Whitehead’s love language is cooking
Shannon Whitehead says cooking is one of her favorite pastimes that takes her away from the hustle and bustle of work that she considers a love language.
“I love the bonding aspect of cooking and being able to have fun with my family and savor the special moments with them and my friends,” said Whitehead, the new superintendent of the Philadelphia Public Schools. “I love having them over for different occasions, whether it’s a holiday or just celebrating life.”
Whitehead was born and raised in Canton and recalled starting her cooking career in the kitchen with her grandmother and aunts.
“I sat and watched them cook and sometimes helped prepare certain items such as spices,” Whitehead said. “I would absorb all the conversations and laughter in the kitchen. It brought together the unity and togetherness of cooking and it was a great bonding experience, whether the dish came out good or bad.”
Whitehead said her family always had Sunday dinners during her childhood, a tradition she keeps up with even now.
“Cooking is always rich in our culture, and we involve food in holiday traditions or celebrations like graduations and other achievements,” she said. “My fondest memories are cooking Easter and Christmas dinners with my family.”
Whitehead started cooking on her own around the age of 24 when she became a mom. She said her favorite things to cook are savory dishes like spaghetti and casseroles, turkey and dressing on Sundays, and Mississippi pot roast. Her favorite party dish to make is pasta salad.
“I’m not much of a baker, but if I had to make a sweet dish, it would be strawberry cake or key lime pie, which is my go-to dessert,” she said.
Whitehead added that she is a foodie and loves to try new restaurants. She even travels to different states and cities just to try food there.
White Whitehead recently became superintendent of the Philadelphia Public Schools, She plans to continue making time to cook on Wednesday nights and the Sunday dinners are always on.
“It’s a tradition that will live on,” she said.
CASSEROLE WITH TATER TOTS
800g of Tater Tots, thawed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
341ml can corn
5 cups chunky salsa
8 oz Herbs and Chives cream cheese
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1/2 tbsp onion powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese blend
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese with Jalapeño peppers
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Dice the yellow onion and green pepper. Place the olive oil into a frying pan over medium heat. Add the lean ground beef to the frying pan. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Break up meat while cooking. Cook until almost browned. Add cut up onion and green pepper and continue cooking.
While the meat finishes cooking, prepare cream cheese sauce by combining the cream cheese, Miracle Whip and the onion powder.
Shred the cheddar cheese and the Monterey Jack cheese. When the meat is cooked add the can of corn and salsa of choice to the frying pan and stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes.
Place a layer of Tater Tots in the bottom of the prepared 9″ x 13″ baking pan. Follow with the meat mixture. Spread the cream cheese mixture as evenly as possible over the meat layer. Sprinkle the shredded cheeses over the top.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 – 45 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.
KEY LIME PIE
3 cups sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup key lime juice
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon grated lime zest
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine condensed milk, key lime juice, sour cream, and lime zest in a bowl; mix well. Pour into graham cracker crust.
Bake in the preheated oven for 5 to 8 minutes, until tiny pinhole bubbles burst on the surface of the pie. The filling will be wobbly but not browned. Thoroughly chill pie in the refrigerator before serving for about one hour. Garnish with lime slices and whipped cream, if desired.
ITALIAN PASTA SALAD
1 (16 ounce) package rotini pasta
1 cup Italian-style salad dressing
1 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red onion, diced
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook pasta until al dente, rinse under cold water and drain. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, Italian salad dressing, Caesar dressing, Parmesan cheese, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and red onion. Mix well and serve chilled or at room temperature.