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Apr 12, 2015

Family Eats

Healthier Mac & Cheese with Veggies

My sister is in town visiting from Canada so I made something quick and easy for dinner. Since we’re both grown up now, I made my grown up mac & cheese. It only takes 30 minutes so we had more time to hang out. You can add different vegetables but I stuck with my original combination of purple cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, and tomato. (here’s the recipe)

Breakfast Cookies

Then yesterday I made my giant breakfast cookies and besides breakfast, they came in handy as a snack during the day. Sis said she’s going to make them when she gets home. It’s probably the recipe I make the most because I know how important it is to eat fiber and these have 4 grams of fiber each! (here’s the recipe)

So that’s what I cooked today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones 

Apr 10, 2015

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Brownies

Oatmeal Banana Breakfast Bars

What’s wrong with a few chocolate chips for breakfast? It’s okay with me if you’re getting whole grains, oats, banana and walnuts in a delicious breakfast brownie. This new recipe replaces my old breakfast brownie because this one uses ingredients that are more available to everyone.

There are lots of reasons to eat bananas. They’re a good source of vitamins C & B6, manganese, potassium, fiber, biotin, and copper. And the riper the banana, the sweeter it is and the easier it’ll be to mix into the batter. Walnuts provide heart-healthy fats and protein but for the best flavor they really should be toasted first. I toast a bunch at a time and keep them available, refrigerated, for baking. To toast nuts spread on an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F.

Oats are breakfast superstars – high in soluble fiber, which is known for lowering cholesterol and keeping things moving. I use regular Quaker rolled oats in this recipe and extra light olive oil but you can use another oil of your choice like canola. So this is my new Breakfast Brownie and I hope you like it. I’m not saying it should BE breakfast, but I am saying why not dessert AFTER breakfast? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Filed Under: Breakfast
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Apr 2, 2015

Healthier Canadian Butter Tarts

Healthier Canadian Butter TartsButter tarts are a distinctly Canadian treat and anyone who grew up in Canada like I did has probably had a butter tart, or two, or three. They don’t exist in the U.S., which is probably a good thing because they are so good. Every once in a while I just have to have a butter tart so of course, I had to find a way to make it a little healthier. But let’s be clear: There is nothing healthy about a butter tart. The best I could do is make the crust without butter, using oil instead.

So there you have it. Now we Canadians can have our occasional fix and the rest of the world can try something new. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Mar 23, 2015

Grown Up Mac & Cheese

Healthy Veggie Mac & Cheese Recipe

I LOVE this dish. I’ll say it again. I LOVE this dish!!! It’s easy to make, lower in fat than most, it has four vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, and tomato) and everything is coated in a light creamy, cheesy sauce. It’s mac & cheese for grownups but don’t you think kids would like this too? If they’re picky, use white cauliflower and they’ll never even see it. It’s soft and blends right in with the pasta. If  you make it, let me know if it passes the kid test.

It’s important to do all your prep first because everything cooks quickly. It won’t take long if you buy the already-cut vegetables but I cut all of the veggies myself and I also inspect the baby spinach for any bad leaves or thick stems, which I remove.  The prep includes cutting the vegetables, checking over the spinach, shredding the cheese or slicing it really thin. Hey, you’ll be cutting the cheese!

Speaking of cheese, please don’t buy pre-shredded cheese. It has an additive and will never melt as well as a block of cheese and I always use reduced fat (I use Tilamook brand). With reduced fat cheese and 1% milk, and all these vegetables… somebody needs to make this today. And send me a picture to post. (YourPhotos@JennyCanCook.com).

This recipe is similar to my Quick & Easy Mac & Cheese but with less pasta and added vegetables but it’s still a quick and easy dinner. I wasn’t sure what to call it… veggie mac & cheese or mac & cheese with vegetables or maybe rainbow mac & cheese. I decided on “Grown Up” because we grownups know how important it is to eat vegetables at every meal. And if they’re surrounded by my delicious low fat mac & cheese, it’s a win-win. Click here for the recipe.  – Jenny Jones 

Mar 14, 2015

Chinese Stir-fry

Best Homemade Sweet & Sour Chicken Recipe

Sweet & Sour Chicken is one of my favorite Chinese dishes but I never order it in restaurants because the chicken is always battered and deep fried so I learned to make it myself. And I made some today. There’s just one rule with my sweet & sour chicken… fresh pineapple!

