celebrity food blogs

May 6, 2015

One Pan Dinner – No Cleanup

One Pan Thighs & Fries RecipeHere’s a snapshot of dinner today, my one-pan thighs and fries made with skinless chicken thighs, lots of potatoes, and asparagus. The recipe may seem complicated on paper but it’s really easy and there is no cleanup. None. I’m posting this so you can see how it looks on the pan. I line my rimmed baking pan completely with foil. Then I place a disposable broiler pan at one end. This broiler pan is needed because all the fat will drain off the chicken thighs and it will stay in the broiler pan and not spread onto the potatoes.

After coating the chicken and potatoes with an easy mixture of olive oil and spices, I put the chicken thighs in the broiler pan and the potatoes on the rest of the baking pan. Then it bakes in a 425 F oven for 45 minutes. The potatoes get crisp and the chicken gets tender. After that you just push the potatoes over to make room for asparagus (or green beans). Then back in the oven for another 10 minutes and it’s done.

To serve, I lifted the chicken off the broiler pan with tongs, scooped up some potatoes and asparagus and we had a fabulous dinner. Then I threw away all the foil and only had to wash two dishes.  So that’s what I cooked today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Click here for the recipe.

May 4, 2015

Cinnamon Rolls on Sunday

Cinnamon Rolls No Butter RecipeI try to be good, I really do. But I made my amazing cinnamon rolls for brunch today. Well, it wasn’t really brunch – it was just breakfast but when I put cinnamon rolls on the table, it became brunch. Isn’t that why we all love going to brunch? “Let’s get the eggs and omelettes over with so we can get to the sweets!”

So that was me this morning, having my obligatory scrambled eggs and whole grain toast to clear my conscience in preparation for cinnamon rolls. Boy are they good! I see why so many people love this recipe. It’s easy and you can actually make this recipe with no butter at all, which is what I did. I used Canola Harvest instead of butter for the filling and didn’t miss the butter at all. Click here for the recipe.

These sweet rolls are soft and gooey and they smell amazing. I used Saigon cinnamon, which is more potent than the popular Ceylon cinnamon and I highly recommend it. Anyway, there’s only half a pan left now and that won’t be around long since I’m having it for dessert tomorrow.

Today I also made my ribs and potato salad for dinner so we’re having leftovers tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a good day with ribs, potato salad, and cinnamon rolls for dessert! And that’s what I cooked today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones

May 1, 2015

My Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake

Quick & Easy Chocolate Cake

Looking for an easy chocolate cake from scratch? This is it. Oh… and looking for a healthier chocolate cake recipe? This is it too. It’s not a fancy cake but it’s really moist and rich tasting even thought it’s made without eggs or butter. I make it with extra-light olive oil but my frosting does have two tablespoons of butter. If you use my frosting, that means each slice would have 3/4 teaspoon of butter. I can manage that. But you can also skip the frosting, make it a vegan chocolate cake, and just dust it with some powdered sugar.

For baking with chocolate I always use Dutch-processed cocoa for a beautiful dark color and it’s also less bitter than the regular one. It can be hard to find but World Market carries my brand (Droste), which I used in this recipe. This is the perfect cake to make last minute since there is no butter to soften and no eggs to warm up to room temperature. I often put it together before dinner and by the time we eat, the cake is cooled and then I whip up some frosting and… we have dessert.

This easy chocolate cake from scratch is perfect for Sunday family dinner… everyone does have a Sunday family dinner, don’t they? For the frosted version, click here for the recipe. For my chocolate cake with no butter recipe, click here. – Jenny Jones

Apr 29, 2015

Pie & Cake for Dinner

Homemade Chicken Pot PieIf you haven’t tried my chicken pot pie you’re missing something really good… and really easy. I haven’t had it for a while and when I made it today, I had forgotten how quick and easy it is and how absolutely delicious it is too! I use white meat chicken breast, carrots, celery and peas so it has lean protein, some vegetables, and I top it with my easy oil crust (made with extra-light olive oil) and wow – it was awesome! Here’s the recipe. I also made a salad (I make one just about every day) – this one had baby lettuce, cabbage, green onion, garbanzo beans, and a cherry vinegar dressing. And for dessert, I made chocolate cake.

Chocolate Cake1200_2279But this is not just any chocolate cake. It’s the easiest and one of the healthiest cakes ever. It’s an easy one-bowl cake made without eggs or butter so only the frosting has butter and that’s only two tablespoons. But if someone wants to avoid butter completely, you could skip the frosting and just dust it with some powdered sugar. I don’t know why I haven’t posted the recipe. I think it’s because I just frost it in the pan and it’s not very fancy looking. But it’s so good, I will be posting the recipe. I make it all the time here at home.

