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Tender Buttermilk Biscuits

May 14 was National buttermilk biscuit day. Not that I need a particular holiday to celebrate buttermilk biscuits, but it does amuse me that there is a national buttermilk biscuit day. Actually there are a lot of national food holidays, but that’s beside the point. This one reminded me that it’d been a couple months since we’d last had biscuits and I had a nice 15 bean soup bubbling on the stove which would go nicely with said biscuits, so I whipped up a batch.

I love these buttermilk biscuits. They come together easily and the Ultra Gel helps to keep them tender and moist. My boys decided they were perfect for sopping up the dregs of the soup and I really have to agree. As well if you double the sugar these make a great base for a biscuit strawberry shortcake, but we’ll talk about that later.

Buttermilk Biscuit

Tender Buttermilk Biscuits

1 1/3 cups flour

1/3 cup cake flour

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup shortening

1/4 cup butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in shortening and butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk all at once and let stand for 1 minute. Stir just until the dough forms a ball. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead about 12 times to form a very soft dough. Pat or roll 1/2 – 3/4 inch thick. Cur into rounds. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.

Decadent Devil’s Foodcake

This month two of the wonderful men in my life (our oldest boy and my husband both have birthdays), additionally two of our good friends have April birthdays. So this weekend we did an Easter and birthday celebration! For this celebration it was decided that we needed the cake of all cakes (according to my husband) a dark, decadent, devilish Devil’s Foodcake. We love this cake. It’s rich and moist and can easily be frozen so you can enjoy it over an entire week. It’s a devil’s foodcake that goes hand in hand with chocolate icing, or cream cheese icing or butter cream or can just be eaten plain. Just make sure you get all the crumbs!

The original recipe started with our hero Alton Brown, but it’s undergone a few changes including the addition of Ultra Gel for that freezing and staying power I mentioned before.

And yes…one of these cakes is a bunny! It’s Easter, there has to be a bunny!

Decadent Devil’s Foodcake

1 cup boiling water

4 ounces dutch-process cocoa

8 ounces brown sugar

2 ounces molasses

4 ounces cake flour

6 ounces flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1/2 cup oil

1/2 cup applesauce

4 1/2 ounces sour cream

2 large eggs

2 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and lightly flour a 9×13 inch baking pan.

Whisk together boiling water and cocoa powder until well combined. Let sit for at least 5 minutes.

Combine sugar, molasses, flours, baking soda, salt and Ultra Gel in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix well. In a separate container combine oil, apple sauce, sour cream, eggs and egg yolk. Add oil mixture to cocoa mixture. With the mixer on low add chocolate mixture to dry ingredients. Beat for 30-45 seconds. Scrape down the sides and beat for an additional 30 seconds.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until the cake springs back when lightly pressed 30-35 minutes.

Let cool in pan for at least 10 minutes before depanning (if desired). Top with icing or serve with ice cream, or both, we won’t judge!

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!

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.

Moist Carrot Apple Muffins

carrot apple muffinsI think the new year gets all of us thinking about eating a bit better. If we don’t come by the need naturally there are plenty of TV commercials and ads to remind us that we over indulged over the holidays and now have a few extra pounds we’d like to say goodbye to. So this is the time of year I start going through my recipes looking for those that will help get me out of that nutritional rut. As well as the mother of a nearly 2 year old I’m always looking for ways to get more fruits and vegetables and less sugar into her diet. This recipe for Carrot Apple muffins is good on both fronts!

I originally found a recipe for Carrot Apple muffins over at Picky Palate and I liked the results except that I wanted a little more moisture to the muffin and I really wanted to get at least 12 muffins out of the batch so it filled the whole muffin pan. There’s just something about three empty spaces that hurts my slight sense of OCD. So I made some adjustments and ended up with these Carrot Apple Muffins. Like other Ultra Gel infused muffins carrot apple muffins freeze well, so this is a great recipe to bake up and freeze as snacks or a breakfast accompaniment for the rest of the week. If they last that long.

I have to admit that my Carrot Cake loving heart really wants to glaze these muffins with a little but of cream cheese icing, but nodding to the health aspect I’ll refrain. They’re moist and sweet as is and really don’t NEED a glaze, but if you wanted to I won’t tell. You could also easily add a few golden raisins or craisins, but as my Bunneh doesn’t like those in muffins I tend to refrain. What other add ins strike you?

Moist Carrot Apple Muffins

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons honey

1 large egg

1 cup grated carrots

1 cup applesauce, unsweetened

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup buttermilk

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 cup wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons apple pie spice (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger and 1/4 teaspoon cloves)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine butter, sugar and honey in a stand mixer and whip until light. Add egg and beat well. Add carrots, applesauce, vanilla, buttermilk and Ultra Gel and mix until well incorporated. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients. Add in two batches and mix until just combined. Remember these are a quick bread so too much mixing will make the muffins tough.

Scoop out into a lined muffin pan (I use a 2 ounce scoop and get 12 muffins). Bake for 20-22 minutes until tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing from tray. Serve warm or cold.

To Freeze: Cool carrot apple muffins completely and remove to a gallon sized ziploc bag. Remove as much air as possible without crushing muffins. Freeze.

Clam Dip

It’s a funny thing how long it can take to learn all the things that your sweetheart likes or dislikes when it comes to food. After nearly 7 years together I have just learned that Bunneh loves clam dip. I’m still not sure how I missed this, but there you have it. So for our New Year’s celebrations I decided to make clam dip for Bunneh. It’s actually a fairly straightforward recipe, but one that can be pretty heavy and calorie laden. With a little work I came up with substitutes and a bit of Ultra Gel to give the clam dip hold and was told the end result was awesome. As it’s all gone today I must concur.

Clam Dip

Clam Dip

8 ounces light cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup light sour cream

7 ounces minced clams, drained (juice reserved)

salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

3 teaspoons lemon juice

1-2 teaspoons garlic powder (depends on how garlicky you like it)

1/4 cup clam juice from drained clams

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Combine soft cream cheese and sour cream and mix well. Add clams, worchestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic powder and clam juice and mix well. Whisk in Ultra Gel. Allow to stand in the fridge for 30 minutes to let flavors ripen, over night is even better. Serve with potato chips! (Little Girl ate it with a spoon).