In the last few months our oldest boy has started working the graveyard shift. This means that instead of just hubs and I having breakfast together we are often joined by our son and sometimes all the kids. This has lead to trying several breakfast options including a cinnamon and brown sugar stuffed french toast which was a unanimous favorite.
This overnight french toast uses Ultra Gel in both the filling and in the egg custard to provide stability and help to hold the moisture close to the bread so you end up with a tender, chewy finished product. You need to prepare this overnight french toast the night before and then it takes about 45 minutes to bake. So it’s very easy and a great make ahead, but there is a timing factor to consider. It’s totally worth the planning because it’s amazingly good.
Overnight French Toast with Ultra Gel
1 loaf Texas Toast (12 pieces)
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup butter
1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cup milk (Or half and half if you want to be really decadent)
1/8 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon vanilla
Optional: sprinkle of nutmeg and pecan pieces
In a medium sauce pan combine 1 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 cup butter and 1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel. Cook for 2-3 minutes until sugar is dissolved but not burned. Pour into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch pan. Place one layer of bread over caramel layer, pressing it into the sugar. Top with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. Layer the remaining bread on top.
In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, salt, Ultra Gel, water and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread layers. Sprinkle with nutmeg and nut pieces if desired.
Cover casserole with tin foil and refrigerate over night. The next morning bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown and delicious.
Serve warm. I flip it upside down as I serve it so the gooey sugar serves as the syrup. So yummy.
We’ve featured snickerdoodle recipes before, but really with such a fantastic cookie who can stop with just one version?
These snickerdoodles are another soft version with a crunchy edge. They get an extra vanilla kick from adding vanilla bean to them, and before baking they’re rolled in sugar and pumpkin pie spice for a bit of extra snap. Ultra Gel is added for tenderness and to help them stay soft longer and, as always, it does this job fantastically. Even if I had to hide cookies from my family to prove it!
scrapings from one vanilla bean (vanilla bean paste)
2 3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
In a large mixing bowl, or bowl for a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until completely mixed. Beat in Ultra Gel, water, vanilla and vanilla bean paste. In a separate bowl combine flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
Scrape down the side of the bowl of creamed ingredients. Add dry intgredients and mix until just combined.
Preheat oven to 350. In a small, shallow bowl combine sugar and pumpkin pie spice. Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll in sugar mixture. Place on baking sheets and bake for about 13-15 minutes until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and try to resist eating until cool.
One of the questions we get a lot this time of year is if you can use Jam in a Jiffy to make shelf stable jams or only freezer jams. The answer is that Jam in a Jiffy can be used to make shelf stable jam. However, the process is a little different and there are a few things you’ll want to consider.
The biggest consideration is if you like the flavor of cooked fruit. In order to be safely canned jams must be water bathed which will cook the fruit. For many fruits this isn’t a problem and, in my opinion, even improves some flavors. I much prefer a cooked apricot jam, for example, but I really don’t like a cooked strawberry jam. So I make sure I have the freezer space to keep my strawberry jam fresh, but peach and apricot go on the shelf. The second consideration is where you have space and if you have enough jars. Jam in a Jiffy jams should be canned in pints or half pints for best results. The sugar free Jam in a Jiffy (in the small light blue bag) may take on a bitter flavor when cooked and I don’t recommend using it, but the normal red package low sugar Jam in a Jiffy works great.
Canned Jam in a Jiffy Jam
2 pounds fruit, crushed or chopped
1 package Jam in a Jiffy
1: Place fruit into a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to just below boiling. This will help to release juices and slightly soften the fruit.
2: Add Jam in a Jiffy mix and stir until completely dissolved.
3: Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute.
4: Fill jars, leaving 1/2 – 1 inch headspace.
5: Waterbath for 20 minutes for half pints and 25 minutes for pints.
6: Let jars cool, remove wings and move to storage. Remember to label and date your jars for proper rotation.
(This recipe has been lab tested and approved and found safe for home canning practices. Do not add more fruit than on the recipe without also adding more Jam in a Jiffy. The ratio of fruit to mix keeps the pH of the finished product at safe levels and the boiling and processing kills mold spores and bacteria. It it not recommended to use hot pack (tipping jars upside down) processing instead of water bathing.)
Mangoes have been on sale for the last little bit and I’ve been looking for different things to do with them. Mango Cake is always a fun option, but this time I wanted something savory and light.I had some chicken breast pieces and bell peppers which also needed using so I put everything together to end up with a Mango Chicken Stir Fry. Let me tell you this is a magnificent combination. The dish is chewy and sweet and crunchy with a little bit of spice and goes great over a little baked rice. This was good enough that we ate mango chicken for dinner, and then again for lunch…and another lunch…every scrap was eaten. That’s one of the things I love, a food where the leftovers are just as desired as the first go around!
I found more mangoes on sale this week and I think we’ll be giving this mango chicken stir fry an encore.
Heat a large skillet or wok. When the pan is good and hot add 1-2 Tablespoons of oil. Add chicken and cook until mostly done. Add fruits and vegetables and cook until tender. Add soy sauce and spices and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add Ultra Gel as needed to soak up extra liquids. It’s usually 1-2 Tablespoons depending on how juicy your mangoes are.
Recently I was put in charge of a friend’s birthday party. This lead me to wandering through my cookbooks and Pinterest page looking for something fun and a little different. I ended up combining a few ideas and ending up at this chocolate mint poke cake. This is a fun cake which starts with a box cake mix, though you could apply the idea to your favorite scratch cake too. This is more a matter of method than specific recipe, though I like using my homemade recipes and Ultra Gel to create the best possible cake.
As a note the term poke cake applies to a lot of cakes where you poke holes in the cake while it’s warm and then pour something over the top meant to soak into the holes. Often this is a pudding or warm sauce. You want to be careful with poke cakes to use enough sauce to keep things moist and yummy, but not so much that the cake ends up a soggy mess.
Chocolate Mint Poke Cake
1 box chocolate cake mix
Ingredients for cake mix + 2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel and 1/3 cup mint chips (opt)
Make chocolate cake as per the box adding 2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel and 1/3 cup mint chips. After it comes out of the oven allow to cool for 10 minutes then punch with holes. I find it easiest to use the tail end of a wooden spoon.
Pour hot fudge sauce over the cake and allow to fill holes. Give 10 minutes to set.
Layer cool pudding on top of hot fudge sauce.
Layer colored whipping cream on top of pudding and garnish.
Keep cake in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Sometime last year we bought my husband an adorable little Cook Shack smoker. This has been one of the best cooking purchases we’ve made in a looong time. He figures there have only been one or two weekends when we haven’t smoked something and one of our favorites is pork shoulders or butts.
A pork shoulder is a fairly large piece of meat which takes well to slow cooking and smoking. When we smoke this piece we cover it in a sweet and spicy rub and cook it for 12-14 hours. It just falls to pieces and is a thing of beauty. Often we add a barbecue sauce and go for sandwiches or piles of pulled pork, but on the last cook I wanted to do something a little different.
I found this recipe for Orange Teriyaki sauce over on Real Mom Kitchen, and adjusted it to use Thick Gel and for my particular tastes and I really love the result. It was excellent on pork and I think chicken would take to it well as well.
Orange Teriyaki Sauce
1 Tablespoon Thick Gel
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp garlic
1 tsp ginger
Combine Thick Gel and sugars in a medium saucepan and whisk well. Add water, soy sauce, orange juice and rice wine vinegar and whisk together. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it thickens add zest, garlic and ginger and remove from the heat. Serve warm over meats or vegetables.
My husband doesn’t love cornbread. However, he adores me and I love cornbread. So for the last several weeks he has been working on creating the best cast iron skillet cornbread recipe possible. I am the taste tester, and I have to admit it’s a wonderful job.🙂
We discovered a few important things in the testing process.
Make sure the cast iron is hot when you pour the batter in.
Always butter, not lard or shortening.
Ultra Gel makes the texture much better and hold moisture but means more buttermilk.
Honey or jam is good, but not required for consumption.
Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread
1 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon UltraGel (maybe a little more)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1 spoosh vanilla
2.5 Tablespoons brown sugar
Butter for the skillet (or bacon grease!)
Place 12” skillet in oven and heat to 400 degrees. Mix dry team together, then mix wet team. Just as pan is hot combine teams and add around a tablespoon of butter to the skillet. Move it around to coat evenly. Pour in batter and put in oven. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly browned, the batter pulls away from the sides slightly and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.
Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before flipping out onto a wooden board. Serve with toppings as desired.