Kaye Lehman, of Carroll, taught her twin daughters, Jen Tunning (left) and Annie Peter (right) how to cook.
Kaye Lehman, of Carroll, taught her twin daughters, Jen Tunning (left) and Annie Peter (right) how to cook.
April 15, 2013

Before they were even born, Annie and Jen were the best of friends. Years later, the identical twins are just as close as ever. The two grew up being known as, "The Lehman Twins" around Carroll.

The sisters, 1989 Carroll High School graduates, met and fell in love with Dedham natives and were married in a double wedding on Sept. 17, 1994. Annie married Mike Peter, and Jen married Dave Tunning. Mike and Dave have been friends since childhood.

Each couple had their own maid of honor, best man and personal attendant, but shared the same groomsmen and bridesmaids as they had so many friends in common.

The sisters chose bridal gowns that were very similar, except Annie's had a longer train. Fortunately Annie and Jen decided on a certain style of cranberry bridesmaid dresses right away, alleviating any need for compromise.

Even now the twins still have similar taste. Annie said, "If I come to her house to pick her up and she has on the same shirt as me, I will ask her to change it, but she won't." Dressing and looking alike can cause a lot of stares, but the sisters think it is fun and wouldn't change a thing.

One sister is often mistaken for the other if she is alone. Jen said people have told her she and Annie look too much alike.

It is said twins have a unique bond, and Annie and Jen are proof of that. They are known to finish each other's sentences and have the same pain, but on opposite sides of their bodies.

Jen said, "I love being a twin because Annie is my best friend. We do almost everything together."

Annie agrees and said, "There is no one else that I could call my best friend, we would be lost without each other!"

However, there was one time in their lives when the sisters did not get along as well. During their time at Carroll High Annie said they did not like each other much and fought quite a bit.

Annie and Jen, daughters of Tom and Kaye Lehman of Carroll, grew up with two brothers. Older brother, Jeff, and his family live in Superior, Colo., and younger brother, Andrew, and his family live in Bettendorf.

Annie and Jen took the same career route. Both are in-home day care providers. Annie and her husband, Mike, a son of Bob and Jane Peter, live in Dedham. Mike is owner of Dedham Tire and Auto. Annie and Mike have two sons, Jay, a sophomore at the University of Northern Iowa, and Josh, a freshman at Carroll High School.

Jen and her husband, Dave, a son of the late Norbert and the late Hilda Tunning, live in Carroll. Dave works at the Carroll County Landfill. Jen and Dave have two sons. Tyler in in sixth grade at Carroll Middle School, and Ryan is in third grade at Fairview Elementary School.

In the Lehman household, Jeff, Annie, Jen and Andrew had to be home on Sunday nights for family night. It was their family tradition to be home for supper. After supper, the family played games or watched a movie together.

The sisters learned to cook watching their mom, Kaye, in the kitchen. Annie said as they were growing up they helped their mom when they were asked but didn't do much cooking on their own. Washing dishes was their main responsibility, and the girls took turns washing and drying the dishes.

Jen said she owes her love of being in the kitchen to her mom. One difference is Jen loves to bake and cook, while Annie prefers to stick more with cooking and less with baking.

The sisters are always on the lookout for new recipe ideas for their families. Annie was the first to discover the online site Pinterest, and about a week later, Jen joined in on the fun. Annie and Jen love Pinterest for both recipes and craft and activity ideas for their in-home day cares. Annie loves to see what everyone else is pinning and to see if she and her friends share the same taste.

Not every Pinterest idea Annie has tried has turned out well. She admits she and her family have gone to bed hungry a couple of nights, but says that's part of the fun of trying something new. Jen also loves being adventuresome in the kitchen, although there have been a few recipes she tried and her husband, Dave, said they were terrible.

Annie and Jen still enjoy their mother, Kaye Lehman's, home cooking. Some of their favorites include spaghetti, steak kabobs with wild rice, and thick Iowa pork chops served alongside a baked potato and homemade Ranch dressing. Annie said Kaye almost always serves a beautiful salad with her meals.

Kaye makes birthday dinners special for her family by either cooking them their favorite meal or letting them choose to eat at their favorite restaurant.

When Annie and Jen were growing up, Kaye frequently made roast with carrots and potatoes, but it was not a favorite of the twins. Now Jen serves roast to her family quite a bit in the wintertime.

The Lehman family moved from Cedar Rapids to Carroll when Annie and Jen were 11. With them they brought a unique Thanksgiving tradition. The family always serves sauerkraut with their turkey. When the family came to Carroll no one had ever heard of sauerkraut and turkey. Each year, Jen brings her own can of sauerkraut to the Tunning Thanksgiving to make her meal complete.

The one recipe that divides the sisters is chicken fajitas. Annie's version uses a variety of spices and is baked in the oven. Jen sprinkles in fajita seasoning and cooks hers in a skillet on the stove. Annie and Jen's families have tried both versions and don't like each other's fajitas, but that's OK with Annie and Jen. For them, cooking is all about trying something new and sharing it with their family and friends.

Annie and Jen are not just identical twin sisters, but lifelong companions, in and out of the kitchen.

Annie's Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas

Annie Peter

Annie's fajitas are made on top of the stove, instead the chicken and veggies are baked in the oven. Annie's family loves her fajitas, but Jen's does not.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon salt

Cookies flavor enhancer

1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies

1 medium onion, sliced

1 large bell pepper, seeded and sliced (I use half a green and half a red)

12 flour tortillas

Toppings such as cheese, sour cream, and guacamole - if desired

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 13×9 baking dish. In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat. Next add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.

