Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Be Thankful

I used to complain about zucchini. I used to sigh exasperatedly when one plant overflowed my crisper drawer with the garden's bounty. I used to whine about shredding the monsters and bagging them for baking all winter long. I used to try to ignore Hubs' rolling eyes when zucchini was, yet again, the side dish for dinner. I happily played along with National Sneak Some Zucchini Onto Your Neighbor's Front Porch Day. I wasn't thankful. 

I wasn't thankful, and it came back to spite me. It seems that my little growing plot has become incapable of nurturing zucchini. In the past, I had great volumes for slicing, shredding, frying, sauteing, baking, grilling, and even preserving, but the last two gardens have left me squashless.

I don't know if it is the soil, a fungus, a bug, or something as simple as my watering plan that is torturing my vines. The cucumber plants are also kind of lifeless and barren. It seems that all the viney garden plant are challenging me. I should have been more thankful.

If you are lucky enough to have some zucchini and even luckier to have some incredible fresh sweet corn, I recommend this soup. Summer isn't traditionally soup weather, but we have had some cool, rainy days recently that really called for a bowl of comfort. Pair this fresh Zucchini Corn Chowder with some corn chips and salsa for a bright flavor contrast to the rich creaminess. And, most of all, always be thankful for your zukes.

(adapted from Cooking Light)

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
2-3 small zucchini, sliced
3 ears fresh sweet corn, divided
2 cups milk, divided
1 cup heavy cream (use all milk, if you want a lighter soup)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
green onions, sliced as garnish

Cut corn from the cobs; reserve the corn from 2 ears.
Cook bacon in a large, heavy pot until crisp.
Remove bacon from pan and set aside, reserving 2 teaspoons drippings in pan.
Add onions and celery to the drippings; cook until onions are translucent.
Add squash to the drippings and saute until tender.
Place corn from 1 ear and 1 cup milk in a blender; process until smooth.
Add pureed mixture and reserved corn and cream to the pan.
Add bacon and thyme; season with salt and pepper.
Cook 5 minutes or until heated through, stirring constantly.
To serve, top each bowl with green onions and cheese. (Serves 4.)

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

Maybe that should be Winner, Winner, Home-Canned Good Dinner? I don't know if you can make a full meal of my home-canned goods, but I have been known to have a dinner of just chips and salsa (with or without a margarita).

Let me begin by thanking you all for your support! This began as a quest to reach 500 Facebook followers for On My Plate, but the "likes" far surpassed that. Mid-week, we were so close to 600 likes that I tossed in the opportunity for another winner of the assorted home-canned goods packages, and with the assistance of some devoted fans, we made it. This giveaway has been incredibly awesome. Truly. I appreciate each and every one of you as readers of the blog.

So...without any further delay...the two (2!) winners drawn from the likes and shares of the Home-Canned Goods Giveaway post are:

Donna Roberts-Lutterll
Kathy Van Cleave Riedy


Please contact me with a private message through Facebook or send me an email at onmyplate.justfran@gmail.com with your shipping information. 

And, just so there is truth in my title, here is a chicken dinner:

1 1/2 cups rice
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound boneless-skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch broccoli, broken into florets
1 red pepper, sliced
2 green onions, white and green portions sliced separately

Bring rice and 3 cups of water to a boil; lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Remove from heat and let stand about 5 minutes, keeping warm.
Meanwhile, whisk together half of the garlic, soy sauce, sugar and 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch; season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken and toss to coat; marinate for 20 minutes.
Whisk together 1/2 cup water and the remaining 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet with the remaining garlic.
Add the red pepper strips, season with salt and pepper and cook for 1 minute.
Add 1/4 cup water and the broccoli florets, cover and steam until crisp-tender.
Transfer the vegetables to a plate.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until searing hot.
Add the chicken mixture and the white portions of the green onions, stirring, until the chicken is just cooked through.
Stir in the broccoli, then stir in the remaining cornstarch mixture.
Cook until the liquid thickens.
Remove from heat and stir in green portion of green onions. 
Serve with rice. (Serves 4)

Monday, July 28, 2014

Home-Canned Good Giveaway


Last week, I noticed that the On My Plate Facebook page was nearing 500 likes. We have all seen the promotions to meet follower milestones on Facebook, and I decided that it was a great time to give it a go. Coincidentally, I had recently done a late summer inventory of the home-canned goods from last year's garden and knew just what kind of giveaway I could offer with my promotion.

Late on Friday, I made a(n admittedly) hokey graphic and shared it on Facebook with an outline of my plan for the giveaway. I was just shy of needing 30 likes, and I thought that with all the people out enjoying their summer weekend, the Facebook post was just a sneak peek for the diehards. I had a blog post for today (Monday) in mind to kick of the real event and get things rolling.

Well, you all proved me wrong. Way, way wrong. You LOVE a giveaway. You want some of my home-canned goods. You love to "like" and "share" things on Facebook. And, you liked the On My Plate Facebook page. A lot.

I had Facebook notifications on my phone throughout the evening and into the night on Friday, but was taking a break from "working." I have just returned from a roadtrip to New Mexico and have been trying to catch up with all the things that were neglected in my absence (including sleep). I knew that Facebook would be there when I had some time to dedicate to it...and boy howdy, was it ever! When I checked in on Saturday, you had surpassed 500 likes and were approaching 600. Wow. I am floored. You are incredible. Your support means so much to me.

So...Lisa Gayle Peterson, you are On My Plate's 500th Facebook like. You shall be receiving an assorted package of home-canned goods from my garden pantry. Please PM me your mailing information through Facebook, or contact me via email at onmyplate.justfran@gmail.com. I am so thankful for your interest in the blog.Congratulations!

For the rest of you, never fear. You aren't out of luck. I also have something for you. One of my pet peeves with service companies like satellite and cell phone providers is that they always offer great discounts and deals for new customers and seem to forget about the loyal clients that have helped build their companies. I am not a doofus like that. I may be a doofus, but I am a doofus offering a chance for all existing Facebook followers to also win a package of assorted home-canned goodies. All you have to do is:
  • Go to the blog's Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/OnMyPlate)
  • Find the post pinned to the top promoting this giveaway. 
  • Like it and/or Share it. 
  • That's it. 
  • On Friday, August 1, 2014, I will randomly be drawing a winner from all likes and shares of that post for another package of homemade goodness. 

Sounds awesome, huh? Well, you must think so. There are already well over 100 likes and/or shares of the On My Plate Home-Canned Giveaway post. I am totally flabbergasted. I had no idea this would explode so much for my little blog. I am eternally grateful for your interest and support. I also hope you stick around and check out some of the recipes I have shared and the crazy life stories I have paired with them. On My Plate truly is my menu with a little life thrown in.

So...GOOD LUCK! Have a great week, and I will check back with you on Friday to announce the winner. (And, Lisa...get in touch with me, please.)

Disclaimer or whatever: This blog post is not sponsored. I have canned all of the goods that will be given away in my home kitchen and am offering them to you simply as a thank you for supporting me. If you worry about the safety of home-canned goods, perhaps this isn't the giveaway for you. All opinions stated are purely my own.


Saturday, July 05, 2014

There Was Pie

You know what? There was pie.

There was a really amazeballs pie that is a cheesecake, and rhubarb, and baked all into one simple press-in-the-pan crust.

I first encountered this pie when a friend brought it to a lunch. I hadn't before experienced that sweetened sour cream topping and instantly was in love with the contrast of the tart rhubarb. Delicious. She shared the recipe, but without my own rhubarb supply, I didn't get around to making this extraordinary pie.

Fast-forward several years, and with the garden rhubarb well established, I am searching for ways to use it. I remember that delicious pie, but can't find where I stashed the recipe. Then, a Pinterest search brings me to my knees. There it is. Blogged by Brenda at A Farmgirl's Dabbles. The pie. The ultimate summer pie.

This summer, I have whipped this pie of perfection up for almost every cookout, and everyone loves it. Everyone begs for the recipe. But, I haven't blogged it because I haven't taken a photo. You see, we do a radical thing with the recipes that I make and share here On My Plate. We eat them. *gasp* Food photos happen when I am alone and have prepped something early (or have suitable leftovers). Otherwise, we are too busy eating to bother with taking pics.

Thankfully, there were a couple of pieces of Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie leftover today. They aren't perfectly sliced leftovers, and I snapped the pic with the camera on my phone, but who cares. There was pie.

