As an 18 year old welding student, Ramon lives a well regimented and disciplined life. He lives by himself in his own apartment. He learned how to cook, clean and shops for himself. And of course he drives himself to school. All of which he’s never done while home with us.
He wakes up at 4:15 in the morning. Fixes himself breakfast, usually a bowl of Kashi cereal mixed with homemade granola , topped with frozen blueberries and raspberries, and doused with soymilk.
For lunch, when he comes home at around 12:45 in the afternoon, after drinking a quart of spring water while reading his emails, he cooks himself chicken breast, breaded and pan fried, with roasted Vegetable Medley. On some days, he’d cook himself New York steaks or shrimp, but always with a side of roasted vegetables. He prefers to cooks something that’s easy, and with minimal preparation. Simple but good and nutritious.
He goes to bed every night at 7:15p.m. And then he gets up the next day and does this same routine all over again.
Before Ramon moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, he researched, and we experimented with several recipes, especially when it comes to vegetables. Like other teens, he did not like vegetables. Steamed and stir fried vegetables were simply not appetizing to him. But he knows that he’s gonna have to change the way he eats if he is going to sustain his body with proper nourishment, especially now that he is away from home. And with welding, being physically and mentally taxing, all the more that he needs proper nourishment. So he started exploring the internet for alternative ways to cook vegetables. And in his search he found vegetable recipes posted by other young adults like him. These kids are new converts. They all concluded, and we agree, that the secret to cooking vegetables, vegetable that kids will eat is roasting them. Honestly, I was skeptical at the beginning. But my son insisted on having me try them. So I sat down and look through the recipes he compiled. Read and decided which ones made sense. In our experiments, he found that he liked and ate several of these vegetables as long as their roasted. And the best tasting ones we’ve tried are broccoli, roasted cauliflower, roasted green beans, vegetable medley, Brussels sprouts, egg plant, and kale which I was highly skeptical at the beginning but equally surprised on how great it tasted! I would roast two pans of kale and we just sat there and ate them by themselves.
All of the vegetables I’ve roasted were frozen, (I buy them in big bags at Sams Club), with the exception of the eggplant and kale. So it requires very little preparation, which my son loves. No peeling and no chopping required. Just simply place enough amount of the vegetables in the baking sheet, drizzle the olive oil and sprinkle the seasoning, and wallah, it’s ready for the oven.
I also found that the perfect oven temperature for roasting these vegetables is at 425ºF, preheated oven, and the time varies between 35 minutes to 50 minutes, depending on how hot is your oven. So you may have to watch them closely until you get the perfect timing. (Kale cooks a lot faster – about 15 minutes, and at a lower heat – 4ooºF.)
As for the seasoning, I use basic seasoning such as kosher salt and or sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and cayenne pepper. My husband likes to add garlic powder, chili powder and paprika. We’ve also tried roasting these vegetables, with peeled garlic cloves.
NOTE: If you don’t have one already, I suggest you buy a professional grade or heavy duty baking sheet with sides, also called jelly roll pan. I bought mine at a restaurant supplies store. I think I paid $12 for each and I have four. These pans are great for roasting vegetables.
Roasted Vegetable Medley
(Allow at least ½ pound per serving)
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2 pounds frozen vegetable medley (mixture of sliced carrots, broccoli and cauliflower florettes)
3 TBSPs. extra light olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. black pepper
¼ – ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
Place vegetable medley in the baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil and add the seasoning. Toss to combine.
Roast in vegetable in a preheated oven at 425° for 45 – 50 minutes or until broccoli and cauliflower are caramelized in color, but not burned. (The broccoli should be slightly brown and crispy.)
Roasted Vegetable Medley with Johnsonville Bratwurst
Pan Fried Chicken Breasts
(Allow 2 medium chicken breasts per person)
4 medium size chicken breasts – boneless and skinless
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne
Seasoned flour – see recipe below
½ – ¾ cup extra light olive oil for frying
Season chicken breasts on both sides. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes so the seasoning will have time to penetrate the meat.
Heat the skillet and add the olive oil.
Place 1 cup of seasoned flour in a large Ziploc bag. Place all the chicken and shake to coat.
Fry chicken breasts in hot olive oil, over medium heat, about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Removed and place fried chicken breasts over paper towels.
Serve with Roasted Vegetable Medley or other vegetables.
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. cayenne (optional or use less)
Combine all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag.
Note: I use this seasoned flour for all my pan frying. I’ve used this with chicken breasts, pork chops, and shrimp. So, what I do is mix a big batch of this, 6 – 8 cups at a time, in large Ziploc bag, and store in the refrigerator. Whenever I need a breading, I just scope out a cup or two into another Ziploc bag. I do this for Ramon, whenever we visit him, so it’s one less thing he has to do.
Enjoy and Happy Cooking!