preferred, for sure)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 -5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Red recado*** 
  • 1 dash soy sauce
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf or allspice leaf 
  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil 
  • 1-2 tsp of sugar


  1. Take the cut-up chicken, place in a bowl and rub recado to throughly cover.
  2. Add soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce and cumin, dried thyme, oregano, and black pepper. Don’t add salt yet.
  3. Over medium high heat, heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan. Toss in the sugar. Add the chicken, skin side down, and brown on both sides. Reserve the marinade from the chicken.
  4. Add the onion, garlic and sweet peppers, saute until onion is transparent, then add the liquid from the chicken bowl, along with enough water to almost cover the chicken.
  5. Let simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, taste for flavor and adjust seasonings as needed. You may need to add more soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce or herbs to your taste. Add salt if needed.
Serve with rice and beans, fried plantains and the traditional sides of potato salad and coleslaw.
Belizean Stew Chicken
Belizean Stew Chicken
(image by Todd F.)

***Red Recado


  • 2 tablespoons ground achiote (annatto) seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves – whole and peeled
  • 1/2 medium white onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground allspice
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup ancho chile powder (about 2 ounces)
  • 4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice 


  1. Heat a saute pan over moderately low heat until hot and pan-roast garlic and onion, turning them occasionally until browned and soft throughout, 25 to 30 minutes. 
  2. Add oregano, stir occasionally and cook for about 2 minutes
  3. Put garlic, onion, oregano, into a food processor, add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. (Recado may be made 5 days ahead and chilled and covered.)

Adapted from

Red Recado. The most fun I've ever had with food. (image by Todd F.
Red Recado. The most fun I’ve ever had with food.
(image by Todd F.)


Belize Rice and Beans


  • 1 lb. Red Kidney Beans
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • 2 lbs. rice
  • 1 medium onion (sliced)
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • 3 slices of bacon


  1. Wash the beans, then soak beans for 4 hours, using the 6-8 cups of water.
  2. Boil beans until tender, with the garlic, onion and bacon.
  3. Season beans with black pepper, thyme and salt.
  4. Add coconut milk. Stir and then let boil.
  5. Add rice to seasoned beans. Stir, then cover. Cook on low heat until the water is absorbed and rice is tender. If necessary, add more water gradually until rice is tender.
Adapted from
Rice and Beans (image by Todd F.)
Rice and Beans (image by Todd F.)

Belize Rum Cake


  • 1 pkg Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
  • 1 small pkg of vanilla instant pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Rum
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Topping: 4 tablespoons butter, mixed with 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • Syrup: 1/2 cup of rum, 1/2 cup of water 4 tablespoons of butter, and 1 cup of brown sugar


  1. Place first five ingredients in a bowl and beat 3 mins with a mixer.
  2. In a bundt cake pan, add Topping to bottom of pan
  3. Pour Cake mixture over top and bake about 35 mins at 350 degrees F.
  4. While cake is baking, heat Syrup over low heat to a boil then remove from stove.
  5. When cake is baked, prick cake all over with a skewer, and gently pour rum syrup over it. Allow to soak a few minutes before before turning over on serving plate.

Adapted from

Belize Rum Cake
Belize Rum Cake (image by The Global Reader)

Reading about Belize: The Last Flight of the Scarlet Macaw

THE LAST FLIGHT OF THE SCARLET MACAW: One Woman’s Fight to Save the World’s Most Beautiful Bird by Bruce Barcott.

I can’t say enough about this book…in fact, that’s just about all I’m going to write, because you should read it. It’s that good, and I don’t want to ruin it for you. (That’s not an excuse to get out of writing a real review – I promise!)

Don’t Google it, or research it at all. Trust me. Just jump in. Non-fiction that reads like a suspense novel, with a colorful cast of characters – both human and animal.

I shall say no more…

Scarlet Macaw by Edward Lear(Edward Lear [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)
Scarlet Macaw by Edward Lear
(Edward Lear [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Country #15 – Belize

My first Central American country…Belize! Very excited to be visiting!