A lot of stores sell pre-cut pineapple so I just bought a small container for my pineapple chicken. I tried making it with canned pineapple but I’d rather make something else than use canned pineapple for this dish. Fresh makes a huge difference.

For the juice, I didn’t want to buy a big bottle of juice so I got a 6-pack of tiny  6-ounce cans and just used one can for the recipe. I needed 1/3 of a cup and I drank the rest. Sweet & sour chicken cooks fast and I served it over sushi rice, which is a sticky rice. In my opinion, this sweet and sour chicken is as good or better than any I’ve had from a restaurant. I also like this meal because it’s delicious and it has lots of antioxidant-rich vegetables and lean protein. The last time I tried sweet & sour chicken at a restaurant, there was literally ONE piece of red pepper (the picture showed lots of red & green peppers). That was the day I decided to make my own, having no idea how easy it really would be. Click here for the recipe.

I also made a loaf of no-knead bread… again. It seems like I make at least one loaf a week.

No Kneadx_9586 copy

I switch around between the original, which I made today, then whole wheat, then fruit & nut or olive. This bread never disappoints and as many loaves as I have made, I’m still amazed every time at this easy, nothing-to-do method for baking bread. Click here for the recipe.

I love bread. If I ever had to be gluten-free I’d be one sad human being! So that’s what I made today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones

p.s. I am loving all the positive comments and especially the photos I’ve received of my own recipes made by you (wanna see?). I never expected so many people would try my recipes since they are not fancy, and I just want to say thank you for your confidence in me and for taking time to write. – Jenny Jones

Mar 6, 2015

Brownies for the weekend

Whole Wheat Brownies Recipe

It’s always good to have something sweet for the weekend (besides my sweet-heart!). He loves my easy chocolate brownies so I made some for the weekend. At the same time, I improved the recipe with a few minor changes, which I have noted on the printable recipe. I followed Lisa’s comment below my recipe and reduced the baking soda for a fudgier brownie. I also doubled the vanilla and reduced the baking time.

I also adjusted some amounts for easier measuring. I realized that 1/3 of a cup is 5 1/3 tablespoons so I changed both the 5 tablespoons of oil and the 6 tablespoons of yogurt to 1/3 of a cup each. It’s much easier to measure and makes no difference in the batter. We both like the new brownie better but the old version is still available too.

This morning I also made my giant breakfast cookies.  Just like my brownies they are 100% whole grain and made without butter.

Breakfast Cookies2_600_0072

I love these breakfast cookies so much I just added them to “My Favorites” category. A lot of times, I also have them for dessert. For dinner I made vegetable fried rice with edamame. So that’s what I cooked today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Mar 3, 2015

Soup for the week

Homemade Vegetable Soup

This is my vitamin pill. I made a big pot of vegetable soup for the week. I used my own chicken stock,  which I had frozen, and added a mountain of vegetables – a total of twelve, I think. The fresh vegetables I used were: carrot, potato, red pepper, zucchini, kale, spinach, napa cabbage, green beans, celery, and broccoli, and I also added frozen peas and corn. Do you see anything in there I missed? The soup is for the week but it will never last that long.

This morning I also made English muffins for breakfast and for dinner, my skinless chicken drumsticks. Oh, I also marinated some beets (my beet salad) for dinner but I’ve been snacking on them all day. My favorite thing to do is spend all day in the kitchen. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Feb 27, 2015

Crispy Apple Tart

Crispy Apple Tart Recipe

This apple tart is pretty easy to make and it’s delicious! Not to mention it looks amazing. If you like things not too sweet you will love this crispy fruit tart. I make it with my easy oil crust, no butter, and very little sugar. I’ve tried it with different apples but granny smiths work the best. They are firm and easy to slice thinly. It takes three or four really big apples, about 1/2 pound each (I prefer four), and the glaze is just some apricot jam that’s warmed up a bit. I use St. Dalfour brand.

Most tarts use a crust with shortening or butter but mine is a much easier oil crust made with avocado oil but you can any flavorless vegetable oil of your choice.  You could actually press the entire crust into your pan but it’s hard to get an even thickness so I roll it between wax paper. Then it almost fits the pan and you can press it a little towards the edges and basically “cut & paste” the crust together. Try not to have any holes or cracks and also keep it inside the rim or it can burn. As it is, the edge of the crust gets really dark but it’s super crispy and delicious.

I make this tart in a 12-inch pizza pan and I have also used a pizza pan with holes and that works well too. Here it is right before baking:

Best Apple Tart RecipeI love this healthy dessert. Make it for a party and call it apple pizza. One thing about serving: The apples are cooked and soft so the best way to slice the tart is with a long knife using a rolling motion. The soft apples will try to stick to the knife so keep an eye on them. I tried using a pizza cutter (the wheel thingy?) – bad idea. It took some of the apples with it.

Be sure to slice the apples nice and thin – 1/8-inch thick. As for how to place the slices, be creative. I always do the perimeter first but you can do your own thing. I also tried making the crust using whole wheat flour but it would not come out crisp so all-purpose is the flour to use. Hey, the apples have fiber! ? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 13, 2015

A Cake for My Valentine

Best Recipe for Fresh Strawberry Cake

This is what my valentine wants for his special day on Saturday. Of all the things I love to bake, this is the one he asks for on his birthday and on Valentine’s day. He loves it. It’s a white cake filled with two pounds of strawberries and covered with fresh whipped cream. I love it  too. So I’ll make this amazing cake for him but it won’t be free. I’m negotiating some terms…

1) Immediate response when there’s a spider in the house – no delays.

2) Never ask if I’m going out wearing that because I am.

3) Sign my contract that says valentine chocolates don’t have to be shared.

4) The above terms notwithstanding, the strawberry cake must be shared.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 12, 2015

Substitutions

Don’t have whole wheat pastry flour? Regular whole wheat flour is not a good substitute for whole wheat pastry flour. It will give you a heavier and more dense product. Whole wheat flour is usually ground hard wheat that is high in gluten and best for baking bread. Whole wheat pastry flour is a much finer grind and is made from a soft wheat low in gluten. It is best for sweets like cakes, muffins, and cookies. Whole wheat pastry flour is available at Whole Foods and can easily be purchased online (King Arthur Flour has it).  If you use my recipes regularly it’s worth the effort to find whole wheat pastry flour so you can add whole grains to your homemade baking.

Don’t have buttermilk? You cannot substitute milk for buttermilk. There is no perfect substitute for buttermilk, especially in baking. Due to its acidic nature, buttermilk makes baked goods lighter and fluffier so it’s worth using the real thing. You can freeze unused buttermilk in portions the size you will need for future recipes. It will separate when frozen but when you thaw it, just stir it back up. To substitute for buttermilk, there are several options:

1) Combine yogurt with milk, using plain yogurt and milk, about half and half.

2) Add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of milk (not fat-free) and let it stand for 5 minutes or longer.

3) Combine sour cream with milk or water until it’s the thickness of buttermilk.

Don’t have bread flour? You can use all purpose flour. Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour and that helps with gluten development, which is helpful when working with yeast. With bread flour, pizzas may be a little crispier and breads may be a little chewier and have more body but it’s not a huge difference.

Don’t have instant yeast? Regular active yeast can be used wherever I use instant yeast. But be sure to check the package directions for the required temperature of the liquid. My brand of instant yeast calls for 120 degrees F while my regular active yeast calls for 110 degrees F.

Don’t have 1% milk or low fat milk? Use a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part whole milk. For example, to make the equivalent of one cup of 1% milk: combine  3/4 cup water + 1/4 cup whole milk.  (For 2% milk the mixture should be 50/50, i.e. half water and half whole milk)

Don’t have baking soda? Do not use baking powder instead. Baking powder is not a substitute for baking soda. Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients in a recipe to make baked goods rise.

Don’t have extra light olive oil? For baking you can use any vegetable oil. My preference in avocado oil  but they are not all the same. Some are too strong for baking. I use Chosen Foods brand avocado oil

Don’t have a Dutch oven? To see what other cooks have used in place of a Dutch oven, click here.

Don’t want to use eggs? I’m sorry to say I don’t know of any good substitute for eggs. For anyone with egg allergies, rather than change a recipe and risk being disappointed, you can find many eggless recipes the are already proven online. If cholesterol is a concern, all my research has shown that egg yolks may contain cholesterol but they are low in saturated fat and they do not raise serum cholesterol in the blood. Eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including vitamin B12, riboflavin, and folate. Besides providing protein, iron, phosphorus, iodine, and vitamin E, eggs are also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D.