Monday, March 17, 2014

Oven Baked French Fries

I love starch. Potatoes are my weakness. I don't think I can live without them. There are so many ways to cook them. But whenever I get the chance, I like them nice and crispy. I love french fries, but I don't love the oil. Baking them is the healthier option.

The key to crispy baked fries is to soak them in water for a while. The more moisture pulled from the the potato, the crispier they get. So good!

Oven Baked French Fries

3 to 4 baking potatoes
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Salt and Pepper to taste

 I say the bigger the potato, the better.
Clean the potatoes under cold water with a soft bristle brush.

 Next, cut the potato in half and the slice the halves into 1/4 inch thick pieces, as shown.

Take the slices and lay then down flat and cut lengthwise to make sticks.
Next fill a large bowl of cold water and add the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir until it has dissolved.
Now place the potatoes in the salt bath and let sit for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 410 degrees.

Drain the water and lay out the potatoes on a kitchen towel and pat dry, but not completely dry.
Transfer them to a large greased baking sheet and lay out so that none are on top of each other.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to liking. With the potatoes being wet, the spices adhere better.

Place in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, while taking out half way through to flip over to get even browning on both sides. Additional time may be needed for crispness.

These turned out pretty good. I will be making these a heck of a lot more. So yummy!!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love cinnamon. I love it so much that I named my cat Cinnamon. I love the scent, and taste, everything about it!

Many times when I bake and a recipe calls for cinnamon, I add a little extra. I little extra never hurts, I say.

I wanted to make cinnamon rolls, but I didn't want to make the icing and I didn't want something super sweet. This bread has a great flavor, color and texture. It's an easy to make bread, so any level baker can easily follow the directions.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread


1/4 oz. packet of active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

7/8 to 1/18 cups lukewarm water (around 85 degrees)

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/4 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup nonfat dry milk

1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes


1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons unbleached all-purpose flour

1 large egg + 1 tablespoon water (to brush onto the dough)


If you are using the active dry yeast, dissolve it with a pinch of of sugar in about 2 tablespoons of lukewarm water. Let it sit for 15 minutes. In that time it will bubble and rise. (Skip this step if you are using instant yeast)

While the yeast is bubbling, combine all the rest of the ingredients for the bread itself into a large mixing bowl.

(ignore the two extra eggs)

Next, combine the dissolved yeast into the rest of the ingredients and mix (by hand or mixer or the dough setting on a bread machine) till the dough becomes smooth. If it is too dry, add very small amounts of water until smooth, or if too moist and sticky, add small amounts of flour at a time until smooth. But any way you mix it, you should end up with a nice smooth round ball.

Doesn't look like it, but it's the right consistency.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it's doubled in size. This should take an hour or so.

 I didn't make mine into a ball because I'm a rebel.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling. Mix the egg and water in a small dish and set aside right before handling the dough.

Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 6" x 20" rectangle.

Brush the dough with the egg mixture before sprinkling on the filling. Save the remaining egg mixture to brush on the dough before placing in the oven.

Start with the shorter end, and roll the dough into a log. Pinch the ends and the long seam closed to seal.

Transfer the log, seam side down, to a lightly greased 9" x 5" loaf pan. (I only had a 8" x 4" pan and it was a little snug) Tent the pan loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap. Allow to rest and rise for another hour or until it rises an inch above the rim of the pan.

When bread is almost ready, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

 Brush a layer of the egg mixture you saved on top of the dough. This helps it achieve a nice golden brown color. Tenting it lightly with tin foil for the first 15 minutes and then remove it for the remained of the time left in the oven.
Bake the bread for 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the oven and gently loosen the edges with a heatproof spatula. Turn it out of the pan and allow to cool completely before slicing.

I used it to make really yummy french toast. Oh, man! It' was DELICIOUS!


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Shepard's Pie

I've never had Shepard's pie until I was well into my adulthood. Where has this been all my life?!
I LOVE it. Very filling and great for cold days.
Also, super simple!

Shepard's Pie


1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cups frozen carrots, corn and peas
2 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 cup sour cream
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare mashed potatoes, add the sour cream and salt, mix and set aside (keep hot).

Add the ground beef and onions to a frying pan and saute until brown and cooked through. Then add the pepper and seasoned salt.

While the beef is browning, cook the frozen vegetables.

Pour the beef mixture into a 9x13 baking dish and top with the vegetables.

Next add a layer of cheese (leave a little for the top before you put it in the oven).

Heap the mashed potatoes on top, be sure to distribute evenly, smooth out.
Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Dutch Apple Pie

Winter to me, is comfort food. YUM. And a great comfort food is pie. Apple pie.
 I actually never had made a dutch apple pie, just two crust apple pie. So without further ado, a yum delicious pie!

Dutch Apple Pie

one recipe for single pie crust (if you want to try whole wheat crust, like in the picture, go here)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashion oats
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter

3 lbs. apples 11 to 12 smallish apples peeled and cored
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

preheat oven to 375 degrees

Dice or thinly slice the apples.
I used red delicious apples, but you can use other baking verities such as granny smith (more tart) honey crisp or pink lady.

 Next, coat the apples in the sugar and spices.

Roll the crust out into a large circle and drape in the pie tin and tidy up the edges. (If need be, see the crust recipe for more detailed instructions)
Then place the apples in the unbaked pie crust.

 Now, mix together the flour, oats, sugar and melted butter, until it resembles crumbs. 
Sprinkle on top of the apple mixture. 
And, that's it. Unless you want to dress up the edges, you can use the left over crust.

You can roll out the scraps and then cut into thin strips and braid them and place around the border. It helps to brush some water on the base crust and gently press the dough on top.
I use a tiny apple cookie cutter and outlined it. Now it's ready for the oven.

 Take 2 inch strips of tin foil and place them around the edges, make sure that the crust is covered. This helps prevent the crust from burning in the oven.

Place in the preheated oven and bake for 50 minutes.
And around the last 10 minutes, remove the foil to finish browning.

 Looks great!