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Master of the kitchen

By Staff | Apr 17, 2015

-Farm News photos by Michele Linck SUSAN HOULTON cuts her freshly baked breakfast pizza.


IRETON – Susan Houlton’s baked goods look perfect, as if cosmetically enhanced by a food magazine’s art department.

But they weren’t.

Her baking skills, she said, are a gift learned from her mother and grandmother, and she enjoys sharing.

That includes recipes. There are no secret ingredients in this kitchen.

Susan Houlton

In fact, Houlton’s peanut butter cream puff pie once won a contest sponsored by a local media outlet.

But the butterscotch version is her favorite, she said, both to make and to eat.

Her husband, Doug Houlton, gets his favorite version, a chocolate pie, at least once a year, for his birthday.

“My mom made pies,” Houlton said. “I learned how to bake from her.

“She always had the best meringue.”

HOULTON’S DISHES include peanut butter pies, on counter, flanking banana-oatmeal cookies. On the counter, from front to back, are a plate of mock filet mignon and stuffed beef log, apple dumplings and breakfast pizza.

Houlton typically gives her the pies to friends or family or, she may take a cake to a friend “just because,” she said.

She serves as a substitute cook for the West Sioux Community School District.

She bakes guilt-assuaging banana-oatmeal cookies, loaded with healthy ingredients.

Her recipe for apple dumplings came from a cousin in Wisconsin, where Houlton spent most of her childhood, next door to the world-renowned House on the Rock, in Dodgeville, before moving to Sioux County with her family.

Her father, then a sales rep for A.O. Smith Harvester, was transferred here.

Houlton went to high school in Orange City, graduated from MOC-Floyd Valley High School, where she met her husband.

The couple farms near Ireton and are frequently visited by their grandchildren, who appreciate grandma’s cooking and baking as well as their opportunities to ride ATVs on the farm, Moulton said.

Peanut butter pie


1/4 cup margarine or butter

1/2 cup flour

Melt margarine or butter and add flour until ball forms, and then put in pie pan and pat out.

Bake at 350 for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.


3/4 cup sugar

3 tablespoons corn starch

3 egg yolks

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix sugar and corn starch, add milk and then add beaten egg yolks.

Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir, microwave 2 minutes more, stir, and do this until pudding is thickened.

Add butter and vanilla.


2 tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 cup powdered sugar

Combine until crumbly (may need a tad more powdered sugar).

Put half this mixture over bottom of pie crust and top with pudding.


3 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg whites, cream of tartar and vanilla.

When it starts getting stiff, add sugar gradually until stiff peaks form.

Put on top of pudding filling in pan.

Top with remaining peanut butter topping.

Bake at 350 until starts to brown.

Apple dumplings

4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and quartered

2 tubes crescent rolls (8 each, no substitutes)


1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup butter


1 12-ounce can Mountain Dew

Peel, quarter the apples. Wrap each quarter in a crescent roll. Place in a greased, 9-by-13-inch pan. Pour sugar sauce over apples and crescents.

Pour entire contents of Mountain Dew over everything. Do not stir.

Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Let stand for at least one hour before serving.

Banana-oatmeal cookies

3 bananas, mashed

2 cups of oatmeal

1/3 cup canola oil or applesauce

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup brown sugar (may be omitted)

Mix all ingredients together. Drop by spoonful onto baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 11 to 13 minutes.

Breakfast pizza

1 12-inch prebaked pizza crust

1 cup chopped tomatoes and any other desired toppings

1 2.5-ounce package country gravy mix

2 tablespoons margarine

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup water

8 eggs

1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup meat (sausage, ham or bacon)

1 cup mushrooms or other desired toppings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In saucepan, add water and 1 cup of milk.

Whisk in gravy mix and bring to a boil. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly until thick. Cool slightly.

In large skillet, melt margarine. Beat eggs with 1/2 cup milk and add to skillet.

Scramble eggs in skillet until set and in small chunks. Place crust on pizza stone or cookie sheet.

Spread gravy evenly over top. Sprinkle meat over gravy. Sprinkle eggs over meat. Salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs evenly.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, until bubbly and cheese is melted and browning.

Cool slightly and cut into wedges.

Mock filet mignon

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried minced onion or fresh onion

1/4 cup catsup

1 teaspoon garlic juice or 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

Salt and pepper to taste

4 slices of bacon, uncooked

Combine ground beef, Worcestershire sauce, onion, catsup, garlic juice, salt and pepper.

Shape into four patties. Wrap a bacon slice around each patty and secure with a toothpick.

Grill to desired doneness.

Stuffed beef logs

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

3/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

12 strips Cheddar cheese (4-by-1/4-inch wide)

12 slices of bacon

Combine beef, crumbs, onion, egg, salt and 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce. Divide into 12 portions.

Shape each into a log with a strip of cheese to form a roll.

Wrap each with a slice of bacon. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush liberally with sauce.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes until done, brushing once more with sauce.

The logs are good to make ahead and freeze. Just add 15 minutes to baking time.

Bacon-wrapped Club crackers

2 pounds bacon

1 box Club crackers

1 container Parmesan cheese

Put 1 teaspoon of Parmesan cheese onto each cracker.

Carefully wrap uncooked bacon around cracker.

Bake in oven at 250 degrees for 45 minutes or at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

To serve as hors d’oevres, put the baked crackers in a warm crockpot on the buffet table.

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