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.

Ingredients:
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.

Directions:
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 :)

Ingredients:
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
Cumin
Kosher salt
Sugar

Optional:
Fresh cilantro
Chili peppers

Instructions:
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
Ingredients:
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.

Directions:
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

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

Directions:
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.

Ingredients:
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

Directions:
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

Instructions:
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.)


Ingredients:
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)

Instructions:
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).

Ingredients:
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!
Ingredients:
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!



Ingredients:
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

Instructions:
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.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Creamy Banana Dessert

I got this recipe from my Aunt JoLynn, who is a peach of a person and a wonderful cook. I love to visit her because I know I'll get a great dose of her dry humor and a heaping dose of good food. This dessert is so utterly fantastic, I could eat it every day of my life. Give it a try! You won't be sorry!

Creamy Banana Dessert
Crust:
1/2 cup margarine or butter
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Mix crust ingredients together until crumbly and press into bottom of 9x13 glass dish. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool.

Filling:
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Cool Whip from 12 oz. container
2-3 large bananas
2 small packages of vanilla pudding (I used one vanilla and one banana cream)
3 cups milk

Mix the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and Cool Whip. Spread over cool crust. Top with cut bananas. Prepare the vanilla pudding with the package mixes and milk. Pour over the bananas. Refrigerate and let set. Spread with remaining Cool Whip and sprinkle with nuts if desired.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Restaurant-worthy Orange Chicken

I have been joking for years that if only I could figure out how to make perfect orange chicken, I could die in peace. No matter what I tried, though, it never worked. Either the breading would fall off, or it would never get crispy in the first place, or once the sauce was added, everything would get soggy. I was just about to accept the possibility that I might actually die without ever uncovering this mystery. But Eureka! One day I tried a new combination, and, again, Eureka! (I know I just said that. I may have said it prematurely the first time). Anyhoo, I don't want you to be tormented by orange chicken the way I was. So I am going to reveal the secret of how to make restaurant-worthy orange chicken in your own home. And, I am also going to give you three--yes, three sauce recipes so that you can also have sweet and sour chicken and sesame chicken. Oh, and if I have time, I'll add a lemon sauce as well.

There are two great secrets to making this perfect chicken. The first one is this:
This is called "Frying Mix" and can be found at your local Asian market. What? You don't have a local Asian market? Well, I guess you'll die crying bitter tears because you are unable to make perfect orange chicken. Or you might get over it. Or you might not care. ANYHOW, to continue, you really need this.

The second thing you absolutely must have is one of these:

This is an electric skillet. You must get one that goes up to 400 degrees. You must. It is essential. Anything lower will not work. We have a proper deep-fat fryer, but it only goes up to 375 degrees. I have searched and searched for one that goes up to 400, but they must be illegal in America. I was thinking I was going to have to go on the Chinese black market to get a fryer that goes up to 400. But I have no idea how to go on the Chinese black market, so I came up with the skillet idea instead.

Now, here's how you do it. For the chicken part, you only need three ingredients:
Chicken (1-2 breasts)
Frying Mix
Water

Just cut up your chicken into 1/2 inch squares. Put some Frying Mix into a plastic bag, then add your chicken and shake it all about. Then do the Hokey Pokey and stick your leg out and open the fridge with it. Wait. First take the chicken out of the bag and put it on a plate (or a couple plates depending on how much chicken you are using) and put it in the fridge while you complete the Hokey Pokey. Then wait at least 1/2 hour. That's what it's all about.

Get out your electric skillet, pour in 1-2 inches of oil (enough to cover the chicken pieces when they are dropped in). Heat oil to 350 degrees. When it's about ready, get some more Frying Mix and follow the directions on the package (on mine it said to just add water, but I added ice-water). Get out your chicken and drop a few pieces at a time into the wet frying mix, then take out and drop (carefully!) into the 350 degree oil. Fry until golden. It should look like this:

See how it's kind of light and not really as brown as you would expect? That's o.k. Don't fry it longer, because no matter how long you fry it in 350-degree oil, it will never get any browner. Trust me--I've tried.

Once you've done this first fry with all the chicken, turn the skillet temperature up to 400 degrees and wait for the oil to be ready. Then re-fry all your chicken for another minute or so, until it turns a nice golden brown. It should look like this:

See how much more golden and delicious that looks? This won't work at 375, folks. It MUST be 400 degrees! Now you can make one of the wonderful sauces listed below, or just buy some sweet and sour or orange sauce at the store to make it easy on yourself. Pour it over the chicken and enjoy! Enjoy it thoroughly, because now all your dreams have come true :)

Orange Sauce (taken from The Everything Chinese Cookbook)
1/4 cup water
5 tsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. chili paste
1/4 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. corn starch

Cook sauce in small pan on stove over medium heat until it boils and thickens.

Sesame Chicken Sauce (also taken from the same cookbook)
1/2 cup water
1 cup chicken stock or broth
2 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tsp. chili sauce with garlic
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. rice vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp. corn starch

Cook on stove over medium heat until it boils and thickens. Pour over chicken and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Lemon Sauce (from the same cookbook again)
3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp. corn starch mixed with 4 tsp. water
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar (or rice wine)
2 tsp. soy sauce

Mix together and cook over medium heat until it boils and thickens.

Sweet and Sour Sauce (from my awesome friend Annie Easterbrook)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
3/4 cup pineapple juice

Cook until clear and thickened.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Chocolate Candy Cookies

This is another recipe from Chocolate Never Faileth, although I have changed the name from Chocolate Rolo Cookies. Because really, any kind of chocolate candy will work in these. I used several varieties of Hershey's kisses, and also some Dove Chocolate chunks. I also think the Rolo candies would be divine. When I ran out of candy, I just made cookies with the dough, and those were also really good. So there's no way these can NOT be good. And that's a good thing :) This recipe can easily be cut in half.

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup (2 cubes) butter or margarine
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
40-50 Rolo (or other chocolate) candies

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. (I used stoneware and did not grease). Cream sugar, brown sugar, and butter. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add flour, cocoa, and baking soda. Mix until well combined. Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky to work with your hands. Pinch off walnut-sized balls of dough and wrap a piece of dough around each chocolate candy. (I scooped the dough with a small scoop and then just pressed the chocolate candy into the dough while it was still in the scoop. That way, everything was uniform and I didn't have to get my hands so messy). Place on cookie sheets a couple of inches apart. Bake 7-9 minutes, until the cookie is set but the top is still soft to the touch. Don't overcook. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks. (If you try to transfer too soon, you'll break the bottom and the candy or caramel will ooze out). These are best eaten while still warm and melty, but they taste great the next day, too!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vanilla - Almond Fruit Tart / pie

I adapted this recipe from kraft.com.   Looks impressive, but so easy to make! 

To save time I used a pre-made graham cracker crust, but you could make your own as well!  You can also put the sliced fruits in dishes and let your guests top their own slices of pie. 

Ingredients
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 1 cup thawed Whipped Topping like Cool Whip
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup mixed fresh fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, halved strawberries, sliced kiwi)

Directions

  1. Beat pudding mix and milk with whisk 2 min. Stir in whipped topping and almond extract. Spoon into crust.
  2. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Top with fruit and reserved nuts just before serving.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

This is another recipe from Chocolate Never Faileth (see previous post). A roommate in college gave me a very similar recipe. I decided to try this one and compare, and it turned out just as well, so I will add it to my list of go-to recipes. My roommate's used brown sugar and this one uses white sugar. They both worked well. It's good to know that if I ever have a white sugar shortage, I can use brown sugar instead :) I also love this recipe because you don't have to grease the pan. Also, this cake is magic. Seriously. You just put sugar and cocoa powder on top and pour water over it and put it in the oven. Then, through the miracle of chemistry that I don't understand, it all sinks to the bottom and turns into pudding. This is so fantastic served warm with ice cream, but is also great the next day after the pudding has firmed up. Then I think whipped cream works well on top. The picture is a spoonful showing the layers of whipped cream, cake, and pudding. Yum! By the way, this recipe makes a 9x13 pan, which is a lot unless you are entertaining guests. I cut this in half and put it in an 8x8 pan and it is the perfect size for our family. Still bake it for the same amount of time.

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
3 cups sugar, divided
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cocoa, divided
1 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup milk (I used powdered milk)
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup nuts, chopped (optional)
3 cups hot water

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 9x13 pan, combine flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, baking powder, salt, and 1/2 cup cocoa. Mix well. Add the butter and mix again. Add milk and vanilla, mixing with a fork until well blended. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar, remaining 1/2 cup cocoa, and nuts (if desired). Sprinkle this mixture over the batter in the pan. Pour 3 cups hot water over everything. Do not stir. Carefully put in oven and wait 40 minutes for the magic to happen! Allow the cake to set for 10 minutes before serving.

Orange Pecan Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Thanks to a blog friend, I was made aware of a cookbook that I thought I didn't need, but found out I really did. As soon as I saw it in the store (and the discount sticker on it) I knew I had to make it mine. It is called Chocolate Never Faileth, and it has the most marvelous, fun, and tasty recipes inside. At first, I thought I would do the Julie and Julia thing and try to make each of the recipes in the book. I figured I would do one a week, but then realized that would take me about three years, and would probably add about 50 pounds to my figure, so I abandoned that idea. Instead, I am picking and choosing and making about one a week, which sounds sort of like my original plan and will still probably result in an extra 50 pounds.

