Apron Strings http://www.apronstringsblog.com Mon, 06 Jul 2015 19:36:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas with Maple Miso Vinaigrette http://www.apronstringsblog.com/mushrooms-and-sugar-snap-peas-with-maple-miso-vinaigrette/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/mushrooms-and-sugar-snap-peas-with-maple-miso-vinaigrette/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 19:36:52 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=8192

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Sauteed Snap Peas and Mushrooms

Don’t you just love farmer’s markets? I love strolling around the tables piled high with produce.  I love seeing the faces of the people who grew the food. I love how fresh and good everything tastes. I love the idea of going with no shopping list and just picking out whatever looks yummy.

Last week I came home with my arms full of snap peas. I love the sweetness and crunch of these babies, and so I decided to do a saute to balance them with more earthy ingredients. Mushroom came to mind, and I had some white miso paste in my fridge that was just screaming out “Pick me! Pick me!” like a kid suited up and ready to run out on the field. Just so you know, this miso vinaigrette is so yummy you will want to drink it with a straw. The earthiness of the miso is perfect with rich sweet maple syrup. And this coats the peas with a shiny coat of deliciousness.

This quick saute is ready in just minutes and looks great on the plate next to your most recent BBQ’ed entree.

Happy Farmer’s Market season, everyone!

Farmer's Market Saute: Mushrooms and Sugar Snap Peas with Miso Vinaigrette
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
When you find crunchy fresh sugar snap peas at the farmer's market, this delicious sauce is inevitable!
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ teaspoon chili flakes
  • 8 ounces sugar snap peas, ends and string removed
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, in ¼ inch slices
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sesame seeds for garnish
  • Miso Vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  1. Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add oil, chili flakes and peas and sauce for about 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauce another 3 minutes.Add in garlic and cook another minute.
  2. Whisk together the Miso Vinaigrette and stir into skillet. Cook for a few minutes until most of liquid has evaporated and sauce clings to vegetables.
  3. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.


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Firecracker Fruit Skewers http://www.apronstringsblog.com/firecracker-fruit-skewers/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/firecracker-fruit-skewers/#respond Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:12:57 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9202

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Firecracker Fruit Skewers

Fruit kebabs made with watermelon, jicama and blueberries make a festive holiday appetizer. Just in time for the Fourth of July. Just cut watermelon and jicama into small circles with cookie cutters and then hold together with skewers and a few blueberries. Oh, and spread a little blueberry jam on the serving platter. Instant festiveness!

Yes, I know. Cute food is frowned upon by many in the food world. But in my defense I must say that there are some holidays that just cry out for fun food. Take the Fourth of July for example. A holiday that has parades, fireworks and watermelon seed spitting contests really should have festive food, I say.

Fruit appetizers

And these little festive appetizers come together in just minutes. Even tiny kids can help make these. (Shameless grandchild bragging ahead) Like my BFF and darling granddaughter, Ruby, dressed in holiday attire below. I know. You’re welcome.

Ruby Fourth of JulyWe are no strangers here at Apron Stings to festive food, and so we continue the tradition of Fun on the Fourth.

Last year we did Flag Skewers with Easy Lemon Curd.

Fruit Skewers 3And, remember those easy festive Red White and Blueberry Cookie Tarts?

Berry cookies

We wish you water balloons, sparklers and all things festive for fun on the fourth!

— posted by Donna

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Greek Salad Cucumber Boats http://www.apronstringsblog.com/greek-salad-cucumber-boats/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/greek-salad-cucumber-boats/#respond Sat, 27 Jun 2015 16:32:55 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9104

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Greek salad cucumber boatsImagine yourself on a deck after sundown waiting for your dinner to finish grilling. You are surrounded by friends and family who are celebrating – not any special occasion, but just celebrating life. Now add these pretty, tasty little cucumber boats filled with an easy chopped Greek salad.

Now it’s the perfect summer dinner, right?

Whether you use the traditional fork and plate method or your stroll on the deck with one of these in your right hand and a cool summery drink in the other, these little salads boats will make any summer dinner much more festive. These come together in just minutes, and are a perfect Fun Food bite!

Happy summer, all!

Greek Salad Cucumber Boats
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6 servings
  • 2 large English cucumbers ( 12 inches or more each)
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1 block (4 ounces) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
  • ½ cup pitted Greek olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons diced parsley leaves
  • For vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon feta cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper
  1. Cut cucumbers into 4 inch pieces, and then cut each piece in half down the center. Scoop out center of each cucumber piece with a spoon, leaving room to fill.
  2. Blend the vinaigrette ingredients together.
  3. Toss the tomatoes, feta chunks, olives and parsley with the vinaigrette. Spoon into the prepared cucumber boats. Serve immediately.

Other creative spins on Greek salad:

Greek Salad in Spaghetti Squash Bowls, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Grilled Zucchini Greek Salad, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Brown Rice Greek Salad, The Lemon Bowl
Spiralized Cucumber Greek Salad, Skinny Taste
Cauliflower Couscous Greek Salad, Vintage Mixer


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Pinto Bean and Charred Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette http://www.apronstringsblog.com/pinto-bean-and-charred-corn-salad-with-cilantro-vinaigrette/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/pinto-bean-and-charred-corn-salad-with-cilantro-vinaigrette/#respond Wed, 24 Jun 2015 01:35:58 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9136

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Pinto Bean Corn Salad

If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making baked beans (and heating up your kitchen), this cold charred corn and pinto bean salad is a fresh take on a bean side dish. This keeps really well, and we have taken it on a few picnics already this summer. Highly recommend!

Just char some ears of corn the next time you have your grill heated – and char the corn, remove it from the cobs and then let it chill. You can add fresh veggies that you have on hand – I used some baby cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.

Here’s a fun tip: if you buy pinto beans in a flavorful sauce, just drain but do NOT rinse them. This will give extra flavor to your salad, and no need for salt – the beans will be flavorful and salty. I used Ranch Style Beans – perfect for this salad!

As for the cilantro vinaigrette, I was inspired by the Cilantro Vinaigrette from Dara of Cookin Canuck. This dressing is a keeper – creamy and herby tasting with just a hint of heat!

Happy Summer dining all!

Pinto Bean and Charred Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • I can (15 ounces) ranch style pinto beans, drained
  • 2 ears of corn, brush with a little oil
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces queso fresco cheese, cut into small cubes
  • 2 cups cucumber slices
  • Small bunch of mint or cilantro leaves
  • For cilantro vinaigrette:
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Dash of lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce
  1. Toss all ingredients for salad together and chill for one hour.
  2. Blend vinaigrette ingredients together and toss with chilled salad.

Other pinto bean salads of note:

Pinto Bean Salad, Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pinto Bean and Peppers Salad, Aggie’s Kitchen
Pinto Bean Edamame Salad, Foodness Gracious

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Red White and Blueberry Dessert Waffle Stacks – and the Sweet Secret to Crispy, Crunchy Waffles http://www.apronstringsblog.com/red-white-and-blueberry-dessert-waffle-stacks-secret-to-dessert-waffles/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/red-white-and-blueberry-dessert-waffle-stacks-secret-to-dessert-waffles/#respond Thu, 18 Jun 2015 21:10:07 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9164

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Waffle Stacks

Waffle stacks – for dessert or breakfast? You decide!

A great way to start the day on the Fourth of July. But then again, a great way to END the day on the Fourth of July.

In the Pancakes vs. Waffles debate, I stand firmly on the side of waffles. I mean, C’mon, all that crispy goodness of the waffle surfaces,  just empty little squares waiting to be filled with butter and syrup. What’s better than that???

I have recently been making dessert waffles. There is one trick to making them with the perfect crispy crunch on the outside: sugar.  Yes, just plain old regular sugar. You just sprinkle a tiny bit on the surface of your waffle iron right before spooning in the batter and – my oh my! – this adds the perfect sweet crust! Trust me on this one and just try it! Turns waffles into sweet crispy desserts!

Red White and Blueberry Dessert Waffles Stacks
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Dessert or Breakfast? You decide!
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Additional sugar for sprinkling on waffle iron
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
  • 2 cups blueberries
  • ¼ cup blueberry jam
  • Whipped cream (as much as desired!)
  1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Whisk together the milk, eggs, butter and almond extract. Combine the wet and dry ingredients with minimal stirring.
  2. Blend in blender the strawberries and strawberry jam. Blend together the blueberries and blueberry jam.
  3. When ready to pour into a waffle iron, sprinkle a little sugar on surface of waffle iron. Then ladle in the waffle batter and cook to desired color and texture.
  4. Layer the waffles with whipped cream, strawberry mixture and blueberry mixture.

Other bloggers do dessert waffles:

Chocolate Raspberry Waffles, Lovely Little Kitchen
Sweet Potato Dessert Waffles, Ally’s Kitchen
Chocolate Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches, Dessert for Two

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No Cook Peaches and Cream Tart http://www.apronstringsblog.com/no-cook-peaches-and-cream-tart/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/no-cook-peaches-and-cream-tart/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 22:28:59 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9134

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Peaches and Cream Tart

Peaches and Cream. In our society, this phrase has come to mean wonderful, delicious and delightful, as in “it was all peaches and cream.” Also shortened to “it was just peachy!”

I couldn’t agree more that all things peach symbolize things most delightful in this world.

I can hardly wait until peaches are in season each year. I walk through the produce section of the grocery store just to whiff peaches again and again.

This peaches and cream tart takes just minutes to put together and no baking or cooking of any kind. I don’t know why I never thought of using coconut cookies for the crust. After all, graham crackers mAke a fabulous crust. Just whirl coconut macaroons in a food processor and drizzle in some butter and you’re done!

It is cool, creamy and has just the perfect touch of sweetness. I will be making it again and again this summer!

Peach tart

No Cook Peaches and Cream Tart
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 6 to 8 servings
  • For the crust:
  • 8 ounces coconut macaroons
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • For the Filling:
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar (or other alternative sweetener)
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 to 5 cold fresh peaches or nectarines
  1. Whirl in the food processor the macaroons until very small bits. Slowly stream in the butter until the mixture clumps together. Press into a 10 inch tart pan r spring form pan. Chill in refrigerator while making the filling.
  2. Whip the cream to soft peaks and set aside. With a mixer on high speed, whip the cream cheese, sugar or sweetener, almond extract and lemon juice until fluffy. Spread on top of coconut crust and chill for 2 hours, up to overnight.
  3. Slice peaches and spread on top.

Other bloggers’ adventures with peaches:

5 Minute Peaches and Cream Frozen Yogurt, Just a Taste
Deep Fried Peaches, Oh Sweet Basil
Peaches and Cream Ice Cream, Chocolate Moosey

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Fajita Style Hot Dogs http://www.apronstringsblog.com/fajita-style-hot-dogs/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/fajita-style-hot-dogs/#respond Fri, 12 Jun 2015 18:36:40 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9157

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fajita hot dogs

Two dishes collide in this bun: fajitas and hot dogs. AKA my new favorite hot dog.

When summer hits, I crave hot dogs. I like them slathered with mustard and a little sauerkraut. My new favorite dog is Applegate uncured organic beef dogs – they are nitrate-free,  low-sodium and low-fat. Better yet, they are YUM.

These Fajita Dogs are such a great combination of flavors and textures. Who doesn’t love grilled onions and peppers? I slathered the buns with a little refried beans on one side – just to make them more fajita-like – and the other side with mustard.

My sister is my inspiration for these dogs. She makes a fabulous Bacon Wrapped Sonoran Dog and her Green Chile Cheese Dog is to die for.

Fajita Style Hot Dogs
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Southwest
Serves: 8 servings
  • 1 each red, green and yellow bell peppers
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) refried beans
  • ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons salsa
  • 8 hot dogs
  • Mustard
  • 8 hot dog buns
  1. Cut bell peppers into strips lengthwise, discarding seeds and pulp. Cut onion into strips from pole to pole. Toss all peppers and onions in oil. