Sonia Walsh is wife to Chuck Walsh, general manager of Walsh Motors. The couple is pictured here with their children: Haste, 14, Zach, 12, Samantha, 8, and Emersyn, 6.
Sonia Walsh is wife to Chuck Walsh, general manager of Walsh Motors. The couple is pictured here with their children: Haste, 14, Zach, 12, Samantha, 8, and Emersyn, 6.
Monday, October 18, 2010

Sonia Walsh, of Carroll, has “busy” down to a science.

Actually the word busy is definitely an understatement. Sonia is wife to Chuck, general manager of Walsh Motors, and mom to Haste, 14, Zach, 12, Samantha, 8, and Emersyn, 6.

Between holding down the fort and running kids to and from activities, Sonia’s list of endeavors is very long. She and Tam Milligan, are co-hosts of Metro Woman, a TV show for women. It is in its third season pre-production and has recently moved to the CW Television Network.

She also runs Sunshine’s Designs, an online site, creating garments with embellished crystal designs and a site on Etsy, an online marketplace for crafts. Additionally, Sonia is programming coordinator for the Carroll Public Library’s Friends of the Library.

Between all of that, Sonia is an “extreme” hobbyist and amazingly finds time to organize a book club, scrapbook, knit, sew, run half marathons (she will run nine this year), travel with Run Girl Run, a running apparel company for women, blog on, and cook delicious meals her family devours.

Sonia, a self-described “foodie” believes food should be enjoyed, not just eaten for nutrition. She also finds satisfaction in the entire cooking process. She feels the prep time is soothing. She says something about all the chopping makes her get down to basics and slow down. She likes that she is making food she knows family and friends will enjoy. Besides cooking family dinners, Sonia also loves to bake. She estimates she bakes enough holiday goodies for 20 Christmas cookie trays for neighbors, friends, and her children’s teachers.

In 2006, Sonia took her mother-in-law, Marianne Walsh, of Carroll, on a birthday trip to Savannah, Georgia, and enrolled in Paula Deen’s Cooking School. While there they were also able to eat at Deen’s famous The Lady and Sons Restaurant two times. Sonia and Marianne share a love of cooking and it was a time to remember.

Sonia says cooking and baking are gratifying to her because she enjoys the time it gives her to make something special to share with her family. Her motto is simple, “Cooking is love.”

Crockpot Jambalaya

Most don’t think of jambalaya and crockpot in the same recipe, but Sonia has found a way to make it work. The trick to this flavorful, Creole dish is to wait until the last fifteen to thirty minutes to add the shrimp to avoid overcooking it. When the shrimp turns pink, it’s ready to hit the table. Sonia found this recipe in Taste of Home magazine, but has tweaked it a bit to her liking.

She says it’s very tasty and husband, Chuck, thinks it’s even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to blend together.

1 can tomato puree

20 oz. chicken broth

1 can tomato paste

1 green pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 celery ribs, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

3 tsp. dried parsley flakes

2 tsp. dried basil

1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1-1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. hot pepper sauce

1 pound chicken breasts cut into cubes (uncooked)

1 pound smoked sausage, halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, without tails

hot cooked rice

In a 5-qt. slow cooker, combine the tomato puree, broth and tomato paste. Stir in the green peppers, onion, celery, garlic and seasonings. Stir in chicken and sausage.
 Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until chicken is tender. Stir in shrimp. Cover and cook 15-30 minutes longer or until shrimp turn pink. Serve with rice.

Kid-friendly Chili

If your kids don’t care for chili, try this recipe. This is a recipe that is made up of several different recipes. Sonia says some kids find the chunks of tomato and large kidney beans are the “ick” factor. She says the Mrs. Grimes beans are smaller and more manageable for younger palettes.

2 cans Mrs. Grimes Chili beans

1 can water

1-1/2 to 2 lb. ground beef, cooked

1 pkg, French’s Chili-O seasoning packet

1 onion, diced

8 oz. tomato paste

15 oz can. tomato sauce

      15 oz. can tomato puree

red pepper, oregano, chili powder, garlic powder — all to taste (Sonia adds a couple tablespoons of each).

Add all ingredients to crock pot. Cook on high 2-3 hours or low for 4-6 hours.

Heinz 57 Meatloaf

Sonia was a very picky eater as a child, but always liked this meatloaf. This is a recipe from her favorite aunt. Heinz 57 may sound like an unusual ingredient in meatloaf, but it takes the place of part of the ketchup and adds a “zippy” taste.

1 lb. ground beef

1 slightly beaten egg

1 C. bread crumbs

1/3 C. milk

1/4 C. chopped onion

1 tsp. salt

dash of pepper
Heinz 57 sauce

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, mix ingredients together by hand. Form loaf and top with a mixture of Heinz 57 and ketchup. Sonia really likes the zip of the Heinz 57, so she mixes together ¾ Heinz 57 and ¼ ketchup, enough to make a nice layer of sauce for the top. Bake for 1 hour.

