Baked Stroganoff

Recently I found some really nice London Broil on sale and wanted one of those meals I could get going and not worry about for a while. I love a good stroganoff, particularly one with nice pieces of meat and mushrooms and this baked stroganoff is flavorful, easy and appeals to adults and kids.

We serve it up over rice or noodles with veggies on the side, and no one goes away hungry!


Baked Stroganoff

1-2 pounds london broil cut into 1 inch strips

3/4 cups flour+1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 cups beef broth

1/2 thinly sliced white onion

1 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 cup sour cream

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Combine flour, salt, pepper and garlic in a large zip top bag. Add beef pieces and toss to coat. In a large cast iron skillet (Any heavy skillet, will do, but cast iron works particularly well), bring oil to medium high heat. Add beef pieces a few at a time, browning on all edges. Remove beef to a bowl. Deglaze the skillet with the beef broth. Add onion and mushrooms to broth and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Whisk in sour cream and Ultra Gel and bring to heat. Fold in beef pieces and salt and pepper to taste. Remove entire mixture into a 9×13 inch dripper pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are completely tender. Serve over rice or noodles.

This recipe freezes well. Move to air tight containers and freeze for upto 3 months.


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. 🙂


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.

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

This caramel stuffed chocolate cookies recipe is one that I made during Christmas time but it kinda got lost in the shuffle. However, as it’s an easy and yummy recipe (Starts with a cake mix!) I think it deserves to come back to light. And it’s chocolate and caramel and if that isn’t a great option for Valentines I don’t know what is.


Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

12 ounces rolos chocolate covered caramels

1 box devil’s food cake mix

1 eggs

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 Tablespoon water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cake mix, eggs, Ultra Gel, water, and vegetable oil. Wrap dough around individual rolos and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 8-9 minutes. Allow to cool for 3-4 minutes before moving to a rack to complete cooling. This is a very important step as moving the cookies too early can lead to caramel leaking out the bottom!

Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Last Minute Cheese Ball

So holiday season is drawing to a close, but if, like me, you are already planning for the SuperBowl, or you just have a last minute gig on the books give this cheese ball recipe a try.

This is one of those recipes which is very common around here. Almost everyone I know has a version which is similar with little family differences. This makes me suspect it showed up in a popular magazine or such at one point or another, though I’ve never found an original source. One person adds paprika and another a little pineapple, but it still all starts with cream cheese and bottled spread cheese and goes from there.

I use Ultra Gel in this recipe to keep the cheese ball soft longer and because it means you can roll and serve the spread immediately without having to chill it. At least as far as texture is concerned, I still like letting the mix sit for a few hours for the flavors to come together, but in a last minute crunch pour and roll!

Last Minute Cheese Ball

16 ounces softened, low fat cream cheese

2 bottles Old English Cheese Spread

1 bottle Blue Roka Cheese Spread

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon onion powder

2 Tablespoons dry parsley

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 Tablespoon water

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients in a mixer (I like my big stand mixer) and mix until well combined. Chill for upto 6 hours to let flavors combine, or if you’re in a hurry just skip to scooping out the mix into 2-3 cheese ball sized lumps and rolling in pecans or walnuts, if desired.

Serve with a variety of chips and/or vegetables.

Refrigerate any leftovers.

Easy Chocolate Fudge

Just because Christmas is over doesn’t mean there’s no more candy making! This chocolate fudge is a rich treat for New Years, or the perfect sweet treat for Valentines. This is a simple recipe which doesn’t require a candy thermometer, just a timer.*

A few notes for this chocolate fudge.

1: Use a good quality pan with a thick bottom. A thin bottomed pan will scorch and you’ll end up with floaty bits in your fudge.

2: You can change the flavor by changing the kind of chips you use or add a few drops of flavored oils.

3: The Ultra Gel in this recipe will help stop the fudge from sugaring and give you a smooth texture. This doesn’t mean the chocolate fudge CANNOT sugar, if you contaminate your batch you can still have problems, so be sure to use clean tools.

Chocolate Fudge


Easy Chocolate Fudge

4 cups sugar

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter

1 can evaporated milk

8 ounce marshmallow creme

2 cups semi sweet morsels

Prepare a 9×13 inch pan by lining with waxed paper and lightly buttering or spraying with non-stick spray.

In a heavy pan combine sugar, Ultra Gel and salt and mix until well combined. Add butter and evaporated milk and bring to a boil. As soon as mixture starts to boil set a timer for 6 minutes. Wash down any sugar crystals from the side of the pan and cook until the timer goes off (soft ball stage). Candy will form a film on the back of a spoon.

In a large plastic bowl combine marshmallow creme and morsels. Pour hot mixture over chocolate and allow to sit for 2-3 minutes. Then stir briskly to mix and melt chocolate and marshmallow. Once everything is melted together pour into prepared 9×13 inch pan and let cool. (I put it in the refrigerator or in the winter out in my garage tented with another piece of waxed paper to keep anything form drifting into it.)

Cut into small pieces and serve. Try not to eat it all at once. 🙂

*Note: If you live closer to sea level you may need to increase the time by 30 seconds due to the differences in the temperature that water boils at.

Frosted Soft Ginger Cookies

We’ve made a couple of versions of ginger cookies in this space before. It should surprise no one that I love a good ginger cookie. I love the spice and the burn and the…yum. However, I’ve never really found a ginger cookie that I liked with an icing. Until now.

These cookies are based on a Swedish Ginger Cookie and they are a delightful spiced cookie with a nice chew and are awesome with a dab of cream cheese icing. Perfect for Christmas!

If you make them in small sizes they’re also great sandwich cookies. I’m fairly certain they could hold up to a drizzle of dark chocolate as well, but I’ll stick with my cream cheese icing for now!


Frosted Soft Ginger Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel

1 Tablespoon water

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/3 cup molasses

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

Combine butter and sugars and beat until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat smooth. Add Ultra Gel, water, vanilla and molasses and beat well. In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and beat until just mixed.

Portion dough with a spoon or disher and bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. If your oven bakes at all unevenly, rotate baking tray half way through the cooking time. Let the cookies cool for 2-3 minutes then move to a cooling rack to cool fully.

Ice with cream cheese frosting and devour.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons Ultra Gel

1 pound powdered sugar

1-2 Tablespoons milk – as needed

In a stand mixer (or with an electric mixer) combine all ingredients except for the milk. Add milk and/or additional powdered sugar as needed to reach a spreadable consistency. Store any leftover icing in the fridge.

Mini Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

It’s funny to see how quickly a toddler develops preferences. In my case my little girl has a distinct preference for chocolate chip cookies over all other cookies. This is not to say that she won’t eat other cookies, but she definitely likes chocolate chip cookies best. Because of this we tend to make a lot of chocolate chip cookies and experiment with various options.

This time I wanted a cookie using mini chocolate chips as I think you get a better chip to dough ratio when you use the small ones. I found a recipe for Doubletree Hotel Chocolate Chip cookies in a few places and everyone raved about them. I wondered if I could omit the oats – my husband doesn’t like them, and use my small chips and Ultra Gel to take what was obviously an amazing recipe to higher heights! Well…

It totally worked! This is a great cookie to add to your Christmas cookie exchanges and a great time of year to get those mini chips on sale!


Mini Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 large eggs
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel
2 cups semi-sweet miniature chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla, lemon juice and eggs and beat until well mixed. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda, salt and Ultra Gel until well mixed. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture and mix until well combined but not tough. Fold in mini chips.

Drop by tablespoons full onto a baking sheet and bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown and delicious.