Friday, March 26, 2010

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I've been obsessed with oven baked sweet potato fries for at least 10 years now.  They are so delicious and one can flavor them with a plethora of spice combinations.  Mexican sweet potato fries fit into my most recent meal.  They turned out excellent and they always disappear too fast.

2 Sweet Potatoes
2 T Olive Oil
1/2 T Cinnamon
1/2 T Cumin
sea salt

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  I was too lazy to get a teaspoon out, so I just used 1/2 tablespoon for the cumin and cinnamon.  I also added a sprinkle of sea salt w/out measuring it.

I halve my sweet potatoes first, then cut the half in half, then cut that into fries.  There might be an easier way, but this works for me, and I keep all my fingers. :)

In a bowl, toss the uncooked fries w/the olive oil, then add in the seasonings.  Spread the fries out on a baking sheet and place them in the oven.  They usually take anywhere from 20-30 minutes, and be sure to flip the fries half way through baking so they do not get burned on one side. 

Super simple, super tasty, and super healthy!

Getting ready to go in the oven



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The PERFECT Chocolate Chip Cookies (To-Date)

I rarely follow a recipe exactly as stated. I often times adjust it before I even try it, and sometimes combine 3 or 4 recipes that offer different things I like. Well, as odd as this chocolate chip cookie recipe seemed to me, I decided to follow it (did not even include my usual cinnamon that I put in almost all baked goods). It paid off, this cookie is amazing! I even weighed the ingredients down to the ounce. It was actually much easier then I had ever anticipated; I had lots of time while the butter was browning and Matt was stirring it for me. I left out the nuts b/c I do not like nuts in really any of my baked goods, and I made the cookies a little bit smaller than suggested so we would have more to eat and share. These cookies disappeared fast, I'm sure only to reappear on my rear!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies courtesy of Cooks Illustrated


1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Chocolate Chip Cookies are so yummy to look at!


Friday, March 12, 2010

Guacamole Taco Burgers

Here's a super easy recipe that ended up amazing!  We used Laura's Ground Beef for the burgers, hit them with the homemade taco seasoning (recipe here), topped them with homemade guacamole (recipe here), colby jack cheese, and some amazing carmelized onions.  We finished it off with a EVOO'd whole grain bun grilled outside with the burgers.  The taco seasoning mixed with the ground beef made for some really tasty burgers.  Grilling outdoors feels great and we've gotten a few nice days here in the Midwest lately.  Try this one, you won't regret it!  Just look at those carmelized onions, beautiful green guac, and melting  colby jack!

I caramelize onions by sautéing them in olive oil and butter seasoned with salt and pepper. When the onions start to get a light brown color, I add a little bit of sugar, and mix it in well. Then I reduce the heat, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. I prefer caramelized onions to sautéed. I never measure the butter and oil, but I’d say, depending on how much onion one has, about 1 T butter and 1 T olive oil. I also use approx 1T of sugar.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spanikopita (sorta) Meatballs and Fresh Tzatziki

Matt and I LOVE Greek food.  It has a very special place in our life and hearts, so when I saw these on a fellow bloggers website, I knew they were in our near future.  You can find the original recipe here, along with a lot of other tasty dishes.  I only altered 1 or two things; I left out the grill seasoning b/c we did not have any.  Tzatziki is an amazing Greek cucumber yogurt condiment; but we've been told by our Greek friends that us wimpy Americans must have our Tzatziki with sour cream.  Well, I wouldn't have any of that b/c I want the real deal!  And this is the real deal and it was AMAZING!  The first night we ate our meatballs and tzatziki in an Ezekial pita, but ate them without the pita the following night.  They were delicious both ways.

Spanikopita Meatballs

1 T olive oil
1/2 onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 box frozen spinach, defrosted (used Green Giant)
1 C crumbled feta (we used fat free)
1 lb. ground chicken
2 t oregano
2 t onion powder
2 t garlic powder
Sea salt and cracked black pepper season to taste
juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Using a kitchen towel or cheesecloth, squeeze all the liquid out of the spinach.  Place the spinach in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the ingredients, and mix with your hands until well incorporated.  Roll the mixture into meatballs (I made about 30 of them, they were on the smaller side) and place on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with a little bit more olive oil and place in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, turn over and bake another 10-14 minutes or until the meatballs are golden brown and cooked. 


