I had a friend in elementary school that owned a deep fryer. It was a revelation. I had no idea you could have something like that in your house. In my 11-year-old brain this was only a restaurant contraption. To say the least I was envious. I really like deep fried food. Back when I worked at a lab in Victoria I car-pooled with a guy who really liked to cook and eat. On many drives home we would fantasize about all the things we would deep-fry: perogies, hotdogs, pickles…etc.
I do not own a deep fryer. It would be way too tempting, plus I hate the way they make your house smell. I will admit that getting things in your oven to turn out the same as deep-fried is probably impossible. I have tried many things to get crispy oven yam fries, but they always seem to come out soggy with burnt edges. Edible but no match for deep-fried.
When this recipe “guaranteed” crispy yam fries from the oven with photographic evidence I really had no choice but to give it a go.
Peel yams and cut into fries (about 1 cm x 1 cm). Soak in water for an hour or more. Preheat the oven to 425 F°. Drain water. Add a big handful of fries to a plastic bag and sprinkle in about a tablespoon of cornstarch. Shake bag to coat fries evenly. You don’t want them to be white just dusted. Add more yam if the coating looks a little thick. Repeat until they are all done.
Remove from bag onto a cookie sheet (I recommend a parchment paper lining to ensure they don’t stick). Drizzle with a little olive oil, use your hands to toss together and coat. Less oil is more in this case. Arrange fries so they are not touching and have a little room. If they are too close together they will steam = mushy. Use another cookie sheet or do more than one batch to get it right, it is worth it.
Bake for 15 minuets flip with a spatula and bake for another 5. Sprinkle with a little sea salt. Adapted from here.
Guess what? They were crispy! It worked, whole family loved them. I served it with a chipotle dip: 1 part light mayo, 1 part light sour cream and chipotle sauce to taste.
A few points: the measurements aren’t exact, which I know gives some people anxiety. It does allow for you to make as much as you want. You do want a fairly light coating of cornstarch. Some of mine got more of a dusting and tasted a little powdery. You also need all the fries tossed lightly with oil but not have it puddle on the sheet (again results in soggy). I am not sure what the water soaking step is about and the recipe says it is not mandatory, might try to skip it next time, one less step. All that said it’s pretty easy.
Deep fried taste replicated? Almost. But…100% better than any other oven yam fry I have tried.
I love to bake when it is stormy. Nothing makes you feel warm and cozy like fresh baked muffins. One possible down side would be a power failure mid-bake. I have a scar on my finger from one such muffin making extravaganza. The nut chopping got a little wild and the knife got away from me, a snow storm I can never forget. The muffins were good though.
This has all been a great winter welcome back to the West Coast. The rest of our vacation was amazing. The only down side was when my son projectile vomited while our plane was taxing to our gate in Vancouver. Apparently he doesn't do turbulence. FYI: there are no bathrooms until you get through customs. Good times, at least it was landing and not take off (to be honest Hudson and my husband bore the brunt of it).
Up until this point I have never made bran muffins, quite possibly a reason to have my right to practice revoked I am sure. I like bran muffins a lot, but just didn’t ever see a good enough recipe to make me go out and buy some bran (kind of a key ingredient). This Buttermilk Bran Muffin recipe was the one, bran bought.
1 cup wheat bran
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk add 1 generous tbsp of white vinegar or lemon juice to 1 1/4 cups of milk and let sit for 5 mins.....magic)
1/4 granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°.
Lightly spray or line with muffin liners twelve nonstick muffin cups with oil.
In a medium bowl, whisk the bran, flour, baking soda, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, using a handheld eletric mixer set at high speed, beat the buttermilk, sugar, applesauce, egg, oil and vanilla until frothy, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and pour in the buttermilk mixture. Using a spoon, stir just until combined. Do not overmix.
Divide the batter equally among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the tops spring back when pressed gently in the center, about 20 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before removing from the cups. Serve warm or cool completely on the rack. Adapted from here.
This is the basic recipe, which I think begs for additions. I added 1 cup of frozen blueberries and one tsp of cinnamon. The possibilities are endless: raisins, nuts (don't cut your finger tip off), shredded carrot with ginger, mashed banana, etc. I really loved the texture of these muffins, they were also very moist. They freeze well too. Loaded with fiber, low in sugar and saturated fat.
Fire up the oven and use the stormy weather as an excuse to bake...
I am writting this in Maui. Great sentance to type out. We spent the morning at the beach, if there is anything my almost two year old loves it is the beach. He runs, chases waves and loves to have his cute toes burried in sand (over and over again). My baby bump was great floatation for snorkling, complete with turtle sightings. The condo is pretty quiet now as we have fallen into a siesta routine, rough life.
We are lucky enough to be on this trip with my parents and my brother. Nothing provides laughs and memories like an entire family trip. The last time we did this we went to Europe, there was no husband or baby for me. That was about ten years ago and we still can end up in hysertics when we talk about it. Is there challenges? Of course. Is it expensive? Yes, but I have never wished I had not spent the money. As far as I am concerned it is the best money you can spend. Material things are only exciting for a short while, but time spent with those you love in a great place can bring you joy forever.
So...onto the cooking. I did not make this recipe here. That would have been very ambitious. There have been a few things I have tried here that I need to make once I get home: coconut syrup anyone? For sure not healthy...
I saw this recipe made on TV and was swayed by how fast it was and by the fact it contained eggplant. I have never made anything with eggplant before, but love their rich colour and shiny exterior. I wasn't 100% that I loved the taste or texture of eggplant, so I decided Eggplant Involtini was a go.
