If anything good could come out of our current worldwide quarantine it’s that people are learning how to cook. It’s given us a chance to either learn or to teach our children this important life skill. That’s why my pick this week is this photo of 9-year old Svea, whose mother sent it in, showing Svea taking pride in this chocolate cake she made all by herself for her family in Minnesota. I hope this inspires other young people to discover the joy (and value) of cooking. ❤️
It may sound crazy but I love grocery shopping. I like to take my time, meander down the aisles, see what’s new, what’s on sale, what the produce guy just rolled out, and I miss that. I miss my favorite checker who always says, “Hi, Jenny.” She’s from Russia and says she learned how to speak English by watching my talk show. I miss her too. And I worry about her because she is an essential worker, close to my age, and is still working now.
It’s not easy getting groceries so I’ve been cooking and freezing as much as I can. Last night I made my two favorite casseroles to freeze in portions. Left is my baked ziti and right is my angel hair casserole. The ziti is made with a meat sauce and three Italian cheeses and the angel hair casserole uses beef, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese. They are both family favorites and luckily they freeze well. I cut them into serving portions today and froze them so we can still have our favorite meals as getting groceries continues to be a challenge.
Stay well, everyone. ❤️
I am thrilled every time someone sends a photo of one of my recipes. My favorite this week is from Valerie, who staged a beautiful table to show off her quick & easy chocolate cake. Actually she made two, one with sugar and one with splenda and she noted that they, “seemed the same in texture and flavor.” Good to know. Thank you, Valerie.
To see more photos sent by home cooks all over the world, click here.
- Always aerate your flour before measuring.
- If you don’t aerate your flour your dough will be too dry.
- Aerating is NOT the same as sifting.
- Do not sift flour before measuring unless the recipe indicates it.
- See how to aerate flour in this short video.
Where’s all the bread? The shelves are empty these days and most of us can’t buy bread. That’s why I’m here! 🙂 If you’ve never baked bread before, I’m here to say you can do it. My bread recipes are very popular because they’re easy. You’ll see a lot of comments like, “This is the first time I’ve ever baked bread and I’m never buying store bought again.”
To help first time bread makers, I’ve put together a list below of some of my easiest and most popular bread recipes. The silver lining in the bread shortage is that you might like your homemade bread so much, you may never go back! Everyone, take care and be well.
Simple Whole Wheat Bread (pictured above)
Kohl’s sells a Dutch oven from Food Network for around $60 (oven safe to 500°F). The ideal size, 5-quart, is on sale now (March 21) online for $48. THIS IS NOT A PAID ENDORSEMENT, JUST SHARING INFORMATION.
Now more than ever we all need a strong immune system. I’m highlighting some important foods that can help keep us all strong and healthy. Although healthy when eaten fresh, red peppers, carrots, and spinach provide even more nutrients when cooked. Below you will find some specific easy recipes that each incorporate at least one of these immune boosting foods.
Almonds/Nuts: Granola Bars
Garlic: Spaghetti with Olive Oil & Garlic, (+Most of my Main Dishes)
Mushrooms: Easy Chicken & Mushrooms
Olive Oil: Greek Salad Dressing
Sardines: Sardine Cakes
❤️ Take care, everyone. Eat well ~ be well. ❤️
This is no ordinary focaccia. It’s not the soft kind that you bake in a pan. This is focaccia the way I like it: thin and crispy. It’s like a slice of pizza without the pizza stuff. I have only been able to accomplish this using a baking stone and a pizza peel, and a very hot oven. That’s how they make those great pizzas at Italian restaurants. They use very hot ovens, and slide the pizzas in using a wooden peel like this.
Parchment paper is a must for two reasons. One, it makes pressing the dough into a circle easier because the dough sticks to the paper. And two, it makes it a breeze to slide the dough onto the hot baking stone. The parchment will turn dark from the high heat as you can see in the recipe photo. My focaccia recipe is quicker than most, taking only 90 minutes start-to-finish. As long as I don’t need my oven for cooking dinner, I can make this incredible focaccia and time it to be ready to eat with our salad.
You can make traditional rosemary focaccia or use a store-bought blend of Italian herbs. I actually use both. I mix them into the dough for lots of Italian flavor, and then put a little more on top. Some of the spices on top fall off but the dough has enough flavor inside to make up for any of that. I like the result better with bread flour so that’s the only one I use.
Another good thing is that if you don’t eat it all (what are the chances, really?) you can re-crisp it the next day directly on the oven rack at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes. It has never taken me more than 90 minutes to make this fabulous crispy Italian focaccia. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
I realize that my “Quick & Easy” chocolate cake is the most popular and I often make it when I need cake fast. Some days, we just need cake fast! But sweet potato chocolate cake is still my favorite. It starts with a whole sweet potato, which I cook and mash with a fork. I used to boil it but now I chop and steam the sweet potato. This way it retains more vitamins and I like that this is a dessert with some nutrition. And because sweet potatoes are so sweet, this recipe uses less sugar.
This chocolate cake always turns out moist and delicious. I frost most of my cakes right in the pan, only on the top. If you want to try my favorite recipe for sweet potato chocolate cake and get a little vitamin A in each slice, click here.
It seems like everyone in the world is making no knead bread and it’s no wonder. I make it all the time myself. I have my favorites like multi-grain and 10-grain but today I made a whole wheat loaf and it’s just so good and so easy. I often use the overnight method because it’s ready for baking first thing in the morning.
Whole wheat Dutch oven bread doesn’t bake as tall as the white version but it’s still delicious and hearty, like the farm breads I grew up on. If you haven’t tried it yet, I urge everyone to try some of my high fiber no knead breads, like this no knead whole wheat loaf. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
These are just some of the recipes that I have either improved or simplified since they were originally posted. I’m always learning and improving my skills so if anyone is using a recipe that was posted a while ago or if you printed it some time ago, please check the “Recipe Changes/Fixes” category in my blog.
So far I have made changes to about 100 recipes but many of the changes are minor, like increasing salt or reducing sugar but others, like my 15-Minute Veggie Pasta, now use an easier, faster, all-in-one-pan method. I’m always looking for ways to make something healthier or faster or to simplify the process so every time I cook, if I try a better way and it works, I adjust the recipe and share the exact changes I made in the blog.
I encourage all of my regular cooks to occasionally check the “Recipe Changes” category here in my blog to make sure you are using the newest and best version of each recipe. As I evolve as a better (& simpler) cook, I will continue to occasionally update my recipes. To see if any changes were made to your favorite recipes, click here.