Tag Archive | Food

Picnic Baked Beans with Ultra Gel

Here in Utah it’s picnic season. It also is just days away from US Independence Day. Combine those two and it’s gonna be an epic weekend for great food and family time!

When it comes to picnics around our neck of the woods the food varies, but almost always includes a lot of seasonal fruits and vegetables and a large crock of amazing baked beans. Now, these are not just your pop open the can and toss in a spoon baked beans. Oh noooo… These are amazing baked beans with chunks of bacon and sometimes even peppers and pineapple depending on who’s doing the making. We add a little Ultra Gel to help keep the mix nice and thick, especially if we’re adding any of the fruit or veg which can increase the liquid level even as they add to the flavor.

There is a level of…taste and adjust to this recipe because things like how much barbecue flavor you want or what kind of mustard tickles your tastebuds can vary, but these baked beans will give you a solid base to build on.

Serve these up as a side to go along any picnic favorite. They’re always welcome at the party! Personally I like these baked beans on a hot dog much better than chili!

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Picnic Baked Beans with Ultra Gel

3-4 pieces of bacon, diced

1/2 medium white onion, diced

2 cans pork and beans

1 can black beans, drained

1 can Great Northern white beans, drained

1/2 cup favorite bbq sauce (I have a homemade recipe I use or I really love Sweet Baby Rays Original sauce)

1 Tablespoon mustard

2 Tablespoons ketchup

2 teaspoons Worchestershire sauce

2-3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

2-3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Optional: sliced bell peppers, chunk pineapple (drained), smoked or pulled pork

pepper to taste – the beans and bacon generally have enough salt to them you don’t need more. For a vegetarian version leave out the bacon and double up on the onion and peppers.

In a large, heavy pan, cook bacon and onions until bacon is crisp and onions are translucent. (I always start with the bacon and add the onions when it’s about half done so they get done at the same time without anything burning). Drain off most of the grease. Add beans and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Add other ingredients and stir well to combine. Let cook for 10 minutes over low heat. Taste (with a clean spoon please!) and adjust condiments and spices until you reach your desired flavor. More or less Ultra Gel may be required based on how much additional liquid is added to the mix. A bean with a lot of pineapple, for example, will need 2 to 3 times as much Ultra Gel to compensate for the juice which will cook out of the pineapple chunks. (But the pineapple flavor is REALLY good).

This dish is great warm or cold and stores well so can be made ahead of time.

My husband is fond of making up a double batch of these beans and instead of cooking them on the stove he’ll smoke them with a chunk of cherry or apple wood for about two hours. Delicious!

Creme Brulee with Ultra Gel

When it comes to decadent even slightly naughty favorite desserts most people’s lists are topped by chocolate. I can’t blame them really, chocolate is a wonderful thing, but for me there is nothing quite as sinfully satisfying as the combination of caramelized sugar crunch and creamy filling that is a good creme brulee.

Creme brulee has a reputation for being very hard to make. This isn’t actually the case. The issue is that you are adding hot cream to egg yolks and if you aren’t patient you can make a very nice bowl of sweet scrambled eggs instead of beautiful custard. Adding Ultra Gel to the mix helps to keep the egg from scrambling, but you’ve still got to go slowly and be patient.

As Alton Brown would say, “Your patience will be rewarded.”

Creme Brulee with Ultra Gel

3 cups heavy cream

3/4 cups sugar

1 teaspoon high quality vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

5 egg yolks

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the egg yolks into a large bowl and whip well. In a heavy saucepan combine cream, sugar, vanilla, salt and Ultra Gel whisking very well to combine. Cook over medium heat until cream just begins to bubble around the edges. You don’t actually want it to boil.

Set hot cream aside for 2 minutes. Slowly add cream mixture to the egg yolks a little at t time, whisking after each addition, until mixtures are fully combined. Pour the mixture through a tight sieve to remove any lumps.

Divide custard into small ramekins filling them almost to the top. Set the ramekins into a large roasting pan and fill the pan with boiling water until the ramekins are about half submerged. You do not want water IN the custard, just around the outside to create a water bath.

Bake for 40-50 minutes until custard begins to set. The very center will still be wobbly. If you wait until it’s completely set it will be dried out. You don’t want any cracks in the surface. Allow to cool completely, 2 hours is good, over night in the fridge is better.

When ready to serve sprinkle white sugar over the top of the creme brulee and use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. (You can also place the ramekins under the oven broiler, but watch them VERY carefully or you’ll get smoke). Don’t over cook that sugar, the line between caramel perfection and burnt to a crisp is narrow and you want your sugar on the caramel size. Serve with whipped cream and/or berries as desired.

Yum.

 

Orange Chocolate Brownies with Ultra Gel

Here in Utah summer seems to have shown up with a vengeance. We had a pretty cool spring, but as May has drawn to a close it’s come with hot temperatures and kids anxious for the end of school. This also means we’ve started with park days and my kids have informed me that a good park day is made much better with a snack. These orange chocolate brownies are quick to make, easy to pack up and carry with us, and are perfect as the before mentioned snack.

As we’ve talked about before Ultra Gel is used in brownies and other baked goods to help keep them tender and moist. We want these orange brownies to last…well…at least for as long as they kids don’t get to them. They freeze wonderfully if you want to make a batch ahead of time and eating frozen orange brownies is kinda fun too. If you want to get even more decadent freeze these brownies, chunk them up and add to some homemade ice cream.

Orange Chocolate Brownies with Ultra Gel

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon orange extract or 2-3 drops orange oil (There is a difference, make sure you know which one you’re working with)

1/2 cup flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (I like cooking spray) a 8-9 inch backing pan. Combine the chocolate and the butter in a small, heavy saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring frequently until smooth. Add the vanilla, eggs, Ultra Gel, sugar, salt and orange to the chocolate and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the flour and mix well. Spread into prepared baking pan. If desired you can top with a sprinkle of mini chocolate chips, nuts, sprinkles, little m&ms or whatever you like your brownies. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is dry and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, cut and serve.

To freeze: Cool completely and remove brownies from pan. Wrap in cling wrap and then in aluminum foil and freeze for upto 3 months.

Grilled Pork Chops with Peach Habanero Sauce

Despite the fact that Utah is getting a late season snow warning, grill season has begun – at least at our house. One of our favorite things to grill is a nice bone in pork chop. I like bone in pork chops because the bone adds to the flavor, and my boys like bone in because it gives them a handle to hold onto while they go to town. I’ve been assured it’s a caveman thing similar to eating turkey legs and chicken drumsticks. I’ve learned to accept these things.

One of our favorite pork chops recipe is actually very simple. We marinade the chops for about two hours, then cook them over medium heat until they’re around medium in the center and then crank up the heat for a quick char. Then we douse the whole thing in Cornaby’s Peach Habanero Sauce and eat up. The light sweetness of the peach is really good with pork and the habanero pepper adds a nice zing. I also like Cornaby’s Raspberry Jalapeno with this method if you want a slightly sweeter and less hot sauce.

Bring a jar to your Memorial Day party and add a zip you won’t forget!

Pork Chops with Peach Habanero Sauce

4 medium pork chops 1/2-3/4 inch thick

1/4 cup olive oil

2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 Tablespoons Red Wine vinegar

1 teaspoon spicy mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 generous Tablespoon garlic

1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel

splash of orange juice

Cornaby’s Peach Habanero Sauce

Combine all ingredients except for the pork chops and Peach Habanero Sauce in a large zip top bag. Shake well to mix. Add chops and allow to sit for 2 hours in the fridge. Remove from fridge and discard excess marinade. Grill at medium heat until a meat thermometer reads medium to medium-well (~160 F). Turn up grill and give a quick 30 second char on both sides for flavor and color. Let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Top with Cornaby’s Peach Habanero Sauce.

Black Hole Upside Down Cake with Ultra Gel

When my husband and I first started dating we spent a lot of time flirting with food. Whenever we’d both go to an event we’d each bring our favorite dishes, not for all the other people at the event, but because we were trying to impress each other.

This black hole upside down cake is one of his specialties which he made early on. It’s rich and chocolately and… a complete cheater cake. It’s so much easier than it tastes, but it’s one amazing cake and you will make a good impression!

After a while we started collaborating on this cake and he’d bring the cake, and I’d bring the whipping cream – Ultra Gel Whipping Cream of course.

Single people take note, this cake may be indirectly responsible for our marriage. Use with care. 🙂

To take this cake to the next level of amazing serve with fresh raspberries or strawberries as a garnish. The pop of fruit flavor against the richness of the cake is really, really good.

Black Hole Upside Down Cake

1 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup dark cocoa powder

2 cups warm water

12-14 large marshmallows, quartered or about 2 cups mini marshmallows

1 box chocolate cake mix (I TOLD you it was easy)

Combine water, brown sugar, cocoa powder, and marshmallows in a bowl. Mix well then spread into a 9×13 inch well-greased pan.

Add 2 Tablespoons to the dry cake mix and stir well. Prepare cake mix according to box directions with the addition of 2 Tablespoons water. (So 2 Tablespoons water, 2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel and then whatever the mix calls for). Carefully spoon cake batter over marshmallow mixture to cover. Bake for 25-35 minutes at 350 degrees until cake springs back when touched.

Remove cake from oven and cool in the pan. Once it is mostly cool, invert onto a serving platter. It’s important you flip the cake before it has cooled completely or it will stick to the pan. If this happens warm the cake slightly before flipping. Cut into servings and serve with whipping cream. Trust me you’ll want the cream to cut the chocolate!

Ultra Gel Whipping Cream

1 pint whipping cream

1 teaspoon Ultra Gel

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Whip all ingredients together until thick and creamy. Serve. Keep any extra whipped cream in the refrigerator.

*Ultra Gel can be purchased in grocery stores all over Utah or online at Cornabys or Amazon.

Simple Strawberry Topping with Ultra Gel

Recently I was asked what was the fastest way I knew to make a very fresh, easy strawberry topping. The person asking for the recipe knew about our recipe for Strawberry shortcake with kool-aid, sugar, and Ultra Gel but they wanted something simpler and something without the coloring.

So, for others who want a fast, easy topping here’s the way I do it.

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Simple Strawberry Topping with Ultra Gel

Wash, hull and slice 2 pounds of fresh strawberries. Toss with 1/4-1/2 cups sugar depending on how sweet you want it. Set aside for 20 minutes. What’s happening during that time is the sugar helping to draw moisture out of the berries, so you’ll get a nice juicy topping. Remove from the fridge and stir in 2-3 Tablespoons of Ultra Gel to reach your desired thickness. Pour over crepes, pancakes, waffles, or anywhere else you want a burst of fresh strawberry flavor. Keep topping in the fridge when not in use or if you have leftovers.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya with Ultra Gel

This year I’ve decided I want to come up with more recipes which use my slow cooker. I love the convenience of the slow cooker, and my sweet husband got me a new one at Christmas time which is even more fun. Part of what I love about this slow cooker is that, unlike my first slow cooker, it is programmable by temperature as well as setting a high or low slow cook. It has a very nice non-stick surface and I find if I tackle the dishes right after dinner just about everything cleans off easily.

This slow cooker Jambalaya recipe was the result of finding some nice spicy chicken sausage in the freezer that needed using. I also had chunked up chicken and veg on hand. Traditionally Jambalaya is a cajun dish that’s pretty much based out of cleaning out your meats and veggies, adding spice and pouring it over rice. Many versions of Jambalaya have seafood in them, but here in landlocked Utah I can’t always lay hands on excellent seafood, and chicken makes a pretty good stand in. You can make this as hot or not as you like by adding more cajun spices or a few extra shots of hot sauce, I like the Louisiana style.

Ultra Gel is a great ingredient when working with a slow cooker because we don’t have to heat everything to boiling in order to thicken it. We can just sprinkle the Ultra Gel on the top of the Jambalaya, stir it in and serve. It’s convenient and not forcing the vegetables to boil hard in order to thicken the stock means the vegetables stay in bigger chunks and taste amazing.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya with Ultra Gel

1 pound chicken chunks

1 pound spicy sausage, cut into piece (andoullie sausage is traditional and yummy)

1 medium onion, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped

3 stalks of celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1-2 cans diced tomatoes (I prefer the low sodium versions. I’ve also used 3 fresh tomatoes)

2 cups chicken broth

salt

pepper

1-3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning

dash hot sauce

Ultra Gel

Combine all ingredients except for Ultra Gel in a large slow cooker. For additional flavor you can saute the onion, pepper, celery and carrot before adding to the mix. Slow cook for 4-6 hours on high. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Thicken with Ultra Gel and serve over rice.

This dish freeze well and will keep up to 6 months in the freezer.

*Shelled and deveined shrimp can be added in the last 15 minutes of cooking.