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Nov 18, 2014

No Knead Fruit & Nut Bread

Fruit&NutBread_600I love it! I love it! I love it! I’m having so much fun with my no knead breads. I started with the plain one, then I made my 100% whole wheat version. Not long after I did it with kalamata olives and now this! The idea came to me during our trip to Vancouver. We had a fabulous brunch at the hotel and they had a whole wheat fruit & nut loaf that looked so good. Did I mention that I’m a bread person? So I tried a slice and it was fabulous. A few minutes later I went back for more and it was gone! All that was left was the tiny heels… but I took them anyway. Everybody loved this bread. I wondered right away if I could make it at home and would it work with my no knead recipe?

The answer is yes. I made it a few times and had to take a break because I kept eating it – I could not stop myself. Fruit and nut bread is such a great combo, especially for breakfast. So here are some things to know:

  • The oven is very hot and sugar burns easily. The first time I made it, the crust was almost burned so I had a better result with a slightly reduced temperature. I still preheat the Dutch oven to the usual 450 degrees F to get the initial blast of heat but as soon as the bread goes in, I reduce the temperature to 400.
  • If your Dutch oven will fit, raise your oven rack up one notch to lift the bottom of the pot farther away from the heat. But put it back to the center for the last 10 minutes when the lid is off.
  • You can also start the dough the night before but using cold water and let the covered mixture stand on the counter top (not in a warm spot) overnight from 8 to 24 hours, and then shape it in the morning and continue.

I  make mine with half and half whole wheat and bread flour. I do recommend bread flour but you can use all purpose flour with the whole wheat. This half and half flour mixture ensures a soft loaf but a healthier one with the added fiber. I tried using all whole wheat flour with this sweet loaf but it didn’t work for me. It’s so simple, you just dump everything into a bowl, the flours, walnuts, raisins, sugar, salt, and yeast, and add water.

If you’re a bread person like me, you will love this delicious fruit & nut bread. But you may have to challenge yourself to not eat it all in one day. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Nov 12, 2014

Pumpkin Pie – Healthier & Easier

You’re about to be surprised at how easy it is to make homemade pumpkin pie from scratch…. a really good pumpkin pie, too. Did I mention that mine is healthier since it has no butter or cream anywhere and the crust is made with olive oil? And it’s delicious!

The filling is so simple with only four ingredients plus the spices. I use canned pumpkin and canned milk. Where other recipes use cream or condensed milk, I use 2% reduced fat condensed milk. And if you’re considering using fresh pumpkin you should know that canned pumpkin has more vitamin A than fresh and all you have to do is open a can. I’m all about using fresh ingredients but not with pumpkin. Have you ever tried to cut one up for cooking? If you accomplish that, you can skip the gym that day.

I’ve struggled for years with pie crusts, trying to avoid shortening but butter was the only replacement and I didn’t want all that saturated fat. Then I discovered oil pie crusts. They are so easy, so quick, and hard to mess up. This is a healthier pie crust because I use heart-healthy extra light olive oil and it could not be an easier. It’s the same crust I use in my apple pie, chicken pot pie, and apple pie bars. It’s the only crust I ever use.

When a pumpkin pie comes out of the oven, the smell of those wonderful spices is intoxicating. I use cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves but I prefer Saigon cinnamon over the more common Ceylon cinnamon. The difference in flavor is huge so if you can find Saigon cinnamon (my brand is Spice Islands), it is a more fragrant and potent cinnamon.

spice-island-cinnamon

Don’t be intimidated by homemade pie. Try my easy recipe for a healthier, easier pumpkin pie. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Nov 12, 2014

Metric Conversion Chart

For my international visitors, I have put together the metric conversion chart below based on weights and measurements I made in my own kitchen. The results vary depending on the cup I use, the brand of flour, or the way it’s placed into the cup so I did my best after measuring many different times, always aerating the flour first. I hope this proves helpful.

Flour
1 cup  =  4 1/2 ounces  =  130 grams

1/2 cup  =  2 1/4  ounces  =  65 grams

1/3 cup  =  1 1/2 ounces  =  45 grams

1/4 cup  =  1 1/8  ounces  =  32 grams

Granulated & Caster Sugar
1 cup  =  7 ounces  =  200 grams

1/2 cup  =  3.5 ounces  =  100 grams

1/3 cup  =  2.3 ounces  =  66 grams

1/4 cup  =  1.75 ounces  =  50 grams

1 Tablespoon =  0.45 ounces  =  12.50 grams

Yeast
1 packet = 7 grams

1 teaspoon = 3 1/2 grams

1/4 teaspoon = 0.9 grams

Powdered Sugar & Powdered Cocoa
1 cup  =  3.5 ounces  =  100 grams

1/2 cup  =  1.75 ounces  =  50 grams

1/3 cup  =  1.15 ounces  =  33 grams

1/4 cup  =  .85 ounces  =  25 grams

1 Tablespoon =  0.20 ounces  =  6.25 grams

Liquids
1 cup  =  8 ounces  =  240 mL

1/2 cup  =  4 ounces  =  120 mL

1/3 cup  =  2.6 ounces  =  80 mL

1/4 cup  =  2 ounces  =  60 mL

1 Tablespoon =  0.50 ounce  =  15 mL

Butter
1 Tablespoon  =  0.50 ounce  =  14 grams

1/4 cup  =  2 ounces  =  56 grams

1/3 cup  =  2.6 ounces  =  75 grams

1/2 cup  =  4 ounces  =  113 grams

1 cup  =  8 ounces  =  226 grams

Oven Baking Temperatures
225 degrees F  =  110 degrees C  =  1/4 gas number
250 degrees F  =  130 degrees C  =  1/2 gas number
275 degrees F  =  140 degrees C  =  1 gas number
300 degrees F  =  150 degrees C  =  2 gas number
325 degrees F  =  165 degrees C  =  3 gas number
350 degrees F  =  180 degrees C  =  4 gas number
375 degrees F  =  190 degrees C  =  5 gas number
400 degrees F  =  200 degrees C  =  6 gas number
425 degrees F  =  220 degrees C  =  7 gas number
450 degrees F  =  230 degrees C  =  8 gas number
475 degrees F  =  245 degrees C  =  9 gas number
500 degrees F  =  260 degrees C  =  10 gas number

…Below are all the charts I had perviously posted, compiled from other sources…

Liquids (and Herbs & Spices)

ConversionChart

Weight

Screen shot 2014

Length (1 cm = 10 mm)

Screen shot4

Temperature

Cooking Tempertaures Chart

Nov 11, 2014

What Kind of Pans do You Use?

The pan likely seen in my videos is the Berndes Classic and I think it’s only available online.

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Nov 10, 2014

My Colorful Kitchen Gadgets

KitchenTools_Banner_2

I find most of my colorful tools and gadgets at Sur La Table, Pier One, World Market, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Walmart, and even some drug stores, hardware stores and vintage shops. I’d rather go shopping for spatulas than shoes!

Nov 9, 2014

The Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes

Are you making candied yams this Thanksgiving? Guess what? Candied yams are not yams. They are sweet potatoes! Check this out:

1) This is a sweet potato…

Sweet-Potato-or-Yam

2) And this is a sweet potato…

Sweet-Potato-or-Yam-1

3) THIS  is a Yam…

 shutterstock_148491962-1

 

1) The yellow sweet potato, the one commonly called sweet potato, has a thicker skin and firm yellow flesh that’s a bit drier and starchier than the orange one.

2) The orange sweet potato, also called “red garnet” and “jewel,” has a softer skin and a deep orange flesh that when cooked, becomes very soft, almost like mashed potatoes. Plus they are sweeter than the yellow ones. These deeper colored sweet potatoes have more vitamin A than carrots.

3) Yams, which have a black bark-like skin, are native to Africa and Asia and I doubt if you could even find one here in the U.S.

There’s so much confusion about the difference between a yam and a sweet potato. That’s because the USDA labeled the orange ones “yams” to differentiate the two main varieties of sweet potatoes but the truth is, sweet potatoes and real yams are not even related. Most of us have never even eaten a yam.

So the bottom line is… unless the Supreme Court intervenes, we will continue to call the yellow ones sweet potatoes and the orange ones yams. It’s just simpler. The good news is they are interchangeable in most recipes, even candied yams. Besides vitamin A, these vegetables have lots of fiber, calcium, iron, and vitamin E so try to cook with them all year. I use the yellow ones for sweet potato fries and with my roasted vegetables and the orange ones for baking my sweet potato chocolate cake.

Well, this is good information but it doesn’t really change anything, does it? Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 7, 2014

Pumpkin Pie – Healthier & Easier

I am already planning my Thanksgiving dinner including a homemade pumpkin pie from scratch. But then I do everything from scratch. I even bake the bread that I dry to make my own stuffing mix, but that’s another recipe. This pumpkin pie is low fat and light because it’s made without butter or cream, or even whole milk. I love it! It’s all low fat and healthier, even the crust. Ever since I discovered how easy it is to make an oil pie crust not to mention how much healthier it is, especially made with extra light olive oil, it’s the only pie crust I ever use.

If you’ve ever made a shortening or butter crust with the ice water you know how hard it is to patch cracks. That’s why I love an oil crust. It’s easy to put together and you can just pat it into your pie pan. Or do what I do and roll it between wax paper to get an even thickness of crust. And any cracks or open spaces can easily be patched with pieces of dough.

Cooking a big Thanksgiving dinner for your family is a challenge. Even for an experienced cook, it’s a lot to put together and my rule is to make absolutely everything I can in advance. And that’s easy for pumpkin pie. In fact, it has to be made in advance because it takes hours to cool and then needs to be refrigerated. I even make the whipped cream in advance. What? You don’t make your own whipped cream? Has anyone told you how easy it is? It’s ONE ingredient… plus a little sugar.  It takes about two minutes to make and whipping cream has no carbs.

If you’re tempted to try using fresh pumpkin I have two things to say. One, you have to cut and cook it first and it’s easier to build a guest room over the garage.  Second, canned pumpkin has more vitamin A than fresh. I believe in cooking from scratch but not this time. I always use canned pumpkin. But make sure it’s only pure pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling.

My healthier pumpkin pie is made with 1% milk, 2% reduced fat condensed milk, eggs, sugar, and spices. Of course cinnamon is the most important spice but all cinnamons are not the same. The one most stores carry is Ceylon cinnamon but I recently discovered Saigon cinnamon and wow! It’s more potent, more fragrant, and it’s the only one I use. My brand is Spice Islands. If you use Saigon cinnamon, you don’t need as much as you’ll see in the printable recipe. (There’s a how-to video coming next week!)

spice-island-cinnamon

Homemade pumpkin pie will always trump a store bought pie so I hope you’ll try my recipe. Why not make one this week… just to test it out of course. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Nov 4, 2014

My Cookbook

There is no need to try purchasing my cookbook, which is likely out of print by now. I am posting almost all of the recipes from the book here on the website. It was always a dream of mine to publish a cookbook.  When it finally came out in 2006 I donated 100% of my profits to City of Hope for breast cancer research. I just wanted to share my recipes. In 2013, the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, was kind enough to let me share all of the recipes in the book here on my website. But it’s been over ten years and during that time I have become a better, more efficient cook. I make those same recipes but today they are simpler and easier. So there is no need to purchase the book. All of the best recipes from the book are here – exactly the way I make them today.

If you’re curious, the book is available as a free download. Just click here.

Oct 31, 2014

Quick & Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs

I used to think it took hours to make a great spaghetti and meatball dinner. Here’s my video to show that is not the case. You can make an absolutely delicious sauce (it’s my quick & easy spaghetti sauce) AND the meatballs AND the spaghetti in about half an hour… AND still have time to make a salad.

Spaghetti & meatballs pleases just about everyone but doesn’t all Italian food? My goal with this quick and easy meal was to make a great marinara sauce, which means you must use fresh basil. Basil is just about the best smelling herb there is and it’s key to a great sauce.

I also wanted super soft and healthy meatballs and mine are just that. I use the leanest ground beef I can find and fresh bread crumbs that soak in milk. I use my own homemade whole wheat bread for the crumbs because it’s a soft loaf so look for a soft whole wheat bread or you can use white. But of course, whole wheat will add some beneficial fiber. Cooking the meatballs in the sauce makes them even more flavorful as they absorb the sauce and become super moist and delicious.

So here’s the drill: While the sauce cooks you make the meatballs. While the meatballs cook you boil the spaghetti. While the spaghetti cooks you make a salad and set the table. And if you want this meal to go into overdrive, how about my simple garlic bread to serve on the side.

This could be a new family tradition: Sunday spaghetti & meatballs. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Oct 27, 2014

French Canadian Pea Soup

FrenchCanPeaSoup_600

No ham hocks here. This soup is traditionally made with ham hocks but I think it’s best to avoid the saturated fat and nitrates they contain so I don’t use them. But my French Canadian pea soup is still plenty delicious. In fact, I don’t even use stock… just plain water. This recipe is simple and uses ingredients it’s easy to keep on hand plus my soup cooks in about 45 minutes instead of two to three hours that some recipes take.

Although I grew up in Canada, I had never heard of French Canadian pea soup. I come from Ontario and this soup is a Quebec specialty. I discovered it during a cruise we were taking through the maritime provinces of Canada. Our last stop was Quebec City and that’s where I first discovered this hearty, delicious soup. I had been enjoying the cruise around the islands but not the food on the luxury ship. It was too fancy for me and not healthy at all with lots of flambeed things and sauces I didn’t want. I missed my own cooking so much. I just wanted a big bowl of soup. I love soup.

While exploring Quebec City we found a small family restaurant with homemade soup on the menu and their specialty was pea soup. I couldn’t get inside fast enough. I ordered the soup and as soon as I took the first bite I knew I had to make this when I got home. No truffle oil. No “foie de” whatever! It’s peasant food. I love simple peasant food. It’s what I think most people really enjoy eating and why I think so many seem to like my recipes.

Now that autumn is here, a thick and filling soup like this is perfect. Sometimes, it’s all we have for a light dinner. And every time I make it, I remember that little restaurant in Quebec City with the homemade soup. As for any future cruises, I will only go when I can have a cabin with my own kitchen! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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