If you ever need fast comfort food, this is it. Today I made my quick and easy mac & cheese and it was ready in 20 minutes. With only four ingredients, it’s pretty hard to mess up, and I use low fat milk and cheese so I don’t feel guilty about enjoying this American classic. Plus I always serve it with a green vegetable on the side. Sometimes this simple mac & cheese becomes a side dish to some chicken and salad. Even though it’s a quick stovetop recipe, you can also bake it in the oven for a crispy top. Here’s how I do it:
While I prepare the recipe on the stove I preheat the oven to 375. Once the stovetop version is done I stir in some chopped & drained fresh tomato (this is optional) and I transfer it all to a greased 3-quart casserole dish. I top it with a cup of fresh breadcrumbs and bake for 20-25 minutes for a golden, crispy top. You make fresh breadcrumbs by processing a couple of slices of white or soft whole wheat bread in a food processor.
Whether you need a quick 20 minute recipe or you prefer a creamy mac & cheese with a crispy top, either way you’ll get a much healthier version of almost everyone’s favorite comfort food… macaroni and cheese. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Easy desserts are my favorite thing and when they’re fast, it’s even better. My blondies, made from scratch, are ready in 30 minutes. Most other recipes use a stick of butter and sometimes two but I only use 3 tablespoons of butter and they are delicious. Of course, the darker the chocolate chips the better for your health so I buy the darkest I can find but I have also made these blondie bars with a 70% chocolate bar. I just chop some of it up into pieces and they become my chocolate chunks.
My favorite nuts for blondies is pecans but you really must toast them first. Of all the nuts used in baking, pecans are the most fragrant after they are toasted. You can see my video on how to toast nuts under the Videos section. I always try to make my desserts as healthy as possible and this one works well with half whole wheat pastry flour and half all purpose flour. I wasn’t sure what to call them. The long name would be “Quick & Easy One Bowl Chocolate Chunk Toasted Pecan Blondies.” Too much? Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
I’m so excited to share this way of making no knead bread even faster than my “faster no knead bread” recipe, which takes over four hours. And that was fast compared to the original overnight method, which took over 12 hours. But now, I am making it in two hours! This recipe uses the same ingredients as my original loaf but with more yeast. Instead of 1/4 teaspoon, I use 2 teaspoons (one packet) of instant yeast.
Most bread connoisseurs will agree that the longer the dough rests, the better flavor the bread will develop. This is true but I don’t care. Some days I want bread and I want it fast! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
I love this simple vegetarian casserole. It’s a healthier way to enjoy Mexican food because it uses fresh tomatoes, whole wheat tortillas. I use my own homemade tortillas, the whole wheat version, and they turn nice and soft in this dish. I wanted to try it with store-bought tortillas but could not bring myself to buy them after reading the ingredients. If you make the tortillas ahead of time this meal can be made in about 45 minutes.
If you like things super spicy, you can switch from jalapeño pepper to a spicier one like serrano or the super hot habanero. For me, the jalapeño version is perfect – not too spicy at all. And I always say it: don’t use pre-shredded cheese. It will never melt like fresh cheese because they add some type of stabilizer to the pre-shredded kind. It takes less than a minute to shred six ounces of cheese. I always serve this dish with a little sour cream on the side. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Does gluten-free no knead bread work? In my opinion… no. I’ve been asked so many times about it I decided to try it. I bought some gluten-free flour and followed my recipe for Faster No Knead Bread. The dough was stickier than my regular recipe and I did not think it would bake up well at all. But to my surprise, it did bake into a round “boule.” So it looked pretty good but how did it taste?
The loaf was smaller and heavier than my original, and when I sliced into it, the inside was dense and chewy, without the traditional big holes and it didn’t taste anything like the original recipe. The texture and taste were disappointing to me and nobody else wanted to eat it either. So I hope my little experiment helps answer this common question: Can you make gluten free Dutch oven bread? I say you can make it but you won’t like it. There are plenty of gluten-free bread recipes out there but I do not recommend this one. – Jenny Jones
It 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
My mother used to slice up leftover potato pancakes and scramble them with eggs for breakfast. It’s still one of my favorite things to eat so I made it today. I had made the potato pancakes (placki in Polish) on Monday and had plenty left over so I treated myself to this delicious breakfast. I have actually made the pancakes just to use for this breakfast – that’s how much I love this dish.
In response to the many people who either do not have a Dutch oven or find it difficult to lift such a heavy pot, I decided to try making my no knead bread on a baking pan. Well guess what? It works. It makes a great loaf that’s soft inside with a beautiful golden crust. It’s not quite as crispy of a crust as the Dutch oven method but it’s close. It’s important to find a way to create steam in the oven because steam is what makes a crispy crust. But even without steam, it still bakes up nicely but with a softer crust.
For my ciabatta bread, which needs steam, I used a disposable foil 6-cup muffin pan, which you can place beside or just below the bread.
But I also found a small 9 by 5-inch baking pan for $3.50 and a restaurant supply store and it works well too. It’s what I used for this loaf.
It’s important to add the hot water right when you put in the bread and close the oven door right away. The steam is most effective right at the beginning. I use a metal measuring cup with a handle to pour the hot water. I hope my photos are helpful and that now, anyone without a Dutch oven can make this super easy, delicious, artisan bread. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
This easy casserole just might become your new family favorite. I’ve been making it for years and everyone loves it. And I love it for two reasons. One: it’s delicious. Two: it’s easy to make. It takes just a few simple ingredients and less than an hour for some good homemade comfort food. By using lean ground beef and reduced fat cheese, I never feel stuffed after my second and third helping.
Much of the flavor comes from the sauce and you can use a homemade marinara but I use store-bought sauce. Two that I like, but can’t always find, are Silver Palate Low Sodium Marinara but this time I couldn’t find it so I used Terlato Kitchen Pomodoro, also lower in sodium and it was fantastic. Not all jarred sauces are the same so I encourage everyone to read the label for the least number of ingredients as well as sodium. Even with a low sodium sauce, this recipe doesn’t even need salt or pepper.
And don’t be tempted to use more pasta. It will seem like it’s not enough when you put it together but it’s just the right amount for this easy family casserole. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Look 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.
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