You don't have to roll through the drive-through or deal with health concerns to enjoy some of your favorite fast food treats at home! These delicious, easy recipes feature the flavors of your favorite chain restaurant with less expense and health-guilt.
Don't think that just because they say "fry" in the name that French fries have to be cooked in a vat of oil. You can make tasty, crispy fries with nothing more than a sharp knife and an oven. Cutting fast-food style thin fries can be accomplished with a special cutter such as a mandoline, but you can use a good knife to cut wedges, thin strips, or any shape you want.
Oven Baked Fries
(Recipe adapted from ZestyCook.com)
- 5 large roasting potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold are good choices)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel and wash the potatoes, then slice into similar sized pieces to ensure even cooking. Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl and cover with water; allow to soak for 30 minutes.
Drain the water and place the fries on a paper towel, patting dry. Place the fries into a bowl and sprinkle with the olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Roast the fries in the oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown. As they are baking, turn the fries periodically to ensure even browning. Variations: Instead of just salt and pepper, try some garlic or onion powder, chili powder, or any of your favorite spice blends.
A standard feature of the kid's meal, chicken nuggets can be a great meal when made from white meat breast tenderloins and baked instead of fried. If you're watching sugars, make sure you keep an eye on your dipping sauces!
Crispy Oven Chicken Nuggets
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch thick chunks and season with salt and pepper. Coat each piece in flour and then roll lightly in the beaten egg. Finish the coating by rolling the pieces in the panko breadcrumbs and place on the baking sheet.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown and no longer pink inside. For crispier pieces, place them on a baking rack over the baking sheet to keep them from sitting on the flat surface.Burgers
Forget greasy mystery meat and soggy buns, you can make lean beef burgers without even having to fire up the grill. Burgers come in all sorts of flavors with no limit to the toppings.
For leaner burgers, grab the lean ground beef or even try ground turkey for a milder flavor. To add extra pep to your meat, sprinkle in some powdered ranch dressing, a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, or at least just a bit of salt and pepper.To keep the fast food feel to your burgers, remember to shape them into thin patties. For cooking, you can grill on an outdoor BBQ, an electric indoor griddle, fry in a pan or bake in the oven. Oven baking is made quick and healthy by lining a baking pan with foil, placing a metal rack on top, and allowing the burgers to cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes depending on your preferred temperature. Remember that for safety, ground meat should be cooked until the internal temperature is about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are adding bacon, cook it separately to ensure that the bacon is also fully cooked.
Preparing a variety of pre-sliced burger toppers will let you create your own condiment bar. Put your sauces in squeeze bottles to let the kids create works of art on their burgers and include lots of veggies for color and texture.
The Versatile Tortilla
A staple of Mexican cuisine, the tortilla has been used in fast food favorites from breakfast to midnight snacks and everything in between. Almost every major fast food chain has some sort of tortilla-based wrap that's easy to grab on the go and can be filled with nearly anything.
Breakfast burritos have become an alternative to the plate of eggs and meat that requires a table and utensils. You can forget the plate and wrap it all up in a nice flour tortilla for portability and less mess. By preparing separate ingredients you can let the whole family choose what they want in their burrito and cut down on the picky eater problem.Start with the tortillas, sold in most grocery stores and ready to eat. They're much better when heated in the microwave for a few seconds to soften them up. If they seem dry, place them on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel before microwaving. You can get standard flour tortillas, or try corn tortillas for a bit more flavor. There are also low-carb and whole wheat versions available in some markets.
The fillings are up to you, but scrambled eggs are one of the main staples. Over-easy eggs will be too runny and create a mess, but fluffy scrambled eggs work perfectly. For additional fillings, try chopped sausage (especially Mexican chorizo for a little zip), crumbled bacon, diced ham, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and shredded cheese. You can add sauces like sour cream, ketchup, or salsa but be careful that they're not too runny.
Slow Down to the Dinner Table
Just because it's called "fast food" doesn't mean your family has to be in a rush to eat. Many of these meals lend themselves to great family time when you get everyone involved in preparing the ingredients and making their own custom creations. Turning your dining table into an assembly station for your fast food creations can help keep the whole family together during meal time.