Holiday home cooking
LANESBORO – For a busy cook like Marie Streeter, having a stand mixer break down at the holidays is almost like when a farmer’s combine breaks down at harvest.
“I cook so much that I somehow managed to strip a gear on my stand mixer,” said Streeter, who lives on a grain and hog farm south of Lanesboro. “Fortunately, my husband, Dan, took a look inside the mixer’s motor and said, ‘That’s like a combine, only smaller. I can fix that.'”
Streeter is glad to have her kitchen equipment back in service, especially as she prepares for Christmas.
Whether she’s baking cookies and brownies for the church youth group, making soup for her daughters’ swim team or preparing dinner for her family, Streeter enjoys spending time in the kitchen.
It’s a place the self-taught cook knows well.
“I was about 10 when I started cooking,” said Streeter, who grew up on a farm north of Carroll. “My mom worked a lot as a nurse, so I fixed a lot of meals for our family.”
Streeter expanded her culinary skills in 4-H and entered award-winning banana bread and other baked goods in the Carroll County Fair.
After graduating from Carroll High School in 1988, Streeter worked in the University of Northern Iowa’s dining service for two years as she earned her production management degree.
While Streeter worked for 12 years at American Home Shield, in Carroll, and became a sales supervisor, she gave up her job 10 years ago to become a stay-at-home mom.
Today, she stays busy helping her husband on the farm and raising their three daughters, Hannah, 18; Lily, 16; and Abbie, 14.
“Around here we don’t eat a lot of pre-packaged food,” said Streeter, whose grocery cart is often half full of fresh ingredients before she gets past the produce aisle at the grocery store. “I sneak vegetables into everything I can.”
In addition to serving family favorites like pork tacos, chicken club casserole and white chicken chili throughout the year, Streeter prepares an array of specialties during the holidays, including homemade candies and cookies.
“A lot of times we end up with a whole houseful of kids here,” said Streeter, who plays an active role in the United Methodist Church in Lanesboro, serving as an assistant coach with the Carroll Area Swim Team, and is head coach for the Glidden Swim Team.
“Home cooking is important,” she said, “because I care about the food I serve my family and our friends.”
These classic cookies can be enjoyed by themselves or served with pumpkin dip (see recipe below.)
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup molasses
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream butter and sugar.
Add eggs one at a time to the mixture. Add molasses.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, ground cloves and salt.
Blend the wet ingredients and dry ingredients together gradually.
Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors develop.
Use a small spoon to scoop out balls of dough. Roll each ball in granulated sugar, and place on cookie sheet.
Bake gingersnaps for about 10 minutes, until the edges of the cookies start to turn brown.
After removing gingersnaps from the oven, cool them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes.
Then transfer gingersnaps to a cooling rack. These cookies freeze well.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups canned pumpkin
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Combine all ingredients and serve with gingersnaps, sugar wafer cookies or other treats.
Cake ball truffles
1 box chocolate cake mix
1 container cake frosting
Almond bark (white and chocolate)
Prepare the cake mix following the directions on the box. After baking the cake and letting it cool, break up the cake into small pieces.
Combine the cake pieces with a can of frosting. Shape mixture into balls and freeze.
Remove from freezer, and dip cake balls in melted white almond bark or a mixture of chocolate chips and chocolate almond bark (mixed about half and half).
Place cake balls on a tray lined with waxed paper.
Decorate the cake balls with sprinkles, if desired, before the candy coating hardens.
1 4- to 5-pound pork roast (a roast with a little more fat works better than a tenderloin)
1 16-ounce jar of salsa
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 beef bouillon cube
Put meat in slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients.
Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Remove meat from the slow cooker.
Shred the meat, remove the excess fat, and return meat to slow cooker.
Stir to combine all the ingredients.
Use this as a filling in hard shell or soft-shell tacos.
Streeter prefers to serve soft-shell tacos and includes toppings like chopped tomatoes, shredded cheese, cilantro and shredded cabbage.
This recipe freezes well, Streeter said.
Chicken club casserole
4 cups macaroni, uncooked (pasta can be elbow macaroni or similar pasta)
4 cups cooked chicken
2 cans cheese soup
1 pound bacon, cooked and cubed, divided
1 cup milk
1 cup mayonnaise
4 fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 10-ounce package spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess moisture
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese, divided
Grease one 9-by-13-inch baking pan or two 9-by-9-inch baking pans.
Cook the macaroni.
In a large bowl, combine chicken, cheese soup, half of the bacon, milk, mayonnaise, tomatoes, spinach and 1 cup of cheese.
Add the cooked macaroni, then pour mixture into pan.
Sprinkle casserole with remaining bacon and cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until bubbly.
This casserole freezes well.
White chicken chili
3 cans northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 pounds chicken breast, cooked and cubed
2 cans green chilies
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 16-ounce jar alfredo sauce
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon white or black pepper
1 14.5-ounce can chicken broth
Combine all ingredients.
Heat in a slow cooker on low.
Stir occasionally to melt the cheese.
Serve with tortilla chips.
These bars have a delicious shortbread crust, a homemade caramel center, and a smooth chocolate top.
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup butter, softened but not melted
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 cups chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray.
In a small bowl, mix together flour and sugar, and cut in the 2/3 cup butter with a butter knife. Keep cutting it in the mixture until it has formed evenly-sized crumbs.
Press the mixture into the bottom of the pan. Bake for 20 minutes, until the edges of the bars start to turn a golden brown.
Remove from oven and let the bars cool completely.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
Continue stirring for 5 more minutes, then remove from heat and stir for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour this caramel mixture over the shortbread crust. Let it cool until the caramel mixture starts to firm. (The process can be speeded up by putting the bars in the refrigerator.)
In a microwave-safe bowl, mix together the chocolate chips and vegetable oil. Microwave for 1 minute, and then remove and stir.
Continue to microwave the chocolate mixture in 15 second intervals until it is completely smooth.
Pour chocolate over top the caramel layer, and let it cool.
Once the chocolate has hardened, cut into squares with a warm knife (that will make them cut cleaner).
This recipe works well for individual caramels or for hand-dipped caramel apples.
1 cup butter
16-ounce package brown sugar (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 cup corn syrup
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon real vanilla
Line an 8-by-8-inch or 9-by-9-inch pan with foil. Grease the foil.
Melt butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan.
Add brown sugar, corn syrup and sweetened condensed milk.
Cook and stir continuously over medium to medium-high heat. (Use a candy thermometer and watch for the mixture to reach 248 degrees, the firm ball stage).
It will take about 20 minutes of continuous stirring to reach this point.
Pour mixture into greased, lined pan. Wait for the caramel to cool. Cut into squares.
Wrap each caramel in waxed paper.
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