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An All-Time Sean Favorite for His Party – Easy Cheese Fries

Sean’s birthday was last week and he had a little get together with some of his buddies this past weekend where they hung out, played video games, watched movies and ate a ton of food. Besides the pizza that we ordered from our local pizzeria, I also made a few things for the guys to eat while they were playing. It was a finger food kind of party so that everything could be eaten easily without interrupting the flow of their gaming. Of course no Sean party is ever complete without his all-time favorite – cheese fries. Sean has been loving cheese fries since he was a little kid and we pretty much have to order them out wherever and whenever we go someplace so it seemed only natural that I would make some for the party. Cheese fries don’t really need much of a recipe, but I did get this one from Rachel Ray because she makes use of a really great tasting cheese sauce to go over the fries to top them off.

Cheese Fries

1 bag frozen french fries, any brand or shape that you like (crinkle cut, thin cut, steak fries, waffle fries, etc.), prepared to package directions

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups milk

2 1/2 cups shredded yellow cheddar cheese

Place the french fries on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and cook the fries according to the directions on the package. While the french fries are baking in the oven, prepare the cheese sauce. Place a large saucepan set over medium heat and add the butter. Melt the butter until it stops bubbling and then add the all-purpose flour. Stir the flour and butter together for about 1 to 2 minutes to create a roux. Use a whisk to stir as you pour the milk into the pot. Keep stirring continuously until the milk begins to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes. Use a wooden spoon or heat-safe spatula to stir in the cheese to the milk mixture. When all of the cheese has melted take the sauce off the heat. Remove the french fries from the oven and place them in a bowl or on a serving platter. Cover the fries with the warm cheese sauce and serve, with extra sauce on the side.

This is a fast and easy recipe that kids of all ages seem to love and they can easily help you with this one in the kitchen as well. You can always add extra toppings to the fries if you want to shake things up. Try adding some sliced scallions, crumbled up pieces of bacon (a Sean personal favorite) or even some jalapeno peppers or other peppers if you want to make them a little spicier. You could also put some herbs or spices on the fries before you add the cheese sauce if you want some different flavors or try using different cheeses to get a bit of a different flavor to the dish. It’s a great party snack that you can put together pretty quickly with just a couple of ingredients and all of the kids really liked this one.

That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!

cheese fries

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2014 in Appetizers, Cooking, Potatoes, Sauce, Side Dishes, Snacks

 

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5 Steps to Perfect French Fries | The Feed

5 Steps to Perfect French Fries | The Feed.

Okay, so they may not be the healthiest food in the world, but everyone loves french fries. At least one time in your life you need to try making homemade fries. I can promise you that it is worth the effort you put into it. It may not be something you can do all the time, but trust me, you will like them better than anything you ever bought in a store. Follow these five great tips from Cook’s Country and you will never look at Ore Ida’s the same way again. Check it out!

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Cooking, Cooking Websites, Potatoes, Side Dishes

 

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Fantastic Friday Fish & Chips

It’s Friday, the weekend is upon us, and so is February for that matter. Spring is not too far off now, even if the weather here has made it seem like spring already. Today’s dinner was picked by Sean, which surprised me and made me glad. Since we started the meal plan, he has been very open to trying new things and picking out some things we have never made before, including today’s dinner. I have had fish and chips and various places, and have been disappointed many times by it. A lot of the time there is too much breading or the fish tastes too much like the oil it was cooked in and the fries are underwhelming. This recipe, from America’s Test Kitchen’s website, seems like it will be a good balance. It doesn’t have a lot of ingredients to it and seems easy to make. I’ll be using the deep fryer again for this one, but a large Dutch oven and a candy thermometer will serve you just as well.

Fish and Chips

3 pounds russet potatoes (about 4 large potatoes) peeled, ends and sides squared off, and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch fries

3 quarts canola oil, plus 1/4 additional cup

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder 1 1/2 pounds 1-inch thick cod fillet (or other thick white fish, like haddock) cut into 8 pieces

1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces), cold (you can use any beer here, with the exception of dark stouts and ales)

Place cut fries in a large microwaveable bowl, toss with 1/4 cup oil and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high power until the potatoes are partially translucent and pliable but still offer some resistance when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing them with a rubber spatula halfway through the cooking time. Carefully pull back the plastic wrap from the side farthest from you and drain the potatoes into a large mesh strainer over the sink. Rinse well under cold running water. Spread the potatoes on kitchen towels and pat dry. Let rest until room temperature, at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour.

While the fries cool, whisk flour, cornstarch, cayenne, paprika, pepper and 2 teaspoons of salt in a large mixing bowl; transfer 3.4 cup of mixture to a rimmed baking sheet. Add baking powder to the bowl and whisk to combine.

In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven, heat 2 quarts of oil over medium heat to 350 degrees. Add the fries to the hot oil and increase the heat to high. Fry, stirring with a mesh spider or slotted metal spoon, until the potatoes turn light golden and just begin to brown at the corners, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fries to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain.

Reduce heat to medium-high, add the remaining quart of oil, and heat the oil to 375 degrees. Meanwhile, thoroughly dry the fish with paper towels and dredge each piece in the flour mixture on the baking sheet; transfer the pieces to a wire rack, shaking off the excess flour. Add 1 1/4 cups of the beer to the flour mixture in the mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is just combined (the batter will be lumpy). Add the remaining beer as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition, until the batter falls from the whisk in a thin, steady stream and leaves a faint trail across the surface of the batter. Using tongs, dip 1 piece of fish in the batter and let the excess run off, shaking gently. Place the battered fish back onto the baking sheet with the flour mixture and turn to coat both sides. Repeat with the remaining fish, keeping the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet.

When the oil reaches 375 degrees, increase the heat to high and add the battered fish to the oil with tongs, gently shaking off any excess flour. Fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a thick paper bag or paper towels to drain. Allow the oil to return to 375 degrees.

Add all the fries back to the oil and fry until golden brown and crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the fries to a fresh paper bag or paper towels to drain. Season the fries with salt to taste and serve immediately with the fish. Serve with your favorite malt vinegar and tartar sauce.

Granted, this is not the healthiest meal we have made, or the healthiest way to cook fish either, but once in a while as a treat it will be pretty good. There’s not much to cooking this one either once all the prep work is done. I think it will be a very tasty dish, just be careful deep-frying; you’ll want to use the largest Dutch oven you have for safety. Sean couldn’t really pick out a vegetable to go with this meal, but green beans were on sale at the store this morning, so that’s what were going with for tonight. I found a good recipe that braises them.

Skillet-Braised Green Beans

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1 pound green beans, ends trimmed

3/4 cup chicken broth (I am using homemade, but low sodium store-bought is good)

1/4 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, or 1/8 teaspoon dried

Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallot and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer,stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender but still offer some resistance to the bite, 15 to 20 minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste.

A simple, easy and a little different way to cook up your green beans, and you’re all set with your meal for the night. I think it will go over very well.

We laid out the meal plan for next week last night, so here it is. If you want to use the same meal planner we are using, here is a link to the print out to use:family_meal_planner. I decided to let Sean pick the whole menu for next week. He had taken a couple of cookbooks out of the school library and picked some recipes that he wanted me to try. Since he picked them out, he’ll be participating in the cooking all week as well. He read through a Chinese food cookbook and an Italian food cookbook, so this is what we came up with:

Monday: Chicken Stir Fry with White Rice

Tuesday: Rustic Vegetable and Polenta Soup (this is our meat free meal of the week)

Wednesday: Pork with Peppers and Pineapple and Fried Rice

Thursday: Shrimp with Hoisin Sauce and Rice

Friday and Saturday next week we will be in Saranac Lake to celebrate Winter Carnival, so they’ll be no meals to cook on those days. However, we are bringing up a Chicken Corn Chowder with us, so I will post that recipe next week. I think Sean made some interesting choices and it will be fun to cook with him. Tomorrow’s meal is a simple Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Winter Vegetables so we can bake all in one pan and cut down on dishes for the day. Tune in tomorrow to check it out and I’ll let you know how the fish and chips went. As always, feel free to add a comment, recipe, question or just say hello! Have a great day and enjoy your Friday night.

 

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Cooking, Dinner, Potatoes, Seafood, Vegetables

 

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Your Own Hamburger Happy Meal

It’s Tuesday and it’s another mild day here in New York. While it may not have you thinking of using the grill just yet (although using it all year round would be nice), today’s dinner on the meal plan might help you think more towards summer. Today’s is Sean’s pick, and he has chosen Hamburgers and Fries with salad. Nothing special or fancy about it and everybody makes them. I love a good burger myself; I think it is probably one of my favorite things to eat and it’s great for lunch or dinner and can be made any time of the year, and it can be made quickly (which is always a plus).

Skillet Hamburgers

1 1/2 pounds (80 percent lean) ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

4 hamburger rolls

Mix the beef, salt and pepper together. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Shape the meat into a loose ball, and using your hands, flatten the balls into 1-inch thick burgers. Press the center of the patty down with your fingertips to form an indentation that is about 1/4-inch deep. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place the burgers in the skillet indentation-side up and cook until the bottoms are dark brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the burgers over and continue to cook to your desired doneness. Transfer the burgers to the buns and top as desired.

Everyone has their own variation of this and things they made to the meat before cooking, so do what you like the taste of best. Just a couple of recommendations on my part. Using 80 percent lean ground beef does seem to make a difference. Any more fat than this and the burgers are greasy, any less and the meat becomes dry and pretty bland. As for the indentation I put in the meat, it’s great for avoiding the puffy burgers that you often get while cooking and also leaves you a bit of a well for your toppings. As for the toppings, the list is endless. You can pretty much put anything on top of a burger, as most of us have seen thanks to cooking shows. Personally, I love sautéed onions, some pickle, maybe a slice of tomato or a slice of bacon, maybe even some sliced avocado some times. Sean goes for just American cheese and bacon on his burger. Michelle also goes for cheese and sautéed onions, and mixes in some ketchup and mayonnaise. Let me know what some of your favorite toppings are for burgers. I might be willing to try them out!

French fries almost seem a must if you are having a burger (although I do like onion rings too, or some homemade potato salad or cole slaw, but we’ll leave those recipes for summertime). Our house is mainly a tater tots kind of house as everyone seems to like them the best. I’ll be making some homemade fries when I make our Fish and Chips recipe on Friday, but here is a good recipe for homemade Oven Fries that I have made before. They turn out great and taste better than most things you’ll get out of a bag.

Oven Fries

3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut lengthwise into 10 to 12 evenly sized wedges

5 tablespoons vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, cover with hot tap water, and allow to soak for 10 minutes. While the potatoes are soaking, coat a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with 4 tablespoons of oil. Sprinkle the baking sheet evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Drain the potatoes, spread them out over paper towels, and pat them dry thoroughly. Toss the dried potatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Arrange the potatoes, cut-side down, in a single layer over the prepared baking sheet. Cover the sheet tightly with foil and bake for 5 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until the sides of the potatoes touching the pan are crusty and golden, about 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet after 10 minutes. Using a metal spatula, scrape to loosen the potatoes from the pan, then flip each wedge over, keeping the potatoes in a single layer. Continue to bake until the fries are golden and crisp on both sides, 10 to 15 minutes longer, rotating the pan as needed if the fries are browning unevenly. Transfer the fries to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Not too hard to do, if you ask me. Soaking the potatoes before you bake them is important in this recipe. They will cook much better, become crispy on the outside and be creamy on the inside. If you have a heavy-duty non-stick baking pan to use for this one, it does make your life easier as well. Just make sure you choose something to use that can hold up to the higher heat. A final note: I prefer using vegetable oil in this recipe. Olive oil leaves a distinct flavor on the potatoes that you may not want.

The final part of the meal, as we have had before in our meal plan, is a simple salad. You can check out my list of salad and accompaniments here from a previous blog entry if you like. I will, however, post a new dressing recipe today. A lot of people seem to like Ranch dressing, and you might want some to dip your fries in or use for a dip for veggies, so here is a good one to try. One note about this recipe, use fresh herbs for it. I tried it with dried and it just doesn’t work out well.

Ranch Dressing

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup mayonnaise

6 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

A pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth. The dressing, covered, can be refrigerated for up to 4 days; whisk to re-combine before using.

If you want a low-fat option of this one, use non-fat buttermilk, non-fat sour cream and low-fat mayonnaise and increase the amount of lemon juice to 2 tablespoons.

That about does it for today’s meal. Tomorrow is one of Sean’s favorites and Michelle picked it. We’ll be having breakfast for dinner, but it is also going to be our meat-free meal this week, so no bacon or sausage. We will be making pancakes and hash browns, and maybe some eggs too, we’ll have to see how that goes. Sean will only go for the pancakes and hash browns anyway. Breakfast for dinner is always a good choice; everyone seems to like it. Enjoy the rest of your day, have fun cooking tonight, and enjoy the burgers, if you make them. As always, feel free to leave a comment or just say hello!

 

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2012 in Beef, Cooking, Dinner, Dressings, Potatoes, Salad

 

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Jennifer Probst

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