Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Becky's Oven Baked Fries

I think it's time for another recipe. You know, I really love French fries but instead of frying them, I bake them at a high heat in the oven to make them crispy. It took me a few years to figure this out so now you don't have to!

I love drowning my fries in ketchup and vinegar (it's a Rhode Island thing!) and I don't miss the deep fried-ness, as long as I have my condiments, I'm a happy girl!

Becky's Oven Baked Fries

4-5 medium all purpose or russet potatoes
cooking spray
onion powder
garlic powder
dried parsley

Scrub the taters well and leave the skins on. Dry well with a towel or paper towel. Cut the potatoes in approx 1/2 inch wedges. Spray a baking sheet or a grill pan generously with cooking spray. Place sliced potatoes in the pan evenly so they are not on top of each other. Spray the potatoes generously with cooking spray and shake the pan around. This will help the spices to stick well without adding lots of fat. Next, take all your spices, approx 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp of each and mix together in a small bowl until well combined. Sprinkle the seasonings over the potatoes and give them another shake around to evenly distribute.

Bake in 450 degree oven. Check them around the 30 minute mark and give the pan a good shake. The key to making good baked fries is high heat and not letting them stick to the pan. You can flip them over with a spatula and bake approx 15 more minutes or until they are the desired crispness.

You can get a little more adventurous with your spices. Try cumin and/or chili powder, cayenne pepper, etc. Just be mindful of the crowd you are feeding! There really is no wrong way to season them, just go easy on the salt because you can always add more later if needed.

Thanks to Mark Sylvestre, my blogtographer and #1 taste tester!

Monday, April 19, 2010

All Women Were NOT Created Equally

I am not a normal girl. It has taken me many years to come to terms with this and it's time to come out of the clothes closet. If you don't agree with me, just give me a moment to explain a few arguments to back up my theory. I've made peace with all of the below so there is no need to console me.

Point #1:

I don't feel it is mandatory at the first sign of "open-toe shoe season" to run out with my 5 hammer toes to get a pedicure. In fact, last year I made it til the end of summer and boasted that my toes had never been painted. A hammer toe is a hammer toe (times 5) and no amount of Sally Hansen is going to make them beautiful. Do I really need to draw more attention to them and traumatize the nail technician? And have you ever thought about how strange it is to PAINT your nails with a flammable toxic chemical? Who started this trend, Cleopatra? Or was it the Dutch Boy's sister, Dutch Girl?

Imagine if someone created a beauty regiment that included super gluing a feather to the tip of your nose. Would you do it because all the other girls were going to the Feather Salon to have their "feathers done"? You know now that every time you get a mani/pedi, you are going to think of me and my feathered nose.

Point #2:

And speaking of feet. I absolutely HATE wearing high heels. Who are these women that can scrunch their feet into these pointy toed stilettos and say they are comfortable? You are all lying and you know it. If you don't have hammer toes by now, you better get ready for the public ridicule when you take those Manolo's off. And did I mention the bunions? Nothing oozes sexy like elephantitis of the foot. I am more a "slip-on cloggy" kind of shoe person. Call me a granola crunching tree hugger. I don't care.

Post script: Dr. Nancy Snyderman just validated me on The Today Show. Take a peek.

Point #3:

Many women refer to shopping as "Retail Therapy", like it is going to cure all their woes. I do not like to shop. Period. For me, shopping means I will definitely need therapy during or after my excursion.

Take yesterday's attempt at using one of my many accumulated gift cards. I left the N.Y. & Company store after trying on several items, none of which provided the promised emotional fulfillment. I thought I had put all my garments back on the rack and left the store. Much to my surprise, I exited the store and ....BEEP BEEP BEEP!! I looked down and there it was; the ill fitting cute jean Capri pants slung over my arm, ready to make their getaway home with me. I immediately rushed back into the store, red-faced and full of sorries. I think the sales girl didn't have me arrested because she took one look at my outfit and thought, "poor thing, she should've kept walking..."

I then met my husband in another store and he said he would not post bail for me if I had been arrested. I do think the prison uniform might be a step up for me so he might have done me a favor.

When I try clothes on it seems nothing fits "just right". Like the shoulders are cut too narrow (do I have Hulk shoulders?) or I'll think, "I'm 42, is this too hoochie looking for my age?" The Alfred Dunner collection is not quite my speed (yet) but I'm in that age group where you can tell some of us are trying too hard to look younger than our actual age. I really don't want to be one of those moms at the playground with the low rise jeans, fuzzy boots and a tramp stamp.

Being the What Not to Wear poster girl is not easy. I would be a very willing participant on the show with two conditions: Paper bag over my head to protect my identity and closed toed shoes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Food Rules Part 2: Becky Style

Michael Pollan has some fantastic rules about food but I thought you'd like to see some of Becky's Rules this time around.

Here are some tips that might help you save money and eat a little healthier:

1. Look Down on Your Food

That is, in the supermarket. Did you know that the more expensive food on the market shelves lies right within your line of vision? The food companies pay "rent" to place their goods there so YOU end up paying more.

If you are vertically challenged, now is the time to make the most of it (or have your tots do the work for you!). For example, I bought a loaf of Shaw's whole wheat bread for 1.99 because it was on the bottom shelf. Compared to the Arnold or Pepperidge Farm brands (which by the way, were no healthier), I saved over $1.00. Bending down was well worth the savings. The cereal aisle is a big ripoff so try this trick there.

Just because the food is living in prime real estate doesn't mean it's any better than the one in low income housing.

2. Watch TV with your Kids

Not Dora, Sponge Bob, or Blues Clues. Think Food Network or HGTV. These channels offer a whole new perspective to your kids about food and nature. If you have a picky eater (and who doesn't at some point?), watching a cooking show is sure to inspire you both to try something new and talk about the ingredients. Then take the show into your own kitchen and cook together. Kids love the one on one time with parents and they love to get their hands dirty. Our son Luca EATS dried oregano right out of the palm of his hands. Yes, our kids are strange! They also like to suck on lemons. Go figure...

HGTV has many shows about planting and gardening. I think knowing where your food comes from and how it grows is such an important factor. How exciting and fun is it for a child to watch a plant grow from a little seedling, which leads me to the next point.

3. Visit a Local Farmers Market

Buy local. Not traveling hundreds or thousands of miles does wonders for fresh veggies' vitamin content. You will also be supporting the local economy in your state and the hardworking farmers. Plus they are great fun to visit. I particularly like Confreda Farms here in RI for their homemade pies, family friendly activities, and high quality produce.

4. Don't Grocery Shop for one Whole Week

In other words, use what you have in the house and you will be surprised at how much food you are hoarding. I tried this method this week and so far so good. The key is having a well-stocked pantry and freezer.

Pretend like you have no money for food for the week and I betcha you will come up with some pretty creative dishes!

5. If you can avoid it, don't take your kids grocery shopping

I know this sort of contradicts my points about getting kids involved in food prep, etc. However, I don't know about you but one of my kids will beg me for something (read; ice cream cones, and then of course you'd need the ice cream to go with it....). I am human. I am weak. I cave in at times and my grocery bill is probably $10 more than it should be, thanks to the little people.

6. Don't eat any scraps off your kids' plates, unless it is a fruit or a vegetable

It's amazing how quickly the calories add up with all the extra nibbles here and there. I remember a segment on The Today Show which piled all the scraps that moms (and maybe dads!) eat. The banquet-sized table represented a week's worth of "nibbles". It was over 3000 calories worth of mindless eating! That's like gaining a pound a week.

7. Stop acting like a baby

Only newborns need to eat every 2 or 3 hours. You don't.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Food Rules

I just finished reading Michael Pollan's Food Rules. Just so you know, for me to say I've actually finished a book is a huge deal. I like to read but rarely find something I can finish lately, other than the obits. Sorry, the "Italian Sports Page" as my sister Jen likes to call it, is mandatory reading with my cup o' joe, as depressing as it sounds.

Food Rules is a quick read containing 64 rules about eating. Below are some of my faves quoted directly from the book. I will list them by number as they are in the book:

1. Eat Food

7. Avoid food products containing ingredients a third grader cannot pronounce

11. Avoid foods you see advertised on television

12. Eat only foods that will eventually rot

19. If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.

20. It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car

21. It's not food if it's called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles.)

37. The whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead.

39. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

57. Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does.

60. Treat Treats as Treats

63. Cook.

One evening we had our dear friends over for dinner. I will call them Mickey and Minnie. Over dessert, Mickey decided to read the book aloud to us for fun. When he got to # 57, "Don't get your fuel from the same place your car does", my husband thought of a few more "Rules" and believe me, we all had a few belly laughs.

I need to give the Mr. complete credit for the following:

1. Don't eat where you gas or you'll have a fat a**.

2. ExtraMart means extra fat.

3. Eating at Cumby's means fat bummies (For you non-New Englanders, Cumby's is short for Cumberland Farms, a convenience store/gas station. Little Debbie lives there.)

4. Seven Eleven means faster to Heaven.

Side note, marry someone who makes you laugh. It really does make the marital ride so much easier!