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Pie Day!

It’s a throw back pi Day, with one of our favorite spring time pie recipes.

Five minutes.

Fresh strawberries.

Perfect.

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!

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Peach Habanero Salmon

I was recently asked for one of my favorite fast recipe using a Cornaby’s product. It took almost no time at all to share this recipe for Peach Habanero Salmon. The Peach Habanero cooking sauce is an amazing combination of heat and sweet and delicate enough to match perfectly with fish. Salmon is a great fleshy fish with a lovely flavor and nutritional punch, easy to cook and reasonably priced. I generally figure about 1/4-1/3 pound of salmon per person because it’s just that good.

peach salmon

Peach Habanero Salmon

1/3 pound salmon per person

Cornaby’s Peach Habanero Cooking Sauce

Salt

Pepper

Prepare salmon by rinsing gently (if needed) and check for any pin bones. You’ll lay the fish out depending on your method of cooking. Oven: Place fish on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet, skin side down. Grilling: Lay out on a plate for preparation before being moved to the grill, or prepare on cedar plank. Smoking: Same as Grilling. All methods: Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and then spread with a generous layer of cooking sauce. Cook until fish is done through at the thickest part, opaque and flaky. Serve warm.

Greek Meatball Lettuce Wraps

Since the first of the year the hubs and I have been trying really hard to eat a little better….where better mostly refers to a lot less sugar and processed foods and a lot more vegetables and lean proteins. By and large this has been working really well for us and even if the scale doesn’t always reflect it we sure feel better.

Now, admittedly, cooking under increased restrictions is always a bit of a challenge, but I’ve found by and large it’s a good one and we’ve found some lovely recipes. Today’s recipe is for a greek meatball lettuce wrap. The meatball is made from ground turkey and onions mixed with greek seasonings all wrapped up in lettuce with baby tomatoes and tzatziki sauce which is a greek sauce based on garlic, cucumbers and greek yogurt. This sauce is used on all kinds of foods such as falafel, gyros, kabobs and other fun treats, so totally worth knowing how to do. Ultra Gel is important in each of these recipes. In the Greek Meatballs the Ultra Gel holds everything together, making for a meatball which is moist and doesn’t fall to pieces. In the case of the sauce the cucumber can weep a lot of moisture into the sauce and make it watery. The Ultra Gel helps here by providing a stabilizing force. All in all it’s awesome. And just to keep you coming back you get the recipe for homemade Tzatziki sauce tomorrow! Hah. I know…I’m mean.

We totally could have frozen these greek meatballs, but between the husband and I we ate the entire batch of about 20 in three days. 🙂

IMG_3657

Greek Meatball Lettuce Wraps

1 pound ground turkey (or a combination of ground beef and ground turkey is good too)

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp lemon peel (opt)

3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Combine all ingredients until mixed well. Scoop into 1 Tablespoon sized meatballs and place on a cookie sheet which has been lined with aluminum foil and a metal cooling rack. Cook meatballs at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until cooked through.  Serve in lettuce wraps with Tzatziki sauce (purchased or homemade) and chopped tomatoes.

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

One of hubby’s favorite morning treats is a moist, cinnamony coffee cake. I’ve been searching for just the perfect recipe for years. I’m still not sure we’ve found perfection, but this Cream Cheese Coffee Cake recipe comes really close! Like with most quick breads you want to be careful not to overbeat your batter. This is yet another recipe where the Ultra Gel helps to hold the moisture and allows for a coffee cake which can be frozen for later. If you manage not to eat it all first!

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

Yield: 12ish servings

Batter:

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/4 cup butter

4 ounces softened cream cheese

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups milk

3 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Streusel:

1 cup brown sugar

4 Tablespoons flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

4 Tablespoons melted butter

Batter: Combine sugar, butter, cream cheese and Ultra Gel and beat until fluffy. Add eggs. Combine dry ingredients and mix into creamed mixture, alternating with milk. Streusel: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a fork.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a 9×13 inch pan, layer batter, streusel, batter and top with streusel. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.

Canned Sweet and Sour Sauce – Thick Gel

It may have come a little late, but my tomato crop has finally come on! It’s a matter of great excitement and tomato sandwiches, but there are only so many tomatoes you can eat before coming up with a way to store them for a rainy day. This year I decided that in addition to my salsa and tomato sauce I wanted to can some sweet and sour sauce. I love the flavors of home canned sweet and sour sauce and I love knowing there aren’t any odd colors or preservatives I don’t know about. Not to mention how convenient it is just to open a jar, add some meat and veg and pour over rice. Dinner in less than 30 minutes. You just can’t beat that!

This recipe is thickened with Thick Gel and is thickened before going into the jar. Thick Gel has been tested safe for canned applications which is why this works. Recipes based on flour or cornstarch as a thickener should not be canned as they are generally not safe because of the way they thicken. Trust me, use the Thick Gel. 🙂

sweet and sour jar sweet and sour

Canned Sweet and Sour Sauce

4 cups tomatoes, peeled and diced

2 cups bell peppers, medium dice

1 cup white onion, medium dice

20 ounces canned crushed pineapple

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup soy sauce (Lite will also work)

2 cups apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)

1/2 cup Thick Gel

1/2 cup sugar

In a heavy sauce pan combine tomatoes, peppers, onion, pineapple, sugar and soy sauce. Mix together well and cook until the fruits and vegetables are slightly soft and the juice is at a boil. In a separate container combine the Thick Gel and additional sugar. Whisk in vinegar until you have a smooth mixture. Add mixture to the boiling vegetables. It will thicken quickly so keep stirring as you add. Let cook for an additional 3-5 minutes. Taste and adjust sugar or spices as desired. If it is too thick you can thin with a little additional pineapple juice or tomato juice.

Fill jars, leaving ½” to 3/4” headspace. Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 25 minutes (sea level). Add five minutes processing time for elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet and ten minutes for elevations from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

Lemon Cheesecake bars

A few days ago I needed a dessert and I needed one in a hurry. I dug through my old favorites looking for inspiration and was profoundly…uninspired. Not that any of the recipes were bad, but they just weren’t scratching the itch of what I wanted to make. I wanted sweet and sour and creamy all at once. What’s a girl to do?

In this case a girl needs to make lemon cheesecake bars. I found a couple of versions on this and mashed them together to create my own. These bars have it all, sweet, sour, creamy and just a dash of nutmeg for spice. Holy yum and only about 45 minute from beginning to end. Now that’s fast.

Lemon Cheesecake BarsLemon Cheesecake Bars

Lemon crust:

1 box lemon cake mix (I like Duncan Hines as they have a really bright lemon flavor)

1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel

8 Tablespoons melted, unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

Cream Cheese layer:

8 ounces low fat cream cheese, room temperature

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 eggs

2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cake mix, 1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel, melted butter, vanilla and egg. Pat mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch backing pan. Set aside. With an electric mixer (or in a stand mixer) beat cream cheese and Ultra Gel until smooth. Add eggs and beat until smooth. Add powdered sugar and again beat until smooth. Pour over crust. Bake for 30-40 minutes until edges just start to brown and knife comes out clean. Do not over bake. Remove from oven and sprinkle with freshly ground nutmeg. Allow to cool and cut into squares. Try not to eat them all in one sitting. 🙂

Honey Wheat Bread

As has been mentioned a few times I have a full household here. This means that one of the things we use a lot of is bread. My husband, in particular, has an appreciation of bread with flavor. He finds most white breads boring in particular white sandwich bread from the store which kinda tastes like…well… air. As well I have teenagers who want bread on hand all the time for quick sandwiches, toast and just eating. All of this means that I’m continually playing with bread recipes and narrowing down our current favorites. (The list chances a lot though we do have some top of the listers).

Right now our absolute favorite bread for sandwiches is a Honey Wheat bread which is so so easy to make. It’s one of those recipes where you combine all the dry ingredients and the yeast, warm all the wet ingredients, dump together and knead like crazy. This Honey Wheat Bread is an excellent sandwich bread with enough density to hold up to jams, jellies, peanut butter, lunch meat, eggs, and really anything else we’ve thrown at it, but also light enough that you don’t feel like you’re chewing on a tree branch. As I’ve talked about with other breads I use a generous amount of Ultra Gel in this Honey Wheat Bread to get better yeast action and to help keep the bread moist and flavorful. This is a good sized batch, making 3-4 medium loaves or two large ones.

I saw this recipe initially on Recipe Girl (an excellent website) and modified from there, but you really should check out her site. She’s awesome.

honey wheat bread

Honey Wheat Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups bread flour (I use a bread flour and white wheat flour mix)

2 Tablespoons white sugar

2 teaspoons salt

2 1/2 Tablespoons active dry yeast

6 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1/4 cup honey (I never measure this. I just go with one big scoop.)

2 cups water

1 cup milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl, combine the flours, sugar, salt, yeast and Ultra Gel. In a medium, microwave safe bowl, combine the honey, water, milk and butter. Microwave in 20-30 second bursts until liquid is about 108 degrees. ((Slightly warmer than typical yeast water, but not by much. You don’t want to kill your yeast even though it is insulated a bit by being mixed with the dry ingredients.)) Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well using your dough hook attachment, or a big wooden spoon and a bit of elbow grease. Add more bread flour a 1/4 cup at a time until the dough comes together. The final dough should be soft and only slightly sticky to the touch. Knead additionally on a counter if needed, but don’t over knead it. You want a medium gluten build for this recipe.

Place dough into a large greased bowl and cover with a tea towel or a little plastic wrap. Allow to rise until double, 30-45 minutes. I keep mine in the microwave since that’s out of the way, and the confined space holds heat and moisture. Remove and form into loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Proof until double in size.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the outside is dark golden brown and the internal temperature is around 200 degrees. Brush the top of the loaves with butter while they’re still warm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pans and continue cooling. Serve and enjoy!