A Disney Day for Fran Pedelty and her family. Pictured in the front row are Avarie Pedelty, Gavin Pedelty, Caden Pedelty, Morgan Muhlbauer and Mya Muhlbauer. In the back row are Mickey Mouse, Niesha Pedelty, Fran Pedelty, Sarah Muhlbauer holding Marisa Muhlbauer, Bob Muhlbauer and Minnie Mouse
A Disney Day for Fran Pedelty and her family. Pictured in the front row are Avarie Pedelty, Gavin Pedelty, Caden Pedelty, Morgan Muhlbauer and Mya Muhlbauer. In the back row are Mickey Mouse, Niesha Pedelty, Fran Pedelty, Sarah Muhlbauer holding Marisa Muhlbauer, Bob Muhlbauer and Minnie Mouse
Monday, January 24, 2011

Even in high school, Mary Frances “Fran” Pedelty knew the importance of saving favorite recipes for herself and her future family. She started cooking in high school and put together a 3-ring notebook of recipes. She still has that notebook although it’s very tattered and yellowed by now.

She credits knowing the significance of cooking meals for her family to her mother, Virginia Tierney, of Carroll. Growing up, Fran noticed that her mother was very well organized and she planned well-rounded meals every day of every week, twelve months a year. The family rarely ate out at restaurants.

Back then there weren’t the kind of quick restaurants that served dinner after her father, Dr. Jim Tierney, of Carroll, got home from work. Also, Fran says her parents who grew up in the Depression Era did not often spend money on restaurant meals for the whole family.

Fran and her husband, Jim Pedelty, mayor of Carroll, are lucky to have both of their children and six grandchildren in town. Daughter, Sarah, and her husband, Bob Muhlbauer, have three girls — Morgan, 7, Mya, 4, and Marisa, 2. Sarah has taken over much of the managerial duties at The Carrollton Inn, although Jim is still there half days. Bob, is a certified public accountant with Olsen, Muhlbauer & Co. Son, David, and his wife, Niesha, have three children as well — Caden, 10, Gavin, 7, and Avarie, 6. David recently began as partner at a human resources consulting company, Creative HR Solutions and Niesha works at Envisions Embroidery Design.

Fran retired in 2002 from her job as executive director of The American Society of Electroneurodiagnostic Technologists, Inc. ASET is the largest national professional association for individuals working in the study and recording of electrical activity in the brain and nervous system.

ASET headquarters were moved in 1982 to Carroll from Hartford, Connecticut when Fran and her family moved back to the Midwest so she could remain as director. She is also a registered electroencephalograph (EEG) technologist.

Since her retirement Fran is busy with many activities including serving as treasurer of the St. Anthony Regional Hospital Auxiliary, taking shifts in the hospital gift shop, and serving on the Carroll Public Library Foundation. Besides cooking, she also likes to exercise, knit, crochet baby blankets for the hospital, play bridge, and travel. Each year, she and a group of friends from all over the country take a trip together. This year, the group will travel to Tucson, Arizona.

In November of 2010, Fran, Jim, Sarah, David, and all six grandchildren enjoyed the magic of Disney. They traveled to Orlando and stayed in a rented, Disney themed home. The 3,500 square foot house had all the extras including six bedrooms, a full kitchen (perfect for packing picnic lunches for the beach), game room, pool, and the grandkids’ favorite – Disney themed bedrooms.

The bedrooms were complete with Disney décor and costumes for the kids including Disney princesses, Spiderman, and the Pirates of the Caribbean. The family spent several days together exploring the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, Sea World, Gatorland Zoo, and taking advantage full advantage of the warm weather and time with family.

Simple Pot Roast

Fran discovered this “best-ever” pot roast recipe after she retired when she had more time to look through her many shelves of cookbooks and cooking magazines she’s collected. This recipe came from an issue of “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine. Fran thinks the browning process of both the meat and vegetables is what makes this recipe superior. She says it really brings out the best flavor.

1 boneless chuck-eye roast, 3 ½ pounds
salt & pepper
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped (about 10 mini carrots chopped)
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup canned low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup canned low-sodium beef broth
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf)
1 to 1 ½ cups water

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly pat roast dry with paper towels, sprinkle generously with salt & pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers but does not smoke. Brown roast thoroughly on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes, reducing heat if fat begins to smoke. Transfer roast to large plate, set aside. Reduce heat to medium; add chopped onion, carrots, and celery to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
Add garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and beef broths and thyme, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Return roast and any accumulated juices to pot; add enough water to come halfway up sides of roast. Bring liquid to simmer over medium heat, then place large piece of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook, turning roast every 30 minutes, until fully tender, 3 ½ to 4 hours, until fork or sharp knife easily slips in and out of meat. (I don’t worry about turning the meat so often and am lucky to turn it more than once).
If you like potatoes and carrots with your pot roast, add them 30 to 45 minutes before serving. Submerge in the liquid - 8 carrots sliced ½ thick and 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes, cut into halves if they are larger than 1 ½ inches in diameter.
Transfer roast to carving board and tent with foil to keep warm. Allow liquid in pot to settle, about 5 minutes, then skim off fat and discard thyme sprig. Boil over high heat until reduced to 1 ½ cups, about 8 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt & pepper. Carve meat into ½ -inch thick slices or pull apart into large pieces. Pour sauce over meat and serve.

Beef Continental

Growing up, one of Fran’s favorite dinners was pot roast, especially since she and her three younger brothers could count on eating the leftovers in Beef Continental two days later. Even today, it’s still a family favorite.
1 ½ cups cubed beef (leftover roast works well or fresh sirloin can be cut into smallish chunks)
1 medium onion sliced into rings
8 oz fresh mushrooms (or 4 oz canned mushrooms)
2 Tablespoons margarine or oil
1 can Campbell’s Tomato Bisque soup
½ cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/8 tsp ground thyme
2 teaspoons dried parsley (or 2 Tbsp of fresh chopped parsley)
1 medium bay leaf (or ½ teaspoon ground bay leaves)
2 cups wide noodles, cooked

In a 10-inch skillet, sauté onion and mushrooms until soft. Add beef and brown slightly. Add soup, water and seasonings. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Stir on occasion and watch that the mixture just simmers. Remove bay leaf and serve over cooked noodles.
Note: The tomato bisque soup is an essential ingredient. Regular tomato soup does not have the same taste and is not nearly as good.

Sugary Apple or Peach Muffins
As children, breakfast for the Tierney family was cereal and toast, except Sunday morning when the menu was bacon and eggs. For lunch, it was a bowl of soup, a sandwich, fruit, and a cookie or bar. Suppers were traditional meals complete with salad, vegetable, meat, potatoes or another starch, and always a dessert.
Fran loves baking, especially muffins and desserts. These moist muffins come from Grandmother Tierney’s cookbook.

2 ¼ cups flour
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup Crisco shortening
½ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk, stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup finely chopped apples or peaches
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 12-count muffin pan with non-stick spray. If you prefer to use paper cupcake liners, the muffins will separate from the liner more easily if you spray the liners with the non-stick spray. Stir together in a small bowl – flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.  In a larger bowl, cream shortening with sugar. Beat in egg then mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the milk with lemon juice. Do not over-mix. Fold in apples or peaches. Fill muffin cups almost full. Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar made with 2 Tablespoons sugar mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out muffins onto wire rack.

Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce

Fran enjoys growing fresh basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and chives in the summer. In the fall, the cuttings are dried and stored in jars for winter use. Fresh pizza with homemade sauce made with fresh herbs is a treat in the summer, but can be nearly as good with the dried variety. Fran found the recipe for the sauce in the “Cuisine at Home” magazine.

