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Mission: Satisfy 5 hungry men

By Staff | Feb 19, 2010

Jodi Wagenaar dishes up fresh oatmeal cookies in her kitchen in southern Osceola County. A consultant for The Pampered Chef, she's kept busy cooking for husband, Clayton, and four sons.

MELVIN – Growing up on a farm with three brothers gave this week’s farm cook lots of practice preparing meals to satisfy a working male’s appetite. Jodi Wagenaar, who lives on an acreage near this southern Osceola County community, said her early years in the kitchen well prepared her for cooking for her husband, Clayton, and four boys she is for whom she is cooking now.

But don’t feel sorry for her, Wagenaar said. She describes herself as a chef of the “pampered kind.”

As a director and consultant for The Pampered Chef, she has been able to enjoy cooking with special tools and to learn satisfying recipes that she can prepare quickly and on a budget.

“I really have always enjoyed cooking,” said Wagenaar, “so this job has been such a great fit for me and my family. I do what I enjoy, but I have also been able to plan it around the boy’s schedules.”

Clayton Wagenaar has a small tractor restoration business and works at the Cooperative Elevator Association in Harris in the county’s northeast corner. Along with her Pampered Chef position, Jodi Wagenaar substitutes in the kitchen for the Sibley-Ocheyedan school district. The Wagenaars are youth group leaders at their church and are kept busy running to their sons’ basketball, FFA and 4-H activities.

Jodi Wagenaar drops oatmeal cookies onto a round baking platter.

“For me living here in the country is peaceful,” Jodi Wagenaar said. “I like to look out and be able to see for miles.”

Rearing four sons keeps them busy. The boys raise livestock for 4-H and FFA projects and also help out at Great Heritage Holsteins, a local neighboring dairy operation.

“I think that farm work has allowed them to learn a good work ethic,” she added.

As far as Wagenaar’s work with The Pampered Chef, she said she is “very fortunate to be involved with the company.” Her excitement was apparent as she opened her boxes of new products for Spring sales that had just arrived.

“I just love to spend time with women and see their eyes light up when I prepare something quick, simple and delicious and they realize that they can do the same thing,” Wagenaar said. “Cooking can be such a challenge. It’s fun to share products and recipes that can make their lives a little easier.”

For more baking and cooking tips contact Jodi Wagenaar by e-mail jwagenaar@evertek.net.

Jodi’s monster cookies

6 eggs

1 cup butter or oleo

2 1/2 cups of brown sugar

2 cups of white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 teaspoons of corn syrup

3 cups of peanut butter

4 teaspoons soda

Cream above, then mix in:

9 cups of oatmeal

2 1/2 cups of M & Ms, chocolate chips or raisins

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Makes 5 dozen small cookies.

Ham and cheese calzone

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 cup fresh broccoli florets

1 8-ounce package slice smoked deli ham

1/2 small onion

8 ounces Swiss cheese, grated, divided

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided

2 packages refrigerated pizza crust

1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine mayonnaise and mustard. Cut broccoli into small florets; dice ham and coarsely chop onion, and grate Swiss cheese. Combine broccoli, ham, onion and half of the Swiss cheese and mix well.

Lightly brush a large bar pan with oil.

Unroll one package of dough onto pan, gently stretching and pressing dough to cover bottom. Sprinkle with remaining Swiss cheese to within 1 inch of edges; spoon ham mixture over cheese. Unroll remaining dough directly over filling, matching edges of dough and shaping to fit as dough is unrolled.

Trim 1/2 inch off sides of dough and press edges to seal. Brush remaining oil over dough. Make 12 slits, in three rows of four each, into top crust.

Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. Meanwhile, sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over calzone. Return calzone to oven; bake 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is deep golden brown.

Yield: 8 servings

Cook’s tip: Choose smoked rather than boiled ham to keep the crust from becoming soggy.

Loaded baked potato chowder

3 large baking potatoes

31/2 cups milk, divided

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons butter

3 green onions with tops

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Optional toppings can include chopped cooked bacon, sour cream or steamed broccoli florets.

Slice potatoes in half lengthwise and place in a deep covered dish. Pour 1/2 cup of milk over potatoes. Microwave, covered, on high for 11 minutes. Remove dish baker from microwave. Move center potatoes to ends of baker and outer potatoes to center. Cover and microwave on high for another 8 to 11 minutes or until potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.

Remove baker from microwave and coarsely mash potatoes.

Whisk cream cheese until smooth and slowly add remaining 3 cups of milk, whisking until smooth. Add cream cheese mixture and butter to dish.

Microwave, covered, on high for 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture is hot. Slice green onions.

Remove dish from microwave and grate Cheddar cheese over chowder. Add green onions, salt and black pepper and mix until cheese is melted.

Serve with choice of optional toppings, if desired.

Yield: 6 servings.

30-minute chicken

1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 to 4 pounds)

1 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

For chicken, lightly spray baking pan with oil. Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken cavity. Rinse chicken with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Trim excess fat, if necessary. Tie the ends together with cotton string. Lift wing tips up toward neck, then tuck under back of chicken.

Brush entire chicken with oil. In a small bowl, combine the flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and thyme leaves and mix well. With mixture, completely coat outside of the chicken.

Place chicken, breast-side up, into baking dish. Microwave, uncovered, on high for 25 to 30 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 165 degrees in the thickest part of the breast and the juices run clear. Remove from microwave. Cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Contact Robyn Kruger by e-mail at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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