No-Cook Teriyaki Sauce

Summertime means time for grilling!  Time to get out of the house and enjoy family and friends.  And what better way to liven up a grilled meal than to add a tangy, salty/sweet sauce that goes great with everything?  Common folklore says Teriyaki was born when Japanese emigrants to Hawaii combined traditional Asian ingredients of soy sauce and ginger with pineapple juice from the island and served it with grilled meat.

Teriyaki is traditionally used as a marinade for soaking meats before grilling.  Unfortunately, the high sugar content of teriyaki usually results in a "burned sugar" taste when subjected to the high heat of the grill.  But you can get all the flavor without an overtone of "burn" by using the marinade AFTER cooking the meat rather than before.  Stay posted!

No-Cook Teriyaki Sauce
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  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 t. ginger powder or 2 T. fresh grated ginger
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. Ultra Gel®


  • Combine soy sauce, pineapple juice, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and salt.
  • Stir with a wire whisk or fork until sugar is dissolved.
  • Add Ultra Gel® gradually while stirring until completely dissolved. Allow about 5 minutes to thicken.
  • If you want a thicker sauce, add additional Ultra Gel® gradually, a teaspoon at a time. If the sauce is too thick, add more pineapple juice or water. Makes about 1 cup.

Combine the soy sauce with the pineapple juice. Using a measuring cup to mix in is really handy because of the pour spout!

Add the brown sugar, ginger power, and salt and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.

Add the minced garlic. Lazy cook's hint: The bottled, minced garlic is a great time-saver--Use 1/2 t. for 1 clove garlic.

Stir the Ultra Gel® in gradually. GRADUALLY! Lumps will always stir out eventually, but sometimes it takes more time than you want to spend, so just take it slow.

Allow to thicken for five minutes.

If you want the sauce thicker, add more Ultra Gel® 1 teaspoon at a time. If you want the sauce thinner, add 1 tablespoon at a time of pineapple juice or water.

Here's a trick--cook your meat to the recommended temperature (165 for chicken breast), then add it to the marinade in a ziploc bag and let marinate for 15 minutes, turning a couple of times to make sure all surfaces are covered. All the goodness and none of the burned taste!

Or brush on kabobs after the last turn for that salty/sweet island goodness!

Editor's note:  I've had requests for the kabob ingredients.

4 chicken breasts, cut in 1" cubes (about 1 1/2 lb)

1 red pepper, cut in 1" chunks

1 green pepper, cut in 1" chunks

1 red onion cut in 1" chunks

2 c. fresh pineapple, cut in 1" chunks

Thread the meat and vegetable pieces on skewers alternately.  Grill over a hot grill, turning frequently, until the chicken registers 165 degrees in the center.  At the point, the vegetables should be seared and beautiful.  Brush the teriyaki marinade on the skewers and let cook about 30 seconds, then turn and repeat with the other side--should be enough to put some color on the skewer ingredients, but not enough to char.  Remove from the grill and serve.  Add more sauce if desired.

Low Sugar Strawberry Freezer Fruit Spread (Jam)

Love seeing those luscious bits of sun-ripened strawberries on newly-baked bread?  Love the fresh taste of freezer jam?  Love tasting the fruit rather than sugar?

Standard freezer jams are made from crushed fruit combined with pectin and massive amounts of sugar.  The recipe has to be followed exactly, because if the sugar is reduced, the jam won't set up, which causes a lot of frustration for health-conscious parents.  Chemically, there is a complex relationship between fruit, acid, pectin, and sugar to form the fruit gel we call "jam".

The issue of low-sugar jams can be approached from a different angle using Ultra Gel®, an instant thickener which has been used for many years to thicken fruit purees.  Since Ultra Gel® provides thickening without sugar, the jam-maker has full control over how much and what kind of sweetening is used, including sugar substitutes.

According to the FDA's definition, "jam" requires pectin.  Thus, Ultra Gel®-thickened gels are designated "fruit spreads".  But most people can't tell the difference between a pectin jam and a fruit spread, and the cost savings and ability to adjust the sugar are worth making a change.  And as a bonus--the recipe can be doubled or tripled, so the project goes super-fast!  And your family will love seeing the fruits of summer all year long!



1841 cal


2 g


479 g


6 g
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Low Sugar Strawberry Freezer Fruit Spread (Jam)
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  • 4 c. crushed strawberries (abt 2 2/3 lb)
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 c. Ultra Gel


  • Crush strawberries.
  • Measure strawberry puree into a bowl.
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
  • Sprinkle Ultra Gel into fruit puree mixture gradually and stir with a wire whisk until smooth.
  • Allow "Jam" to thicken for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Package into freezer containers and store in the refrigerator or freezer. Makes six cups.
  • NOTE: Because this is a low-sugar recipe, the jam will not keep in the refrigerator as well as a standard high-sugar jam.
  • Best to store in small containers and use within a couple of weeks.
  • NOTE: For a deeper, richer color, add 1/4 t. strawberry KoolAid to each batch.
  • NOTE: Ultra Gel® thickened products will go thin if saliva is introduced into the product. Be sure not to taste the product and return the spoon to the "jam". It isn't very sanitary, anyway!

Start by washing the berries. This is one case (8 lb).  Discard any with mold spots.


Trim the hulls off with a small knife and remove any hard cores.


If the berries are very firm, a minute or two in the microwave (for a large bowl) will make them easier to handle without compromising the fresh taste. A pastry blender works well to start the fruit crushing process.  Then use an immersion blender if you want a finer puree (use it sparingly if you like a chunky jam.)


Add the lemon juice and stir.


Add the sugar and stir until dissolved (about 5 minutes) The mixture will become more clear-colored.


Add the Ultra Gel gradually, while stirring with a wire whisk or a fork until smooth. Start with 1/2 cup of Ultra Gel®, then allow to thicken for five minutes. Add another 1/4 cup if the product needs to be thicker. It will depend on how juicy the fruit is.


Freezer jam will have a soft set. When jam has thickened fully, package and freeze.


Package the fruit spread as desired. (Personally, I don't use glass in the freezer because of possible breakage, but used glass in the photos because it is an easy way for the viewer to see the amount made from the batch.)


Nothing matches home made bread with Low Sugar Strawberry Freezer Jam!


Here is a comparison of jams made by different methods. The one on the left was made from a standard Sure-Jell pectin recipe. The center sample used the Sure Jell pectin for low sugar. The right-hand sample used Ultra Gel®, which is about one-third the cost of standard pectins per batch.


The fresh taste of strawberry freezer spread is a sure winner for all ages!!




Strawberry Cream Cake--So Much Easier than it Looks!

Looking for a Mother's Day treat that really says you care?  That you care enough to take on a dessert that uses three different bowls?  Plus a baking pan?  That sound like real love! Just don't tell anyone that this cake is so easy it's practically criminal.  If you can bake a box cake, you can make this elegant dessert.



2137 cal


130 g


249 g


16 g
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Strawberry Cream Cake–So Much Easier than it Looks!
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    Cake Layer
  • 1 white or yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/2 c. oil
  • Strawberry Glaze
  • 2 c. water (lukewarm)
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 pkg. strawberry drink mix (Kool-Aid)
  • 1/2 c. Ultra Gel®
  • Fruit Layer
  • 1 lb. strawberries, hulled and sliced in 1/4" slices
  • Cream Cheese Filling
  • 1-8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1-8 oz carton non-dairy whipped topping


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • For the cake layer:
  • Make cake according to package directions, using the water, eggs, and oil. If the package directions are different from the ones in the ingredient list, use the ingredients on the package directions.
  • Pour into a greased half sheet pan (12.5"X17")and bake until lightly browned (about twenty minutes). Cool thoroughly (put it in the freezer to cool if you're in a hurry.)
  • For the glaze layer:
  • Combine the sugar, drink mix, and Ultra Gel® and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add the Ultra Gel® gradually while stirring with a wire whisk. Allow to thicken for about ten minutes, then stir until smooth and glossy.
  • For the cream cheese layer:
  • Cut the cream cheese into cubes for easier handling, then use an electric mixer to beat the cream cheese until smooth.
  • Add the whipped topping and continue beating until smooth. Set aside.
  • To assemble the dessert:
  • When the cake is completely cool, spread the cream cheese filling over the top. If the top tears, don't worry--the glaze will cover it. But it won't tear if it's completely chilled.
  • Place the strawberry slices decoratively on the cream cheese filling.
  • Drizzle the glaze over the top. Smooth if desired.
  • Refrigerate at least two hours for flavors to develop.
  • Garnish with whipped cream and additional strawberries.

First, put the ingredients together for a box cake according to the package directions.  I put in the ingredients from a Duncan Hines cake mix, but your mix might be slightly different.  The big thing is that you end up with a thin layer of cake for the base of the dessert.  Author's note:  Sometimes people ask why I made this cake so large (one-half sheet pan size) and the reason is that it just makes everything come out right--the cream cheese, the whipped topping the glaze and the berries.  But if you don't want to make this much, use a 9x13 pan and only use half of the prepared cake batter and other ingredients.  The other half of the cake batter will make some yummy cupcakes!  Whatever baking pan you use, you only want the cake batter to be about 1/2" thick.

Be careful when you bake--the batter is thin and will cook quickly.  Just cook until lightly browned--no more than twenty minutes.

Set the cake aside to cool.  Put it in the freezer if you want to hurry things up.

While the cake is cooling, start the glaze by combining the sugar, unsweetened drink mix, and Ultra Gel in a bowl.  Stir the ingredients lightly, then add the water all at once and continue stirring with a wire whisk until the sugar is dissolved.  Set aside to thicken.

To make the cream filling, cut the softened cream cheese into cubes for easier handling, then mix with an electric beater until smooth.

Add the thawed non-dairy whipped topping and continue to beat with the electric beater until smooth.

Assemble the cake using the following process:

Spread the cream cheese filling onto the cooled cake.

Arrange the strawberries over the cream cheese filling


Drizzle the glaze over the top of the strawberries.  Smooth if desired.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to blend the flavors before serving.

And there you have it!  A Mother's Day treat that looks hard for the one that made motherhood look easy!


Fresh Potato and Leek Soup

Potato and leek soup--pure comfort food!  This classic French soup has a place in any kitchen--easy-to-find ingredients and mild flavors--perfect for a chilly Sunday afternoon.  Or a quick weekday meal--pair it with  crusty bread and curl up with a blanket!



1003 cal


51 g


115 g


21 g
Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info
Fresh Potato and Leek Soup
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  • 1 1/2 c. finely chopped leeks, with tops
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 T. butter or margarine
  • 4 c. regular strength chicken broth
  • 3 c. peeled potatoes, 1/2" dice
  • 1 c. half and half or heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¾ c. Ultra Gel®
  • chopped parsley


  • Saute leeks, onion, and garlic in butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until tender but not brown.
  • Add chicken broth and potato; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Add half and half and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add ULTRA GEL gradually, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Heat to serving temperature (do not boil).
  • Serve immediately, garnished with chopped parsley, or puree, using a handheld blender before serving.

Leeks look like really big green onions, and are a very mild and flavorful member of the same plant family.  I put the lemon in the photo to help show how big leeks can really be!  I've seen them in a variety of sizes, so I think a measurement of the quantity of "sliced/chopped leek" is more accurate than "one leek".  Leeks are often used in soups and other dishes where their mild flavor is treasured.

Leeks sometimes pose a challenge to clean, as they often have dirt packed firmly in the leaves.  This is because during the growing process, dirt is piled up around the leek plants to help develop more of the tender white part.  That just means that you need to be careful about washing.  The white and light green parts are most commonly used, so the green fibrous leaves can be peeled back during slicing and any dirt rinsed away.

It's always a good idea, though, to put sliced leeks in a colander and rinse them well before cooking.

Lazy man's trick--you can measure multiple items in the same measuring cup if it is big enough to "add to".  Here the diced onions were measured, then the diced leeks added to them.  Less dishes to wash!