(adapted from A Farmgirl's Dabbles)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons flour

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F.
Using your mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt, and butter until crumbly.
Press the dough on the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie pan.
Stir together the rhubarb, sugar, and flour.
Arrange evenly over the pie crust.
Bake for 15 minutes; set aside.
Increase oven temperature to 350F.
Again using your mixer, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until light, fluffy, and creamy.
Pour cream cheese mixture over the hot rhubarb in the pie pan.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Stir together the sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.
After the cheesecake layer has baked for 25-30 minutes and mostly set, spread the sour cream layer over the center of the pie.
Leave about 1/2'' of the cream cheese layer exposed around the edges.
Bake an additional 15 minutes.
Let cool completely, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. Store refrigerated.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Something Awesome

I should be posting something awesome about Mother's Day, but instead, I am just going to kinda ramble. I think you are all used to that by now, right?

I purchased some gorgeous potted flowers and placed them on my mother-in-law's local grave. I also picked out another greenhouse purchase for my father-in-law's current wife. With my mother buried several hours away,  I have been keeping an eye on the Fern Peony plant that she gave me several years before her death. It has multiplied well this year and is loaded with buds, but our recent cold-raining-hailing-snowing snaps have kept the blooms from showing their beauty. More rain and cooler temperatures are forecast for Mother's Day, but I hope that maybe next week I will be treated with those crimson blossoms that always remind me of Mom.

For the past week, Hubs has been craving the Chocolate Pudding Cake that his mother often made, and tonight, I gave in and prepared it for dessert. He moaned with delight with the first bite of the over-the-top rich, fudgy cake and creamy pudding paired with vanilla bean ice cream. It was pure decadence, and totally trampled any virtuous feelings I may have had after a light supper of roasted (garden picked!) asparagus, lemon pepper halibut, and Spinach Couscous.

I should be sharing that chocolaty recipe, but I don't have any photos that weren't snapped with my phone in the bad night lighting of my kitchen. (Note to self: better lighting is a must when we finally do the kitchen renovation.) Instead, I am going to share a different pudding cake. I believe that Lemon Pudding Cake would be the choice of my mother. She loved her rich and sweet pecan desserts, but I don't believe I ever saw her turn down something bright, tart and citrusy, either.

With just a few ingredients, this light and fluffy cake rises and bakes atop a creamy, pudding-like sauce. Coupled with ice cream or just sprinkled with powdered sugar, you know it is a pure comfort food when it is served with a spoon. I suppose that Lemon Pudding Cake actually is something awesome to share for Mother's Day.

(adapted from Gourmet Magazine)

2 large lemons
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F.
Grate 1 tablespoon zest from lemons, then squeeze 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons juice.
Whisk together flour, salt and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, zest and juice.
Add to flour mixture, whisking just until combined.
Beat egg whites with electric mixer until soft peaks.
Beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar, a little at a time, and continue to beat until whites have stiff, glossy peaks.
Whisk about one fourth of the whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently.
Pour into a buttered 8x8 baking dish and bake in a hot water bath until puffed and golden, about 45-50 minutes.
Serve warm, or at room temperature. (Serves 6)

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Cinco de Mayo

May 5th. Literally.

Most of us know it is a Mexican holiday; some wrongly assume it is Mexican Independence Day. That commemoration of the declaration of war against Spanish colonial government in Mexico is celebrated on September 16.

Cinco de Mayo is actually the observance of a triumph in a battle against France. My understanding is that when the Mexican government claimed their country was too poor to pay outstanding debts to foreign countries, the French decided that it would be an opportune time to carve out their own claim in Mexico. War was declared, and troops were sent. Against the odds, one small Mexican community managed to claim a victory over the French armies at Puebla. This win bolstered the resistance movement among the Mexican people, and after a lengthy, 6 year battle, France withdrew. 

Oddly, aside from Puebla, where the famous battle occurred, I am told that most of Mexico doesn’t actively celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It is just another day. Banks and schools are open, as it is not a federal holiday.

In the United States, we’ve never met a holiday we don’t like to celebrate. Areas with a greater Mexican-American population host festivals, parades, and parties for Cinco de Mayo which honor Mexican culture and heritage. For much of rest of the nation the holiday is synonymous with “2 for 1” taco and margarita deals. While this is a more commercial and less authentic observance of the historical significance of Cinco de Mayo, tacos and margaritas are certainly delicious. I am on board. 

Tostadas are open-faced crispy tacos, and throwing together Chicken Tostadas with Tomatillo Cream would be a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Shredded rotisserie chicken is tossed with smoked paprika for a grill-like flavor, piled over a creamy, but slightly spicy sauce, and topped with fresh salsa and cheese. If you can't find tostada shells, it only takes a minute to crisp a few corn tortillas in hot oil.
Chicken Tostadas with Tomatillo Cream at On My Plate

 (adapted from Cooking Light)

1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup tomatillo sauce or green enchilada sauce or salsa verde
1 tablespoon chopped roasted green chiles
1 cup tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tablespoon jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cups shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced black olives
6 corn tostada shells

Combine sour cream, tomatillo sauce, and green chiles in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper to taste.
Combine tomato, onion, 1 tablespoon lime juice, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno in another bowl; toss well.
Toss chicken with remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and smoked paprika.
Spread some tomatillo cream on each tostada shell; top with chicken and salsa. 
Sprinkle cheese and black olive on top and serve with lime wedges. (Serves 4 {2 tostadas each})

Monday, April 28, 2014


I grew up with my mother sometimes referring to the sticks of Parkay and Blue Bonnet in our fridge as "oleo." An older lady we knew called it "oleomargarine," which a little online sleuthing tells me is the original name for a butter substitute developed in France using mostly beef fat and vegetable oils. Over time, it seems that the commercial recipe for margarine, as it came to be known, was altered several times due to availability of ingredients, but ultimately came to be made up of mostly oils.

As a kid, those sticks of oleo were whipped into cookies and baked into cakes. Tubs of the spread were slathered on toast and just plain old "bread and butter." It was what I knew and what, at the time, I liked. We didn't eat real butter in my childhood home; which now that I think about it seems a little odd since my mother also made weekly pilgrimages to an area dairy for fresh, whole milk for the her large family. But, that is probably a topic for another blog post.

Today, I came here to talk about oleo...and what it has come to mean to me. As an adult, my home has evolved into pretty much a butter only refuge. There are stray sticks of margarine that make their way into the house for a very select few recipes that benefit from the higher water content, but overall, 99.9% of our consumption is butter. I have come to prefer the flavor of real butter. Blame it on the marketing of the dairy council, but when I now hear the word "oleo," my mouth fills with the feel of grease. I don't want margarine. At all.

So, it was a little shocking (and honestly, as snobby as it may seem, a little revolting) when I saw a television commercial for a major drugstore brand of shampoo announcing its newest therapy for hair, Oleo Therapy. Umm...what?!? I know that beer, mayonnaise, eggs, avocados, olive oil, and recently, coconut oil have all been brought out of the kitchen as beneficial products for our follicles, but OLEO? I doubt that the product does actually contain margarine; who wants to smear I Can't Believe It's Not Butter on their head? But, seriously, is there nobody on the L'Oreal marketing team that remembers oleo as margarine? I don't get it. Oleo Therapy doesn't seem like a spa-quality product to me. It seems like a mouth full of grease. I won't be rushing out to treat my hair to Oleo Therapy.

I could possibly be rushing to treat myself to Graham Cracker Bars made with real butter. This is a slightly different take on the classic Saltine Toffee Bars. Graham Crackers are layered with toffee bits and almonds before being drenched with a syrup of melted REAL BUTTER and sugar. The bars are baked to a bubbly goodness and then topped with chocolate chips and flaked salt. Simple and delicious. Not a mouth full of grease. 
Graham Cracker Bars at On My Plate
Graham Cracker Bars
(adapted from Everyday Food)

13 graham crackers
1 bag (8 ounces) toffee bits
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped toasted almonds
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350F. 
Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange graham crackers in a single layer on sheet, edges touching. 
Sprinkle toffee bits and almonds over graham crackers.
Bring sugar and butter to a boil over medium-high. 
Reduce heat and cook at a rapid simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy, 2 minutes.
Immediately pour over graham crackers. 
Bake until sugar topping is bubbling, 12 minutes. 
Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle chocolate and salt over graham crackers. 
With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut into 2-inch squares.
Let cool completely. (Serves 24)
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