Tag Archive | summer

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!

bakedbeans

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!

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.

Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

My husband doesn’t love cornbread. However, he adores me and I love cornbread. So for the last several weeks he has been working on creating the best cast iron skillet cornbread recipe possible. I am the taste tester, and I have to admit it’s a wonderful job. 🙂

We discovered a few important things in the testing process.

  • Make sure the cast iron is hot when you pour the batter in.
  • Always butter, not lard or shortening.
  • Ultra Gel makes the texture much better and hold moisture but means more buttermilk.
  • Honey or jam is good, but not required for consumption.

Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal

1/3 cup  flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon UltraGel (maybe a little more)

1 egg, beaten

1 cup buttermilk

1 spoosh vanilla

2.5 Tablespoons brown sugar

Butter for the skillet (or bacon grease!)

 Place 12” skillet in oven and heat to 400 degrees.   Mix dry team together, then mix wet team.  Just as pan is hot combine teams and add around a tablespoon of butter to the skillet.  Move it around to coat evenly.  Pour in batter and put in oven. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until lightly browned, the batter pulls away from the sides slightly and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before flipping out onto a wooden board. Serve with toppings as desired.