Sarasota's Smoky Spicy White Cheddar Cheese Fries

"I never really cared for chili cheese fries, not sure why. But cheese fries I loved. I used to make this for my son and he absolutely loves them. I guess it is more fries with a cheese dip. But I often pour the sauce right over the fries. A combination of smoky bacon, white cheddar and chipotles make this a great cheese sauce. If ambitious, make your own fries - personally, I buy a good "frozen" brand, thin cut without seasoning, and then I add my own seasoning. I try to make this easy. There is nothing better that a grilled bratwurst (for me) or just a good hot dog with chili. I prefer my chili on the dog rather than my fries ... and a side of these cheese fries. The seasoning is simple and just tossed with the fries before baking and then the cheese sauce is very basic. Smoky and spicy."
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  • Bacon -- For the bacon, I do mine right in the microwave. On a paper plate lined with 2 paper towels, then the bacon and top with 2 more paper towels - 4 minutes (approximately) and it is done and crispy. Let it cool and then chop up. Now, you can saute, oven bake or use any method you want. You just want the bacon crispy and diced.
  • Fries -- In a large bowl, add the fries (slightly thawed; just enough so the spice and oil will stick to the fries), and add the olive oil and toss well. Add to a pan lined with parchment paper or foil (for easy clean up) and sprinkle with the seasoning. Toss lightly. Cook according to package directions until crispy brown.
  • Cheese Sauce -- As the fries cook, in a small pot, melt the butter and shallot on medium low and cook for just a minute. Then stir in the flour to make a roux and cook just a minute to reduce the flour taste. Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to medium heat to thicken the sauce and then add in the cheese, chipotle, chopped cooked bacon, salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve -- A few ways to serve this. First, you can put the fries in a small casserole dish, pour the cheese sauce over, and broil for just a few minutes until golden brown. Second, you can just pour the sauce over the crispy fries and serve as it, or last; Third, you can serve the cheese sauce as a dip. Either way they are good. Cheesy, Smoky, Spicy. ENJOY!

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<p>Growing up in Michigan, I spent my summers at my cottage in the Northern part up by Traverscity. On a lake, big garden which had all the vegetables you could imagine. My mom taught school, so summers were our vacation time. Gramps and I fished all the time so fresh fish was always on the menu, perch, blue gill, walleye and small and large mouth bass. At age 5 I learned how to clean my own fish and by 10 I was making dinner, canning vegetables and fruits, making pies and fresh breads. Apples fresh picked every fall, strawberries in June and July, Cherries at the Cherry Festival in Traverscity. So fresh foods always were a big part. Mom worked as a teacher during the year so dinner was more traditional with pot roasts, meatloaf, etc, but it seemed we always had fresh fruits and vegetables as part of the meal. Mom also didn't use as many spices as I do, but times were different back then. <br /> <br />So ... My motto is ... There is NO Right and NO Wrong with cooking. So many people thing they have to follow a recipe. But NO ... a recipe is a method and directions to help and teach someone. Cooking is about personal tastes and flavors. I love garlic ... and another person may not. I like heat ... but you may not. Recipes are building blocks, NOT text ground in stone. Use them to make and build on. Even my recipes I don't follow most times --They are a base. That is what cooking is to me. A base of layer upon layer of flavors. <br /> <br />I still dislike using canned soups or packaged gravies/seasoning ... but I admit, I do use them. I have a few recipes that use them. But I try to strive to teach people to use fresh ingredients, they are first ... so much healthier for you ... and second, in the end less expensive. But we all have our moments including me. <br /> <br />So, lets see ... In the past, I have worked as a hostess, bartender, waitress, then a short order cook, salad girl in the kitchen, sort of assistant chef, head chef, co owner of a restaurant ... now a consultant to a catering company/restaurant, I cater myself and I'm a personal chef for a elderly lady. I work doing data entry during the day, and now and then try to have fun which is not very often due to my job(s). <br /> <br />I have a 21 year old who at times is going on 12, aren't they all. Was married and now single and just trying to enjoy life one day at a time. I'm writing a cookbook ... name is still in the works but it is dedicated to those people who never learned, to cook. Single Moms, Dads, or Just Busy Parents. Those individuals that think you can't make a great dinner for not a lot of money. You can entertain on a budget and I want people to know that gourmet tasting food doesn't have to be from a can of soup or a box, and healthy food doesn't come from a drive through. There are some really good meals that people can make which are healthy and will save money but taste amazing. So I guess that is my current goal. We all take short cuts and I have no problem with that - I do it too. I volunteer and make food for the homeless every couple of months, donating my time and money. I usually make soup for them and many times get donations from a local grocery stores, Sams Club, Walmart etc, with broth, and vegetables. It makes my cost very little and well worth every minute I spend. Like anyone, life is always trying to figure things out and do the best we can and have fun some how along the way.</p>
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