Saute the onions and leeks in the butter until the vegetables are tender.

Then add the potatoes and chicken broth, cover, and cook until the potatoes are tender.

Add the half and half or heavy cream, then stir in the Ultra Gel® gradually with a wire whisk.  Continue heating at a low heat to serving temperature. Keep a close eye on it--it will scorch easily!

If you want the soup thicker, add more Ultra Gel®, a tablespoon at a time.  If you want it thinner, add more chicken broth or half and half.

You can serve it "chunky", or use a hand-held blender to smooth it into a silky smooth creamy puree that soothes both the stomach and the soul.

Best Potato and Pork (or Chicken) Sheet Pan Meal

So--I've always kind of wondered about what the big deal was with sheet pan meals?  I mean,  meat and veggies roasted together on the same baking sheet.  And it seemed risky to me--What if things didn't get done at the same time?  Who loves limp, lifeless veggies and underdone meat?   Seemed like scary business.

But then I spent a substantial amount of time on roasted potatoes for a recent post and kind of got my head around roasted veggies. . And they . . are. . .SOOOO. . . GOOD!!!  And the really good thing is--cook's secret here--while they roast, you can do something else!!  And suddenly I got it--time to greet guests--or make a salad--or set the table.  While your dinner is merrily roasting away.  And it can go straight from the oven to the table on the baking sheet if you like a "cottage" style meal.

I recently served this Potato and Pork Sheet Pan Meal for a Sunday evening group of 6 adults and 4 kids.  I made one pan just as the recipe says, and another that was 1 1/2 of the recipe.  So in theory there should have been ten servings.  I served it with a simple fruit salad, and everyone had their fill with about a quarter of a sheet pan remaining.  As we sat at the table and talked at the conclusion of the main course, forks leisurely picked away at one piece of roasted goodness after the other, until every single piece was gone--and everyone was wonderfully stuffed.  Easy ingredients, easy to prepare ahead, and easy cleanup.  I get it!

Incidentally, this recipe uses Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix.  The recipe is very simple and you'll find yourself using it again and again. 



555 cal


28 g


32 g


52 g
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Yields 4 servings

Serves 2 c.


Best Potato and Pork (or Chicken) Sheet Meal
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  • 6 c. raw potatoes, preferably red or yellow, unpeeled and cut in 1" dice
  • 2 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. pork loin, chicken breast, or other TENDER meat cut cut in 1 1/2" dice
  • 1 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1-2 c. onion or shallot pieces, large dice
  • 4 c. firm zucchini squash, sliced about 1/3" thick
  • 1 T. Ultra Gel Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
  • 1 t. chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 T. vegetable oil


  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Wash and cube 6 c. potatoes.
  • Immediately toss with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix. The moisture left on the vegetables and will combine with the Ultra Gel® in the Salad Dressing and Seasoning mix to create a nicely seasoned coating that will crisp up during roasting.
  • Add 2 T. oil and toss to distribute evenly.
  • Spread out on a half sheet pan (12" x 18") or other shallow baking pan. Line with foil if you wish.
  • Trim the meat and cut into 1" cubes.
  • Immediately toss with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix.
  • Add 1 T. oil and toss to distribute the oil evenly on the meat.
  • Add to the potatoes on the baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle the onion or shallot pieces across the baking sheet.
  • Put the baking sheet in the hot oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the zucchini by slicing, tossing in 1 T. Ultra Gel® Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix with chili flakes, then in 1 T. oil.
  • When the mixture in the oven has cooked twenty minutes, add the zucchini and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Check to make sure veggies are tender and meat is no longer pink (ovens vary substantially!)
  • Remove from the oven and serve.

Wash the potatoes and cut into generous cubes.  Sprinkle with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix and shake to evenly distribute.  It's important that the vegetables are still moist, as it will allow the seasoning to adhere, creating a flavorful starch coating that will provide crispness as well as flavor.  I like the visual effect of yellow and red potatoes, and I've even substituted sweet potatoes with really yummy results!

Add 2 T. vegetable oil, and shake the bowl of potatoes until the oil is evenly distributed.  Pour the potatoes out onto a half sheet pan or other shallow baking tray.

Prepare the meat by removing visible fat, then cutting into cubes.

For ease, you can use the same bowl you used for the potatoes.  Toss the meat cubes with 1 T. Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix, then with 1 T. oil., then add them to the baking tray.  Tuck the pieces of onions or shallots in among the meat and potatoes

Roast for twenty minutes in a hot 450 degree oven.  Prepare the zucchini by washing and slicing, then tossing with the Ultra Gel® Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix and chili flakes, then oil. 


After the first twenty minutes, add the zucchini pieces to the pan and roast an additional ten minutes.  Remove from oven and check to make sure the meat pieces are no longer pink and the vegetable pieces are tender.  Serve as desired

Instant Pot Spicy Chicken Thighs

Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker) and Ultra Gel®?  What a great combination!  The Instant Pot relies on superheated steam to cook food quickly, which means there has to be a source of liquid.  That means that there is usually a sauce or gravy as a part of the Instant Pot dish.  But that raises the eternal question--if I don't like to make gravy ANYTIME, why would I like it any more with the Instant Pot?  I mean, you still have to make a cornstarch slurry or flour thickening, and there's still the lump thing to worry about. . .  

Ultra Gel® to the rescue!  Because Ultra Gel can be poured directly into hot cooking liquid, it's incredibly easy to get a meal on the table quickly and without drama!

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great choice for Instant Pot meals.  Because dark meat has a higher fat content than breast, it's more forgiving  and stays moist much more gracefully.  Boneless, skinless thighs often need a little trimming, but don't get carried away--trim out the large fat globules, but don't worry too much about every piece of fat--much of it will cook out.



8939 cal


514 g


751 g


203 g
Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info
Instant Pot Spicy Chicken Thighs
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  • 2 T. cooking oil
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 c. onion, large dice
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • 1/2 c. pineapple juice (I save this from a can of chunks when I drain them--freeze for later use)
  • 1/2 c. soy sauce
  • 5 T. brown sugar
  • 2 T. Sriracha (this is pretty mild--add up to 2 T. more if desired)
  • 2 T. hoisin sauce
  • 6-8 T. Ultra Gel®
  • cilantro


  • Set the Instant Pot to the "Saute" function.
  • Add the oil.
  • When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken thighs a few at a time to brown. For best flavor, don't crowd them. Remove to a plate when browned (the chicken will not be cooked at this point!) and add more pieces until all are browned and removed to the plate.
  • Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent.
  • Add the chicken pieces back to the Instant Pot.
  • Combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, sriracha, and hoisin sauce in a cup, stirring until the brown sugar is largely dissolved, then pour the sauce over the chicken in the Instant Pot.
  • Add the lid to the Instant Pot, close the steam valve and set to manual, pressure, high for 14 minutes
  • When done, release the steam slowly, then lift the lid.
  • Remove the chicken to the serving platter, and gradually stir in the Ultra Gel®, using a wire whisk, until the desired consistency.
  • Pour the sauce over the thigh pieces, garnish with cilantro, and serve.

Start by browning the meat pieces on manual in the electric pressure cooker.  You can add a little oil to the Instant Pot to keep the meat from sticking at first, but fat will begin to accumulate, so keep any added oil to a minimum.  Brown both sides well, working in batches if necessary, then remove the meat to a plate.  It won't be fully cooked at this point!

Add the onions to the fat and browned meat bits in the Instant Pot pan. Continue cooking on manual, stirring occasionally, until the onion pieces are translucent and tender.

Measure the pineapple juice into a measuring cup, then add the soy sauce.  

Add the brown sugar, hoisin sauce, garlic, and sriracha sauce to the pineapple juice/soy sauce mixture.  Add the meat back to the Instant Pot pan and pour the sauce over all.

Add the lid to the Instant Pot, and set to high pressure for 15 minutes.  Release the pressure, slowly, then remove the lid.  Remove the chicken from the pan.

