Friday, March 18, 2011

Julie's EAT HEALTHY French fries

Remember when we talked about how some experiments come out great and some are disasters? Well, there are also those that fall somewhere in the middle. For instance, the oven baked French fries I'm about to describe.

In theory, they're wonderful. No deep frying, no butter, not a lot of salt, good use of a potato...
But what happens when they just don't turn out the way they're supposed to?

Come on, you know the answer to that one. If at first you don't succeed...

Yep, I tried again. And I plan to continue trying in the future. I'm open to suggestions for seasoning. But I'm getting ahead of myself here.

Here's the first attempt:

I used my handy-dandy crinkle cutter to cut baking potatoes into bite-sized pieces. Let me go off on a quick tangent here. I got this crinkle cutter as part of my Pampered Chef starter packet years ago. Figured I'd never use the thing. I was wrong. This is the best vegetable cutter ever invented. So much easier than a knife for things like broccoli and cauliflower. I use knives for tomatoes and onions, but this is great for the bigger items. Love, love, love it.

Okay, back to the experiment:

With my potatoes cut into nice fry-sized crinkles, I dosed them with beaten egg whites. Why? Because I figured that would make my seasonings stick better. Hmm.... more on that in a minute.

I then tossed the coated crinkles in a large bowl containing a mixture of minced garlic and taco seasoning. We like taco seasoning and I thought that would be flavorful enough.

What happened? Well, when I poured the crinkles out onto a cookie sheet, I got a mess! Egg white glop everywhere. Still, I pressed on.

I baked the crinkles for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, and I think I should have left them in about 5 minutes more. The crispier versions were better than the floppy ones, but the worst part of it was the fact that the taco seasoning provided almost no flavor whatsoever.

Family verdict: Not bad. Not great.
The true test came an hour later when I looked at how many were left. Almost the entire batch. This one was a no-go.

So I tried again, changing things up a bit. Instead of fry-shaped potatoes, I opted for chip-shaped potatoes. I figured this gave me more surface to season, and it might provide more flavor. This time I decided against the egg white base and sprayed the potatoes (both sides) with olive oil flavored Pam instead.

To keep things constant, I should have used taco seasoning. But I didn't feel like it. Instead, I opted for lemon pepper seasoning on half, simple sea salt on the rest. I then popped them into the oven at 350 degrees for about 27 minutes.

Much, much better. I strongly preferred the lemon-pepper version to the simple salt version. Little bit spicy, but that was good. Next time I'll slice the potatoes just a tiny bit thinner and leave them in the oven for a couple of extra ticks.

The best part is that the possibilities are endless. Lemon pepper today, tomorrow, who knows? Any suggestions?

Thanks for sharing my experiment today!

By the way... there's an Amateur Sleuth contest going on online and my protagonist, Ollie Paras, made it into the second round! Woo-hoo!! Problem is, this time she's up against the Hardy Boys! If you'd like to see what other pairings are out there, and you'd like to vote please visit Jen Forbus's site here: Jen's Book Thoughts. After you make all your selections, just hit "Finish Survey" at the bottom. You can vote once per week and this round closes tomorrow. Thank you!!


  1. We use Morton Nature's Seasons on nearly everything. Give that a try!

  2. Julie, I love trying things out and finding out what works and what doesn't, and isn't it true that the family taste-test is the most important? If they won't eat it and it's going to waste, then it's not worth the effort. Good for you for trying and trying again. I prefer salt. Plain salt. Maybe add in some paprika and pepper. Potatoes are "simple folk." They like simple flavors, I think. And then if all else fails, add cheese. :)

    ~Avery [the "cheese" lady]

  3. Julie - Fun post! Like you, I prefer the non-stick spray thing when going for healthier faux frying in the oven. Works well on most veggies. I'm a sea salt girl, those big flavorful grains are truly delicious on potatoes. I'm also a huge fan of ketchup on fries (Heinz and no other), and Marc and I will sometimes stir up other dipping sauces (roasted garlic mayo, ranch, chipotle, etc...), so we rarely use other seasonings while they're cooking. Potatoes really do satisfy on all levels -- and it's great to think about making them healthy enough to eat every day!

