26 March 2010

Vacation on a Plate

We didn't travel anywhere for Spring Break this year and surprisingly, I ended up being okay with that.

We had a very relaxing week here at home taking care of a few projects around the house and just relaxing.  We both returned to work feeling rejuvenated.

There was still a little part of me that wanted to feel like I was on vacation - laying on a beach somewhere south of here with a drink in my hand and not a care in the world. 

Although I couldn't recreate the entire scenario, I did make what I call "Vacation on a Plate" a few nights.  The flavors are so fun, you can't help but feel like you've been swept away to some other place.

This is not a fancy or complicated meal, just one that makes me happy.

Recipes (I use the term loosely) are at the bottom of the post.

The Cilantro Citrus Chicken rests on a bed of Carmelized Plantains:

And is topped with Mango Black Bean Salsa

When assembled the dish looks something like this...

(Yes, the dollop of sour cream is a must
The goofy chip and red bell pepper strip are optional.)

Sorry for the poor quality and silliness of these pictures, but it had been a long, hard, physically and emotionally exhausting day and we had reached the point of delirium. 

*This meal goes perfectly with a pitcher of sangria or margaritas!

Cilantro Citrus Chicken

1 - 2 oz tequila
zest and juice of  2 limes (3 if they are small or not very juicy)
3/4 - 1 cup OJ
handful of cilantro, chopped
a tablespoon or so of oil
S & P
4 or 5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Mix the first 5 ingredients thoroughly in a shallow baking dish or large ziploc bag.  Season the chicken breasts with S&P.   Marinate the chicken for at least 3 hours.  (I like to marinate it all day)  Grill the chicken over med-high heat, 5-6 minutes per side.

Mango Black Bean Salsa

3 large, ripe mangoes
1 large, ripe avocado
1/2 red onion
juice of 1 lime
handful cilantro, chopped
1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained
cayenne pepper

Chop the mangos and avocado in to 1/2 inch chunks.  Finely chop the onion.  Mix those three together with the cilantro and toss with the lime juice.  Carefully stir in the black beans and season with salt and cayenne to taste. 

*This dish tastes best when made a few hours in advance so the flavors marry
*A little finely diced jalepeno would be a delicious way to add a little heat to this mild salsa

Carmelized Plantains (adapted from Tyler Florence's recipe for Sweet Plantains)

2 ripe plantains
2 T butter
1 T oil
2 - 3 tablespoons brown sugar

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Meanwhile, peel the plantains and slice each lengthwise.  Then cut those slices in half.  You should end up with 8 planks total. 

Melt the butter and oil and then place the plantains in a single layer in the skillet, flat side down.  Flip when the plantains are light brown in color.  While side 2 is frying, sprinkle some of the brown sugar on the flat, fried side of the plantain. 

After side 2 has cooked, flip the plantains back over to carmelize the brown sugar - this only takes about 30 seconds.  Repeat the process for side 2.

No comments: