"I learned to cook growing up, because my mom was always teaching cooking basics," says Celeste Allen of Gowanda. "I really became interested while attending college at Houghton."
She says she became especially interested after moving into a townhouse on campus with four other girls. While student teaching during her senior year she would go home after school and spend an hour cooking.
"It was almost therapeutic after a day of student teaching."
Celeste Allen, a Spanish and music teacher in St. Aloysius Regional School District in Springville, admits she was a picky eater as a kid and became interested in cooking while attending Houghton College.
Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland
Pictured is a bowl of minestrone soup, beef stroganoff and triple chocolate and vanilla cheesecake.
Allen, a Spanish and music teacher in St. Aloysius Regional School District in Springville, admits she was a picky eater as a kid. She learned to eat new foods, but not necessarily uncommon foods, during her first year of college when she was invited to friends homes for meals.
"I literally doubled my acceptable food choices," she says and adds, "studies have shown that taste buds change approximately every eight years." She admits that a big contributor was because she wanted to use good manners and eat the food her friends' mothers served.
She is the daughter of David L. and Sarah Allen. She has been a member of Wesley United Methodist Church since she was 15 or 16 and sings in the church choir and worship team. She shares that one of her ancestors helped build the church. Besides singing, she lists reading and music as passions.
STRAIGHT FROM THE KITCHEN
1 box of chicken broth
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 can diced tomatoes (with oregano)
1 small can spinach
1 small can V8
1/2 a small onion
1 zucchini (small is best)
Optional - carrots, celery, summer squash (diced)
Spices - italian seasoning, garlic
1. Dice onion and zucchini (and any other vegetables). Melt some butter in a pan or large pot on the stove, add in veggies and sprinkle the top with spices. Cook until just tender.
2. Open up the canned beans/veggies and broth. DO NOT DRAIN LIQUID from cans! Dump all the contents into a pot with the cooked veggies and heat through.
3. Season to taste. (can add: more Italian seasoning, garlic, onion, parsley, salt and pepper - but taste first, because it should be good already)
4. Cook up about half a box of pasta - elbow macaroni, ditalini, rings, small shells - really is your choice
5. Spoon some pasta into your bowl, ladle on soup and enjoy.
1 Quart canned tomatoes *(or fresh tomatoes see alternate directions)*
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp sugar
tsp dried basil
tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
1. Drain off and reserve liquid from canned tomatoes. Puree tomatoes in the blender.
2. Over medium heat, melt butter in a frying pan (or your soup pot). When melted, stir in flour over heat for a minute. (to make a rue) Add reserved tomato liquid, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, and heat to a boil till it thickens. (like a gravy)
3. Add pureed tomatoes and spices. Heat through and enjoy.
If soup isn't thick enough, heat another 2 tablespoons of both butter and flour and stir in.
If using fresh tomatoes, drain off access juice while you are cutting and measuring your quart before you puree the tomatoes. Then heat the tomato puree for at least five-10 minutes before adding the butter-flour rue. (Starting the tomatoes in your soup pot, while heating the butter and flour in a small pan works quite well. Then just add the gravy-rue to your soup pot.)
A great way to use up a leftover steak, if that ever happens
9 ounce cooked steak of beef *(or venison)
1 bag of wide egg noodles
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can beef broth
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream (approximate as you like it)
1. In a large pot, cook the egg noodles using the directions on the package.
2. Cut the cooked steak into small, skinny strips. In a large frying pan, melt enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan, and add the beef strips to heat up.
3. Add the broth, cream of mushroom soup and a splash of worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium heat until bubbling.
4. Stir in the sour cream completely, making sure the mixture is heated through.
5. Drain the cooked pasta and put it back into the large pot. Pour the creamy meat mixture over the noodles and stir until noodles are coated. Serve and enjoy.
Cheesy Potato Bake
2 packages frozen hash browns
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 med. onion - finely diced
1 cup sour cream
1-2 cup(s) shredded mild cheddar cheese
crumbled corn flakes
1. Thaw hash browns and pour into a large baking pan. (9x13)
2. Melt butter in a med-large sauce pan over low heat. Add onions and let simmer 5-7 minutes.
3. Stir in cream of chicken soup for a couple minutes. Repeat with sour cream.
4. Add shredded cheese and stir. Bring almost to a boil. Remove from heat and pour over the hash browns. Mix well.
5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 45 minutes. Top with crumbled corn flakes and bake five more minutes.
~Serves a large crowd - if feeding a small group, I suggest making half the recipe
Creamy Chicken &
3-4 large chicken breasts
1 bag frozen broccoli cuts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
almost 1 can milk (rinse out soup can to measure milk)
minced onion (or powder)
crushed red pepper
cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese* (optional)
Prepared pasta of your choice
1. Cut chicken breasts into strips about 1 inch thick and place in a large glass casserole dish or 9x13 glass cake pan, with the broccoli.
2. Spoon on the cream of chicken soup, and add almost 1 can's worth of milk. Sprinkle top with onion, garlic salt, and crushed red pepper (to taste). Mix everything together.
3. Cover pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and broccoli is as tender as you like it. Optional: you can either top or mix in cheese for the last five-10 minutes of baking. You can also cook the last 10 minutes uncovered to brown the top of the mixture.
4. Serve chicken bake over your prepared pasta of choice. (Penne works very well.)
Ham & Egg Breakfast Casserole
2 slices of bread, cubed
1 potato, sliced finely or shredded
1 cup cooked ham, cubed
1. Melt butter in an 8x8 glass baking dish. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Add ham cubes and potato pieces, and sprinkle cheese on top.
2. In a large bowl, beat together eggs and milk. Pour egg mixture over bread, ham and potato mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let casserole stand at room temperature while oven heats. (so glass won't go in oven cold)
4. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, until eggs are set. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon Mexican vanilla extract
2 (8 ounce) cans refrigerated crescent rolls
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey
1. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Beat the cream cheese with 1 cup of sugar and the vanilla extract in a bowl until smooth.
3. Unroll the cans of crescent roll dough, and use a rolling pin to shape each piece into 9x13 inch rectangles. Press one piece into the bottom of the 9x13 inch baking dish. Evenly spread the cream cheese mixture into the baking dish, then cover with the remaining piece of crescent dough. Stir together 3/4 cup of sugar, cinnamon, and butter. Dot the mixture over the top of the cheesecake.
4. Bake in the preheated oven until the crescent dough has puffed and turned golden brown, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle with honey. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into 12 squares.
Triple Chocolate and
1 1/2 cups finely crushed creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large eggs
1/3 cup flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 (1 ounce) squares semisweet chocolate, melted
Chocolate Glaze (recipe follows) - cup whipping cream, 2 squares semisweet chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press firmly on bottom of 9-inch springform pan.
2. In large bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Add eggs, flour and vanilla; mix well. Divide batter in half. Add chocolate to of batter; mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Top evenly with vanilla batter.
3.Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until center is set cool. Top with chocolate glaze. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator.
4. Chocolate glaze: In small saucepan over low heat, melt 2 (1-ounce) squares semi-sweet chocolate with cup whipping cream. Cook and stir until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat; spread over cheesecake. Makes about 1/3 cup.
Apple Spice Cake
1 box yellow cake mix
3 large eggs
1/3 cup water
1 large can apple pie filling (or 2 med. cans)
1 cup chopped walnuts
Icing directions below
1.Combine cake mix, eggs, pie filling and all spice in mixer till just blended. Add up to 1/3 cup water as needed if batter is too thick.
2.Beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Stir in walnuts.
3.Pour into a greased & floured 9x13 cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or till toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool while preparing icing. (listed below)
4.Poke holes in top of cake, and pour on icing.
1 cup brown sugar
cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, butter and milk to a boil over medium heat. Immediately remove from heat and stir in vanilla and salt. Beat icing with a spoon until cool. (don't let it lump together) Pour over cake.
1 package cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1 package taco seasoning
1 jar mild salsa
1 large ripe tomato (or 2 med.)
1 bag shredded lettuce (or head of lettuce shredded)
1 cup of shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese
1. In a mixer, whip together cream cheese and sour cream, and mix in taco seasoning. Spread out over bottom of your serving dish. (9x9 pan works) Spread salsa over cream cheese sour cream mixture.
2. Finely dice tomatoes and layer over salsa. Layer shredded lettuce over tomatoes, and sprinkle the shredded cheese over the lettuce. Serve cold with tortilla chips
~Makes a great party appetizer
She studied voice but has a fondness for learning to play instruments and had to learn the basics of playing all standard band instruments and a little violin and cello. She owns a trumpet, trombone, flutes, penny whistles, an ancient mellophone, an African flute, a Celtic flute, a djembe and a rain stick. She can play those instruments and the piano and euphonium.
"I grew up in the country and love to be outside," she says as she refers to her upbringing on the family farm.
Today she has submitted several favorite recipes and has prepared minestrone soup, beef stroganoff and triple chocolate and vanilla cheesecake.
"The minestrone recipe came from a full-blooded Italian, who found an easy way to make it. She advised me to cook the pasta separately and add just before serving," she instructs. "The seasoning can be adjusted to your liking. Zucchini, carrots, celery and peppers can be sauteed and added. It is healthy."
The stroganoff recipe was acquired when she worked at Chero's, a restaurant in Edenton, N.C.
"It is a great way to use leftover steak and can be made in the time it takes to cook the noodles."
She devised the triple chocolate and vanilla cheesecake recipe after her former housemate requested a chocolate cheesecake for her birthday.
To prevent cheesecake from cracking, she suggests setting a 9x13 pan that is half full of tap water in the bottom of the oven. Bake the cheesecake in the middle of the oven and increase baking time by 10 minutes. After the timer goes off, shut off the oven and open the door for one to two minutes, close door and repeat every five minutes for two more times. Leave the cheesecake in the oven until the oven is just warm. Remove the cheesecake when you can touch the pan containing water without burning fingers. Cool the cheesecake to room temperature on the counter. Refrigerate. The idea is to slowly cool the cheesecake.
While visiting a college friend, whose entire family became ill, she was asked to make tomato soup. The friend's mother directed her through the process and introduced her to making a roux.
Afterward, she tried several variations and borrowed seasoning suggestions from three different recipes for tomato soup.
Although the teacher is an excellent cook, she tells of her early years in her mother's kitchen and about adding the wrong form of a common ingredient to zucchini bread. When her mother asked her what kind of strange nut she had added, she showed her the box of whole cloves that she had added instead of ground cloves.