Friday, June 24, 2011

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

These things drive me crazy. Don’t get me wrong- they are delicious for sure! But to get them crispy, and not steam or get mushy seems to be a loosing battle in which i cannot figure out how to win. I have read countless ways on how to get the “perfect sweet potato fries” but none of them have helped me. Some of the suggestions included soaking them in water any where from 30 sec to 3 days, putting an egg white on them before they go in the oven, coat them with cheese, just cut them and roll them in flour, use lots of oil, use no oil, use aluminum foil, don’t use anything to keep them from sticking- I mean what are we suppose to do with these things?! To which my first response is Just make mashed sweet potatoes! But that’s for another post on another day. For now the question still at hand is sweet potato fries. What i came up with was cut them thin, and use a large amount of oil. When spreading them out on the pan don’t crowd them, and try to just use one pan for one oven so that you don’t end making a steam bath for the SP. Also, make sure the oven is HOT! The only other trick which i think is the most important is use the pan that always seems to burn everything. Maybe it’s just me, but i have this pan that i absolutely hate because no matter how low the temp is, how long the cook time is, it burns everything and it drives me crazy... Unless i want to make sweet potato fries and then it is my best friend. Try to use a pan that will them. That really is the only way to ensure some crispiness and it actually tastes quite pleasing with the contrasting sweet tones of the potato. None of the measurements are really given because it just really matters on what potato you use, how thick you cut it, etc. This is one recipe where you really can eyeball it all, and it will be sure to come out fine. 

-3 medium sweet potatoes 
-Olive oil (or you could use grape seed oil. I personally do not use regular vegetable oil or canola oil because i do not like the taste)
-Salt to taste

First i just want to throw out a disclaimer. This isn;t meant to be a “recipe.” This is meant just as a template with tips, to get you thinking next time your in the kitchen making these.

First I peeled these babies. I don’t like the skin on any potato to ever be involved in the dish, but thats just up to you.
Slice each potato into 10-18 slices (slice them length wise). How many you get form each potato just depends on how big your potato is. Next I soaked them in a big bowl of salted water for ten minutes.

 After the ten minutes, i dried them off REALLY well and tossed them in oil. I turned my oven on to 450 and stuck them in for about 15 mins, turning them 2-3 times. (But you know your oven so adjust accordingly) Once out sprinkle with salt and enjoy!

Home Made Ketchup!

Some of you may have already checked out thi
nking, “my bottled ketchup is fine enough for me”. But you are missing out on some incredible chances to customize to your personal taste and be able to take the credit for producing such a flavorful product (that really is truly easy!) But before i start talking ingredients, directions and tips, i just want to let you know this will not look or have the consistency of you average store bought bottled ketchup. It isn’t as homogenous, but the unexpected texture adds character. Try it! I think you’ll like it. 

1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes soaked in 1 cup of water (I soaked them for 2 hours but it doesn’t need to be that long)
2 Tbs of butter (or oil)
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced (i used roasted garlic)
6 oz can of tomato paste
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 large fresh tomato, chopped
1/3 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of raisins
2 Tbs of Honey
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of Herbs de Provence

Begin by soaking the sun dried tomatoes. This is just to help make them easier to break down when you puree the ketchup.

In a med/large pot melt the butter (or heat the oil) over med heat. Add the onion and the garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent and garlic is fragrant. Next add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, fresh tomato, brown sugar, raisin, honey, vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, and herbs de provence. Stir and cook down for at least 20 mins. You can then jar it up and enjoy!

Note: The brown sugar, raisin and honey are all sweet elements. If you do not have one of them on hand you can just increase the amount of one of the other sweetening ingredients. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lemon Pound Cake

Lemon Pound Cake
Before i loose anybody, this isn’t anything like the frozen pound cake you buy at the store. It’s closer to that lemon pound cake that they sell (or used to sell) at starbucks... only better. I found this recipe and it was too good not to share! I have barely changed the recipe, because it is such a good recipe to use.

Better Than Starbucks Lemon Pound Cake
adjusted from Dozen Flours
-5 good lemons
-3 cups flour- (i usually use ap while the original calls for cake flour. if you have both i would recommend a mix of half all purpose half cake flour)

-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, that is completely softened*
-3 cups of sugar
-6 eggs, warmed for 3 minutes in hot tap water before using
-1 cup full-fat sour cream, at room temperature
-2 lemons
-2 cups powdered-sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease your pans. (I use 2-3 bread pans, although you could use a tube or bundt pan. I just find that the bundt pan is difficult to remove from the pan and slice. In the bread pans it’s really tight in two and kinda small in three. The choice is up to you, just remember to adjust the cooking times accordingly. Around 50 mins for three loaves.
Scrub the lemons with hot soapy water to remove any dirt or wax (wax is often applide to lemons at the place where they are processed to protect against spoilage). Rinse well and dry completely. Zest the lemons, being careful to avoid the pith (the white part that is right below the yellow part of the lemon). With a very sharp paring knife, cut the tops and bottoms off of each lemon.

With one cut side down on the cutting board, trim the pith off the lemon, vertically, going all the way around each lemon, exposing the flesh of the lemon. ( has a great little tutorial how to do this. They illustrate the technique with an orange but it translates to any citrus fruit). Over a bowl, cut segments from membranes, letting fruit and juice fall into the bowl, and squeezing any juice in the remaining part of the lemon. Be sure to discard the seeds and the remaining membranes. With a fork, break segments into  approx. 1-inch pieces.

In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and the lemon zest. Work the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy and very aromatic. Set aside.
Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside. 
Beat the butter for 2 minutes at medium speed in the electric mixer. Add half the sugar and mix for 2 more minutes, then add the rest of the sugar and mix again for 4 minutes, stopping once to scrape down the bowl and the beater blade. 
Remove the eggs from the warm water and dry them. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition (about 30 seconds). On the lowest setting, mix in the dry ingredients, then the sour cream. Lastly, gently fold in the lemon juice and segments. Transfer batter to prepared pan. 
Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean (depending on what pan you use anywhere from 45 min-1 hr and 30 mins). Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Cut around the cake in the pan, turn out the cake. Carefully turn cake right side up on rack. 
While the cake is cooling, zest and juice the 2 lemons in a bowl for the glaze. Slowly add the powdered sugar to the lemon juice and stir until smooth. It should look thick, opaque, and should be just thin enough to be pourable. If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add more lemon juice. Poke small holes all over the top of the cake using a fork or toothpick. Carefully pour the glaze over the tops and the sizes of the cake. If you have the patience let the glaze harden for about 2 hours or overnight. 
Store in a covered container, either in the fridge or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Veggie Enchiladas

Today I found myself home at 6pm hungry tired and nothing to eat but cold spaghetti that my dad had made and a pan full of jarred tomato sauce with sliced pepperoni... not exactly what i consider good eats. So, i was searching my cabinets and thinking about what i could blog about. This came popping in my head so i decided to give it a go- well my own version. I was just making it for me, so i ended up to really following the recipe but i did manage to get a few pics. I have been craving these recently so i should be making them pretty soon and will update the pics to the full thing. I hope you all enjoy these as much as i do! 

-For all you carnivores in the world, you can saute some pieces of chicken (or used some left over chicken) chop it up and add it to the filling. 
-Also, the full original recipe for the sauce make ALOT of sauce. I have cut the amount down a bit but if you like your enchiladas very saucy at all you may want to double this recipe

So, how are we going to make this?

Veggie Enchiladas
adapted from alton browns enchilada lasagna (

For sauce:
2 dried chipotle chiles, stems and seeds removed, diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds, freshly ground
2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch ground black pepper
For Veggie filling:
4 teaspoons grape seed oil or vegetable oil
1 14 can of black beans (or in a pinch you could use pinto beans too)
1 1/2 cups diced onion
1 cup of an assortment of sautéed vegetables (peppers, zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms, corn, etc.) 
Pinch kosher salt
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano

12 (6-inch tortillas) (or you could use some crepes if you were out of tortillas) 
3 cups shredded queso fresco or Monterey Jack

-Combine the chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chiles are soft. Set aside until ready to use.
-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
-Chop your assortment of veggies. Sauté in a medium skillet over medium heat with 2 teaspoons of the oil, for 4-5 mins (depending on what veggies you use). Once tender, set aside in separate bowl.
-Heat the other 2 teaspoons of oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt, decrease the heat to medium-low and sweat for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until the onions are tender, 2 to 3 minutes more. Rinse the beans and add to the onions. Add the vegetables and 3/4 cup of the sauce to the bean & onion filling and mix. 

-Rub a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish down with butter. Place 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Fill each of the tortillas with around 1/3 cup of the filling, and 2-3 TBS of cheese. Place in the baking dish seam side down. (If any filling remains you may place it on top of the enchiladas. Once as all shells have been filled and placed in the dish, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce and top with the remaining cheese.
 -Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly.

