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The Iowa Presidential Caucus is a casserole of finest ingredients—policy ideas, active candidates, determined local politicians dedicated political activists, and hard-working Iowans. Every four years citizens across the state meet to hash out their differences and make a selection. Seldom is one candidate an overwhelming caucus choice. Instead, several winning candidates combine into a single dish of patriotic participation, ready to share with the rest of the nation.
In Lake Livonia, with holiday season fast approaching and the Iowa Presidential Caucus soon to follow, Susan Stewart’s fledgling Potluck Paradise Cafe is humming with the creation of new and delicious dishes to please the appetites of her community.
But then, a mysterious note included in a Christmas card from her friend and mentor, Hazel Romer, who skipped town in the middle of a July night, raises important questions. What was the skeleton in Hazel’s closet that caused her to run away from the town she loved? And why had she left the restaurant to Susan?
When a blizzard traps strangers in town overnight, the stage is set for a series of life-changing events for Susan, her teenaged children, and her friends, as the Presidential Caucus brings Iowa and Lake Livonia into national prominence.
With 30 Family and Potluck Pleasing recipes for main dishes, vegetables and desserts.
Blizzard Beef Casserole
Potluck Paradisers know that making new dishes from leftovers is key to helping the bottom line, of a restaurant or a household. As the book begins with a sudden blizzard Susan Stewart quickly pulled ingredients to combine leftover rice and beef into a tasty casserole that can be quickly heated in the microwave or bake for the traditional 20 minutes or so in an oven.
1 ½ tablespoons butter
1 ½ tablespoon flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 ½ cups cooked white or brown rice
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, and well drained
1 1/2 cups cooked roast beef, cut in ½ inch dice
You will also need:
Butter or cooking spray to grease a 2-quart casserole
Butter a 2-quart casserole and set aside. If baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt the 1 ½ tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan, add the flour, and stir until mixture begins to bubble. Carefully add the milk, stirring until the mixture thickens. Add ½ cup cheese and seasonings, then set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the rice, spinach, and roast beef. Toss well with a fork to make sure the spinach is evenly distributed. Stir in the cheese sauce. Pour the mixture into the lightly buttered 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle top with the remaining ½ cup cheese. Bake until the mixture bubbles, about thirty minutes. Or the casserole may be heated at half power in the microwave.
From The Great Iowa Caucus Casserole Mystery by Rae Katherine Eighmey The book is set in the small north Iowa town of Lake Livonian and centers on the community of the Potluck Paradise Café owned by Susan Stewart.
About the Author
Rae Katherine Eighmey is an award-winning author and cook with blue ribbons from both the Iowa and Minnesota State Fair cooking contests. She is the author of a dozen books about food and history including Abraham Lincoln in the Kitchen and Stirring the Pot with Benjamin Franklin.
She has written two other novels. Current events inspired this cozy mystery. A north Iowa resident, she is familiar with the Iowa presidential caucus and wanted to tell the tale of the caucus through the friendly story of three strong women who meet challenges in their lives and cook great food.