dinner recipes

May 21, 2015

Easy Greek Spinach Rice

Greek Spinach Rice RecipeI admit I’m not a fan of cooked spinach when it sits alone in a big glob, but when it’s cooked in with rice and some onions, garlic, and dill, Greek style… I love it. With baby spinach available pre-washed and ready to go, this is a quick and healthy side dish. It’s what I usually have with my lemon chicken cutlets – they sound kind of Greek too.

This recipe is also in my cookbook but I’ve simplified the process a little to encourage everyone to try it. Spinach is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients and when it’s cooked, those benefits are even greater with a long list of vitamins, protein, iron, calcium, folate, and it has more potassium than bananas. Eating spinach will benefit your eyes, skin, and hair, support bone health, help protect against cancer & asthma, and it’s even good for your brain. This is a true superfood!

And this is an easy recipe. Everything cooks in one pot while you prepare the rest of your meal. I highly recommend the lemon chicken cutlets because they only take 20 minutes, the same time it takes the rice to cook. Oh, and the quick & easy broiled salmon – that goes great with Greek spinach rice too. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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.

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 

Feb 18, 2015

Fresh Tomato Salsa – Pico de Gallo

How To Make Fresh Tomato Salsa

When I was growing up in Canada, there was no Mexican food. No Mexican restaurants, no Taco Bell… not even corn chips. All we knew was salmon sandwiches and cabbage rolls… and that weird jellied thing my dad used to make with pigs feet. The first time I went to a Mexican restaurant I was 20 years old and living in California. (there are a LOT of Mexican restaurants in Southern California!) And they always have salsa. You don’t even have to ask for it. Sit down — there it is. Salsa on the table. And a bowl of tortilla chips usually arrives at the same time. It’s supposed to be an appetizer, chips & salsa, but I can’t stop eating it until someone takes it away.

It turns out that it’s really easy to make fresh tomato salsa. They call it Pico de Gallo but I don’t know why. It translates to “rooster’s beak.” You hardly need a recipe because even if you just eyeball the amounts, it will still be great. It’s a simple recipe using only fresh ingredients (tomatoes, onions, jalapeño pepper & cilantro) In fact, feel free to use more or less of any ingredient or customize it with some fresh garlic or a spicier pepper like serrano.

It just takes a few minutes to make. Some people use the whole tomato including the seeds and juice but for me the result is a salsa with too much liquid. I prefer a more chunky salsa to I remove the seeds from the tomato first, then I dice tomato and drain it in a collander or strainer while I work on the other ingredients. And a word about tomatoes. They should not be refrigerated so if you want an amazing salsa, use fresh tomatoes that have not been refrigerated and serve the salsa right away. Oh, one more thing:  the seeds and insides of  jalapeño peppers are very spicy so don’t handle them and then touch your eyes. In fact, it’s good to use gloves to seed and chop them if you can. 

In case you have some left (I rarely do) you can refrigerate it for 2-3 days and it will still be good, but more like the kind you buy in a jar. If you like Mexican food, try my salsa. If you don’t like Mexican food, try my salsa anyway. Es muy buena! Click here for the recipe. Haga aqui para la receta. – Jenny Jones

Feb 4, 2015

Oven-baked Chicken Parmesan

Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan

There’s almost no cleanup with my easy chicken parmesan recipe. The prep is all done on wax paper and if you line your baking sheet with foil like I do,  you won’t have to wash it. This recipe will convince you that frying is not necessary to make a fabulous chicken parmesan. First I pound the chicken to an even thickness of 1/2-inch. That’s to make sure it cooks evenly. Then I dip each piece in flour, beaten egg, and finally coat it with (homemade) bread crumbs that I season myself.

I start with plain breadcrumbs and season them with a store-bought Italian seasoning mix. Then I add parmesan cheese and it makes an delicious breading for these chicken cutlets. They bake for 20 minutes… oh hey… that’s just how long it takes to make my quick and easy marinara sauce, start-to-finish. After 20 minutes, top it with some sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese, bake a few more minutes and… yummm!  I always shred my own cheese because  packaged pre-shredded cheese does not melt as well.

The last time I made this I baked it at 425 for 17 minutes and it was a bit more crispy but it’s not much of a difference. This photo above was baked at 425. Let me know if you try the higher temperature.

Who doesn’t like chicken parmesan? Now you can make a healthier chicken parm topped with part skim mozarella to keep it low fat and light. This is truly Italian comfort food. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jan 22, 2015

Homemade Apple Sauce

How To Make Your Own Apple Sauce

Wait until you experience the taste of fresh apple sauce. You won’t want to buy it any more. Fresh homemade applesauce is so good, I sometimes eat it with a spoon as my dessert. I see lots of recipes with added sugar and stuff, but here’s the thing.  Apples are sweet. They don’t need added sugar so this is the easiest, and healthiest, thing to make. You just cook some apples. Just peel, core, and chop them up and add a little water in the pan to get the cooking started.

You can have fun trying it with different varieties of apples. Not all apples taste the same. Granny Smith are good for baking but to me, not sweet enough for apple sauce. My favorite for sauce is gala but do you have any idea the number of different apple varieties that exist in the world? Seven thousand! You heard me. That’s 7,000!  Here are just a few that I’ve actually seen: Rome, Braeburn, Cortland, Crispin, McIntosh, Fuji, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Gravenstein, Liberty, Jonamac, Ida Red, Criterion, Winesap, Pippin, Elstar, Cameo, Pink Lady, Spartan, Newton, Sunrise, Empire, Ginger Gold, Red Cort, Northern Spy, Almata, Gold Russet, Maiden’s Blush, Crimson Gold, Dorsett, Honey Crisp, Honey Gold, Winesap, and Anna (I grow my own Anna apples). I get to keep the ones the squirrels don’t eat! 

The point is, you can  come up with a lot of different flavors of apple sauce depending on the type of apple, or use a combination of different varieties. Have fun with this simple, easy healthy snack. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jan 6, 2015

Easy Tortilla Pie

Best Recipe Tortilla Pie You only need a few basic ingredients to make this easy tortilla pie: whole wheat tortillas, canned beans, bottled salsa, peppers, and reduced fat cheese. Add some onions and garlic and this comes together pronto in a yummy, stick-to-the-ribs dinner the whole family will love.

Here’s why I love my easy tortilla pie: It has two different kinds of beans, black and cannellini beans; It has three different colors of pepper – red, green and yellow; And it’s made with whole wheat tortillas. Even if you aren’t a fan of whole wheat tortillas, they become so soft when baked with my sauce and cheeses, you can eat this moist layered casserole with a spoon.

There’s a recipe for tortilla pie in my original cookbook but this new recipe is simpler, faster, and healthier, not to mention even more delicious. This is an easy recipe to customize and make your own. If you like is spicy, be sure to include the jalapeño pepper and get a jar of spicy salsa. If you like it mild, you can leave out the jalapeño pepper altogether and replace it with extra bell pepper, or a milder Anaheim pepper, and use a mild salsa.

Here are a couple of brands I use in this recipe:

Tortillas – Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Tortillas

Salsa – Green Mountain Gringo from Whole Foods

I make my pie in an 8-inch round pyrex baking dish with tall sides and a glass lid. Sometimes I cut the tortillas to fit exactly into the baking pan and with this pan, the filling all stays inside and doesn’t spill out. A lot of recipes use a springform pan and if you have one, that’s the pan to use. You can also make this tortilla pie in any kind of pie pan, preferably deep dish. Some of the beans may spill out but who cares? Just make sure you cover it well with foil.

Nutritionally, this healthy meal is hard to beat. There is lots of fiber in the beans as well as the tortillas, and beans also provide calcium and protein. The colored peppers are full of antioxidants to help protect against diseases like heart disease and cancer. And if you make it spicy, spicy foods boost metabolism and that helps with weight loss. But the best reason of all to make this easy casserole is it’s simply delicious. And it’s meatless, too. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Oct 17, 2014

Quick & Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs

Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs from ScratchLooking for a family dinner that pleases everybody? Make my quick & easy spaghetti & meatballs! It only takes 35 minutes to make this delicious family favorite, all from scratch, and I promise you will never have leftovers. The lean meatballs are made with ground sirloin and they are super soft because they cook right in the sauce. The sauce is my quick & easy spaghetti sauce and I just add the meatballs (& spaghetti) to make this a complete meal… but don’t forget the salad.

This is really a quick & easy recipe because the sauce takes 5 minutes of prep and the meatballs take 10 minutes to put together. Then it all cooks in one pot and you have the most delicious spaghetti dinner. The sauce needs to cover the meatballs and the pot I use measures 7 1/2 inches across. If your pot is bigger than that, you might need to make more, smaller meatballs so they are covered by the sauce. Marinara sauce does not need to cook for hours on the stove. My recipe uses canned plum tomatoes, the best kind for sauce, and I prefer a smooth sauce so I puree the whole tomatoes first. If you like it more chunky, you can cut the tomatoes up with scissors or a knife for a chunkier sauce.

These meatballs and so soft they really just melt in your mouth. That’s because I use fresh bread crumbs and not dried ones. To make fresh crumbs, which are just soft bread in tiny pieces, I process two slices of bread in a food processor. Then I just wipe out the bowl and use the same one to puree the tomatoes. If you don’t have a food processor, you can cut the bread into small pieces and puree the tomatoes in a blender.

Whether you’re having company or a family dinner, you can’t go wrong with homemade spaghetti & meatballs. Try my easy recipe and you’ll see why they call it comfort food. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 25, 2014

Rice with Kale

Rice With KaleWhy cook plain rice when you can cook rice that makes a difference? Kale is called the “Queen of Greens” because it’s one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. Even spinach doesn’t compare.  Kale contains a lot of beneficial minerals and some powerful antioxidants with huge amounts of vitamins A, C, and K.  It can help protect you against cancer, heart disease, and inflammation. It’s good for your eyes, your skin and hair, I mean really! Eat some kale!

I prefer Dino kale (also called Lacinto kale) because it’s easier to clean and cut and it’s not so curly. But any kale is a super food so use whatever you can find.

KaleMangoOrangeSmoothie_leavesLately, I never cook plain rice any more. Rice is the perfect vehicle for transporting health-building veggies into your body, but of all the other veggies I have added to rice, kale and broccoli are the most beneficial. As for the rice, I often use brown rice in this recipe but honestly, brown rice is not pretty to photograph and I didn’t want to post an unflattering photo that might not motivate you to make this healthy recipe.  So I made it with Uncle Ben’s converted rice for this photo. It is quicker to make the white rice but it’s definitely  healthier with brown rice, which has more fiber but it also takes longer to cook. So if time permits, use brown rice but either way, this is a delicious and healthy side dish.   Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jul 12, 2014

Chicken & Peppers

Chicken & Peppers Recipe

Any time I can cook dinner all in one pan – in 30 minutes – it’s a good day. And it leaves me more time to make dessert! This is one of my go-to healthy meals because it’s quick and uses just a few ingredients. Nutritionally, it’s a superstar with all these colored peppers.  Brightly colored vegetables each have their own set of antioxidants. For instance, a red pepper has more vitamin C than an orange. Yellow and orange peppers support lung and eye health while green ones fight asthma. But all peppers help protect against many degenerative diseases so I try to include all the colors in my cooking.

This recipe was in my cookbook but I’ve simplified it (like I’m doing most of the recipes there) because my goal is to motivate more people to cook at home, so if I can make a recipe easier, faster, and healthier, my work is done. I wish I liked brown rice better but it’s still a struggle for me so I use Uncle Ben’s converted rice here. But you can use brown rice if you like and just cook it an additional 25 minutes.

Does anybody think this would also work with shrimp?  Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones