LATIMER – For Val Plagge, one of the joys of being a stay-at-home mom is preparing home-cooked meals for her family and friends.
Many of her go-to recipes have become her signature dishes at potlucks and other community events.
“I’ve always loved to cook,” said Plagge, who farms with her husband, Ian, in Franklin County, rearing their children Klayton, 3, and Audrey, 9 months.
“Home cooking is becoming a lost art,” Plagge said, “and it’s something I want to teach my children.”
Plagge learned to cook when she was growing up near Stanhope on a corn, soybean, hog and sheep farm.
She continues to rely on basic skills she gained through her food and nutrition projects with the Clear Lake Sailors 4-H Club.
Stretching her grocery dollars is part of the process.
“I do meal planning each week, starting on Sunday,” said Plagge, who reviews sale items in weekly ads and checks her freezer as she plans seven days of meals.
She creates meals around her family’s favorite recipes, which come from trusted sources like the 1998 cookbook from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church near Boone, to online resources like Pinterest and The Pioneer Woman.
Other recipes are Plagge’s own creations.
Her Sicilian pasta sauce is her interpretation of a sauce served at Valentino’s restaurant in Ames.
Plagge also puts her own twist on favorite recipes. Her popular sweet and spicy hog wild baked beans is a modification of a recipe she got at a Farm Bureau picnic, while her shrimp dip is adapted from her Great Aunt Mary’s recipe.
Plagge sometimes shares recipes on her blog, “Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids,” along with daily slices of life from an Iowa farm family’s perspective.
“It’s interesting to meet people across the country through my blog,” said Plagge, who volunteers with the Immanuel United Church of Christ in Latimer and serves as public relations chair for the Franklin County Farm Bureau. “It’s also a good way to stay connected with my local community and help share ag’s story.”
1 cup milk
1/3 cup flour
1 red pepper, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, crushed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salsa, to serve with
Beat eggs, milk and flour in large bowl with whisk until well blended. Stir in pepper, bacon, green onions and oregano.
Pour mixture into 15-by-10-inch pan lined with parchment paper, with the paper’s ends extending over shortest edges.
Spray the paper thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray.
Bake 14 to 16 minutes, or until edges are almost set, at 350 degrees.
Top with cheese and bake 2 more minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Roll up omelet immediately, starting at one short end and peeling off the paper as the omelet is rolled. Place on platter; cut into slices.
Serve with salsa.
Sweet and spicy hog wild baked beans
(Plagge said this recipes makes a big batch, so she freezes half for later.)
1/2 pound bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 28-ounce cans of Bush’s Honey Baked Beans
1 can apple pie filling (chop up the big chunks)
1 pound crumbled cooked pork sausage
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper powder
Cook the bacon, and saute onion and green pepper in bacon grease.
In large pot, mix all ingredients together.
Simmer on stovetop. If the beans are too spicy for you, use less cayenne pepper.
This recipe makes a half gallon and feeds around 25 people.
1 8-ounce container cream cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
8 ounces salad shrimp
Crackers, to serve with dip
Cream the cream cheese and mayonnaise together.
Stir in green pepper, onion and shrimp.
Refrigerate at least two hours before serving.
Serve with crackers.
Stuffed chicken breasts
4 split chicken breasts
1 pouch Shake ‘n Bake or Oven Fry
Filet each chicken breast in half lengthwise. Top evenly with filling (see below).
Fold each chicken breast back together in half and use toothpicks to secure the filling from falling out.
Place coating mix in pie plate, and roll each stuffed chicken breast in mix until evenly coated.
Place in foil-lined, 9-by-13-inch glass pan in single layer.
Any variations of;
1). Chopped broccoli, bacon crumbles and shredded cheddar cheese.
2). Thawed frozen spinach, chopped artichokes and shredded pepper jack cheese.
3). Thawed frozen spinach, cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.
4). Sauted green peppers, onions and mushrooms with shredded Mozzarella cheese.
Bake chicken at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked to 170 degrees. Remove and discard toothpicks before serving.
Chocolate melting cake for two
(Val and her husband, Ian, said they enjoyed this dessert every night on their honeymoon cruise following their marriage in 2008. Their waiter on the cruise ship shared the recipe with them.)
2 squares semi-sweet baker’s chocolate
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons flour
Butter two souffle cups and place on baking sheet.
Microwave chocolate and butter on high for 1 minute or until melted.
Stir with wire whisk. Blend in egg and egg yolk. Stir in powdered sugar and flour.
Divide between prepared custard cups.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes, or until sides are firm, but centers are soft.
Let stand 1 minute. Serve immediately topped with ice cream or whipped topping.
Val’s Sicilian pasta sauce
(When she was growing up, Plagge said a favorite restaurant was Valentino’s, an Italian restaurant in Ames. Here’s her rendition of its pasta sauce, which she serves over rotini noodles.)
1/2 pound bacon
2 to 3 tablespoons margarine
2 to 3 cloves garlic, grated
3 to 4 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 cups diced ham
2 cans sliced mushrooms
2 cups Italian shredded cheese
Cut bacon into bite-sized pieces and fry. Set aside. Add margarine to bacon grease. Let melt, and add garlic.
Cook for one minute. Add flour to make roux. Slowly whisk in milk to make sauce.
Once sauce is made, stir in bouillon cube, parsley, Italian seasoning, ham, bacon and mushrooms.
Finally add the cheese and let sit over medium heat for a couple of minutes.
Serve sauce over choice of pasta.
Fried pickles and BBQ/Ranch dipping sauce
(Val served this as an appetizer when she made a home-cooked Valentine’s Day meal for her husband.)
1 jar sandwich-sliced pickles
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons seasoning salt
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/4 cup water
2 cups panko crumbs
2 cups soybean/vegetable oil
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ranch dressing
Combine flour, salt and pepper in a pie plate, and mix well.
Whisk eggs and water together in second plate. Put the panko crumbs in third plate.
Place 1-inch of oil in frying pan, and heat to 350 degrees. Watch oil carefully and use splatter guard.
Roll each pickle in flour and the egg wash, finished by panko crumbs.
Drop the pickles in the hot oil. Flip and move them around as they cook for about two minutes, until golden brown. Remove pickles with slotted spoon or tongs, and place on paper towels to drain. Repeat until all pickles are fried.
For dipping sauce, combine first five ingredients; once incorporated, add the ranch dressing.
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