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Feb 16, 2015

Happy Pączki Day – Fat Tuesday

Polish Jelly Doughnuts

Tuesday, February 17th is Pączki Day!  It’s a day celebrated by most Poles by eating as many pączki as you can in preparation for the following day, Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent, when many Catholics start fasting until Good Friday. So if you’re going to binge on pączki today, why not keep it healthy and bake them? My recipe is easy and you can fill them with custard or jam… I even fill some with my chocolate pudding recipe. (a single pączki is called a pączek.)

Best Oven Baked Paczki

So Happy Pączki Day, everyone. And Szczęśliwa Pączki Dziennie to my Polish friends!  Oh, and Happy Fat Tuesday to everyone in New Orleans. That’s about the happiest place to be today. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 13, 2015

A Cake for My Valentine

Best Recipe for Fresh Strawberry Cake

This is what my valentine wants for his special day on Saturday. Of all the things I love to bake, this is the one he asks for on his birthday and on Valentine’s day. He loves it. It’s a white cake filled with two pounds of strawberries and covered with fresh whipped cream. I love it  too. So I’ll make this amazing cake for him but it won’t be free. I’m negotiating some terms…

1) Immediate response when there’s a spider in the house – no delays.

2) Never ask if I’m going out wearing that because I am.

3) Sign my contract that says valentine chocolates don’t have to be shared.

4) The above terms notwithstanding, the strawberry cake must be shared.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 12, 2015

Dutch Oven on Sale (for my no-knead bread)

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For anyone needing an enameled cast iron dutch oven to make no knead bread, I was at Ralphs today and saw a Lodge Dutch oven on sale at 30% off. It’s regular  89.99 on sale for 59.99. I asked the manager if the other Ralphs would have it and he didn’t know. I also asked how long it would be on sale and he wasn’t sure about that either but he said definitely until Tuesday.

So for anyone living in Los Angeles or wherever they have Ralphs (in the Kroger family) and if you want an enameled cast iron dutch oven, check with your local store. This is a lot cheaper than the Le Crueset that sells for around $300.

Here’s a loaf I made today…

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Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Feb 12, 2015

Substitutions

Don’t have whole wheat pastry flour? Regular whole wheat flour is not a good substitute for whole wheat pastry flour. It will give you a heavier and more dense product. Whole wheat flour is usually ground hard wheat that is high in gluten and best for baking bread. Whole wheat pastry flour is a much finer grind and is made from a soft wheat low in gluten. It is best for sweets like cakes, muffins, and cookies. Whole wheat pastry flour is available at Whole Foods and can easily be purchased online (King Arthur Flour has it).  If you use my recipes regularly it’s worth the effort to find whole wheat pastry flour so you can add whole grains to your homemade baking.

Don’t have buttermilk? You cannot substitute milk for buttermilk. There is no perfect substitute for buttermilk, especially in baking. Due to its acidic nature, buttermilk makes baked goods lighter and fluffier so it’s worth using the real thing. You can freeze unused buttermilk in portions the size you will need for future recipes. It will separate when frozen but when you thaw it, just stir it back up. To substitute for buttermilk, there are several options:

1) Combine yogurt with milk, using plain yogurt and milk, about half and half.

2) Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of milk (not fat-free) and let it stand for 5 minutes or longer.

3) Combine sour cream with milk or water until it’s the thickness of buttermilk.

Don’t have bread flour? You can use all purpose flour. Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour and that helps with gluten development, which is helpful when working with yeast. With bread flour pizzas may be a little crispier and breads may be a little chewier and have more body but it’s not a huge difference.

Don’t have instant yeast? Regular active yeast can be used wherever I use instant yeast. But be sure to check the package directions for the required temperature of the liquid. My brand of instant yeast calls for 120 degrees F while my regular active yeast calls for 110 degrees F.

Don’t have 1% milk or low fat milk? Use a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part whole milk. For example, to make the equivalent of one cup of 1% milk: combine  3/4 cup water + 1/4 cup whole milk.  (For 2% milk the mixture should be 50/50, i.e. half water and half whole milk)

Don’t have baking soda? Do not use baking powder instead. Baking powder is not a substitute for baking soda. Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients in a recipe to make baked goods rise.

Don’t have extra light olive oil? For baking you can use canola, safflower, or any vegetable oil.

Don’t have a dutch oven? I have only used an enameled cast iron dutch oven but I have researched online and other people claim to have success using: a glass pyrex dish with a lid, a stainless steel pot with a lid, a clay baker, and a pizza stone with a stainless steel bowl as a cover. You can also look through the recipe comments for other ideas. Keep in mind that any lid must be tight fitting and 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.

Don’t want to use eggs? I’m sorry to say I don’t know of any good substitute for eggs. For anyone with egg allergies, rather than change a recipe and risk being disappointed, you can find many eggless recipes the are already proven online. If cholesterol is a concern, all my research has shown that egg yolks may contain cholesterol but they are low in saturated fat and they do not raise serum cholesterol in the blood. Eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including vitamin B12, riboflavin, and folate. Besides providing protein, iron, phosphorus, iodine, and vitamin E, eggs are also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D.

Feb 11, 2015

The Difference Between Baking Powder & Baking Soda

Baking powder and baking soda are NOT THE SAME. They can not be substituted for one another. They are both leaveners but they are chemically different.

Baking Powder:Baking SodaBaking soda is used in recipes that contain acidic ingredients like buttermilk, brown sugar, yogurt, lemon juice, honey, vinegar, or chocolate (except Dutch process). The acid in the recipe reacts with the baking soda, allowing your baked goods to rise. Baking powder is generally used when there is no acidic ingredient in the recipe. Bottom line: baking soda needs an acid; baking powder does not. – Jenny Jones

Feb 11, 2015

Can’t Print a Recipe?

I assume you are using a desktop computer. For some reason, in some browsers (like Google Chrome), the “print menu window” appears to load faster than the actual recipe page you’re trying to print. To address this problem please close the print window and then click the Print button again. I hope this helps. You can also right click on any recipe page and select the “Print” option from the dropdown menu. Another option is to use the “Share” buttons at the upper right of each recipe to share any recipe or to email it to yourself.

Feb 4, 2015

Oven-baked Chicken Parmesan

Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan

There’s almost no cleanup with my easy chicken parmesan recipe. The prep is all done on wax paper and if you line your baking sheet with foil like I do,  you won’t have to wash it. This recipe will convince you that frying is not necessary to make a fabulous chicken parmesan. First I pound the chicken to an even thickness of 1/2-inch. That’s to make sure it cooks evenly. Then I dip each piece in flour, beaten egg, and finally coat it with (homemade) bread crumbs that I season myself.

I start with plain breadcrumbs and season them with a store-bought Italian seasoning mix. Then I add parmesan cheese and it makes an delicious breading for these chicken cutlets. They bake for 20 minutes… oh hey… that’s just how long it takes to make my quick and easy marinara sauce, start-to-finish. After 20 minutes, top it with some sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese, bake a few more minutes and… yummm!  I always shred my own cheese because  packaged pre-shredded cheese does not melt as well.

The last time I made this I baked it at 425 for 17 minutes and it was a bit more crispy but it’s not much of a difference. This photo above was baked at 425. Let me know if you try the higher temperature.

Who doesn’t like chicken parmesan? Now you can make a healthier chicken parm topped with part skim mozarella to keep it low fat and light. This is truly Italian comfort food. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 3, 2015

The Best Way to Make Whole Wheat No Knead Bread

No Knead Whole Wheat Bread

Make it overnight. I finally figured out the best way to make whole wheat no knead bread. Start the dough the night before using cold water instead of using the faster method with hot water. The faster method works well with regular bread made with bread flour or all-purpose flour but the faster method using 100% whole wheat flour makes a loaf that was too dense for a lot of people. I happen to love a dense, heavy bread, even those thin-sliced pumpernickel breads that they sell but I think most people will be more satisfied with the overnight method.

But know this: any bread that’s 100% whole wheat, no matter how it’s made, will never be as soft and light as a white bread version. But if you want a healthy, high fiber, nutritious bread, this one takes more time but there’s still nothing to do but wait. There’s no kneading and no shaping. Just start your dough the night before, let it stand at room temperature for 12 hours or more, then continue in the morning.

Here’s the truth about no knead 100% whole wheat bread. It won’t rise as much as the white version. I even took a picture of one I made this morning (started the dough last night) and used a tape measure. The middle of the loaf is no more than 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall but you can see the inside has lots of holes and it has a wonderful crust and soft interior. For anyone trying to avoid white flour, this is still the easiest and best 100% whole wheat bread you can make. You just need a little more time but it’s so worth it. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 2, 2015

Salmon Sandwich

Healthy Salmon Sandwich

A recipe for a simple sandwich? Yes, and I’ll tell you why. This salmon sandwich is healthy enough to have for dinner! Think about it. You have an excellent protein in the fish, whole grains in the bread, and a vegetable in the lettuce. Then there’s the long list of red salmon health benefits from benefiting your heart to your bones. I grew up in Canada. We do salmon sandwiches. I never had a tuna sandwich until I was 25. I always have canned salmon at home so I  often have a salmon sandwich for lunch and when time was short I’ve had one for dinner.

I never expected to be posting a sandwich recipe but I think I have to. I had some friends over recently and wanted to offer something different so I made salmon sandwiches… really simple salmon sandwiches. Salmon & mayo. I wondered if anyone would even want them but was shocked at the reaction. They devoured all my sandwiches (I should have made more) but not only that, they asked for the recipe. I had no recipe. I just mashed the salmon with my light mayo and that was it. I couldn’t even tell them how much mayo – I just eyeballed it.

Then the following week two people told me they couldn’t find the salmon sandwich recipe on my website. If they liked it that much, then I need to share it with everybody. So I measured the amount of mayo and now I have a recipe. It’s the easiest recipe I have ever posted, but one you will probably love just like my friends did. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jan 29, 2015

Simplified Skinless Chicken Drumsticks

Skinless Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

With visitors from all over the world (over 170 countries) there was some confusion about the spices in my marinade so I have added a simpler combination of orange & lemon juice, garlic and salt. I made another change too by reducing the cooking time and increasing the oven temperature.

Like most cooks, my recipes evolve over time  because I’m always trying to make things better. That’s why I created a special category in my blog called “Recipe Changes/Fixes” so if anyone is confused, thinking something is different than they remember, they can check on any changes I made in that blog posting.

I’m still working on avoiding the messy job of cleaning the rack. I tried roasting the drumsticks on greased foil but they stick to the foil even when it’s greased. I did find one thing, however, that is a disposable foil pan that allowed me to eliminate the rack.

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It’s called EZ Foil by Hefty and these cookie sheets are textured on the bottom and there was no sticking whatsoever, and no greasing necessary. The drumsticks turned over beautifully with no effort at all. I’m guessing not all stores will carry these sheets but wow, I love the textured feature. And oh… good news: I wash and re-use them.

I almost always make these skinless chicken drumsticks on Fridays because they make great weekend snacks, even served cold. Click here for the recipe.   – Jenny Jones

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