Aug 27, 2015 Jul 21, 2015
When they say dark chocolate is good for you they mean dark. Like 70% dark. So that’s what I put in my easy fudge brownies. I start by melting a dark chocolate bar and it makes the most intense brownie! With no butter! And wait ’til you see how easy this recipe is. Dark chocolate bars are available in most grocery stores and they sell them at World Market (they’re cheaper there). To get health benefits, it should have at least 70% cacao.You can find bars from 68 to 72% that will work great but I try to keep it at 70-72%. I’ve used Scharffen Berger and World Market brand and there’s no difference in the end result.
Here is what I learned making these delicious brownies: You do not need butter to make rich-tasting, gooey, fudgy brownies and baking without butter is always my priority. (You can use melted butter in place of the oil if you like) I did a taste test at home and asked my man to try one that had butter and one without and he could not tell the difference. Besides making desserts without butter I always try to use whole grains when possible but that did not work here. I tried and was hopeful but they turned to mush.
So the best I can do is no butter and lots of heart-healthy dark chocolate. Most brownie recipes use a stick or two of butter so if you need a brownie, this one is a better choice than one loaded with saturated fat. My recipe uses extra light olive oil instead of butter but you can use any vegetable oil you choose. And the nuts are optional but nuts are nutritious and full of protein and healthy fats so include them if you can. And toast them first – what a difference! The extra chocolate chips, well… that’s up to you and the darker the better.
One thing about melting chocolate: Chocolate is delicate and burns easily so I melt it in a saucepan but with oil added and over very low heat so it doesn’t burn. It takes about 2-3 minutes to melt but needs to be stirred because chocolate tends to hold its shape when melted and you might not know it’s ready until you stir it. The other options for melting are the microwave (which I have never done) and a double boiler (too much trouble).
This is the second brownie recipe I’ve posted. The other whole wheat brownie is not as fudgy but still nice & chewy and also made without butter, but it’s 100% whole wheat. Both my brownies are easy to make but this simple recipe is good for beginners because it uses just a few ingredients and no mixer is needed. In fact, this batter should only be mixed by hand and not over-mixed. Oh, and don’t over bake the brownies! They should feel a little soft in the center when they’re done so don’t bake any longer than 20 minutes! Okay, that’s all. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Jul 13, 2015
Blueberries are on sale! That means I need to make my lemon blueberry bundt cake today and I need it in time for dinner. I always made this amazing cake with only 1/3 cup of butter but today I mistakenly used only 3 tablespoons of butter and guess what? It was moist and delicious! This was a good mistake.
OMG – this is so delicious! And now it has even less butter. I use the zest of three lemons and a whole bunch of blueberries (one and a half cups). If you wash the berries, make sure they’re dry before adding them to the batter. Otherwise, they can sink.
It’s the fresh lemon zest that gives all the flavor so don’t skimp on the lemons. When you take the zest off take just the yellow part and avoid the white part, which is bitter.
Start with all your ingredients at room temperature and take your time. It takes 7-8 minutes with an electric mixer to get the batter just right. But what a reward! I like to top my finished cake with a simple glaze made with lemon juice and powdered sugar but you can also dust it with a little powdered sugar. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
May 6, 2015
Today is my sweetheart’s birthday and he, again, asked for his favorite cake. It’s my fresh strawberry cake and oh my… it is so good! It weighs almost six pounds! That’s because it uses two pounds of fresh berries, two layers of white cake, and a whole pint of whipping cream.
The strawberries are sliced and mixed with sugar to bring out lots of their juices and then you build the cake. It’s a layer of cake, covered with half of the macerated strawberries as the juice quickly soaks into the soft cake below, and you cover the berries with freshly whipped cream. Don’t even think about using Coolwhip!
Then you add the second layer of cake, top it with the remaining strawberries and juice, which soaks into the top layer of cake. Now you cover the whole thing with whipped cream. OMG!!
This is clearly a special occasion cake and one of the few things I bake using butter but it’s unbelievably delicious – it just melts in your mouth. Click here for the recipe. Oh, Happy Birthday, Denis! ♥ ♥
Apr 21, 2015
Here’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 6, 2015
“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
Jun 13, 2014
It’s always good to have something sweet for the weekend (besides my sweet-heart!). He loves my easy chocolate brownies so I made some for the weekend. At the same time, I improved the recipe with a few minor changes, which I have noted on the printable recipe. I followed Lisa’s comment below my recipe and reduced the baking soda for a fudgier brownie. I also doubled the vanilla and reduced the baking time.
I also adjusted some amounts for easier measuring. I realized that 1/3 of a cup is 5 1/3 tablespoons so I changed both the 5 tablespoons of oil and the 6 tablespoons of yogurt to 1/3 of a cup each. It’s much easier to measure and makes no difference in the batter. We both like the new brownie better but the old version is still available too.
