Friday, October 17, 2014

Where's the Beef?

Where's the beef?

Saturday, October 18th, at 11am, the beef is going to be at the Sioux Falls Convention Center and the Etc. Expo for Her. With the South Dakota Cattlemen's Auxiliary, I will be presenting Spinach Meatballs in a food demonstration.

We will discuss some of the important nutritional benefits of beef and cover the nuances of creating a perfect meatball. (Here's a hint: we will be using ground beef.)

Currently, I am still nervous, that zit I told you about in my last blog post now has an ugly step-sister, and as I was packing up my gear for the demo, my husband asked that I not take my good knife with me just in case I panicked and ran away in the middle of my presentation. (He was kidding. I hope.)

Tomorrow is the day, but just in case you can't make it, here are the meatballs I will be sharing. I do have complete confidence in  the fact that they are absolutely delicious.



1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef
1 (10 ounce) box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
3/4 teaspoon dry basil
1/4 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350F.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and saute until tender.
Add garlic and cook until fragrant.
Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine ground beef, spinach, egg, breadcrumbs, and seasonings.
Mix all ingredients gently and form into small (walnut-sized) meatballs.
Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Monday, October 13, 2014

I Have a Zit

I have a zit on my forehead. I haven't had a real breakout in several years, but here I am trying all the acne remedies and hoping that
A) the zit disappears by Saturday; 
B) the zit doesn't multiply by Saturday; 
and C) my forehead isn't a scaly, flaky mess from over-treating with acne remedies by Saturday.

What's so important about Saturday?

I am going to do my first public food demonstration.

Yikes.

Double yikes.

Double zit-producing yikes.

The South Dakota Cattlemen's Auxiliary in conjunction with The South Dakota Beef Industry Council has asked me (ME!?!) to present a beef recipe as part of a seminar at the Etc. Expo for Her in Sioux Falls this weekend. The expo, sponsored by etc. for her, is 2 days of shopping, fun, entertainment, and pampering designed for women of all ages. This ninth annual event will host exhibits that cover health, food, wine, fashion, home decor, cosmetics, fitness, entertainment, finance, career, art and more.

I will be the first to admit that while I am very confident in my own kitchen, public speaking is stepping way out of my comfort zone. A few years ago, it seemed that all the cool kids in the blogging world were vlogging, or video blogging. I was asked when I would take the plunge, and I quickly informed everyone that not only are my knife skills really poor, I also lick my fingers when I cook. Nobody wants to see that.

Well, here I am, with a zit, a date for a public presentation (waaaay worse than vlogging -- there are no do-overs or edits in public), and a hope that I don't lick my fingers.

My demonstration at the expo will focus on an easy meatball recipe with a twist. It works as a weeknight meal, a hearty game day or party appetizer, and even for entertaining. I will show your how the ever-versatile meatball can solve all your menu dilemmas, and discuss how to effortlessly adjust flavor combinations and even incorporate veggies to create this delectable, make-ahead beef staple.

 It really is an honor to share my everyday kitchen experiences in support of the beef industry and agriculture. "Agriculture is the largest contributor to the South Dakota economy and the beef industry is one of the major driving forces behind our economy." (from South Dakota Beef Council website) While my husband and I actually raise sheep, we live in the middle of cattle country and are surrounded by excellent cattle ranches. Beef is what's for dinner very often in our house. 

Just this past week, we enjoyed another simple and quick beef meal. Mongolian Beef is a slightly spicy dish that comes together almost instantly. It actually will take longer to make a pot of rice or rice noodles to serve with it than it will to cook the thinly sliced beef. The garlic and ginger sauce is boosted by savory soy sauce and green onions offer a slight crunch. 

Putting Mongolian Beef On My Plate is so quick and easy that I have lots of time before Saturday to worry about public speaking and the zit on my forehead. 

(adapted from Cooking Light

4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
3 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chile paste with garlic (more, if you like the heat)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound sirloin steak, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
16 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces

Whisk together soy sauce, honey, cornstarch, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, and chile paste.
Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add beef and saute until beef starts to brown.
Add garlic and ginger and continue to cook until beef is cooked through, just a couple of minutes.
Add green onions and saute for 30 seconds.
Stir in the soy sauce mixture and cook 1 more minute until thickened, stirring constantly.
Serve over rice or rice noodles. (Serves 4)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Friendship

This summer, my garden wasn't the best. My tomato plants didn't produce a lot and wanted to wither and die regardless of any pampering. But, it really didn't matter. I had friends who made trips to an area Hutterite Colony and purchased bushels of tomatoes for me, and other friends who gathered their extras and left them on my porch like magic fairies. Thanks to my awesome friends, I had plenty of tomatoes for canning up the pasta sauce that we all love around here.

I have been promising to blog this recipe for years, but one thing after another always seems to get in the way. I am sure most have given up on me. I am not an awesome friend...until now. Here it is. Finally. Thank you for your patience with me.

(BTW...I like to think of myself as anti-gadget, but I did pick up a spiral slicer. Game changer for making zucchini noodles. Truly.)



(If you are unsure of the canning process, there are many informative sites online. I am not a canning authority.)