We were just negotiating over the size of the servings. In order to avoid any hurt feeling, I try not to make my slice any bigger than his. It’s just easier that way. So that’s what I cooked today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Apr 25, 2015

Polish food for dinner

Best Polish Cabbage Rolls

I’ve been craving cabbage rolls for days so I made them yesterday but I’m eating them today. They always taste better the next day so I like to make them the day before. This time the cabbage was a little small so it made twenty little bundles of goodness filled with ground sirloin, rice, tomato, and mushrooms. The mushrooms are optional but I think they add a nice extra flavor. And I like to use different liquids to pour over the rolls for baking. This time I used some tomato but other times I just use water from boiling the cabbage. I’ve even topped them with sauerkraut and its juice for baking and they were great.

When my dad made these we always had them with sour cream so today I browned them in a little olive oil (my dad used butter) and had them with reduced fat sour cream and yummmmm!!!! I remember my mother used to make cabbage rolls (golabki) and she even liked them cold – just stick one on a fork and there’s your snack. Polish cabbage rolls is one of my most viewed videos – I never expected that. Here’s the recipe.

For dessert I made my apple pie bars.

apple pie bars_1708

It’s less work than apple pie but just as tasty, made with 2 pounds of Granny Smith apples and my healthier and easier oil crust. It’s the same crust I use for all my pies, including chicken pot pie. Ooooh, chicken pot pie sounds so good – I may have to make it tomorrow. Back to my apple pie bars. There’s an ongoing debate in this house about whether these are apple pie bars or a square apple pie. I don’t care what we call it as long as we get to eat it. Here’s the recipe and that’s what I cooked today.  …just sharing… – Jenny Jones 

Apr 23, 2015

Quick & Easy Salmon

Best Way To Cook SalmonIt’s so simple and so healthy. Simple because my easy broiled salmon only takes 15 minutes to make – all you need is a lemon and some olive oil. And healthy because salmon is good for your heart….  and your eyes, and your brain, and your joints, and etc., etc..  Salmon is always on the list of foods with the most health benefits and it’s easier to cook than you think.

Wild caught salmon is the best choice and of course getting it fresh is important when it comes to fish. It’s always good to know what day they deliver fish at the market and that’s the day to go get it. There are lots of ways to cook salmon (most of them too fancy for me) so I keep it simple – just lemon, oil, salt and pepper. Of course you can add other spices if you like but this simple recipe is really good.

Every oven is different and every broiler is too so your fish may take less time to cook, or more depending on a few things.
1) How strong is your broiler?
2) What is the distance between your oven rack and the broiler?
3) How thick is your salmon?
4) How do you like it cooked?

In my kitchen, the broiler has two setting, high and medium. I cook it on the high setting. I place the rack one below the top, which puts my oven rack around 5 1/2 to 6 inches below the heat. The salmon I find at my store is usually about an inch thick but depending on the thickness of the fish, you would cook it about 10 minutes per inch. I prefer my fish cooked all the way through but if you want it less done inside, cook it for a little less time.

A recipe for broiling is different from baking. Baking is more exact but broiling depends on all kinds of variables so just use your common sense and keep an eye on it. As for what to serve with this beautiful fish, I always make something on the stove top since the oven is occupied, so I often make rice and a steamed vegetable or my rice with kale. I also like salmon with my spaghetti with chard. Oh, and sometimes, just some peeled, chopped, and seamed sweet potato goes great with this simple broiled salmon. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 21, 2015

Flour Basics

Learn About Flour from Jenny Can Cook“Which flour do I use for bread, or muffins, or cookies?” “Can I substitute one flour for another?” “Why is my flour mixture so dry?” I hope this helps clarify any questions you have about flour. By the way, with all baking the amount of protein in flour matters. The lower the protein, the softer the baked goods. So here is my simple guideline to baking with flour:

How to Measure (& Aerate) Flour
Flour must be aerated before measuring because it often settles in the bag or container making it heavy  and compact, resulting in too much flour being measured. Aerating basically means fluffing it up and is not the same as sifting. Flour should not be sifted before measuring unless the recipe states to do so. Sifting will result in too little flour being measured.

If you dip into flour without aerating, you will be getting too much flour and your dough will be too dry. To aerate flour you simply stir it around with a spoon before measuring. To measure, be sure to use a flat-topped dry measuring cup like in my photo. To see a short video on how to aerate flour click here.

After aerating, there are two ways to measure the flour: 1) Scoop & Level – Gently scoop the flour up with a spoon and sprinkle it into your measuring cup until it’s mounded above the rim. Do not tap the cup or the container of flour. Finally, level off the excess flour with the back of a knife. 2) Dip & Level – Gently dip your measuring cup into the flour until it’s mounded above the rim and level off the excess flour with the back of a knife. In my kitchen, a cup a flour weighs 4 1/2 ounces (130 grams).

The Difference Between Flours

Whole wheat flour (about 14% protein/gluten)
Whole wheat flour is not the same as whole wheat pastry flour and should not be substituted for whole wheat pastry flour. Whole wheat flour is milled from hard winter wheat and is best used only for yeast breads. A loaf made entirely with whole wheat flour will be a dense and somewhat heavy loaf. For a softer loaf, it is often combined with some all-purpose or bread flour. Whole wheat flour is not suitable for other baking like cookies and cakes. *Since it contains the germ of the wheat which contains oil, once opened, this flour should be kept refrigerated in a tightly sealed container.

Whole wheat pastry flour (about 10% protein/gluten)
Also called whole grain pastry flour, this flour is good for most recipes that use all-purpose flour when you want to add fiber. Whole wheat pastry flour is milled from a soft summer wheat and is best for baking cookies, brownies, pancakes, waffles, quick breads, and some cakes. Results will not be as light and soft as using all-purpose flour but you can also mix part whole wheat pastry flour and part all-purpose flour for soft baked goods with added fiber. (I use this flour the most in cookies, brownies, even pancakes & waffles for extra fiber) This flour is not a good substitute for whole wheat flour and is not suitable for baking yeast breads. Don’t have whole wheat pastry flour? Regular whole wheat flour is not a good substitute – your baked goods will be dense and heavy. Look for whole wheat pastry flour at health food stores or you can order it online. Once opened, it should be kept refrigerated in a tightly-sealed container.

Bread flour (about 14% protein/gluten)
This flour is designed for yeast baking. It helps create more gluten for a better rise in yeast doughs. Use it for yeast bread and pizza dough for a chewy texture and good structure. However, all-purpose flour works almost as well with yeast. From my experience, if you don’t have bread flour, all-purpose flour can be used as a substitute in yeast bread and pizza dough.

All-purpose flour (about 10% protein/gluten)
The name says it all. Use it for cookies, cakes, quick breads, yeast breads, pies, pancakes, etc.

Pastry flour (about 9% protein/gluten)
This flour falls between all-purpose flour and cake flour and can be used in pastries, cookies and cakes. This flour is not suitable for baking yeast breads.

Cake flour (about 8% protein/gluten)
This very fine grain flour is good in light and airy cakes like angel food cake. However, if a recipe does not call for cake flour and you decide to use it, you would use more (2 tablespoons more per each cup). Conversely, if a recipe calls for cake flour and you don’t have it, you can make your own: For one cup of cake flour, measure one cup of all-purpose flour, remove 2 tablespoons of flour and replace that with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch. I do not use cake flour – I don’t find it necessary. This flour is not suitable for baking yeast breads.

Self-rising flour (about 8 % protein/gluten)
This soft flour is similar to pastry flour but has salt and baking powder added. Many southern recipes call for this flour in biscuits and pancakes but if the recipe calls for all-purpose flour and you substitute self-rising flour, you will need to adjust any added salt and baking powder. (one cup of self-rising flour contains 1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder and ¼ to ½ teaspoon of salt) This flour is not suitable for yeast breads.

I hope these simple flour basics are helpful. – Jenny Jones

Apr 18, 2015

Double Chocolate Cookies

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are three ways to make these cookies depending on the amount of flour you use. You can make them more chunky and firm or softer and spreadable.  My original recipe calls for 1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour. But you can use less flour for a softer cookie. See my examples below:

Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

You can never go wrong with a chocolate dessert. I always use Dutch processed cocoa for two reasons. One, it’s less bitter than regular cocoa and two, it produces a rich dark color as you can see. It’s not always easy to find but right now my store carries Droste brand cocoa so that’s what I use. Always looking for ways to reduce saturated fat, I reduced it even more today. Instead of 1/4 cup of butter I used 3 tablespoons and then I increased the oil from 1/2 cup to 1/3 of a cup. No matter how good something sweet looks, if the butter is measured in sticks, I always pass. I know from experience that you can make delicious, healthier desserts with very little and many times, no butter at all. For dinner I made a salad and my vegetable-bean pasta and cookies for dessert. Did I say cookies? I meant “a cookie” for dessert. That’s right. One cookie. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ?

I usually add toasted walnuts and pecans to my cookies. The reason for the mixed nuts is I can never decide, plus using both nuts seems to add even more flavors but I always toast the nuts first. In fact, I toast a whole bag of nuts and then keep them refrigerated for all my baking. To learn how to toast nuts, see the “How To” section of my blog. You’ll be glad you toasted the nuts for these delicious cookies. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Apr 16, 2015

One pan dinner

I love being in the kitchen. Today I made buckwheat pancakes for breakfast because we all need fiber and these are 100% whole grain, made with whole wheat pastry flour and buckwheat flour. I can always find buckwheat flour at Whole Foods. Then for dinner I made my easy chicken stew.

Homemade One Pan Chicken Stew

I like it on weeknights because it’s quick to make and it all cooks in one pan. After your prep (I won’t lie – there is a lot of chopping) it cooks in about 25 minutes. And look what’s in it: potatoes, carrots, celery, broccoli, and mushrooms. There is no meal in this house without vegetables, the more the better. We even had a salad first.

Then for dessert, I made whole wheat lemon brownies. It’s one of my most pupular recipes because it’s impossibly easy and I always make mine with whole wheat pastry flour. Gotta have that fiber! So that’s what I cooked today. … just sharing… – Jenny Jones

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