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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).

Easy Whipped Key Lime Pie

I got a few questions asking for more information about my key lime pie, so I thought I’d expand on the wonders of key lime pie a little. A traditional key lime pie is made with egg yolks, key lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. The idea is that the acid ‘cooks’ the egg and the whole thing forms a delicious emulsion which sets in a graham cracker or crushed nut crust. I like traditional key lime pie. However, it takes a bit to set and if you are at all concerned about the raw egg it can be a turn off. So a few years back I created a key lime pie that is based off of the flavors of the original but with a lighter texture and no egg. In this case Ultra Gel steps in to hold the emulsification together and whipped cream adds lightness.

Now, one of the other fun things with this recipe is that you can get creative with other citrus flavors. I’ve replaced the lime juice with lemon juice and a couple drops of food coloring for a fun pink lemonade pie (pictured below), and substituting orange juice makes for a fun orange dream flavored pie. I expect pineapple would be good too, but I haven’t tried that one yet.

So here’s something a little different for your next Christmas party. I particularly like to serve it up in tart sized crusts for a great appetizer that is a little sweet and a whole lot of sassy.

pink lemonade pie IMG_2097

Easy Whipped Key Lime Pie

1/4 cup key lime juice (or other concentrated citrus juice)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

2 Tbsp Ultra Gel

2 cups whipped stabilized whipping cream (I always use the Ultra Gel recipe 1 pint cream, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, vanilla to taste, 1/2 tsp salt and 1-3 tsp Ultra Gel)

Combine juice, sweetened condensed milk and Ultra Gel until well blended. Fold in whipped cream and pour into a graham cracker pie crust. Top with additional whipping cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve. This is also really good frozen.

Tips for Cream Pies and Fabulous Meringue

Cream piesWith Thanksgiving around the corner I’ve been getting a lot of questions about pies. Since the pies are my favorite part of the holiday, and usually the one I’m in charge of, I do have some tricks of the trade to pass along. So pull out a chair and come into my parlor.

Five Tips for Amazing Cream Pies

1: Use a cooked custard for your filling. Whether you use the recipes from Cornabys (And we have some great ones), or you love your Jello, go with the cooked versions. The benefits of the cooked versions are two fold. Part the first, the cooked custard sets more firmly and will be much easier to slice without making a huge mess. Part the second the lactose (milk sugar) in the dairy when cooked caramelizes and tastes fantastic, so you’ll get a much richer flavor from the cooked versions than the instant ones.

2: If you don’t use a cooked custard make sure to decrease the amount of liquid going into your instant pie filling so the starches can give you a more stable set.

3: Watch your heat! When cooking a pudding or custard there is the vast temptation to get the job done and kick the heat to high. Dairy does not like heat and in particular it doesn’t like to boil. When you boil your puddings you end up with scorching and a curdled mess. So cook your fillings on medium heat. It takes longer, but it gives you a better result.

4: Do not add flavorings or fruit to the custard until it has cooled for at least 10 minutes (the exception to this is cocoa powder which in a homemade custard you’ll add at the beginning and cook the product with the cocoa in it). Many of the extracts we use in cooking have an alcohol or oil base and if the custard is still too hot that will boil off immediately and many of those flavors will be lost. As well fruit can partially cook and brown and cookies will go soggy. So be patient.

5: Wait to top with whipping cream until your pies are completely cool. If they’re still warm they’ll liquify the cream and that is not a happy thing. As well…do your wonderful pies the justice of really good whipping cream. Many non dairy creamers are stable, but not particularly tasty or good for you. So look for a good real cream whipping cream. If you’re worried about your cream falling, just add 1 tsp of Ultra Gel per pint of cream when you’re whipping it and watch the magic. :)

Now, speaking of toppings, one of the toppings that many people like but struggle with is the meringue. Meringue is usually a combination of egg whites and sugar which has been whipped and then cooked just long enough to get a good set and a crispy exterior. Some recipes include a little cream of tartar to help stabilize the whip. Given all of that this is still a topping that many people struggle with because it can weep and break. So there are a few things I can suggest to keep this topping fantastic.

1: Always make sure your meringue comes all the way to the edge of the pie. If it’s just sitting in the center as it cooks the sugar around the edges will cause the meringue to melt and ooze. As long as you get the meringue to the crust or edge of the pie plate it will have something to bind to that isn’t sugary and won’t be as prone to break down.

2: Add a little Ultra Gel to your recipe (about 1 tsp per egg white). Add the Ultra Gel early on when you are first bringing your meringue to a foam and it will help to hold the moisture in the meringue and keep it from breaking both upon the first serving and even into the next day.

Here is our favorite recipe for meringue. We’d love to see yours!

Ultra Gel Meringue

3 egg whites
3 tsp Ultra Gel
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

In large bowl, beat egg whites Ultra Gel and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually, 1 Tbsp at a time, add sugar, beating until fully incorporated before adding the next Tbsp. Beat to stiff peaks. Spread over prepared pie and bake at 350 until top is just browned. Enjoy!