Commodity chefs
Shelby Hible, right, chops chicken breasts as Alyssa Johnson checks her paperwork while the team prepares a chicken cacciatore noodle bake last week in Casper.

CASPER — Rotini with kielbasa, rotini with kidney beans, corn, hamburger and spices; rotini with tomatoes, bell pepper, onion and garlic.

The same corkscrew pasta ingredient with three very different tastes.

Oh, and chicken cacciatore with egg noodles served in a blanket of flaky pastry baked to a perfect golden brown.

Yum, right?

Yum, yup, and all prepared with commodity foods donated by the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies to illustrate what magic commodities can create in anyone’s kitchen.

“Sometimes, you don’t have a choice of the commodities you might get, and we wanted to show how versatile they can be,” said Karla Case, Cent$ible Nutrition program coordinator and nutrition and food safety educator for the UW Cooperative Extension Service in Casper.

She and her staff organized “Commodity Chef Wyoming,” modeled after the popular television show “Iron Chef.”

She recruited four teams of “chefs” to create recipes based on commodities.

Representatives of Community Action, the Natrona County Detention Center, the school district’s ProStart Culinary Arts program and the Salvation Army prepared recipes in front of an audience in a timed exercise.

Balky ovens and too few forks aside, attendees enjoyed talking to the chefs while they cooked and then sampling the results.

The voting was strictly people’s choice, and the winners were:

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•Best presentation: Pasta Poco Costosa (Cheap Pasta), Community Action.

•Most creative dish: Sweeter than Sunshine Applesauce, ProStart.

•Most flavorful dish: (tie) Monster Meal, Salvation Army, and Apple-icious Parfaits, ProStart.

•Most surprising dish: Apple Salad, Community Action.

•Dish most likely to make at home: Peanut Butter Balls, NC Detention Center.

Krista Brown of the Cent$ible Nutrition program said chefs were able to choose from the following commodities: instant dry milk, creamy tomato soup, egg noodles, rotini, canned corn and applesauce.

Kim Summerall-Wright, the new executive director of the Wyoming Food Bank of the Rockies, told those in attendance that commodities are available for people who are income-eligible locally at Joshua’s Storehouse, Holy Cross Center, the Salvation Army, and Our Saviour’s Lutheran food pantry.

The Cent$ible Nutrition program provides nutrition education to Wyoming families and individuals with limited resources in an effort to help families eat better for less. The program’s cookbook has become a staple for both social-service programs and families wanting to know how to stretch their food budget.

For information, call Case at 307-235-9400.

Contact Sally Ann Shurmur at 307-266-0520 or sallyann.shurmur@trib.com

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Here is a low-cost recipe to sample.

The recipe is courtesy of Salvation Army commodity chefs Carl Israel, Elijah Israel, Tracy Israel and Deb Weakland.

Monster Meal

1 onion, finely diced

1 tbsp. butter or margarine

1 lb. ground beef or any ground meat

1 can Manwich sauce

1 can creamy tomato soup

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. chili powder

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 tbsp. dry milk

1 lb. pasta, cooked and drained

1 can whole-kernel corn, drained

1 can kidney beans, drained

2 cups shredded cheese

Sauté diced onion in butter in large skillet.

Add ground meat and brown. Drain off grease.

Add Manwich sauce, soup, brown sugar, garlic powder, chili powder and Worcestershire sauce and simmer.

Combine 3 tablespoons dry milk with 1/2 cup water and add to meat mixture.

Put cooked noodles in large pot (can use same pot noodles were cooked in).

Pour the meat mixture over the noodles and stir.

Add corn, kidney beans, and cheese. Stir and heat through