Stir the Ultra Gel into the remaining sauce gradually.  Adjust to your desired thickness by adding a little more Ultra Gel if too thin, a little more liquid if the the sauce is too thick.  Totally adjustable!!  Add more Sriracha sauce to taste if desired.


Arrange the chicken pieces on a plate or serving tray with rice.  Cover with the sauce.  Garnish with cilantro and serve!



The really good news is that Ultra Gel® thickened sauces refrigerate and freeze beautifully, providing a good meal for another day.  It certainly makes it worth making a double batch for a future night off!!


There are some people who, looking at our fridge, think we get a little territorial about these "plan ahead" meals.  I'm not sure exactly how they get this idea!  But when you're competing with two other desk-jockeys for future lunches, everything is fair!

Quick, easy, and delicious!  Plan to try it soon!!

Hearty Hamburger Soup

Cool evenings call for warm soup, and here's one that makes a pound of lean ground been go a long way.  Lots of nutritious veggies and a soothing milk base.  Light on calories and long on flavor!



1610 cal


52 g


164 g


143 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

Yields 10 servings

Hearty Hamburger Soup
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  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 t. seasoned salt
  • 1 c. onions, diced
  • 1/2 c. red or green pepper, diced (opt.)
  • 1 c. carrots, diced into ¼” pieces
  • 1 c. diced potatoes, ½ “ dice
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 t. beef bouillon (paste preferred)
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/8 t. pepper
  • 2 c. tomato juice
  • 4 c. milk
  • 3/4 c. ULTRA GEL®


  • Brown the ground beef with the seasoning salt in a heavy 4-quart pan until no pink remains. Add the onions, green pepper, carrots, and diced potato and cook for about ten minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the water and beef bouillon, then cover and cook on a low heat until all the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in tomato juice and heat to a boil. Add milk, then stir in ULTRA GEL gradually, using a wire whisk. Continue heating to serving temperature. Please, don’t let the soup boil after the milk is added or the liquid might curdle, resulting in a soup that isn’t smooth!


World's Easiest Roasted Potatoes

Perfectly roasted potatoes served straight from the oven. . .Food just doesn't get any better.  Crusty, tender nuggets of goodness!  But how can you make those perfectly roasted potatoes?



557 cal


3 g


125 g


11 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

World’s Easiest Roasted Potatoes
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  • 4 cups diced potatoes (1 to 1 1/2 inch)
  • 1 T. Ultra Gel Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
  • 1 t. rosemary if desired
  • 2 T. vegetable oil


  • Cut the potatoes into a large dice (1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes)
  • Sprinkle with the Ultra Gel Ranch Dressing and Seasoning Mix. Add rosemary if desired.
  • Add oil and stir to coat.
  • Turn onto a shallow baking sheet lined with foil.
  • Roast in an oven preheated to 450 degrees for 20-30 minutes.


gluten free
egg free
wheat free
seafood free
treenut free
sesame free
mustard free

Many recipes go to great lengths to develop starchiness on the outer layer of the potatoes to get the crisp crust. We can take the easy way out, because the Ultra Gel in the Salad Dressing and Seasoning mix will do that job--when the Ultra Gel is combined with the moisture of the freshly cut potatoes, the starch rehydrates (because it is an instant starch) and provides a very light starchy layer that browns beautifully!

Next--think potatoes.  Having lived more than half my life in Idaho, I am inclined to think potatoes should have their own food group!  The Idaho Potato Commission reports that the average American eats approximately 111 pounds of potatoes each year.  That means most American consumers eat a serving of some kind of potato product almost every day.

From a supermarket shopper's standpoint, there are probably three main groups of potatoes:  Russets, reds, and yellows (sometimes recognized by the variety name of "Yukon Gold").    The reds are earlier potatoes and are more "waxy", which means they have a higher moisture content and hold their shape better when cooked.  Russets are traditional baking potatoes, with a drier consistency, and they are more apt to break down when cooked, making them perfect for mashed potatoes.  Yellow potatoes have grown in popularity dramatically over the past ten years.  Although they resemble red potatoes more than Russets, many home cooks praise them for their versatility--even calling them "all-purpose" potatoes.  I have to admit a preference for the thin-skinned yellow potatoes easily available in most areas, which don't require peeling for many dishes and have a lovely golden color and buttery texture.  But I usually have all three in my storage at any given time.

So--what potato is best for roasting?

I tried all three, and the answer is--it depends! Details to come!

First, scrub the potatoes and decide if they need to be peeled.  If they are reds or yellows, the answer is "no".  The answer is usually "no" if they are Russets (bakers).  If you have bakers that have been stored for a long period of time, the skin may be tough and you might want to peel them.

Cut the potatoes into 1 to 1 1/2 inch cubes and measure about 4 cups.

Sprinkle the cut potatoes with 1 tablespoon Ultra Gel Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix ( and stir.  Rosemary is a traditional flavor for roast potatoes, so feel free to crush 1 teaspoon of rosemary and add to the other seasonings.

Add 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil and stir.

Turn the potatoes out onto a shallow baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup.  The potatoes on the left are yellow potatoes, the ones on the right are peeled Russets, 4 cups of each.

Bake in a preheated 450 degree oven for 20-30 minutes--until tender and nicely browned and crusty.

The analysis?  The yellow potatoes and the Russets were very different in texture, as would be expected, but my panel of highly-trained sensory experts (family) deemed both varieties highly acceptable and requested them again--Soon!  Everyone agreed, however, that the yellow potatoes were prettier.

Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix

A container of Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix in your cupboard can make savory dishes oh so much easier!  It has the classic "ranch" flavor, with a little bit of Ultra Gel® that will help it  stick to raw meats or vegetables or give a little body to soups and sauces.  It uses easily accessible ingredients and is a snap to put together.



599 cal


7 g


151 g


24 g

Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and My Plate Info

Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix
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  • 8 T. dry parsley
  • 4 t. onion powder (not onion salt)
  • 4 t. garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • 2 t. black pepper
  • 8 t. salt
  • 8 T. Ultra Gel®
  • 2 t. monosodium glutamate (opt)**


  • Measure the dry parsley into a container with a capacity of at least one cup. Crush it gently with the back of a spoon. This will help the ingredients to mix evenly without "stratifying" (where the heaviest go to the bottom).
  • Add all the other ingredients and stir, or cover the container tightly with a lid and shake until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Store tightly covered.
  • **Monosodium glutamate as a food additive has fallen into disfavor, mostly as a result of anecdotal reports of unfavorable reactions.  According to the FDA, monosodium glutamate is "generally accepted as safe" and extensive testing has failed to establish a link between monosodium glutamate and adverse reactions except in very high doses to sensitive individuals  (  However, if you know of a sensitivity, or if the whole idea just gives you the heebie-jeebies, it can easily be ommitted.

This is really easy--the only trick is to measure the parsley flakes, then crush them somewhat so the ingredients will stay evenly distributed.  Then measure in the remaining ingredients and stir or shake.

Use on meats or vegetables before roasting or grilling, as a seasoning for meatloaf or ground meat patties, etc.

To make Lowfat Ranch Salad Dressing, use 1/2 c. low fat mayonnaise, 1 1/2 c. low fat buttermilk, and 2 T Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix.  (If you've looked at the recipe for Low Fat Ranch Salad Dressing, you'll see that the ingredients amounts aren't exactly the same.  That's because the parsley has already been crushed in the recipe made from the mix, so it measured differently.)

Good eating!!


Southwest Chicken Soup- Don't Cook your Chicken to Death!

Here is a low-cal any-weather soup that is so satisfying you will make it again and again. I think it has just the right amount of heat--even my most wary family members eat it with gusto (and corn chips) and the more adventurous add a little cayenne. And although it looks like it has alot of ingredients, in truth it is a "dump" recipe--where full cans of ingredients are used. Don't you hate recipes that call for odd amounts of canned ingredients, leaving you with bits and pieces in your refrigerator which often are wasted? This recipe seems big, but it goes to work nicely for lunch, or even freezes for a quick meal on a future day.



5578 cal


290 g


467 g


67 g
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Southwest Chicken Soup- Don’t Cook your Chicken to Death!
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  • 2 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 lb. chicken breast cut in 1" cubes
  • 1 T. chile powder
  • 1 1/2 t. ancho chile pepper
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 1/2 c. green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 c. onion, diced
  • 4 t. minced garlic
  • 1/2 t. ground black pepper
  • 1-10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chiles (Rotel is good)
  • 2-15 oz cans black beans, drained
  • 1-15 oz can corn, drained
  • 1-15 oz can tomatoes, diced
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 c. Ultra Gel®


  • Heat the oil to shimmering in a heavy dutch oven. Add the chicken and brown on all sides on a medium high heat, then continue to cook until no pink remains. Remove the chicken pieces to a bowl and reserve.
  • Add the chile powder, the ancho chile pepper, and the cumin to the pan and stir while continuing to heat until the seasonings are fragrant.
  • Add the green pepper, onion, garlic and black pepper to the seasonings and stir until the vegetables are crisp-tender.
  • Add the diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained beans and corn, the diced tomatoes and the chicken broth and stir to combine. Then add the Ultra Gel® gradually while stirring with a wire whisk.
  • Bring the ingredients to a boil, then add the browned chicken pieces back to the soup and serve.
  • Corn chips are a nice accompaniment, and cheese, tomato, and sour cream are welcome garnishes.

First, cut the chicken into cubes.  You may need to trim it a little but this isn't hard work.  Just a hint:  If you get jumbo breasts (the kind that are usually on sale for the best price), each lobe of the chicken breast will be roughly one pound.   Hate cutting up chicken breasts?  Just cut straight through into about 1 inch slices, then turn them on their sides and cut again if needed.  Really--it's fast. . .


Heat the oil, then add the chicken pieces and stir  while cooking untill all pieces are cooked all the way through and no pink remains.  Then remove the chicken pieces to a covered bowl for later use.

And here is where I get on my soapbox and preach the virtues of not overcooking chicken!!  The old days of killing the tough old red rooster and cooking it all day for chicken soup are gone.  The chicken most commonly available in supermarkets comes from chickens that are between 6 and 8 weeks old.  The breast is tender and easily overcooked.  Think of an expensive pieces of tender beef steak--would you cook it for hours on end and expect a tender, juicy product?  When cooking chicken, cook to a safe temperature (165 degrees), then serve for juicy, flavorful meat. (As a disclaimer, I like dark meat cooked to 170 degrees).

Add the chile powder, chile pepper, and black pepper to the pan.  Don't wash the pan first--those flavorful chicken bits will add flavor!  Heat until the chiles are fragrant.  


Just a note on chile pepper vs chile powder--don't get these confused!!  In the US, chile powder is a combination of dried, ground chile peppers with paprika, onion, and other flavorings.  It is quite mild and recipes frequently use substantial amounts.  Chile pepper will have only the dried peppers.  There are many different chile peppers with different flavor profiles--you may want to have several.  The secret is to check the ingredient statement before purchasing a powdered chile product to get an idea of how potent it is.

Add the green pepper, onion, garlic, and black pepper to chile seasonings in the pan and stir over medium high heat until the vegetables lose their crispness.  Add an extra tablespoon of oil if the mixture is too dry.

Add all of the canned goods to the vegetables, then add the chicken broth.  Stir in the Ultra Gel® with a wire whisk and heat the soup to boiling.

Add the chicken back to the boiling soup and cook for 2 or three minutes to heat the ingredients evenly and blend the flavors.

Rich and delicious!  The Ultra Gel® gives the soup some body--The vegetables and meat don't sink to the bottom.  Perfect quick meal for a chilly day--or any day!

Incidentally, you can make this soup even faster by using pre-prepped chicken (see World's Best Meal Prep Chicken ).  A package of frozen, pre-prepped chicken can be microwaved for about a minute, then added to the soup at the last step.  Best ever!!