Quarantine Cooking: Sweet Potato Fries with Comeback Sauce

One of the biggest things I miss while being under stay-at-home orders is eating at restaurants. Remember that? When you could go out, have someone else cook for you, serve you and clean up afterwards? Because I can mostly create anything I want at home, eating out was always more about the experience and the break from being inside for me, so take out isn’t cutting it. All the cooking is staying at home. But I miss fries. I love fries. All fried things really. I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet potato fries though. But, since I had some on hand, and am limited on ingredients in general, I gave them an at-home-attempt. Also, I tried to cut out the deep fried part of sweet potato fries when I made these…because with all the eating and no gym time, well, quarantine isn’t being kind to my ability to fit into pants. Making the comeback sauce was definitely a mistake in the weight gain department. That stuff would turn an old t-shirt into a gourmet snack. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato Fries

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

Heat the oven to 400.
Cut the sweet potatoes into sticks 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and 3 inches long, and toss them with the oil.
Mix the spices, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and toss them with the sweet potatoes. Spread them out on 2 rimmed baking sheets.
Bake until brown and crisp on the bottom, about 15 minutes, then flip and cook until the other side is crisp, about 15 minutes. Broil until desired crispiness. Serve hot.

Comeback Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 small garlic clove, grated
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Serve on everything. Keeps for about a week.

Quarantine Cooking: “Julia Child” Quiche

Over the past 6 years, my life has become a whirlwind of homeschooling. All other personal pursuits (ahem, blogging) have been swallowed up. Probably not the best self care on my part to have allowed such a thing to happen, but c’est la vie! My kids are 11 and 13 now and through this whole COVID19 quarantine, we’ve suddenly gained a lot of time. It seems odd. Life in general hasn’t changed much because of stay-at-home orders in our state. My husband has worked from home for the past 5 years, and homeschooling has marched on virtually unchanged, but suddenly all our extra-curricular activities POOF were gone. Result? More time for cooking. Seemingly that’s all I do these days. Maybe you are having that same experience? Anyway, in the spirit of trying new things, I’ve made a few videos that I’ll be posting here. They are shot on my phone with my husband/kids recording. We’re very professional round these parts. Hope you enjoy!

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This first video was requested by my darling sister, a public school teacher (shout-out to all the teachers working countless hours from home to give students in isolation a great educational experience still). She happens to live by herself, which, coupled with the incredible pressures of her job suddenly being at home, means she is the most deserving person I know to get some entertainment into her quarantine days. Don’t worry – all my videos will not be in this ridiculous format. Also, I absolutely ADORE Julia Child, so this is meant in the most flattering way possible.

Quiche is a great way to use up ingredients hanging around your fridge. Feel free to substitute in whatever you have. Any kind of cheese, veggie or meat. Quiches are very forgiving.

Quiche a-la-Tonya
1 Pie Crust (store bought or homemade)
1-2 Tbs olive oil, butter or bacon drippings
about 3 cups total of any kind of combination of veggie you’d like, chopped into small dice this could include:
onion
bell pepper
mushrooms
broccoli
cauliflower
zucchini
spinach
anything you have in your fridge will be delicious — use what you love!
1 cup meat of choice, chopped/diced:
leftover ham
taco meat
breakfast sausage
cooked chicken
bacon
again, anything you have that you like will probably be delicious
1 tsp salt and pepper
8-10 Slices Canadian Bacon, chopped (can be left out if making it vegetarian)
5 Eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 Cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

  • Preheat oven to 375. Unroll Pie crust and line a deep dish pie dish with crust and cover the bottom with half the cheese, enough to cover the bottom.
  • If using bacon, dice it and saute in a skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and fat drippings. Wipe pan with a paper towel. Add 1-2 Tbs bacon fat back to hot pan. If using butter or oil, just add that to the pan and bring up to medium high heat.
    Saute the veggies for 3-5 minutes, season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat mix with your meat and spread over your crust on top of the cheese. Sprinkle bacon (if using) over your veggie mixutre.
  • In another bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and dijon then pour into pie.
  • Sprinkle with more cheese.
  • Place on top of a baking sheet (if you’re worried about it spilling over) and bake for 35-45 minutes, until eggs mixture is puffed and firm and crust is golden. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Dilly Cucumber Bites

You know those times when you make a grand entrance at a holiday party with the nagging thought skittering around the back of your mind “I cannot eat more junk. If I consume one more chocolate treat I’m going to explode.”? Nah. Me neither. However, I understand these kinds of people exist. For all your veggie loving friends, I give you these delightfully fresh and light Dilly Cucumber Bites. Sliced cucumbers get a dollup of creamy topping tinged with fresh dill, garnished with tomato. Festive, simple and perfect for parties! Make a couple batches! As the not-so-bad-for-you option on the buffet, they disappear like lightning!

Dilly Cucumber Bites

Print Recipe for Dilly Cucumber Bites

Dilly Cucumber Bites
from JessFuel

4 large English cucumbers
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or quartered…depending on size)
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, at room temperature
1 small (5.3 oz) container plain Greek yogurt
3 tbsp fresh dill, minced
1 tbsp powdered Ranch dressing mix (such as Hidden Valley)

Directions

  1. Slice cucumbers into rounds, about ½-inch thick. You can leave the skin on, peel them, or partially peel them for a striped look. Slice grape tomatoes in half (or quarters, if large) and set aside.
  2. In a bowl, combine cream cheese, Greek yogurt, dill and Ranch dressing powder. Mix thoroughly. You can use an electric mixer, but you can also do this by hand.
  3. Transfer the cheese mixture to a piping bag (if you don’t have one, you can use a large Ziplock bag with a corner snipped off).
  4. Pipe the cheese mixture onto the cucumber rounds, then top with a tomato half!

Cranberry Jalapeño Bruschetta

This week, I’m sharing some of my favorite Christmas Party foods. Everyone needs a few good, go to items to bring when you’re invited out at the holidays! We’re starting off with a recipe I stole from a friend after she brought it to a party last Christmas. The beautiful red color of the cranberries is perfect for this time of year! With sweet and tangy flavor from the cranberries and heat from jalapeno, they’re bright and vibrant in your mouth! You’ll be snagging these little babies until the plate is empty!

Cranberry Jalapeno Bruschetta

Extra recipe for a genius use of the drained juice since I hate wasting things with so much flavor! After you’ve let the berries soak in sugar and drain the juice, you are essentially left with cranberry simple syrup with a little pop of jalapeno. I whipped up an amazing martini for my husband by combining 3 parts vodka to one part cranberry syrup (drained juice). Shake over ice and pour into a martini glass. I wish I had a little jalapeno for a garnish with the cranberry…alas, had to use a lime. Oh well. Delish!

Cranberry Jalapeno Martini

Print Recipe for Cranberry Jalapeno Bruschetta

Cranberry Jalapeno Bruschetta
from What’s Cooking With Ruthie

1 (12oz) bag fresh cranberries, finely chopped
1 C sugar
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely sliced
1 (8oz) package cream cheese
1 baguette, sliced ½ inch thick on a diagonal
olive oil
additional cilantro leaf and quartered cranberry for garnish

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 400 degrees.
  2. Place baguette slices on baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil.
  3. Bake 5-6 minutes until golden brown, let cool.
  4. In mixing bowl combine cranberries, sugar, green onions, and jalapenos; mix until combined.
  5. Let marinate for 5-10 minutes.
  6. Drain juice, add cilantro, mix well.
  7. When ready to serve spread 1 Tbsp cream cheese on each baguette, a dollop of cranberry mixture, garnish with additional cilantro leaf and cranberry if desired. Enjoy!

Beer Battered Fish

As my cousin’s van rattled through the English countryside, I debated whether the Pennines should actually be referred to as “mountains”. My contention remains to this day that any “range” topping out at elevations of less than 3,000 ft really shouldn’t hold the same distinction as the glorious caps of the Cascades that dominate the horizon around me. Mount Rainer takes my breath away every single time.

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As my cousin’s Wimbledon accented voices extolled the virtues of rolling hills dotted with ancient churchyards, the van crept to a stop at little more than a shack perched at the edge of a moss laden slope. It was here, standing along the roadside overlooking the softened ridges and dipping valleys of the Pennines, that I began my lifelong love affair with fish and chips.

A newspaper wrapped bundle holding fried seafood and British chips was thrust into my hands. Faint spots of grease spread rapidly into slicks covering the whole paper as I took the first heavenly bite of flaky, perfectly crisped cod, the juice running down my hands, steam wafting in the cool mountain air. It was a perfect food moment.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips - Bakerlady

 

It is against this first experience with fish and chips that all seafood restaurants must compete. Not surprisingly, I find baskets of poorly breaded fish and soggy fries unequal to the memory. I took matters into my own hands recently, and the crispy, grease laden result transformed my American kitchen into an English countryside.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips - Bakerlady

The batter for this fish starts with beer. Obviously that means it’s going to be divine. Because, beer. Add just enough flour and spices to turn it into a batter.  This fish is triple seasoned. Once straight on the fillets, once from flavor in the batter and finally into a seasoned flour dredge. Aside from that, it’s very uncomplicated. Dip, dredge and fry. Boom. Golden perfection.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips - Bakerlady

The outside is crusty golden deliciousness and the inside is perfectly flaky, tender and melt in your mouth gloriousness.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips - Bakerlady

The simplicity of this recipe makes me wonder why my quest for nostalgic crispy fried fish has been previously unsuccessful for decades. Wow, I’m old. Maybe it’s because a great meal experience is so much more than just the sum of its ingredients. Perhaps, just possibly, the bliss of that little English fry shack was about more than just the greasy newspaper wrapped lunch. Imagine that. It’s people who make lasting indelible memories. Gather your family around for a perfect fish fry and make some magical food moments of your own.

