Tag Archive | Recipes

Bottled Cherry Pie Filling with Thick Gel

Technically cherry season is past, since most cherries including pie cherries come on earlier in the year. However, they’re not hard to find frozen. You can even visit places like the Rowleys Red Barn and get them frozen in bulk, so it’s not too late to can cherry pie filling! Especially with the holidays around the corner (Pies, cakes, cookies!) having beautiful bottles of pie filling on hand is a very good thing.

Our recipe for pie filling is a recipe which is thickened before it goes into the bottle, which raises a lot of concerns for some people. It is true that you should NOT use thickeners such as flour or traditional corn starch to thicken product which will be canned. These thickeners do not thicken evenly or hold up to the temperatures of canning. However products such as Thick Gel are approved for home canning as tested by the Utah State Extension service and the labs at Cornabys.

I use tart pie cherries for this recipe, though you could use pitted bing cherries or a combination of sweet and pie cherries. It’s all down to what you like. And while we give you measurements for both Thick Gel and Ultra Gel I have to admit that I like Thick Gel the most for this use, especially in this large recipe. Thick Gel thickens a little more evenly and has a smoother finish. Price per ounce Thick Gel is also a little less expensive. As a reminder Thick Gel has to be heated to thicken but in all of our pie filling recipes this happens anyway, so it’s not an issue.

pie-filling

Bottled Cherry Pie Filling with Thick Gel

 Utah State University Extension

6 quarts fresh or thawed sour cherries

7 cups sugar

1 3/4 cups Thick Gel (2-2 1/2 cups Ultra Gel)

9 1/3 cups water or juice from cherries

2 teaspoons almond extract (opt.)

1/2 cup bottled lemon juice – Do NOT use fresh lemon juice. Bottle juice is mixed to get a specific repeatable pH which cannot be guaranteed with fresh.

2 teaspoons red food coloring (opt.)

Rinse and pit fresh cherries or thaw frozen cherries.  Combine sugar and Thick Gel in large kettle with water or juice from cherries.  If desired, add almond extract and food coloring.  Stir mixture and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Fold in cherries and fill jars with mixture, leaving 1-1 1/2″ headspace.  Adjust lids and process immediately in water bath canner for 30 minutes (sea level). Increase processing time for by 5 minutes for elevations of 1,000 to 3,000 feet and ten minutes for elevations from 3,000 to 5,000 feet.

Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler with Thick Gel

It’s peach season in Utah! This is a delightful time of the year when we eat our weight in peaches and even have a few left over for canning and turning into peach pie filling. As much fun as it is to have peach pie filling on the shelf I try to make enough that I can make a batch of peach cobbler for eating right now too!

Cobblers are a type of dessert which features a filling (fruity is most common, but occasionally savory ones are used as well) with a biscuit, cake or crumb topping all baked together. When I make pie filling I always use Thick Gel as it’s approved for canning and makes for a really smooth finished product. Pie fillings made with Thick Gel bake nicely without too much bubble, and without making the crust or crumble soggy! It’s a win all the way around.

Sugar Cookie Peach Cobbler

1-2 quarts Peach Pie Filling

1 tube sugar cookie dough or batch homemade sugar cookie dough

Line a 10 inch cast iron skillet with tin foil. (You can skip this step, but I don’t like scrubbing cast iron. Alternately, you can prepare this in a glass 9×13 inch baking pan.) Pour in peach pie filling. Top with pieces of the sugar cookie dough. Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes until cookie dough is golden brown and delicious.

Overnight French Toast Using Ultra Gel

In the last few months our oldest boy has started working the graveyard shift. This means that instead of just hubs and I having breakfast together we are often joined by our son and sometimes all the kids. This has lead to trying several breakfast options including a cinnamon and brown sugar stuffed french toast which was a unanimous favorite.

This overnight french toast uses Ultra Gel in both the filling and in the egg custard to provide stability and help to hold the moisture close to the bread so you end up with a tender, chewy finished product. You need to prepare this overnight french toast the night before and then it takes about 45 minutes to bake. So it’s very easy and a great make ahead, but there is a timing factor to consider. It’s totally worth the planning because it’s amazingly good.

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Overnight French Toast with Ultra Gel

1 loaf Texas Toast (12 pieces)

1 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 cup butter

1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cup milk (Or half and half if you want to be really decadent)

1/8 tsp salt

3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

2 Tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional: sprinkle of nutmeg and pecan pieces

In a medium sauce pan combine 1 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 cup butter and 1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel. Cook for 2-3 minutes until sugar is dissolved but not burned. Pour into the bottom of a greased 9×13 inch pan. Place one layer of bread over caramel layer, pressing it into the sugar. Top with a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. Layer the remaining bread on top.

In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, salt, Ultra Gel, water and vanilla. Pour evenly over bread layers. Sprinkle with nutmeg and nut pieces if desired.

Cover casserole with tin foil and refrigerate over night. The next morning bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown and delicious.

Serve warm. I flip it upside down as I serve it so the gooey sugar serves as the syrup. So yummy.

