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She cooks, he ‘lovingly critiques’

Berhow went from TV dinners to farm-sized meal preps

December 30, 2016
By CLAYTON RYE - Farm News staff writer ( , Farm News

GARNER - It's a story worthy of a Hollywood movie.

Iowa farm girl graduates from high school and goes to college in the big city, where she graduates with a degree as a registered nurse.

She decides the big city is not for her and wants to marry a farmer. She returns to her hometown where she gets a job in a hospital.

Article Photos

SHANNON BERHOW’S favorite recipes are kept on hand-written index cards stored in a small box.

An elderly patient of hers asks for her contact information. The patient gives the nurse's name and contact information to her grandson, who is a farmer.

He calls the nurse and they have a first date. A year later he proposes to her and three months later they are married.

Today, they live on his family's Century Farm with their 9-month-old daughter, Dakota.

Yes, fairy tales do come true.

The nurse in this tale is Shannon Berhow and the farmer is her husband, Rocky Berhow, married since August 2013.

Shannon Berhow grew up on a farm near Britt, while Rocky Berhow went to school at rival Garner-Hayfield. They never met until that first date.

The big city was Des Moines, where Shannon Berhow went to Grand View University for her nursing degree.

"I wanted to get back to the farm," she said. "Big cities are not my thing. Too congested."

She considers nearby Mason City a big city and finds Garner the right size to meet her needs.

"Garner is good-sized and close enough," she said.

But that is Shannon Berhow the nurse, farm wife and mother. What about Shannon Berhow the cook?

"When I was single and by myself, all I cooked was TV dinners," she said.

It was after she was married that Berhow concentrated on improving her cooking abilities.

"When trying out a new recipe, I ask Rocky if it is a keeper," said Berhow. "Rocky likes food. He lovingly critiques it."

Rocky Berhow farms with Bill Greiman, his stepfather, south of Garner.

"Meat is their thing. They're not overly excited about salads," she said. "I make a pretty good corn casserole."

The Berhows have worked together to where Shannon Berhow has a collection of favorite recipes she keeps on hand-written index cards in a small box.

A cookbook received from a relative, plus recipes from the internet, are her other sources.

For the corn casserole recipe she submitted, Berhow used the cookbook she received as a gift.

"The guys like the brown edges of the casserole."

Berhow got the Dorito chicken casserole from the internet. She added more chicken and cheese than the recipe called for to "improve" it.

"Rocky said you can never have too much meat," she said.

The chili recipe is from her mother-in-law, Chris, and is a favorite in the fall. After browning the meat and chopping the onion, the chili is put in a roaster where it is ready in an hour and half.

"It's thick with a lot of meat and tomatoes."

Berhow said her no-bake chocolate chip cookie dough bar recipe had the number of chocolate chips reduced because of her husband's suggestion.

Rocky Berhow tells her to take it to family gatherings so he doesn't sit at home and eat the entire pan of bars by himself.

The monster cookies are a family favorite. Shannon Berhow uses three cookie sheets when baking, with two in the oven and the third sheet being prepared. The sheets are rotated from the first oven rack to the second rack and back to the counter to be refilled with dough.

As a favor to husband Rocky and his mother Chris, Shannon Berhow will substitute raisins for the chocolate chips and M&Ms in a batch.

No-bake chocolate chip cookie dough bars

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 12ounce bag mini-chocolate chips


1 12-ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.

Mix in the vanilla.

Beat in the condensed milk and the flour, alternately, mixing after each addition.

Mix in mini chocolate chips.

Spray an 8-by-8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Turn the dough into the pan and spread evenly with your hands. Cover and refrigerate until firm (about 3 hours) or overnight.

For topping, put the semi-sweet chocolate chips in a bowl and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and return to microwave for 15 second bursts until melted and smooth.

Let cool for 5 minutes, then pour over the dough. Return to fridge until topping is firm.

Dorito chicken

and cheese casserole

3 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1 cup sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can of corn, drained

1/4 cup minced onion

2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 medium sized bag of nacho cheese Doritos, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 9-by-13-inch pan with cooking spray. Spread bottom of the pan with crushed Doritos. Reserve 1 cup of cheese.

