In 2020, our teenage son worked two jobs during the spring and summer months. He continued to work a part-time job after school and on weekends in the fall and early winter; needless to say, we were very proud of him for working and saving some money. At Christmas, he decided to use some of his hard-earned money to purchase some gifts for the family. To my complete surprise, he gave me a top-quality air fryer with all of the bells and whistles, a Vortex Instant Plus. It was such a lovely gesture, as well as a thoughtful and generous gift. Over the past weeks, I have enjoyed experimenting with my new kitchen appliance. So far, our favorite thing to make is super simple: dehydrated apple slices. Tyson brand (frozen) air fried chicken fingers prepared in the air fryer are pretty good, and reheating leftover pizza in an air fryer makes the pizza taste better. If you have a deep enough kitchen counter with space for the air fryer to have at least 5 inches behind it and around it, then I highly recommend getting one for yourself. In the meantime, air frying adventure awaits me; I must heed the call.

Air Fryer Burgers

This method is simply amazing. The texture is superb, and the flavor is exceptional. Less time and less mess!

• 2 lbs. fresh ground chuck (or substitute 1 lb. of extra-lean ground beef for 1 lb. of the chuck)

• Garlic salt to taste

• Onion powder to taste

• Worcestershire sauce to taste

• Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Season the meat and shape into eight patties that are similar in size. Press a divot into the center of each patty with your finger. Place 3-4 patties with the divot side down on the tray in the bottom of the cooking oven. Air fry in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 9-12 minutes. Flip the patties halfway into the cooking process. Cook until lightly browned and juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

Sweet Potato Chips

A delicious option: Sprinkle chips with freshly cracked ground black pepper, a drizzle of maple syrup, and crumbled blue cheese.

• 2 cups sweet potatoes, about 3 small potatoes

• 1 TBSP. olive oil

• 1 tsp. chili powder

• ½ tsp. cumin

• 2 TBSP. dark brown sugar

• ½ tsp. salt

Peel and thinly slice the sweet potatoes. Toss with the olive oil. Mix all of the other ingredients together in a small bowl; sprinkle over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Lay the sweet potatoes in a single layer (sides touching). You will have about 3 batches of chips to cook. Air fry at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes; shake the basket halfway into the cooking process. When done remove chips to a cooling rack or place on parchment paper to cool.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Aerosol sprays are not recommended with air fryer baskets; it could damage the nonstick coating. However, these biscuits will stick to the surface of the tray, so wipe the surface with some vegetable oil prior to cooking.

• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

• 1 TBSP. baking powder

• ½ tsp. baking soda

• 1 tsp. kosher salt

• 1 tsp. sugar

• 1 stick unsalted butter, well chilled and cubed into small pieces

• 1 cup buttermilk, well chilled

Mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Work the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender, and blend into evenly crumbled pieces (small, pea-sized). Pour the buttermilk over the mixture, and stir until just combined. Turn the dough onto a generously floured surface; sprinkle a little more flour on top and pat out the dough to ¾ inch thickness. Cut with a small round biscuit cutter, makes about 14 biscuits. You will cook the biscuits in two batches. Place half of the biscuits in a single layer (edges touching) and bake at 325 degrees about 17 minutes, until golden brown on top.

— Amy Fischer lives in Fort Payne, Alabama, and is a Southern food enthusiast who loves to spend time in the kitchen creating tasty recipes. You can contact her at facebook.com/MySouthernTable.

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