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, 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.