Thursday, September 22, 2016

Montana Carol's Potato Salad

In our travels this summer and fall, we have had the opportunity to reconnect with friends from years past. Since Facebook was not available during the time we were busy raising kids and working, we didn't have contact with a few folks who, for one reason or another, were not in our daily lives anymore. It has been so, so fun to rekindle some old friendships and I am awed that people took time to see us in the middle of their busy lives! Jim and Carol were one wonderful couple who went out of their way to show us the gorgeous area around Missoula, Montana.

Missoula, the home of the University of Montana, has lots of things to do and see. It's rich in history and scenery. One thing I really enjoyed was going to the Saturday morning farmer's market. I had a ball seeing all the varied produce. Later that evening we met up again with Carol and Jim for dinner at their house. Carol had made a really different but absolutely delicious potato salad from stuff she had gotten at the market. It had radishes as well as green onions in it, and it's just too good not to share! I think it would be perfect to pack in an iced down cooler for a tailgate!

Montana Carol's Potato Salad

Ingredients for Eight Servings:

4 medium red skinned potatoes
4 eggs
1/4 cup chopped radishes
1 bunch green onions, roots removed and sliced
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Wash the potatoes, trim off any bad spots, puncture them several times with a fork,  Microwave them five minutes, then turn them over and microwave five more minutes. They should pierce easily with a fork. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then peel off the skin. Chop them into cubes and allow them to fully cool down. (I actually placed them in the freezer for a few minutes to speed up the process)
While the potatoes are cooking in the microwave, hard boil the eggs. Place them in a small pan and cover them with water. Turn the stove on high and set the timer for 20 minutes. Once the pan has reached a boil, turn down the heat just a notch, but leave the timer alone. When the timer goes off, run the eggs under cold water to cool them down. Then peel the shells off while the eggs are still warm. Chop the eggs and allow them to cool completely. (I placed them in the refrigerator.)
Once the potatoes and eggs have cooled,  place them in a serving bowl with the cut up the radishes and sliced green onions. Add the mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, mustard, salt, and pepper. Gently stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Swap a Sandwich for a Power Salad!

Quinoa & Edamame 

Mediterranean Lentil

Black Rice & Chickpea Salad

This past summer we traveled around the western United States in our motor home. I had been to Colorado over 30 years ago and to California in recent years, but in both cases I flew by plane. I really had no idea how breathtaking the terrain of North & South Dakota, Wyoming, and especially Montana is. We tried to hit every major tourist spot in our path and visited the iconic national parks of Theodore Roosevelt, Glacier, and Yellowstone. (For commentary & pics visit Yates RV Adventures) Roy and I would get up in the morning, pack a lunch, jump in the little red jeep we tow, and head out for a day of discovery. After a while, I found myself getting pretty tired of sandwiches. The processed meat we were buying from Walmart and the bread surrounding it probably wasn't too healthy and I felt myself getting a bit more fluffy than I felt comfortable with! A chit chat with my friend Kathy back home gave me the idea of packing a power salad to put in the cooler instead of a sandwich. She was asking about a good dressing to put on quinoa and the three favorites I gave her are in this post. It actually wasn't hard to take one of these power bowls with us while we saw the sights; I just quickly cooked some kind of grain while we were eating breakfast and assembled the salad in the time it took to make a sandwich. As you can see, the variations are endless - the recipe for the ones I've most enjoyed are below.

Start with a grains or legume.

Clock wise from the bottom - black rice, red lentils, black lentils, brown lentils and quinoa.

Perhaps add a canned legume.

Clockwise from the bottom- chick peas, black beans, and cannellini beans

Quinoa and Edamame Salad - Serves Four


1 cup quinoa
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 cucumber, quartered and sliced
2 cups mixed greens such as spinach and arugula, washed and drained
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Rinse and drain in a fine mesh strainer quinoa it is not already pre-washed. Place in pan and cover with 2/3 more water than the level it reaches in the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to let it gently simmer for 20 minutes. It is done when "tail" is visible and it is soft to the bite.All the water should be absorbed but if not, leave it behind when removing from the pan.
Place into bowl and add all the remaining ingredients except the greens and gently toss.
To serve, divide greens among four salad bowls. Evenly spoon quinoa mixture on top of each portion.

Mediterranean Lentil Salad - Serves Four


1 cup lentils
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup diced bell pepper: any combination of green, red, yellow
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 cups spinach leaves, washed and drained
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Using a strainer wash and drain lentils. Pick out anything that doesn't look like a lentil. Place in pan and cover with 2/3 more water than the level it reaches in the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to let it gently simmer for 20 minutes. They are done when soft to bite, but not mushy.
Leaving any extra liquid behind, place in a bowl along with bell pepper and green onions.  Set aside. Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour enough of the resulting dressing over the lentil mixture to coat it well. Divide the spinach leaves between four serving bowls. Spoon the lentils evenly over the spinach and top each serving with two tablespoons of crumbled feta.

Black Rice and Chickpea Salad - Serves Four


1 cup black rice
1 (16 oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 ripe avocado, skin removed and chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half if large
1/2 large cucumber, sliced and quartered
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Place rice in pan and cover with 2/3 more water than the level it reaches in the pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to let it gently simmer for 20 minutes. It is done when soft to bite, but not mushy. Leaving any extra water behind, place rice into bowl and add all the remaining ingredients except the greens and gently toss.
To serve, divide greens among four salad bowls. Evenly spoon rice mixture on top of each portion.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Asian Tostadas

This recipe was born out of a happy problem. Roy's brother's wife's sister's husband (isn't that a hoot to follow?) raises grass fed cattle and we had a freezer full of delicious organic hamburger that we needed to use up, After several rounds of tacos, spaghetti, chili, etc., I needed to think of something else to do with all that delicious beef. So, I crossed over to an Asian verve for something different. I have to confess, I've also made this with ground chicken which Roy says he prefers. However, this is a fast and easy recipe when all that's at hand is a pound of hamburger.

The hardest part to the meat mixture is dicing the carrots and celery. If someone is in the mood to go the extra culinary mile, one thumb sized piece of ginger which has been peeled and diced along with two cloves of minced garlic could be substituted for the garlic and ginger powders. Frying the egg roll wrappers could be ditched for an actual tortilla - or for nothing at all - just enjoy this concoction as a salad!

If anyone tries this out on their family, I would love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment!

Ingredients for Meat to Top Tostadas:

1 pound lean ground beef or chicken
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1 medium sized celery stalk, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (optional)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Ingredients for Salad Underneath Meat Mixture:

4 cups sliced cabbage
1 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 loosely packed chopped cilantro
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Ingredients for Garnishes Above and Below:

4 egg roll wrappers
1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
1 avocado, diced
Extra cilantro sprigs


Place the meat, carrot, celery, and onions in a skillet and brown over medium low heat. Drain off any grease. Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, orange juice, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook over medium low heat for five more minutes.

While the meat is cooking, prepare the cabbage mixture by combining cabbage, cilantro, cucumber, and red onion together in a bowl. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, soy sauce, pepper, and garlic powder. Pour over the cabbage salad and gently toss.

Heat oil in pan over medium high heat. When a tiny piece of the egg roll wrapper sizzles when it is dropped into the pan, the oil is ready. Fry one egg roll wrapper at a time, about two to three minutes a side, or until it becomes light golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

To Assemble:

Place an browned egg roll wrapper on each plate.

Top each egg roll wrapper with a cup of the cabbage salad.

Distribute the meat mixture by evenly dividing the meat mixture between the four plates.

Top with each Asian tostada with 1/4 of the diced avocado and a spring of cilantro.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Spicy Summertime Slaw: Coleslaw with Cilantro & Lime

Summer, with its many opportunities for cookouts and picnics, is definitely the time for coleslaw. Every family seems to have their own special version.  In our family we have several; Caroline loves the classic variety while Adam's favorite has chipotle peppers in it. When we were recently at our little lake cottage, we had the opportunity to share a dinner with extended family. Aunt Lynn has the cottage next door and after a day of having several workmen at our cabin, I really appreciated her offer to have us over. I've been making this recipe all summer and luckily I had the ingredients I needed to throw it together quickly. My sweet niece Laura and her boyfriend Dan grilled up the best batch of buffalo wings I've honestly ever had. This Cilantro Lime Coleslaw went really well with it and Laura even asked for the recipe. This post is for her and anyone else loves cilantro like we do!

Ingredients for Eight Servings:

4 loosely packed cups of sliced or shredded cabbage- green, purple or a combo of both
1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh cilantro
1 large carrot, grated or match stick
2 tablespoons sliced green onion
1/2 jalapeno pepper, membranes and seeds removed, diced
1 lime, squeezed to yield 2 tablespoons juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon marjoram (optional)


Toss the cabbage, cilantro, carrot, onions, and jalapeno together in a bowl.

Whisk together the mayonnaise, lime juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and marjoram (optional) together. Pour over the cabbage mixture and gently stir to mix the dressing in. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Chicken & Waffles Appetizer

A couple of months ago as we were traveling home from Florida, we stopped in Charleston, South Carolina for a few days.  We enjoyed seeing many of the historic sites in the area (visit this post on the RV blog to see where we went!). Of course, I loved the regional food! When I got back home, I needed to bring an appetizer to a gathering but I didn't have much time to put it together. I got a flash of inspiration from my southern food sampling and with the help of convenience food, was able to put together these yummy morsels very, very quickly. All of the ingredients could be made from scratch and if there were, I imagine the results would be spectacular. But I didn't have time to make 10 waffles from scratch of fry up a batch of homemade chicken! Instead I used frozen waffles, boneless chicken wings from the grocery deli, and store bought pimento cheese spread. I have included a recipe for pimento cheese in this post just in case someone was curious, but if pre-made is used, this appetizer is a snap to put together!

Ingredients for 40 Appetizers

10 pre-made frozen waffles such as Eggo brand
Enough popcorn chicken to cut into 40 (1/4 of waffle size) pieces, Tyson brand or from deli
1 1//2 cups pimento cheese spread, recipe below or from local grocery store deli
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon maple syrup

Pimento Cheese Spread

Pimento Cheese Recipe from Cook's Illustrated Magazine - yields three cups

2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 oz.) jar pimentos
1 (8 oz.) package finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) Package regular shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
14 (or less) teaspoon cayenne pepper

With an electric mixer, gently combine all ingredients together just until spreadable.
Use as a sandwich filling or cracker spread.

Procedure for Assembling Chicken & Waffles Appetizer:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. If using pre-made frozen popcorn chicken such as Tyson's, follow the package directions for cooking except cut off five minutes of the baking time. Set aside. If using pre-made chicken from the grocery store deli, just set aside. Line baking sheet with foil. Cut each waffle into fourths and place on baking sheet. Spread each waffle piece with two teaspoons of pimento cheese. Top with a chicken piece and bake for 5 minutes. The cheese spread on the waffles should be melted, bubbly, and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and place on serving platter. Drizzle each appetizer with 1/4 teaspoon of maple syrup and serve.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fruit Tabbouleh

It's the time of the year when every organization, sports team, and club has "The End of the Year Final Celebratory Banquet."  Back when the girls were in high school, I remember how terribly busy we were as we struggled to fit them all into our schedule. This week I attended a last meeting of the year luncheon for the organization I volunteer for. It was held at the same place where Allison had prom, an event center converted from a building that used to be a grocery store. All seemed well during the business meeting portion; everyone admired the crystal chandeliers that hung from the ceiling and commented on the lovely centerpieces in the middle of each table. Then it was time for lunch. The menu on the reservation form had read: "Choice of Chinese Chicken Salad or Caprese Salmon; Hot Rolls and Butter; Oreo Cookie Pie; Iced Tea." One of the ladies at my table asked our server, a college aged guy, for an unsweet tea with lemon. He said, "Sorry, but tea is not on the order for your group." Then someone else said, "We haven't gotten our rolls yet." Once again the poor waiter had to tell us that there weren't going to be any rolls for our group. At this point I asked him, "But you have dessert coming - right?" He looked like he wanted a trap door to open underneath him as he told us there wasn't any dessert "back there". I started laughing and said, "Telling 230 women at a ladies' lunch that there isn't going to be dessert isn't going to go over very well!" At that moment the member in charge of planning the event stood up and spoke over the microphone. She said she was so sorry and felt awful, but the contact person from the facility that she had dealt with was in Las Vegas and communication must have been compromised. We had a good laugh and didn't care at all; it was just wonderful to be together until meetings starting up again in the fall. This experience made me think back on other group gatherings I had been to in the past. For me, the best ones were pitch-ins. Everyone brought their special dish and it was fun to ask for recipes and hear the stories behind them. Of course, the best recipes were the ones that were quick and easy! The salad posted here is a variation of tabbouleh, a traditional middle eastern salad with cucumbers and tomatoes. It's a different alternative to the usual fruit salad and consumes little time to put it together.

Ingredients for Fruit Tabbouleh Salad - Serves 12 at a Pitch-in Celebration

1/2 cup Bulgar (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup boiling water
pinch salt
6 to 8 cups cubed fresh fruit (any kind, even melons if desired)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger root minced
2 tablespoons lime juice


Place the bulgur and salt in a medium sized bowl. Pour boiling water over the bulgur and let it sit for at least 20 minutes while the fruit is being cut up.
Whisk honey, mint, lime juice, and ginger together.
Place fruit and soaked bulgur (discard any water not absorbed) in a large serving bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Store covered in the refrigerator. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Snacks for a Tribal Themed Sip and See

Last week I had the joy of co-hosting my first ever "Sip and See" party. Apparently this is a southern tradition that has become increasingly popular in other parts of the country. It's actually a way to share the joy of a new baby's arrival by having a bunch of friends and family gather together to view the little one. I gather that it's not usually a shower, although it could be if the guests had not attended one before the baby was born. Of course any party has to include some yummy snacks! Since the guest of honor has a tribal themed nursery, we incorporated that idea into the decor and the food served. Pinterest gave us the idea of the skewered fruit arrows. I found a cute little tribal raccoon on an invitation and printed the image off to tape on small wooden sticks which I then stuck in the cupcakes. I made the tepee sandwiches from thin Pepperidge bread, pretzel sticks, and canned aerosol cheese. I just cut the crusts off and cut the sandwiches on the diagonal. Because the filling couldn't be too thick, I opted for homemade ham salad and (a nod to the south) pimento cheese.

Ingredients for Three Cups of Ham Salad:

1 pound cubed, cooked ham
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup pickle relish (dill or sweet)
2 green onions

Using a food processor, "grind" the ham cubes until they resemble coarse sand. Rinse the green onion,  cut the roots off the bottom, and thinly slice. Mix the ground ham, mayonnaise, pickle relish and onion with a spoon until well combined.

Use as a sandwich filling or cracker spread.

Ingredients for Three Cups Pimento Cheese - from Cook's Illustrated Magazine

2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 (4 oz.) jar pimentos
1 (8 oz.) package finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 (8 oz.) Package regular shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
14 (or less) teaspoon cayenne pepper

With an electric mixer, gently combine all ingredients together just until spreadable.

Use as a sandwich filling or cracker spread. 

Ingredients for about 20 Cupcakes (via

1 box good quality Red Velvet cake mix
3 eggs
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted
1 cup water

Ingredients for Cream Cheese Frosting to ice about 20 Cupcakes:

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use an electric mixer for two minutes to combine the cupcake ingredients. Put about 1/4 cup of the batter into each cupcake liner. Bake for 20 minutes. An inserted toothpick should come out clean. Allow to cool before frosting.

To make the frosting, use the electric mixer to whip all the frosting ingredients together until fluffy. 

I was under time pressure when I iced the cupcakes, and the frosting started to get all "crumby". To save the situation, I crumbled a cupcake up and scattered the cake bits over the frosted ones. It camouflaged the disaster! 

For variations on this cupcake recipe, enjoy my Cupcake Celebration post!