Roasted Plantains

Original Recipe HERE

The touch of summery weather we've recently had has made me nostalgic for our days living in Key West.  The fabulous Cuban restaurants we'd eat at always served plantains on the side.  I saw some at the grocery store and grabbed them, determined to create a little bit of the Conch Republic in my own kitchen.

These turned out really well and, as expected, the kids gobbled them up.  I cooked them on slightly higher heat than I probably should have, so there was some blackening on a few.  Next time I'll use a lower-heat-for-longer approach and perhaps sprinkle a little brown sugar on them.

As many large, ripe (black on the peel) plantains as you want
cooking oil (not olive)

(1) Add enough oil to large skillet to cover the bottom.
(2) Heat oil on medium heat
(3) In the meantime, peel plantains.  Cut on the diagonal to make 1/4" thick slices.
(4) Add plantain slices to pan.  Cook several minutes on each side until dark golden brown.

Kid Participation: None, other than *N* having the distinction of being a Key West native.

Sweet Garlic Chicken

Original Recipe HERE

This is one of those "can it really be that good because it has so few ingredients?" recipes that does, in fact, turn out just that good.  It will likely become one of my go-to recipes because I always have the makings on hand.

It made a bit of juice/gravy/sauce/whatever that I drizzled over brown rice, so the side dish was even super easy.

3 to 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
4 Tablespoons brown sugar
3 teaspoons olive oil

(1) Preheat oven to 500°F.  Lightly grease a casserole dish.  Line with foil for easier clean-up if desired.
(2) In small pan, saute garlic with oil until tender.  Do not allow to brown.
(3) Remove garlic from heat.  Stir in brown sugar.
(4) Add chicken breasts to pan.  Add additional oil if necessary.  Brown chicken slightly.
(5) Place chicken in casserole dish.  Cover with garlic mixture.
(6) Bake, uncovered, 15-30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. If garlic appears to be burning, lightly cover dish with foil.

Kid Participation: None.

Oatmeal Pancakes

Original Recipe: The Hartford Courant

My mom brought me this recipe and we had it for dinner while she visited.  It was a great way to have slightly healthier pancakes (instead of being straight-up flour-based) and get some oats in me for lactation purposes.  The texture was hearty without being dry or dense.  Definitely a do-over.

Because these have oats, they take a little longer to cook so the inside isn't gummy.  Therefore the pancakes must be small or you'll have crispy edges and an unpleasant raw surprise in the middle.  I doubled the recipe when I made them again, and it took forever to get the entire batter used up.  So word to the wise: only double this if you want to be eating pancakes for breakfast for three straight days.

1-1/2 cups oats
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups buttermilk

(1) Grind oats in a blender [I used a Magic Bullet} until they are fine as flour.
(2) In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon.
(3) In a separate bowl, mix eggs and buttermilk.
(4) Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture with a few quick strokes (all ingredients should be moistened, but do not overmix).
(5) Heat skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt 1 Tablespoon butter.
(6) Ladle pancake batter in roughly 1/4 cup amounts.  Cook until bubbles stop rising from bottom and top surface looks slightly dried out (3 to 4 minutes).
(7) Flip pancakes.  Cook until center feels lightly set when top is pressed with your fingertips (about 2 minute).
(8) Keep pancakes warm in oven until all are cooked.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk dry ingredients
* Whisk wet ingredients
* Eat their weight in pancakes

Bloomin' Onion Bread

Original Recipe HERE

This was an easy, novel way to serve bread.  It could be part of a regular meal or be used as finger food at a party.  Though I don't know if I'd want to eat something that a bunch of people had been digging around in and ripping apart.  OK, scratch that...stick with keeping it as a dinner side dish and shared only with your nearest and dearest.

I kept the bread warm by leaving it wrapped and on the baking sheet.  I think this made the bottom crust too crispy and meant we were scraping at the last layer of bread.  Next time I'll put it, still wrapped, on a cooling rack.  Also, the pieces didn't pull apart as easily as I thought they might; we all used forks and knives to eventually remove larger portions and dissect them further on our plates.  A bit more work than anticipated, but worth it nonetheless.

1 unsliced loaf sourdough bread [or other round bread loaf]
12-16 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup finely diced green onion
2-3 teaspoons poppy seeds
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
(2) Cut bread lengthwise and widthwise, approximately 1" between slices, without cutting through the bottom crust.
(3) Place on foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle cheese slices between cuts, separating bread and pushing cheese down into slice marks.
(4) Combine butter, onion, and poppy seeds. Drizzle over bread.
(5) Wrap in foil; place on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes
(6) Unwrap bread; bake 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Do not allow to burn.


Brown Rice in the Oven

Original Recipe HERE

I don't know whether my interpretation of the recipe resembles the original enough to bother linking back, but I'm in a nice, non-plagaristic mood tonight, so I will.

I had a bag of Diamond G brand California brown rice and enough time, for once, to cook it.  I almost always turn to instant brown rice, but the texture can leave something to be desired.  So I did some googling and came across the above recipe.  It looked like it would be a little bland, and I also didn't have the beef broth, so I took inspiration from the basic recipe and got a little fancier.

Both kids loved it and asked for several bowls' worth.  I would've eaten a lot more, but then Husband would have only had roasted broccoli waiting for him upon getting home.  I know, who doesn't love tucking into a bowl of cold, limp broccoli at 11pm?  But just in case, and because of the aforementioned charitable mood, I saved him some.  The recipe was a bit too butter-y, in my opinion (yes, turns out there actually is such a thing as too much butter).  Not so much the taste, but the texture.  So I'm assuming a little less would work just as well and adjusted the amount below.  Also, don't bake it until all the liquid is gone.  You don't want it to be soupy, but it should still have a little bit of sauce.

3 cups broth [beef, chicken, or vegetable]
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2-3 Tablespoons dried minced onions
1-1/2 cups brown rice [not instant]

(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
(2) In small bowl, whisk together broth, butter, and tomato paste.
(3) Transfer broth mixture to 2-quart casserole dish.  Sprinkle garlic salt and minced onions onto liquid.
(4) Add rice to casserole dish.  Stir gently.
(5) Bake, covered, approximately 45 minutes or until most liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
(6) Remove cover and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes if necessary.  Do not allow all liquid to be absorbed.

Kid Participation: None, other than making me relieved that they liked it because otherwise it would have been yogurt and applesauce for dinner because Mama hasn't been grocery shopping in a while.