For Meat Filled Enchiladas

1 lb of chicken breast, diced into bite size pieces
2-3 TBS of Oil (vegetable, grapeseed, olive oil)
3/4 cup of sauteed diced onion
1/2 of sauteed peppers
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground Black Pepper

Prepare the enchilada sauce just as mentioned aboveChop the chicken breast into bite size pieces. Heat a pan over medium heat with 1-2 TBS of oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken and sauté until juices run clear, and completely cooked through. In a separate pan saute onions and peppers with the remaining 1 TBS of oil. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until tender. Add the veggie to the chicken and also add 1 cup of the enchilada sauce Rub a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish down with butter. Place 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Fill each of the tortillas with around 1/3 cup of the filling, and 2-3 TBS of cheese. Place in the baking dish seam side down. (If any filling remains you may place it on top of the enchiladas. Once as all shells have been filled and placed in the dish, pour the rest of the enchilada sauce and top with the remaining cheese.Cover lightly with aluminum foil and bake on the middle rack for 30 minutes at 350. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly.


they are a perfect blank canvas for a wide array of flavors. Sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, or topped with sliced strawberries, or maybe some whipped cream they could transform into a sweet breakfast treat or desserts. With a filling of sautéed veggies you have a nice light lunch. Wrapped up with cubed chicken in a casserole it could be a satisfying dinner; Or with some black beans or refried beans with cheese it could be a quesadilla style snack. With the knowledge of how to make a good crepe a whole world of endless possibilities of meals is at your finger tips.

So, how do we make 'em?
-2 eggs
-1 1/2 cups of milk
-1 cup of all-purpose (ap) flour
-2 tablespoons of melted and cooled butter
-1/2 teaspoon of salt
-In a bowl combine the eggs and beat. Add the milk, flour, butter and salt; whisk until smooth. Heat a lightly greased small skillet (6-inch). Pour 2-3 TBS of batter (just enough to cover pan) into the pan and swirl around until the entire bottom bottom of the pan is covered. Cook for 1-2 mins and flip. (To flip you may want to try out a rubber spatula. It allows you to pick up the edge of the crepe to be able to flip it over with out a bunch of tears.) There is several videos on youtube that are very helpful if you are finding yourself struggling to make them.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Get Me to the Greek

As I write this, there is approximately 206 days,  19 hours, 2 mins, and 24 seconds until I will be on a plane headed toward the city of athens, some 5,000 miles away from Kansas City. I am going to Greece, not as a vacation but for a missions trip. My church supports a refugee feeding center there and we will be helping out there. Traveling that far away isn't cheap so I have been baking for trip. At my school I handed out bake sale forms and people turned them in with their money and I returned to them with baked goods. I did nearly a full day worth of cooking for just the people at my school. And when I say full day, I mean I was baking for nearly 24 hours. It was completely worth it though. I made 225 from sales at school, and more from friends and family. And don't worry, while i am over there I will be sure to take many pictures, and write about all the delicious food too.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What I'm All About

This is the story of how a girl changed from being one of the pickiest people on the planet to a vegetarian cook who loves food.

My name is Andrea and I love anything to do with food, which wasn't always true. Growing up I was extremely picky. I wouldn't even eat baby food when I was a baby. My childhood diet consisted of Macaroni and cheese (only certain shapes of macaroni though), peanut butter and honey sandwiches, graham crackers, and raisins (my Grandma convinced me that raisins were candy). Thankfully, there were 4 people that helped turn that around; It was Sarah (by brother's wife and girl friend at the time), Betty Crocker, Rachael Ray and Alton Brown. I received a cook book for Christmas when i was about 8, from my brother and his girlfriend. It was a Betty Crocker's kids cooking book, and the first thing they helped me make form the cookbook was an apple pie. I decided that I might as well try what I had made, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I liked it. The second person to revolutionize my view on food was Rachael Ray. Sarah loved Food Network so i started watching it too. I watched it nearly every day. Rachael was the one who taught me the basics. I started cooking for my family every once and a while, then nearly every week, then nearly every night, until I became the family cook. I then graduated on from Rachael Ray to the person who I am now currently a bit obsessed with -Alton Brown. On his show Good Eats, he breaks everything down so that you can understand why things are in a recipe. When you know why something is there in a recipe, and understand what it is doing for the dish you appreciate every component so much more. When you have a handful of knowledge, a few quality ingredients, and some time, Good Eats is bound to come about. And about me being a vegetarian, I say I am one habit. I don't see anything wrong with eating meat, I just have never been one who loves to eat it. I went for a few weeks without eating it last october, and when I tried to eat some chicken, it got me sick. So I decided, why not just become a vegetarian? And I did. Many of my recipes may be vegetarian, but don't get me wrong. I live with 3 other carnivores who really love a hunk of meat, so some of the things I cook may be meat dishes or could easily become a meat lovers dish.