Brenda Boteler creates healthy dishes to share with neighbors

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By Ann Cipperly

When Brenda and Bob Boteler decided to move to Opelika, they were looking for a friendly neighborhood. After talking to various folks, they found the perfect place for them with all the elements they desired, as well as being a great neighborhood. Brenda enjoys cooking healthy dishes in the spacious kitchen and sharing with neighbors.
I was interested in meeting the Botelers for several reasons. One was that they live in our former house on West Collinwood Circle where we lived for over 14 years, raising our children. Brenda and Bob were smitten with the house for the same reason we were with the large screened back porch, overlooking a stunning wooded view and a creek.
The house has been updated with hardwood floors throughout, granite countertops and new appliances. I have wonderful memories of preparing meals for my family in the large kitchen.
Now, Brenda is enjoying cooking in the updated kitchen. When I arrived, she was baking Jalapeño Poppers in the oven that filled the house with a savory aroma of sausage and spices.
While Brenda grew up in Montgomery, she spent her summers with her grandmother Royall in Elkin, N.C., which was her father’s home. Her grandmother taught her to cook on a wood burning cast iron stove. Brenda enjoyed watching her grandmother put her apron on and pin her hair back as she prepared to cook.
Her grandmother’s entire backyard was a garden with apple trees in the middle. Together they canned vegetables and made applesauce and apple jelly. Brenda also milked the cow and churned milk to make butter.
After attending Auburn University and finishing her education in Lexington, KY, Brenda worked in bank mergers and acquisitions for several years, as well as consulting in Washington, D.C. and New York.
“Then, I decided I wanted to be a cowgirl,” she says. “I wanted to get back to things I love, including a farm, gardening and cows.”
Her sons, Grif and Tom, were in junior and senior high school when she purchased land in Kentucky. She owned and operated a registered cattle and quarter horse farm.
She had a one-acre vegetable garden. One year she canned over 200 quarts of green beans. She was able to share with neighbors who did not have a garden. “It was a beautiful, peaceful chapter in my life,” she says.
Brenda felt she needed to work more before retiring. She went to work at Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Georgetown, KY, as team leader for V-6 Powertrain engine build and test for Camry and Avalon.
After she finally retired, Brenda moved to Florida and lived on the water. When her aging parents became ill, she felt she needed to move to this area to help care for them. Her sister already resided in Opelika.
Since then, her father has since passed away, and her mother is in an assisted living.
Five years ago, Brenda met Bob, who is from Jackson, MS, and has a background in law enforcement and investigation. Since they married, the Botelers have enjoyed traveling in their RV with their dog, Molly. Along with exploring interesting places, they enjoy visiting Brenda’s grown sons and grandchildren. Grif lives in Montana, while Tom resides in Birmingham.
Brenda has an interest in antiques and has collected pieces from places she has lived and traveled.
The Collinwood neighborhood reminds her of the close community where she grew up. “When we walk Molly,” she says, “we meet a lot of people. It melts my heart that people are so kind, generous and helpful.”
Brenda will share meals with a neighbor who doesn’t cook much anymore. They are also alert to the well-being of their neighbors.
They enjoy being a part of the annual Luminaries during the Christmas season.
After taking medical classes on nutrition, Brenda began creating recipes and adapting others to be healthier. Her suggestions for eating healthy include buying fresh and local, using the best olive oil and not overcooking vegetables. For the most part, she has eliminated “white” from her menus.
Every day she drinks distilled water with lemon, as she feels it is one of the best things she can do to remove free radicals.
She mainly eats foods that are alkalizing, which helps to heal the body in an alkalized state. These foods include lots of fruits and vegetables.
“I like to cook,” she says, “because it reminds me of my Grandmother Royall.” Once in a while she bakes special treats, including Old Time Buttermilk Pie and Blueberry and Lemon Bread.
Her Chocolate Cups are easy to make and great for filling with ice cream, cheesecake or fruit. She freezes ice cubes with popsicle sticks and dips them into melted chocolate to form a cup. It is then placed on wax paper for the chocolate to set. The filled cups are an attractive dessert.
“I love cooking for my husband, neighbors and family,” says Brenda. “The retirement phase of a life is a beautiful thing when you have neighbors like we have and a home with a view and wildlife. It is great living in Opelika.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Morning Green Smoothie
2 cups fresh spinach
2 green apples
2 cups blueberries
2 bananas
Process ingredients in blender or juicer with crushed ice.

Mango Salsa
1 cup mango, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp. seeded, chopped jalapeño
1/2 cup cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. red crushed pepper
Tortilla chips
Combine salsa ingredients and chill. Serve with tortilla chips.

Asian Pear Salad
4 Asian pears, washed and sliced
Sprinkle with lemon juice; set aside.
Combine:
1 cup cottage cheese
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup ground almonds or walnuts
Arrange pear slices on lettuce. Top with cottage cheese mixture.

Old Time Buttermilk Pie
Make the crust or use a purchased 10-inch crust.
Crust:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ cup shortening
¼ cup milk
1 egg
Combine flour and salt; cut in shortening. Add milk and egg; combine. Press into a 10-inch pie plate. Set aside.
Filling:
½ cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup lemon juice
Combine butter and sugar. Add flour and eggs. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pie crust.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set.

Lemon-Blueberry Cake
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
½ cup oil
1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. cornstarch
16 oz. (2 cups) fresh blueberries
Beat eggs and sugar until thick. Add sour cream, oil and extract.
In another bowl, mix flour and baking powder. Add to egg and sugar mixture. Do not overbeat.
Mix lemon juice and cornstarch; coat blueberries with mixture.
Pour half the batter into a spring-form pan. Add half of the blueberries and remaining batter. Top with rest of blueberries, pressing them into the batter.
Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes until test done. Cool. Dust with powdered sugar.

Baja Fish Tacos
Cod fillets
½ cup milk
Soft tacos
Soak cod in milk. Remove and set aside. Have soft tacos ready to heat.
Mix:
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. chili powder
Combine and coat fillets. Fry in oil until brown on each side and cooked or bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Serve with one of the following three topping options.
First Topping Option:
2 chopped Roma tomatoes
1 tsp. garlic juice
Cilantro
jalapeño relish
Combine all ingredients.
Second Topping Option:
¼ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp. lime juice
Combine ingredients.
Third Topping Option:
Shredded cabbage, barely steamed

Good Brussel Sprouts My Way
Fresh Brussel sprouts, cut in half
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup dried cranberries
¼ cup water
1 cup slivered almonds
3 Tbsp. balsamic vinaigrette
Brown sprouts in olive oil. While cooking, place cranberries in water. Stir in almonds and balsamic vinaigrette. Simmer mixture 10 minutes. Pour over browned sprouts. Simmer uncovered 10-12 minutes.

Ice Cube Chocolate Cups
Freeze a tray of ice cubes with a popsicle stick in each.
Melt 16 oz. pkg. chocolate morsels, semi-sweet or dark.
Lift out each ice cube and dip in melted chocolate to coat 4 sides not the top.
Place on wax paper and remove ice cube and stick, leaving square chocolate cups.
Fill with cheesecake filling topped with a strawberry, ice cream or graham cracker crumbs and marshmallow cream.

Favorite Chicken Recipe
Sauté boneless chicken breasts in ¼ cup olive oil 10 minutes on each side. Set aside in shallow casserole dish.
Sauté:
1 cup dried cranberries in ½ stick butter
2-3 Tbsp. orange marmalade
½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ cup slivered almonds
Pour mixture over chicken breasts. Bake uncovered at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Jalapeño Poppers
Wash and slice lengthwise as many jalapeño peppers as needed.
Remove inside.
Filling:
1 lb. hot ground sausage
½ cup sour cream
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
Small pkg. 3-cheeses, shredded
Mix ingredients together (use your hands to mix well). Stuff pepper halves. Bake on a wire rack at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

Choose Your Croquette
14-16 oz. baked ground chicken or baked and flaked cod or salmon
4 large eggs, beaten
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion or chives
Combine ingredients. Shape into patties. Fry quickly in 3-4 Tbsp. olive oil. Serve with the following sauce.
Sauce:
1½ cups fat free Greek plain yogurt
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ cup mayonnaise
Combine ingredients and serve with croquettes.

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin
1 pork tenderloin (unseasoned)
4 Fiji or Gayla Apples, cored and quartered
1 large onion, quartered
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
¼ cup fresh ground rosemary
Place pork in casserole dish and top with remaining ingredients. Bake covered at 375 for one hour.

Avocado Stuffed Eggs
6-8 boiled eggs, cooled
2 avocados, peeled and smashed
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. jalapeño relish
1 Tbsp. sour cream with chives
Ground pepper
Sea salt
Remove egg yolks. Mash with avocados and remaining ingredients. Stuff egg whites. Serve with crackers and sliced tomatoes.

Artichoke Potato and Mushroom Hash
4 Yuken Gold potatoes, cubed
Artichoke hearts
Portobello mushrooms, sliced
Onion
2 chopped garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. capers
Boil potatoes 3-4 minutes; drain. Sauté mushrooms, onion, garlic, parsley and capers. Add potatoes and artichoke hearts.
Place mixture in casserole dish. Sprinkle asiago cheese over top. Bake at 275 degrees for 40 minutes.

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