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)

Thursday, April 24, 2014


I was watching Property Brothers on HGTV the other night...or more correctly, Property Brothers was on in the background as I did one of a million things on my to-do list. As Drew Scott was showing a family a potential home to buy and renovate, the husband threw a fit about the mature trees of the neighborhood. He absolutely, positively, in no uncertain terms DID NOT want a home with trees where the leaves would fall. In his words, as soon as you raked, more would fall. It was a never ending battle that he had no interest in waging.

Honestly, the guy, like so many of the participants in these "reality" home improvement shows, basically sounded like a brat. But, there was a little part of me that whispered softly, "I hear ya, buddy."

I would never, ever, in a million years want to live in a brand spanking new subdivision without mature trees. But, the leaves that fall in my yard (and my neighbors' yards and blow with the wind into mine) are my nemesis. No matter how many times I rake or mow and bag mound after mound of leaves, there are always more. I try to have them all cleaned up before the first snow of winter, but somehow, every spring there are still drifts of leaves around all of our property fences. Some of the drifts are taller than the fences. I get blisters just thinking about the clean up. And, yet, I do it. Season after season. Leaf after leaf. Yes. I hear ya, buddy. Leaves are a pain.

There are some leaves that aren't a pain: spinach leaves. I have been told that our soil is still too cold for seeds to properly sprout, but I am itching to sow some spinach seeds in my garden and have a perfect row of fresh, green, pretty spinach leaves. Leaves that instead of raking, I will pick and wash and toss with some shaved carrots, thinly sliced radishes, green onions and basil. Leaves that will be drizzled with a fresh lemon dressing. Leaves that only pain me when this Spring Salad is no longer On My Plate.

(adapted from Cooking Light)

2 medium carrots
1/4 cup thinly sliced spring onions
1 bunch thinly sliced radishes
8 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Shave carrots into ribbons with a vegetable peeler.
Toss carrots, onions, radishes, spinach, and basil together in a large bowl.
In a small mason jar, combine lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper; seal jar and shake to combine.
Drizzle dressing over salad. (serves 4)

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Proof is in the Pudding

Good Friday.

8:00 P.M.

I am still debating my Easter menu.

I had thought that I had pretty much established that I didn't want to go with a traditional baked ham dinner.

Then, someone was looking for a recipe using poblano peppers.

And, I remembered a Ham and Poblano Corn Pudding that I had made last summer.

At that time, I paired it with some grilled chicken.

But, corn puddings are traditionally a savory side dish on southern Easter tables guessed it...ham.

The proof in this pudding is that I am still as confused as ever.

Ham and Poblano Corn Pudding

(adapted from Bon Appetit)

2 large poblano chiles
2 cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen), divided
2 large eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted, and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
large pinch of baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup corn masa mix
1 cup of ham, cut into thin strips, or cubed
1 cup Manchego cheese, coarsely grated

Preheat the oven to 500F.
Place the whole peppers on a sheet pan and drizzle with oil to cover.
Roast for 10-15 minutes until the skins are completely wrinkled and the peppers are charred, turning them occasionally.
Remove the pan from the oven.
Immediately place chiles in a medium bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand 10 minutes.
Peel and seed chiles; cut into strips.

Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
Combine 1 1/2 cups corn, eggs, melted butter, salt, and baking soda in a blender and process until almost smooth.
Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and add sour cream, masa mix, ham, cheese, chiles, and 1/2 cup of remaining corn.
Pour pudding into prepared baking dish.
Bake until corn pudding is puffed and golden brown in spots on top, about 40 minutes. (Serves 12)

New Traditions Are Rising

Do you have your Easter dinner menu planned and ready to roll this weekend? Making a big baked ham? Roasting lamb? Deviled eggs? Asparagus? Hot Cross Buns? Lemon Pie? Strawberry Shortcake?

I don't yet know what will land on our table. It is just Hubs and me. I have a small ham, but don't know if I really want to go with a traditional dinner. We could do brunch with cinnamon rolls and soft-boiled eggs, or spiced pecan waffles and bacon, or pancakes and Heavenly Scrambled Eggs. I picked up some fruit that could be tossed into a salad. Later, in the evening, we could have one of Hubs' favorite meals, pizza. But, that is pretty much every Sunday menu for us; will I feel as if I missed out on a holiday meal? Do I want to make a pan of Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni? or find a small prime rib? or make the Ham and Asparagus Lasagna that I shared at South Dakota Magazine this week? Do I want to rise up to a new tradition for my Easter dinners?

What are you serving this Easter? If, like me, you are still indecisive and trying to plan, go check out the Ham and Asparagus Lasagna. It might be your solution for a new holiday tradition.

Ham and Asparagus Lasagna at South Dakota Magazine

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