Tag Archive | Thick Gel

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole with Thick Gel

With the cooler weather fully in command I find my thoughts turn a lot to comfort foods, especially soups and casseroles. Not only are these recipes excellent comfort food, but they are also great dishes for using up leftovers and turning them into another fantastic dish. In this case I had some left over ham pieces and wanted a quick, but delicious, way to use them. I did some digging and found I also had some chicken breasts and cheese. This all lead me to making chicken cordon bleu casserole.

I love how quickly this dish works up, but how yummy it is. There’s a great contrast in flavors, and it can be served with rice, potatoes or pasta very easily. I like swiss cheese best, but if you have colby jack or even mozarella they’ll work fine too.

For this recipe we use Thick Gel in one of my favorite applications, that of building a roux base for a white sauce. I like Thick Gel in this method because it creates a beautiful cream sauce that doesn’t fracture or weep when it’s refrigerated and has a very smooth texture. I use a little bit of flour because I like the flavor of the butter and browned flour, but if you’re looking to stay completely gluten free Thick Gel can do all the work for you!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole with Thick Gel

2 cooked chicken breasts, diced

1 cup diced ham pieces

1-2 cups shredded cheese swiss, colby jack or mozzarella

Sauce:

2 Tablespoons butter

1 Tablespoon flour

2 Tablespoons Thick Gel (Or remove the flour and use 4 Tablespoons Thick Gel)

1 1/2 to 2 cups milk

1 Tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 Tablespoon spicy mustard

1/2 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Topping:

panko crumbs

In a 9×9 inch dripper pan layer ham, chicken and cheese and set aside. ‘

In a medium sized heavy sauce pan melt the butter. Once the butter is completely melted add the flour and Thick Gel and stir well to combine. Let cook for 30 seconds then whisk in the milk. It won’t look thick enough, but it will thicken as the temperature increases. Cook for 3-4 minutes until thick and creamy. Add lemon juice, mustard and spices. Add extra milk if needed to maintain a pourable consistency.

Pour sauce over meat and cheese layer and top with panko crumbs.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until cheese is melted and the casserole is hot all the way through.

Serve with rice, pasta or potatoes and a vegetable side.

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Crispy Taco Wraps with Ultra Gel

So yesterday we talked about my favorite recipe for taco seasoning mix. If you didn’t see it, go back and take a read, or at least write down the recipe. You’ll need it. 🙂

There are several dishes I use this mix in, but this one is a new favorite inspired by the lovely folks at Tastes Better From Scratch. She’s right, the whole family loves this idea of a crispy wrap that isn’t deep fried or too heavy. We change up the flavors a bit and I like a wetter filling, so feel free to experiment until you find your taco nirvana!

Taco Wrap

These crispy taco wraps can be made large for a party, or wrapped in small tortillas for killer appetizers!

Crispy Taco Wraps with Ultra Gel

1 pound ground meat, we like beef or turkey or a mixture of both

1/2 white onion, finely chopped1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2-1 can whole kernel corn, rinsed and drained

1 small can diced green chiles (opt)

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

1 batch Taco Seasoning Mix

2-4 Tablespoons water or broth

sour cream

salsa

Cooked rice

cheese

tortillas

For the filling: Brown the ground meat in a large skillet, adding the chopped onion about half way through browning. Cook until meat is done through and onion is translucent. Add beans, corn, chiles, bell pepper and Taco Seasoning Mix. Stir well to combine and cook until veg is soft, adding water as needed to achieve desired thickness.

Lay out tortillas and assemble by layering sour cream, salsa, rice, taco meat and cheese. Fold in ends and cook on a hot skillet or electric skillet. For extra crisp brush or spray with olive oil before placing wraps on the skillet. Rotate until sides are golden and crispy. You may lose some filling in the turning, but I either just chalked that up to taste testing or shoved it back inside when I flipped the wrap back over.

Serve with fresh tomatoes and shredded lettuce.

Taco Seasoning Mix with Ultra Gel

Vegan Taco Soup

I don’t know about you, but there are days at my house where dinner is a matter of what’s thawed and what can I make of it in a hurry? You know these days when there are soccer games and school projects and life all happening in a blur. One of my favorite go tos on these days is tacos in various shapes and sizes.

Tacos are quick to make, and you can use just about any ground meat or beans as a base and you’re in business. Now, I learned a long time ago that you could make the creation of tacos even -faster- by using a taco seasoning mix. Just dump it into a pan of browned meat and onions, add a few beans and you were in business. The problem I had was that most of these mixes were really heavy on the salt, and sometimes they had an off flavor, or not enough of a flavor I liked. So what’s a girl to do?

Well, I’ll tell you. We came up with our own mixes, and started adding either Ultra Gel or Thick Gel. Why add the starch, you ask? There are two really good reasons for this. Reason the first, if you have a starch in the mix and add a little additional water or broth to your taco meat you get juicier meat. The starch thickens that additional liquid around the meat and catches all the lovely seasonings in it and… it’s so very very yummy. Reason the second is that the starch helps in keeping the spices from clump and helps the dispurse evenly when you pour them into your taco meat, soup, etc. They’re very clever kitchen helpers!

So here’s my mix. And unlike the store one if you try this mix and find you want a little more cumin, or a bit less chili powder or want to add hot peppers you have the power! I tend to make these mixes in snack bags or small candy bags 12 at a time. Why 12? Because I set out a muffin tray and put an open bag in each hole. Then, I go around and add each ingredient to each bag. When I’m finished pop a label on it and I’ve got 12 taco seasoning mixes all ready for use or ready to add to a gift for a friend. It’s a win all the way around.

The mix had the strongest flavor for about 2-3 months. After that it’s still good for another 3-4 months but the quality starts to suffer and the combination of flavors isn’t as strong.

 

Taco Seasoning Mix with Ultra Gel

1 Tablespoon chili powder (mild or hot, you choose)

1/2 teaspoon salt (I like a fine salt for this, versus a kosher or coarse salt)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika (I like a smoked paprika)

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4-1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (Omit this for a mild batch)

2 Tablespoons Thick Gel or 3 Tablespoons Ultra Gel

Combine all ingredients in a small plastic bag. Seal, label, date and store in tightly covered container.

So there’s your mix. Stay tuned. Tomorrow we’ll talk about some ways to use this mix that take ordinary tacos and make them fabulous!

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.

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.

IMG_4009

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.

 

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.