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Cook's Corner

  • Mom teaches lessons with baking company
    Last year, Caroline Landon decided her children needed to learn how to run a business and earn some extra money for the family along the way.
  • Mom teaches lessons with baking company
    Last year, Caroline Landon decided her children needed to learn how to run a business and earn some extra money for the family along the way. So, she opened up her home-based business, Landon House Bakery in Roanoke.
  • Coffee shop owner values communication
    As customers come through the door of Jeremiah’s Brewed Awakenings coffee shop in Auburn, owner Jeremiah Otis greets each one by their first name. As they approach the counter, he asks, “What sounds good today?
I still want to learn …
A. To be a better photographer.
I can’t wait to …
A. To have more time to spend with my grandkids.
Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Lilli Arnold’s Twice Baked Potato Casserole

Freezer key tool for mom

Diana Parker | The Journal Gazette
Lilli Arnold keeps potato casseroles in the freezer.

– Lilli Arnold of Wells County is one busy mother.

Arnold and her husband, Keith, have seven children, 10 grandchildren and another on the way. Three of their children, Brent, 36, Brandi, 35, and Bryce, 32, no longer live at home, but the youngest four, Reid, 19, Grant, 17, Clint, 15, and Kaylee, 13, do. Arnold has spent the last 27 years home-schooling all of her children.

In addition to educating the children, Arnold spends time taking meals to various people.

“I’m a mentoring mom (“Moms Life”) at a church in Bluffton. If any mom has a baby or they’re sick, I take meals. It’s just when there’s a need,” she says. “I take a meal to the neighbor man twice a week. I take a meal to a home-school family in Fort Wayne once a month.”

Arnold, 57, also signed up to participate in and, which organize meals for those in need.

Grabbing her laptop, Arnold quickly looks up one of the websites and says: “It’s online and it’s awesome. You send an email and it’s done. This way you can see what others are taking. You get an email reminder sent to you. No phone calls to make. The family that’s getting the meal can get online and see who’s bringing the meal. And your phone number is there if they need to call you.”

As for using cookbooks, Arnold has her Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks as standbys but says she’s using her computer more for recipe ideas.

“It’s kind of changed over times. It was Taste of Home with pictures, now it’s Pinterest. I don’t have to keep track of what cookbook (the recipe) is in. You pin everything on your board. Plus it’s all rated. I can get the five-star recipe and not guess whether it’s good or not. Someone’s reviewed it all for me,” she says.

Q. What’s your go-to meal?

A. Probably the Parmesan chicken, a potato dish, green beans, a salad and rolls. That’s what I take a lot to people for a meal. I’m into easy. I buy large quantities of chicken. I divide it into single servings, freeze them on a cookie sheet and then put how much chicken a recipe calls for in a Ziploc bag.

Quick meals? Tacos. We have our own business, so not only is everyone home for dinner but for lunch, too. I do 20 pounds of taco meat. It’s always in the freezer. That and frozen bread dough. We turn that (bread dough) into all kinds of things. I keep three to six potato casseroles in the freezer.

Q. What’s one thing people would not find in your refrigerator?

A. Tofu. No thanks. Tried that. No. That’s when I tried to be healthy. Skip that one.

Q. If you were stuck on a deserted island, what’s one food you would have to have?

A. Lay’s potato chips. I’ve always liked salty things, not sweet.

Parmesan Chicken

1 clove garlic, minced

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 cup bread crumbs

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or 2/3 cup if you are using a microplane zester)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

Large pinch of Italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels. In a bowl, combine the minced garlic with the melted butter. In another bowl, mix together the bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, salt, garlic salt, Italian seasoning and pepper. Dip chicken pieces into garlic butter, then into crumb mixture to coat. Place coated chicken pieces on to a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish, leaving a little room between each piece. Drizzle with remaining garlic butter and bake uncovered 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Note: The chicken will brown more on the bottom than the top. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Twice Baked Potato Casserole

8 medium baking potatoes, about 4 pounds

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick butter, softened

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 pint sour cream

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup chopped chives, for garnish

6 slices bacon, cooked crisp, drained and crumbled, for garnish (optional)

Pierce the potatoes and place on a baking pan. Bake the potatoes for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until very soft. Allow to cool. Peel and mash the potatoes in a large bowl with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Add the cream cheese, butter, 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and the sour cream. Stir well. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and stir again. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking dish with vegetable oil cooking spray. Place the potatoes into the dish. The casserole may now be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to bake. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the potatoes for 30 to 35 minutes, until hot. Sprinkle the remaining 1 cup cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole and return to the oven for about 5 minutes, until the cheese melts. Garnish with the chopped chives and crumbled bacon before serving. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

Cheesecake filling:

3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

3/4 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons, divided

3 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract


3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Streusel topping, recipe follows

1/2 cup caramel topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the crust: Combine flour and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 forks) until mixture is crumbly. Press evenly into a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Bake 15 minutes or until lightly browned. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with 3/4 cup sugar in an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Then add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour over warm crust. In a small bowl, stir together chopped apples, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spoon evenly over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle evenly with streusel topping. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until filling is set. Drizzle with caramel topping and let cool. Makes 15 to 18 servings.

Streusel topping:

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.

Cook’s Corner is a weekly feature. If you know of someone to be profiled, write to Cook’s Corner, The Journal Gazette, P.O. Box 88, Fort Wayne, IN 46801-0088; fax 461-8648; or email