However, the recipe I'm going to share today assuages my guilt somewhat because it is healthy. And by healthy, I mean that it has eggs (protein) and whole wheat (grain and fiber) in it. Also, if you use dark chocolate, there are antioxidants galore. So really, you could eat these for breakfast and it would be like having cracked wheat and eggs and a cup of blueberries. Really. At least that's what I tell myself when I'm eating them for breakfast. I'll stop yakking now and give you the recipe. I thought it needed a little more flour, so my recipe is slightly altered from the one in the cookbook.

Ingredients:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. orange extract
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Instructions:
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets (I used stoneware and did not grease the stones). Blend flours, baking powder and salt in a small bowl; set aside. In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar. Add orange extract, vanilla extract, and eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each one. Add flour mixture and stir until well combined. Stir in pecans and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoons on cookie sheet. Flatten slightly. (I open the oven about a minute before they are done and quickly flatten with a fork because I found the dough to be too sticky to flatten easily before baking). Bake 9-12 minutes, until edges are barely golden brown. Do not overbake. Even slightly underdone is o.k. so the cookies will stay soft. Store in an airtight container. Then eat for breakfast, or a snack, or whenever. Because, you know, these are healthy :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thai Tuna Wraps

I love this dish because it is low-fat and refreshing, yet satisfying. It is a perfect dish for a warm summer day. Plus, I usually have all (or most) of the ingredients on hand, so it's a fast go-to dish when I can't think of anything else to make. I got this recipe out of The Pampered Chef Main Dishes recipe book. It calls for spinach leaves, which I never have, so I never use them. However, I'm sure this would be good with them as well. Pictured is the mix in pita pockets rather than wraps, but you can see the picture of the wraps from the recipe book behind the pitas.
Ingredients:
Dressing
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbps. sugar

3 cups cabbage, chopped (If I don't have cabbage I just use lettuce)
1 medium carrot, shredded
3 green onions with tops, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, snipped
1 can (6 ounces) tuna, drained and flaked
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
6 flour tortillas
12-18 large, fresh spinach leaves

In small bowl, mix first four ingredients together. Mix all the other ingredients together, then pour dressing in and mix all together. Put 1/2 cup of the mix on a tortilla, then top with 2 or 3 spinach leaves. Roll up tortilla tightly and cut each roll in half to serve.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Perfect Orange Rolls


The following recipe for dough can be used to make lots of things, like dinner rolls, breadsticks, cinnamon rolls, and orange rolls. It is light and fluffy and so, so yummy.

Basic Sweet Dough
2 Tbsp. fast-rising yeast
2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 cup lukewarm water

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup cold water

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, well beaten
2 tsp. salt
7-7 1/2 cups flour

Put butter and milk in a pan and scald milk. While milk is heating, mix yeast, 2 tsp. sugar and warm water. Let proof for about 10 minutes. When milk has scalded, remove from heat and add cold water. Test to make sure it's not too hot, then pour into yeast mixture. Mix in eggs, sugar and salt. Add 3 1/2 cups of flour and mix well. Add remainder of flour and knead until smooth and elastic. (You can do all this in a Kitchen Aid mixer if you have one. When you add the first batch of flour, use the whisk attachment. When you add in the remaining flour, switch to the dough hook). Set in greased bowl and let rise until double (1-1 1/2 hours). Punch down and let rest for 15 minutes.

At this point, you can either divide the dough in half and use one half to make orange/cinnamon rolls and the other half to make dinner rolls or breadsticks, or you can make two batches of orange/cinnamon rolls. Just don't roll out all the dough at once because there is a ton and your counter probably isn't big enough.

Filling for orange rolls:
1 Tbsp. freshly grated orange rind
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup softened or melted butter

To continue making the orange rolls, roll dough 1/4 inch thick into a long rectangle. Spread with butter and sprinkle the sugar and orange rind over the top. (I find if you mix the orange rind and the sugar in a bowl beforehand, you get more even distribution of the orange). I also don't put any filling about 2 inches from the edge, because as you roll, the filling will get pushed outward.

Roll the dough up as tightly as possible. Get a piece of sewing thread and cut it about 12 inches long. Holding onto both ends, slide the thread under the roll of dough about 2 inches. Cross the threads on the top of the dough and pull them tightly. This will make perfect cuts of your orange rolls. Place them in a greased pan, cover loosely, and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Cream Cheese Orange Frosting:
3 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. grated orange rind.
1-2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Mix all ingredients together and spread over warm rolls. If I have made a ton of rolls, I will often leave them unfrosted and keep the frosting in the refrigerator. Then when I am ready to eat the rolls, I will frost them. (This way you don't have to refrigerate the rolls in order to keep the frosting from going bad). Or, just have a lot of people eat all the rolls right away, and you won't have a storage problem!

You can also freeze these for later. Once you have cut the rolls out, place them uncovered on a slightly greased pan in the freezer for about an hour (or until firm enough not to stick to each other). Then place in a plastic bag together and return to the freezer. Take them out the night before you want to bake them, let them rise in a greased baking pan overnight, and bake as instructed above. (Note: I have not actually tried this, so if you do, let me know how it turns out!)

Alternative Pie Crusts (For People Who Hate to Make Pies)

I've decided there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who like to make pies, and those who don't. I fall in the latter category. I make pies twice a year--for Thanksgiving and for Christmas. And I only do it then because I feel obligated out of tradtion. Also because my pumpkin and pecan pies are to-die-for. But otherwise, you can forget it.

The whole crux of the matter is the crust. I hate making pie crusts. Mostly because I think they take too much work and make too much mess and are too temperamental. Therefore, if I'm going to make a pie when it's not Thanksgiving or Christmas, I will opt for one of the two following "crust substitutes," if you will.

Actually, this first one I just barely discovered. It's wonderful if you're a coconut lover. I think it would work with any kind of pudding or custard-type pie. I made it with lemon pudding, and the whole thing just tasted like Spring to me.
I got this recipe from an All You magazine and altered it slightly.

Coconut Crust
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sugar cookie crumbs (about 12 cookies). I didn't have sugar cookies, so I just used vanilla sandwich cookies with the centers scraped out.
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I just used regular salted butter).

Stir coconut, crumbs and butter until blended. Firmly press onto bottom and up sides of pie plate. Chill 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake crust until golden, 15-20 minutes. Let cool on rack. Spread filling in crust and chill until ready to serve.

My second crust goes well with every kind of pie. I prefer it over regular crust, not just for ease of preparation, but also for taste and texture.

Crumble Crust
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans work well)

Mix until crumbly (can do this in a food processor--just make sure not to over-mix) and press onto the bottom and up the sides of a pie plate. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. This makes enough to cover the bottom of a 9x13 glass dish.

There you have it! No rolling, no flipping, no peeling off waxed paper, no ripping crust. Easy and yummy!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Corn Beef Noodle Casserole

This is a family recipe that we frequently have on Saint Patrick's Day. The casserole is good but even better warmed up the next day.

Corn Beef Noodle Casserole

1 tin of corn beef
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 lb. bacon, cut into pieces
2-3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 med. onion, chopped
16 oz. bag of egg noodles.
1 cup cheddar cheese
Cook egg noodles and set aside. (I used about 4 cups cooked)

Fry bacon until crisp-tender. Remove from pan. Drain all but 2 Tbsp. fat. Add chopped vegetables. Cook until tender. In a casserole dish, combine corn beef, cream of mushroom soup, bacon, and vegetables. Add egg noodles. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Real Belgian Waffles

In America, we think Belgian waffles are just waffles with big squares. While big squares are part of the equation, they are oh-so-such-a-small part of them. (I'm not sure that was proper English). Actually, there are two kinds of REAL Belgian waffles. The kind I'm going to teach you to make were invented in a town in Belgium called Liege (which Jacob and I passed through during our trip to Europe last summer). These waffles have two very special ingredients: yeast and pearl sugar. Pearl sugar is something that is difficult to find in America (you can order it at Amazon.com for a ridiculous price) so I suggest using something like this:
This is raw sugar which comes in much larger crystals than our typical granulated sugar. You want large crystals. They will give the waffles a slight crunch and cause carmelization around the edges. Yum! (It really stinks that it's Fast Sunday as I'm adding all these recipes).

So, here are the ingredients:

1 package of yeast (typically one package is about 2 1/2 tsp. of yeast)
1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 Tbsp. granulated white sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 cups flour
3 eggs
1 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon (optional)
1 cup Belgian pearl sugar

Instructions:
Mix the yeast, water, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl and let it develop or sit for 15 minutes.

Place the flour in a separate large mixing bowl and make a well in the center of the flour. Pour in the yeast mixture and mix until blended on medium speed.

Add the eggs one at a time, melted butter a bit at a time, and the vanilla and cinnamon. Mix well after each addition. Batter will be thick and very sticky.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and let the dough rest until it doubles in volume inside the bowl.

Gently fold in the pearl sugar and let the dough rest for 15 more minutes.

While the dough is resting, heat the Belgian waffle iron. Spoon about a 2" ball of dough into the center of the waffle iron. This should make about a 4" waffle. (These waffles are smaller than traditional waffles, but they are very rich and that's how they make them in Liege, so that's how you should make them too).

I cooked this waffle a little too long. Don't be like me.


Recipe makes 8-10 waffles.

Top with any multitude of wonderful toppings, such as strawberries, bananas, chocolate, whipped cream, ice cream, etc.


Chicken Enchiladas with Special Sauce and Guacamole

I have been making chicken enchiladas for years. I have always felt like they lacked a certain je ne se quois. (Please excuse my French. I don't speak French). I finally decided to try a recipe I have had forever, but mostly ignored. I ignored the special sauce, but once I made it, I knew I had found the missing element. Also, I think my guacamole is pretty awesome, so I figured I'd share that recipe as well. But make the special sauce from now on until you die. O.K? That's all I ask.

Enchiladas:
4 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 medium onion, finely chopped (it's up to you whether or not to saute these before adding them)
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 package flour tortillas

Put several spoonfuls of filling in tortillas and roll up. Place seam-side down in slightly greased 9x13 baking dish.

Special Sauce:
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cube or 1 tsp. chicken bouillon
1/2 can diced green chilies (I never have a can of green chilies, so I just left these out, and the sauce was still fantastic).
1/4 cup salsa
3 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup evaporated milk.

Mix together and pour over enchiladas when ready to bake. If desired, you can sprinkle grated cheese over the top. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until sauce is hot and cheese is melted.

Guacamole:
Ripe avocados
Finely chopped red onion
Chopped cilantro
Lime juice
Salt to taste

Mash ripe avocados with fork on a plate. Add remainder of ingredients and mix. Cover and refrigerate. If you put an avocado pit in the guacamole, it will stay bright green longer.

Honey Mustard Chicken

Everybody likes this chicken. If you don't like this chicken, there is something wrong with you (just kidding). I have found that you cannot go wrong when you include honey in your cooking. This recipe is also very versatile. You can either bake it in the oven with large pieces of chicken, or cut up the chicken and cook it for less time. Or you can do it all on the stovetop if you want to eat sooner (guess which way I always do it).
You can also mess with the proportions of the ingredients. In fact, I am just going to guess right now since I mostly just throw this together. Don't worry. You really can't mess this up.

Ingredients:
2-4 chicken breasts
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup mustard (please, not the hoity-toity fancy kind. Just use the yellow bottle).
1 tsp. curry powder
1/4 cup butter.

Directions:
To bake in oven: Melt butter in oven-safe pan. Mix honey, mustard, and curry into melted butter and add chicken. Cover chicken with sauce. If baking whole breasts, bake for 40-60 minutes. If baking cut-up chicken, bake for 30-40 minutes.

To make on the stove: Cut up chicken and cook in butter. When chicken is almost cooked through, add remainder of ingredients and stir.

Serve over rice.

Swedish Apple Pie

For Christmas, Jacob was given a Harry and David gift package with some lovely pears in it. The only problem was that I knew nobody would eat those pears except for me. So I decided to make this wonderful dessert with them. The recipe calls for apples, but you can substitute pears, and I think the result is divine. Plus, this pie is super easy and has no bottom crust. (Pie crust is my nemesis). This is actually more like a cobbler, but hey--if the Swedish think it's a pie, who am I to argue?

4-6 apples (or pears)
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 egg
6 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt

Place sliced apples or pears in bottom of pie plate. Mix the 2 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. sugar and sprinkle over apples. Mix remainder of ingredients and pour over apples. (I find this mixture to be very thick and often add a little milk or water. I also find it impossible to pour, and rather scoop and drop spoonfuls on top of the apples). Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

I have also made this with only 1/2 cup of sugar and it still tastes great, especially if you are going to top it with ice cream or whipped cream.

Thai Peanut Noodles


This is another recipe I got from LDS Living magazine. I love Thai food, especially if it has peanuts or peanut butter in it. These noodles are so delicious. This recipe serves 4-6.

8 oz. Udon or linguine noodles
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 Tbsp. creamy peanut butter
1-2 tsp. Sriracha chili sauce (I don't know what this is, so I just used sweet Thai chili sauce. The more you use, the hotter it is).
1 1/2 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh minced ginger
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
chopped green onions
chopped cilantro
chopped peanuts
2 limes, cut into quarters

Cook noodles in salted water according to package instructions. While noodles cook, combine chicken broth, peanut butter, chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk until smooth and remove from heat. Toss cooked noodles with sauce and divide among four bowls. Sprinkle with green onions, cilantro, chopped peanuts and garnish each serving with two lime quarters. Before eating, squeeze lime juice over noodles and stir to combine.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Perfect Sugar Cookies

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I thought I'd post this recipe for sugar cookies that I adore. I'm not a big fan of crispy cookies. I like mine soft, and that includes the ever-popular sugar cookie. This recipe has a secret ingredient that makes the cookies nice and soft. I've never been disappointed when using this recipe. Just make sure you really do use the sour cream (it is the secret ingredient!)