4 cups (2 lbs) Roma tomatoes, quartered
1 cup yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, whole
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sugar
Toss with 2 Tablespoons olive oil

Stir in ¼ cup fresh basil chiffonade (basil leaves stacked on top of one another, then rolled up and cut into thin slivers)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine all ingredients except basil in a casserole dish. Roast 25-35 minutes, until tomatoes have softened. Remove from oven and mash with a potato masher, keeping tomatoes a bit chunky. Stir in basil. Use as pizza sauce on fresh dough or store-bought crusts. This is also great as a really fresh-tasting sauce on pasta.

Italian Zucchini Bake

This is an easy “no bake” vegetable side dish that’s especially good when fresh herbs from the Pedelty garden are available. It can also be made with dried herbs any time of year and it tastes even better after it’s cooked and then mellowed in the fridge for a day or two. Fran likes to serve it with Johnsonville sweet basil Italian sausage or grilled pork loin. Ground beef could also be added the dish to make it a complete meal.
Microwave all ingredients in a 2 ½ to 3 qt casserole dish.

¼ c margarine (or butter), melted
2 medium zucchini peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick (approx 4 cups)
1 large onion, sliced into rings
1 tsp dried basil (2 tsp fresh)
1 tsp dried oregano (2 tsp fresh)
1 tsp dried parsley (2 tsp fresh)
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder
Combine the above ingredients and cook on high power for 5 minutes. Stir well then cook another 5 minutes. Add 16 ounces of tomatoes – fresh or canned (drained). Cook on high another 12 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle top with parmesan or mozzarella cheese and cook until the cheese melts.
Ginger Cut-out Cookies
Bars and cookies are always popular with any age group, but especially Fran and Jim’s six grandchildren. Fran has cookie cutters for every holiday and their grandchildren enjoy coming over to decorate the cookies. At Christmastime, Fran goes through 25 pounds of flour making a variety of cookies to give away on cookie trays, but the cut-out cookies are still her family’s favorite treat. The family prefers soft rather than crisp cookies and Fran says one of the secrets to soft cookies is rolling the dough at least ¼- inch thick. The other secret is keeping the frosted cookies in an air-tight container for a day (or at least a few hours). This ginger cookie is a modified Betty Crocker recipe.

1 1/3 cups shortening (butter-flavored Crisco)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
½ cup molasses (I like Grandma’s Unsulphured Molasses)
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons of each: cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves
1 teaspoon each: salt and nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking soda
First cream together shortening and sugar. Add eggs and molasses and beat well. Mix dry ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and beat very well. At this point, the dough can be chilled and rolled later or it can be rolled out for cookies now. For softer cookies, roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. This recipe can be doubled.

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

This sugar cookie recipe came from a friend of Fran’s in 1975 when they were living in Ankeny, before they moved to Carroll in 1977.

1 cup margarine
1 cup sugar
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon soda
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
Cream softened margarine with sugar. If desired, you can substitute softened butter (some or all) for the margarine. Beat in egg, vanilla and lemon juice. Mix dry ingredients together then add them to the creamed mixture. At this point, the dough can be chilled and rolled later or it can be rolled out for cookies now. For softer cookies, roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 10 minutes. This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Fluffy Frosting

This frosting works well on cut-out cookies.
¼ cup margarine (1/2 stick)
2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cut cold margarine into small pieces. Use a pastry cutter or knives to mix the margarine into the powdered sugar (it should look a bit like corn meal). Add cream of tartar, egg white, and vanilla. Mix together well then beat on high speed until the frosting at least doubles in volume. It should be light and fluffy. This recipe can be tripled. (Use C & H powdered sugar or another quality cane sugar. Don’t use Blue Bonnet margarine, for some reason it separates).

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars

This is a jazzed up version of chocolate chip bars with the addition of oatmeal and swirled chocolate on top.

1 cup flour
1 & 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 & 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk
2 cups quick oatmeal
1 & 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat and 8 x 8 x 2 pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder. In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter on medium-high speed until fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and beat in milk then flour mixture. Stir in oats and 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes then sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup chocolate chips. Let the chips melt for 10 more minutes. Swirl the melted chips with a knife to frost. Cut into squares when completely cool.