September, 2015

Sep 25, 2015

Mathematician Food Fights

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Sep 24, 2015

Hunter’s Stew is Polish comfort food

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My dad used to make hunter’s stew but he called it kapusta, which means cabbage in Polish. Hunter’s stew, also called bigos, is based on sauerkraut  and it usually has added meats including kielbasa. This recipe does not belong only to Poles. There are many varieties of hunter’s stew in eastern Europe but they almost all include sauerkraut and various meats.

Bigos has been around for centuries. People used to cook big pots of this stew for hours, even days, adding all kinds of meats from beef, pork, ham, sausages, venison, even rabbit – after all it was a “hunter’s” stew.

I’ve been working on finding a simpler way to make bigos and now I’m sharing my own recipe, which doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or a lot of work, and there is less focus on meat and more focus on the sauerkraut, fresh cabbage, mushrooms, and lots of flavor.

The recipe starts with store-bought sauerkraut and the best kind to buy is the one they sell in the refrigerated section and I use store-bought chicken cooking stock (unsalted) because there is plenty of salt already in the sauerkraut. I have also made my hunter’s stew with homemade beef stock but I am not a fan of store-bought beef stock, only chicken.

Hunter’s stew, like most stews (and like me) gets better with age 🙂 so try to make it a day or two ahead and let it marinate in the refrigerator before serving. Some people serve it with rye bread but we always had it with mashed potatoes. The strong flavors of the stew and the mild potatoes goes really well together.

It takes a lot of chopping and shredding but otherwise, this dish cooks with virtually no effort after that. Smacznego. – Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Sep 23, 2015

Cheeseburger on a Trampoline

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Filed Under: Kitchen Humor
1 Comment
Sep 22, 2015

How To….

How To Store Tortillas:

If your flour tortillas are too hard and won’t bend, it could be from not rolling them thin enough, the pan not being hot enough (cast iron is best), or not storing them properly. I store mine in a zip top plastic bag (put them in while they are still warm) and then close it up and remove all the air. Mine are always soft and every time I remove one, I close it back up, air removed each time.

How To Store Tortillas

How To Store Celery:

I got tired to throwing away half of my celery when it went bad so I found a way to keep it twice as long. Here’s how:

  1. Separate and wash the celery.
  2. Pat it to remove excess water.
  3. Lay down a large sheet (about 18 by 18 inches) of heavy duty extra wide aluminum foil.
  4. Wrap the still damp celery in 2-3 paper towels and place in the center of the foil.

Celery1200_02875. Wrap the celery in the paper towels and then the foil, starting with the long side and then fold in the ends.

Celery2_1200_02826. It’s easy to open and re-close the celery packet when you use heavy duty foil. The paper towels continue to keep moisture away from the celery, allowing it to stay fresh much longer. The worst thing to wrap celery, or any other high-moisture vegetables in, is plastic.

How To Measure (& Aerate) Flour:

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Flour must be aerated before measuring because it often settles in the bag or container making it heavy  and compact. (Aerating basically means fluffing it up) 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. You can see how I aerate flour in my Easy One Bowl Chocolate Cake video: http://mobiledev.jennycancook.com/recipes/easy-one-bowl-chocolate-cake/

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. A properly measured cup of flour weighs 4 1/4 ounces.

How To Freeze Pesto:

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Drop some pesto in each compartment of an ice cube tray but not all the way to the top. Then cover each one with a little olive oil, just enough to cover the top completely. This will keep the pesto from turning brown. Freeze the tray and once the cubes are frozen, remove from the tray and store in zip top freezer bags.

How To Toast Nuts:

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Place raw nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds) on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Cool completely before using. Toasting greatly enhances the flavor of nuts. Always toast nuts before chopping.

How To Keep Cookies Crisp:

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  • Cool cookies completely before storing.
  • Do not store soft cookies together with crispy cookies.
  • Glass containers are good for storing crispy cookies.
  • Do not store in plastic bags but use a covered container.
  • Refrigerating cookies will help keep them crisp.
  • If you freeze cookies they will be crispy if you eat them frozen.
  • Cookies that have softened will be never become crispy when stored no matter what tricks you use.
  • Cookies can be re-crisped in a 300 degree F oven for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add something to the container that absorbs moisture like rice or baking soda.

I usually put about 1/3 cup of baking soda in a coffee filter, staple it together and place it in the bottom of my container, layering the cookies on top. The baking soda absorbs moisture and the coffee filter is made of a porous material full of tiny holes that lets the air circulate easily and allows the baking soda to absorb any moisture.

How To Keep Brown Sugar Soft

Brown sugar gets hard when its moisture escapes. The best way to keep brown sugar soft is to use a small clay disc and it works really well. Here’s an example below…

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It costs less than $5 and you just soak the disc in water for 15 minutes and then put it into a fresh bag of brown sugar. Seal up the bag tightly and you’re done.  Mine stays soft until I finish the bag. You can even use a piece of broken clay from a pot as long as it’s unglazed.

Sep 18, 2015

Skinless Thighs & Fries

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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

Filed Under: Main Dishes
5 Comments
Sep 15, 2015

I made apple pie without butter

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Any time I make apple pie there’s an air of excitement around here. Has it cooled yet? How long before we can taste it? Don’t tell the neighbors – they’ll come over for sure and I want it all for myself. Homemade apple pie never loses its appeal and let me tell you this was delicious.

I used three pounds of granny smith apples and my popular oil crust and it made dinner more than just a meal… it was an event. That may be because I made my orange-sesame chicken, one of my favorite quick dinners. The picture may not show it but this easy chicken stir fry is really really good. And it’s fast. When dessert takes a little longer, like apple pie, I usually opt for a quick and easy dinner.

So anyhoooo… I’m just sharing what I cooked today. Click here for my homemade apple pie recipe. – Jenny Jones

Sep 11, 2015

Caught Again

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Sep 10, 2015

Dark Chocolate Fudge Brownies: How-To Video

“Why don’t you make more videos?” That’s what they say but here’s the problem. I’m retired! I should be lounging along an exotic beach somewhere sipping something in a tall glass with a little umbrella on it. Instead I’m in the kitchen and that’s because… well, I’d rather be in the kitchen than Cabo!

Call me crazy but they always said do what you love. And I’m doing it. So here is another video. It’s my dark chocolate fudge brownies and I’m pretty proud of myself for this easy recipe. You’ll see that by using foil and wax paper, you only have to wash one pot. And it’s another super easy, healthier than most, recipe and again I’m baking without butter.

When they said dark chocolate is good for you I celebrated by having some dark chocolate. It should be at least 70% cacao and that’s what makes this brownie so rich and fudgy. If you love chocolate you will love this simple recipe. These dark chocolate brownies are a big hit around here. In fact, my man wants chocolate chips in everything, but I draw the line at meat loaf. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

Filed Under: Videos 15 Comments
Sep 9, 2015

My Homemade Pot Holders

IMG_6263-copyCooking is more fun when you have great toys to play with, like colorful bowls and kitchen tools but pretty pot holders are nowhere to be found — except in my kitchen. Because I made them. I went to Jo-Ann fabrics, got 1/4 yard of quilted fabrics, some binding and made my own. All these quilted fabrics have a different design on the back so here are the backs of my pot holders…

IMG_6267-copyHere’s how I made them: There was no pattern to so I just cut the fabric into 7 by 8-inch shapes and rounded the corners. I used two thicknesses per pot holder so before adding the binding, I first connected the pieces together to keep them flat. I did that by sewing two seams – each one diagonal from corner to corner. Then I used Double Fold Bias Tape (extra wide) for the edge. I used an old existing pot holder to see how to secure the “loop.”  I love how they turned out.

A safety note: I used two thicknesses but when I baked a cake at 350 degrees and used my new pot holder to remove the pan, a little heat came through by the time I put the pan on a rack so when I make more, I plan to use 4 thicknesses instead of just two and I suggest that if anyone makes them, to make them thicker or just use them as decoration. Next time I plan to use some leftover plain quilted fabric for my extra filler and save my fancy fabric for the outside.

Hey, with those colors I could turn these pot holders into a bikini. All I need is some colorful string and voila! Coverage for the beach! Of course, men would have it easier. All they need is an oven mitt! – Jenny Jones

Filed Under: General
5 Comments
Sep 4, 2015

Caramelized Apple Oven Pancake

Weekend breakfasts are the best because there’s more time to make things like my caramelized apple oven pancake. It only takes 30 minutes and boy, is it good! You need a 9-inch cast iron skillet and lots of apples. I use two huge apples, weighing 1/2 pound each and I’ve used both Granny Smith and gala, cut into 1-inch chunks.  There’s more apple than pancake in this delicious breakfast but that’s a good thing.

First you melt a little butter and brown sugar in the skillet and cook the apples on the stove top over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until they get caramelized. After 5 minutes, they should look like this.

IMG_6633_1200Now you just pour the batter right on top of the apples. The batter is really light and super easy, made with milk, eggs, and flour basically and you just whisk it by hand – no mixer. As soon as the batter is added, using an oven glove, you put the hot pan in the oven (preheated to 400 degrees F) and fifteen minutes later, it’s done. Then you carefully, with oven gloves, invert in onto a big serving plate and it will look like this…

Car Apple Pancake1200_7610The edges of the pancake are caramelized just like the apples, which are soft and sticky sweet. You don’t need any topping like syrup but you can sprinkle it with a dusting of powdered sugar if you like. If this is all you’re eating, it will serve two but if you have some eggs and toast and this on the side, it will serve four. And if you’re starving and you make this easy apple pancake, someone I know actually ate the whole thing in one sitting. It wasn’t me. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Click here for the recipe. – Jenny Jones

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