December, 2013

Dec 27, 2013

Easy Pot Roast

EasyPotRoast_8498_600Why do I love my pot roast? 1) It’s easy to make. 2) It all cooks in one pot.  3) It’s a complete meal. 4) It’s comfort food squared!

Old fashioned pot roast is a crowd pleaser and takes very little work. It’s mostly cooking time. Who doesn’t love meat that’s moist and tender with potatoes full of flavor? Okay, maybe your vegetarian friend. But meals like this pot roast are my favorite Sunday suppers. While it’s simmering in the oven, I have time to make a salad and dessert.

If you make pot roast, here are a few tips: Browning the meat is crucial for developing the best flavor. As for the liquid, I have made it with both beef stock and chicken stock (I usually make my own but I’ve also used unsalted store-bought stock). And the cooking time is very flexible. Feel free to cook it even longer depending on the cut of meat and how tender it’s becoming. Finally, adding salt is not always necessary.  It depends on  your stock and how much sodium it has, so test it near the end of cooking before adding salt. If you add too much, there’s no way to fix it.

Then there’s the leftovers! You can use the leftover meat in soup, a burrito, shepherd’s pie, nachos, Italian beef sandwiches, or just eat more pot roast! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, everyone.

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Dec 22, 2013

The best homemade gift

CarCornGift_7001“Homemade caramel corn?! For me?? I love you!” Caramel corn has to be the best Christmas gift you can make. I’ve baked cookies and breads and they make great gifts but people start asking about my caramel corn in September! “Are you making caramel corn again this year?” Everyone goes crazy over it, probably because there is no place you can buy anything that even comes close. I try to bring it in person when it’s just out of the oven and by the time I get home, I get a phone call saying it’s all gone and asking when I’m going to make more.

If you’re looking for something to bake for Christmas gifts, consider making homemade caramel corn. It’s easier to make than cookies because it uses less ingredients. And it’s pretty quick the way I do it. I pop the corn in a paper lunch bag in the microwave, which takes less than two minutes (see my video). The syrup cooks on the stove in five minutes and the rest is waiting time while the popcorn and nuts get covered with a sweet, delicious caramel coating.

Watch my how-to video (click here) and for the printable recipe (click here). – Jenny Jones

Dec 18, 2013

Polish Faworki – Chrusciki

Best Recipe Chrusciki Christmas in Poland isn’t official until someone makes chrusciki. These powdered sugar crullers are actually pretty easy to make but if you don’t have a rolling pin it’s not going to happen because the key is to roll the dough paper thin. Chrusciki are the only things I deep fry because there is no other way to make this light-as-a-cloud cookie – I guess that’s why they also call them angel wings. So I’m sharing my recipe for these Polish Christmas cookies but it turns out they are not just Polish. Here is what they’re called in other countries:

Belarus – хрушчы (chruščy) or фаворкі (favorki)
Croatia – krostole
Denmark – klejner
France – bugnes
Germany – raderkuchen
Hungary – csöröge
Italy – bugie, cenci, chiacchiere, crostoli, frappe, galani, sfrappole
Lithuania – žagarėliai
Malta – xkunvat
Romania – minciunele, regionally: cirighele, scovergi
Russia – хворост (khvorost)
Sweden  – klenäter
Ukraine – вергуни (verhuny)

Merry Christmas to all you cooks out there and thank you for all your comments and notes. I do appreciate the feedback. I hope you’ll try this show-stopping, delicious holiday cookie. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 16, 2013

Poppy Seed Roll: How-To Video

Just in time for Christmas, here is the how-to video for my Polish Poppy Seed roll. It’s a delicious sweet bread that you can’t buy anywhere and it’s really not that hard to make. To someone like myself who grew up in a Polish household, the aroma of this poppy seed filling made with toasted nuts and citrus peel is downright intoxicating! Forget the wine – pass me another slice of Makowiec!

It’s a popular holiday bread in much of Eastern Europe, called bulochki s makom in Russia, makový závin in Chekoslovakia, ruladă cu mac in Romania, mohnkuchen in Austria, aguonų vyniotinis in Lithuania, makovnjača in Bosnia, and of course makowiec in Poland.  Oh, and they call it ʋiːˀnɔˌbʁœːˀð in Latvia… who knew? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Dec 15, 2013

Olive Oil Christmas Cookies

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My less-butter, less-sugar Christmas cookies just got even healthier. I decided to try making them with extra-light olive oil and they turned out great. This time I rolled the dough and cut out the holiday shapes but I will say that a cookie press is a great invention! But when you cut them out, it’s a lot more fun decorating. I like my candy canes the best. This recipe is exactly the same as the one already posted but I used extra-light olive oil instead of canola oil.

