Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

Summer is officially here. It’s safe to say that I am SO ready for fall. No, really, I am. I don’t have to worry about being all sticky or sweating in public, my hair won’t be all frizzy and huge, I won’t suffer when I’m trying to sleep at night… should I go on?! Plus, clothes for fall are WAY cuter. Amirite?! I think that I’m just a rare being who enjoys fall over summer. I’m okay with that. 🙂

This treat is perfect for those hot days/evenings when you just have to have something cold. Typically, whenever we have bananas in the apartment, they never last. We eat ’em up. That wasn’t the case recently, though. Something needed to happen with the 3 sad looking bananas. They were starting to turn brown. I cut them up into chunks, threw them in a freezer bag, and called it a night. Banana ice cream. That’s what I was going to do.

I first made banana ice cream just over a year ago. I knew frozen bananas in a smoothie were a game changer, so, why not just make a soft serve ice cream? Back then, I made peanut butter banana ice cream. It was delicious! I haven’t a clue as to why I never made it again. Until now.

I had peanut butter and almond butter in the pantry. I was thinking of doing an almond butter banana combo. Troy had mentioned that he didn’t want the almond butter to be overpowering, though. Geez, babe. Way to be demanding! With that being said, I decided to just omit the nut butter and make it simple. As I was making the ice cream, it hit me. Unsweetened cocoa powder. DUH! Guys. It tasted like a frozen chocolate covered banana. It took me back to times when I enjoyed one of those. Did you ever have one at like fairs or amusement parks? I believe my mom used to buy them at the grocery store, too. It was perfection!

Let’s move on to this chocolate banana ice cream. It’s super easy to make. 3 ingredients. Really. That’s all you need. You could actually just get away with 2 if your bananas are sweet enough. But that’s your call, my friends. What I’m trying to say is that you will absolutely love this recipe. Especially if you’re trying to watch what you eat but still want to indulge. 😉

What you need:

  • frozen banana chunks (I used 3 bananas)
  • 2 and 1/2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons of honey (optional, if your bananas are sweet enough already)

Equipment:

  • food processor (I’m betting that a blender would work, too. But, I haven’t tried it.)

Directions:

  1. Put the frozen banana chunks into the food processor.

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  2. Pulse to break up the chunks. I had to go in with a knife to break up the bigger chunks that wouldn’t break down. Having smaller pieces before putting into the processor will help with this.
  3. After the bananas are broken down, you can then put the speed on low. I went between low and high. What can I say, I was impatient. 😉
  4. While it’s spinning, you can drizzle in the honey from the opening at the top of your machine. Or, if you prefer, you can stop it, take the top off, and then drizzle it in. Doesn’t matter, as long as it gets in there!
  5. Keep spinning the bananas until it all smooth and has the consistency of soft serve ice cream.
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  6. At this point, put your cocoa powder in. Turn it back on low (or high) just to combine.
  7. You can serve as is. Or, transfer to a bowl and put it in the freezer to firm up some. (I put mine in the freezer for about 10 minutes. We couldn’t wait any longer!)
  8. Scoop into bowls, and eat it allllll up!IMG_2690
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Be sure to taste along the way. Does it need more sweetness? Perhaps you want more punch of chocolate. The best part? Besides being insanely quick and easy, you can mix in whatever you want! Nuts, sprinkles, nut butters, fruit…let your creativeness run wild!

This for sure was a satisfying treat after a long day of work and dealing with yucky weather (aka summer). 🙂 Creamy, strong banana flavor with a hint of chocolate, sweet, and cold. Cannot go wrong.

Hope you all enjoy! Let me know what you think! Oh! And let me know what you put in yours!

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Spinach and Herb Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Baked Potato

This recipe is courtesy of my husband, Troy. We had a pork loin in the freezer and wanted to use that up. Since Troy is a wonderful chef, I left it up to him to come up with what to do with it. I believe the first thing he said was to stuff it and roll it up. I was down for that. I initially wasn’t going to post this because I wasn’t going to be home yet to take pictures, and I didn’t want to bother Troy with it. But guess what, he was awesome enough and took pictures. 🙂 Isn’t he just wonderful?! I may be biased….

This recipe is almost Whole30 approved. I plan on doing an update on my journey and current thoughts as to why I chose to do what I did. Intrigued?! But that’s later. Back to the food because that is ALL that matters.

The food was absolutely amazing, and it hit the spot. It’s very flavorful and you can pick and choose what to include in it. The pork is versatile, which is a great thing. So, don’t feel the need to stick with what I did. Okay?

What you will need for the pork:

  • 2 pound pork loin
  • 2 sprigs of chopped thyme
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary (chop up one sprig)
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
  • 6 pieces of bacon (we like thick cut)
  • 2 handfuls of baby fresh baby spinach (or kale if you have that lying around)
  • meat tenderizer (or a hammer…j/k)
  • butchers twine
  • tin foil

What you will need for the baked potato:

  • 2 russet potatoes
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chopped green onions (or chives)
  • chopped bacon (from the pork when it’s done)
  • cheese (optional)
  • butter (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean the pork loin of silverskin (that’s the thin layer of white on top of the meat) and some of the fat.
  3. Butterfly the pork. You will be making 3 incisions. Starting with the loin either vertically or horizontally (whichever way you feel more comfy), you are going to cut it length wise, about 3/4 of the way through. Do not cut all the way through. You will then need to butterfly each of the halves. Once you have the first center cut, open the loin up. Cut each half right down in the middle 3/4 of the way down. Remember not to cut all the way through. It will not be a flat surface. It looks more like there are triangles on each side. Don’t worry about that, you’ll be taking care that in the next step. (If this seemed complicated to follow, I’m sure there are videos online. The way that Troy did it was a lot easier than ways you may find online.)
  4. Take the tenderizer (the side with the spikes) and pound both sides completely. You’re not looking to make the loin bigger, you just want the meat to be tender.
  5. Add salt, pepper, chopped thyme and chopped rosemary, and minced garlic. Lay flat all of the spinach.IMG_3980
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  6. Starting at one end, start rolling it all up.
  7. Next, you’re going to need the butcher’s twine. Cut 4 equal length strings. Long enough to go around the loin. Tie each end of the pork loin tightly. Then, with the remaining 2 strings, tie them around the middle of the loin. Troy did the fancy thing of trussing the pork, but this is made simple. If you are interested in learning how to truss, I’d say Google it. 🙂IMG_7683
  8. Rub mustard all around the pork.
  9. With the 3 sprigs of rosemary, fit them underneath the strings so they stay in place.IMG_6287
  10. Take one piece of bacon, cover one end (so you are covering the opening). While holding the ends of the bacon, take the next piece and place it over the loin and over the ends you’re holding, then tuck it under the loin. Do the same thing with the other end of the loin. The last 2 pieces of bacon will go over the middle.IMG_9539
  11. Take 2 pieces of foil and wrap each around each potato leaving it open on top. Think of it as placing the potato into a comfy basket (without a handle).
  12. Place the bacon wrapped loin into an oven safe corning ware. Do not cover. The foil wrapped potatoes can also go into an oven safe dish.
  13. Bake the pork loin and potatoes for 45-55 minutes. Depending on your oven. The bacon will become crispy on top. Push on the loin when you take it out; it should be relatively firm. The potatoes should be soft in the center. You can use a knife to determine if it is done.IMG_0587
  14. Let the pork rest. After it has rested, peel the bacon off, and cut the strings off. (I stuck the bacon back into the oven on a baking sheet to get them more crispy).
  15. Cut the loin into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices.
  16. Slice a slit along the top the potatoes. Do not cut the ends or go all the way through. Push on the ends to make it open up and look restaurant style. Caution: it will be very hot. Then use a fork to “fluff” it all up. Top it with your favorite toppings! We used the bacon from the pork, chopped it up, and put it on top.
  17. Plate all the food.
  18. Enjoy!

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YUM! Doesn’t it look delicious?! I’ll admit, I ate it all. And very quickly. It was pretty much like I haven’t eaten in centuries.

Spinach Arugula Salad with Fresh Veggies and an Egg

This is a salad that I made for my husband and I. We both were not starving and didn’t want anything very heavy. So, a big fresh salad it was! I got most of the ingredients for this salad from Blue Sky Green Fields that were delivered to my place of work. They deliver farmer’s market quality foods. Everything they have is super fresh and delicious. Plus, I get to go online shopping for this and avoid the grocery stores. Win win! They are also local. Go Cleveland!
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Doesn’t it all look SO scrumptious?! It was such an exciting day at work when those boxes came. Shall we move on to the salad? OK, let’s go.

I didn’t put how many of the veggies you will need. This is totally up you and how much you want to eat. This can easily serve 2 people. Especially with the 2 eggs. If you’re just making this for yourself, use one egg and less spinach and arugula. What will you need? Well, this can be totally up to you and what you currently have in your fridge. The veggies in my salad is what I currently had. So, feel free to to add or omit any of the ingredients.

  • Baby Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Rainbow Carrots (the purple is my favorite. So pretty!)
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Crimini Mushrooms
  • Yellow Pepper
  • Radishes
  • Yellow Onion
  • 2 Large Egg
  • Coconut Oil (for frying the egg)

I made my own dressing. Just a very simple vinaigrette.

  • Olive Oil
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Onion Powder
  • Minced Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Troy snickered at me when I told him what was in the dressing. He said it I didn’t quite need both of the vinegars. Hey man, I don’t know what I’m doing half the time in the kitchen! Therefore I just put things together. This vinaigrette actually turned out super delicious. Take that, fancy chef!

  1. Cut up the carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes (optional, I halved mine), cucumber, pepper, onion, and radishes.
  2. Toss the spinach and arugula into a large mixing bowl. I used about 2 handfuls of spinach, and about 1 handful of arugula.
  3. Throw in all of your chopped veggies. You don’t need to mix them all quite yet.
  4. Make the dressing. I eyeballed everything. I know, I’m sorry. I’m trying to get better with my measurements here. Start off with the olive oil, though. Then, the vinegars. But add a little at a time. Now you can add the onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk it all together. Then try it. You want it to be flavorful. A little on the sour side.
  5. Pour a little of the dressing over your mixing bowl of the goods, and then use your hands to combine. You could use whatever utensil you would like. But you know what they say, your hands are the best kitchen utensils. If you think it seems a little on the drier side, then add a little more. Keep in mind that you want to be able to taste your veggies, not the veggies drowning in the vinaigrette.
  6. Once that is all combined, heat up some coconut oil (I used the coconut oil spray from Trader Joe’s) in a small pan over medium/low heat. Crack open your egg into a small bowl/cup. This is to avoid any shells. When the oil is hot enough, dump your egg into the pan. I was aiming for over easy, but it turned out to be over medium. So, keep your eye on your egg! Definitely just takes minutes.
  7. While your egg is cooking, serve your salad into the bowl/plate you will be using. When your egg is finished, slide that yummy egg on top of your salad.
  8. Eat it!

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I wish I had styled it a little better to highlight all of those fresh veggies, but it still looks pretty tasty! This is a perfect salad if you’re staying healthy. You could add some chicken for the protein. Or just keep it meatless! Up to you! It’s so versatile. I hope you enjoy it!

Hazelnut Frappuccino

I promise that all of the recipes that I post will not contain hazelnuts. Actually, I should not promise that. 😉

We went out to dinner with my parents yesterday for my birthday. (More on that to come this week!). After, we came back to our place to hang out and have some coffee before we met up with friends for drinks. It was really hot yesterday. Like, 200 degrees. Yes, that’s an exaggeration. I’m not one for hot weather or humidity. I don’t look forward to summer. I’m more of a fall/winter kind of gal. So once the hotter temperature comes, I complain. A lot. I apologize in advance. Plus, it was really warm inside the restaurant. That’s not very comfortable. I knew that I did not want a hot cup of coffee when we got back. Instead, I thought of making frappuccinos! Advice? Make sure you have ice ready. Merp. My ice was not totally frozen. My drinks were more like room temp coffee. Not so great. However, my dad really liked it. 🙂 I was kind of bummed that it didn’t turn out how I wanted. So, today I decided to give it another try. This time, my ice cubes were 100% frozen. I was setting myself up for success, my friends.

There isn’t much when it comes to the ingredients. I used hazelnut coffee. You could use any type/kind of coffee that you like. No rules. I used coconut milk. Again, you can just use whatever you have. Ice. Don’t forget that! And last but not least, Nutella. I had some left over from when I made those cupcakes. I think the Nutella adds just the right touch.

Hazelnut Frappuccino
3 cups cold coffee (any flavor, I used hazelnut for this)
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 and 1/2 trays of ice cubes
2 tablespoons of Nutella

I have a Keurig and used one K-Cup for the coffee. I just used the same K-Cup and brewed it twice. I put the hot coffee in the freezer to cool it down quicker. You want to use cold coffee so when you add the ice, it doesn’t just melt. Remember, we are making a frappuccino here. Once the coffee is cool, put it in the blender. Add the coconut milk. And then the ice. I blended it for 15 seconds and then added the Nutella. I kept blending until it was the consistency that I was after. If it doesn’t seem like it’s coming together and looks like it could use more liquid, add some more milk. We want it to be creamy. When it’s looking good, go ahead and taste it. I thought it was perfect. Not too sweet. I did not add any more sugar than what’s in the Nutella, but if you like your coffee on the sweeter side, you can add sugar. All that’s left is to pour it in a glass, sit back, and relax. Not too bad, right?

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Ah, don’t they just look so refreshing? It was a really tasty treat. Cold. Coffee. Hazelnut. Cannot go wrong. Plus, I didn’t even have to leave my apartment to get one!

Yes, those are wine glasses. I didn’t have any cute cups that were fitting. I wanted to use those straws, and they matched better with a simple cup. This frappuccino was definitely better than the one I made yesterday. I call this another hit! You will not be disappointed when you make this! Go and enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes. Marshmallow Fluff. Nutella Buttercream.

Wowza! That is quite a delicious cupcake, if I do say so myself. Like I stated in my other post, I made those for my birthday which was on Monday. I knew I wanted to do a chocolate cake, but wasn’t quite sure what else should go with it. There are just too many options. I originally was going to do a peanut butter mousse. Oh. My. Word. Peanut butter mousse is heavenly. However, it just didn’t seem special enough for my birthday, ya know? Then it hit me. Nutella. I’m such a sucker for anything hazelnut. Really. And who doesn’t enjoy Nutella?! It’s absolutely delightful! Okay. So. I had my chocolate cupcake and Nutella buttercream. It just needed an extra kick. I couldn’t come up with it! I asked Troy for his opinion, and we bounced ideas off of each other. And then there it was. Marshmallow. Homemade marshmallow of course. How dreamy it would be to bite into a cupcake and have the fluffiness of marshmallow ooze out. Yum! That is the story behind this perfect cupcake.

Does anyone follow Sally’s Baking Addiction? I absolutely adore her and all of her goodies. I use her recipe for the chocolate cupcake. It works every time. I wish I was super cool enough to have my own recipe, but I do not. One day! For now, Sally is my BFF. Click here for her recipe for the chocolate cupcake. You honestly won’t be disappointed.

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Don’t they look just perfect? And those liners! Those are from Wilton. I found them at Giant Eagle. (That’s a grocery store for those not familiar). I’m a huge fan of liners that keep their color and patterns. I thought they would be quite fitting for the occasion. You can get them here.

I made 2 dozen of the cupcakes from Sally, and 1 dozen from Against All Grain. I’ve been wanting to dabble into the Paleo world of baking. And this recipe, was a huge success. My coworker has her cookbooks and was kind enough to lend me them to flip through. She also sent me a picture of the chocolate cake recipe since I hadn’t yet bought the books. I highly recommend this recipe and checking out her blog and books!

Once the cupcakes were all done baking and they were all cooling together on the rack, it was time to make the marshmallow fluff. By this time, it was 10PM on Sunday night. I started baking at 7, took a break at 9 for Game of Thrones (duh), and then got right back to it. I wanted to make the fluff easily. I didn’t want to spend time with the candy thermometer or using corn syrup… gimme something quick and easy!

Marshmallow Fluff
3 Egg Whites
2/3 Cup of Sugar
Healthy Pinch of Cream of Tartar
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

You’ll need a small pot with a little water in it to be simmering. Then, a heatproof bowl will go on top of the simmering water. The egg whites, sugar and tartar should all be in that heatproof bowl. Start whisking!! Use those muscles! You want to keep whisking until the mixture is warm. I just used the tip of my finger to determine if it was warm or not. Once the mixture is warm, transfer to the mixer (or use a hand mixer). Beat on high until stiff and glossy peaks form. It’s such a beautiful thing. Breathtaking, perhaps. You will want to beat the vanilla in there. I use my homemade extract. Mine was at the end of the bottle, and it had A LOT of beans. Talk about an explosion of flavor from those. I used a little more than one teaspoon just because I really really really like vanilla extract. That’s the marshmallow. See, it’s easy. IMG_2162

Can you see all of those little specs?! That’s the vanilla. Such a wonderful site. Doesn’t that fluff look like a cloud that you just want to jump on?! Ugh. I love it! I easily could have eaten the whole bowl. No shame.

I usually core out the middle of the cupcakes when I make a filling, but I wanted to try just cutting a slit along, and then piping the fluff in. I used disposable piping bag and a small tip. I think I’ll stick to carving a core into the cake. It would be easier to do, in my opinion.

Nutella Buttercream
Nutella
Room Temperature Butter (I used 4 sticks because I had 3 dozen cupcakes)
Powdered Sugar
Vanilla Extract
Heavy Cream (Optional)

Cream the butter together until it’s all light and well, creamy. Add powered sugar. I don’t have an exact measurement because I just sort of dump. I start with about half a cup at a time. I have a tendency to not put in a lot of sugar in my buttercreams. Once the sugar is mixed with the butter. Add the Nutella. Again, no exact measurement for me. I had to pipe 3 dozen cupcakes, so I used just about a full jar. Make sure to taste along the way, that way you can add more if you want a stronger flavor. If the frosting is too thick, that’s where the heavy cream comes into play. Just add a little bit at time until it’s the consistency that you want. Try really hard not to eat all of the frosting until you have piped all your cupcakes. It was really hard for me, to be honest.

I used 2 of my favorite tips for piping the cupcakes. Perhaps I’ll have a post about my favorite tips and how to pipe. That’ll be fun! Piping the cupcakes is probably my favorite part. They each turn out a little different, and I like it.

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And that’s the awesome tower and carrier. Isn’t all just so pretty?! That can also hold cake pops. Fun, right?! It did not come with the ribbon. I had some left over from my wedding and thought it would go perfectly with everything. Ah! I just love it SO much!

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The cover it perfect. Plus the handle. It’s the greatest! I got it at Bed Bath & Beyond. 30 bucks. Not a bad deal! I also love that it has mint details. 🙂

Like I said, the cupcakes were a huge hit and people are still talking about it. I’ve had multiple people tell me to make those again. Some found it weird that I baked cupcakes for my own birthday. Maybe it is. I don’t think it was. I wanted a yummy treat, and I wanted to show off. 😉 You gotta celebrate!

Rosemary Shoestring Sweet Potato Fries

I don’t know about you, but I’m obsessed with fries. I can have them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and anywhere in between! However, they have to be crispy. There are some occasions where they could be a little on the softer side – maybe you’re using thick cut fries as a vessel for chili. Yum. Then it’s okay for no crispiness. But today, I was in the mood for some crunchy delicious fries! Recently, as in the last few months, I fell in love. I met a sweet potato, and fell oh so hard. Now, you’re probably wondering to yourself, “What?! How can she be alive for SO many years and JUST now be loving the sweet potato?” Well, you just hold on here. Let me tell you a story…

My first job, I worked in a daycare as an infant teacher. Don’t worry, I didn’t teach much. Just basically hung out with the tiny humans. Adorbs. Anyway, I think it was around Thanksgiving and we were having a potluck. Gimme all the foods! I don’t remember what was actually brought in except one dish. The sweet potatoes. They were covered with brown sugar, maple syrup, and marshmallows. Now, I adore all of those ingredients minus the potato since I haven’t had one prior. I thought to myself, what could go wrong? I have a huge sweet tooth, and who doesn’t enjoy a potato. When I took my first bite of that concoction, I’m pretty positive all my teeth had rotted instantly from all of the sugar. My oh my, I did not like that! I couldn’t even try it again! No way! None for me! I was ruined! Scarred for life! Until a few months ago…

I wanted to become a lot healthier. I’m not a fan of my weight, and I heard of the Whole30. I instantly became intrigued. It was a strict diet, but I had a feeling I could do it. I can go more into detail later about how Whole30 works. For now, lets just keep talking about the beloved sweet potato. Sound good? So, I read about how the sweet potato is actually pretty darn good for you, so I wanted to have it in my diet. My husband was all for it, too. The first night he made me dinner on our Whole30, he had cubed up the sweet potato and dusted them with some Indian spices. I thought I had really enjoyed Indian spices. Nope! I really did not like those potatoes! I couldn’t believe it. Could it just be that I don’t like the actual potato?! I had to try it just one more time. The next morning, my husband made me breakfast. I know, I’m a lucky gal. Sweet potato hash! Fried egg on top, veggies, bacon, herbs. Yum. I absolutely LOVED that breakfast. It finally happened. That’s where my affair with the sweet potato started. I’m sorry it took me this long to love you, sweet potato.

Now, shall we get on with this recipe?

I used two medium sized potatoes. It was just for me and the hubby. I kept the skins on. You should too. They are good for you. Got it? I cut those bad boys in half. Laid the flat side down on the cutting board. Then cut slices. I kept them pretty thin to make sure I can get them thin enough. I’ll be honest, I’m a horrible cutter. Chopper? Not sure what the correct word is here, but I need to work on my cuts to make them even! sliced_potato

Once I had those slices, I took about 2-3 at a time and stacked them. From there, I cut them into strips. Again, you want them thin to ensure the crispiness. I did that for the rest of the half potato, and then worked on the remaining potatoes. strips_potato

Now, aren’t those just beautiful?! And the knife! I feel somewhat comfortable using the big chef knife, but use whatever knife you feel comfortable using. Make sure that it’s sharp. You always want to use a sharp knife. Once you have all of the fries, you’re going to give them a water bath. This is to remove starch from the potatoes. I filled up a big mixing bowl with cold water, dumped the fries in, and swished them around with my hand. Then, just emptied the water. Simple! I laid a tea towel down on the counter to throw the fries down for them to dry. You could use paper towels here if you choose to. You want to remove as much as the moisture as you can. I used the paper towels for this part since I didn’t feel like looking for another towel. Ha! waterbath tea_towel

Next, is the baking sheet. Oh, make sure you have the oven set at 400 degrees. Preheated oven is a must! You could line your baking sheets with foil, or wax paper. I have fancy baking sheets where nothing sticks to them. They’ve got the grooves on them. With the dried fries, place them onto the baking sheet. I used coconut oil spray to coat my fries. Feel free to use olive oil. Toss to coat. Then make sure the fries are in one even layer. If they overlap, they will be soggy. No thank you! Once you have them evened out, next is the seasonings. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, fresh rosemary, and a touch of cayenne pepper. fries_bakingsheets

Ok, so the first sheet, I didn’t feel like laying them out one by one. They are crowded on that baking sheet. Wit the second one, I took the extra 2 minutes and laid them out. Once it’s all seasoned, throw them into the oven! I baked them for 9 minutes, then rotated. I set the timer for 8 minutes, but kept my eye on them since they weren’t all even. There were some that were burning, I removed them first. At this point, the kitchen was smelling pretty darn good. I could not wait! When they looked tasty to me, I took them out. plated_fries

And there you go. Easy. That was just my plate. I didn’t share. You don’t have to either, I give you permission.

Enjoy!