2 C Greek yogurt (used Oikos brand)
1 large english cucumber, peeled, shredded, and drained (make certain it is dried well)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 T mint, chopped
1 T, dill chopped
1 ounce lemon juice (about one lemon)
salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the yogurt, line a strainer with a cheesecloth and set over a bowl.  Put the yogurt in the strainer, loosely covered, and let it drain overnight in the refrigerator.  Discard the liquid and use the strained yogurt as directed.

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate overnight before serving. 

This is totally worth the work, I think.  It was so tasty and I love the traditional flavors over the Americanized version.

Brown Sig

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Italian Sausage Soup

A couple of weeks ago, we made a big pot of Italian Sausage Soup.  Cold weather and winter has a way of pushing us towards making warm, comfortable, tasty dinners that will last for a few days.  This soup was very, very good and really helped warm us up in the middle of an endless winter!  We have no pictures at all of this one, but it's definitely an appetizing looking soup with the array of colors and flavors.

Enjoy it as much as we did.  It's very easy to put together and makes enough for 3 or 4 meals easy.

Italian Sausage Soup courtesy of

1 lb sweet or hot italian sausage (we buy the sweet italian turkey sausages in the casing and remove the casing)
1 clove garlic, minced
28 oz reduced sodium beef broth
1 can italian stewed tomatoes
1 can Great Northern or cannelini beans, drained
2 small zucchini, cubed
2 cups frozen chopped spinach
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

Brown sausage with garlic in dutch oven.  Stir in broth and tomatoes, season with salt and pepper.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. 

Stir in beans and zucchini.  Cover and simmer another 15 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Add spinach and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.  Serve with garlic toast croutons or eat it right out of the pot, it's amazing either way!

Brown Sig

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Taco Night Amped Up and Healthy (yes it still tastes good)

We had the most amazing taco night ever!!!  Matt made me homemade guacamole and some bean and corn concotion that was out of this world.  We made homemade taco meat seasoning and used grass fed ground beef.  MMmm, I could eat this every night.  I did not get a good picture of the guacamole, but you can see it's very fresh - plastic wrap lines and all.  It is such a gorgeous color and whispers come hither to me from the fridge.

Matt and I love being in the kitchen together and this dinner was no different.  I think a lot of our meals taste so delicious because we create them together and share the love of cooking and eating.  I was super excited for Matt to try grass fed ground beef and the taste difference in flavor.  I'm really big into organic and whole foods, but he loves preservatives, haha. 

Coming soon....chicken spanikopita meatballs and fresh authentic tzatziki!

Taco Seasoning

2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1.5 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
dash of cayenne pepper or more to suit your taste
freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large skillet I browned the beef with a chopped onion and then drained the very little fat that was in the beef.  Place the beef and onion back in the skillet and add the taco seasoning and a 1/4 c water. 

Guacamole from Tyler Florence
4 ripe avocados
3 limes, juiced
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 serrano chiles (Matt left these out)
1 big handful fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 Tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Halve and pit the avocados.  Scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon into a mixing bowl.  Mash the avocados with a fork, leaving them somewhat chunky.  Add the remaining ingredients, and fold everything together to gently mix.  Lay a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn't brown and refrigerate overnight before serving.

BEST GUACAMOLE I've EVER eaten!!!  I could eat this until my belly hurt it was so good.  He only used 2 limes because one of them provided LOTS of juice.

Matt's Bean and Corn Concotion
1 can black beans
1 can mexi-corn
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Olive Oil

In a skillet, heat olive oil and saute the chopped onion and garlic until the onion is translucent.  Add beans, corn, and lime juice; heat through and serve. 

This was very good and we ate it in our tacos.  It would also be good as a dip for tortilla chips!

Mmmm, the finished product getting ready to go into my belly!!!! 

Brown Sig