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups flour

Instructions:
Cream together sugar and butter. Add egg and vanilla. In separate bowl, combine sour cream, salt and soda. Add flour to butter mixture in thirds alternating with thirds of sour cream. Beat until smooth. Chill dough for several hours. Roll and cut with shaped cutters. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

In my quest for new and exciting things to make, I came across this recipe in LDS Living magazine and decided to give it a try. As an added bonus, we unexpectedly invited people over to eat this experiment. But we all agree--it was a hit! One note--be sure to use fresh rosemary, not the dry kind in the can. Every time I try to use the dry stuff, I feel like I'm eating pine needles.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary (strip the needles from the stem before chopping)
2 1/2 Tbsp. coarse-grain or Dijon mustard (I just used regular mustard, because we're not hoity-toity enough to have any Grey Poupon on hand)
coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds baby red, fingerling or other very small potatoes (as small as possible), washed. (My red potatoes were a bit large, so I cut them in half)
Kosher salt

Instructions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is heating, combine the olive oil, garlic, rosemary, mustard and some black pepper. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside.
When the water is boiling, add the potatoes and boil for about 10 minutes or until easily pierced with a fork. Drain, return potatoes to the pan and toss with the mustard mixture.
Spread the potatoes out evenly over the baking sheet and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until the skins begin to brown and sizzle.

If you want to do most of the prep work ahead of time, after spreading everything on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 8 hours. When ready to cook, sprinkle with kosher salt and roast 15-20 minutes at 425 degrees.

Banana Cake

If you love banana bread, then you will love this banana cake. It is just like banana bread, but in cake form. "Why don't you just make banana bread?" you ask. Well, if you want to have dessert for a crowd, or you have a lot of old bananas to use up, this cake is the answer. Plus, it's a lovely vehicle for the cream cheese frosting :)

Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups cake flour (I just used regular flour)
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening (I used oil)
2/3 cup buttermilk (I used milk with a splash of vinegar)
3 eggs
 1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (I used 4 ripe bananas)
2/3 cups finely chopped nuts (optional)

Instructions:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour baking pan, 13x9x2 inches, or two 9-inch or three 8-inch round layer pans. Measure all ingredients into a large mixer bowl. Blend 30 seconds on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes on high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour into pan(s)

Bake oblong 45-5- minutes, layers 35-40 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool.

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Blend cheese, milk, vanilla and salt. Gradually add sugar, beating until frosting is smooth and of spreading consistency. if necessary, stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Almond Cookies

Tomorrow is the Lunar New Year! Happy Year of the Rabbit! I thought I’d share a recipe for Almond Cookies.

I like these cookies because they are not too sweet.

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup sliced almonds

Directions

  1. Coarsely chop the almonds. You can do this by putting them in a bag and crushing the almond slices with your fingers or a rolling pin. The pieces should be about the size of a red pepper flake.
  2. Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together into a bowl. Add the almond pieces and mix well.
  3. Cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal and there are no large chunks of butter left.
  4. Scramble the egg lightly and mix in the almond extract.
  5. Add egg mixture to the dough and mix well.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 325 F.
  7. Roll dough into 1 inch balls.

    NOTE:
    The dough may be a little dry so you may need to squeeze the dough into balls.
  8. Set the dough balls 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  9. Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes. Cool on rack.

    NOTE: T
    hese cookies do not brown while baking. If they make a ‘sizzling’ noise when you pull them out of the oven, they need another minute.

Variation

'Restaurant' cookies
I know that some people do not like crushed nuts in their cookies. You can omit the crushed almonds and if you like, use whole almonds instead. In step 2, after rolling the dough into balls, press a whole almond (or sliced almond) into the top of each ball.

‘Rabbit’ cookies
In honor of the year of the rabbit you could also omit the crushed almonds and instead, use the sliced almonds as ‘rabbit ears’ in the cookies. Since these cookies do not brown much, their pale ivory color does remind me of a cute little bunny.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Japanese Deliciousness

Two weeks ago, we had a lovely quick visit from Daniel (Jacob's brother) and Charity and their kids. I wanted to make them something special, so for dinner, we had some of my favorite Japanese food. Many people have had tempura, but don't know how to make it. I am about to unfold this mystery to you. And most people have not had oyako donburi, but they don't know what they're missing out on. I shall also share this recipe with you, and then you will have the opportunity to eat "safe" (i.e. not raw) Japanese food that is so tasty and wonderful. Daniel and Charity commented that this was like a $50 restaurant meal. I would have to agree. Yes, it was THAT good :)

Tempura

Ingredients: A tempura or Asian frying mix (I just saw a box of tempura mix at Walmart, so it's easily accessible. Or you can buy something like this at an Asian market).

An assortment of vegetables. The following are what we had:

Carrots (cut into sticks)
Sweet potato (uncooked, sliced about 1/4 inch thick)
Asparagus spears
Onions (red or white, sliced into rings)
Parsley
Green and red peppers, sliced

Instructions:
Prepare the tempura batter by following the directions on the mix (usually this just says to add ice-water. It is very important that it be ice water, and not just tepid water). Dip the vegetables in the mix and fry at about 360 degrees in oil (I highly suggest a fryer for his, as it will regulate the temperature, and it is very difficult to do this if you're just using a pan on the stove). Turn vegetables in oil if necessary. Remove when golden and crispy. You can dip this in any kind of Asian sauce (like plum sauce) but I honestly think it is so good alone that it doesn't need any sauce.




The tempura was the appetizer. Then our main dish was the Oyako Donburi. This consists of Japanese rice covered with a very tasty broth with chicken, onions, and coddled eggs. If you've never had this, you'll just have to trust me on how good it is. This is the perfect dish for a super-cold day (like tomorrow, when the high here in Denver is supposed to be a whopping -2 degrees F).

Oyako Donburi

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. oil
1 1/2 cups chicken, sliced thin
2 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2-1 tsp. salt
1/2 a white or yellow onion, sliced
5 eggs
2 green onions, sliced (for garnish)
Cooked rice to fill 4-6 bowls

Instructions:
Saute chicken in oil (I usually don't do this and just cook the chicken in the stock). Add stock, salt, sugar, and soy sauce and onions and cook until chicken and onions are tender. Beat eggs slightly. Pour slowly over top of simmering stock. DO NOT MIX. Let eggs coddle on top of stock (you may need to put a lid over the pan to help the eggs get cooked all the way through). Ladle on top of rice in bowls and sprinkle green onions on top. Eat with chopsticks (if you can :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Banana Nut Bread

I love this banana bread. Love it. To death. And I have never had this recipe fail me. It turns out perfect, every time. And I feel like I can eat it for breakfast because it has fruit in it and must be healthy :)

Banana Nut Bread
1/2 cup shortening (I always use vegetable oil)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup water
3 mashed bananas (the riper, the better)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup walnuts

Cream sugar and shortening. Add eggs one at a time. Sift flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together and add alternately with water. Stir in mashed bananas and nuts. Pour into well-greased loaf pan (or 4 mini-loaf pans). Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes (40 minutes for mini-loaves).

Turkey Cranberry Wreath

This is a fantastic recipe for using up leftover turkey. It would be great for a New Year's Eve party. It looks difficult, but it's really very easy since it uses crescent rolls from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. This also works best on a round pizza stone.

Turkey Cranberry Wreath
2 packages (8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. honey Dijon mustard (I just use regular mustard)
1/2 tsp. coarsely gruond black pepper
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped (about 12 ounces)
1/2 cup celery, sliced
3 Tbsp. fresh parsley, snipped (I just use dry, or omit it altogether)
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or Craisins)
4 oz. Swiss cheese shredded (I just use mozzarella, but I think many white cheese would work well here)
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unroll crescent dough and separate into 16 trianges. With wide ends of tranagles toward the center, arrange 8 triangles in a circle on a large round stone. (the corners of the triangles will touch and the ends will extend over the edge of the stone). Match the other 8 triangles to the wide ends with the points going inward. Press the matching wide ends together to seal.
Mix together the mustard, mayonnaise and black pepper. Put in chopped turkey, celery, parsley, cranberries and cheese. Mix together and scoop onto the dough in a cirle over the seams of the rolls. Sprinkle walnuts over filling. Beginning in the center, lift one dough triangle over the top of the mixture. Then do the same with an outside dough triangle, slightly overlapping the other dough. Continue until the wreath is formed, and tuck the ends of the final dough pieces under. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown.

Pasta Carbonara

I love this dish. Whenever I eat it, I feel like I'm at the Macaroni Grill or Jonny Carino's. It's a total "restaurant quality" entree. This is also something I make with leftover ham, although the recipe calls for pancetta or bacon. When I use ham, I add a little oil to sautee the onions and garlic (otherwise, the bacon provides the grease for that). This is a great dish to make for Valentine's Day. It's out of the ordinary, and if you add some crusty artisan bread and some olive oil with balsamic vinegar for dipping, you have a truly romantic and wonderful meal.

(This recipe makes a boatload, so I usually only make half).

Pasta Carbonara

1 pound linguine or thin spaghetti
4 eggs
1 pound bacon or pancetta
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese
8-12 cloves garlic
1 large onion
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup butter (optional)
1 handful fresh parsley (optional)
1-2 Tbsp. black pepper (optional)

Slice up bacon into one-inch-wide pieces. Put in stainless steel pan and cook until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and add chopped onion. Cook on medium-high heat for a couple minutes. Then add the chopped or pressed garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes, then remove from pan and discard the grease.
Place the pan back on the burner and pour in half of the chicken stock to deglaze the pan. Use a wire whisk to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Return bacon, onions and garlic to the pan and add the other cup of chicken stock.

Meanwhile, boil your pasta until al dente.

In your serving bowl, crack your eggs and add most of the parmesan cheese and the parsley (reserve a little of both for garnish). Mix well with a fork.

Drain the water from your pasta. Immediately afterward, pour the pasta into the bowl with the egg/parmesan mixture. The hot noodles will cook the eggs. Then add the bacon/onion mixture and put in the butter. Mix all together. Pepper to taste. Garnish with parmesan and parsely. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Coconut Crisp Cookies


Coconut Crisp Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups rolled oats
2 cups flour
1 tsp. soda
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. nutmeg
¾ tsp. salt
2 cups coconut

Cream butter with sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. Add flour, baking powder, soda, salt and nutmeg. Stir in oats and coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degree oven until golden (12-15 minutes).

Friday, January 7, 2011

Just the ham, Ma'am.

Here are a couple great ways to use leftover ham. As a bonus, they are both super quick and easy.

Quiche Lorraine

Prepare ahead:
1/2 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup cubed ham or cooked, crumbled bacon or sausage
1/2 cup sauteed onions, peppers, and mushrooms (optional)

Put into an electric blender:
3 eggs
1/2 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

Beat in blender for 20 seconds. Pour from blender into a 10-inch greased pie plate. Sprinkle cheese, ham and vegetables over egg mixture. Press gently into egg mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting.


This next recipe is for fried rice. Natalie loves it.

All the measurements here are guesstimations, and you can alter this according to whatever you have. I just make it when I have some leftover rice and ham.

Fried Rice
Ingredients:
1/2 cup cubed ham
2 eggs
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, sliced in small pieces
2 green onions, sliced in small pieces
1/4 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 to 2 cups cold rice (leftover and stored in fridge)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce

Pour a little oil into a large skillet or pan. Put in diced carrots and allow to cook alone for a few minutes. Then add celery, frozen peas, and onions. When mostly cooked, push into one section of the pan and crack the eggs on the other side. Scramble the eggs, then push to one section and add the cubed ham. Mix everything up, then push to outside of pan and pour a little oil in the middle. Add rice and soy sauce and stir with everything. Add more soy sauce if desired. I sometimes add a little ginger for something different.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Comfort Food for the Winter

To continue in our series of leftover dishes, I thought I'd add two that are great for those really cold winter days. Both use leftover turkey and gravy. The first is Turkey Noodle Soup, with homemade noodles. My mom always boiled the turkey carcass, but I don't like doing this because little bones always end up in the soup. Instead, I just use the turkey drippings/broth or leftover gravy. This is also very versatile, as you can add as much turkey and vegetables as you like. The second dish is Turkey Pot Pie using leftover gravy and a can of cream of chicken soup (if you don't have enough gravy). These dishes are so warm and yummy and can't be beat when the temperature dips. Enjoy!

Turkey Noodle Soup

Leftover gravy or turkey broth. If using gravy, add an equal amount of water (or more) to get the correct consistency for soup.
Leftover turkey, chopped (dark meat works well in the soup)
Sliced carrots
Chopped celery
Chopped onion
Salt and pepper to taste

Noodles
1 egg
3 Tbsp. water
enough flour to make a dough which is not sticky and easily handled
salt and pepper to taste, or other spices like Italian spices, lemon pepper, etc.

Instructions:
Put the broth/gravy/water in a big pot and turn on medium high. Chop your vegetables and throw them in the pot. Add turkey. Cook until vegetables are tender. Meanwhile, make the noodle dough. Roll out quite thin (1/4 inch) on a heavily floured surface (I like to use a large cutting board). Cut noodles into strips using a knife or pizza cutter. Drop into simmering soup and let cook for about 15 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Turkey Pot Pie
Leftover gravy and/or can of cream of chicken soup
1 or 2 small potatoes, cubed
1 or 2 carrots, cubed
1/4--1/2 cup peas
Leftover turkey

Biscuit mix:
1 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup milk
1 egg

Instructions:
Put gravy and/or can of soup into a casserole dish. Boil or steam potatoes and carrots until soft. Add peas for the last minute or two of cooking (if frozen). Drain and pour into casserole dish. Add turkey. Mix. Mix the biscuits and pour batter over the top. (Alternately, make actual biscuits using any recipe you desire and place biscuits atop the gravy and vegetables).  Bake at 400 degrees (425 for high altitude) for 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Leftoverpalooza

A new year has begun. Time to figure out what the heck to do with all that turkey and ham in your freezer that were left over from Thanksgiving and Christmas. Never fear! I've got you covered with lots of tasty recipes. This first one is really handy for a day or two after a holiday in which you've used stuffing. But if you have a box of dry stuffing, that will work, too. This is one of my favorites, and it works great with chicken any time of the year.

Chicken (or turkey) Yum Yum

 2 cups cooked cut-up turkey or chicken
8 oz. sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box Stove Top Stuffing (or whatever leftover stuffing you already have)
1 1/2 cups boiling water (if using dry stuffing)

Put chicken or turkey in 9x13 pan. Mix sour cream and soup together and pour over chicken. Sprinkle dry Stove Top Stuffing over the top and pour the boiling water over everything. (If using leftover already-made stuffing, just put it over everything and do not pour water on it).
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

This goes great with mashed potatoes or rice.