There’s no reason to use all butter in these holiday cookies. I bake all my cookies with either half the butter or with some recipes, no butter at all. With these healthier sugar cookies, there’s plenty of butter taste and half the saturated fat. I like to bake them until the edges brown just a little. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 12, 2013

Old Fashioned Beef Stew – Updated Recipe

Homemade Beef Stew RecipeI never thought I could improve my old fashioned beef stew recipe but it’s winter and that’s beef stew season. I’ve been making it a lot lately and decided to try and simplify the process and it’s now just as delicious and even easier to make. And by increasing the cooking time by just 1/2 hour the beef is so tender I just eat it with a spoon. So here’s what I changed:

First, I always make my own beef stock which I use in my stew but realizing that not everyone will make homemade stock, I decided to try the store-bought beef stock. I do not recommend it at all. It was way too strong and pungent and ruined the stew for me. So I decided to try store-bought chicken stock and it worked perfectly. I got Swanson’s Unsalted Chicken Stock and it was the perfect choice for beef stew.

And I used to dredge the meat before browning but it really isn’t necessary so that step is now eliminated. And I added 30 minutes to the cooking time and what a difference it makes in the fork-tender meat. It was tender before but now, it’s so tender you have to stir the pot carefully so the meat doesn’t fall apart! So it’s less work and an extra 1/2 hour but wait ’til you see the difference!

In working on these changes I also did some research on which meat to use since I always bought packaged stew meat. I saw that chuck roast was always the meat of choice so I bought one to try, cut in into cubes myself, and No, No, No! It had way too much fat and my recipe does not need it. The regular packaged stew meat is much leaner and there is never any grease floating on the top, because that’s what I got with the chuck roast.

So I’m staying with the packaged stew meat, which is much leaner, and I just cut off any visible fat. So now it’s even easier to make this all time favorite comfort food for the cold winter nights. It’s low fat, easy to make, and you can eat it with a spoon. Click here for the new recipe.Jenny Jones

p.s. I’ll be posting a how-to video very soon…

Dec 11, 2013

Easy Christmas Pecan Balls Video

You won’t believe how easy it is to make these Christmas Pecan Balls. It’s a simple, one-bowl recipe that’s pretty much foolproof although everyone will think you’re a gourmet baker. They make an impressive holiday gift and whenever I make them, everyone asks for the recipe. Now you can see how simple it really is.

I always try to bake the healthiest way possible but I was not able to make these with less butter… but I did try. During the holidays, even I have to splurge on these melt-in-your-mouth cookies (also called Mexican Wedding Cookies). One thing though, if you make them be sure to toast the pecans first. It makes a world of difference and you can watch my how-to video to see how easy that is.

I love to bake at Christmas and the two things I make every single year are my sugar cookies and these pecan balls. Guess which one is easier? The Pecan Balls! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Dec 4, 2013

Polish Poppy Seed Roll

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There are no words to describe the fabulous flavor of this traditional Polish holiday bread we call Makowiec. The filling is a distinctive combination of ground poppy seeds, orange and lemon peel, and ground toasted almonds. I love this bread! I grew up with it! It’s perfect for afternoon tea or as a light dessert.

My recipe is pretty easy to make but you will need to grind the poppy seeds and I found an easy way to do that. I bought a spice & nut grinder (Cuisinart) and it grinds the poppy seeds and the almonds. Until I discovered the grinder, the only way to grind the seeds was to use an old fashioned meat grinder that you clamp to the counter and crank with your hand. I tried a food processor and a blender but neither one did the job. But it’s really easy with the spice grinder.

The bread is sweet and the filling is to die for! After baking, you can drizzle the loaf with a glaze or another option is to brush it before baking with either melted butter or with an eggwash and sprinkle with poppy seeds.  My recipe requires only one rise and if your filling seeps out a little when it’s done, that happens a lot so don’t fret over it. It will still taste great. My how-to video for this awesome bread will be up next week.  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 2, 2013

Plain buttermilk pancakes

Emily asks… I don’t know how long it was but you did a video on how to make Buttermilk Pancakes. They were so light and fluffy. I have lost the reciepe and I was wondering if you could send it to me. They were so easy to make. They were plain with nothing else with it. Thank you.

My response… Just use my recipe for Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes and leave out the blueberries. It’s super easy to make pancakes from scratch. There is a video here to watch or just click here for the printable recipe.