I think we'd all agree that January and February are rather dreary months - especially where food is concerned.
Snow, ice, and bitterly cold temperatures aside, there is no quintessential winter vegetable to cook with, no holiday to get creative for for. (That is, unless you count Valentine's Day, but really, in the heart of February, I think we'd all agree any piece of chocolate will do.)
To make matters all the more complicated, we're wadding through the wake of the post-holiday food season, a time when every calorie counts as we lament over tightened jeans and sweaters that are the door prizes of all those holiday parties, while desperately trying to keep ourselves warmed from the inside out. What sounds better on a cold winter's evening than something hot, thick, and filling? The conundrum of winter marches on...
I've got news for you folks, winter isn't going away any time soon (Punxsutawney Phil backs me up here) and, unless you're going to make oatmeal a three times a day ritual, it's time to get creative.
I generally hate cooking for just me and, with my mom at work and my boyfriend in Michigan, I resigned myself over to freezer food for dinner. There's a bit of me that always scoffs at prepackaged frozen food - after all, is it really that difficult to make a casserole? - but when there's an option of quick, organic, and gluten free...well, who am I to pass that up?
My automatic go-to dinner in a pinch always involves sunshine sunflowerseed veggie burgers. Amazingly delicious and easy to make, between these burgers and salad from a bag, dinner may as well have been ready before I set foot in the kitchen. Well, almost. I had my vegetable, I had my protein, but a complete meal - much less a complete vegetarian meal - really does need a carb.
There have been two sweet potatoes sitting in my kitchen, staring at me for weeks. I meant to eat them, really I did...and yet, there they sat, in the fruit bowl, supporting the apples. Maybe I didn't feel like cooking but a little kitchen experimenting? Yeah, I suppose I could manage that.
Besides, not actually being fried these fries are made out of the fantastically nutritional sweet potato. Rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and dietary fiber, iron, calcium, and protein, the sweet potato was ranked highest in nutritional value among all other vegetables in 1992 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. (For more fascinating sweet potato facts, please click here...though I'm sure it's only half as interesting as actually eating one!)
Oven Baked Sweet Potato FriesThis is less of a recipe and more of a cabinet emptying, favored spice using experience. Have chili pepper? Love thyme? Throw it in, combine your favorite spices, and shake it up...
2 Sweet Potatoes
2 zip lock or otherwise sealable plastic bags (or one large plastic bag if making one type of fry)
1 pizza pan or cookie sheet
For savory fries...
1 TSP of Olive Oil
1-2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of pepper
1/2 tsp of garlic
1/4 tsp of rosemary (optional)
1/4 tsp of paprika (optional, instead of rosemary)
For sweet fries...
1 TSP of Vegetable Oil
1 tsp of salt
1-2 tsp of white sugar
2 tsp of brown sugar (add more as desired)
1 tsp of cinnamon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Peel, or leave peel on for more rustic looking fries. Slice potatoes length wise and then in thin strips, no more than a half inch thick. Place potato strips into bag and combine oil (1 TSP per potato), seal the bag and shake, making sure the oil thoroughly coats all of the fries by rubbing the fries through the bag.
Open the bag and add in the spices (or sugars for sweet fries). Reseal the bag and shake again, ensuring the spices get distributed as evenly as possible.
Pour fries out on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 30 -40 minutes, turning the fries over once during cooking time.
Serves 1 -2 persons per potato.