Beer Battered Fish and Chips - Bakerlady
Good gracious! I forgot to tell you about the fries. Mmmm. Homemade fries. Coming soon!

Beer Battered Fish and Chips - Bakerlady


Print Recipe for Beer Battered Fish

Beer Battered Fish
adapted from Paula Deen

1 1/2 pounds cod fillets, skinned with bones removed, and fish cut diagonally into 1-inch-wide strips (5 to 6-inches long)
1 (12 ounce) bottle of beer – I used Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon house seasoning (recipe below)
1/4 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
salt and pepper

Batter:

In a large bowl, pour in 1 bottle of beer. Sift 1 1/2 cups flour into the bowl, whisking in gently until just combined, stir in 1 teaspoon House Seasoning and Old Bay Seasoning. Pat fish dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper and coat the fish in the beer batter. Mix together the other 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 tsp house seasoning. Dredge the pieces of fish in the flour mixture and slide into oil as coated. Fry fish, turning over frequently, until deep golden and cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in oven. Fry remaining fish in batches, returning oil to 375 degrees F between batches.

Serve fish with French fries.

House Seasoning (I scaled this down using teaspoons — I didn’t need a whole cup of it)

1 cup salt (2 teaspoons)

1/4 cup black pepper (1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 cup garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon)

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

America’s Test Kitchen Deviled Eggs

As I’ve mentioned before, my husband doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth. In fact, the one food weakness he has is deviled eggs. Not just any deviled eggs. These.

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I love my America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook. Something about the detail and testing that encompasses each recipe appeals to my logical nature. I don’t just want a recipe to be successful, I need to understand WHY it is so.

America's Test Kitchen Deviled Eggs - Bakerlady

[Read more…]

Happy Pi Day!

It’s March 14th! That means math rules the day and we get to celebrate by eating pie! Yes, the third month, the fourteenth day is very special around here. For it is the glorious day we celebrate the tool that helps us calculate all circular things. 3.14 = pi. March 14th = pie. Here are some of my favorites to make for this special day.

Pi Day - Bakerlady [Read more…]

Easy Irish Soda Bread

No Corned Beef Dinner would be truly complete without delicious Irish Soda Bread to accompany it. I am absolutely required to bring a still-warm loaf (or two) of this soda bread to my mom’s each year for St. Patrick’s Day dinner. It is pillowy soft inside with a gorgeous crusty exterior. This bread is also incredibly easy to make!

Easy Irish Soda Bread - Bakerlady

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The Best Corned Beef Dinner Ever

Saint Patrick’s Day is coming. Time for too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ra-ing about Molly Malone, Danny Boy and my Wild Irish Rose. Time for dancing a jig while not spilling a drop. Time for decking out in shades of forest, emerald, mint and moss. For celebrating my freckles and green eyes while lamenting my lack of red-headedness. And the most glorious of all, time for every grocery store from sea-to-shining sea to suddenly stock up on corned beef. This Saint Patrick’s Day, be the lord of the manor with this absolutely perfect, not a hint of dry meat anywhere, corned beef dinner. Made in a crock pot, this scrumptious classic will fill your home with rich mouth-watering aromas, and keep you laughing, singing and toasting with your friends and family instead of slaving over a hot stove.

The Best Corned Beef Dinner Ever - Bakerlady

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American Girl Tea Party Birthday

After begging for an American Girl doll the past three years, my daughter’s greatest desire was granted her last birthday with the gift of a green-eyed, curly blonde haired mini-me. She promptly named her doll “Maddie” and they’ve been inseparable ever since. The gratification of at last owning an American Girl doll all of her own could only be topped by celebrating her birthday this year with a themed American Girl tea party extravaganza. She wanted all her friends to come over and play dolls with her, while enjoying a delightful (and very grown up) tea. So here’s my great big American Girl Tea Party Birthday post, complete with free printable invitations, menus, name tags and all the food and craft ideas you could hope for!

American Girl Tea Party Ideas and Printables - Bakerlady [Read more…]

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