Five Minute Fresh Strawberry Pie

One of the sure signs of spring, at least in this neck of the woods, is when the strawberries return to the store fronts. They will also return to my garden, but that’s admittedly closer to summer. Anyway…there are strawberries and I was fortunate enough to find a sale where I could get a full flat of 8 pounds for $7.49! Around here that’s a fantastic price so I got a full flat. Having a full flat lead to deciding that there must be fresh strawberry pie in our house, and fortunately with Ultra Gel it only takes 5 minutes.

Now, a couple of notes before I share the recipe. First of all the recipe calls for sliced strawberries. How sliced you want them is upto you. If you like a chunkier pie then cut your strawberries in halves or quarters. Otherwise slices or even diced will work just fine. It’s all according to your taste. Secondly this pie is an oddball as far as how long it keeps. The problem is that when the strawberries are refrigerated they tend to weep and this adds a lot of moisture to the glaze which will end up thinner than when you started. You can combat this by either making your initial gel thicker knowing it will thin down a little, or by cutting the strawberries and letting them sit in the fridge for upto an hour to pull the moisture out (which you then drain off and use, don’t waste strawberry juice!) before adding the gel, or by eating the pie all at once as soon as you make it. That last option is my favorite!

And make sure to always top off with lots of Ultra Gel Whipping Cream and a strawberry fan for flair.

fresh strawberry pie

Five Minute Fresh Strawberry Pie

1 baked pie crust or graham cracker crust

1-1.5 pounds of fresh strawberries, sliced (1 pound for a 9 inch crust, 1.5 or more for a 10 inch crust or a deep dish)

1 cups sugar

1 package strawberry Kool Aid

2 cups water

1-2 Tablespoons lime juice – to taste

10 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Combine sugar, kool aid and water and mix until sugar is complete dissolved. Whisk in Ultra Gel one tablespoon at a time until completely combined. This will give you a medium set. You can add more or less Ultra Gel to taste, but remember Ultra Gel will keep thickening for 3-5 minutes after you stop adding more. So start with a little less than you think you need, see how it sets and then add more a little at a time.

Fold gel into strawberries until desired ratio of gel to berry is achieved. Pour coated berries into pie crust and top with whipping cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This doesn’t cut really crisp, but it tastes oh so good!

St Patrick’s Poppy Seed Muffins

A few weeks back I promised to share an excellent recipe for Poppy Seed Muffins. This week seemed a perfect time to do that, and given that it’s St Patrick’s Day I opted to make them green! My daughter thought it was really fun to have green muffins. I’m not sure most of the rest of the household cared as long as it tasted good.

I like these muffins as they’re soft and moist with a little crunch of poppy seeds, but they’re not overly sweet. So if you’re a big fan of a cakey sweet muffin you’d need to add a lot more sugar in order to get the flavor you’re looking for. One of the other sneaky health factors of these muffins is that they are made partially with oat flour which increases the fiber, but melts away into the batter so you can’t even tell.

The food coloring is optional but fun for a holiday. I’ve made these for Easter in mini size in a bunch of colors and that turned out very effective too. I like to serve these with fresh jam or marmalade.

Poppy Seed Muffin

Poppy Seed Muffins

1/2 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp lemon extract

4 Tablespoons oil

4 Tablespoons applesauce

3/4 cup buttermilk

2/3 cup flour

2/3 cup oat flour

4 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

4 tsp poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add vanilla, extract and sugar to eggs and beat until smooth and lemon colored (If desired add 6-8 drops food coloring at this point). Add oil, applesauce, and buttermilk and mix well. Combine flours, Ultra Gel, baking soda, and salt and mix thoroughly. Add to creamed mixture. Stir in poppy seeds and spoon into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake until lightly brown – About 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from tins.

Oatmeal Bread

Okay, so today I was totally going to share Poppy Seed Muffins with you. I have a note here in my schedule, make and blog about poppy seed muffins. So why aren’t we doing that? Well…it’s because I was hijacked by something so yummy and happy tummy making that I must push poppy seed muffins off a little and talk about this anyway.

This particular inspiration came, as many do, from the combination of my husband and his food hero Alton Brown. The husband part is that he and I have been working on adding good things into our diet and pulling back on some of the not so good. One of the things that comes up all the time in this discussion is oatmeal. Oats are good for you, they are high in fiber and types of fiber that help to carry a lot of unwanted stuff out of the body. I love oatmeal. My husband…not so much. He likes the FLAVOR of oats and oat products, but something about that texture just kills him.

So we were watching old episodes of ‘Good Eats’ and saw Oat Cuisine II, in which Alton makes one of our favorite things: Oat Waffles. But then he also makes a loaf of oat bread. And we pondered this option. Oats in bread. With some adjustments and some Ultra Gel, could we come up with a bread that had all the lovely benefits of oats without the texture problems?

I am very happy to say that the answer is a resounding yes. We can create a bread that is the best of both worlds. This recipe for oatmeal bread makes one large loaf, which is perfect for sandwiches, French toast, or just slathering with jam in a jiffy freezer jam and cheese and having as a late night snack. And with all the fiber it’s pretty close to guilt free, and did we mention it’s yummy? So with credit to Mr Brown for getting us started, here you go.

Oatmeal Bread

1 Tablespoon yeast

11 ounces bread flour, give or take (This will change based on your altitude and the weather, but start with 11 ounces)

1/3 cup oat flour

1 teaspoon salt

12 ounces cooked oatmeal at room temp (In my kitchen at a little under 5000 feet this is one batch of 1 cup oats to 2 cups water)

1/4 cup warm water

2 Tablespoons honey

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 tsp good quality vanilla

1 egg

1 Tablespoon water

Combine yeast, bread flour, oat flour and salt and set aside.

Combine the cooked oatmeal, water, honey and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add the dry mixture to the cooked oatmeal mixture and combine thoroughly. (I did this in my stand mixer, though it can be done fairly easily by hand). Knead by hand or machine for 10 minutes, adding flour as needed. Dough will be slightly sticky but should not amoeba around the counter.

Remove dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a slightly damp tea towel. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about one hour.

Punch dough down and shape into a 9×5 inch loaf. Cover and let rise 10 minutes. (If desired you can cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for an early morning bake).

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine egg and water in a small bowl and brush the top of the loaf. Additional dry oatmeal can be sprinkled on top of the loaf if desired. Bake 50-60 minutes until bread is done through. We test with a thermometer and in Utah, 200-205 is perfectly done. Closer to sea level that temp should be higher and higher up that will drop to 195-200.

Remove pan from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool an additional 15-30 minutes before slicing.

Classic German Pancakes

One of my favorite food is breakfast foods. We’re known to have breakfast for dinner around here fairly frequently. Sometimes we even have breakfast for lunch. However, we do tend towards a lot of the same wonderful breakfast foods and these German Pancakes are a great break up in the routine. Now, we’ve talked Dutch Babies before and, yes, these recipes are related. They’re both a baked pancake made from a thin, eggy batter that poofs in the oven. The difference is that the Dutch Babies tends to be a thinner batter with a little more poof and the German Pancakes a thicker batter with a more solid bottom level and a little less poof. Both are fantastic, but I think the thicker nature of the German Pancake makes it better to serve with syrups and fruit and the Dutch babies are better with jams and powdered sugar with a little lemon! Your mileage may vary so try them both! Maybe you’ll find a new favorite in your kitchen!

Now, before the recipe just a note on baking vessels. German Pancakes can be baked in a 9×13 glass dripper pan and you’ll get a nice result from that. However, if you have a cast iron skillet with sides in the 10-12 inch range I would really suggest cooking in that instead. The skillet holds the heat more evenly and you’ll get a better crust on the top and bottom of the pancakes. If you don’t have this though don’t let it stop you from making the recipe as the dripper pan (cake pan) will work too.

German Pancakes

German Pancakes – Adjusted from Cherries, Chocolates and Children The Taylor Family Cookbook

4 Tablespoons butter

6 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and place 9×13 inch baking dish or 10-12 inch skillet into oven to warm. Add butter to skillet and melt completely. In a medium bowl beat together the eggs and milk. In a separate bowl combine the flour, salt and Ultra Gel and mix well. Beat dry ingredients into wet ingredients until fully incorporated. Pour into hot baking dish/skillet and return to oven. Bake for 25 minutes or until puffy and lightly browned all over. Remove from oven. Cool slightly and serve with fruit or syrup. Cornaby’s fruit syrups are particularly good!

Decadent Baked Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

My sweet husband and I really don’t celebrate Valentines. We’re not fans of the pressure to perform and really we think we should be madly in love every day. However, this year we did have some friends around for dinner and as part of that I made this amazing cheesecake for our dessert. Let me tell you, if this dessert was only available one day a year I would celebrate the heck out of that day. This is a decadent, rich baked cheesecake that is best made the day before you want to serve it so the cheesecake can fully set and the flavors fully meld, so think ahead, but definitely make it!

Now, before we get to the recipe itself a few words about the topping. In the last few months we’ve had several folks mention that they love jam in a jiffy, but they just don’t eat that much jam. So the question became, can you use the mix for anything else and can you use only part of the mix? I’m happy to say that the answer to both of these questions is a resounding: Yes! Now, there is one minor caveat. You need to zip the bag up and shake it really good before spooning the mix out because there can be a very minor settling of the various things in the mix and without shaking you’ll get more or less of the sugar or the thickener or what have you. So shake first, but then go ahead. In this case we’re going to make a raspberry sauce which is lovely over cheesecake or angel food cake or by the spoonful using only a half cup of the mix. So it’ll go far with these uses.

That said, to the recipe!

Decadent Baked Cheesecake

Crust:

2 sleeves graham crackers, crushed

1/2 cup butter, melted

1 Tablespoon sugar

Filling:

24 ounces (3 bricks) low fat cream cheese, softened (You can use the full fat or the greek if you want, but do NOT use the fat free. It tastes awful and picks up a bitter aftertaste when baked.)

1 cup lite sour cream (Again, full fat is fine, but NOT fat free)

1 cup sugar

4 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 Tablespoons quality vanilla

2 eggs

3 egg yolks

1/3 cup half and half

Prepare a 9 or 10 inch springform pan by lining with parchment paper. (9 inch will make a thicker cheesecake, 10 inch will be thinner, the only change in procedure is the baking time). Prepare crust by combining cracker crumbs with sugar and melted butter. I like to mix everything in a large ziploc bag and shake it up until all the crumbs are well coated. Pour into prepared pan and bake at 325 for 10 minutes until toasty brown.

In a stand mixer combine cream cheese, sour cream, sugar and Ultra Gel and whip until smooth. This will take several minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom and beat for an additional 3 minutes. In a separate container combine vanilla, eggs, egg yolks and half and half and whip together. Pour a little bit at a time into creamed cheese mixture until all is incorporated. Whip for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Pour filling over crust and move to a 235 degree oven. For a 9 inch pan cook for 1 1/2 hours. For a 10 inch pan cook for 1 3/4 hours to 2 hours. The center will still jiggle, but, trust me, it’s done. Turn off the heat and allow the cheese cake to sit in the oven for 1 hour. Remove to the counter for 1 hour then into the fridge over night.

Raspberry Sauce

12-16 ounces frozen raspberries

1/2 cup jam in a jiffy mix

1/4 cup sugar

zest from one small lime

water or lime juice as needed to reach desired consistency

Microwave raspberries for 3-4 minutes until they are soft and have given up some of their juice. Stir in the sugar and the jam in a jiffy mix until fully incorporated. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add lime zest and stir. If the mixture is too thick, which will depend on how juicy the berries are, add a little water or lime juice to thin to a consistency for drizzling over cheesecake.

To serve: Cut cheesecake into small wedges and drizzle with raspberry sauce and whipping cream. Garnish with fresh raspberries and mint as desired. This makes a really rich cheesecake so I suggest cutting into at least 12 pieces for a 9 inch pan and 16 for the 10 inch pan.

Emergency Sugar Cookies

These were not the Valentine’s sugar cookies that I was going to share with you this week. I have a recipe for kick butt sugar cookies. They’re thick and chewy and hold shape beautifully and freeze and if they get dried out you use them for cookie crumb on the bottom of a cheesecake. I intended all those things. Then this week totally got away from me and I found myself in a sugar cookie emergency as I had to have cookies for an activity on Wednesday no matter what. Now…I pondered just pushing through said sugar cookie emergency and still making the original recipe today, but, truth told, the emergency sugar cookie recipe is also kick butt. So after much pondering today you’ll get my emergency sugar cookie recipe, which is a go to, works-every-time, learned to make them when I was 6 recipe, and then we’ll do a surprise flash back next week and give you the roll out version.

Soo…as I was saying, these sugar cookies are fast and phenomenal. They are wonderful to eat plain, are a perfect base for fruit pizzas, frost like a dream or can be rolled in sprinkles, nuts, powdered jello or colored sugar for many different effects. They freeze well either as dough balls, large rolled in sprinkles logs or after baking. As well our sugar cookies strike the perfect balance between the camps of crispy cookie and chewy cookie with a crisp buttery edge and a rich chewy center. And the batter only takes about 15 minutes to whip together and you’re good to go, talk about an ideal cookie.

One of my other favorite things about this recipe is how kid friendly it is. It’s simply enough that even very young children can help make the dough, and everyone can get involved when it comes to decorating whether you’re topping it with fruit or frosting, sprinkles or M&Ms.

Quick Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter, soft

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/2 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a stand mixer combine the butter and sugar and whip until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients and stir well. Mix dry ingredients into creamed mixture until thoroughly incorporated. If serving plain scoop by tablespoons onto cookie sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are golden brown. For other uses chill the dough for at least 15 minutes to make it easier to work with. For fruit pizzas scoop into 3 ounce balls and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 15-18 minutes until edges are golden brown. Allow to cool on tray for 3 minutes before moving to cooling racks. For sprinkle covered cookies, scoop by tablespoons and roll into a ball, roll the ball in desired topping and move to cookie sheet (If you are worried about the topping making a mess you can line your cookie sheet with parchment paper). Cook for 10-12 minutes until done through. To freeze: either scoop dough into balls and freeze individually before moving to a freezer bag, or form into long logs, roll in sprinkles and then roll in waxed paper and aluminum foil. Date and freeze. Good for upto 3 months.

Buttercream Icing

1 cup butter, soft

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

3-4 cups powdered sugar

milk or cream as needed to achieve desired consistency

In a stand mixer combine butter, salt, vanilla and Ultra Gel with 1/2 cup powdered sugar. Beat until very thoroughly combined. Scrape down sides and beat an additional 30 seconds. Add additional powdered sugar to reach a spreadable or pipable consistency. Thin if needed with milk or cream. Color and get to icing! (This recipe is excellent for cake as well, though sometimes I’ll add a Tablespoon or two of Jam in a Jiffy raspberry jam for flavor and color and it’s excellent!)

Orange Muffins

There are so many fun citrus fruits in season right now that I thought since I’ve been on a quick breads and muffins kick that I’d feature a wonderful orange muffin. I love this recipe as it has a bright orange flavor without too much sugar. The other fun thing about these orange muffins is the flexibility to create your own add-ins or just go with the original flavor. Some of the things we’ve added: blueberries, cranberries, white chocolate, poppy seeds or pecans. It’s also easy to make a light orange glaze to top them with if you want more sweetness and orange pop. Our orange muffins feature Ultra Gel so they can easily be made in sizes ranging from tiny bite sized muffins to large muffins and freeze beautifully for breakfast on the go!

I personally really like the combination of raspberry with the orange muffins, so I’ll serve mine with my Jam in a Jiffy Raspberry jam (I always have some in the freezer!). So so yummy and the bright red against the pale orange makes for a beautiful table for a baby shower, wedding shower or brunch. And even with the jam the total calories for one muffin is just over 200, a perfect snack.

orange muffins

Orange Muffins (From the Ultra Gel Answer Book)

1 1/2 cups sugar

3/4 cup olive oil

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tsp vanilla

zest of one medium orange

juice of one medium orange (2-3 Tablespoons maximum)

4 1/2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

2 3/4 cup flour

3/4 teaspoons baking soda

3/4 teaspoons salt

3-4 Tablespoons additional add ins if desired

Combine sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla, orange zest, orange juice and Ultra gel and beat until smooth and light yellow/orange. Add buttermilk and mix well. Sift together remaining dry ingredients and add to mixture, beating until just combined. As always do not over mix. Fold in add ins and spoon into lined muffin tins, filling each cup 3/4s full.

Bake at 350 degrees until light brown and the center tests done with a toothpick.

This makes 24 standard sized muffins at about 184 calories per muffin, or two medium loaves of orange bread.

Cool before moving from pan and serving or freezing.