Monthly Archives: October 2014

Random Thoughts on Mr. Wang’s

We have gone back to Mr. Wang’s in Homewood, AL twice since my first post about them. The second time, we sat in the same spot as we did the first time and our girl goes “So, is Saturday going to be y’all’s day?” Which I thought was actually cute because, yeah, Saturday is probably going to be our day.

This past weekend, we went in and she called from the back “Hi! Go ahead and take your table!” and since the same table was empty, we took it. I really haven’t experienced that kind of atmosphere in a restaurant since we moved here from Arkansas, where we had a place we went and the manager would sometimes come to our table and sit and visit while we ate our dinner.

Everyone got their food and we sat down. This time, they had those little thread noodles on the bar, and I really, really love those. They had just a little curry powder in them, enough to make them flavored but not spicy. I got the youngest to eat some, and he said they’re one of his new favorite things. I ate a few, even if they are carb.
Sorry, no pics this time, I’m a slacker.

At one point during our meal, Superman was talking about his jaw teeth hurting and I told him it is probably time to have his wisdom teeth removed. They mentioned it at the Sparks dental clinic several months ago. He started to immediately panic. In a little bit, our girl walked over and asked him why he was upset and he told her. She calmly explained the procedure to him and reassured him that he will feel no pain when it is done and that she had hers removed and it wasn’t so bad. By the time she was finished, he was no longer worried about it and maybe even looking forward to it hahaha

A Jedi, she is.

One of the things about this place, they are not afraid to make fun of you and they can take it if you make fun back. So if you go, take your sense of humor.

You should check out their website at MrWangsBuffet and see their menu. They have some of their recipes posted and also some jokes that require a disclaimer. You’ve been warned!

Mr Wang's on Urbanspoon

The Best Deviled Egg Recipe You’ve Ever Had except for Maybe Your Mom’s…

Deviled eggs, who loves them? I do, and so does my youngest. I make a batch maybe once a week or so, because eggs are cheap and nutritious. Here is a recipe I’ve been working on for a bit, mostly because I eyeball measure when I cook, so I had to take my time and get it right.

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This low carb deviled egg recipe is the best one I’ve made. I can sort of remember eating them growing up, but holidays at my house always had a big crowd and things like the deviled eggs never lasted and Mom didn’t make them when it wasn’t a holiday. I think, too, that they were more work than she wanted to put into one dish. Boiling and peeling eggs, then cleaning them, etc when you have a crowd of twenty or so to cook for, that’s a lot of work.

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This recipe makes twelve, it can easily be doubled or tripled, or even halved. The reason you see seven eggs in the pic is because I always cook seven, even though I only use six for the recipe. Why? Because sometimes one turns out to leak or something, it never fails. I put the eggs into boiling water with a spoon and set the timer for 15 minutes, then put them in ice water for a couple of minutes. This usually helps them peel pretty easily but if the egg has an invisible crack, it will leak out and come out looking like this:

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See that one on the left? It’s still edible, so I just salt it and eat it.

You can skip this step and buy eggs that are pre-cooked. They sell them in most stores now under the brand name “NeverUgly”
Ok, not really, they do sell them, and they are Never Ugly, but I don’t know the brand.

After the eggs are boiled, you want to cut them in half and use a spoon to scoop the yolk into a bowl. Put the egg halves on a dish. Now, I like salt on my eggs, so I always throw a sprinkling of salt on the white halves. You can skip this step if you want.

Now, take a fork and mash up the yolks in the bowl. When they are mashy, add a dollop of mayo to them. A dollop is a unit of measurement my mom used. I think it’s about 1/3 cup.
Add your mayo, add salt and pepper to taste, and add a tablespoon of dried, minced onion. Lastly, you will add your secret ingredient but if I put that here, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore so I can’t tell ya. Just kidding! See the pic, it’s that love upon love of foods, butter! I add one tablespoon of softened butter per two whole eggs. What goes better with eggs than good, old fashioned butter?

Mix all that up, really, really well and fill your eggs. I’ve seen people use piping bags, sometimes a spoon, I put all of mine in a baggie, snipped the end off, and squirted it in. I did it just for the blog pics, they usually turn out pretty messy, though.

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Let them set for 30 minutes or so before eating, or even overnight! The reason is because the minced onion needs to get soft so you don’t have crunchy bits in your eggs.
I don’t garnish mine with paprika, but sometimes with a bit of pepper, because S&P are my favorite seasonings. Sometimes, I cut up tiny bits of green onion to put on them, it makes them prettier. I use a lot of green onion, I have some walking onions I got from my grandmom’s garden when she died, and it’s something I always have on hand.

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Deviled eggs

6 cooked, hardboiled eggs, cut in half to make twelve halves
1/3 cup of mayo
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon dried, minced onion
S&P to taste

Scoop the yolks from the eggs and mash them in a bowl
Add the mayo, onion, butter and S&P

Fill the wells on the eggs till they are heaped up

Garnish with paprika, a little pepper, some green onion, or nothing

Let sit for at least half an hour before serving

Enjoy!

The Good News is: Coupons! Adding Coupons.com to WordPress for Beginners

Just a quick update: One of the visions I have for this site is to have printable coupons. I love coupons and while we eat a pretty healthy diet (all except for Superman, but that’s another post), there are still quite a few things we use that I can buy using a cents-off coupon. Therefore, getting myself established as a coupon ambassador has become a priority.

I applied to Coupons.com a few weeks back to see if I could use their brand on this site. The entire website thing is a learning experience for all of us, and this is no exception. I have some rudimentary HTML experience from being a member of an eBay chat board from way back, and from coding my own auctions, but that is it. WordPress is new to me and so is this strange and mysterious thing they call CSS.

Coupons.com approved my application and sent me some Javascript to add to my site. This was great, except they didn’t tell me anything else, like HOW to add it or WHERE to add it. Instinctively, I went into my Pages and made a page for it. Then I inserted the code. I ended up with some gobbledygook and no coupopns. Of course, I took to Google.

After looking at a couple of sites, I determined that I needed to add <html> <body>then add my Javascript </body> </html> and voila! I had a coupon page on my site. Except…it wasn’t. It was only a half page, and it looked like this:

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As you guys can see, I couldn’t even get to half the coupons. Again, I took to Google to find the answers to this problem. This time, it took me about three hours before I finally became frustrated enough to call GoDaddy support. Guess what support said? GOOGLE YOUTUBE VIDEOS and “Since you’re using WordPress, I can’t help you”.

I went to a facebook page that is about WordPress and explained the issue there. Meanwhile, I kept trying to find the answer to my question. I opened up a chat window with support, they said “Contact coupons.com and ask them”.

I kept Googling, and by now, I had sent an entirely whiny, complainy message to a friend, who said “Go ask Jen”. I asked Jen. She said “Put it in a table, and then do these other things.” So, I did. That fixed the issue with being unable to see half the coupons, but in order to see the other half, I had to side scroll. At the same time she was helping me, I received an answer to my question in the wordpress group. He said to go into my CSS and do some mysterious things. That was the first time I had ever heard of CSS.

Cue another round of Googling, video watching, and using code generator sites. This got me nowhere.

I called support again. This time, I had a rep who didn’t just cut me off and tell me that she couldn’t help. She was quite helpful and at least helped me find some things within my cPanel that I needed.

Around 10:30 PM, I finally quit with my issue unresolved. That was Sunday.

On Monday, I texted this picture of my site code to Mr. Incredible, who doesn’t know anything about websites…as you can see, he took the news like a champ!

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By Tuesday, after spending maybe 15 hours trying to figure out how to align my page left and trying to learn CSS (there are TONS of sites out there for this, but they all seem to pick up somewhere after the actual beginning learner phase, and leave out something very basic that they all assume that a user already knows…) I went to wordpress.org to ask for help. Thursday, my friend told me she was trying to print a coupon from my page and it was still messed up, when I told her that I was on the cusp of giving up, she goes “Try changing your theme. Maybe it doesn’t fit your theme.”

We were at the clinic, so it had to wait till we got home and everyone was fed and all those Life kinds of things…I did a backup since I learned the first time I tried to change themes that backing up is necessary in case you erase everything, then I went into my themes and changed from Twenty Fourteen to Twenty Twelve.

After ALL that time, the coupon page righted itself and went straight into the page, perfectly aligned.

It really was that simple.

So, the reason I’ve written up this entry is just in case there is someone out there who wants to do the same thing and keeps coming up empty handed. Adding coupons.com to a wordpress self-hosted website can be as easy as just changing your theme without having to take a crash course in CSS if you’re unfamiliar, digging around in your cPanel, and trying to figure out what that missing link is that the beginner sites don’t include.

Hopefully, when your tech support person tells you to Google it, you’ll find this page.

Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, AL gets FIVE stars in my book

Sometimes, I think maybe this blog should be “52 Weeks of Bama” because, well, we like to go, and we don’t always stay close to home. See, I grew up in the country and sometimes, I have to get out in the hills just to re-center myself. This week was one of those weeks.

Last week, a dear friend surprised me with a gift of some cash and said “Do something for the boys.”
I narrowed it down to two things. A trip 2 hours north to Cathedral Caverns or a membership to the Birmingham Zoo. The zoo membership would give us unlimited visits for a year, but I picked a day trip to Cathedral Caverns, instead. I used to go caving back when I was 18 or so, and have been on commercial cave tours, too. I called them ahead of time to find out about how easy the tour is because we occasionally have some mobility issues and some irrational fears. On the phone, the young lady I spoke with said they have golf carts that a person can ride on if they are unable to tolerate the actual walk in the cave, which is paved throughout and has handrails, too.

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Here we are, starting out. Mr. Incredible passed on the day trip in favor of a quiet day, napping and watching whatever he wanted on the tv, uninterrupted. So, before we left, I set the crock pot with some supper for him, because when the boys and I go on a jaunt, who knows when we will actually be home? Not us…and you can bank on us getting food out as our way of finishing off the day. It’s just how we roll.

About 10 miles from the house, I saw something on the roadside and turned around to go back and get it. I had to exit the interstate, get back on, etc. I don’t normally stop to pick up roadside treasures, but did it for these. Check it out!

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They must have fallen off a work truck. These things are like gold for kids with Autism and were well worth the extra ten mins it took to go back for them. I’ll clean them up and will find them a home.
If you have a few cases of these or a source for them, feel free to give me a holler. I’ll hand them out to kids at an event. You’d be surprised at what a set of these things can do for an Autie kid to be able to handle crowds.

My mom used to always pick up stuff off the road. Her favorite thing? Milk crates and 5 gallon buckets!  It’s interesting to me, the things that remind me of her now that she’s gone.

We got back on the road and kept going until we got to Steele, where we exited for bathroom breaks and because there is a Loves there. Why Loves? Because I have a weakness for truck stop tchotchkes! I have never bought any, but do love to look.

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While I’m on the subject of bathroom breaks, I want to add something.
A lot of kids with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder really hate public toilets. Those sensors on the back? The damn things go off at unpredictable moments and the toilets are already so loud they hurt sensitive ears and They.Scare.Our.Kids.
OK, they don’t scare Superman anymore (though he still hates the unpredictability of it) but little kids, yes! So, here’s what we learned to do. Cover it up with a piece of TP. Simple.

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It will not go off until you remove the TP, which means it can at least take the unpredictability out of the whole thing. It will still be loud, and parents, PLEASE make sure your kids know that when they go by themselves, they need to let the toilet flush by removing the TP. Please don’t make me regret sharing this tip with you or some engineer, somewhere, will be paid to find a way to work around our workaround.

I’m sure I didn’t invent this. I did, however, figure it out on my own when my little one was actually little and he asked me about the sensor. Instead of telling him the truth, I told him that when you stand up, it takes a picture of your butt to make sure you wiped good. Oh boy, I am STILL regretting that one but it doesn’t make it any less hilarious!

We got off at Gadsden and headed north. There were some interesting things along that highway. There’s a drive in theater in Boaz, lots of interesting looking, locally owned restaurants, a car lot (Boaz area again) that sells cars for inexpensive cash prices, and also a place that has vintage cars, including what looked like an old ambulance. It was a good drive, one we had never made before.

Right before we got to the park, there was an overlook area with parking.

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The park has a good sized pavilion with lots of picnic tables, enough to accommodate large groups. We set up a picnic with some junk food, but I, at least, ate LC junk food…

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According to Superman, picnics are relaxing. I think that means we will go on more of them.

We moseyed down to the shop to see when the next tour was, and we had about an hour. We walked around, looking at rocks and gift shop jewelery and I sent the boys back to the van to get a couple of pennies for the penny press. Any time there is a penny press, we press a penny. I got the one with the bat on it. There was a man who was very interested in the press machine, so I had the oldest show him his when it was finished. He sounded like he might have been French. We saw him when he pulled in to the parking lot, he got out of a car with New York license plate and a Yakima roof rack. He got out and went straight to a sunny place and lay down in it before he did anything else.

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You can’t really tell how steep the incline was from this image, but it was steep enough that I knew we wouldn’t be able to manage without a little support. While the boys were getting pennies, I approached the guy in the shop and told him that my son has Autism and with that, some depth perception issues. He immediately volunteered a seat on the golf cart. I didn’t even have to ask.
When they got back from the van, I introduced them and made sure that my son knew there would be no worries.

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Meet Alex, our tour guide. This young man is 16. He loves Auburn and wants to be a park ranger.  He plays football and baseball and goes to work at the park almost every day. His voice booms across the crowd so nobody misses a thing while they are on their tour. Alex was the tour guide recently for a blogger at AL.com but I didn’t know that before we went. The above write up covers aspects of the tour that I won’t be. I look at almost everything we do from a different perspective, that of a parent with an adult son with a disability.

Now, back to Alex. You know I like to people watch and one of the things I noticed about him was how he interacted with my son. Even while I write this, it makes me tear up. I don’t know if he has any experience with Autie kids, but if he was acting instinctively, then he was spot on. He gave him ample warning when there were steep areas, when he should hold on tight, and at one point even asked him to sit in the front with him so he could see certain areas and also make sure he didn’t knock his head on the wall. What he did NOT do is treat him like he didn’t think he could understand, like he was any different,  he didn’t insist that he interact with him, and he didn’t talk to me instead of him. He did, at one point, ask me if there were any seizure issues because he played a strobe light show at the end. I wish there were more Alexes in the world. Lots more.

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The only part of the cave that is not wheelchair accessible is a staired portion with 43 steps. It leads up to a hole in the wall where the ceiling is low and well-lit. They have this area set up so that you can see fossils in the ceiling. It’s covered in fossilized fish bones! Very, very cool and interesting enough that Superman climbed those stairs in spite of his fears just so he could check it out.

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The cave itself is beautiful and rich with history. There has been a lot of love invested into it over the years in order to make it a place for people from all over to be able to enjoy.  It’s worth the drive for any day trip and it’s one we will make again.  I hope every park is as easy to navigate with Autism as this one was, and I hope every park has someone there who has the kind of compassion and character that I found at this one.

Go here to check out Cathedral Caverns on the Alabama State parks website.

