We always love Valentine’s Day and everybody shows extra love on that day with a décor of hearts, balloons, candy and other gifts. Our featured couple today will be married just two days after Valentine’s Day on February 16.

Kevin VanWagner of Newdale and Avery Schwendiman of Newdale first met when she was working at the Kershaw Intermediate School in Sugar City when she was attending college. She was a para professional and Kevin was a fourth grade teacher, receiving his teaching degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She went on to get her degree at BYU-Idaho and is now a second grade teacher at Hibbard Elementary.

After about seven years, Kevin and Avery again got together when Avery’s dad was working with Kevin in the scouting program and invited him to go kayaking with his family. That is all it took and they became reacquainted and began dating. When Kevin finally wanted to “pop the question”, he did it just before Christmas with a line of Christmas lights put into boards and fastened to his fence that read: “Avery, Will You Marry Me”. The wedding is set for February 16, 2019.

Kevin was raised in Sugar City and Avery in Newdale. Both attended and graduated from Sugar-Salem High School. They will be making their home in Newdale as Kevin had purchased a home there recently.

As Kevin and Avery begin their lives together, they know it is important to be able to cook. They have both had a little experience but need more. Avery gives her mother, Ann, credit for the basics and watching her cook for their family. She believes her mom is one of the best cooks around. Kevin was also raised in a home with good food. His mom, Cindy, cooked a lot of wild game as his dad was a hunter and he would go with him on occasion to hunt elk. They also combined fishing with pleasure to provide fish for the family meal. Kevin was raised in a home with six children and Avery with four so each of them have had great experience eating good food by great moms.

Avery’s favorite food would be a Sunday dinner of roast and potatoes. Kevin is a regular Idaho guy who likes a good steak and potato. He also likes lasagna and Mexican food. Both Kevin and Avery are lunch totters and take their lunch to work; mainly leftovers.

As our featured couple plan for marriage and homemaking, they have a goal to have their own garden as both were raised with a garden and reaping the produce for the dinner table. Kevin has planted fruit trees at his home to help out with some fresh fruit eventually. Avery is already into cooking semi-homemade foods. She wants to eventually make bread sticks, breads and treats like her mom. They want to work on a storage plan to keep a stocked pantry so they can prepare meals without having to go to the store on a whim or borrow from someone, an ingredient needed for that meal.

Avery’s personal hobbies include snowboarding, computer coding, crafting and four wheeling. She loved the life of being raised on a farm and the fun times it provided, even if she had to help out with some of the everyday tasks.

Kevin enjoys fishing, hunting, kayaking, dirt biking and is presently working on jewelry with a metal lathe. His specialty is a band ring with pieces of opal in it. He also likes the craft of making pens.

For the future, both Avery and Kevin want to expose their own children to snowboarding, skiing, camping and being outdoors. They have plans to transform Kevin’s home into “their” home with some personal touches of Avery.

Together, Kevin and Avery are looking forward to cooking together and learning more about the culinary arts. They have shared a few of their own recipes today that they have agreed are some of their favorites. They are sharing them with our readers and hope they are ones that will be of interest to them in their own kitchens.

We at Food Stuff wish the couple; Kevin and Avery the best in their future life together.

Chicken Noodles

(Kevin and Avery VanWagner)

1-1/4 cup water

½ cup milk

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 tablespoons butter

1-1/2 cups noodles

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Pepper

Parsley

Combine ingredients in order. Cook and simmer for 20 minutes.

Easy Lasagna

(Kevin and Avery VanWagner)

1 pound lean ground beef--bison or elk

1 small onion, minced

1 32-ounce jar favorite spaghetti sauce

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

32 ounces cottage cheese or Ricotta cheese

2-1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

½ cup cheddar cheese

2 eggs

Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons dried parsley

1 teaspoon basil

½ teaspoon sage

¼ teaspoon oregano

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

9 lasagna noodles

½ cup water

In a large skillet over medium heat brown ground beef. Drain. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer for five minutes. In a large bowl, mix together the cottage cheese, two cups of the Mozzarella cheese, eggs, sprinkle desired amount of Parmesan, dried parsley, salt and ground black pepper. In the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish, evenly spread 1/3 of the meat/sauce mixture. Cover with three uncooked lasagna noodles. Cover those noodles with 1/3 of the cottage/cottage cheese and egg mixture, along with ¼ cup of the meat/sauce mixture. Repeat layers twice. Top with three noodles, remaining sauce, Mozzarella and cheddar and then sprinkle top with Parmesan. Add ½ cup water to the edges of the pan and then cover with foil, allowing ½-inch head room. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 5-8 minutes. Let stand ten minutes before serving.

Creamy Chicken Pasta Casserole

(Kevin and Avery VanWagner)

6 ounces uncooked bow tie pasta or pasta of your choice

1-1/2 can condensed Cream of Chicken and ½ can Cream of Mushroom soup

½ cup sour cream

½ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes, optional

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper

1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 celery ribs, chopped

1 to 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion

2-1/2 cups cooked, cubed chicken

1 4-ounce can mushroom pieces, drained, optional

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. In a large bowl, combine the soup, sour cream, milk, melted butter and seasoning. Add the cheeses, celery, onion and mushrooms. Mix well and stir in chicken and pasta. Transfer to a greased baking casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Note: If doubling the recipe, use one can Cream of Chicken soup and one can Cream of Mushroom soup. Use a three-quart baking dish. (dish will be full.)

Chunky Black Bean Salsa

(Kevin and Avery VanWagner)

5 medium tomatoes, chopped

½ cup minced fresh cilantro

1 Jalapeno pepper, chopped fine

¾ cup canned black beans drained and rinsed

¾ cup canned super sweet corn

1 10-ounce can Original Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies (optional—puree in blender)

2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

½ cup Wishbone Italian dressing

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Best if made ahead of time and refrigerate a few hours before serving.

Sheet Pan Frosted Sugar cookie Bars

(Kevin and Avery VanWagner)

1 cup softened butter

2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

4-3/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting:

½ cup softened butter

3 tablespoons milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 cups powdered sugar

Pink food coloring

Sprinkles for topping

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing after each egg. Mix in vanilla. Beat in flour, salt and baking soda until well-combined. Spread and press dough onto a half sheet pan (18”x13”x1”) sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just golden brown; let cool completely. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, combine all frosting ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Spread frosting in an even layer on cooled cookie bars and top with sprinkles, if desired.

Korean Street Tacos

(Kevin and Avery VanWagner)

1 pound ground beef

¼ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup reduced sodium soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 cloves minced garlic

¼ teaspoon sesame seeds

Marketside Asian Chopped Salad Kit (from Walmart)

White corn tortillas

Cook garlic in vegetable oil for about one minute. Add ground beef and cook until browned. Drain off fat. Mix together brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, crushed red pepper and ginger. Add soy sauce mixture to beef; stir and simmer for three to four minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle sesame seeds over beef. Prepare salad kit as per instructions. Heat corn tortillas 10 to 15 seconds per side. Spoon beef into warm tortillas and garnish with salad mix. You can also prepare your own mix of greens by mixing cabbage, red cabbage, kale, romaine, sliced carrots, sliced almonds, wonton strips and sesame ginger dressing.