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.
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.
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.)
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
Mix 2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel and 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips into brownie mix. Prepare brownie as per the box. Spread 2/3s of the brownie mix in the bottom of a glass 9×13 inch pan. With an electric or stand mixer beat cream cheese, egg, sugar and 2 Tablespoons Ultra Gel until smooth. Add raspberries and beat until well mixed. Spread cream cheese mixture over brownie mixture. Top with remaining brownie mixture and swirl. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-40 minutes until tests done with a toothpick. Cool and serve with a sprinkle of powdered sugar or a light layer of chocolate buttercream to push it right over the top!
Spring in Utah is always an interesting beast. The weather can rarely make up its mind and 20-40 degree temperature swings are nothing. This last week was one of those. I’d just started getting comfortable with temperatures in the mid 60s and it bottomed out and headed for freezing with a side order of snow. Given this temperature shift and the fact I had some really nice lean ground pork in the fridge it was a night which called for an amazing pork chili.
One of the fun things with chili and Ultra Gel is the ability to make up your own spice packet. I make these 6-12 at a time and keep them in the cupboard so that chili is as easy as brown meat, add beans, toss in spice packet and warm. I love that this spice packet is all ingredients I choose so I can avoid allergens or flavors we don’t like, and cut back on sodium and sugar! It’s a win no matter how you look at it!
Chili Spice Packet
1 Tablespoon Ultra Gel
1 1/2 Tablespoon Chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Combine all ingredients in a resealable bag. Label. Good for upto 6 months.
1 pound ground pork
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
1 can drained northern white beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can petite diced tomatoes
1 chili spice packet
1-2 teaspoons Lousiana hot sauce (if desired)
Brown pork and onion in a medium sauce pan until pork is browned and onion is translucent. Add all other ingredients and cook until warmed all the way through. Serve hot with bread. Yum!