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May 28, 2014

Black Forest Brownies

Black Forest BrowniesWow! If you ever want to up your game when baking brownies, you have to try these awesome, fudgy, moist, delicious Black Forest Brownies. It’s a simple, one-bowl recipe and by lining the pan with foil, there’s almost no cleanup. Using canned dark sweet pitted cherries makes this is an easy recipe and it’s the main reason these brownies are so moist and yummy. Oh right… then there’s the chocolate chips. What an awesome combination.

Using Dutch-processed cocoa powder, like Droste brand, is what will give you a beautiful, rich dark color but that’s not the only reason to use Dutch processed cocoa. Cocoa processed this way is less bitter than the other kind like Hershey’s natural cocoa. But… you can make these brownies with Hershey’s with just a minor change, switching from baking powder to baking soda.

My recipe uses no butter, only two tablespoons of olive oil, and Greek yogurt. I like Fage 2% yogurt (never fat-free!). I use all-purpose flour in this recipe but I’ve also made them with half all-purpose and half whole wheat pastry flour. Either way, they are not too sweet, with a delicious combination of rich chocolate and dark, sweet cherries. To try may amazing Black Forest Brownies, click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

May 22, 2014

My Barbeque Chicken Pizza – reinvented

Bbq Chicken Pizza Recipe

I’ve reinvented by barbeque chicken pizza! It used to take almost 2 hours but now… 50 minutes! That’s right. Less than an hour from start to pie hole! I make homemade pizza so often that I’ve learned how to make it faster and better. I no longer let my pizza dough rise for an hour. A ten minute rest is enough to make a fantastic crispy crust and healthier pizza than most. I always use reduced fat mozzarella and with this pizza, it’s lean chicken breast so it’s a healthier, low fat pizza and that means I can eat it more often.

I made this one on a pizza stone, which is a great way to get a crispy crust but if you don’t have a pizza stone and wooden peel, I also make this recipe using a regular pizza pan. The best kind of pan is the perforated one with the holes to help make it crispy (like the one in my pepperoni pizza video). My kind of pizza is crispy. I never use a fork… I just pick up a slice and eat. Oh wait… I do use a fork… for my salad. I always have salad with pizza.

If you ever have some leftover chicken, especially barbeque chicken, use it to make pizza. When I don’t have leftovers, I just cook a chicken breast and shred it with two forks. And a note on cheese: I know they sell pre-shredded pizza cheese and I have one way to handle pre-shredded cheese: with a ten foot pole! They put something in that stuff that makes it dry and it will never melt like real cheese, so take a minute and shred your own like I do. I makes a big difference.

You don’t have to make this pizza the quick way. You can always take longer and let the dough rise for an hour but I just don’t do it any more. Who wants to wait for pizza?! Not me! To try my barbeque chicken pizza, click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones 

May 21, 2014

Easy Chicken & Mushrooms

Essy Recipe Chicken & Mushrooms

It never fails. It always impresses. And it’s quick and easy. This is my go-to chicken dinner for weeknights and also for company because it feels like something from a fancy restaurant but wait until you see how quick and easy it is.  It’s basically chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce that only tastes rich but it’s made with low-fat milk and no butter. I like this because it cooks in 15 minutes with only three main ingredients: chicken, mushrooms, and green onions. I normally serve it over rice but it’s also good with noodles.

Mushrooms have many health benefits including immune support, that hard-to-get vitamin D, many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants like selenium for disease prevention. But here’s my problem with mushrooms: They’re squishy when you cook ’em. I love the smell and the taste but can’t bring myself to chew a squishy mushroom. Solution: I chop them up really tiny and there’s no problem. I left them sliced for the photo but I normally make this recipe with tiny bits of mushroom so I can enjoy this delicious meal.

No meal is complete for me without vegetables and I usually serve my chicken & mushrooms with steamed broccoli. If you like that idea, here’s an easy way to do it. I put my rice on to cook in a pot on the stove and about five minutes before it’s done, I quickly lift off the lid, toss the broccoli on top of the rice, lid back on, and finish the rice. Uncle Ben’s converted rice cooks in 20 minutes and then you let it stand for a few more and that’s just enough time to steam the broccoli with no extra dishes or pots. I love it!

Try my quick and easy chicken & mushrooms. It has never failed me and everyone loves it. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones 

May 15, 2014

Lightened Up Potato Salad

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It’s 100 degrees outside! That’s potato salad time! And barbeque time! I don’t think I’ve ever made my “fall-off-the-bone” ribs without potato salad. Naturally, I make mine as healthy and low fat as possible and that’s easy to do. I use light mayo in the dressing (Best Foods brand, which is called Hellman’s east of the Rockies) along with low-fat buttermilk. The mayo makes it nice and creamy and the buttermilk gives it some extra tang, and less calories.

My special trick is to soak the still hot potatoes with vinegar and salt before adding the creamy dressing. This quickly infuses the potatoes with extra flavor and just takes a minute to do. I always use red potatoes for my potato salad but other waxy varieties like yellow finn and yukon gold will work too. They hold up better than Russets. When you boil potatoes, try not to over-test them for doneness. And don’t use a fork. It’s best to test a potato with a skinny knife, which won’t allow too much moisture to penetrate the potato and make it waterlogged.

Just a note about celery: to me there is a big difference in the taste of celery hearts and the outside stalks. The hearts are sweeter than the outside parts so try to use the inside hearts of the celery and save the outside bitter stalks for other cooking or making soup. I even chop up some of the tender yellow celery leaves from the very inside, which add some pretty color, too. I’ll be making my lightened-up potato salad all through the summer and I hope it becomes your favorite too. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

May 14, 2014

Video Highlights

“Jenny, please make more videos!” That’s what everyone says and I’m working on it, I promise.  It’s exciting that my videos have become so popular on youtube with over 1.6 million views to date, so we decided to put together a few highlights in this short video. Enjoy.

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May 8, 2014

Vegetable Lo Mein

Homemade Lo Mein Recipe

Chinese food is easy to make at home. And it’s quick. You put the sauce together first, then stir fry your food in a hot pan, add your sauce and it’s chow time! Or is it chow mein time? I love this dish so much, especially because with lo mein, there’s no rice to serve separately. It’s noodles mixed in with the vegetables. Quick and easy one-dish meals are the best – everything in one pan. I use chow mein noodles but if you can’t find them, you can use spaghetti (but it won’t look as pretty and wavy). They always have these noodles at my grocery store:

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Lo mein is great to make when you have some leftover pieces of chicken or shrimp, which you can stir into this dish. Edamame is another way to up the protein a little but I usually serve this just this way — with lots of antioxidant-rich vegetables. I’ve been to lots of Chinese restaurants but I have never had lo mein this good.  For my easy Vegetable Lo Mein recipe, click here.  – Jenny Jones

May 5, 2014

Custard Pudding

Vanilla Custard Pudding

Here’s my custard pudding that I should have called “Gone in 60 Seconds.” I can hardly wait for this delicious pudding to cool down before I inhale the first cup, and then the second cup is in luke warm jeopardy. I didn’t know if I should call it Custard Pudding or Vanilla Pudding (since there is no vanilla in the recipe) but it tastes like vanilla pudding, only waaaay better!

It’s easy to make pudding from scratch. This simple recipe uses only four ingredients and it’s stuff you likely have on hand. I don’t just have it for dessert. It’s the same custard I use to fill my paczki and my custard-filled jelly roll (coming soon). Here’s an odd thing though. Once when I was anxious for it to cool down (go figure!) I poured it into pudding cups and then I stirred it a couple of times and it never firmed up after that, even when I refrigerated it. I don’t know why but my point is don’t stir it – just let it stand undisturbed until it sets. It’s not very thick when you cook it but it does firm up nicely in about an hour.

If you like comfort foods and easy desserts, click here for my custard pudding recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 30, 2014

Sardine Cakes

Sardine Cakes RecipeNot a fan of sardines? My sardine cakes may just change your mind.  These delicious mashed potato patties are filled with bits of green onions, parsley, and fish, and they can be ready to eat in 30 minutes (make that 10 minutes if you have leftover mashed potatoes). This healthy recipe starts with a big russet potato, which you boil and mash, and then you mix in a few ingredients, shape the patties, pat them into bread crumbs and brown in olive oil. I make my own plain whole wheat crumbs but you can use store-bought either plain or seasoned. I don’t season the crumbs because there is so much flavor in the patties, it’s almost too much.

Let’s talk about why they call them “health food in a can.” Sardines are full of omega-3 fatty acids to protect the heart and are one of the few foods that contain coenzyme-Q10, which also helps prevent heart disease. Besides being a good source of protein, sardines also support bone health by providing calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D. But wait… there’s more. They also have iron, selenium,  potassium, zinc, all the B vitamins.

Clearly, sardines are one of the healthiest foods you can eat. And when made into delicious fish cakes like this, one of the tastiest. For my sardine cakes recipe, click here. – Jenny Jones

Apr 23, 2014

Quick & Easy Flatbread

Flatbread Recipes

I love bread. And I love flatbread, especially when I can make it at home in 30 minutes. Some flatbreads are unleavened but mine is a yeast dough but there’s no rising time with this simple recipe and you cook the breads in a hot pan in 2 minutes. They puff up so pretty while you cook them and sometimes if they puff up a lot, I’ve got a pita pocket. If you can serve them fresh out of the pan, you will never ever want store bought flatbread again. I love the smell of homemade bread and when you make flatbread, your kitchen will smell amazing.

It’s a sticky dough so you will need a well-floured surface. I used to let the dough rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes but this recipe, with no rise and only a 10-minute rest, tastes exactly the same. The ones after rising, though, did puff up a little more while cooking so if you want pita breads, try putting the dough in a small greased bowl, cover with plastic, and let it rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes. You’ll still have flatbreads in less than an hour. But the fast ones puff up really nicely too as you can see in the photo.

What can you do with flatbread? Well… there’s pizza, gyros, sandwiches, focaccia, dip it into things (like my beef stew!!!) or hummus, or for a bread person like me, just eat it plain. I made some this morning and had half of one just plain and rolled up some egg salad in the other half. Deeelish! For my Quick & Easy Flatbread recipe & vidieo click here  – Jenny Jones