Wee Cook Wednesdays: Five-Generation Potato Salad

potatosaladThe Easter ham now chilling in the fridge, right beside the Easter eggs … Hmmm, what to do for dinner tonight?!  I know!  Whip up a little potato salad to go with some grilled ham sandwiches!

Truth be told, I’m kind of a potato salad snob. Cold boiled potatoes with a little mayo and a dab of mustard does not a potato salad make, not even with a liberal dash of paprika. One bite of this, and you’ll never look at a hard boiled egg the same way again!

Five-Generation Potato Salad – serves 12

8 potatoes, boiled and cubed
5-6 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
1 med sweet onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 C gherkin sweet pickles, chopped
1/2 C chopped green olives
2 eggs, hardboiled and sliced (“coined”) for garnish

Combine potatoes, eggs, vegetables, and dressing in large bowl. Pour dressing over all, and stir to combine. Garnish with eggs, and sprinkle with paprika. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Dressing: 1 C mayonnaise (lite OK), 3 Tbls yellow mustard, 2 Tbls pickle juice, 2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp celery seed, salt and pepper to taste.

Wee Cook Wednesday: Quickie Lenten Lunch Idea

smart-chiliLet me start by saying I’m a born-and-bred meat lover. Meatless Fridays in Lent … especially one or two of those Fridays … I seriously have to REMEMBER to be good and eat tuna fish.

So the other day while wandering around the grocery store and spied these little bags of “Smart Chili” goodness on the produce shelf, I though. “Hmmm… looks like chili with beans. But does it TASTE like chili with beans?!”

The carnivore in me does not die quietly.

I tried it. And I LIKED IT!!!  Nuke it 2.5 minutes, toss a little reduced-fat cheddar on top and zap it again a minute or so, then serve with corn chips. Yum.

My new favorite meatless Friday lunch. Try it! (Don’t let the “veggie protein” label scare you.)  Now … if I can just find a good family-size recipe for it … Any ideas?

Wee Cook Wednesday: Bethany Baked Oatmeal

baked-oatmealRecently I’ve been thinking about the fact that each decade of my life has had a particular theme and/or formative experience. My twenties (the 80s) were the “Bethany Days,” when I attended Bethany College of Missions, an Evangelical missionary training center in Bloomington, MN. (I became Catholic when I was thirty … as it turns out, so did at least five other classmates. Four of us appeared on “The Abundant Life” late in the 90s.)

Bethany Fellowship International, which was also the center for Bethany House Publishers and Bethany Campers and Lefse Grills,  has evolved significantly since I graduated  in 1987 (I left in 1989 after a two-year internshp at BHP). And yet it remains a faith-filled Christian community that takes seriously the Lord’s call to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

The communal dining room at Bethany is the site of some of my favorite memories of the place. So recently, when I developed a hankering for some Baked Oatmeal, I hopped on Facebook and begged the recipe from a couple of friends who used to work there … thanks, Laurie and Diane!

This great stick-to-the-ribs brunch recipe is great for Lent. A hunk of the stuff (with maybe a handful of pecans or walnuts, and a drizzle of half-and-half) should keep you going most of the day!  And as you can see, this recipe will feed even the largest family. (I’ve cut the recipe down to manageable size in parenthesis, enough to feed 6-8.)

Bethany Baked Oatmeal (for a crowd of 50 or so)
applesauce – 3 C (1/2 C)
honey – 4 C (2/3 C)
eggs – 20 (3)
oats – 2 gallons (5-1/2 C)
baking powder – 6 Tbls (1 Tbls)
salt – 4 tsp (3/4 tsp)
milk – 10 C (1-2/3 C)
vanilla – 1 Tbls (1 tsp)
cinnamon and nutmeg to taste

Spray 2 large, shallow baking pans (1 9×13) with cooking spray. Combine all ingredients and stir 4 minutes. Bake 300 degrees for 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. (Should spring back when pressed gently in the center.) Serve with nuts and milk or half and half.

Photo credit: http://Gingerlemongirl.blogspot.com   (Hers is much prettier than mine!)

Wee Cook Wednesday: Pokemon Cake

pikachuNow,  I realize this isn’t an actual recipe … more of a technique. And I also realize that NO ONE would mistake my labor of love for a bakery cake; it has an unabashedly homespun look. But I gotta say … my son was tickled pink!

Since I was making this for a crowd, I baked one vanilla cake mix (according to package directions) and one chocolate cake mix (ditto) in a cookie sheet. If you want to make the cake half-and-half (so guests can choose chocolate or vanilla), just split the cakes in half and double them up. Otherwise you can stack on on top of the other (with a layer of frosting in between), or if you’re feeling REALLY creative, pile them on top of each other (with a layer of frosting in between) then cut the cake in 2″ sections, flipping every other one to create a checkerboard look.

Next,  smear frosting generously all over the cake. Here’s the frosting recipe I use:

2/3 C butter, softened
6 C powdered sugar
1 Tbls vanilla
3-4 Tbls milk (you can also use lemon juice, if you’re serving all vanilla cake)
8 drops yellow food color

Beat butter until fluffy, gradually add powdered sugar, keep beating as you add vanilla and just enough milk to make it “spreadable.” When it’s just the right consistency, add food color and blend until combined.

Now … the Pokemon/Picachu part. Because the colors needed to be really bright, I used Wilton’s Sparkle Gel instead of frosting. (One tube each yellow, red, and royal blue or black for outlining and the tips of the ears. Chris says black is best, but he says blue looks good, too.)

And here’s the result! (Yes, I know … I ran out of room and left off the tail when I made the cake! But Christopher liked it anyway. I told him it was “shy Picachu”):



Wee Cook Wednesday: Happy Lent “Garlic Fish”

lenten_crossHappy Ash Wednesday, Everyone!

The other day I came across this yummy sounding recipe for “Garlic Fish” from an EMN blogger that I’d like to share with you today. I think I’m going to whip up a batch today, and get Lent started on the right foot! (Save the fish sticks for next week…)

Photo credit:  www.stmarymagdalene.org

Wee Cook Wednesday: Quickie Chickie with Peppers

canned-chicken1Every mom has an “emergency pantry shelf” where she stocks foods that can be pulled together in various combinations to create dinner in a hurry.

Tonight was an “emergency” night, and I had been hankering for Chinese food all day … so I reached in and pulled out a can of chicken, a can of pineapple chunks, and a box of Minute Rice (I recently discovered their instant brown rice, and while I don’t know that the nutritional value of the “quick” stuff is as good as the slow-cooking, I decided to try it). 

In the veggie bin were three green peppers that were about to turn. So I put it all together, tossed in a shot of ginger and soy sauce, and … voila! Quickie Chickie.

Quickie Chickie with Peppers (serves 4)

3 bell peppers (any color), seeded and coarsely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 can (13 oz) canned chicken, drained
1 can (20 oz) pineapple chunks, drained and juice reserved
1 tsp ginger
1 Tbls soy sauce
1 Tbls corn starch
1 tsp honey (optional)
coarse ground pepper

hot rice

Chop peppers and onions, set aside. In skillet heat 2 tsp oil (olive or canola) and saute veggies 3-4 minutes, so they are still crisp. Add chicken, ginger, soy sauce, and pineapple chunks. Heat through, breaking up chicken with a spoon. Stir corn starch and honey into pineapple juice until dissolved; add to skillet and stir until thickened. Serve over rice.