August 26, 2011 – Staying in tonight? Feeling like snuggling on the couch snacking on goodies in front of the perfect movie? Well, here are some quick recipes for two very addictive snacks, guaranteed to make your movie night! Happy popcorn-and-sweet-potato-fries-munching time!
Popping popcorn may seem easy, but in reality, making popcorn from scratch can be quite tricky. First of all, you don’t want your kernels to burn in the bottom nor do you want any kernels to not pop at all. And secondly, you want every kernel to be evenly coated with whatever spices you decide to throw in. There’s nothing as annoying as snacking on tasty kernels one bite and bland popcorn the next!
If you’re looking for something a little bit more filling than popcorn, may I suggest these completely addictive oven-baked sweet potato fries?
I’m warning you, oven-baked sweet potato fries are very addictively delicious! You’ll eat so many your skin may just turn orange from beta carotene! Just kidding!
- 3 Tbsp canola, peanut or grapeseed oil (high smoke point oil)
- 1/3 cup of high quality popcorn kernels
- 1 3-quart covered saucepan
- 2 Tbsp or more (to taste) of butter
- Salt to taste
1 Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan on medium high heat.
2 Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernels into the oil and cover the pan.
3 When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer. Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds. (Count out loud; it’s fun to do with kids.) This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when they are put back on the heat, they all pop at about the same time.
4 Return the pan to the heat. The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once. Once the popping starts in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner. Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release (the popcorn will be drier and crisper). Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a wide bowl.
With this technique, nearly all of the kernels pop (I counted 4 unpopped kernels in my last batch), and nothing burns.
5 If you are adding butter, you can easily melt it by placing the butter in the now empty, but hot pan.
6 Salt to taste.
Additional tips: From the comments section
a If you add salt to the oil in the pan before popping, when the popcorn pops, the salt will be well distributed throughout the popcorn.
b Fun toppings for the popcorn – Spanish smoked paprika, nutritional yeast, cayenne powder, chili pepper, curry powder, cumin, grated Parmesan cheese.
Sweet Potato Fries
- 2 pounds sweet potatoes, about 3 large ones
- 1/4 cup olive or other vegetable oil
- 1-2 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1-2 Tbsp spice or spice combination of your choice: chipotle powder, smoked paprika, Chinese five-spice, pumpkin pie spice, garam masala, Cajun seasoning, etc.
1 Preheat oven to 450°F. (For more crispiness, preheat your oven to 500°F.)
2 Peel the sweet potatoes and cut off the ends. Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and then, if they are very long, in half crosswise. Cut each piece into wedges. Alternately, you can slice the peeled sweet potato into disks either with a mandoline or a sharp knife.
3 Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl and add the oil. Mix well to combine. Sprinkle with salt, sugar and spices of your choice. Use your hands to mix well, so all pieces are coated with oil and spices.
4 Spread the sweet potatoes out in a single layer on a baking sheet; the oil they are coated with should keep them from sticking to the pan. If you are trying to cut fat, reduce the oil to 2 Tbsp and use a non-stick coating on the baking sheet. (Note: a commenter has recommended putting them on a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet, so that the oven air circulates around the sweet potato pieces and you don’t have to turn them in the next step. Another commenter recommends preheating the baking sheet, to help the fries get crisp.)
5 Bake for a total of 25 to 30 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn over all of the sweet potato pieces. Return to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until they are well browned. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.