QHS teacher urges students to be creative in the kitchen

Hummingbird cake
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Mar. 8, 2017 8:50 am Updated: Mar. 8, 2017 9:41 pm
Tina Kennedy

QUINCY - Tina Kennedy remembers learning to cook in 4-H while growing up in Edgar County, and one of her first dishes was coffee cake.

"I remember making it 20 times before the fair," Kennedy said. "We were supposed to practice at least 15 times, but my family liked it. They kept asking for it."

Seeing Kennedy's growing love of cooking prompted her mom to turn over the kitchen duties.

"She would let me decide what I wanted to make, and I think that's why I really enjoyed cooking," Kennedy said. "I could go to the grocery store and get any supplies I wanted, come home and cook until my heart was content."

All that time in the kitchen led to a career teaching others how to cook with 26 years teaching family consumer science in Mendon and the last 10 teaching parenting, consumer education and commercial foods to Quincy High School students. Her own kids had little interest in learning to cook until they moved away from home, but Kennedy's 5-year-old granddaughter already enjoys spending time in the kitchen.

Desserts are Kennedy's specialty, but she enjoys all types of cooking, especially new recipes to keep from getting bored.

Like her students, Kennedy sometimes follows the recipe and sometimes changes it as she goes along. "There are times when I want to follow the recipe exactly if we're catering. Other times I tell them sample and season however you would like. Be creative," Kennedy said.

Commercial foods classes prepare students for working in the food industry. "It's not just cooking for yourself. It's cooking for others as well," Kennedy said.

A recent catering job had the students making hummingbird cake, one of Kennedy's all-time favorites. "It is so moist and wonderful. It seems to get better as it sets," she said.

Other student-approved recipes are chicken Parmesan, a "fun to make" dish with "amazing" Italian taste, and chicken enchiladas. "They said this had to be their all-time favorite. It's a real simple recipe," Kennedy said.

This time of year, Kennedy might reach for shrimp monterey, a dish starring one of her favorite ingredients, or the versatile taco soup which can be made with ground turkey, chicken or beef.

To cater to her own sweet tooth, and that of her students, she might reach for the Neiman Marcus cookie recipe that calls for chocolate chips and grated chocolate or the "really quick and easy to make" Neiman Marcus brownies. Pumpkin crunch "is a little different than a regular pumpkin pie. I personally like it better," Kennedy said.

Another personal favorite is grandma's dishpan Cookies, an old recipe that makes a huge batch. "I make my own cookie rolls and freeze them. It's easy to slice off and bake four or five cookies at a time," she said. "My father's at the veterans home. I prepare lunch and dinner for him, and he likes a warm cookie or two."

Chicken Enchiladas

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese, divided

1 12-inch flour tortilla

1/4 cup milk

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the green onion until tender, about three to four minutes. Add the garlic powder, then stir in the green chiles, cream of mushroom soup and sour cream. Mix well. Reserve three-quarters of the sauce, and set aside. To the remaining one-quarter of the sauce in the saucepan, add the chicken and 1/2 cup of shredded Cheddar cheese; stir together.

Fill each tortilla with the chicken mixture and roll up. Place seam side down in a lightly greased large baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the reserved sauce with the milk. Spoon this mixture over the tortillas, and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese. Bake at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

salt and pepper

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten

4 teaspoons butter

2 cups spaghetti sauce

4 slices mozzarella cheese

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

cooked spaghetti for serving

Pound chicken to flatten, then add salt and pepper to taste. Dip chicken in egg, then in bread crumbs. Fry in butter in hot skillet, turning and browning for 10 minutes or until chicken is done; remove from skillet. Add spaghetti sauce to skillet, and heat thoroughly. Add chicken to spaghetti sauce. Place slices of mozzarella on top of chicken. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Cover and cook until cheese is melted. Serve over spaghetti.

Shrimp Monterey

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons butter

2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth

2 cups (eight ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

In a skillet over medium heat, saute garlic in butter for 1 minute. Add shrimp; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until pink. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp to a greased 11-by-7-by-2-inch baking dish; set aside and keep warm.

Add wine or broth to the skillet, and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 5 minutes or until sauce is reduced. Pour over shrimp; top with cheese and parsley. Bake, uncovered, at 350 F for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Makes six servings.

Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey or chicken

1 onion

2 cans stewed tomatoes

1 can each black beans, red beans and pinto beans

1 can corn

1 can Rotel

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix

1 package taco seasoning

In a skillet, cook turkey or chicken and onion until done; drain if needed. In a large saucepan, combine turkey or chicken and onion with remaining ingredients. Heat to blend flavors before serving.

NOTE: If desired, substitute hamburger for ground turkey or chicken.

Grandma's Dishpan Cookies

4 eggs

1 cup butter

1 cup shortening

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons baking soda

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 3/4 cups flour

4 cups quick oats

4 cups corn flakes

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups chopped nuts

1 cup coconut

Cream together first four ingredients. Combine brown sugar, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and flour; stir into butter mixture until creamy. Stir in oats, corn flakes, salt, nuts and coconut; mix well. Drop by teaspoonful on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes.

Hummingbird Cake

2 sticks butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

4 eggs

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana (about four medium bananas)

1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple

In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with a mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Add to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Add the bananas and pineapple, beating until combined.

Coat three nine-inch cake pans with nonstick baking spray.

Using a measuring cup, spoon batter into each of the pans, one scoop at a time to ensure an even distribution. Drop the pans against the counter to get any air bubbles out of the batter.

Bake at 350 F until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from the pans and cool completely on wire racks.


2 sticks butter, softened

2 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened

2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat butter and cream cheese together with a handheld electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in the powdered sugar in increments. Lastly beat in the lemon juice and vanilla.

Spread some frosting between the cake layers. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake. Garnish with coconut and nuts if desired.

Neiman Marcus Brownies

1 box butter pecan cake mix, dry

1 stick oleo or butter, melted

1 egg

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

1 stick oleo or butter, softened

2 eggs

1 box powdered sugar

Mix together dry cake mix, melted butter and egg. Press into a lightly-greased 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add eggs and powdered sugar. Mix well, and pour over crust. Top with chopped pecans. Bake at 325 F for 50 to 60 minutes, or until set in the middle. Cool completely, and cut into bars.

Neiman-Marcus $250 Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups butter

4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 cups sugar

5 cups blended oatmeal

24 ounces chocolate chips

2 cups packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 8-ounce Hershey bar, grated

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups chopped nuts

Measure oatmeal, and blend in a blender to a fine powder. Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add chocolate chips, grated Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into one-inch balls, and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 F for 10 minutes or until golden.

Pumpkin Pie Crunch

1 16-ounce can solid packed pumpkin

1 12-ounce can evaporated milk

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 package yellow cake mix

1 cup chopped pecans

1 cup butter, melted

whipped cream

Combine pumpkin, milk, eggs, sugar, spices and salt in a large bowl. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish which has been greased on the bottom. Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture. Top with pecans. Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake at 350 F for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool completely. Serve with whipped cream.


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