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This week’s cook is a Humboldt native who moved to Arizona for a while, but came back and settled in Humboldt. Molly Peaton is the daughter of Linda and Bruce Gunderson. A graduate of Humboldt High School and Iowa Central Community College, Molly works as an operator in the Pharmaceutical Finishing Department at Boehringer Ingelheim (formerly known as Fort Dodge Animal Health). She has been employed there for 22 years.
Two children, two grandchildren, two dogs and a cat round out Molly’s family. Christopher, Molly’s son, is deceased. Her daughter, Stephanie, lives in Humboldt and works at West Fork Services. Alexander and Madison Peaton, her grandchildren (Chris’ children), live in Montana. The dogs, Rascal and Bailey, and Mia the cat keep Molly company at home.
Molly attends Zion Lutheran Church in Humboldt where she currently serves on the Stewardship committee. Besides cooking and trying new recipes, Molly enjoys singing with the Humboldt Community Chorus, gardening, working on her computer, traveling, volunteering and watching Humboldt Wildcat and Hawkeye Football, NASCAR, and hockey.
Mexican and Italian foods are favorites for Molly and in the summer, she loves to use garden vegetables especially in a fresh garden salad. She plans her menu ahead of time and shops it according to the specials listed in the newspaper advertisements.

Layered Mexican Casserole
1 pound ground beef
16 ounce can refried beans
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 package taco seasoning mix
(6) 8 inch tortillas
14-1/2 ounce can cut tomatoes,
3/4 cup sliced green onions
4 ounce can diced green chilies
2-1/4 ounce can ripe olives,
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded
cheddar cheese
Sour cream (optional)
Avocado slices (optional)
In a large skillet, brown ground beef; drain. Stir in beans, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. In lightly greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish, place 2 tortillas side by side on bottom of dish. Spread 1/3 of the meat mixture, over tortillas and sprinkle with 1/3 of each of the tomatoes, green onions, chilies, olives and cheese. Repeat layers twice, ending with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish each serving with sour cream and an avocado slice, if desired. Makes 8-10 servings.

Biscuit Tostadas
1 pound ground beef
16 ounce jar salsa
1 tube large refrigerated biscuits
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded
Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
In a skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink, drain. Add 1-1/2 cups salsa; heat through.
Split each biscuit in half; flatten into 4 inch rounds on ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Top with meat mixture, cheese, lettuce and remaining salsa. Yield 16 servings.

Chicken Casserole
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup 2% milk
8 ounces cooked rotini pasta
2 cups diced cooked chicken
4 cups frozen vegetables (use mixed vegetables or broccoli, carrots and cauliflower) thawed
2-1/4 cups shredded cheddar
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs or
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine 3 tablespoons of butter with the milk, pasta, chicken, veggies and cheddar cheese in an 8-inch baking dish.
Combine breadcrumbs or croutons, Parmesan, and remaining butter in a small bowl, sprinkle on top.
Bake 30 minutes or until heated through. Makes 6 servings.

Upside Down Pizza
1 pound ground beef*
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
14 ounce jar spaghetti sauce
(2) 8 ounce packages shredded
mozzarella cheese
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
In large skillet, cook beef, onion, and green pepper over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Add spaghetti sauce, cover and simmer until heated through. Pour into greased 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese.
In a blender, combine milk, eggs, oil, flour, and salt; cover and process until smooth. Pour over cheese. Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 12 servings.
*You may use pepperoni or sausage instead of ground beef.

Chris Peaton’s Super Bowl Sunday Dip
(In memory of Chris Peaton)
16 ounces cream cheese
8 ounces sour cream
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 cup Pace hot sauce
Sliced jalapeno peppers, to taste
Mix all of the above ingredients together and serve with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, chopped onion and chips.

Bean Dip (Aka: Tailgating)
15 ounce can refried beans
8 ounce carton sour cream
1 small can chopped black
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup salsa
A few jalapeno peppers
1 ounce cheddar cheese
Combine beans, sour cream, and chopped olives. Spread on bottom of a 9x13 pan then decorate with the rest of the ingredients. Serve with your favorite nacho chips.

My Chili
1 jar of home canned tomatoes
or 1 can of tomato sauce
1 large can of diced tomatoes
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
2 bratwursts with jalapenos
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
Parsley flakes
Pizza seasoning
1 small can of chili beans
Brown ground beef and drain. Cook bratwursts and cut into bite-size pieces. Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook for 2-3 hours. Enjoy!

Spinach Salad
8 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup feta cheese
1/4 small red onion (chopped)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
Wash and clean spinach. Tear into bite-sized pieces and place in a serving bowl. Add half of the feta cheese and the onion and toss to combine.
1/2 cup vinaigrette salad
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon orange zest
Combine dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Pour over salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and top with dried cranberries and almonds. Makes 4 servings.

Fruited Turkey Salad
1 medium apple, cored and
1-1/4 cups cubed cook turkey
8 ounce can unsweetened
pineapple chunks, drained
1 cup halved seedless grapes
1/4 cup fat-free cream cheese
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
In a serving bowl, combine the apple, turkey, pineapple and grapes. In another bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sour cream, lemon juice and mayonnaise. Fold into the turkey mixture. Makes 4 servings.

Berry Cheesecake Parfait
Prep time 15 minutes, makes 6 servings.
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 package vanilla pudding
1-1/2 cups thawed whipped
topping, divided
24 vanilla wafers, coarsely
1-1/2 cups berries (I used
strawberries and blueberries)
Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix; mix well. Whisk in 1 cup whipped topping.
Layer half each of wafers, berries and pudding in parfait glasses. Repeat layers. Top with rest of whipped topping and enjoy!
The COOK OF THE WEEK 3rd Edition Cookbook is available. Cost per copy is $10.70, plus $4.80 shipping/handling. Order a copy today by sending a check or money order, along with name and shipping address, to: Humboldt Independent, 512 Sumner Ave., Humboldt, IA 50548.