Monica Clark’s daughters (from left) Katie and Abby pictured with their grandfather, the late Deane Hofstad.
Monica Clark’s daughters (from left) Katie and Abby pictured with their grandfather, the late Deane Hofstad.
Monday, March 14, 2011

GLIDDEN — Monica Clark of Glidden had a great teacher and inspiration in her life. Her late father, Deane Hofstad, ran the Glidden Cafe and later Deane’os for Food in Glidden. Deane also worked part-time at Mister D’s in Glidden and ran a Pizza Hut when the family lived in Tennessee.

Monica has made lots of homemade pizza since then and used to make it for her daughters’ pizza parties after the girls’ high school sporting events.

Deane was known as “G-pa” to Monica’s daughters, Katie and Abby, and would come knocking on their door with a handful of items. He would tell the girls to come to the kitchen with him and would begin ordering them to get out a tray or big plate. Monica says the fridge door would fly open and in 5 minutes flat, he would have a gorgeous relish tray ready to eat.

Monica compared her dad’s cooking to an artist creating a masterpiece since his food always looked so good. Monica says her late mother, Ramona Hofstad, usually left the cooking to her husband and instead worked diligently behind the scenes balancing the books and taking care of all the details. Monica has a cake-decorating business called Cakes by Clark. She does cakes for many occasions, including birthdays, graduations, and anniversaries. Her baking skills have thoroughly been enjoyed by her co-workers, especially on her birthday.

She has worked in many places in the past years including Carroll Community Schools, Mallard View, Regency Park Nursing and Rehabilitation, and Iowa Hospice. When her father became ill in August of 2009, she stopped working full-time in order to provide care for him in her home until he passed away in October of 2010.

Husband, Dan, is retired from Crouse Cartage Company after 25 years as a mechanic and truck driver. He now works in maintenance at Sparky’s One Stop stores. Monica says if perhaps they burned more food, then they might get to out to eat more often.

Husband, Dan, doesn’t mind, he claims he lives to eat, rather than eats to live, and enjoys his wife’s cooking. Both Dan and Monica like working on their rental properties and support the Carroll Animal Rescue League. The family has a Shih Tzu, Manny, and a cat, Purkins. Purkins came from a rescue league after their daughters left the nest.

Both of their daughters followed in Monica’s footsteps and are Buena Vista University graduates. Katie graduated from BVU in 2007 and lives in Storm Lake. She works as a Workforce Advisor at Iowa Workforce Development in Spencer. Abby graduated from BVU in 2010 with a degree in Social Sciences. She is continuing her education and training to be a nurse at Iowa Central Community College at the Storm Lake Campus. Both girls enjoy cooking for each other whenever possible, but Monica says neither one likes doing the dishes. Currently Monica is working on a family cookbook to give to her girls.

Katie and Abby love to eat their mom’s food and often have special requests. They ask their mom for the comforts of home — a home cooked meal and a scented candle burning when they walk in the door.

Homemade Crab Rangoon

The Clarks love to travel to their annual destination, Branson, Missouri. They really enjoy their timeshare with family and friends. Plenty of cooking is done in Branson including Egg Roll Night and everyone pitches in. This year, crab rangoon will be added to the menu.

Mix together:
2 pkgs (8 oz each) softened cream cheese
1 T Accent seasoning
2 oz finely chopped crab meat
2 finely chopped green onions
Place 1 tsp filling in middle of a wonton wrapper. Brush edges of wrapper with beaten egg. Fold wonton diagonally to make a triangle. Brush egg on two outside edges of wonton. Fold the three points to the center of wonton to seal. Deep fat fry in vegetable or canola oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Makes about 50.

Hamburger Bun Toasts

Monica says this is something quick and easy to accompany soup or salad or it can be used as an appetizer. It’s also a great way to use up leftover hamburger buns. Monica stores the leftovers in a resealable bag in the fridge and heats them up again in the microwave or freezes them to eat at a later date.

In a small bowl, whisk together:
3 T melted butter
1 T yellow mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Spread mixture onto cut side of 4 split hamburger buns.
Top with:
1 ½ cups shredded Swiss cheese
1 ½ tsp garlic salt or garlic powder and sprinkle with dried parsley

Bake or broil until cheese is melted. Store leftovers in resealable bag in fridge or freeze for use at a later date.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Monica recommends adding a pinch or two of baking powder to make the mashed potatoes more fluffy. She says this is the secret ingredient and says the key to remembering is potatoes start with a “P” and so does baking powder, not baking soda.

Her husband, Dan, was shocked one Thanksgiving when Monica’s Grandma Floy asked him to add pinches of baking powder to the potatoes. This unusual ingredient ensures the leftovers will have the same texture as the first day, they won’t be hard and stiff. Monica’s late grandfather and grandmother, Arlo and Floy Hofstad, owned the Glidden Hardware store on Main Street in Glidden for years. Monica recalls both of them being able to “really whip out good food.”

This recipe was given to Monica’s mother while the family was living in Tennessee. It’s perfect in place of a baked potato and goes well with meatloaf or steak. She likes to make this dish in foil pans to bring to potlucks and she keeps them on hand in the freezer to give to family and friends. She says this side dish is so easy kids can help too.

Monica also suggests using refrigerated baked potatoes as “play-doh.” She says kids love playing with it.

Spray a 9 x 13 or three bread loaf pans (metal or foil) with non-stick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with one package of shredded hash browns (thawed in fridge). Next spread mashed potatoes or instant potatoes on top of hash browns, then a thin layer of butter or margarine. Then sprinkle with chopped onions. Add a layer or sour cream and then shredded Cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, and salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake on a cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes.

Tropical Sweet Potatoes

This is a holiday dish perfect for Thanksgiving - sweet potatoes with pizazz. Monica says this side dish is delicious alongside ham. Her father loved this dish. Monica enjoyed cooking for him when he lived with her and cherishes the time they had together at the end of his life.

Place 4 large (3 ½ lbs) sweet potatoes in a medium/large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes until tender. Drain and cool. Peel potatoes and place in large bowl and mash. Add 2 T melted butter, ¾ t salt, and a pinch of pepper and mix well. Spoon into a greased 2 quart baking dish. In a separate bowl, combine ½ c crushed saltine crackers, 2 T brown sugar, pinch of ground cloves, and 4 T of melted butter. Spoon cracker mixture over potatoes and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.

Roast – Two Ways

Monica has made a Pepsi roast for years and was recently introduced to an all-natural way by a friend. Monica prefers to use an arm roast because she feels the meat is more tender, but a chuck roast or pot roast can also be used.

Way #1 - In a crock pot, place roast and pour ¾ of a can of Pepsi over meat. Top with chopped onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook on low all day.

Way #2 (Healthier Alternative) – Place roast in crock pot, add a little water, and pour one jar of Tostitos All Natural Chunky Salsa over top. Cook low all day and eat for dinner. Monica says the tomatoes in the salsa make the roast very tender. Then add one bag of stir fry vegetables (cook in microwave until just tender and drain water) to meat and juice to make an all-natural soup for the next few days.

Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie

This is a recipe from the old Glidden Café. Nothing says comfort food like a homemade pot pie. Instead of a crust on the bottom, the pot pie is topped with a biscuit-like crust instead.

In a large pot, add the following veggies, cover with water, cover with lid, boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes until veggies are tender and drain. Remove from heat.
1 cup diced carrots
¾ c chopped onion
½ c chopped celery
Stir in:
3 c cooked chicken or turkey
¼ c chicken broth
1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup
1 c (8 oz) sour cream
1 t Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
Mix together and spoon into greased 2 quart baking dish.
In a large bowl, combine:
1 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
In a medium bowl combine:
½ c milk
2 eggs
¾ c shredded Cheddar cheese
3 T chopped green pepper
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients until combined. Drop by spoonfuls over hot turkey/chicken mixture. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 40 to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with ¼ cup shredded Cheddar cheese and bake 3 minutes or until melted. Serve immediately. 4-5 servings

Fold Over Tortilla Bake

Monica likes this recipe because it’s very versatile and the fillings can vary. It freezes well so she likes to keep one on hand in case her girls come home for the weekend.

Brown and drain:
1 lb ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
Mix together and simmer in pan:
2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray and pour half of tomato mixture in pan. Spread softened cream cheese (use two 3 oz pkgs) onto twelve 6 in flour tortillas. Fold each tortilla in half and place tortillas on top of sauce. Pour remaining sauce over tortillas and bake covered at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Add 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese to top and bake uncovered an additional 5 minutes. *Optional – add shredded rotisserie chicken and mushrooms to the tortilla filling.

Double Layer Pumpkin Pie

This is a recipe to clip and save for the next eight months until Thanksgiving. This is no ordinary pumpkin pie. A co-worker of Monica’s dad’s at the Glidden Café had the recipe for this delectable pie.

Using an electric mixer, mix together:
1 (8 oz) pkg softened cream cheese
¼ c sugar
1 egg
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1 T vanilla
Spoon into bottom of ready-made pie crust to create bottom layer.

In a large bowl stir together:
1 ¼ c (15 oz) canned pumpkin
½ c sugar
1 c evaporated milk
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
Add 2 eggs and ½ c sugar until combined. Pour slowly into pie shell (pumpkin should cover cream cheese layer, near edge of pie). Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

Streusel topping:
In a small bowl, combine:
¼ c brown sugar
2 T flour
Cut in:
2 T butter (until it resembles wet sand)
Stir in:
½ c pecan pieces
Remove pie from oven and sprinkle streusel over top. Bake 10 minutes more until center is nearly set and the top is golden brown. Cool, cover, and chill.
With an electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form:
1 c whipping cream
2 T granulated sugar
1 tsp rum or vanilla extract
Spread on top of pie and serve.

Chocolate Chip Cheeseball

This sweet cheeseball is perfect for any occasion and is especially good for a baby shower or bridal shower. On her birthday, Monica used to take three different dips to work at Regency Park and would have three sets ready to go for the three shifts of the day. That way each shift had an equal opportunity to sample Monica’s treats.

Beat together until fluffy:
8 oz cream cheese
½ c butter, softened
¼ tsp vanilla
Gradually add:
¾ c powdered sugar
2 T brown sugar

Stir in ¾ c mini chocolate chips. Cover bowl and chill. Shape into ball and roll in ¾ c chopped pecans. Serve with graham cracker sticks.