2 medium eggplants
3 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp salt
475-g tub light ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
796-mL can diced tomatoes
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment or foil. Slice eggplants lengthwise into 1/4-in.-thick slices. I was worried some of my slices were too thick and wouldn't be pliable enough to roll, but they were fine. There will be about 16 slices. Discard outside slices or keep for another use. Lightly brush both sides of eggplant with about 2 tbsp olive oil. Bake in centre of oven until edges are fork-tender, about 15 min. Turn oven off and leave eggplant in to stay warm.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium. Add 1 tsp oil, then onion, garlic and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until onion is soft, 3 min. Stir in ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest and 1/4 cup basil. Stir until heated through, about 2 min. Season with fresh pepper. Transfer mixture into a medium bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.
Return pan to heat and increase to medium-high. Add remaining oil, tomatoes and remaining salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until saucy, about 20 min. Remove from heat and stir in remaining basil. Season with fresh pepper.
Spoon 2 tbsp ricotta mixture onto 1 end of each eggplant slice. Gently roll up. Place involtini on a large warmed serving platter, seam-side down. Repeat with remaining eggplant and ricotta mixture. Top with half of tomato sauce. Serve immediately with remaining tomato sauce alongside. Adapted from here.
Turned out great. Total eggplant success. It was pretty fast, and only slightly tedious to roll up the cheese in the eggplant slices. For extra points they look pretty fancy and are vegetarian. I have read a lot of recipes that required the eggplant to be salted and left to sit, etc...no thanks. Not needed here, you're welcome.
I am looking forward to a few more beach days, sunshine and watching my son enjoy his extreme amount of vacation alotted chocolate milk. Aloha....
It has been a whirl wind week, which included lots of working, an excellent visit with my mother-in-law and finding out the gender of our baby. I am not a surprise kind of person. I have no patience when it comes to waiting to know something, if there is a way to know, I will know. There wasn’t even a discussion if we would find out this baby’s sex, it was a given. At the same time I knew that I was going to have another boy. I feel like I could have six babies and they would all be boys. The ultrasound tech barely had to touch the wand on my belly and there were “boy parts” as she described it. It was full screen penis and testicles, full screen boy glory.
I love that I am having another boy and I love that Hudson is going to have a little brother. Is this the end of baby making for us, who knows? I learned long ago that whenever I say I would never do something it turns out that 100% I am. Would I try for the sole purpose of maybe having a girl? No. We still rock dolls to sleep, cook together, have tea parties, put hair spray in our hair and share the sweetest hugs and kisses, what more could any Mommy ask for?
During all this I made some amazing Baked Black Bean Taquitos. I thought taquitos were just deep fried fast food items or only found in the frozen food section of the grocery store. I never thought to make them at home, until I found this recipe on Pintrest (oh time sucking Pintrest). These are fast, healthy and delicious. From what I can gather they are not 100% authentic Mexican originating in San Diego California, but that minor detail is not going to stop me.
Total time: 30 mins
Serves: 8 pieces
1/2 medium yellow onion
1 clove garlic
1 small jalapeno (optional)
1/2 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup black beans (rinsed)
1/4 cup cilantro
8 corn tortillas
1/2 cup Colby Jack Cheese or low fat cheddar
Canola oil for brushing
Preheat oven to 425˚ and bring a medium/large pot of water to a simmer.
In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. Saute onion and pepper until onion becomes translucent. Stir in garlic, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes. Add in black beans and cilantro, cooking until beans are heated through- two to three minutes more.
Turn off pot of water. Taking one corn tortilla at a time, dip in hot water for 3-4 seconds. Place on a cutting board and scoop one spoonful of black bean filling and a hefty pinch of cheese on top. Roll tight and place seam side down on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Repeat until all the filling is used. Brush each piece lightly with oil.
Bake for 12-15 minutes until the corn tortilla is a light brown color. Adapted from here.
We had these for dinner, served up with a healthy portion of fresh salsa, guacamole and light sour cream. They would also make a great appetizer as you can pick them up and are eaten easily (which also makes them kid friendly). They have a satisfying crunchy texture and a nice spicy kick. The biggest issue is finding corn tortillas. I have found them in Coombs at The Old Country Market, but here in town Thrifty Foods carries them in the dairy section....YES! You must make these.
Hopefully you all had a great Halloween, whether you were out with little ones or giving out treats. It was my son’s first year out trick-or-treating, he was a pro. I was thinking it would be a couple houses then a quick wagon ride home, no way. He did the whole street both sides, walking the whole way. I must admit he was a very cute little duck waddling around the neighborhood. It was almost a cancelled event after a major, bloody mishap. His costume involved a pair of tights which he seems to love. Once they were on he got all excited and was running all over the house. Well no gripers on the bottom so there was an incident on the tile floor resulting in both a bloody nose and lip. He powered through though and still managed to enjoy some candy (big surprise there).
As I am sure I have mentioned I am a huge soup lover. This time of year screams for homemade soup. Living on the West Coast I am lucky enough to have a variety of fish in our freezer: salmon, halibut, tuna. I love to eat fish but am always looking for new ways to enjoy it. A hearty halibut chowder? Yes please.
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 large onion, finely diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
1 796 ml can diced tomatoes (I used a no added salt variety)
3 large carrots, shredded
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds halibut, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
This was so, so, so good. You could use any white fish or salmon for that matter, but halibut is the best. It isn’t a heavy chowder as you can tell from the ingredients. I ate this for dinner and a few lunches after with no complaint (I am already wondering when I should make it again). It does make a pretty decent amount, either freeze some or make a half batch.
On a side note I would like to wish my husband a very happy birthday today. He is my number one blog taste tester and isn't afraid to say what isn't blog-worthy (well I think he might be a little afraid). I couldn't even begin to express what he means to me or thank him for all he does.
Tiffany McFadden, RD