White Chocolate Sweet Glaze with Ultra Gel

Around these parts it has been rather a strange weather year. The seasons seem to be hanging on for a while and then switch to the next rapidly and with hardly a by your leave. In this case the heat of summer has given away quickly to a cool, wet fall. I’m not complaining.

The thing about fall weather it is really brings out the baker in me. I dream in pumpkin spice and pies and… sweet rolls. Oh those lovely sweet rolls. But, what is a rich decadent sweet roll without a wonderful sweet glaze? And if you add about 4 ounces of melted white chocolate to that glaze it goes from merely good to…well…amazing.

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White Chocolate Sweet Glaze with Ultra Gel

4 ounces white chocolate, melted

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2-3/4 teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 pounds powdered sugar

2-4 Tablespoons VERY hot water

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) combine butter, chocolate, salt, Ultra Gel and vanilla until very well mixed. Add powdered sugar and enough water to bring mix together into a pourable glaze. Pour over sweet rolls, quick breads or other sweet applications. Store any left over mix in the refrigerator, warm before using.

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Peach Delight with Ultra Gel

From the time I was young it was well established that canning peaches came with setting aside enough fruit to make Mom’s Peach Delight. This was always the dessert of fresh peach season, and if we were lucky it’d grace the table more than once. I also remember taking it to a number of parties and get togethers where it was always met with rave reviews.

What exactly is Peach Delight, you ask? It’s a layered dessert consisting of a graham cracker crust, a layer of sugary fresh peaches, and a cream layer made from combining whipping cream and melted marshmallows.  Yes, it’s just as good as that sounds, and when you add Ultra Gel in each of the layers it makes it even better as the starch helps to hold the moisture so you don’t get a case of soggy crust or the whipped layer falling apart. Trust me…you’ve got to try this.

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Peach Delight with Ultra Gel

4 cups sliced fresh peaches, sprinkled with a mixture of 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs – short bread crumbs work too, chocolate not so much

2 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel

1/2 cup melted butter

1 cup heavy whipping cream whipped with 1/4 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon Ultra Gel and 1 teaspoon vanilla

32 large marshmallows

Sprinkle peaches with sugar/Ultra Gel mixture and let stand for 15 minutes. Combine cracker crumbs, sugar, Ultra Gel, stir in melted butter. Press all but 1/2 cup of crumb mixture on the bottom of a 9 inch square pan. Drain peaches, reserving 1/2 cup of the syrup. Combine reserved syrup and marshmallows in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave a minute at a time until a smooth mixture is achieved. Let cool. Fold whipped cream into marshmallow mixture. Layer peaches onto crust. Spoon marshmallow mixture over peaches and sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Chill 30-90 minutes before serving.

*If you like nuts, you can sprinkle the peach layer with chopped walnuts or pecans before applying the marshmallow layer.

Crispy Taco Wraps with Ultra Gel

So yesterday we talked about my favorite recipe for taco seasoning mix. If you didn’t see it, go back and take a read, or at least write down the recipe. You’ll need it. 🙂

There are several dishes I use this mix in, but this one is a new favorite inspired by the lovely folks at Tastes Better From Scratch. She’s right, the whole family loves this idea of a crispy wrap that isn’t deep fried or too heavy. We change up the flavors a bit and I like a wetter filling, so feel free to experiment until you find your taco nirvana!

Taco Wrap

These crispy taco wraps can be made large for a party, or wrapped in small tortillas for killer appetizers!

Crispy Taco Wraps with Ultra Gel

1 pound ground meat, we like beef or turkey or a mixture of both

1/2 white onion, finely chopped1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2-1 can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained

1 small can diced green chiles (opt)

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

1 batch Taco Seasoning Mix

2-4 Tablespoons water or broth

sour cream

salsa

Cooked rice

cheese

tortillas

For the filling: Brown the ground meat in a large skillet, adding the chopped onion about half way through browning. Cook until meat is done through and onion is translucent. Add beans, corn, chiles, bell pepper and Taco Seasoning Mix. Stir well to combine and cook until veg is soft, adding water as needed to achieve desired thickness.

Lay out tortillas and assemble by layering sour cream, salsa, rice, taco meat and cheese. Fold in ends and cook on a hot skillet or electric skillet. For extra crisp brush or spray with olive oil before placing wraps on the skillet. Rotate until sides are golden and crispy. You may lose some filling in the turning, but I either just chalked that up to taste testing or shoved it back inside when I flipped the wrap back over.

Serve with fresh tomatoes and shredded lettuce.

Taco Seasoning Mix with Ultra Gel

Vegan Taco Soup

I don’t know about you, but there are days at my house where dinner is a matter of what’s thawed and what can I make of it in a hurry? You know these days when there are soccer games and school projects and life all happening in a blur. One of my favorite go tos on these days is tacos in various shapes and sizes.

Tacos are quick to make, and you can use just about any ground meat or beans as a base and you’re in business. Now, I learned a long time ago that you could make the creation of tacos even -faster- by using a taco seasoning mix. Just dump it into a pan of browned meat and onions, add a few beans and you were in business. The problem I had was that most of these mixes were really heavy on the salt, and sometimes they had an off flavor, or not enough of a flavor I liked. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, I’ll tell you. We came up with our own mixes, and started adding either Ultra Gel or Thick Gel. Why add the starch, you ask? There are two really good reasons for this. Reason the first, if you have a starch in the mix and add a little additional water or broth to your taco meat you get juicier meat. The starch thickens that additional liquid around the meat and catches all the lovely seasonings in it and… it’s so very very yummy. Reason the second is that the starch helps in keeping the spices from clump and helps the dispurse evenly when you pour them into your taco meat, soup, etc. They’re very clever kitchen helpers!

So here’s my mix. And unlike the store one if you try this mix and find you want a little more cumin, or a bit less chili powder or want to add hot peppers you have the power! I tend to make these mixes in snack bags or small candy bags 12 at a time. Why 12? Because I set out a muffin tray and put an open bag in each hole. Then, I go around and add each ingredient to each bag. When I’m finished pop a label on it and I’ve got 12 taco seasoning mixes all ready for use or ready to add to a gift for a friend. It’s a win all the way around.

The mix had the strongest flavor for about 2-3 months. After that it’s still good for another 3-4 months but the quality starts to suffer and the combination of flavors isn’t as strong.

 

Taco Seasoning Mix with Ultra Gel

1 Tablespoon chili powder (mild or hot, you choose)

1/2 teaspoon salt (I like a fine salt for this, versus a kosher or coarse salt)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika (I like a smoked paprika)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Omit this for a mild batch)

2 Tablespoons Thick Gel or 3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Combine all ingredients in a small plastic bag. Seal, label, date and store in tightly covered container.

So there’s your mix. Stay tuned. Tomorrow we’ll talk about some ways to use this mix that take ordinary tacos and make them fabulous!

Chicken Madeira with Ultra Gel

This week I had some leftover mushrooms hanging out in the fridge and found a package of chicken breasts in the freezer. I wanted to try something new to bring these ingredients together and after some searching I found a recipe for chicken madeira. Chicken Madeira is basically cheese covered chicken breasts with a rich mushroom wine sauce. I was pretty much sold the moment I looked at the ingredient list.

When I made my chicken madeira I used Ultra Gel as my thickening agent instead of cornstarch, which made it easy to keep from getting lumps. I also added some sour cream and used a red cooking wine since I didn’t have madeira on hand.

I served this over brown rice with a side of broccoli and cauliflower and the family declared it a winner. Enough so that we’re having it for lunch tomorrow too!

Chicken Madeira

Chicken Madeira with Ultra Gel

4 chicken breasts, sliced in half

2 Tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon oil

salt and pepper

8 ounces sliced mushrooms

1/2 white onion, sliced

1 1/2 cups red cooking wine or madeira

15 ounces beef broth

2 Tablespoons sour cream

2-3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1-2 cups shredded mozzarella

In a large skillet heat butter and oil. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in the skillet. Brown on both sides until done through. Move to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add mushrooms and onions to hot skillet along with an additional Tablespoon of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes until mushrooms and onions are soft. Add wine and broth and simmer for 7-10 minutes until liquid reduces to half. Add sour cream and mix well. Thicken with Ultra Gel. Add additional salt and pepper if needed. Depending on the salt level of your beef broth you may not need any salt at all.

Place chicken breasts on a sheet pan and top with cheese. Place in a 350 degree oven for 3-5 minutes until cheese is well melted.

Serve chicken and sauce over brown rice or mashed potatoes.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Ultra Gel

In the last few days I’ve been going back through some of my Ultra Gel recipes looking for things I haven’t done in a while and I happened upon this sweet and sour meatballs recipe. I love this recipe. It’s a combination of Asian flavors with a bright burst of pineapple all wrapped around a meatball, with crunchy vegetables for contrast.

My mother and I first developed this recipe when I was competing in the 4-H Beef Ambassador contest (about a million years ago). We wanted a meatball which would hold together well, but have a simple flavor and texture. Ultra Gel provides this as well as keeping the meatball moist even after baking (and it freezes really well too). Then we wanted a simple sauce which wouldn’t have to be cooked twice. Again Ultra Gel solved our problem as we can create a stir together sauce at the desired thickness before baking it with the meatballs for full flavor.

You can get creative with this recipe and add other tropical fruit such as mangoes, or vegetables like baby corn or bamboo shoots. Get creative, and be sure to let us know what you try!

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Sweet and Sour Meatballs with Ultra Gel

Meatballs:

1 pound ground beef – a combination of ground beef and ground turkey is really good too

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 Tablespoons dried chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

Sauce:

1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained (reserve juice)

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

2 Tablespoons vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 small can water chestnuts

4-6 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1-2 green peppers, cut into chunks

Combine ingredients for meatballs gently.  DO NOT OVERMIX.  Shape into 1″ meatballs and bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes until centers are no longer pink.  Remove meatballs to baking pan.

Meanwhile drain pineapple and set aside, reserving juice.  Combine reserved pineapple juice, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and water in mixing bowl.  Add Ultra Gel gradually, stirring with a wire whisk.  Add green peppers, pineapple and water chestnuts.  Pour sauce over meatballs and bake for 20-30 minutes at 375 degrees until peppers are crisp-tender.

Serve over hot cooked rice.

Beef Gravy with Ultra Gel

I know what you’re thinking.

Okay…I can make a guess at what you’re thinking. Beef gravy. In July?

Yep. In July.

Because July in Utah is hot, and this year it’s particularly hot, so we’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with our slow cooker to keep the temperature in the house at least somewhat reasonable. Ultra Gel is an amazing helper when it comes to the slow cooker. Because Ultra Gel doesn’t have to boil in order to thicken it makes it easy to add to slow cooker dishes, and makes the world’s easiest gravy. Don’t believe me? Here it is.

Beef Gravy with Ultra Gel

Slow cook a large hunk of meat along with onions, garlic, a splash of red wine, salt, pepper and anything else you like. Remove the meat from the slow cooker and carve. Remove any large hunks of vegetables or herbage that you don’t want in your gravy (Often I just grab my stick blender and blend everything in for more flavor.) Add water or additional broth if necessary, sometimes the drippings will be a bit strong for a gravy. Whisk in Ultra Gel until the mixture is just slightly thinner than you want it to end up. Yes, right in the slow cooker! No need to dirty up another pot. Use a silicone whisk if your slow cooker is non-stick. Let the gravy sit for 2 minutes to achieve full thickness. Thicken further if desired. Serve. Yum. That’s it. Easy, yummy, gluten-free beef gravy. And hey, the house is still cool!