Steak and eggs
BUCKEYE – Annette Sweeney’s cooking motto is simple.
“For me, a messy kitchen is a productive kitchen.”
Sweeney, who raises purebred Angus cattle with her husband, Dave Sweeney, in Hardin County, attributes her culinary skills to her mother, a skilled farm cook, and to Ona Mae Lettow, a home economics teacher at Radcliffe High School.
“Ona Mae expected you to do well and made sure you reached your potential,” said Sweeney, who remembers the time her class made doughnuts.
Sweeney said her father encouraged her culinary education.
“He bought me a deep fryer after the doughnut lesson at school,” Sweeney said, who served as president of her high school’s Future Homemakers of America chapter. “When I made doughnuts, he liked them so much he ate the whole batch.”
While Sweeney still loves to make sweet treats, she said she relies on two of Iowa’s home-grown staples – beef and eggs, to prepare hearty meals.
“We are a steak-and-eggs family,” Sweeney said. “I love cooking with beef because it’s so easy. Eggs are great, too, because they are affordable, healthy and versatile.”
Eggs play a key role in Sweeney’s breakfast pizza and three-cheese casserole, while beef stars in many of her go-to recipes.
When her two sons, Jim, 26, and Joe, 23, were growing up, Sweeney said she’d brown 6 pounds of hamburger each weekend and freeze it to make quick week-night meals.
Family favorites included “Re Re’s,” a simple sandwich made from 1 pound of ground beef, one can of chicken gumbo soup and 2 tablespoons of prepared mustard cooked together and served on hamburger buns.
Beef roast makes mealtime simple, thanks to the slow cooker, Sweeney said.
“Start the meat in the slow cooker before you go to bed,” she said, “and a perfectly-cooked beef roast will be ready by noon the next day.
“Another thing you can do that morning is turn the slow cooker on high and add potatoes and carrots around the roast. When you get home, you look like a hero for such a great meal.”
Another tasty slow-cooker option is beef stroganoff, said Sweeney, who adds beef stew meat topped with onion soup mix and one can of cream of mushroom soup to her slow cooker.
“Start it on low in the morning, and by noon you’re all set,” she said.
Many of Sweeney’s favorite recipes have come from local church and community cookbooks, including the Radcliffe Centennial Cookbook published in 1980.
She likes the classic Farm Journal cookbooks published in the 1970s.
“With all my recipes, I love to be able to create in the kitchen and serve meals that my family loves,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney served in the Iowa House from 2008 to 2012 and chaired the House ag committee for two years.
(Annette Sweeney said she prepares the ingredients for her breakfast pizza the night before she plans to bake it and finishes the dish in the morning.)
1 package crescent dinner rolls
1 pound browned pork sausage
1 cup frozen hash browns (thawed)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
5 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
Dash of pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Spray a 12-inch-round pizza pan with cooking oil.
Separate the crescent dinner rolls into eight triangles. Place the rolls on the pizza pan with points to the center. This recipe can also be made in a 9-by-13-inch pan and use seamless crescent dinner rolls.)
Press sides of each triangle to the next one to seal up the sides. Spoon on browned sausage and hash brown potatoes; top with cheese.
Mix together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour mixture slowly over the crust.
Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.
(This low-carb meal features half a dozen eggs and works well for dinner or supper.)
2 pints cottage cheese
1/2 pound of grated Cheddar cheese
1/2 pound grated mozzarella cheese
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
Half a stick of butter
1 10-ounce package frozen, chopped spinach (leave frozen)
Mix all ingredients, except butter and spinach. Pour into greased 9-by-13-inch pan. Cut butter and spinach into cubes, and poke into casserole at equally-spaced intervals.
Bake at 350 degrees for one hour. (Check the center to make sure the casserole is cooked through.)
Let stand for 15 minutes before serving to let the cheese set up.
1 pound hamburger
1 package taco seasoning
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
12 taco shells, or 1 bag of taco chips or corn chips
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Brown hamburger; add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Break up taco shells, taco chips or corn chips. Stir into casserole.
Put mixture in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Top with cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
Slow cooker beef roast
(Start this roast in the slow cooker before you go to bed, and a perfectly-cooked beef roast will be ready by noon the next day, said Annette Sweeney, who often prepares this for Sunday dinner.)
1 frozen chuck or arm roast
1/4 cup water
1 package onion soup mix
Before you go to bed, put the frozen beef roast in the slow cooker. Pour the water over roast; sprinkle onion soup mix over roast.
Turn slow cooker on low and cook until about noon the next day.
Reserve the juices to make gravy.
(The secret ingredient to Annette Sweeney’s tasty meatloaf is a hint of nutmeg in both the meat and the glaze.)
2 pounds ground beef
1/2 cup soda crackers, crushed
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Combine first eight ingredients; mix well. Place mixture into a loaf pan.
Combine ketchup, brown sugar and nutmeg to make glaze.
Cut a lengthwise well in the middle of the meatloaf, and pour on the glaze.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
(This hearty, simple recipe becomes even easier now that packages of seamless crescent dinner rolls are available, said Annette Sweeney).
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced green pepper
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 jar spaghetti sauce
2 8-ounce packages crescent dinner rolls (use rolls with no perforations)
4 slices mozzarella cheese
Cook beef, onion, and green pepper with garlic until beef is browned and vegetables are tender. Drain fat.
Put meat back in pan and stir in spaghetti sauce. Cool to room temperature.
On a floured surface, roll each package of rolls into an 11-by-9-inch rectangle. Put two slices of cheese in center of each rectangle of dough and spread with half of the beef mixture.
Starting at long edge, roll up the dough. Pinch seams closed. Place both rolls 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet, or a baking sheet lined with a non-stick baking mat.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand five minutes so the cheese will set.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Red velvet cake
(This makes a great birthday cake, says Annette Sweeney, who adds that the frosting is just the best.)
2 ounces red food coloring
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon clear vanilla
Combine food coloring and cocoa to make a paste. Set aside.
Cream together butter, sugar and eggs. In a separate bowl sift together cake flour and baking soda; add to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and vanilla.
Beat until mixed.
Bake at 350 degrees in two greased, floured 9-inch round pans for 30 minutes.
Cool. Cut each layer in half to make four layers.
To make frosting, cook flour and milk until thick. Cool.
Cream sugar, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Blend two mixtures together until smooth. Frost cake and serve.
(Note: Keep this cake covered and refrigerated between servings.)
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