Food by the Howells for the Howells...

Food by the Howells for the Howells...and anybody remotely related to a Howell, or who may have met a Howell at one point in their life, or...yeah, pretty-much anybody.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

I have never been a huge fan of ice cream. Sure, I like it, but it's not my first choice when it comes to dessert. That has all changed now that I have my own ice cream maker. I have been experimenting with all kinds of ice cream flavors, and I am super excited to share this one. It tastes exactly like pumpkin pie, with actual pie crust pieces in it. This is the perfect ice cream for fall. If you love pumpkin pie, you'll adore this ice cream.

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used my own home made puree rather than the stuff in the can. If you want your ice cream to be more orange, you'll need to use the canned variety)

For the crust:
1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. cold water

Mix flour and salt. Add oil and mix until it looks like coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with water and mix again until dough pulls together. If it is too dry, add a little more water. Put aluminum foil in a shallow metal pan and roll dough out onto it. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon if desired. Bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes (until edges begin to brown). Cool, then break into bite-sized pieces.

Bring cup of milk to room temperature (or warm in microwave). Add sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Add all the other ingredients and whisk together until well mixed. Put in refrigerator to chill before adding to ice cream maker (about 3 hours, or if you don't want to wait, you can put it in the freezer for about an hour, give or take). Add to ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer's directions. When soft-serve consistency, transfer to airtight container and gently fold in crust pieces. Freeze for several hours, or overnight. Overnight is best, as it allows the flavors to really meld. When ready to serve, top with whipped cream.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

I love Indian food. There's something so exciting me about trying exotic flavors, especially when I know nothing raw or slimy is involved. I got this recipe off the Pioneer Woman's site, although it's not actually her recipe (it's Pastor Ryan's). This is comfort food, and I love how the colors all work together, especially with the turmeric rice and peas. This is not spicy or weird. My 3-year-old eats it. It's just plain yummy :)

2 chicken breasts
1/4 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream, or honestly, you can skip this altogether, although some Indian food purists would probably get mad at me for saying so)
3 Tbsp. butter
3/4 cup heavy cream
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1/2 large onion
2 cloves garlic
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger
1 1/2 Tbsp. Garam Masala spice (found in the spice section with all the other bottles of spices). It's a mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, black pepper, and coriander.
Ground coriander
Kosher salt

Fresh cilantro
Chili peppers

Start by seasoning the chicken breasts with kosher salt. Then sprinkle both sides with some coriander and cumin. Then coat the chicken breasts completely with the plain yogurt. (This is the part I think you can skip if you like). Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack over a foil-lined baking sheet and place it about 10-12 inches below a broiler for 5-7 minutes per side. You want the chicken to get slightly blackened (not charred, like a burnt offering).

While the chicken is broiling, cut the onion into large chunks. In a large skillet, melt 1 Tbps. butter over medium-high heat, then add onions and sautee until they are slightly browned. Mince or press your garlic and ginger and add to the onions, along with about 1 1/2 tsp. of salt.

Next, add the Garam Masala spice and also hot chili peppers if you have opted to do this. (I have never added peppers, but I think I would like it). Add your can of diced tomatoes. Continue cooking and stirring, scraping the bottom of the pan. Add about 1 1/2 tsp. sugar. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add your heavy cream, and then add your cut-up pieces of broiled chicken. Serve over plain Basmati rice and top with cilantro if desired. Or you can make the turmeric rice with peas. It doesn't really taste any different, but it looks pretty :)

Turmeric Rice With Peas
2 cups Basmati rice
4 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
4 cups water
1/2 cup (or more) of frozen peas

Add all ingredients except peas to a rice cooker. Turn on and walk away. When the rice is done, throw in the peas and close the lid. The steam will cook the peas and they will retain their lovely green hue.

Now you have a truly impressive dish!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Creamy Peach Delight

I know the calendar says it's fall, but it's been in the 80s here in Denver. And the peaches are at their peak! So it's time for one more summer dessert. We bought a peach tree in the spring and planted it in our backyard. I was happy that we actually got some peaches off of it, and that they ripened before the first frost here in Denver. Regrettably, the peaches were small and few, so I needed to find a new recipe to try since there weren't enough peaches for my favorite peach dessert. I found a recipe on the internet and it was a big hit with our dinner guests. I have altered it slightly so the crust is not so thick (I felt that it overshadowed the peaches, which should be the star). So stock up on some ripe peaches and treat yourself to a last taste of summer!

Creamy Peach Delight
For the crust:
12 whole graham crackers, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup white sugar

For the filling:
4 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup milk
1 pint heavy cream
1/3 cup white sugar
6 large, fresh peaches; peeled, pitted, and sliced.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Mix well and press into the bottom of a 9x13 pan, reserving 1/4 cup for topping.

