Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Sweet Potato Fries

At our last Niece Night, I made these along with Micah and Jason's chicken and broccoli salad and my angel food cake

I'll warn you, don't eat them hoping they will taste like a french fry, because they are not. However, if you aren't fond of sweet potatoes, try them like this and it may change your mind. It is my favorite way to eat them and they are surprisingly easy. I actually made them again this past weekend!

I think sweet potato fries are a sort of new trend so I had to resort to Pinterest for the recipe (I know what you're thinking, poor me!). After about a half an hour of caving to my ADD, I remembered my purpose at the moment was finding recipes! And I found several! (Don't you just LOVE Pinterest?!?)

I found several recipes and couldn't decide which I liked better because they were so incredibly different, so I combined a few to make my own and I think it turned out perfectly - both times!

First of all, slice up 3 or 4 good sized clean sweet potatoes. Not too thick, not too thin. I left the skin on because I like it but you can peel them if you don't. 

Soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes. I think I let mine go about an hour. This is the trick to getting them crispy.

For the seasonings, I just used what I like. You do the same. I eyeballed the measurements but it came out delicious.

 I'm guessing I used anywhere from 1/2 to 1 whole tablespoon of each spice (chili powder, Lawry's seasoned salt, garlic and herb Mrs. Dash, comino, kosher salt and pepper.

Also, it isn't in the picture, but I used about 2 tablespoons corn starch. This also helps dry the potatoes out and make them crisp up.

 Dump it all in a gallon-sized zip bag.

 Strain the sweet potatoes well and pat them dry. Add them to the bag and drizzle in a few tablespoon olive oil.


 Dump them out on two cookie sheets (or two cookie sheets and a pizza stone, in our case),

And bake for 20-25 minutes at 400º, flipping halfway through with a spatula.

They will start to caramelize and turn brown on the edges, making them sweet and savory. 

 Delicious!! They really are easy. Dip 'em in ranch, dip 'em in ketchup, BBQ sauce, hummus, or just eat 'em plain like I like to. You really can't go wrong!

Here they are plated up with Micah and Jason's chicken and broccoli salad.

Seriously good!

Happy cooking!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Angel Food Cake

The theme of our most recent Niece Night was "healthy food." Micah and Jason fixed grilled chicken and a broccoli salad (recipes coming soon) and I made sweet potato fries and this angel food cake with strawberries.

I found the recipe in Nana's cookbook and I had all the ingredients on hand, so I rolled with that.

What you need:
Sugar, flour, salt, cream of tartar, powdered sugar, egg whites, vanilla and almond flavoring, strawberries and whipped cream.
Combine egg whites, cream of tartar, extracts and salt.

And beat until combined.

While beating, gradually add sugar. I HIGHLY recommend using a stand mixer, but I don't have one. Also, make sure your egg whites are at room temperature because they won't thicken if they are cold. I learned this the hard way and spent probably 30 minutes beating these until my arms nearly fell off. 

Keep beating...

I took a break to let my egg whites get a little warmer and sifted the powdered sugar and flour together twice.

I also took pictures of myself. 
*Apron check!*
Nana gave me this apron years ago. It was the first apron I ever got and started my obsession. It has also ever been washed and it definitely needs it. It is coated in years of flour, sugar, food coloring and batter.

After it wasn't as cold, the mixture started thickening a little bit.

Soft peaks...

And finally stop when you have stiff peaks.

Begin folding the powdered sugar/flour mixture in about a 1/4 cup at a time.

Make sure you have all the flour/sugar incorporated without over mixing. It will be a big fluffy, airy mixture.

The recipe says to use a tube pan, but all I had was this old $1 garage sale bundt pan that I made work.

Spoon the mixture in the ungreased pan.

And cut through it with a knife to release any major air pockets.

Bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until it passes the knife test...
It should be golden brown and cracked on top.

Insert knife into the middle,

and if it comes out clean, you're good to go!

Turn it upside down on your serving plate to cool. I made mine the night before and left in the refrigerator over night to cool. 

(Nail polish change #1)
I have had problems with my second hand bundt pan before - try having only half of a pound cake release from the pan.... so I was leery about not greasing the pan like the instructions said, but I'm a stickler for following the instructions. I guess I should have gone with my gut because it certainly was stuck in there! I used a spatula to go around the cake to try and loosen it.

Then flipped it over to release. 

The moment of truth...

Well, it stuck to the pan. It may not be picture perfect, but it tasted just fine!

It definitely needs an attractive topping...

These strawberries are gorgeous!

I sliced up the whole container.

Well, maybe not the whole container...

Then I remembered a little trick Nana taught me. I dipped my whole strawberry into a little jar of Splenda I keep on my counter...

And bit right in! Delicious!!

Look at this funny guy!!

Place all the sliced strawberries in a container and whack a lemon in half.

Squeeze it upside down over the strawberries so the seeds don't fall in.

And douse them in Splenda. Just go with a little, taste and repeat. No need to measure.

I left these in the fridge overnight.

Slice up huge pieces (it's fat free! indulge!).

(Manicure change #2)
Scoop on a good amount of the strawberry mixture.

(Jason said the strawberries were "foodgasmic." I totally made them up as I went along but he swore they were magical.)

And finish it off with a dollop of fat-free Cool Whip!

Enjoy! It is totally fat-free, light and refreshing!

Happy cooking!

Nana's Angel Food Cake
1 1/2 cups egg whites (about 1 dozen or a carton of Egg Beaters), room temperature
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, extracts and salt at high speed.
While beating, gradually add sugar; beat until sugar is dissolved and mixture forms stiff peaks.
Combine and sift confectioners' sugar and flour; gradually fold into the batter, 1/4 cup at a time.
Gently spoon mixture into an ungreased 10-in. tube pan. With a metal spatula or knife, cut through the batter to break large air pockets.
Bake at 350º for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
Serve with glazed strawberries and Cool Whip.