Saffron Risotto

Saffron is a spice derived from the saffron crocus flower. When cooked, it adds a gorgeous yellow hue and is the most expensive spice by weight. It takes 75,000 blossoms to make a single pound. Very little saffron is needed for a big taste. Saffron is sold in the spice section of many groceries stores, including Hy-Vee. Look for fresh saffron threads that are reddish, brown in color. Sonia loves to make risotto and especially loves this recipe found on and makes it as often as possible.

Some may find risotto to be a daunting task, but the trick is to cook the rice slowly and add chicken stock in stages. This will allow the Arborio rice, an Italian short grained rice (named after the Italian town in which it is grown) to release its starch resulting in a creamy consistency. Sonia buys her Arborio rice at Hy-Vee. Son, Zach, is a fan of this dish, as he is the most adventurous eater of the bunch.

28 ounces chicken stock

1 T. vegetable oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 C. Arborio rice

1 C. white wine

large pinch of saffron
pinch of salt

2 T. butter

1/4 C. - 1/2 C. freshly grated parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Bring stock to a low simmer in a medium pot. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat for 1 minute. Cook onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add rice and a pinch of salt. Saute until rice is translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add wine and saffron; bring to a simmer, stirring, until rice has absorbed most of stock. Continue adding stock, allowing rice to absorb it before adding the next ladleful. Cook until rice is al dente (still firm, but not hard) and mixture is a little loose. Stir in butter. Turn off heat. Stir in grated cheese. Cover and let sit 2 minutes. Garnish with more grated cheese if desired.

Cucumber sandwiches

Growing up, Sonia’s father’s side of the family was always sure to serve cucumber sandwiches for Sunday dinner and holidays. When invited to a party, Sonia often brings this finger food with her.

1 loaf party rye

8 oz. cream cheese

1/2 envelope Good Seasons Italian dressing mix

1/2 C. Miracle Whip


dill weed

Mix cream cheese, dressing and Miracle Whip. Spread on bread. Top with cucumber slices. Sprinkle on top with dill.

Hot Artichoke Dip:

Sonia claims this is the best artichoke dip you will ever have. The green chiles add a bit of tang, but they aren’t spicy. Pop this creamy dip into the oven as guests are arriving. If serving a larger crowd, make two batches, but stagger the baking since it is best served warm.

1 C. artichoke hearts (use canned quartered artichoke hearts packed in water and then chop them up well on a cutting board)

8 oz. cream cheese

1 C. mayo

1 (4 oz.) can chopped green chile peppers

1 C. parmesan cheese, plus additional parmesan cheese

1 t. garlic salt

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, mix artichoke hearts, mayo, parmesan cheese, cream cheese and green chile peppers. Definitely use a mixer and not by hand or the mixture will not be combined well enough. Scoop mixture into a deep dish pie plate or casserole dish. Sprinkle parmesan cheese lightly over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until top is lightly browned and bubbly. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Grandpa Ernie’s Banana Bread

Sonia’s late Great-Grandfather, Ernie Murdock, loved to make banana bread. Sonia learned to make it while in junior high at BCLUW Community School District, in Conrad, and she has enjoyed making it with her four children. All four have taken turns helping her bake loaves to give eat and give as gifts. When son, Haste, was a toddler, he could recite the recipe by heart. Sonia prefers to make four mini loaves out of one batch of batter.

This way there is plenty for sharing with friends and the slices are perfect for little hands. Sonia thinks the addition of buttermilk makes all the difference. It makes the bread very moist and it’s still delicious even days after baking. Sonia bakes this for the Carroll Farmer’s Market in the summer. She has several repeat customers who love her grandpa’s banana bread.

2 1/2 C. flour
1 2/3 C. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2/3 C. shortening (butter flavor Crisco)
2/3 C. buttermilk
1 1/4 C. mashed, ripe bananas (about 2 1/2 bananas)
2 large eggs
2/3 C. chopped nuts (optional)
In large bowl, sift flour, sugar, soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Add shortening, buttermilk, bananas, eggs and nuts. Grease well two 9×5-inch bread loaf pans or 4 5×3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick in the center, if it comes out clean, loaf is done. (To ensure even baking, place all loaf pans on a cookie sheet instead of directly on oven rack)

Remove from oven, place on cooling rack for 5 minutes then remove from pans and let cool completely on racks before wrapping with plastic wrap for storage. Freezes well, if you have any around long enough to freeze!

Apple Dumplings

According to Sonia, this seemingly unusual dish is the “easiest recipe on the planet.” She has given out this atypical recipe numerous times. The recipe came from – one of Sonia’s favorite food bloggers. Sonia says she makes quite a few dessert dishes with apples since everyone in her family likes them. Even Chuck, who doesn’t care for sweets, likes desserts made with apples.

2 Granny Smith apples
2 cans (8 oz. cans) Pillsbury crescent rolls
2 sticks butter
1-½ C. sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon, to taste
1 can (12 oz.) Mountain Dew soda
Peel and core apples. Cut each apple into 8 slices each. Roll each apple slice in a crescent roll. Place in a 9 x 13 buttered pan.

Melt butter, then add sugar and barely stir. Add vanilla, stir, and pour entire mixture over apples. Pour Mountain Dew around the edges of the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with ice cream, and spoon some of the sweet sauce from the pan over the top.

Sonia’s WARNING: Prepare this dish at your own risk. It is beyond imaginable.