February, 2015

Feb 27, 2015

Crispy Apple Tart

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Trust me. This apple tart is easy to make and it’s delicious! Not to mention it looks amazing. If you like things not too sweet you will love this easy recipe. I make it with my easy oil crust, so there is no butter anywhere in this recipe, and very little sugar. I’ve tried it with different apples but granny smiths work the best. They are firm and easy to slice thinly. It takes three really big apples, about 1/2 pound each, and the glaze is just some apricot jam that’s warmed up a bit. I use St. Dalfour brand.

Most tarts use a crust with shortening or butter but mine is a healthier oil crust  made with extra light olive oil but you can any oil of your choice.  You can actually press the entire crust into your pan but it’s hard to get an even thickness so I roll it between wax paper. Then it almost fits the pan and you can press it a little towards the edges and basically “cut & paste” the crust together. Try not to have any holes or cracks and also keep it inside the rim or it can burn. As it is, the edge of the crust gets really dark but it’s super crispy and delicious.

I make this tart in a 12-inch pizza pan and I have also used a pizza pan with holes and that works well too. I love this healthy dessert. Make it for a party and call it apple pizza. One thing about serving: The apples are cooked and soft so the best way to slice the tart is with a long knife using a rolling motion. The apples are cooked and soft and they want to stick to the knife so keep an eye on them. I tried using a pizza cutter (the wheel thingy?) – bad idea. It took some of the apples with it.

Be sure to slice the apples nice and thin. I tried using thicker slices but then the top was sort of mushy. So slice them 1/8-inch thick. As for how to place the slices, be creative. I always do the perimeter first but you can do your own thing. No matter what, I use all of the apples, even using leftover pieces to fill in any gaps. I also tried making the crust using whole wheat flour but it would not come out crisp so all-purpose is the flour to use. Hey, the apples have fiber. 🙂 Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 26, 2015

I updated my breakfast brownies

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I made my breakfast brownies today and decided they could be better. So I made a second batch with a little more sugar, a little less cereal, and I added another egg and liked it better.  I adjusted the printable recipe accordingly but you can always get the old version at the bottom of the recipe. If you need extra fiber, there’s a ton in these chewy breakfast brownies.

Like most cooks, I’m always trying new things with my recipes, looking to see if I can make something better or easier or healthier. I also made potato soup today and I plan to post the recipe soon.

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It’s cold here in California – down into the 60s! 😉 I know. It’s into the zeros in other places! I’m sorry. That’s why I made soup today, getting ready to post my recipe for everyone in the Boston area, where they’re getting record snow this week. So that’s what I cooked today. … just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Feb 24, 2015

Tuesday snacking

IMG_1092 copy 2Breakfast today was my buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup… yummy yum yum! In the afternoon I made a big pot of chicken soup. Cooked it for 3 hours! Then I strained it, pulled the good chicken off the bones, and refrigerated the stock so all the fat will rise to the top by tomorrow. Then… chicken-rice soup, chicken-noodle, and one I really love – Greek avgolemono.

My stepmom is Greek so I’ve grown to love Greek food. I’m thinking of posting my recipe for spanakopita sometime soon. After dinner (leftovers) I made a batch of granola bars. I took this picture to show how pretty the bottom of the bars get when they’re done, all glossy and sticky. Now we have these delicious bars around for snacking. Having something healthy to snack on keeps us from snacking on the wrong things. So that’s what I cooked today. ...just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Feb 22, 2015

Sunday Baking

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Today is Sunday and it’s raining. I’m staying inside so I can play… in the kitchen. Actually, I do that every Sunday, and almost every other day, too. This morning I made tortillas for the week and for breakfast I made my turkey breakfast patties with scrambled eggs and my no-knead whole wheat fruit & nut bread on the side. I love this bread! When it was fresh out of the oven I ate the heel and two more slices. Think what you want – I don’t care! 🙂 It was delicious and I loved it.

The times I can’t seem to stop eating something is when it’s fresh out of the oven. Now tomorrow, I will be able to eat just one slice (at a time) – just kidding – I WILL have some self control tomorrow. I baked the bread using the overnight method with cold water and the mixture of whole wheat flour and bread flour was perfect. The crust was fabulously crunchy and the inside, with 2 kinds of raisins and walnuts, was soft and chewy.

So that was breakfast. Then for dinner my skinless chicken thighs (thighs & fries) with asparagus are already in the oven, oh and I’m making a salad. We have a salad just about every day and there is no meal around here without a cooked vegetable as well. Then we’re having everyday cookies for dessert (the cookies were already made).

If I get bored watching the Academy Awards tonight, I’ll probably go in the kitchen and make breadsticks. …just sharing… – Jenny Jones

Feb 18, 2015

Fresh Tomato Salsa – Pico de Gallo

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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 16, 2015

Happy Pączki Day (Fat Tuesday)

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Tuesday, February 17th is Pączki Day!  It’s a day celebrated by most Poles by eating as many pączki as you can in preparation for the following day, Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent, when many Catholics start fasting until Good Friday. So if you’re going to binge on pączki today, why not keep it healthy and bake them? My recipe is easy and you can fill them with custard or jam… I even fill some with my chocolate pudding recipe. (a single pączki is called a pączek.)

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So Happy Pączki Day, everyone. And Szczęśliwa Pączki Dziennie to my Polish friends!  Oh, and Happy Fat Tuesday to everyone in New Orleans. That’s about the happiest place to be today. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 13, 2015

A Cake for My Valentine

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This is what my valentine wants for his special day on Saturday. Of all the things I love to bake, this is the one he asks for on his birthday and on Valentine’s day. He loves it. It’s a white cake filled with two pounds of strawberries and covered with fresh whipped cream. I love it  too. So I’ll make this amazing cake for him but it won’t be free. I’m negotiating some terms…

1) Immediate response when there’s a spider in the house – no delays.

2) Never ask if I’m going out wearing that because I am.

3) Sign my contract that says valentine chocolates don’t have to be shared.

4) The above terms notwithstanding, the strawberry cake must be shared.

Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Feb 12, 2015

Where to rise dough

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Most doughs rise faster in a warm  and humid environment. Here are some ideas on warm places to let your dough rise:

1. Oven –  a) Turn on the oven for about one minute and turn it off. Place dough in the warm oven. b) Place a pot of boiling hot water in a cold oven. Place the dough inside with the hot water. These will only work until you need to preheat the oven to bake. If you have a second oven, you can keep the dough in there longer.

2. Heating Pad – Set the dough on top of a heating pad and set the pad to low or medium temperature.

3. Lamp – Turn on a reading lamp and set the dough under the bulb.

4. On Top of Fridge – Your refrigerator generates heat so it’s usually warm on top of the fridge so you can place the dough there.

5. Microwave – Bring a cup of water to boil in the microwave. After it boils, put the dough in the microwave with the cup of hot water and close the door right away. This creates heat and humidity.

6. Neck Wrap – If you have a neck wrap that you heat in the microwave, you can heat it up and wrap it around the container that holds the dough.

7. Bowl of hot water – Fill a bowl with very hot water and put a flat top on it like a plate or pizza pan. Place the dough on the plate and drape a towel over the dough and bowl to keep the heat in.

8. Window – If the sun is coming through a window in winter, place the dough next to the window in the sun.

9. Hot Car – If your car is parked in the hot sun, put the dough in the car.

Did I miss any? If anyone has other suggestions, please post them below.

Feb 12, 2015

Dutch Oven on Sale (for my no-knead bread)

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For anyone needing an enameled cast iron dutch oven to make no knead bread, I was at Ralphs today and saw a Lodge Dutch oven on sale at 30% off. It’s regular  89.99 on sale for 59.99. I asked the manager if the other Ralphs would have it and he didn’t know. I also asked how long it would be on sale and he wasn’t sure about that either but he said definitely until Tuesday.

So for anyone living in Los Angeles or wherever they have Ralphs (in the Kroger family) and if you want an enameled cast iron dutch oven, check with your local store. This is a lot cheaper than the Le Crueset that sells for around $300.

Here’s a loaf I made today…

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Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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Feb 12, 2015

Substitutions

Don’t have whole wheat pastry flour? Regular whole wheat flour is not a good substitute for whole wheat pastry flour.. It will give you a heavier and more dense product. Whole wheat flour is usually ground hard wheat that is high in gluten and best for baking bread. Whole wheat pastry flour is a much finer grind and is made from a soft wheat low in gluten. It is best for sweets like cakes, muffins, and cookies. If whole wheat pastry flour is not available in your area, you can try 1/2 whole wheat flour + half all purpose flour. It won’t be as good as using whole wheat pastry flour but it’s a way to add fiber. If you use my recipes regularly it’s worth looking for whole wheat pastry flour – most health food stores will have it. It can also be purchased online and should be kept refrigerated.

Don’t have buttermilk? You cannot substitute milk for buttermilk. There is no perfect substitute for buttermilk, especially in baking. Due to its acidic nature, buttermilk makes baked goods lighter and fluffier so it’s worth using the real thing. My preferred method is to combine yogurt with milk, using 1/2 yogurt (2% low fat Greek yogurt) and 1/2 milk (1% or 2% low fat milk). A common solution in baking is to add 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or distilled white vinegar to 1 cup of milk (any kind but not fat-free) and let it stand for 5 minutes to mimic buttermilk. For the best results, try to use real low fat buttermilk if you can, but not fat-free. You can freeze unused buttermilk in portions the size you will need for future recipes. It will separate when frozen but when you thaw it, just stir it back up.

Don’t have bread flour? You can use all purpose flour. Bread flour has more protein than all-purpose flour and that helps with gluten development, which is helpful when working with yeast. With bread flour pizzas may be a little crispier and breads may be a little chewier and have more body but it’s not a huge difference.

Don’t have instant yeast? Regular active yeast can be used wherever I use instant yeast. But be sure to check the package directions for the required temperature of the liquid. My brand of instant yeast calls for 120 degrees F while my regular active yeast calls for 110 degrees F.

Don’t have 1% milk or low fat milk? Use a mixture of 3 parts water to 1 part whole milk. For example, to make the equivalent of one cup of 1% milk: combine  3/4 cup water + 1/4 cup whole milk.  (For 2% milk the mixture should be 50/50, i.e. half water and half whole milk)

Don’t have baking soda? Do not use baking powder instead. Baking powder is not a substitute for baking soda. Baking soda reacts with acidic ingredients in a recipe to make baked goods rise.

Don’t have extra light olive oil? For baking you can use canola, safflower, or any vegetable oil.

Don’t have a dutch oven? I have only used an enameled cast iron dutch oven but I have researched online and other people claim to have success using: a glass pyrex dish with a lid, a stainless steel pot with a lid, a clay baker, and a pizza stone with a stainless steel bowl as a cover. You can also look through the recipe comments for other ideas. Keep in mind that any lid must be tight fitting and have an oven-proof handle (not plastic). Your pot will need to hold at least 3 quarts but 5 to 6 quarts is most common.

Don’t want to use eggs? I’m sorry to say I don’t know of any good substitute for eggs. For anyone with egg allergies, rather than change a recipe and risk being disappointed, you can find many eggless recipes the are already proven online. If cholesterol is a concern, all my research has shown that egg yolks may contain cholesterol but they are low in saturated fat and they do not raise serum cholesterol in the blood. Eggs also contain nutrients that may help lower the risk for heart disease, including vitamin B12, riboflavin, and folate. Besides providing protein, iron, phosphorus, iodine, and vitamin E, eggs are also one of the few natural sources of vitamin D.

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