Fried Plantains: Sweet and Salty

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This time last year: Pudding Pops (2012)

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There was this perfect little Cuban restaurant just down the street from my apartment in Richmond.

I would run by it early in the morning and smell the freshly brewed Café con Leche. My friends and I would roll into it late at night- snag a booth and split some fresh warm cornbread, a beer, and fried plantains. It was perfect.

It was there, in that tiny neighborhood corner restaurant that I learned to love fried plantains.

I have had the privilege of enjoying fried plantains prior to that Cuban restaurant, however it was the many nights in those warm booths that caused me to appreciate fried plantains in a new way- as dessert, a salty appetizer, a warm crunchy salad topper, the perfect side dish, my snack craving on the go- the list goes on, and my appreciation runs deep!

Fast forward many moons, and I am missing those warm Richmond nights with the strong sweet smell of Cuban food floating through the neighborhood. Therefore, I did the only thing my nostalgia would let me do. I decided to try my hand at this classic recipe myself.

There are a few different ways to approach plantains- sweet and salty. I tried my hand at both, and have to say- you truly can’t go wrong! So, go ahead, try your hand at both, and let me know your favorite!

You have nothing to lose, and sweet new memories to gain.

Happy snacking!

Love, A Rented Kitchen

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Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil + more for frying as needed
  • Two large plantains
  • Freshly cracked Sea Salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
  • 1 cup Sugar

Directions:

1. Line a large plate with paper towels and set aside.
2. Peel the plantains and slice into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add the plantains to the oil, flipping occasionally, and frying 2-4 minutes- or until a golden brown color. (The longer you fry the plantains, the sweeter they are)
4. Remove the plantains from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and drain on the paper towels.
For salty plantains– sprinkle the tops of each piece with a generous dose of sea salt.
For sweet plantains– combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dredge the plantain slice through the bowl until coated with cinnamon sugar. Repeat with remaining slices.
For salty sweet plantains– dredge the plantain in the cinnamon sugar mix and then sprinkle with sea salt.
Enjoy!

 

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Notes and Tips!: 

  • Adapted from: The Food Network 
  • Ways to enjoy plantains:
    • The perfect crunchy and warm salad topping
    • Appetizer snack!
    • Serve them with whipped cream, ice cream, or drizzled with caramel sauce
    • Enjoy as a delicious side dish
    • Add them to your lunch box for a perfect office snack
  • Like this recipe? Try these other delicious snacks from A Rented Kitchen! (Recipe links found below photos)

The Best Car Snacks!

For some reason, in my head, car rides equal car snacks.  The two just go together perfectly! Rarely will you ever catch me making a trip without making or baking a snack for the road before hand, even if the trip is only two hours long. It’s embarrassing.

Over time I have found some treats and recipes that work really great in the car, and others that don’t work nearly as well. So, I thought I would compile the good list and share it with you, my trusty viewers.

I will continue to update the list with every new and delicious car snack, so check back often, and happy travels!

– Sarah

From Top (Right to Left): 

  1. Holiday Trail Mix
  2. Chewy Chocolate Cherry Vegan Granola Bars
  3. Roasted Chickpeas
  4. Homemade Clif Bars
  5. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
  6. No-Bake Energy Bites*
  7. Homemade Wheat Thins
  8. Vegan Strawberry Oat Bars
  9. Baked Kale Chips
  10. Greek Yogurt Fruit Bites*
  11. Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal Cups
  12. Homemade Chocolate Granola
  13. Pomegranate Seeds

Requires (*), or would benefit (**), from a cooler on long rides!

Chewy Chocolate Cherry Vegan Granola Bars

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I know I’ve told you this before, but one of my favorite things to make is snacks. I mean seriously, every one gets the munchies, so there’s nothing better than having a healthy, or at least partly wholesome, homemade snack in the house. I have made several granola bars in the past, but I just cannot get enough of them. It was time to introduce another granola bar recipe to the world.

I love the combination of cocoa and cherries in this recipe, however you could substitute any fruit in for the cherries, and you could do without the cocoa if you’re not a chocolate fan. (However if you’re not a chocolate fan, who are you?!) This recipe is permission to have fun in the kitchen. So go crazy! Eat the batter raw (you can do that when it’s Vegan!!), and feel free to munch.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 2/3 cup quick rolled oats + 1/3 cup
  • ½ cup – ¾ cup sugar (based on your preferred sweetness!)
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup ground flax seeds
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • ½ cup sunflower seeds (unsalted)
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons agave
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 Tablespoons vegan butter, melted
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tablespoon peanut butter

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F and lightly coat eight-inch square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray (not the butter kind if going vegan!).
  2. In a food processor, blend 1/3 cup of the quick rolled oats until finely ground (making oat flour).
  3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 1 2/3 cups oats, the oat flour, sugar, coconut flakes, flax seeds, cherries, sunflower seeds, cocoa, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the melted butter, vanilla, and water. Add to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  5. Add the peanut butter to the mix and thoroughly blend together.
  6. Press the ingredients into the prepared pan, firmly and evenly.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are brown. If the pan seems undercooked or soft in the center, the bars will firm up while cooling!
  8. Allow for the bars to cool in the pan until room temperature. Once cool, use a serrated knife and cut the bars into squares.

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Notes and Tips!:

Caramel Delight Chocolate Covered Pretzels

Chocolate covered pretzels and Girl Scout cookies.  I’m pretty sure these are the world’s Achilles’ heel.  I mean seriously, have you ever heard someone say, “no, I don’t really want a thin mint,” or “actually, I’m just not a chocolate-covered pretzel person?”

I’ll answer for you- you haven’t. Ever.

For that reason, and because I’m a chocolate addict, when I stumbled upon this recipe I knew I had to make it immediately.  These long crispy pretzels are dipped in a layer of caramel, covered with a layer of milk chocolate, and sprinkled with toasted coconut. Aka they taste like Caramel Delight Girl Scout cookies! What more could you ever want?! Give these a try. Make them for the holidays, for your friends, for yourself….

You’re going to love them.

Ingredients

  • 1 10oz. package Pretzel Rods
  • 14 oz. package Caramel Candies (suck as Kraft Caramels), unwrapped
  • 2 tablespoons Water
  • 1 package semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups shredded coconut, toasted

Directions:

  1. Line 2 large baking sheets with a layer of aluminum foil
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Spread a thin layer of coconut on a baking sheet and toast for no more than 5 minutes. The coconut can burn quickly, so pay close attention to it.
  4. Place the caramels in a medium size, microwave safe bowl, with the 2 Tablespoons of water.
  5. Microwave the caramels until smooth and melted in thirty-second intervals, stir slightly in between each.
  6. Melt the chocolate chips as desired. Candy chocolate can be melted in the microwave at 30-second intervals. However, I often prefer to melt the chocolate chips with a tablespoon or two of milk in a small sauce pot over medium low heat, stirring constantly. Remove to chocolate from the heat once the chips are melted, but continue stirring frequently.
  7. Assemble the pretzels one at a time.  Start by dunking the pretzel in the melted caramel, using a spoon to move the caramel up the sides until there is 1 inch- 1.5 inches of pretzel uncovered.
  8. Let excess caramel drip off, then immediately dunk the pretzel in the melted chocolate.
  9. Twist the pretzel some to allow excess chocolate to fall off.
  10. Sprinkle the pretzel rod with toasted coconut and place on the foil-lined baking sheet.
  11. Refrigerate the pretzels for 10 minutes to allow them to set.
  12. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Yield: 20-25 Pretzel Rods.
  • The original source for this recipe suggests putting the caramel and chocolate in tall glasses to dip them in instead of bowls. Use whatever you have! I found that a bowl and a spoon worked just as well for coating the pretzels.
  • Source: Leslie Green from The Hungry Housewife
  • If you like this recipe, try these delicious No-Bake Energy Bites or my favorite Double Chocolate Chip Brownie!

 

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

Summer for some means pool time, for others it means vacation time. For my family, summer has always meant lots of car time. Every year as a child my parents packed up our green mini van and my family would drive, often for several days, for a little family vacation, and a new adventure. I have fond memories of these drives- playing cards, getting ice cream in the late afternoon, and reading until I fell asleep.

One thing I clearly remember is my mother packing our own food. My mom always used to make trail mix, or bring apples and pretzels- things to keep my younger brother and I from begging for candy bars at each gas station. I guess that tradition rubbed off on me some, because every time I prepared for a car trip this summer, I found myself looking through recipes for car snacks. This delicious recipe is one of my new car time favorites. These granola bars are filling, healthy, won’t melt or fall apart on you, and are an excellent way to snack. I know pumpkin seems early for late summer, but the recipe looked so delicious I couldn’t resist myself! Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare an 8 inch square baking pan by spraying lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, spices, and salt- whisking until completely blended.
  3. In a separate medium sized bowl, combine the brown sugar with the wet ingredients- pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the oat mixture, stirring until the moisture is evenly distributed throughout the dry ingredients.
  5. Fold the chocolate chips into the batter.
  6. Press the batter into the prepared pan- using a spatula to evenly spread the mixture- and bake for 30- 35 minutes. The tops of the bars should be golden brown, and set in the middle.
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars using a sharp knife.

Notes and Tips!:

  • Yield: 10-12 granola bars
  • Don’t under cook these bars! The pumpkin can make them very moist, so cook them the full time for best results!
  • To make vegan: substitute vegan chocolate chips for the regular chocolate chips, and if desired try molasses instead of honey! I have not tried this substitution but imagine it would work well.
  • To make gluten free: use gluten-free, non-contaminated oats
  • Source: Two Peas & their Pod