Keeping the Resolution: Oven Fries

I try to cut fried foods out my diet when attempting to Keep my Resolution and lose weight.  Despite the fact that there is something insanely delicious about food submerged in oil, it is not healthy.  Yes, I realize that there are ways to make fried foods healthier but that does not mean that deep fat frying is as healthy as say baking or microwaving.

I do not want to give up my fried foods, though, so I have tried to find different ways to prepare fried foods without actually frying.  This gave birth to my wife’s and my oven fries recipe.  This recipe uses a two stage approach (baking and then broiling) to produce a perfectly cooked french fry suitable for the finest dijon ketchups.

You will need:

  • 4 large potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of seasoning salt (optional, recommended)
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350. 
  2. Cut the potatoes into your favorite fry shape.  We tend to use 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch by 2 inch pieces.  There is no rhyme or reason to the size, it is just what our family prefers.  Cut the potatoes into whatever size you would like, but remember the deeper the potato, the longer the cooking time and adjust accordingly.
  3. Wash the potatoes to remove excess starch and pat dry.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the olive oil and cut potatoes until the potatoes are covered in a thin coating of oil.  This will let them brown.
  5. To really minimize oil usage, buy an olive oil spritzer and sprtitz the potatoes.
  6. Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes or until the are start to dry.
  7. Set the oven to broil and continue cooking until crispy.  In my oven this is 3-5 minutes, but depending on the strength of the broiler and the positioning of the rack, it could be less time.
  8. Immediately after removing the fries, sprinkle the salt and any desired spices on top of the potatoes.

Serve with hamburgers or sloppy joes or hot dogs as normal.

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Game Dame’s Stuffed Mushrooms

Game Dame sent me this recipe for stuffed mushrooms which is going into the cocktail party file, especially when I want to kill my guests by clogging their arteries! 🙂

  • About 1.5 pint size fresh mushroom caps (small mushrooms are better
    than large ones), stemmed
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 8oz of Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 lb of cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 stick of margarine or butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 
  2. Take the cream cheese out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature.
  3. Add in parmesan cheese and bacon and mix
  4. Fill the mushroom caps with the cheeee/bacon mixture
  5. Melt the butter in a sauce plan
  6. Dip each mushroom cap in the butter and put on a oven capable vessel.  Alternatively, you can pour the butter over the mixture, though ths is less accurate.
  7. Bake 20-30 minutes until completely warmed through.
  8. Serve HOT (emphasis in original.)  Do not serve them all as they are only good when served hot.

I was also thinking that to  make this vegetarian, the bacon could be swapped for spinach.  For those who do not like bacon, crab meat would do nicely as well.

Ethan’s Egg Recipe

My son Ethan helped me make eggs this morning and this is his recipe:

  • 6 eggs
  • A good 2 second pour of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pepper
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat.  When the skillet is hot, coat the skillet with a small layer of non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Add 6 eggs to a bowl and stir to break the yokes
  3. Dump in salt to help Daddy cook
  4. Stand over sink and desperately flick salt from eggs into sink
  5. Add garlic powder and pepper.  Stir vigorously.
  6. Pour into skillet and cook until the bottom layer is mostly cooked and scramble
  7. Continue cooking until the eggs are no longer runny
  8. Serve in a bowl, not a plate with lots of orange juice

Mmmm… Salty…

Spice Week: File

So I kind of flaked on spice week.  I blame the extreme sickness that came and visited me for too long.

Because I only posted three recipes, I wanted to follow up with a fourth post on unique spices.  For this post, I shall talk about file powder.  Pronounced FEE-lay, it is a term for ground sassafrass leaves and is one of two ingredients that work with roux to thicken gumbo (the other being okra) and is a flavoring spice in other cajun food.

File makes the gumbo broth dark and gives the whole dish an earthy, savory taste that is not present in okra-based gumbo.  In addition, file powder seasons the entire broth whereas the only thing that tastes like okra is the okra.  As an added benefit, file powder does not get slimy and chewy like okra that has been cooked to long.  Which is not to say that I do not like okra gumbo.  I make it a lot, I just prefer file-based gumbo.

So here is my challenge to you.  In the United States where I am at, the weather is starting to get cold and winter will soon be upon us.  Cold weather is the perfect excuse to try out a new soup or stew recipe, so if you have not had a file-based gumbo, give one of these recipes a try!

http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,gumbo_file_powder_ingredients,FF.html

Let’s Talk Turkey: Pumpkin Cheesecake

Okay, the following recipe is not mine…at least not completely.  I came across this recipe one day as I was flipping channels and happend to pass by the Food Network.  There, in primetime no less, was the lovely Paul Deen staring back at me over a mixing bowl.

With her Southern belle smile, she announced she was going to make a pumpkin cheesecake.  While she had me at “Hey y’all,” I sat in rapt attention as she made this recipe.

I had never made a cheesecake before.  I made that cheesecake.

I can bake.  Who knew?

If you decide to try it, follow the baking instructions exactly.  That’s my best advice.  My second best advice would that next time I make the recipe, I am going to add a half cup more sugar and double the spice.  I like my pumpkin pies bold with big flavors.  Paula’s pumpkin cheesecake was good, but it did not explode with sweetness, nutmeg, and clove like I prefer.  That is not Paula’s fault.  Everyone else who has tried the recipe loved it and wanted more. 

And besides, it’s a Paula Deen dessert.  You know it has to be good!

Let’s Talk Turkey: Green Bean Casserole

Hi everyone.  I am alive and well and only slightly frazzled with everything going on.  This is the week of Thanksgiving in America so for the next few days we’re going to be talking about how to make Thanksgiving feasts.  And then we’ll follow that up with how to turn Thanksgiving feasts into awesome Thanksgiving leftovers.

I wanted to start with the old standby: Green Bean Casserole.  Why?  1) Because I love the stuff and 2) Because it’s ridiculously unhealthy as is.  Think about it, it is canned green beans (mmm…sodium) and fried onions stewed in cream of mushroom soup.  Wait a minute…no wonder it’s so good.

Anyway, my recipe for making Green Bean Casserole is pretty straightforward, but is a whole lot healthier.

You will need:

  • 1 bag of frozen green beans
  • Juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons of Old Bay
  • 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup of reduced fat chedder cheese (optional)
  • 1 cup of oyster crackers or roughly crushed saltines

To make it:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  2. Boil the green beens in salted water for 5-7 minutes or until al dente.
  3. Drain and add lemon juice.  Set aside.
  4. In a preheated skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil, the onions, and the seasonings.  Cook until the onions are soft.
  5. Combine the green beans, the onions, and the cans of soup in a oven safe dish and bake until the soup is bubbly.
  6. If cheese is desired, add about five minutes into the baking prcoess.
  7. Add the crackers right before serving so that they stay crispy.

The key to this recipe for me is the Old Bay seasoning on the onions.  It gives them a flavor I prefer to fried onions.  To make up for the texture of green bean casserole, I added saltines to the top of the casserole.

 Enjoy!

Spice Week: Saffron

I’m just mad about Saffron…Saffron’s madly expensive…

So, back for another edition of Spice Week, the cooking celebration of the reuniting of the Spice Girls.  Yesterday, we looked at a way to make a warm herbed goat cheese with herbs de’ Provence which can be enjoyed as is. 

However, by using another great spice, in this case, saffron, we can make an excellent topping for the goat cheese with a Spanish twist.

You will need:

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 1 medium white onion 
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pepper
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flake
  • 1 tablspoon of Spanish paprika
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of green olives
  • 1 healthy pinch of saffron cooked in 2 tablespoons of hot tap water
  • 1/2 pound of 21 to 25 count shrimp (cooked), tails removed
  1. Preheat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil.
  2. When the skillet is hot, add the onions, garlic, a good pinch of salt, paprika, black pepper and red pepper flake.  Cook until the onions are very soft.
  3. When the onions are soft, add the can of diced tomatoes.  Bring the liquid to a boil and cook to reduce the sauce by 1/3.
  4. Wash the green olives and give them a rough chop.  When the sauce has reduced to the desired thickness, add the olives and let them get warm.
  5. Add the saffron and let the color of the spice spread throughout the sauce.
  6. Add the shrimp at the last minute and keep the skillet on the heat just long enough for the shrimp to get warm.  If you prefer, you can add uncooked shrimp at the same time as the green olives and cook them until they turn pink.

Take a healthy spoonful of the saffron-tomato-shrimp mixture and use it to top the goat cheese.   Tell me how you like it.

Interesting saffron facts: Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because it can only be harvested by hand and is deadly in large amounts.  Enjoy!!