Jen's Special Touch: Sprinkle with Cookies flavor enhancer (to taste) and mix chicken and veggies.

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Serve on tortillas with desired toppings.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Annie Peter

Toni (Foval) North, a Carroll High School classmate of Annie and Jen's, pinned this recipe on Pinterest. After seeing Toni's pin, Annie decided to give it a try.

4 chicken breasts (frozen is fine)

1 cup salsa

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 packet taco seasoning

1/2 cup sour cream


Place chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker. Sprinkle taco seasoning on chicken. In a bowl, combine soup and salsa. Pour over chicken. Cook on high for 4 hours. Shred chicken with two forks and stir in sour cream. Serve on tortillas or as desired.

The Absolute Best Way to Cook Asparagus

Annie Peter

Annie recently found this recipe on Pinterest and instantly loved it. It's very simple and tasty.

On a sheet pan, season asparagus with olive oil, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 8 minutes.

Good Seasons Roasted Potatoes

Annie Peter

Annie likes to make these potatoes as a complementary side dish to any meat, especially grilled.

¼ cup olive oil

1 envelope Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix

2 lbs red potatoes, quartered

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix oil and dressing mix in gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add potatoes; seal bag. Shake until potatoes are evenly coated. Spread onto baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Cajun Chicken Pasta on the Lighter Side

Annie Peter

Annie likes to find hearty dinner ideas to feed her two boys. Annie admits this family pleasing is a bit time consuming, but it's big on taste. She suggests cutting up veggies in the morning and storing them in baggies until dinner time.

8 oz uncooked linguine

1 lb chicken breast strips

1-2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (or to taste)

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced

1/2 red onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium tomatoes, diced

1 cup fat-free low sodium chicken broth

1/3 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon flour

3 tablespoons light cream cheese

fresh cracked pepper

2 scallions, chopped

salt to taste

cooking spray

Prep all vegetables. In a small blender make a slurry by combining milk, flour and cream cheese. Set aside. Season chicken generously with Cajun seasoning, garlic powder and salt. Prepare pasta in salted water according to package directions.

Heat a large heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; spray with cooking spray and add half of the chicken. Sauté 5 to 6 minutes or until done, set aside on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken. Set aside.

Add olive oil to the skillet and reduce to medium; add bell peppers, onions, and garlic to skillet, sauté 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms and tomatoes and sauté 3-4 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper, to taste. Reduce heat to medium-low; add chicken broth and pour in slurry stirring about 2 minutes.

Return chicken to skillet; adjust salt and Cajun seasoning to taste, cook another minute or two until hot, then add linguine; toss well to coat. Top with chopped scallions and enjoy.

Jen's Stove Top Chicken Fajitas

Jen Tunning

Jen cooks the ingredients for her chicken fajitas in a skillet on the stove. She also adds yellow bell peppers and a packet of fajita seasoning to her version.

Saute chicken strips in olive oil with Cookies Flavor Enhancer in a large skillet. Remove chicken from pan and sauté green, red and yellow bell peppers with onions until tender. Add chicken to peppers and onion and then add Taco Bell fajita seasoning and simmer according to packet directions.

Italian Meatballs

Jen Tunning

Jen found a super easy way to make meatballs for a crowd.

Dump a big bag of frozen meatballs into crockpot. Add a large can of cream of mushroom soup, stir occasionally and cook until hot.

Cheese Ball

Jen Tunning

This cheese ball is a specialty of Annie and Jen's mother, Kaye Lehman, of Carroll. Kaye often makes it for family gatherings.

2 pkgs cream cheese

2 pkgs Carl Buddig beef

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons horseradish

Mix together and shape into a ball. Chill overnight. Serve with Club crackers.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Jen Tunning

Jen found this hot appetizer on Pinterest. She can make it before a party and then thrown it in the oven when guests arrive.

6-8 slices of bacon, diced and cooked crispy

2 (8 oz) pkgs of cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayonnaise

4-6 jalapenos, chopped and deseeded

1 cup of cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded

1/4 cup diced green onion


1 cup of crushed crackers ( I used Ritz)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1/2 stick of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl. Stir well. Transfer to an oven proof dish. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle all over the top of the dip. Bake the dip for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly.

Spicy Cream Cheese Roll Ups

Jen Tunning

Tortilla roll ups are a fun party snack that can be made ahead of time. This version gets kicked up a notch by adding chipotle seasoning.

8 oz pkg fat-free or low fat cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle Seasoning Blend

3 tablespoons green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons red pepper, finely chopped

4 large flour tortillas

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except tortillas. Divide mixture into four. Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mixture on each flour tortilla. Starting at one end, gently roll tortillas into a tight tube. Wrap and chill until ready to serve. To serve, unwrap roll, trim edges of tortilla and slice into eight 1-inch slices. Serve slices on their side on a colorful platter.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Jen Tunning

This is an appetizer that seems like a lot of work, but it's really easy for Jen to throw together before family or friends come over.

2 pkgs cream cheese

1 pkg real bacon pieces

cheddar cheese, shredded

garlic salt

big button mushrooms

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the mushrooms and cut out the stems. Mix together cream cheese, bacon, cheese, and garlic salt. Fill each mushroom and bake for 25 minutes.

Matt Owens' Famous Breakfast Pizza

Jen Tunning

Jen uses her Pizza Pizzazz to bake her pizzas, including this one perfect for breakfast or brunch.

tortilla shells

Cheez Whiz

scrambled eggs

ham, sausage, bacon

mozzerella cheese


Use tortillas as crust, spread with Cheese Whiz, and top with meat, mushrooms, and ham, just like a pizza. Bake until cheese is melted.