    TGIF and good luck to Ollie on
    her showdown with the Hardy Boys!

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  4. I'm a Fry Fiend, so this is much appreciated. Looking forward to trying your recipe.


  5. I love baked french fries and I use pam to coat and no-salt cajun seasoning.

  6. Phil - I'll have to pick up some Morton Nature's Seasons. Sounds just like what I need!

    Avery - I have to agree. Cheese makes everything great. Which is one of the reasons why everyone is going to love LOST AND FONDUE!

    Cleo - My husband likes ketchup but I can take a pass. Unless, of course, I'm mixing it with horseradish to make homemade cocktail sauce. But I love the other dipping ideas you mentioned... great ideas. I found a new spray yesterday at the grocery store. I may have to try this again soon and report on my next experiment. But I need a few rounds of testing

    Belle - thanks! I hope you have fun and enjoy!

  7. Dru - Ooh... no-salt cajun sounds perfect! I'll have to try that, too!

  8. I go to Pampered Chef parties from time to time--I'll have to remember the crinkle cutter! This sounds like a great alternative to our usual greasy fries. Thanks, Julie!

  9. Yanno, my daughter hates crispy, and I hate soggy. You should see us when we eat lunch out--we swap fries. So if this recipe came out uneven, we'd probably all be happy.

    Voted for Ollie. Now I want a crinkle-cutter!

  10. I want a crinkle-cutter too! Thanks for sharing the ups and downs of this experiment. Glad to hear that I'm not the only person with experiments that aren't spectacular. I will be trying your second version. It sounds great and we love fries.

  11. Elizabeth - I absolutely love this thing. It had a huge bias to overcome. I was sure it would be just another useless gadget. But it's a keeper!

  12. Love friends! I'm looking forward to giving this a try. Sounds easy and yummy. Thanks, Julie!

  13. Sheila - I hate soggy and that's probably why I really always enjoy the thinner cut versions of fries. And I always eat my fries first. Once they lose that super-hot edge... ugh.

    MJ - You should see some of the winners I've come up with. Last week I made the world's worst potatoes and yesterday the world's worst broccoli. I blame it all on the computer. Forgot they were cooking. Blech. But at least the broccoli - which was supposed to be a side dish - is now a lovely soup. LOL Making lemons out of lemonade...? Kinda, sorta.

  14. I meant lemonade out of lemons!

    Thank goodness it's Friday!

  15. Erika - very easy, and the best part is being able to personalize it to your own tastes. I plan to try it again a few more times until I get it perfect for us!

  16. Julie, I love your experiment. I keep experimenting with oven "fried" chicken.

    Have you thought about baking the potatoes at 400? Just wondering if that would help with the crispy factor. Keep us posted!

    Oddly enough, I'm posting about an experiment on Monday. Aren't we daring? ; )

    ~ Krista

  17. Krista - good idea. I think I'll try the higher temp oven next time.
    I do love experimenting. Can't wait to see what you have planned for Monday!

  18. Julie...I never knew what to use those crinkle cut thingies for!!! Now I need one ;-) I'm with Krista as far as going up to 400. I actually make a pretty decent oven fry (thanks to Henrietta).'s what I do...sicle the taters (love using the word "tater"...), spray them with Pam on both sides...I, like Cleo use sea salt and some black pepper. They are in the oven about 20~25 minutes and Huzzah...Great fries!
    So...all this are definitely on the right track, getting oh so close to the station!!!

  19. DUH...after they are done douse with some malt vinegar and dunk 'em in ketchup!! My fave is Brooks Tangy Ketchup...

  20. Hi, Nanc! Thanks so much! Those crinkle cutters are great for so many things. Don't know what I'd do without mine. Thanks for the hints. I will absolutely try this again using your directions! Wonderful!