July, 2014

Jul 31, 2014

20-Minute Pizza Dough

Best Pizza Dough RecipeWhat do we want? Pizza! When do we want it? Now! Homemade pizza is easier (and faster) than you think. It used to take hours to knead and rise the dough but not any more. My quick & easy pizza dough is made from scratch and is ready to use in less than 20 minutes. I takes longer to heat up the oven but that’s okay because the dough can continue to rest until the oven heats up… or the grill. Yes! I have made pizza on the grill, on a pizza stone on the grill, in the oven on a stone, in the oven on a pan with holes, and even in a cast iron skillet on the stove. You can see that a pizza lover like myself needed to find a way to make pizza dough as quick and easy as possible. And I have.

This recipe is flexible too. You can use either bread flour or all-purpose flour. The difference is subtle but I find the crust a little crispier with the bread flour. And… you can use either instant yeast or regular active yeast, the only difference being the temperature of the water. If you read the package of yeast you’ll see that instant yeast calls for hotter water (120° F) while active dry yeast requires water at 110° F. Did I say flexible? There’s even more. Once you put this dough together, you can also choose to let it rest for an hour or more. It will puff up and double in size. Or… (wait for it)… you can refrigerate it for pizza the next day, or the next 2 or 3 days. They say that refrigerating pizza dough is the key to the best crust. But for me, the difference is subtle, and not worth the extra time. But that’s just me.  Here’s my pizza-making schedule:

An hour before dinner, I preheat the oven. Then I put the dough together and let it rest. While I wait for the oven I prepare my toppings and make a salad. I shred my own cheese because the pre-shredded kind does not melt the same. I slice toppings and try to remove some of their moisture for a crispy pizza. Once the salad is made, I roll the dough, put on the toppings, and put the pizza in the oven, which has had time to heat up by now. (don’t put pizza in until the oven is hot enough) While the pizza cooks, we have our salad. As soon as we finish the salad, the pizza is done, hot, crispy, and ready to eat.

I seriously don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pizza. And once you start making quick and easy pizza at home you will never want to get delivery again. It simply will never compare. Besides, you can make your own pizza healthier, with reduced fat cheese, healthy toppings, and a crust the way you like it. Thin crust? Just roll it thinner and make two. I hope this easy recipe motivates more people to make healthier and faster pizza at home. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 28, 2014

Eat more cheese. Really?

What? Eat more cheese? And meat? It’s not a joke. In case you missed the latest news about saturated fat and heart disease, it’s about to challenge all your nutritional beliefs. After decades of being told that saturated fat causes heart disease, now experts are saying it’s not so. The new findings were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and included 72 studies in 18 countries involving over 600,000 people. There is no connection, they say, between eating saturated fats like the ones found in meat and dairy products, and heart disease. And that’s not all.

They also found no evidence of benefits from other kinds of fats like canola and olive oil. Trans fats, however, were still linked with a higher risk of heart disease. Even more surprising is that a type of saturated fat in milk and dairy products actually reduced the risk of heart disease! The biggest threats now? Sugar and excessive carbs.

Even Dr. Andrew Weil says his thinking on saturated fat has evolved. He writes, “Given the results of these studies, I no longer recommend choosing low-fat dairy products. I believe the healthier choice is high-quality, organic dairy foods in moderation. My personal choice would be high-quality, natural cheese a few times a week. I don’t advise eating saturated fat with abandon, because the foods that are full of it (salty bacon, conventionally raised beef, processed cheese) are often not the best for our health. Try to limit it to about ten percent of daily calories. You may choose to use your “budget” of saturated fat calories on ice cream, butter or high-quality natural cheese, or even an occasional steak (from organic, grass-fed, grass-finished cattle, please).

I still recommended skinless chicken and turkey because poultry fat (concentrated just beneath the skin) contains arachidonic acid, which promotes inflammation. I also still recommend strictly avoiding foods that contain chemically altered fats (such as hydrogenated vegetable oils found in many prepared foods), as these do appear to raise cardiovascular disease risk. Continue to emphasize fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limit sweeteners and other high-glycemic-load carbs.”

Wow! I need time to absorb this. For decades the accepted wisdom has been just the opposite and I’ve spent my adult life avoiding saturated fat, eating the leanest of beef and always reduced-fat cheese. And even then, it was in moderation. My cholesterol has always been elevated but I assumed it was hereditary. Now I don’t know what to think. I don’t even think full fat cheese would taste good! And I like cookies. Should I bake them with butter? Should I stop baking cookies entirely? I need time to figure things out.

Filed Under: Nutrition
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Jul 25, 2014

Rice with Kale

Rice With Kale_600Why cook plain rice when you can cook rice that makes a difference? Kale is called the “Queen of Greens” because it’s one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. Even spinach doesn’t compare.  Kale contains a lot of beneficial minerals and some powerful antioxidants with huge amounts of vitamins A, C, and K.  It can help protect you against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. It’s good for your eyes, your skin and hair, I mean really! Eat some kale!

I prefer Dino kale (also called Lacinto kale) because it’s easier to clean and cut and it’s not so curly. But any kale is a super food so use whatever you can find.

KaleMangoOrangeSmoothie_leavesLately, I never cook plain rice any more. Rice is the perfect vehicle for transporting health-building veggies into your body, but of all the other veggies I have added to rice, kale and broccoli are the most beneficial. As for the rice, I often use brown rice in this recipe but honestly, brown rice is not pretty to photograph and I didn’t want to post an unflattering photo that might not motivate you to make this healthy recipe.  So I made it with Uncle Ben’s converted rice for this photo. It is quicker to make the white rice but it’s definitely  healthier with brown rice, which has more fiber but it also takes longer to cook. So if time permits, use brown rice but either way, this is a delicious and healthy side dish.   Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 23, 2014

Faster No Knead Bread: How-To Video

Even if you’ve never baked before, you can make this amazing bakery-style crusty bread at home. It has a beautiful golden crust and it’s soft inside with lots of nice holes. In the video I used all-purpose flour but I also make the same loaf with 100% whole wheat flour and it’s fantastic.

No-knead bread isn’t new. The idea was invented by a baker named Jim Lahey and it originally was a much longer process than mine. You would mix up the dough the night before using cold water, let it rest overnight for up to 18 hours, and bake it the next day. The whole process took more than 20 hours. I know. I did it many times.

Sometimes, though, I didn’t think to start it the night before and I wanted homemade bread the next day. Now I can make it the same day and the only difference is instead of cold water, you use very warm water. It speeds up the process and you can have this amazing artisan bread any time you want without having to start it the day before.

This easy recipe is foolproof. All you need is a Dutch oven and about five minutes of hands-on time. There is no kneading. A pair of oven gloves is helpful because the pot gets very hot and an oven thermometer is also helpful because you need a very hot oven.

I used to buy bread from a bakery but not any more, not when I can have it fresh and hot right out of the oven. And it’s the only bread I use for my delicious garlic bread too. Anyone I have served this no-knead bread to says, “Wow! This is the best bread I have ever had. Where did you get it?” They can’t believe I made it myself. And you can too. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Jul 21, 2014

Faster No Knead Bread

Easy No Knead Artisan Bread

We already know that homemade bread is something to be treasured but THIS bread? This bread deserves its own category. I would call it “The Kind of Artisan Bread You Thought You Could Never Make at Home,” but you can. And when you see how incredibly easy it is, you will make it just like I do… often. Even if you have never baked and the thought of baking with yeast scares you, you can make this bread. This recipe is foolproof. But you will need a Dutch oven – one that’s oven-safe and has an oven-safe handle.

A genius baker named Jim Lahey invented the process of baking bread in a Dutch oven. His original method was to stir together a simple dough, let it rest overnight for 12 to 18 hours, and bake the bread the next day. Steam is created inside the pot to mimic the professional bread ovens that create steam and that’s what gives bread that beautiful golden, crispy crust. I remember the first time I made this overnight bread, I couldn’t believe how it turned out.

And here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be overnight because with this faster recipe, you can make the bread the day you want it and it takes less then five minutes of prep. And there’s no kneading!  The main difference is that with the overnight method you use cold water and with this faster method, it’s hot water (up to 130° F will not kill the yeast). I’m thrilled to be sharing this fantastic and faster no knead bread. You can do this!  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

p.s. Can you make it with Gluten-Free flour? Click here.

Jul 17, 2014

Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies

Healthier_Choc_Chip_Cookies_600

These are the only chocolate chip cookies I make because they use less butter, less sugar, have more fiber and heart-healthy fats, and they are delicious! Most recipes call for a 1/2 cup of butter but mine… 3 tablespoons! Most recipes use all-purpose flour but mine… have whole wheat pastry flour. And guess what else? Olive oil! You don’t have to give up chocolate chip cookies when you can make them this much healthier. I’m using extra light olive oil in most of my baking these days. These cookies have lots of toasted nuts for extra protein and the darkest chocolate chips I can find. Sometimes, I chop up some high quality dark chocolate, like Scharffen Berger, and make that my chocolate chips.

At any given time there are cookies in my kitchen (and the freezer) and it’s what we mostly have for dessert. I love sweets but I also want to eat as healthy as I can so I am constantly looking for ways to make desserts healthier and this chocolate chip cookie is the perfect example. You don’t even have to mention that these are healthier chocolate chip cookies, just serve them and watch everyone ask for more. To try my healthier chocolate chip cookies, click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 12, 2014

Chicken & Peppers

Chicken & Peppers_600

Any time I can cook dinner all in one pan – in 30 minutes – it’s a good day. And it leaves me more time to make dessert! This is one of my go-to healthy meals because it’s quick and uses just a few ingredients. Nutritionally, it’s a superstar with all these colored peppers.  Brightly colored vegetables each have their own set of antioxidants. For instance, a red pepper has more vitamin C than an orange. Yellow and orange peppers support lung and eye health while green ones fight asthma. But all peppers help protect against many degenerative diseases so I try to include all the colors in my cooking.

This recipe was in my cookbook but I’ve simplified it (like I’m doing most of the recipes there) because my goal is to motivate more people to cook at home, so if I can make a recipe easier, faster, and healthier, my work is done. I wish I liked brown rice better but it’s still a struggle for me so I use Uncle Ben’s converted rice here. But you can use brown rice if you like and just cook it an additional 25 minutes.

Does anybody think this would also work with shrimp?  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 11, 2014

Easiest Granola Ever: How-To Video

Here’s my new granola video. I’m calling it “Easiest Granola Ever” because you don’t even need a bowl. I used to heat the liquids in a pot, mix everything up in a bowl, transfer it to a greased baking sheet, and bake. But now with my new method you don’t even need a bowl… and you don’t need to grease the baking sheet.

Everyone who tries my granola says, “Wow! What’s in this?” It’s not the ingredients so much but my method that makes all the difference. I make homemade granola so often I’ve come up with the easiest way ever to make it.  My simple recipe only has six ingredients but it’s more about how I bake them. I actually learned how to make better granola by accident.

One day I had stepped outside and didn’t hear my timer. When I remembered that I had granola in the oven, I ran right in hoping it didn’t burn. The mixture was really dark but I decided not to throw it away and kept it. To my surprise, it was the best granola I had ever made. That made me realize that the more you toast the nuts and oats and coconut, the more flavors they develop, not to mention the fabulous crunch!

Be bold and don’t be afraid to really brown your granola. And if you’ve never made your own homemade granola you’re about to see how incredibly easy it is to make. It really is the easiest granola ever. Click here for the new recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Jul 1, 2014

Fabulous Fruit Pizza

Fruit Pizza Wide_5774 600

What can I say? This is the most amazing, dramatic, show-stopping dessert ever! And if you think it looks good, wait until you taste it! Having a barbeque? Going to  potluck?  They’ll remember you forever if you bring this to the table. Fruit pizza is basically a giant sugar cookie (of course, my version is a little healthier than most because I use less butter). You bake and cool the cookie and while it’s cooling, you get all the fruit and glaze ready. Then you build your creation.

It’s perfect for summer parties but I make fruit pizza all year round. In the summer I use peaches, raspberries, blueberries, nectarines, strawberries, and cherries when they’re more affordable (this one has Queen Ann cherries and yellow grapes on the border). In the winter I use bananas, kiwi, papaya, grapes, mango, and whatever else I can find that’s soft and colorful. If you use bananas, make sure to coat them with lemon juice as soon as they’re sliced to prevent them from turning brown.

Creating the design is so much fun and I’ve never decorated two the same way. Always start with the border first as you create your own masterpiece. And trust me – it tastes just as good as it looks. To make your own fruit pizza, click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Filed Under: Sweets
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