 

Soup, Salad, and Sandwiches … Getting the Most from a Rotisserie Chicken

I love rotisserie chicken, heck, I just love chicken!
Sometimes, I pick up a bird when I’m strapped for time or cash and take it home. We have a little store here with a deli that occasionally marks down the unsold chickens for 2 bucks or so which is a great price for a cooked chicken. Today, I’m going to talk about how to take a chicken, make some curried chicken salad, how to find low carb sandwich bread for them, and then make a delicious chicken stock for soups and recipes.

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The first thing you do is cut the meat off the breasts and chop it up. Toss it into a bowl. Pick the rest of the meat off the chicken and put it in a container and refrigerate.

Once you have the bones, toss them in a pot and cover them with water. Set it on the stove and bring to a boil.

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Next, get out some celery, onion, almonds, mayo, salt and pepper and curry powder.

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Trim the ends of the celery, chop it up and toss it in the bowl with the chicken. Cut the onion in half and peel off the outside bit and chop it up. Toss this in the bowl, too.  Next, take the onion and celery scraps, give them a rough chop, and put them in the pot with the chicken and water and stir it up.

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Like this:

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Put the lid on your pot and reduce the heat to low and this will stay on your stove on low heat all day, about six to eight hours.  The reason you want to cook it all day like that is so you get all of the gelatin and nutrients from the bones. This is something you can also do in the crock pot if you don’t like leaving a fire on the stove. I’ve never done it, but my friend, Dinah, does.

Now, take your almonds if they are whole and chop them up. If you have already bought slivered almonds, skip this step.

Put them in a skillet on med heat and toast them, stirring often. Be careful or they may burn. I can’t stress this enough. When they start to smell fragrant and lightly golden, they’re toasted, take them off the heat and toss them in the bowl with the chicken and veggies.

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Give the cat a bite of meat before you add the spices. Or the dog…
You know they’re begging. I didn’t even need a new image for this, he is always doing that very pose.

Add salt and pepper to taste and about 1 to 2 tablespoons of curry powder. This is where you want to be careful because you might not like a lot of curry and you can’t take it out if you add too much.
Add about half a cup of mayo and stir it all together, maybe a little more if it doesn’t seem to be incorporating well enough.
Congrats! You just made curried chicken salad.

Mr. Incredible likes to stuff this into some Joseph’s low carb pitas for his lunchbox lunches. He says this is one of the best things he has ever eaten. It makes no sense! He hates chicken. Sometimes, I think being married to him is like living in an alternate reality… I just wrap it in a lettuce leaf and have a lettuce cup.

Joseph’s low carb pitas are sold online and in stores. To see if they are in a store near you, Go here.

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8 hours later…

Put a strainer over a big bowl and strain the chicken stock by pouring it in. It will be  a deep, golden color. If you’re going to be using it in a few days to make soup, store it in the refrigerator, but you can save it for later in your freezer and never have to buy the canned, store bought stuff again. When I freeze mine, I add the chicken bits that I put in the fridge. When I am going to make soup in a few days, I leave them in the fridge to add then. One bird makes about 2 quarts.

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Cooking  doesn’t have to be complicated. You can do this same thing with a raw chicken you cooked yourself or even with a whole, canned chicken. Yep, there is such a thing, Sweet Sue Canned Whole Chicken. They have their own fan club. In Bham, you can buy them at Food Giant for around three bucks. Somewhere on the web, there is a picture of me kissing one fresh from the can AND in the can, the day I found them in-store.  People really shouldn’t dare me to do things…

This recipe is my favorite roast chicken recipe in case you want to buy a chicken and cook it yourself. Back when I was first learning to cook, there was a great show on Food Network called “Cooking Live” and this recipe is from that show. It is very simple and easy.

That’s it for How to Use a Chicken 101
I’ll do a separate write-up another day that covers making soup with the delicious and nutritious stock you made from those bones.

Curried Chicken Salad

Meat from two chicken breasts, chopped
Half a medium onion (about half a cup), chopped
2-3 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 cup of toasted almonds
1/2 cup of mayo
1 to 2 Tablespoons of curry powder
S&P to taste

Stir everything together in a big bowl. Can be eaten immediately but is better the next day.

 

 

Roast Green Bean French Fries … Low Carb, Keto and all that Jazz

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This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. Now, before I get started, I want to clarify something very, VERY important. I love French fries. If I had to choose between French fries and fried chicken, my head would probably explode. Extra salty crinkle fries and southern fried chicken would be my death row meal.

As far as I’m concerned, nothing low carb replaces fries. Texturally, all those things are different from potatoes.This recipe, though, Mr. Incredible and I can both agree on, is very good and makes a fine side with a burger or whatever. Last night, we had them with steak. I’ve cooked this for so long that I can’t even recall where I found it and wish that I could, but many of my recipes come from a long time ago when I first started LCing, around 1999 or so.

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To make this, you need a pound or so of fresh green beans. Frozen will work, but I love the fresh ones the most. Line them up like the ones on the bottom and trim the ends from both sides. They actually sell bags of trimmed fresh green beans in most produce depts for those of you who want to skip this step because you can’t be trusted around sharp objects.

See that brown thing on the left? That’s a slice of roast beef and here’s why.

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This is Milo. He’s an old man. When I say that, the husband always says “He’s a CAT!” but seriously…Milo is an old man. I can remember when he was born and now he is 14. Milo is a smart cat, he’s the cat who would save our lives if there was a fire. He can say his own name. Of course, when he says “Milo?” it can mean anything, from “I know you’re cooking meat!” to “Pardon me, ma’am, but would you please drip the tub faucet for a bit?” to “Got lap?” One day, when we lose him, we will all be devastated.

So. Milo.

For all of his Cat Smarts, he thinks that no matter what I’m cutting on the cutting board, if the cutting board and the knife are out, that means there is meat. Glorious MEAT! I was standing there, and I would cut the ends off a few green beans and I’d hear “Milo?”
The conversation went like this…
“Milo?”
“Milo, they are green beans. Not meat.”
Chop chop
“Milo?”
“Milo, I promise, I am trimming green beans.”
Chop chop
“Milo?”
I take a green bean and let him sniff it. He looks very excited, then realizes it’s a green bean or “not meat”.
“Milo?”
“Go away, Old Man.”
Chop chop
“Milo?”

So, I got out a piece of roast beef (that is the brown thing on the cutting board) and, while I worked, I would hand him bites. No, I’m not kidding. Humans are, after all, only here to serve.

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So, trim your green beans and toss them in a big bowl. Add your spices and S&P to taste. I used about a teaspoon each of onion powder and paprika and salt and a little pepper. Give them a drizzle of olive oil.

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I know there are a lot of LCers who don’t totally know their way around the kitchen yet, so know that sometimes when you’re cooking, you have to get your hands in it. This is one of those times. Stick your hands in and massage the spices and oil all over the beans then spread them out on a foil lined pan and put them in a 425 oven. While they are roasting, you cook whatever meat you’re planning.

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After about ten mins, take them out and stir them all around. They will be looking a little wrinkly.
Put them back in the oven.
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You want to do this a couple of times, stir them up every ten minutes or so until they are the color brown that you like. It really is that easy.

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These aren’t really quite as brown as I like, I took them out at 30 mins,  but roasting them gives them a sweet, nutty flavor. When I’m not feeling lazy, I make a dipping sauce, usually ranch with a little cayenne mixed in. Just a pinch, though, a little goes a long way.

Here’s the recipe.

Green bean fries

1 lb trimmed green beans
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
drizzle olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 F
Stir it all up in a bowl together, get your hands dirty!
Put them on a foil lined baking sheet and into the oven, stir every ten mins or so, for 30 to 35 mins. Don’t let them go for too long, or they get weird, almost hollow in texture.

Enjoy!