Warm up your week with tropical flair

    Baby, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean your kitchen has to get frostbite. This week, let your cuisine take you to the warm paradise of the tropics! While the rest of your body will be saying “Brrrr,” your stomach will be saying “Aloha!” You can even put up some palm trees to set the mood!

    Photo by Stuart Spivack on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    Mango Madness Marinade

    While a staple in most college students’ diets, chicken can get really boring, really fast. Spruce up your meat and give it a little tang with this funky marinade.

    What you’ll need:

    • A package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    • ¾ cup of mango chutney
    • ½ cup of honey
    • ¼ cup of soy sauce (add more if you prefer a less sweet marinade)
    • ½ tablespoon of sesame oil
    • ½ tablespoon of fresh ginger, grated


    1. Slice each chicken breast in half, keeping the pieces fairly even in thickness, and set aside.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine the mango chutney, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil and fresh ginger. Depending on the thickness of your marinade you may want to add room temperature water to ensure that all the chicken pieces are fully coated by the mixture.
    3. Place the chicken pieces in a large Ziploc bag and pour in the marinade. Seal your bag tightly and shake the bag in order to coat the chicken.
    4. Place the chicken in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

    Cooking Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
    2. Next, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
    3. Add in the chicken once the pan and oil are very hot. Cook each side for about four minutes or until your chicken is golden brown.
    4. Flip the chicken and cook for another three to four minutes or until golden brown as well.
    5. Remove the chicken breasts from the skillet and place in an oven-proof tray. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 10 minutes, allowing the meat to cook all the way through. The marinade and steam will create a nice sauce that is perfect to serve atop the chicken!

    Coco Loco

    Unless you’re waiting in line at 4 a.m. at 53rd and 6th, the traditional duo of chicken and rice is nothing short of bland. But with a little flavor boost, tropics-infused rice will be a great accompaniment to honey mango chicken. The secret: coconut milk.

    Photo by Charles Haynes on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    What you’ll need:

    • 2 cups of coconut milk (sold in cans and usually found in the ethnic foods aisle; just make sure you buy coconut milk and NOT cream of coconut!)
    • 1 cup of white rice (I prefer jasmine or basmati)
    • ½ cup of chopped cashews or peanuts
    • ½ cup of finely sliced scallions (also known as green onions), plus a few extra tablespoons for garnish
    • The juice of one lime
    • One lime, sliced into wedges


    1. Prepare the rice according to the package’s directions, substituting coconut milk for water.
    2. Once the rice has been fully cooked and fluffed, add the nuts, scallions and lime juice. Make sure to do this while the rice is still hot so all of the flavors are absorbed.
    3. Serve alongside the chicken and garnish with the remaining scallions and lime wedges.

    Pineapple Granita

    This has got to be the world’s easiest dessert. Granita is essentially frozen juice, but it is so delicious and refreshing that your friends won’t realize how simple it is to make. Serve it in martini glasses with a dollop of whipped cream and a mint leaf on top, and all will think you are the king or queen of class!

    Photo by _e.t. on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.

    What you’ll need:

    • 2½ cups of pineapple juice
    • 1 cup of boiling water
    • ½ cup of sugar
    • 1 15-oz. can of crushed pineapple (optional)
    1. Combine juice, water and sugar in a bowl.
    2. Whisk until the sugar has fully dissolved, then pour into a baking tray. If you want to add more texture to your dessert, you can also stir in a can of crushed pineapple.
    3. Cover the granita mixture with plastic wrap and place it in your freezer for three or four hours, or until frozen solid, making sure to scrape the mixture with a fork every half hour. This ensures that the granita will form into ice crystals.
    4. Remove from the freezer and immediately spoon into glasses. Pineapple granita is the perfect way to end your tropical-themed night!

    The next time you can’t feel your toes in this Arctic tundra we call Evanston, why not whip up these dishes, put on some Bob Marley and transport yourself to paradise? So what if it’s totally corny?


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