Homebaked Aspirations

City Woman Sees A Bakery In Her Future

Posing in her dining room is Rhonda Shilling with a Cheesecake topped with fresh raspberries and a large bowl of Chicken Wing Soup. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

Many opportunities to be in her mother’s kitchen throughout childhood is undoubtedly the reason Rhonda Shilling is comfortable being in her own kitchen today.

“If I’m not working, I’m in my kitchen,” says the Jamestown woman. “I learned to bake from my mother. My mom was always in the kitchen with us. Meal time was always important when I was growing up. Both of my parents worked two jobs but we always had a home-cooked meal. Those are things from my childhood that I value.”

At one time her mother baked pies and cream puffs for The Eatery and provided pies for other restaurants, as well.

“She baked from scratch, no cans. And she made her pie crust from scratch, too,” says the daughter. “She had a passion for baking and always wanted to open a bakery. That is my dream, too”

She vividly remembers when in her junior year of high school she was left to make 20 pies for one of the restaurants while her mother was at the hospital suffering with a gall bladder attack. She completed the job but not without stress and frustration. Luckily, she has made amends with pie crust over the years.

Mrs. Shilling aspires to have her own bakery one day where she will feature many varieties of cheesecake along with other baked goods.

Ideally, in the bakery of her dreams, she would feature cheesecakes, but she would also sell a variety of baked goods and not be limited to a few specialty items.

“I love to make cheesecakes and I want to do something different, not just cupcakes.”

She likes to be creative in her baking and lists many different cheesecake varieties she is considering for the business including peanut butter cheesecake, turtle cheesecake with pecans, caramel and chocolate and chocolate-covered strawberry cheesecake. Oreo cheesecake and chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake are other flavors for consideration and of course a plain cheesecake topped with fresh fruit.

“And lemon-raspberry which is one of my favorites,” she adds.

She catered her own wedding with her mother’s help and made her son’s wedding cake and makes cakes for friends as well. She gets great satisfaction standing back and seeing her success in the end result when a project is completed.

This Chicken Wing Soup is a Shilling family favorite.

She looks forward to the season of autumn when she bakes apple pies from the Jonagold apples grown in her backyard.

“I give some apples to my grandmother because my grandfather says ‘those make one heck of an applesauce.'”

Her passion doesn’t end with baking. Unlike many who enjoy baking but would rather not cook or vice versa, Mrs. Shilling does not prefer one over the other. She follows in her mother’s footsteps where meal preparation is concerned by starting each dish from the very beginning. She makes her own chicken stock and biscuits when she makes her son’s favorite chicken and biscuits meal. Noodles don’t come from a bag at the Shilling house, but from a mixture of flour, salt and eggs.

Many aspects of her life involve food including the job she has held as a server for the last 18 months at The Dinner Bell Restaurant in Frewsburg where she works 3 days per week. She speaks fondly of her customers, coworkers and the generosity of the owner, Nina Constantino. She looks forward to spending time with her Dinner Bell family, be it fellow workers or the daily clientele.

The passionate cook, who grew up camping and hiking, has quite a lengthy list of places to which she has traveled with her husband, Shawn. She has a much longer list of the places she still hopes to visit.

She lists spending time with family as a priority and enjoys a close relationship with her siblings.

“We still do Sunday dinner at my parents, Win and Valerie Propheter.”

Shawn Shilling, works for the City of Jamestown as a firefighter. They have four children, Hilary, Matthew, Hailey and Hunter. Chocolate, yellow and black labs ranging in age from 3-7 years and two parakeets share the family’s home.

“They’re my babies,” she says of the three large dogs.

Feeding birds and watching deer in her backyard are relaxing pastimes.

“(This is) my little sanctuary back here,” she says of the patio area where a goldfish pond, an umbrella-covered table with seating and a chiminea, an outdoor fireplace, are located. She can relax while watching the dogs play in a large fenced yard.

The recipes shared hold special memories for the family. The Chocolate

Chip Cookie recipe found in an old cookbook belonging to Valerie Propheter has been the only recipe the family has used for many years for that variety of cookie.

“My mom still has her cookbook but she found one for me at a yard sale. I

know that recipe by heart,” says the daughter.

The Mint Meringue Cookies won first prize for the baker in a cookie contest held at the Chautauqua Mall. The Cheesy Crock-Pot Chicken recipe came together when Mrs. Shilling “threw some things into a crockpot that go well together. It’s quick and easy.”

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/3 c shortening

1/3 c butter or margarine

1/2 c granulated sugar

1/2 c brown sugar, packed

1 egg

1tsp vanilla

1 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp soda

1/2 tsp salt

12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine shortening, butter, sugars, egg and vanilla. Stir in flour, soda and salt. Mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until lightly browned.

Mint Meringue Cookies

2 egg whites

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp cream of tartar

1/8 tsp peppermint extract

6-8 drops green food coloring, optional

1/2 c sugar

1/3 c miniature semisweet chocolate chips

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites, salt, cream of tartar, extract and food coloring on medium speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high until stiff glossy peaks form and sugar is dissolved, about 6 minutes. Gently fold in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheets that have been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 250∂ for 40-45 minutes or until firm to the touch. Turn oven off; leave meringues in oven for 1-1/2 hours. Remove to wire racks. Store in an airtight container.

Cheesecake

Crust:

1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (approx. 5 graham crackers)

2 T sugar

Pinch salt

4 T plus 1 tsp unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third of oven. Mix graham crackers crumbs with sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of springform pan. Gently press down on the crumbs using your fingers, until the crumbs are an even layer at the bottom of the pan, with a slight rise along the inside edges of the pan. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350∂F for 10 minutes. Cool.

Filling:

2 lbs cream cheese, room temperature

1 1/3 c granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs

2/3 c sour cream

2/3 c heavy cream

Cut cream cheese into chunks and place in bowl of an electric mixer. Mix on medium speed for 4 minutes until smooth, soft and creamy. Add and beat for 4 minutes more. Add salt and vanilla, beating after each addition. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each addition. Add sour cream, beat until incorporated. Add heavy cream, beating until incorporated. Scrape sides of mixer bowl and beaters. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pour filling over graham cracker bottom layer. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake at 325 degrees F for 1¢ hours. Turn off oven. Open oven door 1-inch and let cheesecake cool in oven for another hour. This will help prevent cheesecake from cracking. Chill in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Banana Cream Pie

1 c sugar

1/4 c cornstarch

1/2 tsp salt

3 c 2 percent milk

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

3 T butter

11/2 tsp vanilla

1 graham cracker crust

2 large firm bananas

1 c heavy cream, whipped

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt and milk until smooth. Cook and stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Reduce heat. Cook 2 minutes longer, while stirring. Remove from heat. Stir in a small amount of filling into eggs. Return to pan and continue to stir while brining to a gentle boil. Cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat and gently stir in butter and vanilla. Place plastic wrap onto surface of custard. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Spread half of custard into crust. Slice bananas and arrange over filling. Pour remaining custard over bananas. Spread whipped cream. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Chicken Wing Soup

1 c celery, diced

4 T butter

1/4 c flour

3 c chicken broth

1 c milk

1 c heavy cream

1 c sour cream

1/2 c shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 c Frank’s hot sauce

3 c cooked chicken (shredded)

Crumbled blue cheese

Heat celery and butter in sauce pan. Allow butter to melt and simmer for a couple minutes. Add flour and stir well. Whisk in chicken broth and milk. Cook for about 10 minutes then add heavy cream, sour cream, cheeses and hot sauce. Whisk together and stir occasionally. Allow cheese to melt completely cooking over medium heat. Stir in chicken. Scoop in bowl and top with blue cheese.

Cheesy Crockpot Chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt

Pepper

Garlic powder

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can cheddar cheese soup

1 c sour cream

1 c shredded cheddar cheese.

Put chicken in crockpot. Season with a little salt, pepper and garlic powder. Add bouillon cubes. Combine soups and sour cream and pour over chicken. Place lid on crock pot and cook on high about 7 hours. Add shredded cheddar and allow to melt. About 2 minutes. Stir until blended. Serve with a side of rice.

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