Beef … it’s whats for dinner at the Utesch’s
By KRISTIN DANLEY-GREINER
Food has always been an important component in Elaine Utesch’s life, whether she was teaching high schoolers to cook in her family and consumer science class or whipping up something delicious for the farm crew out of her own kitchen.
Utesch and her husband, Craig, farm near Washtah, six miles north of U.S. Highway 20.
They raise cattle with Craig’s brother, their daughter, Jessica, and her husband. They finish 5,000 head and have a 200-head cow-calf herd. They also row crop corn and soybeans with the help of a full-time hired hand.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm, but since I was married in 1974, I’ve been a part of the family farm,” Elaine Utesch said. “We started dating when I was a senior in high school. We had attended the same school and church and had known each other forever. I’ve actually become more involved in the operation in the last 15 to 20 years.”
After graduating from Iowa State University, Utesch taught high school journalism, family and consumer sciences, coached volleyball and helped in whatever way school leaders needed her.
For years, the family farm operation needed an extra hand, especially in the office.
“So now I’m the office secretary,” she said. “I’m a food person, so every day is a learning experience for me.”
With three grown children and grandchildren ranging in age from 13 to 3, Utesch’s favorite foods to fix are for social gatherings.
“I just love to cook. I’m the gal with a cookbook collection and my idea of new toys is new kitchen gadgets,” Utesch said. “My maternal grandmother had a restaurant in the 1940s in Mondamin, Iowa, and my paternal grandmother was just a great cook. Grandma’s house always smelled good.”
“It’s important to me to establish family traditions and a lot of those center around having a good meal at the table with everyone sitting around it.”
The Uteschs hail from a line of successful beef producers, and her mother-in-law advised her to learn how to cook beef well.
“We raise the best beef ever. I also honestly love entertaining,” she said. “Day-to-day cooking is fine, but I love entertaining and we really enjoy grilling. We have a smoker grill and will prepare prime rib for Christmas dinner. We host big celebrations and have a summer tradition of hosting people on Friday or Saturday nights and grill.”
The seasoned cook recommends everyone experiment when cooking. The family tailgates at Iowa State University every fall where they have season tickets and meet up with other cattle feeders to enjoy beef dishes.
“We’ll grill rib-eye sandwiches for one game, then the next time walking tacos,” she said. “Our son Nathan is a manager for the football team and he’ll pop by and grab some food for the guys and his boss. We also have grown children who attend or have graduated from ISU and join us.”
The meals gracing Utesch’s dinner table range from hearty burgers to belly-warming meatloaf and fancy meatballs. She said 90 percent of the time she serves beef because it’s so versatile and delicious.
“I like to pair it with something fresh, like vegetables or fruit for our summer meals,” Utesch said. “It’s boring to cook the same thing over and over, and don’t be afraid of flavor. Combine new things, try new spices, add a little kick to a favorite recipe.”
Grilled rib-eyes with bleu cheese butter
4 rib-eye steaks, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
Grill over medium-high heat until instant read thermometer reads 140 degrees. Remove steaks from grill and let rest, covered with foil, for 3-4 minutes.
Top with bleu cheese butter and enjoy.
Bleu cheese butter
1 stick butter
1 8 oz. block cream cheese
1 8 oz carton crumbled bleu cheese
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon minced garlic
Combine and chill to allow flavors to blend. Serve as a topping for grilled steaks and grilled beef burgers.
Classy green beans
1 pound fresh green beans or 1, 16 oz. bag frozen green beans
4 fresh plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 pound fresh mushrooms, quartered
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried minced parsley
Stem and rinse fresh green beans and place in a large saucepot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook 3-5 minutes until beans are crisp-tender.
Meanwhile in a large skillet, saute mushrooms, onion and garlic in the butter until tender. Add bouillon. Drain green beans and add to skillet and toss to coat. Remove from heat and add tomatoes, marjoram and pepper. Allow tomatoes to cook slightly over low heat. Serve.
Barbecue bacon cheeseburger meatballs
2 pounds ground beef
1 cup soft bread crumbs
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup dill pickle relish
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoon mustard
1 teaspoon Cookies Flavor Enhancer
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, Monterey jack, or Jalapeno Jack)
2 cups barbecue sauce
1/2 cup Cookies Wing Sauce
Combine all ingredients and form into meatballs. (Utesch uses a cookie scoop to make uniform meatballs. It makes about 60 meatballs).
Bake meatballs at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until done.
Place meatballs in crockpot. Combine barbecue sauce and Wing Sauce. Pour over meatballs.
Heat in crockpot on low until ready to serve.
Slow cooker reuben dip
In a 4 quart slow cooker combine:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese
1 16-ounce jar sauerkraut, drained
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups shredded cooked corned beef
1 cup thousand island dressing
1 teaspoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
In the slow cooker, cook on high for 45 minutes if you’re in a hurry, or on low for 2 hours if you’re not. Cook until hot and cheese is melted. Stir occasionally while cooking. Serve with cocktail rye or Triscuit rye crackers, or with chunks of rye bread.
This recipe can be made “lighter” by using light cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese and low fat or light thousand island dressing.
Sour cream raisin bars
1 3/4 cup oatmeal
1 3/4 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Combine in a mixing bowl and mix until crumbly. Press 1/2 of mixture into a 9- by 13-inch pan and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven.
2 cups raisins
1/2 cup water
4 beaten egg yolks
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup half and half or evaporated milk
3 tablespoon corn starch
Cook raisins in water until raisins are soft and plumped up. Add remainder of ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick. Spread on baked crust. Sprinkle remaining crust mixture over filling and bake and additional 15-20 minutes.
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