Archive for October, 2010

Baked zucchini is so easy it’s scary

Consider this the month of the squash. Whether you realize it or not, they are making their way to doorsteps all over the country, preparing to spook every young guest who rings the doorbell seeking candy.

Yes, pumpkins are a part of the squash family, but as winter squash, they tend to take much longer to cook due to their tough rinds. Luckily, you can still celebrate all things squash by quickly and easily cooking that other popular variety, summer squash.

As its name would not lead you to believe, summer squashes can actually be found in markets year-round.

Among my favorites in this category is the familiar zucchini. This vegetable is wonderful baked, and can be served as a side, combined with another dish like pasta, or even as the main event itself for vegetarians. Seasoned simply with herbs and tossed lightly with oil, these squash taste even better when baked with two good friends – garlic and onions.

This recipe is a true treat for the mouth, and one you definitely don’t want to leave out on the porch. Here’s how to make it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Oven-baked potato fries: More flavor, less guilt

I have a culinary confession to make, and I might as well just get it off my chest: I’m a sucker for fries.

Thick, thin, crinkled or in wonderful fat wedges, there is just something magical and comforting about potatoes that have been deep-fried in oil. Of course, the very thing that makes them so tasty – being deep-fried in oil – also makes them much more fattening than their baked-potato cousin. I always feel a tinge of guilt and an obligation to go to the gym after ordering a batch.

Luckily I have found a happy medium between the plain-jane baked potato and that oh-so-tempting, fat-infused order of French fries, one that packs more taste than the former and less fat than the latter. Let me introduce you to my oven-baked potato fries.

Like traditional French fries, this oven-baked version can be in the form of thin strips or larger wedges, depending on your preference and how handy you’re feeling with a knife. Also like French fries, the best potatoes for this are good old Russet, or Idaho potatoes, which have a higher starch content versus smaller “waxy” spuds like new potatoes or fingerlings.

I prefer mine with the skin on, but of course they can be peeled if you like yours naked.

To make them, you only need to slice some potatoes, coat them with oil and a blend of spices, then let the oven do the hard work of generating the heat. Cooking time will depend on how you like your fries: If you dig ’em soft, you need only cook them till they are that way; if you’re like me and want some crunch, let ’em keep baking until they get crisp on the outside.

All told, you’ll be looking at anywhere from 25-40 minutes in the oven. While that isn’t nearly as quick as deep frying, the results are worth it, and less fat now means less time at the gym later.

Ready to give this a whirl? Here’s how to make a less guilty version of fries:

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