Kleine’s philosophy is ‘Try this. Try that. It works. It doesn’t work.’


Give Craig Kleine watercolors or acrylics, and he will create a painting that is pleasing to the eye. But
give him fresh ingredients, and you can savor his creativity long after you have eaten the last bite.

Trained as a young child to enjoy cooking with his grandma, Kleine has developed a simple-to-bake
Mexican-flavored egg souffle that is sure to receive raves by those who love Mexican food and win over
those who are normally not fans of its spicy flavors.
And for the less adventurous, he has a bacon version that is sure to please as well.
A 1971 Eastwood High School graduate, Kleine returned to Wood County to earn a master’s of fine arts and
a simultaneous master’s of art at Bowling Green State University after attending Capital University. As
a graduate assistant he taught Art 101 and took classes in painting, watercolors and photography.
He acknowledged that perhaps his creativity in the arts has carried over into his hobby of cooking,
finding good recipes and then tweaking them to be even more flavorful.
Kleine grew up in the Luckey area. When his mother, Delores, became a widow at a young age, she moved
from Toledo back to Luckey so her parents, Alvina and Walter Ruch, could provide care for her son while
she worked as a nurse at St. Charles Hospital.
"I helped my grandmother cook as a kid," recalled Kleine. He helped his farm-born grandma in
little ways, such as grinding the cranberries at holiday time for her cranberry-orange salad. He also
helped her mix a batch of the sugar cookie recipe which she kept in her head. Kleine remembers her
adding "a pinch of this" and a "pinch of that."
"When she went, no one knew how to make those cookies anymore. The kids and grandkids loved them.
Man, those were good. "
Though he spent many years of his career either taking photos or working in photography shops, Kleine
also cooked at Pagliai’s and Myles Pizza Pub where he enjoyed making particular sauces or dishes at each
He also cooked at home, using fresh ingredients from the gardens he planted each year. He and his wife,
Janis, have lived in rural Bowling Green for more than 20 years, giving him plenty of room to grow
tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, beets, turnips, plus cilantro, sweet basil, chive and a variety of other
"I can … literally go outside, pick some stuff, and we’re eating. This time of year is best."

At some point he became more serious about his cooking hobby, taking over as chef for numerous family
dinners. Sundays even find him more tuned in to watching cooking shows than ball games or the races.
He finds cooking similar to painting: "Try this. Try that. It works. It doesn’t work." Kleine
applies that to cooking, making a recipe once, then "let’s see what we can do to it."
When Janis Kleine brought home the original recipe for a bacon and cheese souffle, he immediately added
onion to it since he likes bacon and onion together. Now Kleine makes the original recipe for Easter
breakfast at his church each year as well as for Christmas brunch at home. "You make it up the
night before. Throw it in the oven. Open presents. It’s a dish you can serve a bunch of people." It
is simple to make and reheats well in the microwave after it’s been baked.
In the original recipe, Kleine uses one percent milk, but people can use half-and-half if they want it to
be a little richer. He also said he uses whatever onion he has on hand, whether sweet onion or a hotter
A trip to Mexico several years ago fired up his love for Mexican food, so Kleine was eager to make a
Mexican version of the egg souffle. He eliminated the bacon and cheddar cheese and added garlic, cumin,
green peppers, small red chili peppers from his garden, Monterrey jack cheese and chorizo sausage. To
keep the grease from the sausage from infiltrating the whole souffle, he bakes the dish for 30 min. and
then sprinkles the cooked chorizo sausage on top before returning it to the oven.
He also prefers baking the souffle in a glass 9 x 13 pan and using butter to grease it.
Egg souffle – bacon, onion and

12 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
3 slices of white or wheat bread, cubed
1â„2 to 1 lb. bacon
1 medium onion, diced
11â„2 to 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
pepper to taste
Brown bacon, drain, let cool and cut up or just cut up precooked bacon.
Beat eggs; add milk, salt, and mustard. Fold in bread cubes, bacon, onion and cheese.
Pour into greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. This allows the flavors to blend overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake for 40-45 minutes, covered. Remove foil and bake for 10-15 minutes,
until top is slightly golden.
Mexican souffle – with chorizo

12 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. cumin
3 slices bread, cubed
1â„2 cup diced green peppers
4 tiny red chili peppers, chopped, seeds and all (or 1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and chopped)
1 medium onion, diced
11â„2 to 2 cups grated Monterrey jack cheese
1 roll (about 7.5 oz) of chorizo sausage, mild or hot, depending on your preference
Slice open chorizo sausage, fry it in a pan and drain off grease.
Beat eggs, add milk, salt, mustard and cumin. Fold in bread cubes, onion, green pepper, red chilies and
cheese. Pour into greased 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight for best
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake covered for 30 minutes, Remove from oven. Sprinkle chorizo sausage over
the dish, recover and return to oven for 15 min. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes until slightly

No posts to display