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.

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 :)


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)
Green and red peppers, sliced

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

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

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
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

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.

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

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


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.