Canning with Jam in a Jiffy

One of the questions we get a lot this time of year is if you can use Jam in a Jiffy to make shelf stable jams or only freezer jams. The answer is that Jam in a Jiffy can be used to make shelf stable jam. However, the process is a little different and there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

The biggest consideration is if you like the flavor of cooked fruit. In order to be safely canned jams must be water bathed which will cook the fruit. For many fruits this isn’t a problem and, in my opinion, even improves some flavors. I much prefer a cooked apricot jam, for example, but I really don’t like a cooked strawberry jam. So I make sure I have the freezer space to keep my strawberry jam fresh, but peach and apricot go on the shelf. The second consideration is where you have space and if you have enough jars. Jam in a Jiffy jams should be canned in pints or half pints for best results. The sugar free Jam in a Jiffy (in the small light blue bag) may take on a bitter flavor when cooked and I don’t recommend using it, but the normal red package low sugar Jam in a Jiffy works great.

Canned Jam in a Jiffy Jam

2 pounds fruit, crushed or chopped

1 package Jam in a Jiffy

1: Place fruit into a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to just below boiling. This will help to release juices and slightly soften the fruit.

2: Add Jam in a Jiffy mix and stir until completely dissolved.

3: Bring mixture to a boil and boil for 1 minute.

4: Fill jars, leaving 1/2 – 1 inch headspace.

5: Waterbath for 20 minutes for half pints and 25 minutes for pints.

6: Let jars cool, remove wings and move to storage. Remember to label and date your jars for proper rotation.

(This recipe has been lab tested and approved and found safe for home canning practices. Do not add more fruit than on the recipe without also adding more Jam in a Jiffy. The ratio of fruit to mix keeps the pH of the finished product at safe levels and the boiling and processing kills mold spores and bacteria. It it not recommended to use hot pack (tipping jars upside down) processing instead of water bathing.)

Orange Teriyaki sauce

Sometime last year we bought my husband an adorable little Cook Shack smoker. This has been one of the best cooking purchases we’ve made in a looong time. He figures there have only been one or two weekends when we haven’t smoked something and one of our favorites is pork shoulders or butts.

A pork shoulder is a fairly large piece of meat which takes well to slow cooking and smoking. When we smoke this piece we cover it in a sweet and spicy rub and cook it for 12-14 hours. It just falls to pieces and is a thing of beauty. Often we add a barbecue sauce and go for sandwiches or piles of pulled pork, but on the last cook I wanted to do something a little different.

I found this recipe for Orange Teriyaki sauce over on Real Mom Kitchen, and adjusted it to use Thick Gel and for my particular tastes and I really love the result. It was excellent on pork and I think chicken would take to it well as well.

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Orange Teriyaki Sauce

1 Tablespoon Thick Gel

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tablespoons water

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

orange zest

1 tsp garlic

1 tsp ginger

Combine Thick Gel and sugars in a medium saucepan and whisk well. Add water, soy sauce, orange juice and rice wine vinegar and whisk together. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it thickens add zest, garlic and ginger and remove from the heat. Serve warm over meats or vegetables.

 

Mango Chutney

Spring is a glorious time for mangos! They’re not a food which I just like to eat by themselves, however, I love it as an ingredient or a topping. Mango has a unique tart and sweet flavor and a soft, but chewy, texture which goes well with other foods. I’ve had mango several times on top of sushi rolls and love the contrast. The mango chutney recipe I’m sharing today is very good on steak, but also delightful on salmon or other fleshy seafood.

Mangoes are an odd fruit with a large flat seed in the middle. When preparing mangos you want to peel them and slice a small piece off the top and the bottom so you have a flat surface to set it on. Then carve the two large cheeks of fruit off each side and the smaller slices from the edges. Mangoes are slippery and a little sticky, so be careful. You don’t want to lose fingers doing this! Once you have the cheeks off then you can easily work them into slices or cubes. A more traditional way to do this is to skip the peeling and just slice the cheeks off with the skin intact. Then you make a grid pattern through the fruit and flip the skin wrong side out to make the fruit easy to harvest. Either way is fine, but both take a little practice. Look for mangos without soft spots or blemishes and that are relatively heavy for their size. They’ll be the sweetest.

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Mango Chutney

1 mango, peeled and cubbed

2 roma tomatoes, cubbed

juice from one lime

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1-2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel (This will be determined by just how juicy your fruit is. Start with 1 Tablespoon and allow the mixture to sit before adding more.)

(A splash of Cornaby’s Peach Habanero Sauce is amazing in this too!)

Combine all ingredients and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes for flavors to mesh. Serve with salmon or steak, or with tortilla chips. My son loves this as an option for nachos!

Easy Leftover Rice Pudding

A few days back we had Thai Basil for dinner. I’m certain that sometimes happens in everyone’s house and we really like their food. Shortly thereafter I had a craving for rice pudding. I  hadn’t ever tried a left over rice pudding recipe before, but figured why not?

I compared a few recipes and finally came up with one which I really liked. I used Thick Gel to go with the rice for a silky smooth finish and I was very pleased with the results. It’s not quite as rich as rice pudding when you cook the rice and use arborio however for a fast pudding which also uses up my leftovers? I’ll totally take it.

Easy Leftover Rice Pudding

2 cups cooked rice

3 cups milk

1/3 cup sugar + 2 Tablespoons Thick Gel – mixed together

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (opt)

1 Tablespoon butter

In a heavy sauce pan combine rice, milk, sugar/Thick Gel mixture and salt and stir well. Bring to a boil on medium heat, stirring consistently. It will thicken quickly as it approaches boiling. Remove from heat and add vanilla, spice and butter. Serve warm or refrigerate and serve cold. Over time the pudding may continue to thicken as the rice releases more starch. I like to eat it the next day with a splash of additional milk or cream and some craisins. It’s also excellent with a dab of whipped cream.