Easy Recipes For Beginners

Oct 23, 2016

The Easiest Coconut Cake You’ll Ever Make

easy_one_bowl_coconut_cakeYou won’t find a coconut cake anywhere that’s this easy to make. One bowl. Simple ingredients. Quick and easy recipe. It’s a variation of my easy one bowl yellow cake with just a couple of changes and one of them is of course, lots of coconut. This is an easy cake you can make quickly and have a delicious homemade dessert ready any time.

I try to always use ingredients that most people either have on hand or can easily find. And I always try to bake without butter and I have done it again with this cake. Even the cream cheese frosting is made without butter and I promise you will not miss it. What you will miss is the rest of the cake because it will disappear very quickly! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 21, 2016

Easy Lemon Herb Chicken

Lemon Herb Chicken Breast1200_8653You only need four ingredients to make this easy chicken recipe. Well, four plus the chicken. For anyone just learning to cook or simply short on time, this oven-baked chicken is quick, easy and healthy. I make a basting sauce of fresh lemon juice and garlic with olive oil and herbs. The chicken bakes in the oven, you baste it a couple of times, and it’s ready in 30 minutes. And get this: I line my baking pan with foil so there’s no cleanup!

For my herbs, I use a prepared formula of Italian dried herbs that includes basil, rosemary, thyme & oregano but you can use your own favorite mix. Or just use one herb that you like. Once the chicken is cooked, you let it rest for 10 minutes, then slice it and pour all the juices left in the pan over the chicken, making sure you get all the bits of garlic too. The combination of garlic, herbs, and lemon goes perfectly with chicken.

I’m having it tonight with roasted vegetables. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jan 8, 2016

Five Minute Alfredo Sauce

5-Minute Alfredo Sauce1200_0041Do you miss Fettuccine Alfredo? Avoiding it because you don’t want to die? My Alfredo sauce has no heavy cream and no butter, in fact it’s made with 1% milk and it’s deeelish. And you can be eating it in five minutes. That’s how long it takes to make the easiest Fettuccine Alfredo ever, and the healthiest too.

This is the same sauce I use in my Creamy Chicken Asparagus Bow Ties recipe but if you just want pasta alone with a creamy, easy sauce, this is it. Alfredo sauce is traditionally served with fettuccine but today, I’m making Bow Ties Alfredo. Put it on bow ties, elbows, or any pasta shape you like. You won’t feel weighed down after this light sauce… or tired from all that 5 minutes of work! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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

Dk Choc Fudge Brownies Nuts1200_6542

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 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

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

May 27, 2015

Dark Chocolate Almond Clusters

Chocolate Almond ClustersBlog1200_3448Goodbye Snickers. Goodbye Mr. Goodbar. There’s a healthier way to get your chocolate-crunchy-nutty fix and you can make it yourself in fifteen minutes. With only TWO ingredients! It’s really easy, and they’re really good. I’m basically melting a good quality dark chocolate bar and dropping in some toasted almonds. My favorite chocolate bars for this recipe are Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet, which comes in a 4-ounce bar and Scharffen Berger 62%, which is 3 ounces.  World Market also makes a good 72% 3-ounce bar. I do this with a double-boiler method but who has a double boiler these days? Not me.

So I put a glass pyrex bowl on top of a small saucepan with about an inch of water and that’s my double boiler. It’s important that the  bottom of the bowl does not touch the water and that you do not use a rapid boil. Just bring the water to a boil and then to a low simmer to melt the chocolate. I break the chocolate bar (3 ounces) into chunks, into the bowl, and let it melt, stirring occasionally. While it’s melting, I set out fifteen little one-inch candy paper cups. They’re like cupcake liners but smaller.

When the chocolate is melted, turn off the burner and start dropping in the nuts. Stir them around until they’re coated and lift them out in clusters, using 2 teaspoons, and drop them into the cups. At the end, whatever chocolate is left can be taken up with a little spatula and dropped onto some of the clusters. You may have to re-warm the chocolate at the end. I have made these clusters without the paper cups and just dropped them onto wax paper to cool and it works, but they will spread. The cups make a nicer presentation too.

I strongly urge you to toast the nuts and not to use plain raw almonds. Toasting nuts greatly enhances their flavor and aroma and you can do that in advance. I just toast all the nuts I use at one time and keep them refrigerated for my baking. I do a sheet of walnuts, then pecans, and then almonds and they are always available without having to wait for them to cool. I just did some over the weekend.

Almonds1200_3138To toast nuts place them on an ungreased baking sheet into a 350° F preheated oven for 7 to 10 minutes. It’s good to stir and turn them over about half way through. If you do a whole bag of almonds and have them on hand, you’ll be glad you did because you will make these chocolate clusters again, especially when you see how easy this is. The whole process takes about 15 minutes. And I’d like to see you eat just one.  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

May 1, 2015

My Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Easy O-P Choc Cake1200_2444

Looking for an easy chocolate cake from scratch? This is it. Oh… and looking for a healthier chocolate cake? This is it too. It’s not a fancy cake but it’s really moist and rich tasting even thought it’s made without eggs or butter. I make it with extra-light olive oil but my frosting does have two tablespoons of butter. If you use my frosting, that means each slice would have 3/4 teaspoon of butter. I can manage that. But you can also just dust this cake with some powdered sugar.

For baking with chocolate I always use Dutch-processed cocoa for a beautiful dark color and it’s also less bitter than the regular one. It can be hard to find but my store carries Droste brand, which I used in this recipe. This is the perfect cake to make last minute since there is no butter to soften and no eggs to warm up to room temperature. I often put it together before dinner and by the time we eat, the cake is cooled and then I whip up some frosting and… we have dessert.

This easy cake is perfect for Sunday family dinner… everyone does have a Sunday family dinner, don’t they? Just me? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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