Island Style Mother's Day Brunch

So, we had the ultimate Mother's Day Brunch...

Me & My Momma
Hot Springs, AR
I've come to realize that cooking is really like a way out of buying gifts, ya know?? And I mean that in the least horrible way possible. Don't get me wrong, I love buying gifts for people-- and I usually go all out at Christmas time-- but it's nice being able to give people the gift of food instead of spending a lot of money every once in a while. Plus, to me, food just has a comforting vibe that means so much more than a bought gift. I mean who turns down food when offered it?? No one sane, that's for sure.

So, my gift to my mom for this year's Mother's Day was a HUGE feast of tropical and Caribbean inspired foods-- aka some of my favorite foods ever. I love island food, especially when you're not actually on an island. It's fun to pretend, sometimes... Besides, my family ate outside in the gorgeous, sunny Mississippi weather, so it felt pretty close to Hawaii to me.

I pulled some inspiration from the few different islands I've been lucky enough to visit...

When I was on a cruise a few weeks ago, one of our ports was Honduras. The port was essentially a tourist trap packed with vendors left and right trying to sell you anything and everything with "Roatan" tatooed on it. We could've traveled into the island a little further to experience the authentic culture, but my dad and I decided to just stay in this one outdoor bar area. I ordered a fried fish dish (the whole fish) with beans & rice and plantains. Well, the bartender kept asking if I was sure if I wanted the fish because it had its head on still, and every time, I replied "yes." It's safe to say he never got the message. When he came out with a plate full of rice & beans and fried plantains-- but no fish-- he said, "I got them to put no fish," smiled, and walked away. Nevertheless, my fishless fried fish plate was delicious. Now, I know you're probably like... it was just rice and beans. But it was REALLY good rice and beans. I can't even remember what it was about it that was so good, or maybe it was the fact that I was just insanely hungry. Whatever it was, I took a little inspiration from that whole dish and came up with two different brunch dishes:
  • Black Bean & Sweet Potato Hash + Fried Eggs + Crispy Plantains
  • Coconut Sticky Rice + Mangoes + Toasted Peanuts

I mean, they're completely different from a plate of rice & beans, but somehow I got inspiration from it...
The coconut sticky rice was by far my favorite of all the dishes, and surprisingly, it was the majority of my family's favorite, too. I was expecting my brother and dad to take one bite and cuss me out for "ruining white rice," but they actually loved it-- and they actually ate it with the mango and peanuts!!
The hash was probably the least elaborate of everything, but it was really nice to have the simplicity of it with all the other crazy dishes. I liked letting the natural flavors from the sweet potatoes and beans shine through, anyways.

Next, my trip to Mexico a few years ago inspired the corncakes, or corn fritters. I had Mexican street corn one day and fell in love with the combination of the paprika and cheese all over it. I also remember eating jicima and mango with chili powder and lime and, again, falling in love with that combination. So, I put them together:
  • Mexican Street Corncakes + Chili Lime Cream
I really wanted to see how how the two would work with each other, and turns out it was a very good decision to pair them up. This was probably my mom's favorite part of the brunch!

On our family trip to Kona, Hawaii last year, my mom and I indulged in papaya everywhere we went! Although we found papaya filled with fruit at almost every store/restaurant we stepped inside, I wanted to recreate a specific papaya "boat" we had at a little breakfast place, filled with tropical fruits. Unfortunately, where I live the closest thing to tropical fruit you can get IS papaya. So kiwi and berries it was.
  • Papaya Boats w/ Kiwi, Strawberries, and Blueberries + Lime

Also one of the ports on my cruise, we went to Jamaica, where I had jerk chicken for the very first time. This definitely inspired the sausage, along with a recent episode of "Brunch with Bobby" we watched the other day where he made homemade breakfast sausages.
  • Spicy Jerk Chicken Breakfast Sausage
This, not to my surprise, was my brother's favorite. I also really liked these, and I'm honestly not that much of a sausage patty/burger person.

Finally, I got the recipe for the banana bread off of a different blog, but I adapted the recipe once I saw it, inspired from a tropical trailmix I had in the Belize airport. As stupid as it sounds to be inspired by a prepackaged bag of nuts and fruit that you could easily find in any Walgreens, as soon as I read the recipe for the Healthier Banana Passionfruit and Coconut Loaf from The Brick Kitchen-- such a cute blog by the way-- I thought about how good a tropical banana bread would be with all of the things in that trailmix-- coconut, dried guava pieces, dates, banana chips, dried pinapple, macadamia nuts, and maple cashews.
  • Coconut Guava Banana Macadamia Nut Bread + Maple Orange Glaze

As for the smoothies, I had no inspiration from any particular destination, but from tropical flavors in general. Plus, I thought it would be really fun to do a layered smoothie.
  • 3 Layer Smoothies: Avocado Lime, Coconut Cream, and Pineapple Mango
This was SO good, but we actually didn't drink them until the next day, Monday, because of how full we were from everything else! I made it after school for a little pick-me-up for my mom, my brother, and I. The coconut layer was a legit milkshake, but my favorite was the avocado lime layer. I will definitely be making it as a smoothie by itself A LOT this summer!!

All of this made so much food for just my parents and one of my brothers (the other one isn't home from college yet), but it could definitely feed six... I'm not very good at estimating amounts of food, to say the least. But, hey, I'm not complaining about the leftovers...

Also, I know the pictures aren't up to par, but we were so wrapped up in the moment-- and I was freaking out about everything getting cold-- that I didn't want to spend 20 minutes photographing all of it... So, these crappy Snapchat pictures will have to suffice.

Coconut Guava Banana Nut Bread + Maple Orange Glaze
  • ¾ cup desiccated coconut (ground coconut flakes)
  • ¾ cup almond meal
  • ¾ cup wheat flour
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • ¼ cup guava juice
  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • ¼ cup guava purée (strained to remove little seeds)***
  • ½ cup macadamia nuts + ¼ cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. fine salt
  • 3 tbs. coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut

Sift the almond meal and flour together. Add in all other dry ingredients. Mash the banana until smooth, add in guava, vanilla, whisked eggs, melted coconut oil, honey, coconut milk, and juice. Whisk until smooth. Fold in dry ingredients slowly. Fold in macadamia nuts and shredded coconut. Pour into a greased loaf pan and top with a halved banana. Sprinkle with coconut sugar. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean). Let cool completely.
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 orange- juiced
Bring to a low simmer and turn off heat. Let cool completely. Pour over banana bread.

*Can also sub for any tropical fruit puree or fruit of choice

Sweet Potato Black Bean Hash + Fried Eggs + Crispy Plantains
Serves 6
  • 2 sweet potatoes- peeled & diced into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 cans black beans- rinsed
  • 1 green bell pepper- diced
  • 1/2 large red onion- diced
  • 2 large garlic cloves- minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 3 tbs. apple cider vineger
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tsp. sea salt + black pepper (each)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tbs. dried parsely & dried oregano 
  • 6 eggs
  • fresh parsley for topping
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the sweet potatoes and cook until a fork can go through them, but they still have a bite to them. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, and peppers and sautée with all spices. Once they have slightly softened and turned color. Add chicken stock and let reduce completely. Add sweet potatoes and beans and toss gently to combine. Press down firmly to create a flat, even top layer. Let cook on low for 5 minutes and take off heat. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and broil until lightly crispy and oil is sizzling.
In a seperate skillet, fry 6 eggs in olive oil until the bottoms are golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place on hash, five on the outside and one in the middle. Put under the broiler, again, just before serving to set the whites of the eggs on top. Broil until eggs are cooked according to your liking-- I recommend a runny yolk! Top with fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

  • 3 plantains- cut lenthways and in half across to make quarters
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil
  • 2-3 tbs. molasses
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
Heat coconut oil over medium-high heat in a fry-pan. Place plantains flat side down once oil starts to sizzle. Sprinkle with ginger. Let cook until golden brown and then flip, and do the same on the flip side. Once completely golden-brown and softened, place on a paper towel lined plate to drain from oil. Immediately transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with molasses and sprinkle with sea salt. Serve on the side of eggs and hash.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Breakfast Sausage
8-12 sausages (depending on size)
  • 1 lb. ground chicken
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1 sweet onion- finely diced
  • 1 large or 2 small jalapeños- finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves- minced
  • 2 tbs. olive oil + 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbs. distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. each: ground cumin, Jamaican all-spice (or regular all-spice), dried thyme, dried oregano, and ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. both ground nutmeg and cloves
  • 1 tsp. salt 
  • 1 tbs. black pepper
Over medium-high heat, sautée the onion, garlic, and jalapeños in 2 tbs. olive oil until softened and caramelized. Make sure they are very soft and cooked down. Add in brown sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. Once reduced slightly, take off the heat to cool completely. Once cooled, add into meat, along with all spices and combine with hands-- make sure to not overmix; once everything is folded in, stop. Form the mixture into breakfast sausage sized patties and set aside. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining 2 tbs. olive oil. Once sizzling, add in sausage patties and fry on each side until a crust has formed and it has become slightly charred. Flip and repeat on the other side-- this should take about 2-3 minutes on each side. Save grease/oil in skillet for later. 
Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 375º for 5-10 minutes or until the meat is slightly firm to the touch, light pink/brown on the inside, or 160º internally. It will contiue to cook a little once taken out. They will seem slightly greasy once first taken out of the oven, but let them sit for 5-10 minutes and it will absorb it, making the sausage really tender!

Mexican Street Corncakes + Chili Lime Cream
12-15 mini corncakes
  • 2 corn cobs
  • 1/2 sweet onion- diced
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. salt & pepper (each)
  • 3/4 stick butter- melted 
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg- whisked
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose or bread flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs. honey 
  • canola oil to fry
In the husks, roast corn on 425º for 40 minutes. Take out and let cool completely before removing all kernals from the cob. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven to 375º.
In the leftover sausage grease and olive oil, sautée the onion, garlic and corn until soft and slightly brown in color. Stir in mustard and honey. Combine all dry ingredients, including spices. Mix the melted butter, egg, and buttermilk together. Fold in dry ingredients and corn mixture. It should be a dense-- but not crumbly or dry-- mixture that's sticky/messy to use your hands with. Form into small fritters/mini pancakes/balls and set on a lined baking sheet. Let them set in the fridge for 30 minutes. In a fry-pan, heat the canola oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Drop corncakes in gently, making sure not to crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side and take out to drain on a paper towel lined plate. Transfer to a baking sheet and finish in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Set aside until ready to serve.
  • 2 limes- zest and juice
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika 
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • cilantro for topping
Stir everything except the cilantro together and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Top corncakes with cream & cilantro.

Coconut Sticky Rice + Mangoes & Peanuts
Serves 6 large portions
  • 1 1/2 cup Jasmine rice (or sushi rice)
  • 1 13.5 oz. can full-fat coconut milk
  • 12 oz. water
  • 1 tbs. coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar 
  • 2 tbs. agave OR honey
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2 large mangoes
  • 1/2 cup toasted & salted peanuts
  • 2 tbs. toasted sesame seeds
  • fresh Thai basil OR mint
Bring water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and rice to a boil. Add in sugar and salt. Stir, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff up with a fork, and add in spices and agave. Let cool to room temperature. Top with sesame seeds and serve with fresh mango, toasted peanuts, and Thai basil/mint.

Papaya Boats + Fruit
  • 1 large papaya
  • 1 cup strawberries- sliced
  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 6 kiwis- cubed
  • 1 lime
Cut papaya down the middle & scoop out seeds. Fill with fruit and squeeze lime over it.

3 Layer Smoothies
4-6 small glasses (depending on size)

For the coconut cream layer:
  • 1 1/2 heaping cups frozen banana slices
  • 1/2 cup chilled coconut cream- packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbs. honey OR agave
  • 1 cup coconut water
Blend until smooth, adding more coconut water if needed. Fill into 6 glasses 1/3 of the way full. Place in freezer while making the next layer.

For the avocado lime layer:
  • Recipe for coconut layer
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 additional tbs. honey OR agave (optional-- but the avocado takes away from the sweeteness)
  • 1 lime- zest and juice
Blend until smooth. Pour on top of each coconut layer to make the cup 2/3 full. Place back in freezer.

For the mango pinapple layer:
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 cup frozen banans slices
  • 1 1/2 cup pinapple juice
Blend until completely smooth. Pour into the glasses to fill them. Serve with fresh mint and lime wedges.

I hope everyone had a great Mother's Day:))

Cecilia A.


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