Mix together remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Pour chicken mixture over the Doritos. Top casserole with remaining cheese and Doritos.

Bake 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Mom Greiman's chili

2 pounds of ground beef, browned

1 onion, chopped

1 can Hormel chili without beans

1 can Mrs. Grimes chili beans

1 can tomato soup

3 to 4 cans of stewed or chopped tomatoes

Mix together and put in slow cooker for 1 to 2 hours.

Goes good with a loaf of garlic bread.

Tater tot taco bake

2 pounds of ground beef

1 small onion, diced or 1 tablespoon minced onion flakes

1 garlic clove, minced or 1/2-teaspoon minced garlic flakes

1 small can black olives, sliced

1 1-ounce bag of taco seasoning mix

1 16-ounce box of frozen corn

1 4-ounce can green chilies, diced and drained

1 12-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 16-ounce bag shredded Mexican cheese blend

1 16-ounce bag frozen tater tots

1 10.5-ounce can enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray 9-by-13-inch dish with cooking oil.

Brown ground beef, garlic and onion. Drain off excess fat. Add taco seasoning mix, green chilies, frozen corn and black beans to the ground beef.

Cook until heated through. In a large bowl combine beef mixture, 3/4 of the Mexican cheese blend and all the tater tots. Stir well to combine.

Pour 1/3 of enchilada sauce in bottom of dish. Pour in tater tot mixture and lightly pat down into a solid, even layer.

Pour remaining enchilada sauce over tater tots. Place in oven and bake for 40 minutes.

During last few minutes of baking, top the casserole with remaining Mexican cheese blend and black olives.

Return to oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Corn casserole

1 can cream-style corn

1 can whole kernel corn

1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 package cornbread mix (small)

2 sticks butter, melted

Mix all ingredients together and bake in a buttered 9-by-9-inch baking dish at 350 degrees for one hour.

Favorite meat loaf

1/2 cup chili sauce (or ketchup)

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 medium onion, chopped or 1 tablespoon minced onion flakes

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

2/3 cup quick oatmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

/4 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef

2 bacon strips, halved (optional)

In bowl, combine first 8 ingredients.

Crumble beef over mixture and mix well.

Shape into loaf in a greased glass baking dish or glass cake pan.

Top with bacon if preferred.

Spread a thin layer of ketchup over the top of loaf and then bake uncovered for 70 to 80 minutes at 350 degrees.

Meat temperature should be 160 degrees.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monster cookies

6 eggs

1 pound brown sugar

2 cups white sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

4 teaspoons soda

1/2 pound margarine

1 1/2 pound peanut butter

9 cups quick oatmeal

1/2 pound chocolate chips

1/2 pound M&Ms

Mix ingredients in order given.

Use ice cream scoop to make cookies; flatten with glass.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.

Let set on cookie sheet for several minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

(Note: They burn easily.)

Slow cooker chicken

and veggies

(Mississippi mud style)

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3 cups fresh whole green beans

5 medium red potatoes, cut in chunks

1 package dry ranch dressing mix

1 package dry chicken gravy mix

1/2 stick of butter

1/3 cup butter

Wash and place green beans on one side of the slow cooker. Place cut potatoes on the other side and the chicken in the center.

Mix together the dry mixes and sprinkle evenly over the chicken.

Place the 1/2 stick of butter on top. Slowly pour water over vegetable (not the chicken).

Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours until chicken is done and tender.

Cheesy chicken broccoli tater tot bake

1 32-ounce bag frozen tater tots

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cheddar cheese soup

1 16-ounce bag frozen broccoli

1 pound chicken, cubed

Shredded cheese of your choice

Heat cream of chicken and cheddar cheese soup with one can water in saucepan.

Add broccoli when heated.

Spray 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking oil.

Line bottom of dish with tater tots.

Add broccoli with soup mixture as well as chicken.

Top with rest of the tater tots and then the shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

To cut down on baking time, you can use cooked chicken and then you only have to bake for 25 minutes.



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