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, 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!)

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

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.

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

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 :)

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)

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.


  • 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


  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.

    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.


'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.