Blueberry Buckle with Thick Gel

I often get asked what kinds of things you can use Thick Gel in. The answer is pretty much anywhere that you’d use cornstarch in the same proportion, but with better results. Thick Gel is a wonderful cornstarch that has a beautiful set. Thick Gel products can be frozen, refrigerated and canned with beautiful results helping you to keep food better longer.

Today’s recipe is a little different though. This is a Blueberry Buckle which usually has cake flour in it. The difference between cake flour and all purpose flour is that cake flour generally has a lower protein content and is more easily dispursed, this is a combination of the grain type and the grinding method. However, with a little help from Thick Gel we can make our own cake flour substitute that give us the benefits of cake flour with the additional benefits of Thick Gel. It’s a win win.

Cake flour replacement recipe:

1 cup of all purpose flour – 2 Tablespoons + 2 Tablespoons Thick gel. Sift well and use anywhere cake flour is called for.

So getting back to our buckle, this recipe uses the rest of the blueberries I had on hand from last blog’s recipe and adds some ginger for kick, all poured into a 9×9 square or 10 inch round pan and cooked up into a beautiful breakfast cake. Well, breakfast, lunch, late night snack…anytime you want a hit of blueberries and tender cake. This is pretty good warm with a little milk poured over it too or a side of ice cream and all with blueberry antioxidants and flavor. Yummy!

Blueberry buckle

Blueberry Buckle with Thick Gel

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup Thick Gel

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 ounces unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup milk

3-3 1/2 cups blueberries

Streusel:

1/2 cup sugar (this is also really good if you do 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar)

1/3 cup cake flour mixture

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp candied ginger, well chopped

2 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

Make streusel by combining the sugar, flour, nutmeg and ginger. Add the butter and work in with a fork until it reaches a crumb texture. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine flour, Thick Gel, baking powder, salt and ground ginger. Set aside.

In a stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add 1 tsp vanilla and mix. Alternate adding dry mixture and milk until all in incorporated. Again, this is a quick bread method so don’t over mix. Fold in blueberries and pour into a baking dish which has been sprayed with non stick spray or greased.

Sprinkle streusel mixture on top of the cake and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown. Test with a tooth pick and remove from oven. Cool 10 minutes before depanning and serving.

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).

New Year’s Appetizers – Sour Cream Brownies

Somehow it’s already New Year’s Eve. I’m not sure exactly how that happened. No one asked my permission and it seems like it was just barely Christmas Eve yesterday! However, I can’t complain too much because around here New Year’s Eve is a day for watching bowl games and eating a variety of appetizer foods all leading up to the stroke of 12 celebrations.

So here’s a sneak peak at our New Year’s Appetizer menu.

* 7 Layer Bean Dip

* Clam Dip

* Cucumbers with Cream Cheese and Dill

* Pumpkin Spice Muffins

* Chicken Wings with Buffalo Sauce

* Chicken Teriyaki Wings

* Rotisserie Prime Rib

* Sour Cream Brownies

* Cream Cheese with Raspberry Jalapeno sauce

So we’ll have pictures to share as the day goes on. Here’s the first and the recipe for the Sour Cream Brownies, which are kick butt, just in case you wondered. We use Ultra Gel in the brownies to preserve the moisture and help to provide a tender crumb. This allows us to cut back on the fat and use a light sour cream without giving up a bit of flavor. :)

Sour cream brownies

Sour Cream Brownies

10 ounces semi sweet or bitter sweet baking chocolate

6 ounce unsalted butter

4 ounces unsweetened applesauce

2 large eggs

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1/2 cup light sour cream

In a microwave safe bowl combine butter and chocolate. Microwave on medium power in 30 second bursts until mixture is smooth. Add applesauce and sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking powder and Ultra Gel and stir to combine. Gradually whisk flour mixture into chocolate mixture until just combined. Fold in sour cream. Sprinkle a few mini chocolate chips in or on top as desired.

Pour mixture into a greased baking pan and bake at 375 for 25-35 minutes depending on the depth of your pan. This makes really thick 8×8 brownies, thinner 9×9 brownies and thin 9×13 brownies. The oven temp stays the same for each, but you will need to adjust your total baking time.

Allow to cool, cut and serve. This makes a very rich brownie so I suggest serving it in small pieces or with a little cream or ice cream to cut some of the richness.

Bacon Potato Soup

There is something about the wintertime that makes me want to eat soup. I’m sure some of it is the cold and the snow (not that we have much yet this year, still dreaming of a White Christmas) and I think some is a reflection of an urge to have a full, warm tummy and hibernate. Anyway, one of my favorite soups is our Bacon Potato Soup. This is a great creamy soup with big chunks of potatoes and a little (or a lot, I won’t judge) salty bacon for balance. Bacon Potato Soup is a great soup for reheating, so I tend to make a big ol’ pot of it and we munch it down for a few days following the initial make. Day 2 to Day 3 is my favorite, when I think the flavors are at their peak.

One of the tricks with Bacon Potato Soup is using Ultra Gel as our thickening agent. Unlike a flour based roux, the Ultra Gel won’t separate and go grainy in the fridge, so the leftovers are easy. As well because Ultra Gel can be added at any temperature the milk doesn’t have to boil and so you have a lot fewer problems with boil over or scorching.

When it comes to the potatoes I prefer Yukon gold potatoes in bacon potato soup. This type of potato holds up a bit better under heat and takes on a really nice caramelization which adds a rich flavor to the entire soup. Russets will also work, but you just have to be really careful not to over-cook them so they don’t go to mush.

Mmm…now I’m hungry. Off to heat up a bowl! Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

Bacon Potato Soup

6 slices of bacon, cut into pieces

4 ribs of celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

2 large yukon gold potatoes, cubed

6 cups of milk

Ultra Gel (I generally use about 1/2-3/4 of a cup for a medium thickness. Your milage may vary depending on the fat content of your milk and the total milk you add)

salt and pepper to taste

In the bottom of a heavy pot fry bacon until crisp. Remove bacon leaving 2-3 Tbps bacon grease in the pan. Add veggies to the grease and simmer until slightly browned and tender. Add potatoes and a little salt and pepper and cook until tender. Pour in milk and heat to cooking temperature (about 180 degrees or just shy of boiling). Mix in Ultra Gel and stir until smooth, add bacon back in. Serve once desired thickeness is reached. I like it with club crackers, but my boys top their soup with cheese and more bacon.

Note: If you have trouble with the Ultra Gel lumping because it’s hard to stir around the potatoes, just hold back about 2 cups of the milk and add the Ultra Gel to that before adding it to the main soup.

Loaded Ginger Snap Cookies

In the last few days we’ve been partaking in one of our favorite holiday traditions by building gingerbread houses with the extended family. My dad’s birthday is in December and the houses are one of his favorite activities. Now, I enjoy the decorating and all, but for me there’s always a vague problem in the idea of using really good eating gingerbread to build gingerbread houses. So I find that I go for gingerbread that is more structurally sound for building and then crave something amazing to eat.

This is where these Loaded Ginger Snap Cookies come in. Now we’ve talked about ginger snaps before and I’ve shared one of my favorite recipes, but that was before my sweetheart husband found Alton Brown’s version of Ginger Snaps. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful cookie with three kinds of ginger in it. The only problem was that they lost moisture and crumbled too soon. So it was Ultra Gel to the rescue of our ginger snaps and with a few adjustments we have a wonderful ginger snap cookie that is Bunneh’s favorite cookie ever. I love them too, and even funnier so does Little Girl who isn’t even two yet. We’re definitely raising a foodie!

These cookies freeze really well either in dough balls or baked, so make up a big batch and split it for wonderful cookies all holiday season.

triple ginger cokies

Loaded Ginger Snap Cookies

2 1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

2 Tbsp Ultra Gel

1 cup dark brown sugar

5 ounces unsalted butter, soft

3 ounces molasses

1 large egg

1/4 cup milk

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/4-1/2 cup finely chopped candied ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, soda, ginger, cardamom, cloves, salt and Ultra Gel and set aside. In a stand mixer combine the brown sugar and butter and beat until light and fluffy 2-3 minutes. Add molasses, egg and fresh ginger and beat until well combined. Fold in crystallized ginger. Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.

Drop batter by spoonsful onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes to desired doneness. 12 minutes will give you a fairly chewy cookie and 15 more crispy. Remove from oven and cool on pans for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack to fully cool. Store in an airtight container.

For freezing: Scoop dough into balls and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze until batter balls are solid. Remove to a ziptop bag and squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. Label, date and keep frozen.

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.