This morning I also made my giant breakfast cookies. Just like my brownies they are 100% whole grain and made without butter.
I love these breakfast cookies so much I just added them to “My Favorites” category. A lot of times, I also have them for dessert. For dinner I made vegetable fried rice with edamame. So that’s what I cooked today. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones
May 22, 2014
Who knew croutons were so easy to make? Once you try homemade croutons made with fresh ciabatta bread you will be spoiled forever. You could use a different kind of bread but… why? Okay, maybe sourdough, or maybe a loaf of French bread but make sure it’s fresh. They say to use day old bread but I respectfully disagree. Fresh bread will make fresh croutons. The big surprise is how incredibly easy it is to make them at home. Five minutes prep, twenty minutes in the oven, and you have big chunks of toasty, crunchy croutons for your salad, or soup, or (your choice here).
I like croutons to taste like bread so my recipe is super simple – just olive oil, salt & pepper. But you can always add spices and herbs of your choice, like fresh garlic, fresh parsley, dried oregano or basil, onion powder, garlic powder, or parmesan. If you’re a bread person like I am, and a crunchy food person too, you will love this easy recipe. I especially like croutons or breadsticks with my salads and in my kitchen, homemade is the only way to go. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
May 15, 2014
I’ve reinvented by barbeque chicken pizza! It used to take almost 2 hours but now… 50 minutes! That’s right. Less than an hour from start to pie hole! I make homemade pizza so often that I’ve learned how to make it faster and better. I no longer let my pizza dough rise for an hour. A ten minute rest is enough to make a fantastic crispy crust and healthier pizza than most. I always use reduced fat mozzarella and with this pizza, it’s lean chicken breast so it’s a healthier, low fat pizza and that means I can eat it more often.
I made this one on a pizza stone, which is a great way to get a crispy crust but if you don’t have a pizza stone and wooden peel, I also make this recipe using a regular pizza pan. The best kind of pan is the perforated one with the holes to help make it crispy (like the one in my pepperoni pizza video). My kind of pizza is crispy. I never use a fork… I just pick up a slice and eat. Oh wait… I do use a fork… for my salad. I always have salad with pizza.
If you ever have some leftover chicken, especially barbeque chicken, use it to make pizza. When I don’t have leftovers, I just cook a chicken breast and shred it with two forks. And a note on cheese: I know they sell pre-shredded pizza cheese and I have one way to handle pre-shredded cheese: with a ten foot pole! They put something in that stuff that makes it dry and it will never melt like real cheese, so take a minute and shred your own like I do. I makes a big difference.
You don’t have to make this pizza the quick way. You can always take longer and let the dough rise for an hour but I just don’t do it any more. Who wants to wait for pizza?! Not me! To try my barbeque chicken pizza, click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Jun 5, 2013
It’s 100 degrees outside! That’s potato salad time! And barbeque time! I don’t think I’ve ever made my “fall-off-the-bone” ribs without potato salad. Naturally, I make mine as healthy and low fat as possible and that’s easy to do. I use light mayo in the dressing (Best Foods brand, which is called Hellman’s east of the Rockies) along with low-fat buttermilk. The mayo makes it nice and creamy and the buttermilk gives it some extra tang, and less calories.
My special trick is to soak the still hot potatoes with vinegar and salt before adding the creamy dressing. This quickly infuses the potatoes with extra flavor and just takes a minute to do. I always use red potatoes for my potato salad but other waxy varieties like yellow finn and yukon gold will work too. They hold up better than Russets. When you boil potatoes, try not to over-test them for doneness. And don’t use a fork. It’s best to test a potato with a skinny knife, which won’t allow too much moisture to penetrate the potato and make it waterlogged.
Just a note about celery: to me there is a big difference in the taste of celery hearts and the outside stalks. The hearts are sweeter than the outside parts so try to use the inside hearts of the celery and save the outside bitter stalks for other cooking or making soup. I even chop up some of the tender yellow celery leaves from the very inside, which add some pretty color, too. I’ll be making my lightened-up potato salad all through the summer and I hope it becomes your favorite too. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
If you make homemade granola just once, you will never buy it in the store again. My easy healthy granola uses only six ingredients and you can put it together in five minutes. It’s one of my top three most watched youtube videos. And the taste… is downright addictive! This healthy granola is crunchy with lots of nuts and made with coconut and real maple syrup. Have it as your morning cereal or as a crunchy topping on yogurt. There’s lots of protein and fiber and all those oats are good for lowering cholesterol. It’s such a simple recipe, I hope you’ll try it. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones