June, 2015

Jun 25, 2015

Fast Rice & Beans

Fast Rice & Beans1200_4224This recipe is so simple I hesitated to post it. It’s not fancy, or exciting, but I find myself making it so often, on those days when it’s suddenly time for dinner and I haven’t shopped for groceries and I’m hungry… I thought someone else has probably been there too.  This simple rice and beans uses canned beans and chiles and long grain rice, all pantry items you can easily keep on hand. And most cooks have onions and garlic in the house –  that’s all you need to make a healthy vegetarian meal.

Last night was just such a night. I was starving and wanted something easy and luckily I had canned beans and chiles… I was home free! I love this easy recipe. I didn’t even have chicken stock so I used plain water  and it was still good. While it was cooking I had plenty of time to make and eat a big salad. By the way, I tried this rice & beans once with the “hot” chiles – OMG!! Too spicy for me!!

My favorite rice for this is Uncle Ben’s and I like Ortega brand fire roasted chiles. I usually find S&W black beans and I never used to rinse them. The rice got dark brown but I didn’t mind since it didn’t affect the taste but since I was taking a picture, I rinsed them and the dish looks much better.

This dish is not spicy at all. Don’t be scared off by the “fire-roasted” chiles. I use the mild ones and there is no heat at all.

ortegagreenchiles-1

I know this is not a fancy dinner but it’s quick and easy, filled with protein & fiber and it’s economical too. By the way, black beans have the highest antioxidant level of all beans and they also provide the same heart-health benefits as red wine. With black beans you’ll also be getting fiber, calcium, folate, iron, potassium, and protection against cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jun 24, 2015

Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake: How-To Video

I finally made another video! I had to show how easy this cake recipe is and how simple the ingredients are. With no butter or eggs, you likely have everything you need right now to make it. Flour, sugar, and cocoa are the main ingredients with some baking soda, oil, lemon juice, and vanilla. That’s it.

Even if you don’t bake much, it’s hard to mess this up. You don’t need a mixer but I do recommend using Dutch process cocoa (I use it for all my chocolate baking). It’s darker but it’s less bitter than the regular stuff. I find it (Droste brand) at my grocery store and also at World Market. That’s why this cake it so dark and rich looking.

Oh, it’s rich tasting too. You’ll be amazed how moist it is without any butter or eggs. The cake itself is made without butter and you can either frost it with my super-easy one-minute frosting made with a little butter or you can go totally butter free and vegan by just eliminating the butter and turn it into a glaze. That’s why you will find two recipes for this cake. Both recipes use the exact same cake but the “Simple Chocolate Cake Without Butter” is made with a butter-free glaze and the “Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake” has my frosting made with just 2 tablespoons of butter. Click here for the recipe.  – Jenny Jones

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Jun 17, 2015

Manicotti that melts in your mouth

Manicotti1200_3865You won’t need teeth to eat this soft and tender manicotti made with crepes. And these are whole wheat crepes! I’ve tried stuffing manicotti pasta – you know, the ones that break when you boil them, and slip and slide when you try to stuff them. It’s easier and faster to make homemade crepes and just roll them up with a simple ricotta cheese filling.

This recipe uses two of my other recipes: Crepes and Quick & Easy Spaghetti Sauce. I make the crepes with whole wheat pastry flour. You can use all-purpose flour but trust me, they are beautifully soft and tender made with w.w.p. flour. The best part is that you can make the crepes and sauce a day or two in advance and when it’s time to make dinner you only have to put the easy filling together, roll up the crepes, and bake. You’ll have just enough time to make a salad and some steamed broccoli on the side.

The stuffing is a simple combination of part skim ricotta and mozzarella cheeses with parmesan, parsley, and an egg yolk. You can cover them all over with sauce or sometimes I leave the sides bare and put sauce down the center. I’m a big fan of my homemade spaghetti sauce but you certainly can use a bottled sauce if you like.

When stuffing and rolling the manicotti, you can tuck in the ends to seal in the filling but I like to leave the ends open and let a little cheese show itself. Plus it’s less work just to roll them up, no tucking. Remember it’s important to have vegetables at every meal so while this bakes for 30 minutes, be sure to take time to make a salad and a cooked vegetable on the side.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jun 5, 2015

Spanakopita made easier & healthier

 Spanakopita1200_3170I love Greek spinach pie so much I had to come up with an easier way to make it – and I have. The old way meant washing spinach about five times to get the sand out, cooking the spinach, draining the spinach, etc., etc., and then brushing the phyllo with oil and having it stick to the brush and break into pieces. And cutting it in the pan was never easy.

But oh… I have a much easier way to make this incredibly delicious Greek treat. Here’s what you won’t have to do:

  • No washing of spinach.
  • No cooking of spinach.
  • No draining of spinach.
  • No struggling to cut it in the pan after it’s cooked.

With the traditional method, a pastry brush is used to grease each layer of phyllo but using an oil mister makes the job easier. A mister is easier, faster, and it also keeps the delicate phyllo sheets from breaking. (my mister is made by Prepara) And using parchment paper means you just lift the whole thing out onto a cutting board for easy slicing.

My recipe uses pre-washed packaged baby spinach and I use it fresh, without pre-cooking because it cooks quickly inside the pie. Most spinach pies have a dense spinach filling from either pre-cooking or even worse using frozen spinach. Using fresh baby spinach is less work and it makes a less dense filling with a delicious light texture.

You must plan ahead if you’re going to make this recipe because the phyllo comes frozen and you need to thaw it overnight in the fridge and then bring it to room temperature before using. I forgot to thaw it once and just placed it on the counter top for a few hours and it did thaw, but it kept breaking into pieces.

The reason I make Greek spanakopita is because once I tasted my own with the fresh filling and the flaky layers of phyllo, I can never buy it anywhere again. Nothing comes close. If you like Greek food, you must try this recipe. I won’t say it’s easy but it’s definitely easier than most and the pie is so incredibly light, I’ve been known to eat four as a snack. Yes… four. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones