OCONTO - - No doubt many of us have been feasting on leftover turkey, dressing and sweet potatoes for the past week. Thanksgiving is a prime time for cooks everywhere to strut their stuff and show what good cooks they are. By her own admission, Nicole Badgley is not one of them.
“If there was a house without a kitchen, I would want to live there,” proclaimed Nicole, this week’s Cook of the Week. “Fortunately, my husband is the Fire Chief in Oconto and he’s installed a fire alarm right above the stove, in case I need a timer while cooking!”
As a child, Nicole’s mother told her that she wasn’t capable of cooking without dirtying every pan and surface in the kitchen. To her credit, she kept trying and soon mastered the “stand-up” gravy her father adored. The secret to “stand-up” gravy is to get it so thick that the stirring spoon literally stands straight up in the middle of the pan.
The making of gravy seemed to be something Nicole had vanquished, until her daughter, Laney, chipped in, reporting that her mother had burned gravy last week. “I can make gravy if the phone doesn’t ring,” corrected Nicole.
After that, Laney shared a few more of her mother’s disaster stories, before proudly announcing that she was learning to make macaroni and cheese. When Laney was asked why she likes to cook, her response was, “Self-preservation.” Nicole clarified with a laugh, “Well, my family doesn’t starve, but my children are learning to cook to save themselves.”
According to Nicole, all three of her kids, including her 15 year-old son Carson, like cooking due to the time spent in 4H and with their grandmas.
Nicole proclaims the hardest part for her is tying to think of what to make. Fortunately, her daughter Emma, age 12, often calls her after school to ask what she should get out for supper. By having suggestions and ideas given to her by her kids, Nicole finds it easier to come up with something for dinner.
If an idea isn’t sparked, Nicole will simply open her recipe box, which consists of scraps of paper taped to the inside of her cupboards (Really, there’s a picture to prove it!). When questioned more about the recipes inside the cupboard, Nicole revealed that those are sacred recipes, mainly of a dump and pour cooking style.
“I’ve had to beg, borrow, and steal for those,” joked Nicole.
When Nicole and her husband, Cliff, first started dating, she tried to impress him by making him enchiladas, but she made them so hot he had a tough time eating them. Since then, she’s learned how to make them a little more mild. Recently, Mrs. Badgley prepared 20 pounds of enchiladas for the South Loup Bobcats football team. By the time the boys had finished, the pan was scrapped clean.
“It’s one of the few things I’m known for,” commented Nicole, in reference to meal preparations.
For the few recipes she has mastered and for the people who keep trying to help her, Nicole expressed her thanks by saying, “I just want to say that everybody thinks they can help me become a better cook by giving me good recipes. It’s not helping, but I would like to thank all of my friends and family for trying and never giving up on me.”
So from the lady who couldn’t get Jell-O to stand-up until she was in junior high and who’s made things the dog wouldn’t even eat, here are her family’s favorite recipes. Good Luck!
SWEET POTATO SOUFFLÉ
1 – large can of sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
1 – cup sugar
1/2 – cup milk
1/3 – stick oleo
2 – eggs beaten
1/2 – teaspoon salt
Mix well and pour into buttered 8x8 casserole dish.
1 – cup brown sugar
1/2 – cup flour
1/3 – cup melted butter
1 – cup pecans
Mix and crumble on top. Bake 35-45 minutes, uncovered.
1 – 17-ounce can of whole corn
1 – can cream corn
8 - ounces Velveeta cheese
1 – cup spaghetti, broken into pieces
1 – stick margarine
2 – tablespoons onion
In a two-quart casserole dish, melt margarine and add all ingredients. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake at 375 for 15 minutes more, stirring once or twice.
4 – cans biscuits, cut each biscuit into fourths
Slow melt and bring to a boil:
1 – cup vanilla ice cream
1 – stick real butter
3/4 – cup brown sugar
3/4 – cup white sugar
Shake up biscuit fourths in Ziploc bag with cinnamon sugar. Place half of the biscuits in bunt pan and pour on top half of the melted sauce. Add rest of biscuits and pour over rest of sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
In a 9x13 pan, add mild or hot enchilada sauce covering the bottom of pan.
Roll into each tortilla:
•small handful of Mexican shredded cheese
•spoonful of taco seasoned hamburger
•dollop of sour cream
•spoonful of refried beans, smeared
•spoonful of chunky salsa, hot or mild
Pour rest of enchilada sauce on top to wet all rolled tortillas. Cover with more shredded Mexican cheese. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for an hour. Then uncover and bake until cheese is melted and browning.
The brand of hot salsa is a secret.