healthy meals

Jul 5, 2020

Quick & Easy Vanilla Cake

Easy Vanilla Wacky CakeBy popular demand, here is the vanilla version of my hugely popular quick & easy chocolate cake. As simple as the recipe is, it was not easy to get it right. I finally came up with a version that always turns out for me. I know it has a lot of sugar but every time I tried to use less, it did not turn out. With this “wacky” style cake, the sugar is needed for structure.

I also tried different pans, a square 8 x 8 pan and a round 8-inch pan, and was disappointed in both results. A 9-inch pan was the perfect size for a consistent cake. I suggest sticking with the recipe as written and you won’t be disappointed. It’s a light and delicious homemade cake that anyone can make, even amateur cooks. During the coronavirus quarantine, it’s good to have a dessert that does not use eggs, or even butter except for the frosting.

2 Minute Vanilla FrostingI’ve also just posted my new 2-minute vanilla frosting, made with just 2 tablespoons of butter, although this cake is really good with chocolate frosting too. I usually cool the cake in the pan and only frost the top.

If you plan to remove the cake to a platter, I suggest greasing the pan and lining the bottom with parchment paper. You can buy packages of parchment paper rounds or cut our own. I hope everybody likes this simple yet delicious cake and I’ll be waiting for the first photo! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

May 24, 2020

I Made Apple Pie

Apple Pie Jenny Can CookIt’s just so good! I wanted something special for the holiday weekend and decided on my homemade apple pie. I bought six large Granny Smith apples and this time I cut the slices a little smaller, about 3/4-inch thick. Someone had mentioned that the apples weren’t cooked enough so slightly smaller pieces worked out just fine. And of course, I always use my easy oil crust, using avocado oil.

Most of the time I brush the crust with milk but I had whipping cream on hand and used that before sprinkling the top with sugar. I didn’t see much difference from using milk. You can’t buy an apple pie anywhere that even comes close to homemade. Serve an apple pie and you’ll find you have more friends & family than you realized! ? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jan 31, 2020

Healthy Mexican Black Bean Casserole

Healthy Mexican Black Bean CasseroleI love casseroles. Cook once / eat twice /or three times. And casseroles are always flexible: a little more of this, a little less of that, and they still turn out. This is a little like my Spicy Mexican Casserole but made not spicy using an Anaheim pepper, with corn tortillas and added vegetables. I always try to include as many vegetables as possible in every meal, besides the salads I make every day.

Vegetables are the key to good health so besides lots of fresh tomatoes, I include antioxidant-rich bell pepper along with the Anaheim green chili pepper. Anaheim peppers (also called long peppers) are green and measure about 7 inches long.These peppers are great for anyone not liking anything too spicy but who does like a flavorful pepper. Of course you can use Jalapeño peppers instead but the Anaheim pepper is perfect for me.

This recipe is high in fiber from the black beans and corn tortillas. All corn tortillas are not the same, in fact they can be very different. I tried Whole Foods 365 brand and they were dry and disappointing. My preference is Guerrero brand if you can find them.

You can make lots of variations with this recipe, using cheddar cheese instead of monterey jack, pinto beans instead of black beans, and you can add spices if you like, but I do recommend staying with the fresh tomatoes. They add moisture and fresh taste to this easy casserole.

UPDATE June 3, 2020: I found myself using less and less tomatoes in this recipe and I now prefer it that way. It also means less chopping! ? I suggest trying it with only about 1/2 pound of tomatoes.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Jun 1, 2019

No Dutch Oven / No Knead Bread

No Dutch Oven No Knead BreadFor anyone who does not have a Dutch oven but wants an easy way to make crusty homemade bread with no kneading and almost no work at all, look what I just made on a baking sheet! It was so easy and the loaf was crusty and delicious.

A Dutch oven with a lid creates steam inside the pot, which produces that crispy crust so I create steam inside the oven by placing a small 5 by 9-inch pan in the oven while it’s preheating. Then when I place the bread in to bake, I pour some boiling water into the little hot pan and whoosh – steam goes all over the place. I close the oven door right away to keep the steam inside and let it bake.

Anyone can make this easy no knead bread on a baking sheet. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 18, 2019

Homemade Pierogi

Homemade Pierogi

Quick & easy pierogi? There is no such thing. But if ever a  recipe was worth the time, it’s homemade pierogi. I only make potato & cheese pierogi because that’s what I grew up on. My dad taught me how to make them and I’m so glad I shared the recipe because I wasn’t sure if anyone would want to put in the effort. It turns out a lot of people do. There are hundreds of comments and over a million people have watched the video.

There are two things to make: the dough and the filling. The mashed potato filling is easy to make but the dough takes more time and it’s important that the filling stays inside the dough when they are boiled. Before boiling, the pierogi must be kept apart on a floured towel because if they touch each other they will likely stick and create an opening in the dough. That would result in them breaking apart when they’re boiled. I line a baking sheet with a dish towel and sprinkle it with flour and place them on the towel, not touching.

How To Make PierogiI boil mine in a medium saucepan so I only boil 4 or 5 at a time, making sure at first that they don’t touch each other in the water. Pierogi take about 3-4 minutes to cook and when they’re done I remove them to an oiled baking sheet and put the next few in the boiling water. (By the way, “pierogi” is plural – one is called a “pierog” but people often use “pierogies” as the plural).

Best Polish PierogiOnce they’re cooked I still keep them mostly separated. There are two ways to enjoy these Polish treasures. One is to eat them right after boiling when they are soft and tender, served with sour cream and bacon bits. I rarely eat bacon but that rule goes out the window when I make homemade pierogi.

The other way is to pan fry them in a little oil or butter until they’re lightly browned and serve them with (big surprise…) sour cream and bacon bits. They are also often served with fried onions. Well I have to go now. We have leftovers. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Oct 15, 2018

I Made Apple Pie

Best Apple Pie Oil Crust

Autumn is here and that means it’s apple pie time. I always make it with an oil crust because if nothing else, it’s just easier. You can pat it into the pan but I find that rolling it between sheets of wax paper is the best way to use an oil crust, especially for the top. My apples of choice are granny smith ? and my thickener of choice is tapioca but flour works too.

Homemade apple pie is something special. We were at a social gathering last night and when desserts were set out, I told some friends I had just made an apple pie and it was cooling on the counter at home. If they wanted to, we could skip the prepared desserts and go to my house for apple pie. “Homemade apple pie? Let’s go!”

That’s the power of homemade apple pie. My husband’s two favorite desserts are my Fresh Strawberry Cake and Homemade Apple Pie. Nothing compares. I love this delicious pie and I must admit I like the power. I think I hear him in the garage right now cleaning things up. ? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Mar 8, 2017

Bran Muffins for Breakfast

Homemade Bran Muffins

I made bran muffins today and was going to have one for breakfast. I had two. I’ve never been able to eat just one even thought they have a lot of fiber. There’s something so tasty about the combination of molasses, cinnamon, and vanilla, especially with a glass of cold milk. There are a lot of reasons to eat fiber. It can reduce blood pressure and inflammation, as well as the risk of type 2 diabetes. Fiber protects your heart, prevents constipation, and it keeps you feeling full so it helps with weight loss too.

But the best reason to eat these muffins is they are really delicious and easy to make. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Mar 3, 2017

Make Whole Wheat Dutch Oven Bread FASTER!

Easy Whole Wheat Bread No KneadIt pays to experiment. Today I decided to try making whole wheat no knead bread faster to avoid the overnight wait. I increased the amount of yeast and it worked! Most no knead breads use 1/4 teaspoon of yeast so I tried 1 teaspoon and let the dough rest for just three hours instead of overnight. I was so happy with the result. It’s a nice hearty loaf with a soft interior. This is not 100% whole wheat because that is a heavier, dense loaf. This is 2/3 whole wheat to 1/3 bread flour but it’s still a good source of fiber.

So now I have NINE different variations of no knead bread from Fruit & Nut Bread to Multi-Grain to No Dutch Oven at all. And I’m working on number ten! Keep in mind that any whole wheat bread will never be as soft and crispy as the white version but this is still a delicious, hearty, healthier whole wheat bread and it takes almost no work at all. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 6, 2017

Easy Homemade Ciabatta Bread

No Knead Ciabatta Bread RecipeLook what I made! It was just an experiment but it turned out to be amazing! Anyone can make no knead bread without a Dutch oven. It helps to create steam inside the oven just like it’s created inside a Dutch oven. Steam is what makes a crispy crust and it’s really easy. What you do is put a small pan in the oven before you preheat it and then when the oven is hot and you put in the bread to bake, you also pour some hot water into the small pan and it creates steam. Then you quickly close the oven door to keep the steam inside and after 30 minutes, you will have an fantastic loaf of ciabatta bread with a soft interior and a beautiful golden crispy crust.

No Knead Ciabatta Bread

You can use a variety of pans to create the steam (do a google search for ideas if you like) but that process is not easy on the pan. I have used a small flat pan as pictures as well as a small 6-cup  disposable foil pan. But if it does not fit on the same rack as your baking pan, just place it on a rack below. You may have to remove a rack to make room but whether beside the bread or on a rack below, keep it off to the side and don’t put it directly under the bread. And be sure to keep it close to the front for easy access. Here is how I place mine and how you can place it below if your oven is smaller.

I pour about 3/4 cup of hot or boiling water into 3 or 4 of the muffin cups or into the small pan. It’s good to use an oven glove when you pour the hot water because it creates steam right away and be sure to close the oven door immediately so the steam can’t escape. You can re-use the muffin pan, although it will turn dark. So there it is. I hope my photos help and now everyone who does not have a Dutch oven will be able to make this fabulous no knead, easy, homemade ciabatta bread. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Dec 5, 2016

These are Some Big Cookies

Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip CookiesHere’s a closeup of my Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. They are big! These are the ones made with 100% whole grains and no butter. Before baking you press them flat with a fork and they spread even more when they bake and come out super thin and crispy. I made them last night and the recipe makes twelve. There are five left. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones