Crispy Baked French Fries

Does my girl have nice legs or what?  Man, I love Wednesdays.  I love that I have set aside this day to talk a little bit about my bunny.  I realize I’m slightly obsessed with her, but if you got to sit on your couch and have that creature accompany you, you’d want to gab about it too.

As of yet, I have watched her unsuccessfully mount the couch twice.  I know she can jump high enough, but she seems to be holding back, probably because she has no idea what’s up there.  A few nights ago she tried to jump up practically onto Luke’s lap while we were watching a movie.  Needless to say both parties were a little surprised.

Also, today I learned Izzy is completely down with the vacuum cleaner. I vacuumed the carpet while she was sitting on it, and she just calmly watched it, loud noise and all.  But opening the dishwasher scares her.  Rabbit brains are weird.

Human brains are easier.  Just give them loads of carbs and they are happy.  Or maybe that’s just me.  Sit a plate of these bad boys down in front of me and I am a one happy clam.  I mean, french fries minus all the greasy, oily business?  Win.

Though I guess if I put a carrot in front of Izzy she’d be the same way I am toward a hot plate of baked fries.  Maybe rabbit brains aren’t so tricky after all.

Crispy Baked French Fries

Adapted from Cookie & Kate

Makes about 2-6 servings, depending on how many potatoes you use

2-4 medium russet potatoes

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp canola or olive oil

sea salt and ground black pepper*

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes and cut them, lengthwise, into 10 to 12 even wedges. The trick is to first quarter the potatoes lengthwise, and then cut each quarter lengthwise into 2 to 3 wedges.

Place the sliced potatoes into a large bowl and cover them with hot water. Let them soak for 10 minutes (this releases some of the starch in the potatoes and lets them absorb moisture, which leads to crisp outsides and moist interiors).

Cover a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and 1/4 cup oil, then sprinkle evenly with about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry thoroughly with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Toss the potatoes with the remaining teaspoon of oil and mix evenly.

Arrange the fries in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and cover the sheet tightly with foil. Bake for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pan and cook another 5 to 10 minutes, until the underside of the potatoes are spotty golden brown.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and scrape the fries loose with a spatula. Then use tongs or the spatula to flip over each wedge, keeping the potatoes in an even layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp, about 5 to 10 minutes longer. Rotate the pan as necessary to help them brown evenly. Season with salt and pepper (or other spices of your choice) and serve hot.

*I like trying out different spices, like an Italian herb blend or curry powder.  Feel free to experiment.

Advertisements

Homemade Pizza Snacks

I love pizza.  You love pizza.  Who doesn’t love pizza?  Even the weird people who don’t like cheese and pull it off their pizza still…eat pizza.  Though I don’t think I’d call that pizza anymore, it’d call it a sad mess.

I like tomato sauce and melted cheese on just about any baked grain surface.  It’s amazing how many things you can turn into “pizza” by just adding these two simple toppings.

Just so we’re clear on things though, these pizza snacks involve more than tomato sauce and cheese.  There’re also some extra onions and garlic thrown into the mix, making them even better.

Though I should admit, I was a little skeptical about how these would taste at first.  Would wonton wrappers stuffed with pizza toppings actually fool my taste buds into thinking there was real pizza in my mouth?

Yes.  I was shocked.  And quite delighted.   They totally taste just like pizza, only they’re smaller, so you can eat like 10 of them at once.  The edges of the wontons get crispy, but the middle stays soft because of the filling, creating its own notion of a “pizza pocket.”

At first I made a half recipe with leftover wonton wrappers from my curried shrimp wontons.  Later, I made a full recipe, and still have a container of them in my fridge.  Before you make them, I should warn you: they are addictive, and are really tasty late night snacks.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Homemade Pizza Snacks

Adapted from Back to Her Roots

Makes about 45-50 pieces

3 Tbsp olive oil, divided use

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small onion, finely diced

2 cups marinara sauce

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese you want really)

1 package wonton wrappers (about 48 wraps)

In a large skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add in garlic and onion. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes and remove from heat. Stir in marinara sauce and cheese.

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Line two baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  On a work surface, work with one wrapper at a time.  Using a finger dipped in water, run along all the edges of each wrapper.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling into the middle, and then fold wrapper in half and press down to seal.  Continue until baking sheet is filled with pizza rolls (spaced about 1″ apart). Brush the tops of the wrappers with remaining olive oil and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until rolls are golden and crispy. Repeat process with remaining wraps and filling.

Let cool 5-10 minutes before serving and enjoy!


Onigiri

Monday has arrived, so I want to share something fun to lighten the mood for this week.

Onigiri fillings

Onigiri.  Oh-nee-gear-eee.  Also known as Japanese rice balls.  Also known as a tasty, fun and interesting dinner.

They’re also great to snack on.  When I was in Taiwan, I would buy packaged onigiri at the nearest 7-Eleven practically every day.  Or multiple times a day.  Don’t blame me, there were 7-Elevens everywhere. 

When I went to Tokyo, I got to experience authentic onigiri.  Pure heaven, even if I can’t handle the more traditional fillings like umeboshi (pickled plums).  So I make mine with canned tuna.  (Which they do in Japan as well, so there.)

Luke’s were filled with a spicy mixture, while mine was mild.  I also sprinkled mine with furikake seasoning, a Japanese condiment, and wrapped them in nori (dried seaweed).  You can get furikake and nori at your local Asian supermarket, and if you can’t procure, the rice balls will still be great without them.

So if you’re feeling adventurous this week and want to try something new, I’d recommend onigiri.  It’s just so much fun to say and eat!

Onigiri (Japanese rice balls)

Makes about 10 rice balls (depending on how big you make them)

4 cups short grain (sushi) rice, cooked and cooled

1 can tuna, drained

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

2 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

¼ cup hummus

2 sheets of nori, cut into 2” strips

furikake seasoning for garnish

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package, or in a rice cooker.  Let the rice cool completely before starting assembly.

While the rice cools, make the fillings.  In a small bowl, scrape out half of the tuna, add mayo and hot sauce and mix until evenly combined with a fork.

In another small bowl, mix remaining tuna and hummus (with a different stirring apparatus).

Before you begin working with the rice, make sure your hands are wet.  This will keep the rice from sticking to you.  When the rice is cool, use a large spoon or rice paddle to scoop out about ½ cup of rice.  Cupping it in your palm, flatten the rice out and spoon about 2 Tbsp of filling in the center.  Close your palm and use your other hand to bring the rice ball together.  You can also shape the ball into the traditional triangle shape, but I think spheres are much cuter.

Once the rice ball is firmly packed and no filling can be seen, wrap a strip of nori around the ball and put it on a plate.  Garnish with furikake if desired.

Continue this process for remaining rice and filling, and enjoy!


Sweet Potato Fries & Ravioli

When my obsession with food hit, I was desperate to find other people who shared my passion so we could make wonderful food together.  Also, because more people to eat food=more opportunities to try out different recipes.

Though KA has always been a great foodie buddy, she was at school over 200 miles away, so a local alternative had to be found.  Luckily, I reconnected with Ham, who had taken first year Chinese with me, and also happened to really enjoy cooking.

Carina the hand model!

He also happened to have three ravenous housemates, so we’d hold these great dinner parties where Ham cooked dinner and I made dessert.  Greatness ensued.

But now Ham is in China and I am in Massachusetts.  Enter Carina.  We first bonded in college over our mutual love for all things Hayao Miyazaki and Joe Hisaishi, and later we became foodie buddies.  She has her own blog too, called Four Corners, where she features great vegetarian and dairy-free recipes.

She is leaving for a six-week stint in Lebanon today (and I am oh so jealous), so I had to see her before she left.

I remembered her liking my Green Pea Pesto Ravioli post, and decided we should make some ravioli of our own.  Since I had some sweet potatoes on hand, I knew we’d be able to make something fabulous happen.

First, sweet potato fries.  Who doesn’t love sweet potato fries?  Even Luke, the hater of savory sweet potato dishes couldn’t resist.

The main dish was sweet potato ravioli.  I’ve attempted making pasta dough without a proper roller, and it was a nightmare, so I stick to wonton wrappers for the ravioli skin (until I get a roller…wedding registry anyone?).

Anyway, we had to omit the butter and cheese in the recipe for Carina, but it still turned out great, though I do want to give the recipe another go sometime and include them.  Either way, these raviolis are pure orange gold.

Sweet Potato Fries

Makes about 2-3 servings

One large sweet potato, peeled or not (depends on your preference)

2 Tbsp olive oil

seasonings of your choice (we used Italian seasoning and extra oregano)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Slice the potato into thin wedges and arrange on the baking sheet.  Drizzle the olive oil and seasonings over the potato wedges, then mix everything together with your hands to coat evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until potatoes start to brown.  Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Sweet Potato Ravioli

Adapted from Cosmo Cookie

Makes 2-3 servings

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound sweet potato (one large potato)
1/2 Tbsp nutmeg
2 tsp fresh sage, minced
2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
40 wonton wrappers

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.  Cut the sweet potato into thirds. Rub garlic and sweet potato with olive oil, and place, cut sides down, on a baking sheet, and bake until tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool briefly, and then remove potato skins and pass the potatoes and garlic through a potato ricer or food mill into a medium bowl (if you don’t have one of these contraptions, just mash everything up as best you can); mix in nutmeg, sage, oregano, and salt and pepper. Set filling aside.

Place 1 wonton wrapper on a work surface and place 1 Tbsp filling in center; dip your finger in water and trace the edges of the wrapper, then fold one side on top of the other and press the edges together to seal.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Working in batches, add ravioli, and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with your favorite pasta sauce and enjoy!


Everything Crackers

I deem yesterday’s graduation a great success.  Traffic actually wasn’t all that bad, the ceremony only took 2 hours, lunch was fabulous, Diego loved his present, and I was feeling so good, I even helped him move out.

And by that I mean I watched him pack, and occasionally carried things down some stairs.  The amount of trash and unwanted items littering the hallways of his dorm was mind boggling, especially since it all gets thrown out.

It got so bad, the hallways became so narrow that only one person could travel down them at once.  College kids…you’d think they’d know better.

Still, I must admit that my offering of help was an overlay for a deeper ulterior motive.  When I moved out of college last year, I wasn’t going far.  My mom lived 10 minutes from campus, and since my next closest housemate was going back to New Jersey, all of the fridge and freezer goods were mine for the taking.

With Diego and his roommates all returning to CT, the fridge and freezer fodder were once again up for grabs.  I mean, they didn’t have room in their cars for random food stuffs so I was really doing them a favor by taking that ice cream and milk and assorted jams off their hands. Ohhh yes…how I love being a good friend.  But oh how I don’t love the sunburn I got even though it was cloudy.  I suppose it was worth it though.

I posted about hummus a little while ago, and when I made it, I realized I wanted to make crackers to go along with it.  I wanted them to be light while still packing a lot of flavor.  Enter the everything cracker: a whole wheat dough rolled thinly and sprinkled with the ubiquitous bagel topping.  Maybe you need something to adorn your cheese platter this Memorial Day weekend?  Well this might be it my friends.

Everything Crackers

Adapted from How Sweet Eats

Makes 20-40 crackers, depending on how large you cut them

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp cold unsalted butter

½ cup milk

1 egg, beaten

2 Tbsp poppy seeds

2 Tbsp sesame seeds

2 Tbsp minced onion

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a food processor, pulse flours, salt and sugar until combined. Add in cold butter and pulse until mixture is combined and the butter is in course crumbs. Stream in milk while pulsing the processor until the dough forms.

Form dough into a ball with your hands and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, flour a surface and a rolling pin, and roll out the dough until it is very thin.   Like super thin, otherwise your crackers will not be crispy.  Gently lift dough and place it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Don’t worry about it being a perfect rectangle.

Beat the egg in a small bowl, and brush onto dough. Sprinkle seasonings on, then lightly press to make sure they adhere.

Bake for 5 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for 5 minute more. Check crackers and bake in 3 minute intervals until crisp and golden brown. Watch carefully as they can burn quickly.  Cut them up with a large knife or a pizza wheel.

Serve with cheese, vegetables or fruit, or hummus.


Curry Roasted Chickpeas

There’s nothing like an early March snowstorm.  When March arrives, it seems spring can’t be too far away, and then winter reminds you that there’s no escape until at least May with a mighty snow-slap in the face.

Thanks for that.  I was hoping to make it until next winter before getting a new shovel, but Mother Nature’s is not helping.  So I’ll help myself by staying inside and making an awesome snack.

I love chickpeas.  Like, open a can, drain it, and eat them straight up with a fork.  That kind of love.  If it were up to me, chickpeas would find their way into a lot more of the dishes I make, but sadly, Luke does not share my love for garbanzos.  In fact, his feelings are quite the opposite.  Extreme sad face.

But I shall persevere.  Snowy days call for cooking something that makes your house smell great.  These chickpeas filled my apartment with scents reminiscent of the curry puff vendors in the street markets of Taiwan.  Which is a good thing, I promise.

Winter blues ain’t got nothing on these tasty morsels.

Curry Roasted Chickpeas

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

1 15 oz. can chickpeas

¼ cup olive oil

½ tsp curry powder

½ tsp allspice

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (optional)

2 tsps cinnamon

½ tsp cayenne powder

2 tsps fresh grated ginger

2 tsps sea salt

 Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Toss the chickpeas in the oil, then put them into a bowl. Combine all the spices in a separate little bowl for your spice blend. Give it a good mix, then sprinkle it over the chickpeas, and toss to coat evenly.

Put the chickpeas onto a baking sheet and into the oven for about 30 minutes. About halfway through, give them a bit of a shake. At the end of the 30 minutes, taste! If they are still soft, back in they go! You want them to have just a little bit of a soft center. When they cool, they will crisp up more.