New P.A. honing cooking skills

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By Travis Svihovec

Heather Olson

Heather Olson

Heather Olson was more interested in sports than cooking while she was in high school and college, but she’s hitting stride with that now.
“I started cooking more when we got married,” Heather said. “I like trying new recipes and having people over.”
Heather is a physician assistant at Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics. She was born and raised in Norfolk, Neb., and graduated from Norfolk Catholic High School in 2006. She was active in soccer and golf all four years of high school.
Heather got her undergraduate degree at Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell. She played golf at DWU for four years, earning four trips to the national tournament with the team, and played soccer one year. She graduated in 2010 after earning a degree in athletic training and biology with a minor in chemistry.
It was during her time at DWU that she met John Olson, who is from the St. Cloud area of Minnesota. They married in the summer of 2010 and moved to St. Louis. She took a job as an athletic trainer at a local high school while John was working toward a doctorate in optometry. It was after they married that she started expanding her cooking skills. For the most part, she said, her new dishes have turned out well.
“I’m sure there were a few my husband said he won’t eat again,” she said. “I experiment with stuff and it usually works out OK.”
The three recipes she submitted are all favorites, but the chicken wild rice recipe is at the top of John’s list.
“He usually gets to put that together,” she said. “The stuffed peppers are quick and easy, and the salad is another ‘weeknight’ dish. Sometimes we add chicken to that.”
After a year as an athletic trainer in St. Louis, Heather decided to pursue a master’s in medical science and become a physician assistant. John got his doctorate and moved to Mobridge in August. Heather followed in December.
“Everyone we’ve met here has been so nice and welcoming,” she said. “We are excited to be part of the community.”
Heather continues to enjoy golf and is also an avid runner. She and John have a dog, a Japanese Chin named Gizmo.

HEATHER OLSON’S RECIPES

Cranberry Pear Salad
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 cups mixed baby greens or spinach
3 pears, either thinly sliced or cut into small cubes
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pecans or sliced almonds
3/4 cup cubed Havarti or Gouda cheese (or Feta)
Whisk olive oil, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, salt, and black pepper.  Combine greens, pears, cranberries, nuts and cheese in large bowl.  Pour dressing over top and toss. Garnish with more almonds.

Philly Cheese Stuffed Peppers
8 oz. thinly sliced roast beef
8 slices provolone cheese
4 large bell peppers (any color)
1 sweet onion
6 oz. baby bella mushrooms
2 Tbs. Butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. minced garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Remove tops from peppers, remove ribs and seeds.
Slice onions and mushrooms and saute over medium heat with butter, olive oil, minced garlic until onions are caramelized (25-30 min).  Can also cut up what is left of the tops of the pepper and add to the mix.
Preheat oven to 400.
Place peppers in a glass baking dish and cook for 5-10 min. until just starting to get soft.
Slice roast beef into thin strips and add to the onion/mushroom mixture.  Allow to cook 5-10min.
Line each pepper with a slice of provolone cheese
Fill each pepper with meat mixture until overflowing
Top with another slice of cheese
Bake for 15-20 min until cheese is golden brown.

Chicken wild rice casserole
2 cups water
1/2 cup wild rice
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 leeks, chopped and rinsed
1 1/2 pounds mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 cups frozen French-cut green beans
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Combine water and rice in a small heavy saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, place chicken in a large skillet or saucepan. Add lightly salted water to cover and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a clean cutting board and let cool.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until just starting to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until their liquid has been released and has evaporated, 12 to 14 minutes. Add sherry, increase heat to high and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat. Add milk; bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Stir in Parmesan, sour cream, parsley, salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch (or similar 3-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Spread the rice in an even layer in the prepared baking dish. Top with the chicken, then green beans. Pour the sauce over the top and spread evenly. Sprinkle with almonds.
Bake the casserole until it is bubbling and the almonds are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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