Stephanie Hagar is 'One of Hardin County's Finest Cooks'

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Dash of Class food column by Nora Sweat

By Nora Sweat

Today is a first for One of Hardin County’s Finest Cooks. It is an honor to introduce a former student, Stephanie Hagar, who was nominated by her very proud grandmother, Lelia Rogers.

Stephanie lives in Cecilia with her husband, Tim, and three sons, Derek, Devin and Cade. Stephanie calls herself a stay-at-home working mom, as she has a nail salon in her home and says it is the best of both worlds.

Stephanie helped or watched both her parents and grandmothers in the kitchen growing up. Her mother made sure Stephanie and her sister could cook before they left home. Her dad, Bobby Sarver, also has been an influence in the kitchen as he, too, is an excellent cook, Stephanie said.

Stephanie added that I also was an influence in her senior year of high school. She shared that I taught her the proper way to make an omelet, and she quickly went home and demonstrated it to her mom. In addition to the omelets, she still enjoys the Chess Bars and Peanut Butter Cornflake Bars recipes she made in my class.

Stephanie cooks almost every night, and when you add stepson, Cody, his fiancee, Katrina, and grandbaby, Bentley, there are a lot of people around the table. Stephanie has dietary challenges in her meal planning, as her youngest son has a rare genetic disorder that doesn’t allow him to break down fat and use it for energy. He needs a diet low in fat and high in carbohydrates and protein or his sugar will deplete quickly and the extra fat stores in organs such as the liver. Also, her husband is diabetic.

“I am no gourmet cook by any means. There is so much I have yet to learn,” Stephanie said. “I love to see my family enjoying what I have prepared for them.”

Congratulations, Stephanie. I am so proud of you.

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

10-12 skinless chicken thighs              

1 Tbsp. cornstarch                             

1/2 cup sugar                                    

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. ground ginger                        

1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper and pepper flakes. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly.

Spray 9” x 13” dish with cooking spray. Pour half the sauce in pan, arrange chicken, and then pour rest of sauce over top. Bake in preheated oven for 1 hour, turning every fifteen minutes.

Chicken Parmesan

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 eggs

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 cup seasoned Italian bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. vegetable oil                                                                                      

12 oz. jar pasta sauce

6 slices Monterey Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Beat eggs in shallow bowl; mix parmesan and crumbs in another bowl. Dip chicken breast in egg, then into parmesan crumb mixture. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and coated chicken. Sauté 8 to 10 minutes each side until golden brown and juices run clear. Place on paper towel to drain oil.

Pour half the sauce in a 9x13-inch dish, evenly coating bottom. Arrange chicken breasts on top. Put 1 Tbsp. sauce on each breast, then 1 cheese slice on top. Spread the rest of the sauce all over top. Bake for 20 minutes.

Awesome Apple Pie

1 pkg. refrigerated pie crust    

1/2 cup butter

3 T. all purpose flour

½ c. water                 

½ c. sugar     

½ c. brown sugar

8-10 Granny Smith apples

Cinnamon/sugar mix 

Set out pie crust to warm to room temperature. Peel, core and slice apples. Cut slices in half.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Melt the butter in saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water and both sugars; bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.

Place the bottom crust in a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly.

Cut 1-inch strips from the remaining pie crust and cover the apples with lattice design. Crimp edges. Slowly pour the warm liquid over crust, spreading evenly over apples and crust. Sprinkle even coat of cinnamon and sugar mix over top.

Bake 15 minutes in preheated oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, bake another 45 minutes.

Caramel Corn

2 lg. bags of microwave popcorn                                 

1 cup brown sugar                                         

1/2 cup light Karo syrup                                

1/2 cup butter

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Pop each bag of popcorn, put on cookie sheet, being careful to exclude kernels. Place popcorn in oven until sauce is ready.

Sauce: Mix brown sugar, corn syrup, butter and salt in a 2-quart saucepan, stirring often until boiling. Let boil undisturbed for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; add baking soda and vanilla. Mix well.

Pour sauce over warm popcorn, stirring to coat evenly. Bake for 45 minutes, taking out to stir every fifteen minutes. Remove from oven and spread on foil that has been prepared with non-stick cooking spray.

Cool. Break apart. Store in tightly sealed container. This makes a great gift.

Nora Sweat, author of “Mama and Me,” is a native of Hardin County and a retired home economics/family and consumer science teacher. She can be reached at norasweat@thenewsenterprise.comor by mail at 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown, KY 42701.