Heat the marshmallows and milk in a pan on the stove over low heat until marshmallows are completely  melted. Remove and cool.

Whip cream until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 cup sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. Mix with the cooled marshmallows. Spread 1/2 of mixture over graham cracker crust. Layer the sliced peaches on top, then cover with the rest of the marshmallow/cream mixture. Sprinkle reserved crust over the top and refrigerate until time to serve.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Heaven

The real name of this confection is "Buckeye Cake." That sounds unappetizing to me. So I changed it. A lady who spoke at church today said she thought when she went to Heaven she would just be relaxing, enjoying the scenery and eating chocolate. If that is case, I really hope they have this in Heaven. It is so stinkin' delicious. Cut very small pieces, because this cake is super rich. A little goes a long way. Which is good (or bad, depending on how many people you are sharing this with).

Cake ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups all purpose flour
6 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (I just used regular salted butter)
3 oz. baking chocolate, melted (or use 9 Tbps. chocolate baking powder and 3 Tbsp. oil)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. salt

Peanut Butter layer:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup powdered sugar

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz. package)
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9-inch cake pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; grease. (I don't use parchment paper, but I do grease the pan really well, because you have to get the cake out of the pan).

For cake: Combine eggs and sugar in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients until smooth. Pour into pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes. Run knife around edge of cake; cool for an additional 10 minutes. Invert cake onto serving platter. Remove pan and parchment; cool completely.

For peanut butter layer: Beat peanut butter, butter, and vanilla extract in medium mixer bowl until combined. Gradually beat in powdered sugar. Spread mixture on cake. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For ganache: Heat cream in small saucepan to boiling; remove from heat. Add semi-sweet morsels; let stand 5 minutes. Stir; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until mixture is spreadable. Spread chocolate on top and sides of cake. (I just pour it on top and let it run down the sides).

Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pea Pod Chow Yuk

Don't let the name fool you. Nothing about this is yucky. This is a wonderful Chinese dish with crunchy pea pods, savory pork, and a salty-sweet sauce. It goes perfectly over rice and is great the next day for leftovers. This is guest-worthy food. I usually half the recipe because we don't have so many people to feed at our house.

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
4 pork chops
1 1/4 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 lb. snow peas
1/4 tsp. ginger
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Fry pork in oil. Add 1 1/4 cup water, soy sauce and sugar. Add pea pods and ginger. (Be sure to remove the tough fiber along the top edge of the snow peas first). Cook quickly over high heat until pea pods are half-cooked (about 5 minutes). Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup water, then add. Cook for 2 more minutes until thickened.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream

I spent two days going to every grocery store from here to Kansas looking for it. My elusive prize? Mexican chocolate. I don't know when the idea first ocurred to me, but once I had it in my mind, I could not let go of it. So I searched and searched. At one store, I was told to look in the baking section, ask at the cheese counter, ask at the bakery (sometimes they have big blocks of chocolate). All this after I had already looked in the Mexican food section. Finally, a store worker visited the hot chocolate section, and returned with this:

It was the mother lode. I have had real Belgian chocolate, in Belgium. This is not Belgian chocolate. It is something entirely different, and entirely wonderful. It has a rich, complex flavor that I cannot describe, but that is absolutely mesmerizing. There is nothing unusual in the ingredient list, so I can only assume it's the "artificial flavoring" that makes the difference. Whatever it is, I love it. I love it to death.

So I went online to look for recipes for Mexican chocolate ice cream, and all of them involved like 6 eggs and lots of cooking. Well, that's just not how we do things around here, so I made up my own recipe, and I must say, it is divine! I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. It has a wonderful complement of cinnamon, and ends with a slight kick from the cayenne pepper. (Hey, this is Mexican chocolate ice cream. There has to be something hot in it). This is now my new favorite ice cream. I can't wait to make more! (Please see this post for a recommendation of a fantastic ice cream maker).

Mexican Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 disk of Mexican chocolate (I recommend Abuelita brand, found at most regular supermarkets and Walmart. Check the Mexican section and the hot chocolate section).
1/4 cup cocoa powder (regular baking chocolate)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon (you can add more if desired)
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (add more if you can stand the heat!)
pinch of salt

Pour 4 cups of whole milk into a pan on the stove and add one Mexican chocolate disk. Heat on medium and stir with a wisk until all chocolate is melted and incorporated. Pour 1 1/2 cups into a mixing bowl and add the 1/2 cup of sugar. Wisk together until sugar is dissolved. (The warm milk will help the sugar dissolve faster. Save the rest of the chocolate milk and reheat if desired, or just drink it cold. It is fantastic!) Add the 1 1/2 cups of cream, the cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne pepper. Wisk together until everything is well incorporated. Cover and put in the refrigerator for a couple hours or overnight to chill. After mixture is cold, pour into ice cream maker and follow manufacturer's instructions for your ice cream maker. For mine, I just let it run for about 1/2 hour, until the ice cream was of soft-serve consistency. Transfer to airtight container and put in freezer. Let freeze for a few hours or overnight to harden and to allow the flavors to meld. Enjoy immensely!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

Recently, we bought this marvelous invention at Costco.
It does not use ice or salt, and it is amazing! This is the first ice cream we made with it, and it was a hit! I got this recipe out of Chocolate Never Faileth. I was worried the bananas might brown in the ice cream, but they didn't at all! I also used skim milk, which I would not recommend. I still thought it tasted divine, but when the ice cream freezes, it makes it very hard and very difficult to scoop. Other ice creams I've made with whole milk have stayed much creamier and easier to scoop after freezing. So go buy this ice cream maker (also makes sorbet and slushies). It was only $29 at Costco, and so worth it!

Chunky Monkey Ice Cream (this is called Crazy Monkey Ice Cream in the book. I have altered this recipe slightly, and also changed the amount of ingredients so it will not overflow in this ice cream maker. Or at least so it's less-likely to overflow.)

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sugar
2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup coconut, grated or shredded
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
2 Tbsp. oil (optional)

Melt the white chocolate chips. Add a little oil if needed to make the chips liquid. In large pan, combine the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar. Heat on low. When the mixture is warm (not hot) and the sugar has been dissolved, add the melted white chocolate chips. Remove from heat. Put in refrigerator to cool. When mixture has cooled, add the mashed bananas and coconut. Pour the mixture into the freezing canister and make the ice cream according the manufacturer's directions. (For this ice cream maker, you just turn it on and pour the mixture into the bowl. Let it run for about 25-30 minutes until it is of soft-serve consistency. It will get harder once frozen). Take the ice cream out of the canister and transfer it into an air-tight container. Stir in the nuts. Melt the chocolate chips and pour slowly into the ice cream while stirring it. The chocolate will freeze and make chocolate ribbons in the ice cream. Put the lid on the container and freeze for several hours.

Rosemary Garlic Bread

I'm sure I'm not the first one to come up with this combination, but I thought it was pretty tasty. We have a rosemary plant that is being criminally underutilized, so that's mainly why I came up with this. All the kids liked it (as well as the missionaries we had over for dinner).

1 loaf French bread, sliced in half length-wise
1 cube softened butter (please use salted butter, or this will not taste good)
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary (it needs to be fresh, or you'll feel like you're eating pine needles)

Strip the needles from the rosemary and chop them with a sharp knife. Press garlic cloves and add them to butter, along with chopped rosemary needles. Mix with butter. Spread liberally over sliced bread.
Put on baking sheets and put in 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes (long enough for the butter to melt and soak into the bread). Then put under broiler for 2-3 minutes until butter begins to turn brown. Watch carefully so you don't burn it! It should look like this:

Slice and enjoy!

Summer Strawberry Salad

This is the most delicious, refreshing salad that is perfect for summer! Take this to your next pot-luck and you'll be the star! The secret is the salad dressing. This is one of those salads that you need to keep simple--if you add a ton of stuff to it, the individual flavors will get muddied, and you want to enjoy each flavor to the fullest!
2 heads Romain lettuce, torn up (I used red-leaf lettuce)
1 cup purple, seedless grapes, sliced
1 strawberry basket, cleaned and sliced
2 stalks green onions, cleaned and sliced
1/2 cup walnuts, candied (optional)

Salad dressing ingredients:
2 Tbsp. dry Italian dressing
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar

Mix and refrigerate. To candy the walnuts, chop and add to a frying pan on the stove. Sprinkle about 2-3 Tbsp. sugar over top. Mix and cook on low heat until sugar melts and caramelizes. Cool and sprinkle on salad if desired.

Caramel Marshmallow Delights

If you're looking for a last-minute, fun 4th of July treat for kids, this is it! I think these would be perfect for kids to just grab and eat, and it will keep their hands clean, too! My kids and I made these together. They helped stir the caramel mixture on the stove, put the marshmallows on the chopsticks, and rolled them in the Rice Krispies. I found this recipe in 5-Ingredient Family Favorites, my new favorite cookbook that I bought at Costco. I altered the recipe because I didn't have any sweetened condensed milk, and it worked just great!

14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk (I didn't have this, so I used about 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream. You may need to use more depending on the consistency you want for your melted caramel).
1/2 cup butter
14-oz. package of caramels, unwrapped
16-oz. package of jumbo marshmallows
10-oz. package crispy rice cereal
Chopsticks or skewers

Combine milk (or cream), butter and caramels in heavy saucepan and melt over medium heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat. Place one marshmallow on the end of a chopstick or skewer and quickly dip into caramel mixture, then roll in crispy rice cereal. Arrange on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from baking sheet and refrigerate in air-tight container. Makes 5 to 6 dozen.