Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Crispy Baked Sweet Potato Fries for One

I'm a sweet potato fry addict. I love them from food trucks, in restaurants and now even at home. To be honest, my favorite sweet potato fries are from Carl's Jr. (gross, I know). Since I'm supposed to be eating healthier, battered and fried fast foods aren't really in my diet — so I've been playing around with different recipes to a quick and easy baked version.

I've never been much of a cook, so when I'm in the kitchen a lot of what I do is trial and error. My fries kept turning out soggy and limp, but after a few different attempts, I finally found a recipe that works for me! This recipe can be adapted for large batches, but since my husband doesn't like sweet potatoes, I make a single serving that's easy to prep and quick to bake.

Chopped, before seasoning
After preheating your oven to 400 degrees (425 if your oven runs cool), you'll want to start by washing and peeling your potato, then chopping it into french fry-sized pieces — I've found that narrow pieces work better than wedges if you want crispier fries.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss gently (if your potato is on the smaller side, start with less olive oil — you can always add more, but don't want the fries saturated). Then, you'll want to coat them with the cornstarch, which helps the fries crisp up in the oven. You may not end up using the entire tablespoon, which is fine.

Once they're very lightly coated with cornstarch, you can add your seasoning. I love the house seasoning by Paula Deen (salt, pepper and garlic powder) because it has a really salty spiciness that enhances the flavor of the fries. You can also try combinations of other seasonings — simple salt and pepper, or a sweeter flavor with cinnamon complemented by a maple mayo dipping sauce.

Once they're tossed, lay the fries out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don't place them too close together or you'll have a hard time getting them to crisp up (I think the water in the potatoes turns into steam, and they just become a soggy mess).

Seasoned and ready for the oven

Bake for 20 minutes, checking to make sure they aren't burning, then enjoy while warm with ketchup or a dipping sauce of your choice. Yum!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Strawberry Orange Smoothie Recipe

I had a weekend of culinary failures. I started my Sunday with plans to make a delicious, fattening Oreo ice cream, but as I finished the vanilla base and poured it into the bowl, it just would not thicken up. Twenty minutes later, I still had a milky soup — that was when I realized that (duh) the bowl wasn't frozen yet.

I chalked that up to a lost cause and threw the base back into the fridge, then decided to make a smoothie instead. I had a bowl of fresh farmers market strawberries sitting in my fridge all week, perfect for a simple strawberry orange smoothie.

If you don't have fresh strawberries, frozen actually work as well — though they're not quite as healthy (but they usually end up being sweeter). I prefer the regular bag of frozen strawberries from Trader Joes, which is around $1.75 at my local store. I don't usually buy organic, so the bag I buy ("fancy strawberries"), usually makes about two batches. You can also substitute store-bought OJ for fresh-squeezed — I'm incredibly lazy in the kitchen and usually go for the Minute Maid.

After everything is blended, I usually do a quick taste test. Because the sweetness of strawberries can vary drastically, sometimes I'll end up putting in additional ice cream or honey at the end. The garnish is optional, but if you choose to do it, I usually set aside an extra berry in case I break one completely in half.

Another fun way to serve the smoothie, especially for a girls' brunch, is in a chilled martini glass with a sugared rim. Less calories, and a prettier presentation. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

New York, I Love You

It's always a fun time in New York, but it's even better with your best friends. Annie, Wendy and I had a total foodie trip in mid-January and hit up a long list of restaurants, bars and bakeries. It was a perfect vacation: a little bit of shopping, lots of eating and drinking and enjoying some girl time in the city that never sleeps.