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Aug 31, 2015

Simple Meat Sauce in 30 Minutes

Easy Simple Meat Sauce Recipe

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

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

Fast Easy Recipe White Bread Sometimes, 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: https://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

Best Yellow Cake RecipeThis is my go-to yellow cake, one you can make from scratch in 40 minutes. Try it with my 2-minute chocolate frosting that has only 2 tablespoons of butter. What I like the most is all the things you can do with this quick and easy recipe.

For a fast dessert, I make this cake and frost it right in the pan. It’s a healthier dessert I feel good about and it really satisfies my sweet tooth. I have made it using 1% and 2% low fat milk as well as whole milk. All versions turned out great.

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. (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? I highly recommend using a cake strip, also called a baking strip, whether you buy one or make your own. It keeps the edges of the cake from over-baking.  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.  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Aug 4, 2015

I made pickles

Homemade Pickles Recipe

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.

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

Jul 28, 2015

No Knead Multi-Grain Bread

Multigrain No Knead BreadI have stopped buying bread. When it’s this easy to make your own homemade bread with no work and no kneading, and you can eat it fresh and hot from the oven, this is the only way to go. No knead breads are so flexible and forgiving, you can create your own like I did. I’ve made several different versions so far but this is my favorite one.

This loaf is super crusty when it’s first baked and by the second day, it’s not crusty (no breads are the second day) but it’s still a fabulous moist loaf that’s easy to slice and eat. I make it with three equal parts of whole wheat flour (not whole wheat pastry flour), rolled oats, and bread flour or all purpose flour. I would love to make it 100% whole grain but it’s just too dense for me.

This loaf joins my growing list of no knead breads that I’ve made so far:

~ Plain Faster No Knead Bread (click here)

~ No Knead Whole Wheat Fruit & Nut Loaf  – I love it!! (click here)

~ No Knead Rye Bread (click here)

~ Whole Wheat Greek Olive Bread (click here)

~ Ten Grain No Knead Bread (click here)

That’s five more ways to make this easy bread. My first recipe for faster no knead bread works well with the faster, same-day method because it uses bread flour or all-purpose flour. But when you start adding whole grains like this new multigrain bread, it really needs the overnight method. It takes more time but still no work at all.

Here’s how I do it. In the evening around 9-10:00 p.m. I mix the ingredients together (takes 2-3 minutes) and let them sit overnight. The next morning around 8-9:00 a.m. I proceed with the final steps and by noon, I have a fresh, hot, crusty loaf of delicious homemade bread. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 26, 2015

No Dutch Oven?

No knead bread depends on the steam created inside a pot with a tight-filling lid. I use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven but other people have commented on my website that they had success using:

  • a glass pyrex dish with a lid
  • a stainless steel pot with a lid
  • a stainless steel pot with foil on top and the original pot lid over the the foil
  • a clay baker
  • a springform pan with an aluminum foil top
  • a pizza stone with a stainless steel bowl as a cover
  • several people posted that they used a black cast iron pot with a lid
  • a roasting pan with a tightly sealed foil heavy duty top
  • a heavy soup pot with a lid
  • a corning dish with a glass lid
  • a Romertopf clay pot
  • a crock pot bowl with a lid
  • two nonstick bread pans, no parchment paper – put the dough in one of the bread pans, flip the other pan upside down over the first pan and put binder clips on the two ends to hold the pans together.
  • an oven-safe stoneware insert (removed from a slow cooker) with a cookie sheet over it as a lid.
  • a cast iron skillet and foil as a lid
  • 2 1/2 quart corning ware casserole.

Keep in mind that any lid must be tight fitting because you need to create steam inside the pot and the lid should have an oven-proof handle (not plastic). Your pot will need to hold at least 3 quarts but 5 to 6 quarts is most common. Or… You can make my No Knead Ciabatta Bread or No Dutch Oven Bread – they both bake on a pan, no Dutch oven needed. Click here for the recipes.

Jul 21, 2015

Lemon Blueberry Cake – a good mistake

Lemon Bueberry Bundt Cake RecipeBlueberries are on sale! That means I need to make my lemon blueberry bundt cake today and I need it in time for dinner. I always made this amazing cake with only 1/3 cup of butter but today I mistakenly used only 3 tablespoons of butter and guess what? It was moist and delicious! This was a good mistake.

OMG – this is so delicious! And now it has even less butter. I use the zest of three lemons and a whole bunch of blueberries (one and a half cups). If you wash the berries, make sure they’re dry before adding them to the batter. Otherwise, they can sink.

It’s the fresh lemon zest that gives all the flavor so don’t skimp on the lemons. When you take the zest off take just the yellow part and avoid the white part, which is bitter.

Start with all your ingredients at room temperature and take your time. It takes 7-8 minutes with an electric mixer to get the batter just right. But what a reward! I like to top my finished cake with a simple glaze made with lemon juice and powdered sugar but you can also dust it with a little powdered sugar. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 19, 2015

Breakfast Cookies Again? Yes!

Healthy Breakfast CookiesIt must be Sunday morning because I’m making breakfast cookies again. Here they are before baking. There are three things that are a constant in my kitchen (besides me)… three things that when I almost run out, I make more. They are: breakfast cookies, granola bars, and tortillas. This morning I ate my last breakfast cookie, there’s one tortilla left and I made granola bars yesterday. So it’s breakfast cookie and tortilla-day today.

Are you wondering why these three? Because you can’t buy anything even close to homemade tortillas. My granola bars are out of this world. And my breakfast cookies may not be pretty, but they are fantastic, especially if you want more fiber in your diet. Those are chopped prunes you see there… or wait… those could be pieces of dark chocolate!

My recipe uses bran cereal, whole wheat pastry flour, and oats (did I mention there are 4 grams of fiber in one cookie?). Then I add some moist chopped prunes (they do not taste like prune cookies!) and either chocolate chips or this time I chopped up some of a dark chocolate bar. And here they are all done…

High Fiber Breakfast CookiesThese are cookies of substance, great taste and texture, and many health benefits. Dark chocolate benefits the heart and all that fiber benefits your digestive system and keeps you regular. As for prunes, besides fiber, they are very high in antioxidants. Prunes benefit your eyes, heart, immune system and can help prevent bone loss.

Just like people, don’t judge this cookie by its appearance. It’s what’s inside that matters. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 16, 2015

Authentic Greek Salad

How To Make Greek Salad

Give me a giant Greek salad and a big fork and watch me go! I love Greek salad! I love all Greek food.  My stepmom is Greek and I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy her cooking and as well as all the fabulous foods at those Greek festivals we go to. The Greeks love to dance and they know how to eat. Opa!

The main vegetables in my Greek salad are romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onion. Romaine lettuce also happens to be the healthiest lettuce to eat, so use lots. My favorite cucumbers for salad are Persian – the skins are so thin you don’t even have to peel them, but you can if you like. The red onions can be sliced super thin or cut into bigger pieces. Tomatoes can be any kind – cherry, grape, big, small, red, yellow, heirloom… whatever floats your boat. Keep in mind that tomatoes should not be refrigerated so if you want to prepare the salad ingredients in advance and refrigerate them, leave the tomatoes out and add them later, when you add the dressing.

That’s also when I add the kalamata olives and feta cheese – after the dressing is on. And try to buy a piece of feta cheese and not the one that’s already crumbled. Fresh feta cheese is better tasting with more moisture and it’s so easy to crumble. You just break off a piece of feta and crumble it easily with your fingers.

Greek salad dressing is easy to make and it’s fast too. I just put everything into a jar, shake it up, and it’s done. But try to make the dressing in advance so the flavors can blend. My Greek salad dressing recipe makes about 3/4 cup of dressing – enough for many salads so use just enough to coat your vegetebles and save the rest. It will keep indefinitely so keep it refrigerated and you can have Greek salad any time with a well-seasoned dressing.

Greek or not, try to have a salad at every meal. I do. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones