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Jan 31, 2020

Healthy Mexican Black Bean Casserole

Healthy Mexican Black Bean CasseroleI love casseroles. Cook once / eat twice /or three times. And casseroles are always flexible: a little more of this, a little less of that, and they still turn out. This is a little like my Spicy Mexican Casserole but made not spicy using an Anaheim pepper, with corn tortillas and added vegetables. I always try to include as many vegetables as possible in every meal, besides the salads I make every day.

Vegetables are the key to good health so besides lots of fresh tomatoes, I include antioxidant-rich bell pepper along with the Anaheim green chili pepper. Anaheim peppers (also called long peppers) are green and measure about 7 inches long.These peppers are great for anyone not liking anything too spicy but who does like a flavorful pepper. Of course you can use Jalapeño peppers instead but the Anaheim pepper is perfect for me.

This recipe is high in fiber from the black beans and corn tortillas. All corn tortillas are not the same, in fact they can be very different. I tried Whole Foods 365 brand and they were dry and disappointing. My preference is Guerrero brand if you can find them.

You can make lots of variations with this recipe, using cheddar cheese instead of monterey jack, pinto beans instead of black beans, and you can add spices if you like, but I do recommend staying with the fresh tomatoes. They add moisture and fresh taste to this easy casserole.

UPDATE June 3, 2020: I found myself using less and less tomatoes in this recipe and I now prefer it that way. It also means less chopping! 🙂 I suggest trying it with only about 1/2 pound of tomatoes.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 21, 2019

Wrapping Christmas Presents

Caramel Corn for Christmas GiftsI’m wrapping Christmas presents today. It’s not Christmas yet but everyone is asking when I’m going to make my caramel corn so today is the day for making homemade caramel corn for Christmas gifts. My first batch is done and cooled.

To keep if fresh I pack it in a zip top plastic bag first and then wrap it with cellophane tied with pretty ribbons. This way it’s easy for people to snack on and save some for later but I hear that it’s mostly gone in the first pass.

Every Christmas I give a variety of gifts to everyone in my life but this caramel corn is the gift that gets the most raves. Sadly, no matter how much I make there never seems to be enough. That could be due to the constant sampling that goes on when my back is turned. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 15, 2019

Easy One Pan Dinner

Easy One Pan DinnerI’m loving my easy one pan meals, especially now around the holidays when there’s lots to do so recipes like this are just what I need. Everything cooks in the pan and it couldn’t be any easier. The marinade is simple… just olive oil, fresh lemon juice, lots of garlic, oregano and salt. Did I mention it’s Greek style? (oregano = Greek!).

There’s no fuss with this easy sheet pan dinner. I marinate the chicken and potatoes while the oven heats up and then when they bake in the marinade, they soak up all those wonderful flavors. It bakes all by itself so you can do other things, like make a salad. You only stir it once when you add the beans.

Speaking of beans, I don’t know what happened to regular green beans lately but they are terrible, usually dry, full of dark spots and sometime even hollow inside. I actually stopped eating green beans until I discovered French ones. French green beans usually come in a bag with no preparation needed and they are smaller, more tender, they cook faster, taste better, and they definitely look better.

If you’re as busy as I am this month, try this easy one pan Greek Lemon Chicken, Potatoes, and Green Beans. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Nov 17, 2019

Christmas Snowball Cookies are So Easy To Make

Easy Christmas Snowball CookiesEveryone is making these easy Christmas cookies but it’s not even Thanksiving yet! What gives? I guess you’re all just testing them out to make sure they’ll turn out during the holidays. The only way to know for sure is to test out the recipe in advance and eat as many as you can because, you know, you can’t be too sure. I’m “testing them out” today and I can report that they did turn out really well. It’s just a public service I thought I should provide for everyone. 😉 I can confirm that this is the easiest recipe ever for Christmas pecan balls, so easy that even amateur cooks are making them. “I didn’t know they were so easy to make,” they say.

And there’s more. These delicious little Christmas treats keep really well so you can make them in advance, and they freeze well too. It just keeps getting better. They are sometimes called pecan balls, snowballs, or Mexican wedding cookies. I’ll just call them easy. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Nov 10, 2019

Spiral Chocolate Cinnamon Christmas Bread

Chocolate Cinnamon Raisin BreadI only make this holiday bread once a year (okay, maybe twice 😋) because it may be called bread but let’s face it… it’s dessert. Here are a few progress photos of how to make my Spiral Chocolate Cinnamon Christmas Bread. First, you divide the dough in half, roll & press each half into a rough 9 x 9-inch square, and spread the chocolate/butter mixture all the way to the edges.

Chocolate Spiral Christmas Bread

Next, you cover each half with the brown sugar/cinnamon/cocoa mixture, all the way to the edges.

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Now roll each of them up, starting at the right and left edges, rolling them towards each other. It’s a little messy but that’s okay. Oh, one more thing. You can also scatter about 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips on each half before rolling them up.

How To Make Spiral Bread

The fun part is twisting the logs into a loaf. Bring the logs together (it doesn’t matter where the seams go) and twist them together 3 or 4 times (like you’re wringing out a towel) to make a spiral, but messy, loaf. Tuck the edges under and plop it into your parchment paper-lined loaf pan.

How To Make Chocolate BreadBake for 30 minutes but after 15 minutes, put a foil tent on top to avoid over-browning. I hope these photos are helpful. For the recipe click here.Jenny Jones 

Oct 28, 2019

Homemade Pecan Pie Bars

Easy Pecan Pie BarsWhat can I say? This is not a dessert to have every day but for holiday baking, pecan pie is a must. But I prefer pecan pie bars because the bars can be cut into smaller pieces than a round pie and no one should eat big pieces of pecan pie! I always use an oil crust and my oil of choice is cold pressed avocado oil. I tried using maple syrup in the filling but did not like the result so I went with the traditional corn syrup, which, by the way, is not the same a high fructose corn syrup.

I only make pecan pie or pecan pie bars twice a year for Thanksgiving and Christmas and it’s a good thing because holiday recipes can be dangerous to have around. This recipe is really simple with just the basic ingredients so it comes together quickly. What I can’t figure out is why my pecans sometimes rise to the top and sometimes don’t, but these easy pecan pie bars are always so gooey and sweet and delicious. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Oct 24, 2019

Save Cleanup With Wax Paper

Save Cleanup With Wax PaperMy thanks to Annie Y. for sharing this terrific helpful hint. I tried it myself and loved it, especially with my no knead crusty rolls that make a sticky mess on the counter. She said, “I don’t have a large wood board, so I taped a piece of waxed paper to the counter top and floured it, allowing me to work and form the dough easily and making clean up a breeze.” Thank you, Annie.

Oct 1, 2019

I Should Have Called Them Breakfast Bars

Crispy Top Oatmeal BarsEvery time I run out of these delicious crispy top oatmeal bars, I need to make more. They are one of my all time favorites and for lots of reasons. There is no white flour, lots of dark chocolate chunks, and the recipe is easy to put together. The crispy top is the best part, made with pecans, brown sugar, and coconut. I have made the top with avocado oil and with melted butter and there’s not much difference to me.

I like something sweet after every meal, even breakfast, and this is my favorite breakfast dessert. Well, between the fig bars and these oat bars, maybe it’s the fig bars, no,,, the oat bars… oh well. I just love sweets so I have to keep finding  ways to make them healthier. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Aug 25, 2019

Easy One Pan Spaghetti with Cherry Tomatoes

Easy Spaghetti With Cherry TomatoesSome days, the faster I can make dinner the better. Today is one of those days and this easy one pan spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and broccoli takes 18 minutes, including prep. I mean it. I’ve even made it in 16 minutes!

This is one of my easy one pan meals where everything cooks in one pan, including the spaghetti. I use thin spaghetti because it cooks in 9 minutes but if you use regular spaghetti you will have to add a little extra time. Stirring is important to keep the spaghetti from sticking so stir it vigorously to separate the strands.

I rarely drain pasta any more. I’m making more and more one pan meals and besides being less work, there’s less cleanup – Bonus! Cherry tomatoes and fresh broccoli are always available so if you keep them on hand, you can always make an easy, healthy dinner in less than 20 minutes.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones