Students eagerly anticipate their Christmas break, a chance to step away from studying for a few days. For Sabrina Swee, a freshman at Beresford High School, it’s a chance to consult a different sort of book as she prepares meals with her family. Cook books provide a jumping off point, but revisions to accommodate tastes and available ingredients are frequently made.
Holly Swee is a registered dietician and a nutritionist with the South Dakota Beef Council. She taught daughters Sabrina and Breanna to look at food as a tool to become the best version of themselves. As a dietician Holly encouraged her family to try a variety of foods. The girls didn’t have to eat everything, but they had to at least taste it and learn about the ingredients. Vegetables offer vitamin C to boost the immune system. Protein in lean meats are critical for creating the muscle needed to perform in team sports. Holly shares, “When my girls were little they wanted to grow their hair long. To do that you must have protein to help keep your hair healthy so it can grow.”
These experiences helped shape Sabrina Swee’s enthusiasm for cooking. In fact, she was four years old when she began helping her mom in the kitchen. Sabrina and her sister first began preparing soups and stews for family meals, those dishes are fairly forgiving. Each summer fresh produce from the family garden is frequently showcased on the dinner table.
Sabrina developed her culinary skills and has become quite accomplished at a young age. In 2014 Swee submitted a recipe for Hawaiian kale wraps to the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Contest, established by First Lady Michelle Obama. Sabrina won the South Dakota contest and was invited to a dinner with other winning students at the White House.
Swee is a busy student, competing for Beresford in cross country. Speed and focus were necessary skills while participating on the popular cooking show, Chopped Junior. Sabrina won her episode!
Beresford is a small community with a local grocery store. So many quality ingredients are readily available. Sabrina shared with the country during her appearance on Chopped Junior, “It doesn’t matter if you are from a small town, it’s about big flavor.”
The family lives on a farm just outside of town, so they are able to make use of a family garden and fresh beef. Farmer’s markets are also a favored resource when available. Of course, patronizing the local grocery store offers excellent ingredients as well, “It’s relatively easy to make nutritious choices, even in a small town.”
Teenagers have full schedules these days, Holly Swee says that her daughter doesn’t have as much time to cook as she’d like, staying busy with cross country and student council. However, she will help out and prepare meals for the family whenever she’s able. This experience will suit her well as Sabrina hopes to prepare for a career in healthcare or food science.
The holiday season allows time to relax, an opportunity to try new recipes and revisit old favorites. Holly says that her daughter tends to prefer baking, but has spent plenty of time tweaking a variety of recipes to fit her tastes.
We’ve all prepared a meal for our families and come away from the table with enough left overs for another dinner or two. Sabrina shares one recipe that makes use of leftovers, or may be made fresh to enjoy as a side dish.
Stuffin Muffins by Sabrina Swee
A fun spin on a holiday side dish that combines dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy all in a savory muffin. The base of the muffin is a stuffing recipe topped with mashed potatoes and gravy. This recipe yields approximately 9 standard sized muffins.
Dressing or Stuffing
You may use prepared mashed potatoes or make your own.
4 medium sized russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 stick of melted butter
¼ cup sour cream
Salt & pepper optional to taste
• Bring a medium sized pot of water to a boil and add cubed potatoes.
• Cook till tender for approximately 20 minutes.
• Drain water from potatoes and return to dry sauce pan.
• Mash potatoes over low heat and add remaining ingredients.
• Mix till smooth.
• Set aside and keep warm.
You can use prepared gravy or make your own.
4 tablespoons of butter
¼ cup flour
2-3 cups of beef, chicken or turkey flavored stock
Salt & pepper – optional to taste
• In a medium sauce pan melt butter.
• Whisk in flour until a smooth paste is created.
• Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until it’s a light golden color.
• Slowly add stock, whisking the whole time to prevent clumps.
• Cook until thick and season to taste.
• Set aside and keep warm.
Your favorite stuffing or dressing recipe: Sabrina prefers Stove Top Stuffing (Traditional Sage flavor).
• Prepare according to directions and set aside.
1 egg beaten
• Preheat oven to 350°F.
• Spray nine muffin tins with none stick cooking spray.
• Whisk egg in small bowl then add egg to prepared stuffing mixture; mix till combined.
• Divide stuffing mixture evenly amongst nine regular sized muffin tins.
• Place in oven and bake for 7-10 minutes or until set.
• Cool for 5 minutes then remove the muffins place on serving tray.
• Top each muffin with a small scoop of mashed potatoes and spread gently while making a small well indentation for the gravy.
• Then fill the top of each mashed potato well with a couple teaspoons of gravy.
• Top with a parsley leaf and serve.
These muffins can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator and then warmed prior to serving.