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‘Fall Fiesta’ keys in on busy ag women

October 11, 2019
By Karen Schwaller - Farm News staff writer ( , Farm News


SPIRIT LAKE-Quick and easy foods for the busy fall season on the farm was the focus for a "Fall Fiesta" cooking class, sponsored by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach that took place Sept. 19 at the ISU Extension office in Spirit Lake.

Article Photos

-Farm News photo by Karen Schwaller

THIS CHEESY CHICKEN ENCHILADA is a warm and filling dish for cool fall evenings, and can easily be taken to the field for supper.

The "Northwest Iowa Annie's Alumni" group was the impetus for this gathering. The group works to provide opportunities for education and networking with other Northwest Iowa women in agriculture. It's a spin-off from the "Annie's Project" women in ag program.

"Our Fall Fiesta centered around the theme of pre-harvest meal planning and prep," said Katie Goodell, Dickinson County ag program coordinator with ISU Extension and Outreach. Goodell hosted the gathering.

Goodell said they discussed resources to help with easy meal prep, looked at some recipes and options, ate a simple meal and then created a freezer meal to prepare for the harvest season ahead. Attendees also shared things they are doing to make easy meals to take to the field.

"Each attendee left with one pre-prepped meal," said Goodell.

A dozen women attended this event. Goodell said the goal is to have quarterly 'Annie's Alumni' gatherings, with host locations rotating throughout the six Northwest Iowa participating counties of Lyon, Osceola, Dickinson, Sioux, O'Brien and Clay.

She said each evening session features a supper and networking time, an educational presentation and a "make-and-take" session.

"With harvest around the corner, we want to help our local agri-women prepare," said Goodell. "We also want to provide a fun evening of fellowship and food."

The event was free for attendees.

Goodell took the women to the ISU Extension's website to show them the "Spend Smart, Eat Smart" link, which features recipes under many different categories, depending on what is desired. She said the link can also be reached via phones through the app store or Google Play.

"There's a link there for 'Pantry Picks,' which uses ingredients that people seem to have in their pantries," said Goodell, adding that there is another link ("Produce Basics"), which shows how to property cut vegetables, gives nutrition information and benefits, storage tips, etc.

Following are some recipes from the ISU "Spend Smart, Eat Smart" website, all of which were either made and/or consumed at the evening gathering in Spirit Lake. Some of the recipes share various ingredients, so can be made at the same time, then frozen for later use.

Mango salsa

1 mango, peeled, pitted and sliced

1/2 small red onion, diced

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate to let flavors mingle. Can be served as an appetizer or snack with baked tortilla chips or cinnamon chips. Can try adding or substituting tomatoes and/or bell peppers.

Black bean salsa

1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed

1-1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed

1 jar (16 oz.) tomato salsa

Tortilla chips or flour tortillas

Mix first three ingredients in medium mixing bowl and refrigerate to let flavors mingle if desired. Serve as a dip for baked tortilla chips or roll up into a flour tortilla. Can try other canned beans such as garbanzo, red or pinto beans; may use 1-1/2 cups canned corn instead of frozen corn as well.

Cheesy chicken enchilada bake

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 can (15 oz.) low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup salsa

8 whole wheat tortillas

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut chicken breasts into 4 to 5 chunks. Simmer in large saucepan with water and chili powder. Cook until internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove chicken from pan and shred or cut into small chunks; return to pan. Add beans, corn and salsa to saucepan. Cook until heated through and hot. Remove from heat. Spread 1/2 cup of chicken mixture down center of each tortilla. Roll and place seam side down in greased 9x13 pan. Spread any leftover chicken mixture over top and bake for 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top of enchiladas during last 5 minutes of baking. Serve immediately.

Tips: Filling can be prepared the day before serving. Enchilada recipe can be divided into two pans-wrap and freeze some for another meal.

Slow cooker Mexican chicken soup

2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes

3/4 cup dried black beans, rinsed

1 bag (16 oz.) frozen corn, thawed

3 cups water

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 lb. skinless and boneless chicken breast, thawed

Combine all ingredients and place in slow cooker. Cook for 4 to 6 hours on high, or 8 to 10 hours on low. Remove chicken just before serving. Shred, using two forks. Stir shredded chicken into soup. Serve with choice of optional ingredients: baked tortilla chips, chili flakes, chopped cilantro, jalapenos, lime, sliced or chopped avocado, salsa, light sour cream, or shredded cheese. Can use Mexican diced tomatoes to add spice if desired.



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