Main Dishes

Aug 26, 2018

Quick & Easy Taco Casserole

Soft Taco CasseroleNEW RECIPE: There are lots of Mexican restaurants here in Southern California and I love Mexican food but I don’t always feel good after eating it. And tacos are my favorite so I decided to create something of my own that’s healthy, low fat, easy to serve, and really good! Most taco casseroles use tortillas chips but corn tortillas are a healthier choice and they make a taco casserole that’s soft and with more flavor than using tortilla chips. This easy dinner is high in fiber and protein. it has two vegetables, and it’s gluten free.

Quality matters so look for corn tortillas with the shortest ingredient list and not too much salt. I always look for low sodium products including the pinto beans (I use S&W brand). You can always add salt later or even some cayenne pepper if you like it spicy. And do not use pre-shredded cheese because it won’t melt like freshly shredded cheese. And when drizzling the bean liquid be sure to get the edges.

It’s really easy to put this delicious casserole together in layers and and it’s never dry because I reserve the liquid from the drained beans and pour some over each layer. Depending on the brand, I sometimes get 3/4 of a cup of liquid and other times it’s only 1/4 cup so I just add water to bring it up to one cup. Here’s how I layer it after coating the bottom of the pan with a little bean liquid:

3 Tortillas + Meat + Drained Beans + Bean Liquid + Cheese. Repeat this two more times to make 3 layers and then add remaining 3 tortillas on top. I like to tear and scatter them over the top in smaller pieces for easy serving. (It’s okay to have some openings in the tortilla layers).

You can serve this taco casserole two ways: Either top it with the shredded lettuce and tomatoes or serve them on the side. It’s fun for everyone to put on as much as they want and you can even use some chopped white onion as an extra topping, or even some sliced jalapeno peppers.

If you like soft tacos and fun, easy family meals, you will love this easy taco casserole. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 28, 2018

One Pan Spaghetti, Spinach & Meat Sauce

One Pan Pasta Veggie Meat SauceI’m loving my one pan meals because they are easier, faster, and there’s less cleanup. And when things all cook together, they just taste better. This  quick and easy recipe for pasta, meat sauce, and spinach only takes 30 minutes, including prep. That’s because I use store-bought jarred marinara sauce.

Quality matter when you buy prepared products so try to find the best quality sauce you can, especially one made with Italian plum tomatoes. I use Silver Palate Low Sodium Marinara Sauce and I always use fresh baby spinach – a whole 5 ounce package. It’s a tight squeeze adding that much spinach on top of the sauce and I can do it in my 11-inch skillet because it has a domed lid, but you can also use a larger pot.

One issue with cooking spaghetti in sauce is the spaghetti tends to stick together. That’s why regular stirring is important and I find the best tool for that is a large fork. Using a fork to twist and turn the pasta helps a lot to keep it from sticking, but make sure it’s not metal if your pan in non-stick. I use my giant silicone fork for stirring.

Three things to remember with this recipe:

1) Keep the sauce boiling the whole time but not too high or you’ll cook off too much liquid. If that happens, just add a little more water. Once the pasta is added, I start off on medium heat and as it cooks down, I gradually reduce the heat to low.

2) To keep the spaghetti strands from sticking together, regular stirring is important and you can use tongs but a fork is a better choice. Once the spaghetti starts to soften, I twist and turn the spaghetti every 2 minutes and mine never sticks together.

3) It makes great leftovers. You can reheat it a pot or pan, with a little added water to keep it moist, cover and reheat over low heat, stirring a few times. You can also drop in some more spinach, which will wilt nicely as you heat and stir.

This is a comfort food meal and at my house, every meal has to have at least one vegetable so it’s a win-win. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jun 30, 2018

Easy One Pot Chicken Veggie Pasta

Creamy Chicken Veggie PastaWhy boil and drain pasta when you can cook it right in your sauce? In fact, everything here, the chicken, all these healthy vegetables, the creamy sauce, they all cook in one pot. And get this… 1) easy cleanup… 2) four vegetables in every serving… 3) start-to-finish : 30 minutes!

It’s vital to eat vegetables every day and this easy dinner has broccoli, carrots, peppers, and peas. There are probably more veggies than pasta in this fast and easy dinner but that’s a good thing. The creamy sauce it made with whole milk and a little flour and the result is an awesome healthy dinner that tastes much richer than it is.

My husband calls it Chicken Pot Pie Pasta because it reminds him of my chicken pot pie. I find myself looking for even faster and even healthier meals to cook and this one is going on the top of my list.  To make this fast and healthy chicken veggie pasta, click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

May 5, 2018

My Ribs are Really Popular

Best Recipe Bbq RibsGuess what? I just found out that my video for these fall off the bone ribs is the second highest viewed ribs recipe on youtube after Gordon Ramsey. Well knock me over with a spatula! It makes me proud because I was just making my home videos for fun, never expecting them to be so popular. But that means lots of people are cooking at home and I’m glad my videos and recipes are helping. Here are my current top 5 most viewed videos.

Fall Off The Bone Ribs – 4 million views

Cabbage Rolls – 3.9 million views

Faster No Knead Bread – 2.8 million views

Easy Whole Wheat Bread – 2.8 million views

Hash Browns – 2 million views (My Hash Browns? I couldn’t believe it!)

It’s exciting to watch these numbers grow. I don’t make ribs often but when I do, I always find myself saying, “Wow, I forgot how good these are!” If you haven’t tried them yet, summer is coming! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 11, 2018

Fall Off The Bone Beef Ribs

Easy Beef Ribs in the OvenYes. You can make beef ribs that fall off the bone just like my pork baby back ribs with just a couple of small changes. First: Cook them longer. Two: Lower the temperature. After seeing so many questions about beef ribs I decided to try them myself so I could share the recipe. The two changes are very simple:

  1. Reduce the oven temperature from 300 to 275° F.
  2. Cook them for 3 1/2 hours in the oven (baby backs take 2 1/2 hrs). You can cook them even longer in the oven if you like but they are very tender after 3 1/2 hours.
  3. I was never able to remove the silver skin off the back but if you can, it’s best to remove it. (there’s good how-to advice on removing the silver skin in the comment from RussS below – thank you, Russ!)

I cooked 2 pounds of ribs and my dry rub recipe was just enough for 2 pounds. If you cook more, you’ll need to double the rub recipe. My homemade rub and sauce always get raves and both are easy to make. I see a lot of people use Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce but you should know that the first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. My homemade barbeque sauce is easy to make and really worth trying. For tender fall off the bone beef ribs 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

Feb 23, 2018

Spaghetti & Spinach Frittata

A frittata for dinner? Made with spaghetti? In 30 minutes? This is my kind of dinner!

Frittatas are usually associated with breakfast because they’re made with eggs, but when you throw in some spaghetti and then add health-building spinach, a little parmesan… that’s a mighty fine dinner right there.  It cooks in 6 minutes on the stove top but you do have to flip it over after 3 minutes. Here’s how I do it:

First, you need to use a fry pan with sloped sides. I slide the frittata from the pan onto a dinner plate, cover that plate with another dinner plate, flip the plates over and then slide the uncooked side back onto the pan. It’s easy, but remember to swirl a little olive oil in the pan before cooking the 2nd side.

I’m trying to eat more vegetarian meals and when it’s an easy one pan meal like this, that’s a bonus. Some recipes use different pasta shapes but I prefer angel hair spaghetti for this recipe, and I like to serve it right away… after a salad of course. 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 10, 2017

One Pan Chicken & Veggies

Easy Chicken and Vegetable DinnerI consider this the healthiest meal I make. My one pan chicken and roasted vegetables is quick and easy and healthy. Vegetables are the lifeline to good health and roasting them brings our their sugars so the browning combined with their sweetness makes them super delicious. Then the chicken is lean and low fat because I use skinless, boneless chicken breast. The chicken provides high quality protein and all those veggies? Well, it’s like taking a vitamin pill only better because vitamins from real food are much better absorbed than any pill.

Every meal I make starts with whatever vegetables I have on hand. That’s because vegetables are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals essential to good health. Each color of veggie has its own set of benefits so when you mix and match the colors, you get a huge array of nutrients. I make roasted vegetables at least once a week, sometimes served with just a can of sardines, sometimes with pork loin, but this is my favorite way to serve them.

The chicken comes out moist and tender every time. I only use oil, salt, and pepper on it but you can add some dried herbs if you like. I just serve the chicken breast whole with a big side of roasted veggies. This may seem like a lot of roasted vegetables for two people but I can tell you that there may occasionally be a piece or two of chicken left over, but by the end of the meal, every single vegetable is gone. And if you roast sweet potatoes, they are so sweet they can even be dessert. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Sep 14, 2017

Easy Chicken & Spaghetti

Best recipe Chicken and SpaghettiChicken breast simmered in marinara sauce turns out so tender you can cut it with a fork. This easy recipe takes less than 10 minutes of prep and the chicken cooks in the sauce unattended while you cook the pasta and make a salad. You do have a salad every day, right?

This recipe started because I wanted to try making chicken cacciatore but after chopping peppers and mushrooms and using chicken thighs, I found there was too much fat and not a lot of big flavor. So I tried simplifying it and came up with a lean and low fat version and now it’s just chicken with spaghetti, but with a lot of flavor but not a lot of work. It’s the simple, easy recipes that I always wind up making again.

Canned plum tomatoes are my go-to for pasta sauce and it’s so easy to make them into a smooth puree with a food processor. If you can find San Marzano tomaotes, that’s even better. You can always add more spices or a bay leaf or some crushed red pepper if you like but this is perfect for me just the way it is. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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