20-22 pounds of tomatoes 
2 medium onions
2 heads of garlic
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1/2-3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (optional, but I always have it and use it)

Peel (if you wish, I don't...a few random pieces of skin don't bother me in our sauce) and roughly chop the tomatoes.
Combine the tomatoes with diced onions and minced garlic in a large, heavy pot. (I use my enamel coated cast iron.)
Season with salt, dried basil and oregano, sugar, and balsamic vinegar.
Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for at least 30 minutes on medium to low heat, stirring occassionally.
When the tomatoes have cooked down and started to form a sauce, remove from heat and press about half of the tomato mixture through a sieve or food mill to remove most of the seeds and tomato skins and to create a smoother sauce with just a few chunks.
Return to the heavy pot and add the lemon juice, can of tomato paste (if you simmer longer, you may not need this to add a thicker texture), and fresh herbs.
Bring back to a boil and simmer for another 20-30 minutes while prepping the jars and hot water canner for canning.
Ladle into quart jars and seal.
Process in hot water bath for 20 minutes. (Yield: approx 8 quarts)

(If you are unsure of the canning process, there are many informative sites online. I am not a canning authority.)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Are you a Downton Abbey fan?

Antiques Roadshow junkie?

Do you think Bridget Lancaster (America's Test Kitchen) is the best chef ever?

If you answered yes to any of those questions and are local (and truthfully, the entire state of South Dakota is considered local...many of us drive more miles just to have pizza than some other states do in a month), then you are most likely a supporter of South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Hubs and I certainly are. He doesn't miss an episode of Antiques Roadshow (and once left me sitting outside beside the fire pit on a beautiful evening to come inside and watch...even though the DVR was set). We are also anxiously awaiting the next season of Downton Abbey to premiere this fall. Which suitor will Mary choose? What else can happen to poor Edith? Anna and Bates? Oh, my.

And let's face it, aside from Julia Child reminding everyone that with a little practice, anyone can cook, America's Test Kitchen is the best thing since sliced bread. They have even reviewed the knives, and can tell you which one is best for slicing that bread. If there is something that you want to prepare, the Test Kitchen has done it, tested the various methods, and can give you no nonsense and easy to understand science behind that preparation.

It is an understatement to say that I was beyond flattered when approached by SDPB to be included in the Food and Cooking Section of their website. Wow! That is almost like rubbing shoulders with Mark Walburg, having tea with the Dowager Countess of Grantham, or yumming it up with Christopher Kimball. But, there I am! Click on the Food Blog link on the right of the Food and Cooking page, and On My Plate is front and center!

I am honored and excited to be a part of the SDPB website. Their Food and Cooking page also contains links for the food related South Dakota Magazine online content, NPR, and a wide variety of other sources. I urge you to check it out, and while you are there, why not click on the tab to Support SDPB and consider becoming a Friend.

SDPB is a member-supported,community-based, commercial-free public broadcasting service supported by the Friends of South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Friends provides the majority of the funding for the programming that you see and hear on television, radio and online. Your contribution is vital to keep SDPB a strong, independent voice, available to all viewers and listeners free of charge.

So...I feel like celebrating. Whose with me? Hip Hip Hooray for SDPB! Let's have cake. How about Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Cake?
 
(adapted from Cooking Light)

Baker's Joy Cooking Spray
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cups buttermilk
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350F.
Generously coat bundt pan with cooking spray. (I really can't recommend Baker's Joy enough; I was bundt pan challenged, until I discovered it.)
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Combine flour, baking powder, poppy seeds, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl.
Combine 3/4 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup lemon juice, and extracts in a large measuring cup.
Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternatingly little by little to the sugar mixture until all combined.
Toss the fresh blueberries with just a bit of flour and fold into the batter.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Remove cake from pan and finish cooling on rack.
Prepare glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, buttermilk, and lemon juice until combined.
Pour over warm cake and cool completely. (Serves 16)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Labor Day

There is nothing like revealing you have a blog to a new person to finally get your butt in gear with a new post. So...here goes...

On Labor Day, I hosted a get-together with friends that could have easily been called a Harvest Party. There was Vinegar Marinated Potato Salad made with potatoes from one friend's garden and fresh eggs from another friend's backyard chickens. A couple other friends picked sweet corn to share with me, and I tossed it together with radishes, jalapenos, and flat leaf parsley from my own garden to make Fresh Corn and Radish Salad. And, after my distress over my zucchini plants not producing, not one, but 3 friends left zucchini on my front porch, some of which became Lemon Blueberry Zucchini Cake.

As we waited for the the charcoal to be perfect for grilling brats, we sipped on white sangria made with the ripe and juicy Colorado peaches flooding the area and snacked on appetizers of a slightly altered recipe of Spinach Meatballs tossed in some recently canned marinara sauce (also from a friend's tomatoes), cherry and yellow pear tomatoes from my garden, fresh mozzarella balls (from Costco), and toasted garlic baguette. And, those brats? They were smothered in my very first attempt at homemade sauerkraut made from a volleyball-sized head of cabbage that yet another friend left on my porch. (I have great front porch fairies, don't I?)

It was a great night, even if we were forced to abandon the fire pit and move the party indoors when a few sprinkles became a downpour. Hubs and I are blessed with good fortune and great friends.

Labor Day may traditionally signify the beginning of fall, but I am going to hold onto summer as long as possible. Even after that party menu, I still have a few ears of sweet corn left and some of those garden potatoes. My garden is lacking substantial tomatoes for canning, but is still producing lots of cherry and yellow pear tomatoes. There is, also, always basil growing until the frost takes what I haven't preserved for winter. This all means that Potato and Corn Salad is the perfect late summer salad to make an appearance On My Plate.


(adapted from Cooking Light)

2 cups small yellow potatoes, halved
3 cups fresh corn kernels
2 cups assorted cherry and yellow pear tomatoes, halved
1 1/2 cups red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn

Cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. Drain and chill.
In a large bowl, whisk together shallots, vinegar, mustard and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and bell pepper to the bowl and toss with the dressing.
Sprinkle with the basil. (Serves 4)

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
and 
Kathy Van Cleave Riedy

Congratulations!!

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)
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