Dec 25, 2015 Dec 14, 2015
Here is the Christmas present I made for myself… or what’s left of it anyway. You don’t have to be Polish to love a slice (or 2 or 3) of makowiec (mah-KOH-viets). It’s usually a bread to be shared but this one is all for me! I made it without the powdered sugar glaze and opted for an egg wash and poppy seeds on the top.
The filling is made with ground poppy seeds, fresh orange and lemon peel, ground almonds and vanilla. It’s a Polish holiday bread for Christmas as well as Easter but I say make it for any holiday, or birthday, or laundry day, or tax day…. Click here for the recipe.
And Merry Christmas to all my fellow cooks and bakers. Thank you for all your comments and photos – I appreciate it so much when anyone takes the time to make a comment or send a photo. I have posted most of the recipes I make but I will try to add more as they make it into my kitchen. xoxoxo
Nov 25, 2015
There’s something addictive about these Christmas sugar cookies because I can’t stop eating them. So this will be my first batch because I’m not sharing. I’ll make more if anybody else wants some – but these are mine. I used a cookie press because it’s faster and I like that the cookies are tiny, no more than 2 inches across. So these are one-bite cookies but I am never able to eat just one.
For anyone using a cookie press, try to get very fine sprinkles because these mini cookies hold fine sprinkles better than some of the bigger cookie decorations, which seem to roll right off. I like mixing my colors and using blue and purple too. My recipe uses only half the butter of most others. These easy Christmas cookies keep really well. They can be refrigerated and stay nice and fresh for at least a week and I have frozen some for months and they are still good.
For me, Christmas sugar cookies are just part of holiday decorating but it’s decorations you can eat. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Nov 20, 2015
My pumpkin pie is ready! There are three things I always do the day before Thanksgiving. One lesson I’ve learned over the years is: Do everything you possibly can in advance. So I already made my pumpkin pie, fresh cranberries, and I’ve made a pot of turkey stock. Here’s how… I roasted some turkey wings for an hour at 375 and then scraped up all the drippings. I put the wings, drippings, water, and the same vegetables and spices I use in my chicken stock into a pot, and cooked it for 2 1/2 hours. I let it cool down and it’s now in the fridge. Tomorrow I’ll skim off the fat use it for my make-ahead gravy and in my stuffing.
This year I’m trying a new way to roast turkey – at 500 degrees! It will be an adventure. I hope it turns out but no matter, it’s good to take occasional risks. But there’s no risk with my amazing pumpkin pie. The crust is made without butter or shortening so if you want to try it, click here for the recipe.
…and Happy Thanksgiving! – Jenny Jones
Nov 13, 2015
If someone invites you over for a homemade Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls, cranberries & pumpkin pie) no matter how good or bad the food was, you should lift them up, in their chair, and carry them around the neighborhood like the Rose Parade with everyone following and cheering for the cook. You might even build a float for them made out of plywood and turkey feathers, because cooking Thanksgiving dinner is a huge accomplishment for even the most experienced cook. After the parade, send them to Hawaii for a week. They’ll need it.
After every Thanksgiving turkey dinner I make, I always say, “Next year, we’re going out. I’m not doing this again. It’s too stressful!” But then we go out and the food is awful and I miss my home cooking so I do it again. All this is to explain why I have no turkey dinner recipes to share. But I do have sides and desserts!
I wish I could share a fabulous roast turkey or stuffing recipe but I’ve never made my stuffing the same way twice. I make a bread stuffing and sometimes I add mushrooms, sometimes shredded apple, sometimes walnuts, and sometimes all of the above. And my turkey? Well, I’ve roasted it upside down, right side up, brined it, bagged it, rubbed it, and I still don’t have a recipe I can share.
But I do have these four contributions to Thanksgiving cooks that I hope you enjoy.
For my Fresh Cranberries recipe that cooks in 5 minutes, click here.
For my Easy One-Rise Dinner Rolls recipe, click here.
For my Healthier Easier Pumpkin Pie recipe that uses no butter, click here.
For my Easy Pecan Pie recipe that you can also make without butter, click here.
Happy Thanksgiving! – Jenny Jones
Oct 3, 2015
Pecan pie doesn’t have to be complicated. Mine is simple and you don’t need any fancy ingredients. And it’s healthier too, with an olive oil crust. I used to make pie crusts the old way with either shortening or butter and ice water but an oil crust is so much easier. It’s quick and you can just pat it into the pan or I roll it between wax paper and then transfer it into the pan. By the way, the pan is never greased when you’re baking pie.
In this case I use a standard 9-inch pyrex glass pie pan and not a deep dish pan. My pecan pie filling is super simple. Everything goes into one bowl, stir for one minute and boom. Done. It uses less butter than most along with brown sugar, white sugar, and corn syrup but keep in mind that corn syrup IS NOT high fructose corn syrup. They don’t even sell HFCS to the public.
If you’re trying to bake without butter, I also have a completely butter-free pecan pie in my Baking Without Butter category. My two pies are exactly the same recipe except one uses butter in the filling and one uses a trans fat-free spread. For my butter-free filling I used Benecol. I baked both pies today for a blind taste test and I served a small slice of each one on the same plate. Guess what? Nobody could tell the difference! They are both so delicious, filled with lots of toasted pecans and a sweet, gooey filling. I’m definitely making my pecan pie for Thanksgiving this year, and probably Christmas too, and maybe my birthday… then there’s tax day… and well, you get the picture. Enjoy! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Sep 24, 2015
Believe it or not, you can make this amazing cake with no butter at all. Baking without butter has become my specialty. The cake is simple. It’s my easy one-bowl yellow cake but with half the vanilla and with added fresh lemon zest. (To keep the edges of the cake from over-baking, I suggest using a cake strip.) While the cake bakes, you make a super easy lemon curd for the filling. Then you spread the curd on a big dinner plate to cool.
And now the frosting. I make an old-fashioned seven-minute frosting because it has no butter, and because it’s light and fluffy and delicious. But seven minutes is a lie! It actually takes abut nine minutes to make and here’s why. You need to be at the stove with an electric mixer and you beat the frosting in a glass bowl, over a simmering pot of water. It’s basically egg white and sugar and it makes a beautiful, light and airy frosting that tastes like billows of meringue.
The cake is sliced in half to fill with the lemon curd and then the top of the cake goes back on and it’s frosted all over with 7-minute frosting. After that you sprinkle the top with sweetened shredded coconut and press more coconut on to the sides. The just wait for the raves, especially from lemon-lovers.
If you don’t want to make the frosting and want something simpler, you can slice and fill the cake and just spread it with the lemon glaze that I use on my lemon brownies and sprinkle the top with coconut. Here’s how that looks…
Either way you make it, you’ll have a delicious dessert without butter. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Sep 18, 2015
My dad used to make hunter’s stew but he called it kapusta, which means cabbage in Polish. Hunter’s stew, also called bigos, is based on sauerkraut and it usually has added meats including kielbasa. This recipe does not belong only to Poles. There are many varieties of hunter’s stew in eastern Europe but they almost all include sauerkraut and various meats.
Bigos has been around for centuries. People used to cook big pots of this stew for hours, even days, adding all kinds of meats from beef, pork, ham, sausages, venison, even rabbit – after all it was a “hunter’s” stew.
I’ve been working on finding a simpler way to make bigos and now I’m sharing my own recipe, which doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or a lot of work, and there is less focus on meat and more focus on the sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, mushrooms, and lots of flavor.
The recipe starts with store-bought sauerkraut and the best kind to buy is the one they sell in the refrigerated section and I use store-bought chicken cooking stock (unsalted) because there is plenty of salt already in the sauerkraut. I have also made my hunter’s stew with homemade beef stock but I am not a fan of store-bought beef stock, only chicken.
Hunter’s stew, like most stews (and like me) gets better with age 🙂 so try to make it a day or two ahead and let it marinate in the refrigerator before serving. Some people serve it with rye bread but we always had it with mashed potatoes. The strong flavors of the stew and the mild potatoes goes really well together.
It takes a lot of chopping and shredding but otherwise, this dish cooks with virtually no effort after that. Smacznego. – Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Sep 15, 2015
I’m posting my new simpler way to make one of my favorite one pan meals. This no-fuss dinner cooks in one pan and it takes almost no work. Plus the whole house smells divine with all the spices as they cook. Both the chicken and the potatoes are coated with a mixture of aromatic spices & olive oil and as they’re cooking along in the oven, you have plenty of time to make a salad or cook a side vegetable.
What I like most about this recipe is that the two foods can be separated at the end if either the chicken or potatoes need a few more minutes. Chicken thighs come in all sizes – sometimes I get four in a pack and sometimes six. So smaller pieces will cook faster. And depending how big you cut your potato wedges, they may need more or less time. So at the end, you can separate the chicken from the potatoes and cook just one of them a little longer if needed. I only had to do that once.
The broiler-type pan is important because chicken thighs have a lot of fat and all the fat cooks off and stays in the broiler pan, not touching the chicken, and not spreading onto the flat part of the pan where the potatoes cook and that keeps the potatoes crispy.
I had posted this recipe before when I used to cook asparagus on the same pan but it was too much trouble so now I just cook my green vegetable separately. This chicken dinner goes really well with asparagus and I’ve had it with broccoli and brussels sprouts, too. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Sep 9, 2015
Any time I make apple pie there’s an air of excitement around here. Has it cooled yet? How long before we can taste it? Don’t tell the neighbors – they’ll come over for sure and I want it all for myself. Homemade apple pie never loses its appeal and let me tell you this was delicious.
I used three pounds of granny smith apples and my popular oil crust and it made dinner more than just a meal… it was an event. That may be because I made my orange-sesame chicken, one of my favorite quick dinners. The picture may not show it but this easy chicken stir fry is really really good. And it’s fast. When dessert takes a little longer, like apple pie, I usually opt for a quick and easy dinner.
So anyhoooo… I’m just sharing what I cooked today. Click here for my homemade apple pie recipe. – Jenny Jones
Cooking is more fun when you have great toys to play with, like colorful bowls and kitchen tools but pretty pot holders are nowhere to be found — except in my kitchen. Because I made them. I went to Jo-Ann fabrics, got 1/4 yard of quilted fabrics, some binding and made my own. All these quilted fabrics have a different design on the back so here are the backs of my pot holders…
Here’s how I made them: There was no pattern to so I just cut the fabric into 7 by 8-inch shapes and rounded the corners. I used two thicknesses per pot holder so before adding the binding, I first connected the pieces together to keep them flat. I did that by sewing two seams – each one diagonal from corner to corner. Then I used Double Fold Bias Tape (extra wide) for the edge. I used an old existing pot holder to see how to secure the “loop.” I love how they turned out.
A safety note: I used two thicknesses but when I baked a cake at 350 degrees and used my new pot holder to remove the pan, a little heat came through by the time I put the pan on a rack so when I make more, I plan to use 4 thicknesses instead of just two and I suggest that if anyone makes them, to make them thicker or just use them as decoration. Next time I plan to use some leftover plain quilted fabric for my extra filler and save my fancy fabric for the outside.
Hey, with those colors I could turn these pot holders into a bikini. All I need is some colorful string and voila! Coverage for the beach! Of course, men would have it easier. All they need is an oven mitt! – Jenny Jones