Arroz con coco, the Bright IDEAS version

I, Amanda, have always been a cooking rebel.  If you give me a recipe, as I read it, I am already thinking about what I would do differently if I was making it.  I can’t help it.  My dad was a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cook and I proudly inherited that gene and have carried the flag since he passed on to glory.  Today my gene saved us from eating a sticky overly-sweet goo.

I didn’t have try the recipe before we made it for our final day of Colombia studies, but as I was reading the recipe, I kept thinking “this is going to be TOOOOO sweet”. Taking risks in the kitchen doesn’t always pay off, but can’t be helped sometimes.  You have to follow your gut.

I cooked the rice ahead (doubling what the recipe called for) and then we added all the coconut goodness and cooked it at school.  What an awesome cooking crew I had today!!!!!!  They helped dish it up and top it with the raisins and serve it to their fellow classmates.

I love cooking day.  I love hearing the stories my cooking crew tells me.  I love seeing their reactions to the foods we explore.

Here is our amended recipe.  Enjoy!

2 cups of rice

4 cups of water

1 can of sweetened condensed milk

1 can cream of coconut

1 can coconut milk

salt to taste

raisins for garnish

Bring rice and water to a boil.  Cover, cook until done, maybe 20 minutes?  you want it tender but not mushy.  Cool.  Add coconut milk, cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk and bring to a simmer.  add salt and cook down until liquid thickens, about 15-20 minutes.  Stir it often so it doesn’t stick.  Cool slightly, top with raisins and serve.

I was thinking it would also be good with chopped apricots and pistachios (if you eat nuts!).  Or add a little toasted shredded coconut.  yuuuuuummmmmmmm.  Let me know if you try it.

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Bright IDEAS granola

We love our GORP.  I didn’t know that GORP was ‘good ole raisins and peanuts’ because I never went to camp as a kid.  I just knew that one of our staff called our snack mix, GORP, so I started calling it GORP.  Ours isn’t really GORP, because we don’t serve anything with nuts in it.  Ours is in fact, homemade granola, goldfish, yogurt covered raisins or regular uncovered raisins, pretzel sticks, other dried fruit and sometimes, O-shaped cereal.  Would that be GYGPOD.  Hmmmm, perhaps someone else can come up with a catchier acronym.

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 stick of softened butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)

Preheat oven to 350.

Put all ingredients into a big bowl and mix until it is all sticking together, sort of paste-like.  If it is too dry, you can add a bit of applesauce to help it stick together, but that will change the consistency of your end product to more of a cookie texture.  not necessarily a bad thing, eh?

Spread mixture on a cookie sheet and flatten into one giant pancake type thing.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Using a spatula, break up the big pancake into small chunks and spread out on the pan.  At this point, you can add raisins or sunflower seeds or dried cranberries and mix into the chunks.  Bake another 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool completely.  Store in a zip lock bag in the freezer for several weeks.

Russian Cabbage Borscht

We studied Russia not too long ago and you would not believe it—but the kids made borscht and most of them loved it!  maybe it helped that we topped it with sour cream?!?  But I have never been able to get my kid to eat beets any other way~the original recipe came from allrecipes.com but we tweaked it a little for our purposes.

  • 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced potatoes
  • 1 can sliced beets (couldn’t find fresh at the time) NOT PICKLED, JUST REGULAR
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (or beef stock)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 11/2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped red cabbage
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed
  • 1 TBSP cider vinegar
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1 cup tomato purée
  • sour cream for topping

Potatoes and beets in a medium-sized pot, cover with stock and bring to rolling simmer. Cook until just tender.  Remove veggies and keep stock.

Melt butter in skillet and stir in onions, carrots and salt.  Cook until veggies are starting to get soft.  Add onions, carrots and cabbage to the reserved stock and cook until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.

Add potatoes and beets back into stock and season with dill weed and black pepper.  Stir in cider vinegar, honey and tomato purée.  Cover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer about 20 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, gently blend until the consistency of the soup is smoother and the veggies are not quite identifiable. 🙂 Adjust salt, if needed and serve with sour cream dollops.

We served 2 ounce portions since we are just sampling the soup, but this recipe should make about 8 regular portions.  Enjoy!