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
Roasting vegetables is just about the easiest way to cook them. I love this dish so much, probably because roasting brings out the sugar in vegetables so they are sweeter, and in many cases, have more nutrients than they do raw. Today I used red potatoes, sweet potatoes, red & yellow peppers, green beans, Brussels sprouts, red onions, and carrots. I added some olive oil, salt & pepper and roasted them at 400 along with my pork tenderloin. Here they are after roasting…
This may look like a lot but between the two of us there was not one piece of vegetable left on this tray. We usually save some of the sweet potato slices for dessert because they are so sweet after roasting. With all these beautiful colors, the antioxidants here are enormous. I have two recipes you might like. One is just the roasted vegetables as a side dish. The other is what I made tonight, my fabulous pork loin dinner. (there’s no pork left either!)
Pork is one of the leanest meats you can find, and so delicious! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
I made one of my top ten favorite recipes today: Orange Sesame Chicken. It’s fast, healthy, and so much better than restaurant orange chicken, which is usually batter fried. My lean chicken is stir fried in 2 teaspoons of oil and made with freshly squeezed orange juice and toasted sesame oil. If you haven’t tasted (and smelled!) toasted sesame oil, it’s unbelievably fragrant. And bonus: this recipe takes 20 minutes. But that’s not even why I like it so much. It is deeeelicous!
If you’re wondering, here is the entire top ten list of my own personal favorite recipes, the ones I make the most:
Chicken Pot Pie
Multigrain No Knead Bread
Giant Breakfast Cookies
Orange Sesame Chicken
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Pork Loin Dinner
Happy Labor Day weekend to everyone and if you want to try my orange sesame chicken, click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
Like most people, I’m often short on time to cook dinner and a stir fry is usually my solution. Last night I made my quick & easy orange sesame chicken. You should see the reaction I get when I serve it to company. “How did you make this?” “Is this takeout?” “It must take forever to make a sauce like this!”
Actually, it takes 20 minutes… not just to make the sauce but to make the whole meal. That’s why I love to cook Chinese for dinner. Making it at home is always fast and it’s never deep fried, at least not the way I make it. The chicken is briefly marinated and then lightly sauteed and the sauce is so simple you won’t believe it. I make it with…
– fresh orange juice – rice vinegar – soy sauce – garlic – sugar & salt. It’s thickened with cornstarch and once it cooks you drizzle on some toasted sesame oil at the end. Wow! Make sure you use toasted sesame oil and not plain because the flavor when it’s toasted is intense. Then a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds and you have something so much better than takeout and so delicious, it might be your newest 20-minute meal.
By the way, some steamed broccoli on the side goes perfectly with this. I love it! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
I’m posting my new simpler way to make one of my favorite one pan meals. This no-fuss dinner cooks in one pan and it takes almost no work. Plus the whole house smells divine with all the spices as they cook. Both the chicken and the potatoes are coated with a mixture of aromatic spices & olive oil and as they’re cooking along in the oven, you have plenty of time to make a salad or cook a side vegetable.
What I like most about this recipe is that the two foods can be separated at the end if either the chicken or potatoes need a few more minutes. Chicken thighs come in all sizes – sometimes I get four in a pack and sometimes six. So smaller pieces will cook faster. And depending how big you cut your potato wedges, they may need more or less time. So at the end, you can separate the chicken from the potatoes and cook just one of them a little longer if needed. I only had to do that once.
The broiler-type pan is important because chicken thighs have a lot of fat and all the fat cooks off and stays in the broiler pan, not touching the chicken, and not spreading onto the flat part of the pan where the potatoes cook and that keeps the potatoes crispy.
I had posted this recipe before when I used to cook asparagus on the same pan but it was too much trouble so now I just cook my green vegetable separately. This chicken dinner goes really well with asparagus and I’ve had it with broccoli and brussels sprouts, too. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
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
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
The best thing about this simple meal is that every single ingredients has health benefits. Brown rice has fiber and lots of minerals including selenium, which has been shown to protect against cancer. Beans also have soluble fiber to lower cholesterol as well as calcium for bones. And don’t get me started about all the antioxidants in colored peppers! So here is an easy vegetarian recipe that’s super healthy. It’s high in protein and fiber and oh yes… flavor!
By the way, high fiber meals keep you feeling full longer and that helps with weight loss. This is a recipe you can easily make your own with more jalapeno pepper for added heat, toss in your favorite extra spices, or use a different kind of bean. I really like red beans in this dish but I can never find canned red beans at the grocery store. Whole Foods carries one by Westbrae that I prefer so if you can find it, I think you’ll like the meaty texture of these beans.
But a close second would be red kidney beans and even black beans would work. By the way, black beans are the highest in antioxidants of all beans. Basically you can’t go wrong with any kind of canned beans in this heart-healthy, easy recipe.
Let’s talk about rice for a minute. Brown rice has more nutrients and fiber than white rice but if you’re short on time, you can make this dish with converted rice (I like Uncle Ben’s). You won’t get as much fiber but you’ll still get protein, iron, and folate from converted rice and all the benefits (including fiber) of the beans and peppers. Both brown and white rice are gluten free.
Next meatless Monday, try this simple vegetarian one-pan meal. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones
This healthy pasta dish is quick & easy and full of green vegetables, known to support your eyes, teeth, and bones and the cannellini beans are a good source of iron, calcium, and protein. Vegetable-bean pasta is one of my favorite go-to meals and only takes about 20 minutes to make. You can vary the vegetables but always try to include broccoli for its cancer protection. I can never get enough of this creamy comforting pasta dish! Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones