GREENE – Meredith Janosco grew up watching an expert in the kitchen. “My mother is a great cook so I never needed to cook growing up. I really didn’t start cooking until I got married, and I think I was so used to being around a really good cook that it just came pretty naturally to me.”

Janosco of Greene was nominated by a co-worker at Auburn Manufacturing Inc., probably because of a tradition she started awhile ago.

“About two years ago, I started making a special cake for whoever was having a birthday in the office. It turns out to be about one a month now. Everyone has different tastes and flavors they like so I try to ‘customize’ it to their liking. It’s a really fun thing for me, I’m pretty sure my co-workers enjoy it by the smiles and empty cake plate at the end of the day!”

She also enjoys finding new recipes and taking the results to her “taste testers” to see how they turned out. One of Janosco’s favorite things to cook is baked goods, although a good pie crust is still one of the challenges she would like to overcome. “I really haven’t taken the time to master it, but it is on my ‘to do list.'”

She gets many of her recipe ideas from cookbooks and friends. She also enjoys watching the Food Network on cable television. “It’s like going to cooking school in your living room. I also pull ideas from the Internet and, of course, (have) family recipes.” Some of her favorite kitchen tools are her KitchenAid mixer, chef’s knife and heat-proof spatulas. “Start out with these things, and some tried-and-true recipes,” she suggests. “Don’t be intimidated, and just have fun with it!”

Janosco lives with and her husband, Steve, and their two children, Matt, 11, and Megan, 8. She works in customer service and export sales at Auburn Manufacturing. When not busy with the kids and work, Meredith enjoys boating, and she’s recently become a basketball fan.

Carrot cake
Cake ingredients:
2 cups flour

1½ cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup oil

4 large eggs at room temperature and slightly beaten

2 cups shredded carrots

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained

¾ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup coconut
Frosting ingredients:
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened

1 brick (8 ounces) cream cheese, cold

1½ teaspoons grated orange peel

3½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Green, red and yellow food coloring
1 cup chopped walnuts
Cake method:
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat two round, 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray.

Put first five ingredients in a large bowl and stir to blend. Add oil and eggs, scraping down sides of bowl until well-blended. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pans and bake 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove and cool completely.
Frosting method:
Beat first three ingredients in a large bowl until smooth, beat in confectioners’ sugar. Remove ¼ cup of frosting to another bowl, put half of it – 2 tablespoons – in another bowl, tint one half with green and the other with the red and yellow to make orange. Put the green and orange frosting in two zip-lock bags and refrigerate until ready to use.

Place ½ cup white frosting on one layer of the cake and spread, place second cake layer on top and frost top and sides. Coat sides of cake with the 1 cup chopped walnuts. With colored frosting, snip one corner of the plastic bag, decorate with orange carrots and use the green for the carrot tops. Refrigerate before serving.
Chili cranberry chicken
½ cup Heinz chili sauce

½ cup whole-berry cranberry sauce

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

4 to 6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Combine first four ingredients, set aside. In a large skillet, slowly brown chicken on both sides in oil. Pour chili-sauce mixture over chicken. Simmer uncovered 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked and sauce is at a desired consistency. Turn and baste occasionally. Spoon sauce over chicken when serving.
Cook’s note:
Serve with mashed potatoes and vegetable of your choice.
Chocolate crinkle cookies
2 cups sugar

¾ cup vegetable oil

¾ cup Hershey’s cocoa

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt
Confectioners’ sugar
In a large mixer bowl combine sugar and oil. Add cocoa, blend well. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt, add to cocoa mixture, blending well. Cover and chill at least six hours. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in confectioners’ sugar. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until almost no indentation remains when touched. Remove from cookie sheet, cool on wire rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.