Tuesday, April 14, 2020 Waukee Public Library Staff

To help you complete the Spring 2020 Adult Reading Challenge—as well as keep you sane during these trying times—we'll be doing several "staff picks" lists with our recommendations for some of the challenge activities.

This week we're sharing some of our favorite recipes to help you complete the "Try a new recipe" challenge. 


Fancy Chicken Ramen - Nicole (Public Services Asssistant)

Nicole's "Fancy Chicken Ramen" is a recipe of her own creation that she loves because it's "super easy and affordable"—a perfect choice for the quarantine!

  1. Grill or bake a chicken breast. (Nicole thaws frozen chicken in a bowl of hot salt water, rub them with olive oil and add poultry seasoning then pop in the oven at 425 for 30-40 minutes.)

  2. While the chicken is in progress, chop fresh carrot, green onion, and celery to add to ramen.

  3. About five minutes before chicken is done, start making your ramen, adding your chopped vegetables to the boiling water to cook with the noodles

  4. While ramen is cooking, fry up an egg -- chicken should be done by this point; place fried egg on top of the chicken breast.

  5. When ramen is done cooking, drain water and add seasoning packet to noodles and vegetables and stir.

  6. Add noodles and veggies to the plate with chicken and egg!


Banana Bread - Marie (Public Services Assistant)

Marie says, "Years ago, snowed in with no chance of a grocery run, I looked online for recipes hoping to find something I could make with what we had on hand. I’ve always had a sweet tooth, so it’s no surprise that the recipe I landed on was for banana bread (something I made again this week in an attempt to reduce waste)." 

The recipe came from Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. 


  • 2 to 3 very ripe bananas, peeled (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups mashed)

  • 1/3 cup melted butter, unsalted or salted
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • Pinch of salt

  • 3/4 cup sugar 

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C), and butter a 4x8-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mash the ripe bananas with a fork until completely smooth. Stir the melted butter into the mashed bananas.
  3. Mix in the baking soda and salt. Stir in the sugar, beaten egg, and vanilla extract. Mix in the flour.
  4. Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour at 350°F (175°C), or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes. Then remove the banana bread from the pan and let cool completely before serving. Slice and serve. 


Monster Cookies - Keri (Youth Services Librarian)

Recipe originally from The Great American Cookie Cookbook (ISBN: 0785357882). Makes about 2.5 dozen cookies.


  • 1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup Crisco
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter (I use creamy)
  • 1 T corn syrup (I substitute honey)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups quick oats, uncooked
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I use ½ cup choc. Chips and 1/2 cup mini M&Ms)


  1. Combine sugars and shortening in large bowl. Beat until well blended. Beat in eggs. Beat in peanut butter, syrup (honey), baking soda and vanilla. Stir in oats. (I mix in ½ the oats first then slowly add in the rest until thoroughly mixed.) Stir in chocolate chips.
  2. Form dough into balls or drop generous tablespoonfulls onto ungreased baking sheet. 
  3. Bake at 350 for 11-13 minutes or until just beginning to brown. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes, then move to cooling rack to cool completely.


Crescent Roll Casserole - Judy (Public Services Associate)

This recipe, originally from Pillsbury, is one Judy says she's "had for years and it is my boys' favorite."


  • 1 lb. cooked ground beef
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion, cooked with beef
  • 1 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce
  • 6 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • 1 can crescent rolls
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 T. melted butter


  1. Mix meat, onions, and sauce. Put in an 11 x 7 pan.
  2. Mix mozzarella and sour cream. Spread on top of meat.
  3. Unroll crescent rolls on top.
  4. Mix parmesan and butter. Spread on top of rolls.
  5. Bake 18-25 minutes at 375 degrees.


Classic Baked Macaroni and Cheese - Kelly (Children's Programming Outreach Specialist)

Originally sourced from Southern Living, Kelly says, "you can’t go wrong with a Southern Living recipe and this one is a crowd pleaser!"


  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 T all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (10oz) block extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground red pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 (16oz) package elbow macaroni, cooked


  1. Preheat oven to 400°. Microwave milk at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes. Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.

  2. Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.

  3. Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, and, if desired, red pepper until smooth; stir in pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.


Salty Lemon Squares - Eliza (Children's Librarian)

Eliza loves this recipe because "these are the perfect blend of salty and sweet, and easy to make with things you often have on hand." This recipe is originally sourced from Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski with Mindy Fox.



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Finely grated zest of 1 large or 2 medium lemons (1 1/2 to 2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 large or 2 medium lemons)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling


  1. Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F), with a rack in the middle. Line an 20-cm (8-inch) square baking pan with two sheets of foil, shiny side up, crisscrossing them to leave an overhang on all sides. Lightly spray with nonstick cooking spray or grease with butter.
  2. For the crust: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the cooled melted butter and stir to combine. Turn the mixture out into the baking pan and press evenly over the bottom. Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 18 to 22 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling: With an electric mixer, beat the eggs in a medium bowl until combined. Add the granulated sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and lemon juice, and beat on medium-high until the mixture is frothy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Pour the filling into the hot crust. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the filling is just set, 22 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, at least 1 1/2 hours. For the best flavour and easiest cutting, chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours, or up to 1 day. (The bars can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw, unwrapped, for 1 hour at room temperature before serving.)
  5. To serve, cut the bars into 5-cm (2-inch) squares, then dust with confectioners’ sugar and sprinkle with flaky salt.

Tips: After grating the lemons, warm them in the microwave for 5-to 10-second intervals until just a bit warm, 15 to 30 seconds, which will help release the most juice. The flavour of these bars deepens overnight, so make them a day ahead if you can.


Stay tuned for more staff recommedations in our upcoming Lit+Fix posts! Need ever more inspiration for completing Spring 2020 Reading Challenge activities? Check out our dedicated Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SpringReadingChallenge/


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