25 Days of Holiday Goodies Day 25: Mom’s Potato Salad

25 Days of Christmas Goodies Button

Merry Christmas!  I have a special Christmas gift for you on the culminating day of the 25 Days of Holiday Goodies.  I made my mom dictate her potato salad recipe!

One of Josh’s favorite dishes that my mom makes is potato salad.  For him, it was love at first bite.  I have never attempted her potato salad.  Just as with my family-famous beans, her potato salad recipe is not written down…until today!  They always have to be served in the “potato bowl,” an avocado oval Corning dish from the 70s.  Yes, for those of you familiar with a certain Corner Gas episode of the same name, the potato bowl is THAT important.

Mom’s Potato Salad

4-5 potatoes


1/2-1 yellow onion, diced

3 heaping tablespoons sweet pickle relish (she uses Vlassic currently because we buy the gallon jar of it at Sam’s and split it)

1-2 eggs, boiled, peeled, and mashed

1/4-1/3 cup mayonnaise (she uses Kraft)

1 tablespoon mustard

pepper to taste

a bit of paprika, sprinkled over the top

Peel and dice the potatoes.  Boil them in salted water until fork tender (just before mashing consistency is how it has always tasted).  Drain the potatoes and put them in the “potato bowl.”  (See above)  Gently stir in the remaining ingredients, making sure to leave the potatoes mostly intact.  Check the seasonings and add more salt and pepper, if necessary.  Refrigerate several hours until serving.

Most recently, we had this dish last night at the Christmas Eve present opening at my parents’ house.


Mom's Potato Salad

Potato salad isn’t exactly Muffin Approved.  I think it has something to do with the onion.  He likes everything else in the mix.


Family Heirloom Recipes: Pineapple and Cheese Salad

Family Heirloom Recipes

When I made the Simple Crockpot Chicken and Dumplings, I made one of the old standby sides for the dish in my mom’s family.  That was the pineapple and cheese salad.  This seems to be an acquired taste although growing up I found it to be so elegant.  You layer a few shreds (or leaves) of iceberg lettuce on a salad or dessert plate.  On top of that, you plunk one canned pineapple slice (or two, if you are feeling particularly decadent).  In the crater created by the absence of the pineapple core, you mound a teaspoon or so of mayonnaise (store-bought is fine).  On top of that, you sprinkle some cheddar cheese (the sharper, the better).

I should note that Josh does NOT like this salad.  The other day when I made it, he only wanted a pineapple slice.  I prepared Muffin a pineapple slice with cheese on top of it…and he liked it.

Shortly after my grandmother passed away (five years ago almost), I tried to find the origin of the recipe.  It didn’t appear that any cookbook published it.  Recently, I found a few versions that were close, but not exact.  You can swap out the pineapple for a canned pear half and the cheddar cheese for green-can Parmesan cheese.

Pineapple and Cheese Salad

From the Creative Minds of My Maternal Ancestors

For each salad:

2-3 leaves of iceberg lettuce (or several shreds of iceberg lettuce), arranged attractively on a dessert plate

1-2 canned pineapple slices (or canned pear halves)

1-3 teaspoons mayonnaise

1-3 tablespoons grated sharp cheddar cheese (or 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese)

On the bed of lettuce, arrange the pineapple slices.  Fill the core cavity of the pineapple slice with mayonnaise.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Serve as an appetizer salad alongside other comfort family heirloom recipes.

Since Muffin ate a kid-friendly version of the salad, I consider this one Muffin Approved.

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite family heirloom recipe?

Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge: Chef Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Please Don't Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge

Muffin has been doing better eating salads lately.  Before a few weeks ago, he would say that he didn’t “yike” (like) “sayad” (salad)…meaning lettuce.  He loves some of the other components of salad, especially main dish salads, like meat…and cucumbers…and cheese…and tomatoes.  Recently, though, he has started stealing lettuce leaves off of anyone’s plate…his dad’s…my dad’s…mine…and munching.  Josh and I are definitely going through a salad phase…especially on days when it seems to hot and muggy for anything else, like yesterday.

I was super jazzed when I found a recipe for honey mustard dressing recently on Life in the Lofthouse.  Josh loves honey mustard dressing, but my few attempts at making it have been…well…let’s just say epic fail doesn’t quite cover it.  This recipe was really smooth, creamy, and delish!  (Plus, the chef salad that she photographed to put it on was beautiful.)

Of course, I had to change it up.  (Yes, I hear you groaning and grumbling)  First of all, hard boiled egg doesn’t seem in the spirit of the challenge.  And I don’t really have much luck hard boiling eggs.  And they kind of freak me out unless they are deviled or smooshed up really fine in cornbread dressing or salads.  As in…don’t let me see chunks or slices.  Let’s just chalk it up to a REALLY bad school cafeteria tuna salad experience (where they left very identifiable slices of hard boiled egg in).  And the grape tomatoes I binge purchased are starting to go a bit south.  And I had English cucumber.  And thin sliced ham and turkey (although I did purchase the correct varieties).  So, I apologize that mine is not as picture perfect.

On the honey mustard front, I did not have any poppy seed dressing (or, if I do, it is somewhere in the bowels of the fridge), but when you leave it out, it makes it more traditionally honey mustard.  It’s just not as picturesque as Life in the Lofthouse’s version.

By the way, this recipe was so Muffin Approved.  When Josh and I were finished eating, he was still munching away.  We served his dressing on the side so that he could dip.

Here’s my version of the events.

Chef Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Adapted from Life in the Lofthouse

1/4 pound honey ham, sliced and then diced

1/4 pound oven-roasted turkey breast, sliced then diced

1 English cucumber, sliced in thin slices

1 head Romaine lettuce, ribs removed from leaves and then leaves shredded

1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded (don’t use pre-shredded)

Arrange attractively on plates.  Drizzle with honey mustard dressing.

Honey Mustard Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard

5 tablespoons honey

Whisk together mayonnaise and mustard until creamy.  Drizzle honey over mixture and whisk again to blend.  Serve over salad or as a dip for chicken fingers.

Muffin Approved

Meal Plan Monday: A New Chipotle-Inspired Twist on an Old Fave

Meal Plan Monday

The recipe I’m most excited about is the tacos using the leftovers carnitas that were Chipotle-inspired from Better in Bulk.  Sometimes it’s important to change up old favorites so that they don’t become boring.  Another twist we are making is to make Pizza Grilled Cheese (using the electric skillet outside).  Sometimes one has to make adaptations to meet the needs of the Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge.

Yes, the challenge still continues.  I’m planning to post a menu of already tried-and-true faves for the challenge the week that we are in “Oh, Canada!”

By the way, I’m not sure how nailed in stone Saturday’s menu plan is.  Muffin is going to the birthday party of one of Josh’s coworker’s grandsons, so Saturday is a-whatever-happens-happens day.

Saturday:  Pizza Pasta Salad adapted from Pocket Change Gourmet

Sunday:  Memphis BBQ Chopped Salad adapted from Kraft Recipes

Monday:  Crock Pot “Pork” Tips and Gravy adapted from Country Cook

Tuesday:  tacos made from leftover carnitas

Wednesday:  Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings from The Slow Roasted Italian

Thursday:  Slow Cooker Hawaiian Chicken (or possibly pork if there is any left over of the tenderloin tips from Monday) from New Leaf Wellness

Friday:  Pizza Grilled Cheese from Forkful of Comfort with corn

Saturday:  grilled burgers

Sunday:  Father’s Day at Olive Garden (Josh’s choice)

As usual, I will be linking up at OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

What’s on your meal plan this week?

Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge: Memphis BBQ Chopped Salad

Please Don't Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge

I realize now that I was really pushing it Muffin-wise with two salad nights in a row (even though last night was a pasta salad).  He actually did eat the chicken, the cheese, and the cucumbers from the salad, so I consider it a success.  Plus, he liked the dressing.  With this salad the time cruncher is the chopping of the salad ingredients.  This is not an after-work recipe.  This is a chop-it-all-the-night-before-so-it-can-be-assembled-after-work salad.

But…it didn’t heat up the kitchen, so it’s a win.

I, of course, didn’t follow the recipe exactly.  I used Stubb’s sticky sweet barbecue sauce instead of Bull’s Eye Memphis sauce.  I used a regular cucumber instead of an English one.  I used grape tomatoes instead of cherry, and store-brand shredded cheddar for the cheese.  Since I had planned-overs for the barbecue chicken Josh grilled the other day, I used some of that in the salad.  And I arranged the salad Cobb-style in rows like I did Josh’s the other day, rather than layering it.  Much nicer presentation for smaller amounts.  Maybe if I were serving it at a potluck or a cookout, I would layer it.

Memphis BBQ Chopped Salad

Adapted from Kraft Recipes

1/4 cup Stubb’s Sticky Sweet BBQ sauce

1/4 cup Kraft Homestyle Ranch Dressing

6 cups chopped iceberg lettuce (about 1/2 head)

4 green onions, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, sliced thinly (I peeled stripes off so it had a neat dashed effect on the circumference of each slice)

2 cups grape tomatoes, halved

2 cups frozen corn, thawed, drained

1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 1/2 cups diced barbecued chicken

Mix together barbecue sauce and ranch dressing.

On each plate, lay down a bed of lettuce.  For Muffin, it was a thin layer.  For me, it was a thicker layer.  For Josh, I lay a nice thick bed.  Arrange the toppings decoratively on the bed of lettuce (I did rows mostly, like Cobb Salad).  Drizzle with dressing.  Enjoy!

I should also note that after dinner Muffin harvested two tomatoes from the garden…one a Roma and the other is an underdeveloped beefsteak.

Here are some more shots of the chopped parts:

This recipe was Muffin Approved!

Muffin Approved

What is your favorite salad?

Please Don’t Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge: Pizza Pasta Salad

Please Don't Heat Up the Kitchen New Recipe Challenge

Guess who helped make supper for tonight this morning?  Muffin loves to slice olives (and sample them) with his special plastic knife.  He was fascinated by the fact that supper had to be refrigerated or “frozen,” as he called it.

Muffin also helped to measure out the Parmesan cheese and sample the pasta, the mozzarella cubes, and the pepperoni.  At 9 a.m. this recipe was Muffin Approved.  Josh “mmmmmmmmm”‘ed when he first tasted it…in a good way.  He did note, however, that it would be great as a side for grilled stuff, which is what the original posters intended.  I like all varieties of zesty rotini pasta salad, so I loved it.

We ate it as a main dish (and Muffin added orange wedges, as he begged and pleaded for an orange right before dinner).  All in all, it was a success!

But…as I mentioned in my Cent Saving Saturday post, I definitely changed it up a bit.  If you follow the original post, you will see the changes I made.

Pizza Pasta Salad

Adapted from Pocket Change Gourmet

1 package uncooked rotini pasta (My package was 12 ounces)

1-2 cups sun-dried tomato vinaigrette (I used about a cup and a third–the rest of the bottle from the meatballs)

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1 green bell pepper, diced

42 slices pepperoni halved

8 ounces mozzarella, cubed (into very small cubes…think dice)

1/2 cup green onion, sliced

1/2 cup black olives, sliced by Muffin

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon “seasoning blend” (an equal mix of garlic salt, dried sweet basil, dried oregano, dried parsley)

1.  Cook and drain pasta.  Rinse with cold water.

2.  In a 3-4 quart bowl (with plenty of room for mixing), toss in ingredients (except for dressing).  Stir the ingredients together.  Pour dressing over and stir again, being careful not to break up the rotini, but making sure all the pasta and yummy bits are coated.

3.  Refrigerate at least two hours.  If you are making this first thing in the morning so that the kitchen isn’t hot all day, then you are definitely making this more than two hours in advance.

Note:  I made four tablespoons of the “seasoning blend” and hope to use it as a passable Italian seasoning substitute.

Muffin Approved

How do you like your pasta salad?

Josh’s Lunch Salad and Playground Stories

This morning Josh wanted me to make him a salad for lunch rather than a chicken salad sandwich.  So, I used some of the spring mix from Sam’s that we had split with my parents, a half carrot from Muffin’s supply of organic carrots, Craisins, some of the grape tomatoes earmarked for the pasta salad this weekend, some celery, some cheese, and sliced Margarita Grilled Chicken.  I really like making him salads for work because I feel that’s the one time I’m really successful at plating.  Salads can be made so attractive and colorful.  This was this morning’s effort.

Also, they are fully customized.  Don’t want almonds.  No problem.  Want grated carrot instead?  Great.  Olives?  Sure.  I really love having salad bars when we entertain (especially my parents and my sister).  It’s also a great use for leftovers.

On another front, I’m going to attempt to return Print Shop.  There seems to be a compatability issue with Windows 8 (and, from what I can tell, most desktop publishing programs).  The upshot is, Josh receives a work discount for Office Professional.  He purchased me Office Professional for Mother’s Day.  Publisher comes with this version of Office, and it seems to do everything that I need that Print Shop did and more.  And it’s compatible with Windows 8.  The photo editing and graphical enhancement above were completed in Publisher.  It doesn’t have an Eye Dropper color picker (that I have found), but Paint has one so I can just use that to find the RGB codes for what I want.

What has Muffin been doing lately?  After the cleaning blitz this weekend (a very tumultuous 36 hours that involved me raising my voice a lot more than I wanted and Muffin standing still not cleaning his room), he finally cleaned his room enough–for now.  And he was able to receive his bribe prize, a trip to our local shopping mall where they have a mini indoor playground.

I’ve grown leery of indoor playgrounds.  Muffin is not a child on medication, and, as such, is rambunctious.  He is not the Stepford Child.  He finds joy in the world around him and lets everyone know about it.  At our local Chick-Fil-A restaurant, an incident happened (not where Muffin hurt someone) where Muffin was pinched hard on the cheeks by another child (hard enough to leave marks even two days after and dangerously close to his eyes) and punched on the chin by the same child.  Extenuating circumstances left me at a loss on how to 1) confront the situation and 2) comfort my child.

I don’t really want to get into those circumstances, but let’s just say, it was not a situation where I felt able to discuss with the parents their child’s behavior.

So, I was understandably uncomfy with the idea of taking him to the mall to the play area.  But I stupidly used that as a prize for him.  When we first arrived (right at the opening of the mall for the day), he was all alone in the play area.  Then, suddenly, there was a massive influx of little bodies (most smaller than Muffin, who is rapidly reaching the height limit for the play area).  He found two other little boys to play with and a girl to protect.  Muffin has a very strong protective instinct.  When he thought she was in danger (she really wasn’t), he caught on to her plight and decided to follow her around and be her knight in shining armor (regardless of how that metaphor raises the hackles for some…it fits in this case).

I realized something very important from these two incidents, something that has many very positive points, but a few negative ones, as well.  Josh and I have raised Muffin to be color blind and really blind of differences that other people would be uncomfortable with.  Both of those are very good things.  I’ve been raised in the South all my life and have seen the ugliness that racism and intolerance have caused…for everyone.  I’ve seen people who were “englightened” and “progressive” turn into some of the most destructively cruel people when confronted with differences.  If I could, I would wrap my son up in a bubble because I don’t want him exposed to that cruelty.

He’s already faced tastes of it, and here is where the negatives of his upbringing come into play.  We’ve focused so much on teaching understanding and friendliness that he has no concept or understanding of exclusion and meanness.  The few times he has witnessed that negativity in a public situation, he becomes first nervous, then confused, and finally frustrated.  How do you teach a four-year-old that not all people are inherently nice?  I’m not talking about “stranger danger”; I’m talking about the people that he will be interacting with daily in the public being rude, cruel, intolerant, and inconsiderate.

But, for now, this is his countenance most of the time.

Have a wonderful day, everyone!