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Erin Wood is 'Cook of the Week'

Erin Wood is a popular teacher and coach at Iowa Park High School these days. In addition to coaching volleyball in the fall, she takes her students through the paces of biology, chemisty, and anatomy.

If she dared to follow her biggest dreams, though, the mother of two would not even be indoors.

She’d be on yet another hunt.

“If I ever had the opportunity, then I would love to be able to manage a ranch for wildlife, and be able to guide and outfit that ranch,” laughed the animated, engaging brunette with natural locks and an infectuous smile.

As it stands, the graduate of Wichita Falls Old High and Midwestern State University (currently working on her masters in biology) is handling son Houston (four in March), daughter C.J. (two), all the while knee-deep into her sixth year at IPHS.

A teacher for eight years, Erin initially coached three sports at IPHS (volleyball, basketball, and track) and taught in the classroom for two years, before taking a job at City View for two years (one year in the classroom only, the second year adding volleyball coaching duties.

Now back at IPHS, Erin has trimmed her workload to volleyball only, and teaching.

Asked if it was best not to try and coach three sports with two young children at home, Erin smiled and said, “Yes, and having a husband who would kill me if I coached anything else!”

Erin developed a love for the outdoors at a young age, fishing with her grandfather growing up. In junior high, she went on her first hunts – mostly for quail. Then one day she decided it was time for bigger game.

“I asked my dad if he’d take me deer hunting,” she said. “He said he didn’t know how. He didn’t know where to go. He didn’t know anything about it. But he’d figure it out.

“So he bought me a gun, and found me a place to go, and found somebody who knew what they were doing,” she continued. “I shot my first turkey that year. The next year I shot my first deer. From there, I’ve been huting ever since.”

Some hunters find a comfort zone with a rifle only. Erin became proficient in that department, then decided it was time for more.

“I love bow hunting,” she says of her new love. “My first kill was about eight years ago. A deer.”

Why a bow over a gun?

“With a gun, you can be further away, although even when I gun hunt I hunt close,” she explained. “But with a bow, there’s a lot more movement involved, and you have to be a whole lot closer.

“Just the rush of being so close to them, and being able to pull the bow back and release it without them knowing you are there ... it’s amazing to be able to kill game with a stick.”

Her first recipe, Triple Meat Wild Game Spaghetti, is one of her favorites. Her family loves it, too. “I made it Sunday night,” she said. “I still have a lot in the freezer, because I wlways double the recipe when I make it. It’s always better the next day.”

Erin said each of the recipes she is sharing this week “...are my favorites. The jalapenos ... you can add bacon to them (wrapped). Or take a dove breast, put a jalapeno in it, and wrap it with bacon, and sometimes add cream cheese.”

Asked what she likes about cooking, Erin said, “Even though it’s a lot of work, and you are tired afterwards, while you are cooking it’s something that takes your mind off of everything else. You have one goal, and you accomplish it quickly. When I’m cooking, I am focused, it get it done, and I get to see and taste the results!”

And what does she like most about teaching? “The kids. Even though they are frustrating at times, that’s why you do your job. For the kids.”

Triple Meat Wild Game
Baked Spaghetti

(You can do this with wild game or domestic beef/pork)

1 lb ground venison
1 lb wild pig breakfast sausage
1 pkg. pepperoni
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Olive oil
Garlic salt (As much or as little as you like!!)
1/3 cup sugar
2 large jars of spaghetti sauce (I like the Classic Fire Roasted Tomato Basil)
2 small cans of tomato sauce
Angel Hair Pasta
2 pkgs. 5-cheese blend cheese

Sautee the chopped green pepper and onion in olive oil until the onion is transparent. Remove veggies from the pan and set aside.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan and brown the venison and pork. Add garlic salt to the meat. Make sure to add oil as needed because the wild meat is so lean. Add pepperoni.
Place the veggies back into the pan with the meat mixture.
Add spaghetti sauce and tomato sauce to the meat mixture. Place a little water in the jars and swish around to remove any sauce that is left. Add to the mixture.
Add 1/3 cup of sugar to the spaghetti sauce.
Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low. The longer it cooks the better!
Cook the pasta until soft. Place pasta into a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
Spread a layer of cheese over the cooked noodles and then top with sauce. Do this layering twice. Make sure to leave enough cheese to spread on top of the final layer.
Bake the spaghetti at 350 until the cheese is melted.
(This recipe will make at least 2 9X13 pans of baked spaghetti)

Hash Brown Casserole
2 large pkgs. frozen shredded hash browns
3 pkgs shredded sharp cheddar cheese
3 (16 oz) sour cream
3 cans of cream of chicken soup
2 sticks butter (melted)
1 medium onion finely chopped
Salt and epper to taste
2 pkgs Ritz crackers crushed

Mix all ingredients (except for the crackers) together in a large mixing bowl (I have to use a large stock pot)
Place the mixture in each of two 9X13 baking dishes.
Bake uncovered at 350 for 30 minutes. Stir.
Bake for another 15 minutes.
Place crushed crackers on top of the two casseroles and bake for 15 more minutes or until golden brown.

Stuffed Jalapenos
2 large cans of whole jalapenos
2 lbs. breakfast sausage (1 lb hot/spicy 1 lb. Regular)
2 (8 oz) pkgs cream cheese (cut into smaller cubes)
2 cups of shredded parmesan cheese (or cheddar)
2 TBS butter
Salt

Slice jalapenos in half and remove seeds. Set aside.
Brown meat in a skillet. Do not drain.
Add cream cheese cubes and butter. Stir until melted.
Add cheese and salt to taste. Mix until melted.
Spoon meat and cheese mixture into jalapeno halves.
Place on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15 or 20 minutes.

Peanut Butter Pie
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese
1 carton of Cool Whip
1 pie crust (either Oreo or graham cracker)
1 bottle of hot fudge sauce
5 mini Reese’s peanut butter cups quartered

Cover the pie crust with hot fudge sauce. Place in refrigerator until set.
Mix peanut butter, sugar, vanilla, and cream cheese together with a mixer.
Add Cool Whip gradually until all is used and the mixture is creamy.
Remove pie crust from refridgerator and add peanut butter filling.
Place quartered Reece’s cups on the top of the pie and drizzle with the rest of the hot fudge sauce over the top.
Keep in the refrigerator until served.

Heath Cake
1 box German chocolate cake mix (make sure to have eggs and oil on hand)
1 (16 oz) jar of caramel sauce
1 (16 oz) jar of hot fudge sauce
1 pkg of crushed Heath bars (found in the baking section)
1 carton Cool Whip

Make german cholcolate cake according to directions.
Cook cake just long enough. Do not overcook!!!
Poke holes in cake with a fork. Make a lot of holes!!!
Heat caramel sauce until it will pour easily. Pour most of the jar over the cake. Leave enough caramel to drizzle over the finished cake.
Pour Heath bits over the caramel. Again, leave enough topping to place on top of the finished cake. Cool cake in refrigerator for 1 hour.
Cover the cake with Cool Whip.
Drizzle with hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce. Sprinkle with Heath bits.
Keep in refrigerator until served.



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Erin Wood