August, 2015

Aug 31, 2015

Simple Meat Sauce in 30 Minutes

Simple Meat Sauce1200_6612

I’m spoiling myself by creating so many quick and easy recipes that I’m no longer willing to take all day to make a good meat sauce. So I changed my recipe from 2 1/4 hours to 45 minutes and now I’ve decided even that was too long. So I just posted a new, simpler, faster recipe for a delicious meat sauce and here’s the best part: Thirty minutes! And it’s delicious!

I didn’t give up any flavor with my new meat sauce recipe. Mainly, I eliminated the carrots, the celery, and the extra liquid which needed all that cooking time.  I love the new simple meat sauce. It leaves me time to make my homemade gnocchi to have with it. This recipe is perfect for beginners with simple ingredients and hardly any work. Click here for the new recipe.- Jenny Jones

If you still want the older 45-minute version, click here.

Aug 27, 2015

Easy Fudge Brownies Without Butter

Dark Chocolate Brownies Recipe

When they say dark chocolate is good for you they mean dark. Like 70% dark. So that’s what I put in my easy fudge brownies. I start by melting a dark chocolate bar and it makes the most intense brownie! With no butter!  And wait ’til you see how easy this recipe is. Dark chocolate bars are available in most grocery stores and they sell them at World Market (they’re cheaper there). To get health benefits, it should have at least 70% cacao.You can find bars from 68 to 72% that will work great but I try to keep it at 70-72%. I’ve used Scharffen Berger and World Market brand and there’s no difference in the end result.

Here is what I learned making these delicious brownies: You do not need butter to make rich-tasting, gooey, fudgy brownies and baking without butter is always my priority. (You can use melted butter in place of the oil if you like) I  did a taste test at home and asked my man to try one that had butter and one without and he could not tell the difference. Besides making desserts without butter I always try to use whole grains when possible but that did not work here. I tried and was hopeful but they turned to mush.

So the best I can do is no butter and lots of heart-healthy dark chocolate. Most brownie recipes use a stick or two of butter so if you need a brownie, this one is a better choice than one loaded with saturated fat. My recipe uses extra light olive oil instead of butter but you can use any vegetable oil you choose. And the nuts are optional but nuts are nutritious and full of protein and healthy fats so include them if you can. And toast them first – what a difference! The extra chocolate chips, well… that’s up to you and the darker the better.

One thing about melting chocolate: Chocolate is delicate and burns easily so I melt it in a saucepan but with oil added and over very low heat so it doesn’t burn. It takes about 2-3 minutes to melt but needs to be stirred because chocolate tends to hold its shape when melted and you might not know it’s ready until you stir it. The other options for melting are the microwave (which I have never done) and a double boiler (too much trouble).

This is the second brownie recipe I’ve posted. The other whole wheat brownie is not as fudgy but still nice & chewy and also made without butter, but it’s 100% whole wheat. Both my brownies are easy to make but this simple recipe is good for beginners because it uses just a few ingredients and no mixer is needed. In fact, this batter should only be mixed by hand and not over-mixed.  Oh, and don’t over bake the brownies! They should feel a little soft in the center when they’re done so don’t bake any longer than 20 minutes! Okay, that’s all. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Aug 21, 2015

Fast & Easy White Bread

White Bread Blog1200_5357Sometimes, you gotta have some white bread. And if you want it fast, from scratch, I’m here for you. This is another one of my quick and easy one-rise bread recipes, just like my whole wheat bread, but this one makes a soft, old fashioned white sandwich loaf. It’s such and easy and flexible recipe. You can…

~Use all purpose flour or bread flour.
~Use vegetable oil or butter.
~Use instant yeast or dry active yeast.
~Use a mixer or make it by hand.

It takes about 90 minutes from start to finish to make this easy bread. And I have a couple of helpful tips. First: Aerate your flour before measuring. If you don’t your dough will be dry. See my flour basics: http://www.jennycancook.com/flour-basics/  Second: The best size loaf pan for yeast bread is 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches. If you use a wider or longer pan, the dough won’t rise up and be tall like mine. Third: When rising your bread it will rise faster if there is moisture but if you cover it with plastic wrap, it can stick and be hard to remove without damaging the dough. The solution? A shower cap!

Shower Cap1200_6418I love this! A clean shower cap is perfect because the elastic will hug the pan and it’s a thicker plastic so you can pull it up to keep it from touching the dough. Before rising, make sure you pull up the plastic high enough to allow the dough to rise an inch above the pan. I don’t eat white bread very often but when I do, this is how I make it. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Aug 14, 2015

Simple Yellow Cake Without Butter

Yelow Cake on Blue1200_6310Baking without butter has become my specialty and I like cake. So this is my go-to yellow cake with no butter, less sugar, and you can make it from scratch in 40 minutes. Try it with my 2-minute chocolate frosting. What I like the most is all the things you can do with this cake.

For a fast dessert, I make this easy cake and frost it right in the pan with my 2-minute chocolate frosting. It’s a healthier dessert I feel good about and it really satisfies my sweet tooth.

I have also doubled the recipe and made two cakes using two cake pans and used it for my fresh strawberry cake so now you can make my wildly popular strawberry cake with no butter at all!

The one I really love is my Boston cream cake that I make with just one 9-inch cake, which I slice across in half, fill it with homemade custard and top with a chocolate glaze. I’ll be posting my Boston cream cake soon. (why do they call it Boston cream pie? – it’s not pie!)

One thing of note: this is a much better cake when you use a cake strip. See in the picture how the cake is perfectly flat and the edges are soft and not over baked? I highly recommend using a cake strip, also called a baking strip, whether you buy one or make your own. Click here to learn about cake strips.

If you want a healthier cake that’s low in sugar and saturated fat, try my recipe. You can use my frosting or do your own thing with this simple, easy recipe. My yellow cake low in sugar and any time I can make a cake without butter or any dessert without butter, I’m a happy cook. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Aug 4, 2015

I made pickles

PicklesJar1200_5905

I forgot how easy it is to make homemade pickles. It was a lot easier than putting together that jig saw puzzle they’re sitting on. The pickles took 5 minutes. The puzzle? Three months!

These are bread & butter pickles, which are also called refrigerator pickles, and now is a good time to make them. Cucumbers are at their best during summer and it’s the Kirby cucumber (not the Persian one) that is best for pickles. I sliced the cuces super thin this time and they are so soft they bend but they’re still crispy,  probably because I left the skin on. If you peel the cucumbers, the pickles are a lot softer.

I also put more sugar in this time and I found I like the pickles a little sweeter. So I added a note to the recipe that you can use more sugar if you like sweeter pickles. Don’t be freaked out by the amount of sugar: it’s 1/2 to 3/4 of a cup because remember, the sugar mostly stays in the water.

Pickles are a good source of probiotics. There are a lot of good reasons to eat foods that contain probiotics, which all fermented foods have. Those are foods like pickles, sauerkraut, yogurt, buttermilk, miso, kefir, and anything pickled (even sourdough bread!). Probiotics can help ease lactose intolerance and tame gas, diarrhea, and other digestive problems. In other words, they keep your gut healthy. And we all need healthy guts.

So make some pickles. If you start now, they’ll be ready to eat in 3 hours. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones