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Penny Pinching Epicure: October 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Swiss Chard with Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas

From swiss chard to kale to broccoli rabe, I love cooking with greens. They are low in calorie, high in fiber and an excellent source of vitamins & nutrients (iron, vitamins A, C & K, potassium, calcium). Many greens are also pretty cheap--kale and turnip greens are usually less than a dollar a pound, and frequently on sale. Do be aware that greens have a very high water content so they cook down a lot; don't be fooled by the size of the leaves.

My favorite green is probably swiss chard. It's more expensive than most greens, but it cooks up beautifully, and maintains its color and texture better than others.

A note about cooking greens: Stems can be woody and fibrous; I usually discard them unless I am using swiss chard, in which case I chop them up and cook them for a few minutes before adding the leaves.

Swiss Chard with Balsamic Glazed Chickpeas


1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp vegetable stock
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 large bunch swiss chard, cleaned

  1. Clean swiss chard and remove leaves from stalks. Tear leaves into pieces and chop stalks into 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan and saute onions over medium heat 2-3 minutes. Add garlic and stalk pieces, and cook 6-8 minutes until everything is browned.
  3. Add chickpeas, vinegar, honey, stock, salt & pepper, turn up flame to medium-high and bring to a boil. Stirring constantly to avoid burning, cook down until liquid turns to a thick syrup.
  4. Turn flame down low and add swiss chard leaves. Stir to coat, then cover saucepan and remove from flame. Allow to sit 4-5 minutes or until leaves are tender but still green
Fun additions:
  • Chop up some portobello caps and add in step 2.
  • Substitute chickpeas for canellini beans or pigeon peas.
  • Cube some firm tofu and brown with the onions and garlic.
The cost:
onion: .23
garlic: .15
chickpeas: .79
swiss chard: 2.39

Grand total: $3.56; serves 6-8 as a side dish

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Caramelized Carrot Leek Soup

Today's gloomy weather combined with my office building's propensity for keeping the temperature colder inside than out had me craving an endless bowl of piping hot soup. I turned to one of my favorite winter recipes; it takes extra time to caramelize the carrots and leeks, but it adds such depth of flavor, it's well worth it (if you are short on time just saute veggies and cook in liquid until tender).

Caramelized Carrot Leek Soup


4 leeks, trimmed (you'll use just the white part)
2 lbs carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
3 Tbsp vegetable or light olive oil
2 cups soup stock
2 cups water
salt & pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice leeks lengthwise and rinse thoroughly to remove any grit. Pat dry.
  3. Spread carrots & leeks in a single layer in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with oil and roast in oven for 30-40 min covered, 30-40 min uncovered until veggies are caramelized and tender (some ovens roast better faster/slower than others, so roasting time can vary).
  4. Bring soup stock and water to a boil in a medium stock pot. Add veggies, turn down and simmer 15-20 minutes, then remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
  5. Blend soup using an immersion blender. If it's too thick, add a bit more liquid. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Optional step: Pour the soup through a fine sieve to catch any stray bits that won't blend.
The cost:
leeks: 4.00
carrots: 1.49
stock: .99

Grand total: $6.48; serves 6-8

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Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm a Cholent Nerd

I admit that I am a bit of a nerd when it comes to cooking, but I believe it has helped me perfect cholent-making.

Cholent is traditional Jewish stew that one cooks on low for a long period of time, usually to have for lunch on the Sabbath. I've had good cholent, but because it cooks for so long (14-16 hours), the meat is frequently dried out and tough.

Cholent making tip #1: Layer your ingredients.

I did a little reading up on crockpot cookery. It cooks food in two ways: Rising heat and surrounding heat. Because of the construction of the heating elements in crockpots, the bottom and middle of the crockpot are cooked with both rising and surrounding heat, which things toward the top are cooked with mostly rising heat.

Because you are cooking the cholent for so long, you want to make sure that you are cooking the meat with rising heat, rather than both rising and surrounding. This will help to ensure that the meat is nice and moist when you pull it out. I mix all of my ingredients together to fill the crock about 3/4 of the way, then leave the top 1/4 for the meat.

Cholent making tip #2: Decreased surface area = perfectly slow-cooked meat.

A lot of people using beef cubes or stewing beef when making cholent. That's fine, except cubed beef has lots of surface area for the heat to reach. More heat = more potential to dry out, especially over such a long period of time. Stewing beef is also usually very lean, and it's a good idea to use meat with good marbling (read: fat) so it stays moist.

My solution: I use a chuck steak, boneless or bone-in work equally well. I lay the steak right on top of my cholent ingredients, and for additional moisture help I pour a bottle of cocktail sauce on top (BBQ sauce would work well too). I was home this weekend and actually used a whole chuck roast which was pretty amazing (thanks Mom!).

Here is my recipe in case anyone is interested (I have a pretty large crockpot so if you have a smaller one, you may need to decrease the proportions):

3 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
8 red bliss or baby yukon potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 large onions, quartered
1-1/4 cups quinoa
1 can small white beans
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp onion soup mix
2 cups beef stock
2 cups water
1 chuck steak (1 lb, give or take)
1 bottle cocktail sauce

  1. Place first six ingredients in a crockpot and stir to mix. Add beef stock first, then water until you can just barely the liquid through your ingredients.
  2. Lay steak on top and pour cocktail sauce over meat.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 12-16 hours, or until it's lunch time!
Fun Variations:
  • I like using quinoa because it's doesn't get all gluey and congealed but still provides the thick consistency you want in cholent (and of course the whole gluten free thing). Rice works well too, and you can use barley but it soaks up so much water I'm always worried the cholent will be too dry.
  • Substitute the white beans for chickpeas and add 1 Tbsp allspice for cholent with a Middle-Eastern flair.
The cost:
sweet potatoes: 1.19
baby potatoes: 1.39
onions: .59
quinoa: 1.66
beans: .79
onion soup mix: .23
beef stock: 1.99
steak: 12.99
cocktail sauce: 1.29

Grand total: $22.12; serves 8-10

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Confessions of a Frugal Shopper

Some people have asked how I spend so little on food; the truth is, it's a combination of things:
  1. I shop on sale. If I see staples I use regularly are on sale, I'll stock up.
  2. I'm not picky. I buy similar items each week (assortment of fruit, veggies, leafy greens, dairy), but it can vary based on what I see on sale. In fact, I frequently shop without a list and build my week's menu as I go along.
  3. I allow myself to splurge on occasion. If you deprive yourself, it makes it more likely you'll "binge" the next time you have the chance. I try and allow myself one indulgence every other shopping trip (this summer, my dirty little secret was pomello, quite expensive at $3 a piece).
In case people are interested in exactly how I shop, I've decided to "publish" my receipts every once in a while. Here is last week's (if you take a look at my previous blog posts you'll see how I used some of these items--pumpkin muffins, lentil stew, corn salad ):

1 jar applesauce (on sale 2 for $4): 2.00
3 cans diced tomatoes (on sale 10 for $10): 3.00
2 cans white beans (on sale .79 each): 1.58
2 cans chickpeas (on sale .79 each): 1.58
1 bag green split peas: 1.19
1 bag yellow split peas: 1.19
1 bag red lentils: 1.69

Weekly Buys:
3.43 lb jazz apples (on sale 1.29/lb): 4.42
5 bananas (on sale .59/lb): 1.24
1 bunch scallions: .67
4 corn on the cob (on sale .59 each): 2.36
5 sweet potatoes (on sale .79/lb): 1.79
1 bunch each mustard & turnip greens (on sale 2 lb for $1): .88
1 bunch vine ripened tomatoes: 1.77
6 medium onions (on sale 10 for $10): 2.32
1 red bell pepper (on sale $1 each): 1.00
1 avocado (on sale): 1.49
1 large bag fresh spinach (on sale 3 for $5): 1.67
1 large container cottage cheese (on sale): 3.39
1 quart Lactaid (on sale): 4.19

Grand Total: $39.42 (no splurge this time)


Monday, October 19, 2009

Going Gluten Free

Some of you may have noticed that my recipes are frequently gluten free. That's because I'm slowly going gluten free (and feeling much better as I go!). I've found a lot of ways to substitute high gluten things in my diet, but by far the biggest challenge will be substituting flour in baking (I've been avoiding it).

So tonight, I turned over a new leaf and baked gluten free pumpkin muffins. It's actually the exact same recipe as my usual pumpkin muffins, I just substituted the regular flour for gluten free--and to my glee, they came out great! My favorite part of these muffins are the fresh cranberries--the little burst of tartness balances the sweetness of the sugar really nicely. And of course, nuts make everything richer, in my opinion.

Disclaimer: I can't say any gluten free flour would work since I've only tried it with one brand, but if you've used others, feel free to comment and let me know.

Addendum: If you don't like or are allergic to pumpkin (sorry SG!), you could substitute cooked & pureed squash or carrots, although you may need to increase the dry/decrease the wet ingredients just a bit for the right consistency.

Cranberry Pecan Pumpkin Muffins


2 eggs
1 (14 oz) can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 heaping Tbsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups flour (I used Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 12-muffin pan with cooking spray.
  2. Using a whisk, combine eggs, pumpkin, applesauce, sugar, pumpkin spice, vanilla and salt in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk in baking soda and baking powder, then flour until just combined; don't overmix.
  4. Fold in pecans and cranberries with a rubber spatula.
  5. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake 12-15 minutes or until risen and firm, and edges are a golden brown.
The cost:
eggs: .33
pumpkin: 1.49
applesauce: .35
sugar: .45
flour: 3.50 (I only used 1/3 of the package but I had  to buy it new, luckily on sale!)
nuts: .40
cranberries: .33

Grand total: $6.52 ($5.36 once gluten free flour becomes a staple)

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Easy Veggie Side: Roasted Corn Salad

While shopping last week I saw some beautiful sweet yellow corn on sale. There are plenty of shortcuts to make corn salads without having to husk and cook your own corn (canned, frozen), but the taste and texture of freshly roasted corn is divine. I made this salad as a side dish for the Shabbat lunch I hosted this week.

There are lots of ways you can cook corn on the cob--boil it, roast it in the oven, or throw it on an outdoor or indoor grill. I prefer the indoor grill to get it started, then finishing it in the oven.

Roasted Corn Salad


4 cobs sweet yellow (or white) corn, husked and cleaned
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 scallions, chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle oil over corn and rub to coat; sprinkle with salt. Place in grill pan over medium-high heat 10-12 minutes, turning to brown each side.
  3. Transfer grill pan to oven and cooke 10-12 minutes or until tender.
  4. Slice corn off the cob; toss with vinegar and spices and cool 10 minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, avocado, celery and scallions and stir to combine. Serve warm or cold.
The cost:
corn: 2.00
tomatoes: 1.99
avocado: 1.29
celery: .15
scallions: .25

Grand total: $5.68; serves 6-8

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Friday, October 16, 2009

PSA: World Food Day

Today is World Food Day, celebrated each year on the establishment anniversary of the UN's Food & Agriculture Organization.

It's estimated that over 1 billion men, women and children are hungry & malnourished around the world, and as many as 1 in 8 Americans (especially in this economic climate).

Today, I'm going to help end world hunger by donating a few of those cans I haven't gotten around to using. They'll be much better served feeding someone rather than gathering dust in my pantry.

Take the time today to be thankful for all that you have, and to help someone in need.

To find out more about hunger in the US, click here.

Also, check out my previous post on hunger.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pantry Raid: Hearty Lentil Stew

Today, I came home from work craving something to chase away the cold, rainy gloom. A quick peek in pantry yielded some red lentils, and the fridge held the remnants of a soup from last week (carrots, celery and onions). Throw in some earthy spices and a bit of fresh grated ginger, and voila! A rich lentil stew that was both hearty and delicious. Just the thing for a rainy day :)

Two notes about lentils: (1) You don't need to soak them like you do beans, but you should pick through them to make sure there isn't any debris like little stones and such. You should also rinse them until the water runs clear to get rid of any grit. (2) Lentils get mushy easily so you have to watch them. I personally like a softer texture, but if you like a more "al dente" lentil, reduce the liquid and cooking time.

Hearty Lentil Stew


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, sliced thin
1 celery stalk, sliced thin
2 cups red lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp allspice
dash of cumin
3 cups water

  1. Heat oil in large saucepan and saute onion over medium-high heat until golden brown, 5-6 minutes. Add carrots & celery and cook until veggies are soft, stirring often.
  2. Add lentils; sprinkle in ginger & spices and stir to combine.
  3. Add water and stir to combine. Raise flame and heat to a rolling boil, then turn heat to low and simmer until lentils are tender, 15-20 minutes.
The cost:
onion: .35
carrots: .15
celery: .10
lentils: 1.13

Grand total: $1.73; serves 4-6 over rice with a side of toasted pita chips

Update: Eating this for lunch, I realized throwing some raisins in with the spices would have made a great addition. I'll have to try that next time.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Asian-Style Tuna Steak

As you've probably figured out by now, I'm a fan of easy and flavorful recipes. I also like recipes that are flexible and allow me to use the same flavor profile with multiple items.

This is one of my go-to recipes: An Asian-inspired marinade provides a delightful medley of sweet, salty, tangy and spicy flavors. I use tuna here, but you could also substitute chicken, steak or tofu as the marinade works equally well with most proteins.

Asian-Style Tuna Steak


1 4-6 oz tuna steak, defrosted
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar or honey
a dash of pepper
a dash or two of hot sauce (depending on how hot you like it)
1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced
1/4 inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced (or 1/8 tsp ground ginger)

  1. Place tuna in zip-top bag.
  2. Whisk together all other ingredients and pour over tuna. Refrigerate and marinate for at least 15 minutes (I like to prep this the night before and marinate until I get home).
  3. Bake tuna in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or grill on the stove top over medium-high heat, 3-4 minutes on each side (cooking time will depend on the thickness of your steaks and how rare/well done you like your fish; I like to cook mine all the way through).
Fun tag-alongs:
  • Throw a sliced bell pepper, portabello mushroom or baby bok choy on the grill with the tuna.
  • Steam some edamame, toss with a little sea salt and serve with the tuna.
  • Slice tuna, lay over mixed baby greens and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.
  • Serve over fresh basmati rice or quinoa.
The cost:
tuna steak: 1.75
other ingredients: <.50

Grand total: $2.25 (give or take)

Note: This also makes a fantastic salad dressing; triple everything but the garlic & ginger, blend, pour over a mix of sliced baby bok choy, cucumber, radish, scallions, & dried cranberries; sprinkle with crunchy asian noodles or toasted sesame seeds right before serving.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Easy Veggie Side: Broccoli Salad

I am not a fan of mayonnaise-based salads (or mayo in general), so I try to get creative with coleslaw, potato salad and the like. This broccoli salad is similar to one my friend NS makes, but with an oil-vinegar based dressing (This is also a great alternative dressing style for those who are vegan).

I like to use fresh broccoli and steam it for just a few minutes so it's tender but still has a bit of a crunch. I also like a vinegary bite to this salad, but if you like things sweeter, feel free to cut the vinegar or add more honey.

Broccoli Salad


1 pkg cut fresh broccoli (16ish oz)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds

  1. Steam broccoli 3-4 minutes in the microwave, until just tender but still very green.
  2. Whisk vinegar, oil, salt, garlic powder and honey together and pour over broccoli. Sprinkle in cranberries and stir to coat.
  3. Sprinkle in almonds just before serving.
The cost:
broccoli: 1.99
cranberries: .35
almonds: .45

Grand total: $2.79; servies 4-6

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Chicken Soup Fake-Out

Many people in my office has been sick over the last few weeks, and after waking up and feeling icky yesterday I decided to play it safe and take the day off (I'm thinking now it's allergies but jury is still out).

While I'm a bit skeptical that chicken soup is the cure-all it purports to be, I decided that it couldn't hurt to make pot of soup and use up some veggies I had in the fridge.

I prefer to make parve soups so I can eat them with either gender foods (to learn more about the laws of keeping kosher, click here), so I made a fake chicken soup, a recipe inspired by my sister (who is one kick-ass cook, not that I'm biased or anything). Caramelizing the onions to a deep brown and simmering the soup for a really long time infuses so much flavor, you'll think a chicken used to live in it.

Faux Chicken Soup


1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 large onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, cracked and peeled
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 celery heart, chopped
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat oil in stock pot over medium flame and saute onions until soft and translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add garlic cloves and continue to cook until onions are a deep brown, 10-12 minutes. Stir often to keep from burning.
  2. Add carrots and celery and cook 10-12 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add stock, water and spices (salt and pepper to taste depending on how much sodium is in your soup stock).
  4. Bring to a boil then simmer over low heat for at least 45 minutes and up to 3 hours.
  5. Serve as is, or cool and blend smooth with a stick blender.
Fun variations:
  • Throw in a can of small white beans for protein.
  • Add fresh herbs like dill or parsley.
  • Add other veggies like peas, baby potatoes or a parsnip.
The cost:
onions: .55
garlic: .15
carrots: .35
celery: .98
stock: .98

Grand total: $3.01; serves 4-6

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Penny Pinching Tip #2: Cooking for Numero Uno

I find that cooking (or baking) is quite cathartic after a long day at work. For this reason, I cook dinner for myself on a regular basis, at least 2-3 times per week, if not more.

Cooking for one can be challenging. Many things don't come out well when made in small batches, but who wants to eat the same dish for a whole week? (Actually, I don't really mind, but if there are leftovers that means I don't get to cook dinner the next night :)).

Penny Pinching Tip #2: Divide & Conquer

Buying in bulk helps me save costs, but if I only want to make one chicken breast, it poses the problem of what to do with the other 8 cutlets in the family pack. My solution: Individualization. When I buy fresh or frozen meat, poultry or fish, I open the package, put each "piece" into its own zip-top bag, and then put everything in the freezer. This way, I can easily pull out a single serving without having to defrost an entire package. Throw a tuna steak on the grill(pan), make a quick pot of rice or quinoa, steam some broccoli and I am good to go. 

Note about defrosting: It's safer (i.e. you are less likely to get sick) by defrosting raw meat, poultry or fish in cold water rather than warm water. In addition, it's a good idea to defrost before you remove the packaging to avoid bacterial contamination.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Pantry Raid: Potluck Rice Pilaf

This weekend I celebrated the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, during which many have a custom to eat their festive meals (lunch an dinner) in a sukkah. As not everyone has a sukkah, meals are usually quite large and done potluck style in order to share the costs of feeding lots of people.

Potlucks are hard--you want to make enough food to feed a large crowd, but you don't want to spend an inordinate amount of money. This recipe is cheap, easy and filling. Toasting the rice in a bit of oil before cooking gives it an earthly flavor, and the cranberries and rice wine vinegar lend a nice sweet/sour balance.

Note about cooking rice: The cardinal rule of cooking rice is DON'T STIR OR PEEK. When you stir you release starchiness which can make your rice really mushy; if you peek, you release steam and can disrupt the rice cooking process. In order to make good rice, shake the pot when you add liquid instead of stirring, and don't lift the lid while it's cooking; your rice will be done when it stops steaming (try jiggling but not lifting the lid to see if it's still steaming).

Potluck Rice Pilaf


2 cups basmati rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/4 tsp curry powder (more if you like it really spicy)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 cup chickpeas or small white beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
2 scallions, chopped

  1. Heat oil in stock pot over medium flame and toast rice until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes (watch closely because rice can burn easily).
  2. Whisk together water, stock and spices then poor into pot and shake to combine.
  3. Turn up heat and bring to a boil, then turn down to low flame and cook until done, 15-20 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat, add rice wine vinegar, chickpeas/beans, cranberries & scallions, and fluff rice with a fork to combine. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Fun variations:
  • Saute a chopped onion, a few cracked garlic cloves or some sliced baby portabello mushrooms before adding the rice.
  • For an added crunch, stir in a 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds just before serving (I usually don't put nuts in a potluck recipe in case someone is allergic, good potluck etiquette).
The cost:
rice: .80
stock: .99
chickpeas/beans: .79
cranberries: .67
scallions: .20

Grand total: $3.45; serves 10-12 as a side

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Friday, October 2, 2009

I Have a Crush on Sweet Potatoes

No joke. I am a huge fan of sweet potatoes, not only because they are delicious and filling, but also because they are packed with fiber, vitamins and nutrients. They have a highly versatile flavor profile and do well as sweet, savory, even spicy. My fave: baked sweet potato fries. It's a minimalist recipe, but that really makes sweet potato the star of this dish.

Warning: These fries are healthy and highly addictive. You have been forewarned.

A note about peeling sweet potatoes (and most fruits and veggies): Many of the vitamins and nutrients are located just under the skin, and you lose that when you peel it off. The skin also helps crunchify these fries, so unless you are extraordinarily averse to potato skins (or eating healthy), just scrub it clean and leave it on!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries


4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
2 Tbsp light olive or vegetable oil
1 tsp sea salt (more if you like your fries super salty)

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into strips (you can do shoestring or boardwalk size, just know you'll have to adjust the baking time depending on how thick they are).
  3. In a large bowl, drizzle strips with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Stir to coat. Spread strips in a single layer on a baking sheet (they won't crisp up if they are all jumbled--if you don't have enough room, use more than one sheet).
  4. Bake in the oven 30-40 minutes or until fries are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Stir every 15ish minutes so they bake evenly. Cool completely before storing.
Fun variations:
  • Toss with chopped fresh rosemary and a few peeled garlic cloves before baking.
  • Toss with 1/2 tsp of chili or curry powder before baking.
  • Omit salt and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese before baking.
P.S. Playing this song while munching on your fries will really enhance the experience:)

The cost:
sweet potatoes: 1.58

Grand total: $1.58; serves 5-6 as a side

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