I am a country girl, born and raised on a farm in Central Iowa. I am the youngest of three children by 9 and 14 years….I was the OOPS! Being younger had its advantages in that I was an Aunt at age 7 and grew up with my niece and nephews. My Father died from a farm injury when I was 12, which forever changed my life and strengthened my bond with my Mother. I tagged along with my Mother to visit older people in our community and learned about their lives in the early 1900s, enjoying the many wonderful traditional foods and family stories.
I graduated from a class of 25, which gave me the advantage of being involved in sports and clubs that would not have been possible in a large High School. At that time, Home Ec was still an elective and I loved the cooking lessons (not so hot on the sewing classes). While at the University of Northern Iowa, I began to collect and read cookbooks. Perhaps it was the absence of Mom’s home cooking that drew me to dream about cooking (and eating) wonderful food. After college I moved to St. Joseph, MO and then to Scottsdale, AZ and began to experiment with traditional recipes and discovering those of my own. It was such an adventure to discover new dishes and restaurants in historic St. Joseph, Kansas City, then Scottsdale, Phoenix, San Diego…and the list goes on.
In the early ‘80s, I moved to Denver, got married, started my telecommunications sales career and discovered the fabulous restaurants in Denver and Aspen. My career took me to cities never before experienced and the seafood in San Francisco, Cajun fare in New Orleans, Tex-Mex in Dallas, Italian in New Jersey, etc. are experiences I will cherish. In 1986 our first daughter, Megan, was born and then Sarah in 1988. Instead of indulging in dinners out, we were cooking more at home and seeking ways to have good meals with limited time. Dinners went from adult gourmet to more kid friendly meals. Megan’s tastes were more basic while Sarah adopted a gourmet palate at an early age. At age 6 her favorite meal was steamed artichokes and crab legs with drawn butter…still her favorite. Megan’s tastes expanded rapidly when she went to college and started cooking for her roommates and now loves to whip up gourmet dishes.
I am blessed to have many gal pals that also share my passion for good food. I love to try new restaurants and look forward to the ‘pot luck’ feasts at our book club meetings and other gatherings. It isn’t just the good food that brings us to together, but the great love and admiration we all have for each other.
We are addicted foodies…but we try to remember our 12-step foodie program is needed.
God grant me the serenity to only eat the food that I LOVE,
the courage to walk away from junk food,
and the wisdom to recognize the difference. Oh YEAH!
Thai food is so delicious but always seemed overwhelming to make. Once I tried some of IowaGirlEats Thai recipes, I knew I could make these dishes at home. Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup does not disappoint and is a quick, easy recipe. At first the ingredients may seem overwhelming, but it’s worth it. I was leary about the amount of red curry paste but 4 tablespoons yielded a mild amount of heat and added wonderful flavor. I added about 1 T. of fresh cilantro to the soup for even more flavor. Some of my family are anti-mushroom, but replacing with carrots would be delicious! IowaGirl Eats also suggests subsituting the rice for riced cauliflower and that would make this dish even healthier.
Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
1 large shallot or small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
3-4 Tablespoons gluten free red curry paste, depending on how hot you like it
2 cups gluten free chicken broth
15oz can coconut milk (I prefer full fat in this recipe)
1 Tablespoon gluten free Tamari or soy sauce (dish will not be GF if using soy sauce)
2 teaspoons gluten free fish sauce
1 Tablespoon coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
salt and pepper
1lb 16/20 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
8oz mushrooms, very thinly sliced
4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
1 lime, cut in half, one half sliced into wedges
For serving: cooked rice, chopped cilantro (For even more flavor add 1 T. of fresh cilantro to the soup)
Melt oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add shallot or onion then saute until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and ginger then saute until extremely fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add red curry paste – careful, as it may spit a bit – then saute for 1 more minute. Slowly pour in chicken broth while scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot then add coconut milk, gluten free Tamari, fish sauce, coconut sugar, dried basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat up to high to bring the soup to a bubble then turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn heat up to high to bring soup to a rolling boil then add shrimp, mushrooms, and spinach. Simmer until shrimp are fully cooked through, 4-5 minutes, then squeeze in the juice of 1/2 lime and stir. Serve soup with cooked rice, lime wedges, and chopped fresh cilantro.
Later in life I discovered Brussel Sprouts were actually delicious when prepared properly. This pasta recipe sounded delicious and it didn’t disappoint. Iowa Girl Eats has another winner!
Sausage Brussel Sprouts Parmesan Pasta
1/2 lb. spaghetti (gluten free of not
8oz. sweet Italian sausage
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + a few drizzles
9 oz. shredded brussels sprouts
salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (or more or less)
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil in a large, 12” skillet over heat that’s just a touch above medium. Add sausage then brown, breaking it up as it cooks but taking care not to break the sausage up into too small of crumbles. Scoop sausage onto a plate then set aside.
Drop pasta into salted, boiling water then cook until it’s just under al dente – pasta will continue to cook a little bit in the skillet later. DO NOT DRAIN PASTA WATER when pasta is done cooking.
Meanwhile, heat 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in the skillet then add brussels sprouts and red chili pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, then saute until the brussels sprout are tender, 3-4 minutes. Add garlic then saute for 1 more minute or until very fragrant.
Using tongs, transfer spaghetti from pot to skillet then add parmesan cheese and cooked sausage. Add a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and enough pasta cooking water to help the parmesan cheese melt and evenly coat the pasta. Taste then season with salt and lots of freshly cracked black pepper, and then serve.
My Mother made wonderful cinnamon rolls and I can still smell the wonderful aroma of them baking in my Mothers farmhouse kitchen. Daughter, Megan, also makes wonderful cinnamon rolls that I must share. These are similar to Cinnabon rolls, rich and delicious. Megan, when can we have another cinnamon roll party?
The BEST Cinnamon Rolls
For the Dough:
1 cup scalded whole milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet dry active yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
2 large eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour (+ for rolling)
2 teaspoons salt
For the Cinnamon Roll Filling:
1 cup brown sugar packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/2 cup cream cheese softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
For the Dough:
Set the butter, eggs and cream cheese out to warm to room temperature. Place the milk in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. The moment it reaches a boil, remove from heat. (This process is called scalding, and it ensures the milk doesn’t affect the yeast’s ability to rise. Don’t skip!)
Pour the hot milk into the bowl of an electric mixer and add 1/2 cup butter, to bring the temperature down. Stir and allow the butter to melt completely. Then stir in the sugar. Touch the milk mixture to test the temperature. It should be close to luke warm. If it is not, add 1/2 cup flour and test again. Once it is just above room temperature, stir in the yeast and let it foam for approximately 10 minutes. (Too-hot liquid can kill yeast.)
Place the bread hook on the mixer and turn on low. Add the eggs, salt, and remaining flour up to 4 cups. Allow the mixer to “knead” the dough until it pulls away from the sides. Run the mixer for approximately 10 minutes to allow the dough to stretch and develop the gluten. If the dough seems too sticky after the first 2-3 minutes add an additional 1/4 cup flour. After 10 minutes, turn the mixer off. Cover the top with plastic, and allow the dough to rise until double in size, approximately 60-90 minutes in a warm kitchen.
For the Cinnamon Roll Filling:
Mix the brown sugar, softened butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg until smooth. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.
Dump the inflated dough out on a well-floured work surface. Fold into thirds and press flat. Then turn and fold into thirds again and press into a rectangle. Roll the rectangle out into a large 16 X 20 inch sheet.
Using a large flat spreader, spread the cinnamon filling over the sheet into a thin layer. Leave 1 1/2 inches bare (cinnamon-free) on one long edge. Be careful not to gouge holes in the dough. Starting at the cinnamon-covered long edge, roll the dough sheet tightly toward the uncovered edge to form a long tight log. Place a piece of parchment paper in a 9 X 13 inch baking dish. Then cut the log into 12 equal rolls. Tuck the loose end under each roll to secure it, and place them in the baking dish to rise.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Allow the rolls to rise for at least 30 minutes while the oven heats. Then bake for 20-25 minutes, until the edges are barely golden and the center of each roll is puffed high up.
For the Cream Cheese Frosting:
While the rolls are in the oven, beat the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar together until completely smooth. The moment the rolls come out of the oven gently spread half the glaze over the tops and allow it to seep down into the cracks. Five minutes later, add more glaze if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Notes: To prep ahead, make the dough the day before serving. Follow the instructions through cutting the rolls and placing them in the dish. Then cover the baking dish with plastic and refrigerate until morning. Set them out on the counter while the oven warms. Bake for approximately 30 minutes and glaze!
First, my apologies for the terrible photo. As I’ve said before, I’m not a food stylist but just enjoy sharing recipes that I’ve enjoyed. This is an easy and delicious way to prepare cod with a yummy, cheesy topping. I don’t prepare a lot of fish at home but this one was easy and something I’ll make again.
Baked Cod with Boursin
1 pound cod or haddock (try to get thick filets also called Captain’s cut)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup onion chopped
2 ounces crimini or porcini mushrooms, chopped
3 ounces fresh spinach
Juice of ½ lemon
Zest from half a lemon
2 tablespoons milk
¼ teaspoon white pepper
1 sleeve Ritz crackers, 30 crackers, crushed. See note above.
5.2 ounce package Boursin cheese flavored with herbs and garlic
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a small pan with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lay fish in center. If using a piece with the tail, fold tail under so the fish is even thickness.
In a medium pan, melt butter in olive oil over medium heat and add onions and cook for three minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for three more minutes. Add spinach and cook one minute or until spinach is wilted.
Pour this mixture into a medium bowl and add lemon juice, lemon zest, milk, pepper and crushed Ritz. Mix thoroughly to combine.
Spread the Boursin cheese over the fish evenly. Spread the stuffing loosely over the cheese pushing back up any stuffing that falls off.
Cover with parchment and foil and bake covered for 20 minutes.
Remove foil and parchment and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
The grandkids love chocolate chip cookies as well as peanut blossom cookies, so this recipe was a ‘must make’ for the grandkids. They were delicious and a easy way to combine our favorite flavors of peanut butter AND chocolate.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 cups (318 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (202 grams) creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 cup (200 grams) packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups (340 grams) semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
In a large heat safe bowl, microwave the butter until melted. Vigorously stir in the peanut butter into the hot butter until well combined. Stir in the granulated sugar and brown sugar until well combined. Add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add in the vanilla. Gradually stir in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Dough may be a little loose and slightly crumbly. If it’s unbearably crumbly, that’s likely due to the brand of peanut butter. Add 2 tablespoons milk if that’s the case.
OPTIONAL: If time permits, cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours but no more than 72 hours. Let the dough sit at room temperature just until it is soft enough to scoop.
Divide the dough into 3-tablespoon sized balls using a spring-loaded scoop and drop onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten dough slightly into disc shapes with your palms. Dot each disc with a few extra chocolate chips for picture-perfect cookies.
Bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Pnang Curry has become a favorite of mine, even as I stay away from most currys. Recipes that meld the flavors of peanut butter, vegetables, fish sauce, basil, etc. are favorites. Megan altered this recipe to add sweet potato, carrot, potato, and sometimes green beans and it is delicious!
1 tablespoon oil
2 tablespoons Panang curry paste * (fork-lore.com: use 1 tablespoon if you like less spice)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
2 pounds chicken breasts, cut into pieces against the grain
1 small onion , sliced
1 green bell pepper , thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper , thinly sliced
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
4 garlic cloves , minced
2 14 oz cans coconut milk (Chaokoh brand is my favorite)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup light brown sugar , packed
1 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves , roughly chopped
Hot cooked rice white, brown or jasmine rice
Optional (from fork-lore.com): add in white potato, sweet potato and green beans
Heat oil over medium-high heat in large non-stick skillet. Saute onions for 2 minutes, then add bell peppers, garlic and ginger and saute for 2 minutes more.
Add curry paste and peanut butter and saute for 1 minute. Add 1 ½ cans of coconut milk. Whisk cornstarch into remaining ½ can coconut milk then add to the pan. Stir well.
Add chicken, stirring to coat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or just until chicken is no longer pink and sauce begins to thicken.
Stir in sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, and basil. Simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Yummy sugar cookies compliments of daughter, Megan! How wonderful when she comes to visit and decides to bake, too.
Soft & Chewy Sugar Cookies
2½ cups (318 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
1¼ cups (250 grams) granulated sugar, plus ¼ cup (50 grams) for rolling
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt to combine.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed to beat the butter and 1¼ cups sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla, and beat until combined. Slowly beat in the flour mixture.
Place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow dish. Using a large (3-tablespoon) spring-loaded scoop, divide the dough into balls, then roll in sugar to coat evenly. Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart, and flatten slightly with the bottom of a measuring cup.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the cookies set and begin to brown. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Pasta with Bacon Cream Sauce is a family favorite, one I have made for well over 30 years. When I was working and the kids were at home, this was an easy weeknight dinner that pleased everyone. Now that my daughters have families of their own, this is a favorite of the next generation. Feel free to increase the amount of bacon or cheese to your liking.
Pasta with Bacon Cream Sauce
1 lb. vermicelli or very thin spaghetti
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 tablespoons butter
6 scallions, trimmed and cut into strips
1 cup heavy cream
ladle of pasta water
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Saute bacon until crisp. Remove bacon; add butter and scallions; saute 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in cream, pasta water and pepper. Hold over low heat.
Cook and drain pasta. Add to cream mixture; toss together.
Add all but 1 tablespoon bacon, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese and parsley, toss.
Serve at once, garnished with bacon and remaining Parmesan cheese.
Recipe from long ago and far away…but oh, so good!
Beer Bread is so ridiculously easy and delicious. Friends tell me they made this years ago, so why have I never heard of it? It’s wonderful with soups and out of this world toasted! I’m not a beer drinker but had a few bottles in the frig from friend’s visits. Great way to use the beer and enjoy the tasty results! I love it toasted with peanut butter or jelly!
Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour (see Tip)
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 (12-ounce) can beer (the blander the better)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (optional)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and dust with cornmeal. For stovetop baking, use a heavy Dutch oven or similar pot that has been greased and dusted with cornmeal but not heated.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt and sugar and stir in the beer. Place batter in the pan. Oven baking will take about 35 minutes. For stovetop baking, cover the pan and place it on a heat shield over a low to medium flame and bake until a knife or cake tester comes out clean.
Remove from pan, drizzle with butter if desired and allow to cool completely before slicing. The bread has a texture similar to that of English muffins and tastes best toasted.
Three cups of self-rising flour can be substituted. Omit the baking powder and salt.