Easy Recipes For Beginners

Jul 5, 2020

Quick & Easy Vanilla Cake

Easy Vanilla Wacky CakeBy popular demand, here is the vanilla version of my hugely popular quick & easy chocolate cake. As simple as the recipe is, it was not easy to get it right. I finally came up with a version that always turns out for me. I know it has a lot of sugar but every time I tried to use less, it did not turn out. With this “wacky” style cake, the sugar is needed for structure.

I also tried different pans, a square 8 x 8 pan and a round 8-inch pan, and was disappointed in both results. A 9-inch pan was the perfect size for a consistent cake. I suggest sticking with the recipe as written and you won’t be disappointed. It’s a light and delicious homemade cake that anyone can make, even amateur cooks. During the coronavirus quarantine, it’s good to have a dessert that does not use eggs, or even butter except for the frosting.

2 Minute Vanilla FrostingI’ve also just posted my new 2-minute vanilla frosting, made with just 2 tablespoons of butter, although this cake is really good with chocolate frosting too. I usually cool the cake in the pan and only frost the top.

If you plan to remove the cake to a platter, I suggest greasing the pan and lining the bottom with parchment paper. You can buy packages of parchment paper rounds or cut our own. I hope everybody likes this simple yet delicious cake and I’ll be waiting for the first photo! 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

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

Jun 12, 2019

Easy Cucumber Salad

Simple Cucumber SaladThis is such a refreshing salad to serve in the summer and now is the best time to get crisp, fresh Persian cucumbers. If you can find organic cucumbers, you can just scrub them and leave the peel on. If they’re not organic, it’s best to peel them for this salad.

I slice the cucumbers very thinly, no more than 1/8 of an inch thick, and for the onion, the thinner the better as well. The dressing uses a good amount of sugar but remember that most of the dressing is not eaten. You serve this salad with a slotted spoon and leave the liquid behind so don’t fret about using a tablespoon of sugar.

If you serve this cucumber salad right away it will be quite crisp, and if you refrigerate it for an hour or more, the cucumber slices will soften and absorb a little more dressing. They are good either way but it’s best to serve this salad on the same day.

I wish everyone a fun summer with lots of good, healthy, homemade food, including this cool and crisp, cucumber salad. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 8, 2018

Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip CookiesIsn’t everything better with chocolate? Today I made my incredibly easy peanut butter cookies but upped the game by adding dark chocolate chunks and extra peanuts. Oh My! They are so good and so easy. These peanut butter cookies have no flour so they’re even gluten free. This is a simple one bowl recipe and I just added some chopped up 70% chocolate bar and some additional chopped salted peanuts. I don’t think I’ll ever make them plain again.

You could use chocolate chips but using a plain dark chocolate bar is a healthier choice. Just use my original recipe for peanut butter cookies and add about 1/4 cup of chocolate chunks or peanuts or 1/4 cup total mixture of both.  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 4, 2018

Polish Stir-Fry ( Haluski )

Best Recipe HaluskiHow can something so easy be so good? I love haluski so much I just can’t get enough. My mother used to make it and I never asked her for the recipe but I finally figured out how to make it like she did and it’s so good! It’s basically a Polish stir fry of cabbage and onions that is quick and easy so you need to prep everything in advance. It only takes 20 minutes to make. I slice the cabbage by hand and then rough chop it after that.

Most haluski recipes use lots of butter but you don’t need to. This whole pan has only 2 tablespoons of butter and some of that is stirred in at the end for a great flavor and finish.

Now about the sauerkraut: I LOVE the addition of sauerkraut but I know it’s not for everyone (except us Poles 🇵🇱) but I do recommend trying the kraut version for a true Polish experience. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Mar 17, 2018

Simple Rice with Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts RiceI don’t make plain rice any more. Why would I when it’s so easy to add a vegetable to rice while it cooks? And Brussels sprouts make a really good (and healthy) addition. They are a cruciferous vegetable that can protect you against cancer and heart disease. They also benefit your eyes and provide lots of minerals, vitamin C, fiber, and even protein!

My rice of choice is Uncle Ben’s converted rice, which cooks beautifully in 20 minutes, just enough time for the Brussels sprouts to turn soft and tender, and kind of sweet.

There is no meal in this house without at least one cooked vegetable, and always a salad, and this is an easy way to get people who may not like steamed and cooked vegetables to have them mixed into a tasty rice. This easy side dish goes really well with my salmon patties or lemon chicken cutlets. This is a really easy, simple recipe that anyone can make. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 16, 2018

15 Minute Veggie Pasta

15 Minute Quick Veggie PastaI just found a better and simpler way to make pasta with vegetables. Everything cooks in one pot and you don’t even have to drain the pasta. With a small amount of water the pasta and vegetables all cook in the same pot. I love it.

I make it with two of the most important vegetables for health: broccoli and spinach but it also works with just broccoli. This super fast vegetarian meal takes just 15 minutes and here a couple of tips:

  • Be sure to keep the water boiling (not too high or too much water will boil away).
  • If too much water boils away, you can add a little more water as needed.
  • A timer is really helpful so you can set it for the pasta cooking time and then keep an eye to know when to add the veggies.
  • When you add the broccoli, just open the lid briefly, toss the broccoli on top, and quickly close the lid. The broccoli will steam right on top.
  • Add more or less parmesan. I like it with three tablespoons.

This can be a side dish or main dish. I plan to try it next with whole wheat pasta and will share my results.  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 9, 2017

Easy Christmas Snowball Cookies

Easy Pecan Balls RecipeMy Christmas snowball cookies look fancy but they are so easy, even an amateur cook can make them. There’s no mixer required because this recipe is so simple. You just put all the ingredients into a bowl and combine with your hands. After a brief stint in the fridge, you just shape them into balls and bake. They are actually pecan balls so you must be sure to toast the pecans first. It really adds so much more flavor to these powdered sugar cookies.

They make a beautiful presentation so I often give them as a homemade Christmas gift. But they don’t just look good. These pecan balls simply melt in your mouth and every time I serve them or gift them, people ask for the recipe. And here’s some even better news. You can make them ahead and freeze! Gotta love that: Easy make-ahead Christmas cookies!  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

May 13, 2017

Easy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

Whole Grain Oatmeal Chocolate Chip BarsI love this! It’s a healthy dessert full of fiber and dark chocolate. It’s made with no white flour, no butter, and it’s a super easy one-bowl recipe. And if you line your pan with foil, there’s almost no cleanup. You can use walnuts but I find that pecans, especially when they are toasted first, have so much more flavor so they are my nuts of choice for most baking. In fact, I toast one bag at a time and keep them refrigerated for all my baking.

Now about the chocolate: Using a 70% dark chocolate bar is the healthiest choice and I like to use the 72% bar from World Market but you do have to chop it up so chocolate chips are definitely easier. I recently discovered Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips and they are great but bigger than most so I did not like the result when I added them whole. So I chopped them into smaller pieces and an added benefit was there was more chocolate in every bite.

These are the chocolate chips I used, but I chopped them up first:

And here is what the World Market bar looks like:

My favorite thing, besides the delicious, chewy taste of this healthy dessert bar, is how incredibly easy it is. One bowl, no mixer, just mix it all up and bake.  These healthy oatmeal chocolate chip bars are not just dessert – I must confess I also have them with breakfast. For a healthy dessert or a chewy oatmeal breakfast bar,  just click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones