Mary Kay Creegan has many memories of growing up on a farm. She and her five sisters learned many things from their parents.
Mary Kay grew up on a farm in rural Bellevue. Her parents were Norbert and Alice Bormann. Mary Kay’s sisters are Linda, Betty, Jane, Nancy and Bonnie. Mary Kay and her sisters helped with inside and outside chores.
“We would come home from school and Mom would always have something for us to eat to hold us over until supper,” Mary Kay recalls. “Mom would have soup, homemade cookies, apple pie, etc., for us to snack on. We changed our school clothes to our everyday clothes to do our chores. We always helped in the garden, milking cows, feeding chickens and even butchering chickens!”
Mary Kay owes a lot of her cooking and baking knowledge to her mom.
“Mom never bought a lot from the grocery store because she used what they grew on the farm. One thing she usually bought from the store was cheese. Along with the large garden, we also had an orchard with many fruit trees. Some of the fruit trees we had were cherry, peach, apple, plum and pear. We made a lot of jams and jellies. We canned and froze the produce from the garden,” says Mary Kay.
She was 8 years old when she became interested in baking and cooking. She watched her mom in the kitchen.
“Mom would have her mixing bowl and I would have my mixing bowl,” Mary Kay recalls. “Whatever she measured, I would do the same. Mom would measure by handfuls, not measuring cups!
“Mom taught me how to fry chicken. She would coat the chicken in flour, salt and pepper. She would brown it in the fry pan and then put it in a roaster with a lid. She baked it for 45 minutes and it tasted so good!”
Mary Kay’s mom taught all her daughters the meaning of a broom, dust pan, mop, mixer, bread bowl and canning.
“One thing Mom had in her kitchen was a wood paddle that she used when making bread. That wood paddle had another use. If any of us misbehaved, Mom used the wood paddle on us!” Mary Kay said, laughing.
One memory that Mary Kay has is “Make Your Own Bread.” Every Saturday she helped her Mom make bread using a large stainless steel bowl. Mary Kay always helped by punching the bread dough down once it had raised.
Creegan has had a lot of jobs that involved food including waitressing and bartending. When she joined the National Guard, she did food service, which involved preparing meals for 5,000 people. She was in charge of 150 to 200 people who helped prepare the meals. While in Guard Drill, she did food service for 600-700 people. Mary Kay was in charge of 25 people who cooked the food. Her duties included ordering food, making sure food was cooked properly, setting up the cafeteria, cleaning up, sanitizing things, and inspecting things.
Creegan worked three years for the Maquoketa Community Schools lunch program.
“I had multiple jobs and did whatever I needed to do. I was head cook at the high school for one year. We rotated jobs so that everyone could do various jobs,” Creegan says.
Mary Kay now works for Lunchtime Solutions, which oversees the food service program for the Maquoketa Community School District. She is the head cook at Briggs Elementary.
“My hours are 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. I prepare breakfast and get things ready for lunch,” she said. “I order what I need from the high school. Some things I make and some things the head cook from the high school makes. Things made from the high school are brought to Briggs by the delivery driver,” Creegan explained.
In September, any Lunchtime Solutions employee could enter any recipe in a contest that they were sponsoring.
“I thought it would be fun to create a recipe that kids would like to eat. I came up with “Peppy Tortillas” which is simple to make and hopefully the kids would like. In December, I was notified that I had won the contest. I was excited and more excited to see if the kids really will like them. I will be sharing the recipe with you, maybe it will be something your kids or you will like.” she said.
During the summer, Mary Kay enjoys going to Brown Bag lunch at the Clinton Engines building.
“I like to bake homemade treats and take them. People attending always look forward to see what I bring each week. They love the homemade treats!” she said.
Mary Kay’s husband Terry also enjoys cooking. He was involved in food service for 32 years (retail and military). Terry likes to grill, smoke meat and make salads.
“If I cook, he cleans up. If he cooks, I clean up. It works great!” Mary Kay said.
“Even if you don’t know how to cook, start with a simple recipe,” she said “Experiment with the recipe. Try it and if you don’t like it, add or take ingredients out and see if you like it better. That’s how I learned from my mom. Experimenting with food is the fun part. It’s always fun to see how it turns out. Involve your family, especially your children. You will always have great memories of the fun in the kitchen!”
Mary Kay’s Award-Winning Recipe
1 oz. of cheddar cheese
1 oz. of mozzarella cheese
2 slices of large pepperoni
2 tsp. of salsa
1 tsp. sliced olives
1 flour tortilla shell
Lay one tortilla shell on individual foil sheet. Spread 2 teaspoons salsa, 1 ounce cheddar and 1 ounce mozzarella cheeses. Add 2 slices of large pepperoni and 1 teaspoon of sliced olives. Roll up in foil and bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees. Serve with salsa.
32 oz. pkg. Velveeta cheese
16 oz. jar salsa
1 can Nacho Cheese Fiesta Soup
2 lb. ground beef, cooked and drained
Add all to crockpot on low. Stir until melted. Serve with Tostitos.
2 large cans chicken
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 can Rotel, drained
8 oz. container sour cream
¼ block Velveeta cheese
Put all ingredients in a crockpot on low heat. Serve with chips.
Ham and Bean Soup
1 small bone-in ham
2 c. celery, diced small
1 c. onion, diced small
1 c. carrots, diced small
8 medium potatoes, sliced
1 large jar Northern Beans
Put ham bone in pan and cover with water. Cook until tender. Add remaining ingredients. Boil for 10 minutes, add 1 teaspoon sugar. Boil for 10 more minutes until vegetables are tender.
Vanilla Fruit Salad
1 lb. fresh strawberries, quartered
2 kiwi, peeled and quartered
½ c. seedless grapes
3 tsp. vanilla
2 medium bananas, sliced
1 c. pineapple
21 oz. can peach pie filling
Mix ingredients together and chill before serving.
2 2/3 c. water
1 1/3 c. rice
1 lb. ground pork sausage
1 (16 oz.) jar picante sauce
8 oz. container sour cream
8 oz. pkg. cheddar cheese
In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Stir in rice. Reduce heat and cover, simmer for 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until brown.
In a medium baking dish, mix cooked rice, sausage, picante sauce and sour cream. Top with cheddar cheese. Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
1 lb. ground beef
½ c. pizza sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. minced onion
½ c. mozzarella cheese
4 hamburger buns
Optional – diced green pepper, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives
Turn boiler to 500 degrees. Brown hamburger, drain. Add onion, garlic, pizza sauce and any other toppings you choose.
Split hamburger buns and put ½ cup mixture on each bun. Sprinkle on cheese. Put in oven and broil for 6 minutes until golden brown.
Easy Pot Roast
1 5-lb. beef roast
1 can Diet Pepsi
1 onion, diced
½ c. A-1 Steak Sauce
¼ c. steak seasoning
Put all together in slow cooker. Cook on low for 8 hours.
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 head broccoli, chopped
1 c. olives, drained and sliced
1 c. cheese tortellini, cooked and drained
1 small onion, sliced
1 pkg. pepperoni, sliced
Cook cheese tortellini and drain. Add rest of ingredients. Add 1 bottle of your favorite Italian dressing. Chill overnight.
1 c. honey
4 c. oats
½ c. mini chocolate chips
1 c. peanut butter
½ c. ground almonds
½ c. raisins, optional
Mix honey and peanut butter together. Add remaining ingredients. Press in 9 x 13 baking dish. Refrigerate and cut into bars.
Dieters Soda Pop Cake
1 yellow cake mix
1 can Diet Mountain Dew
Mix together and bake according to box. Serve with strawberries or whip cream.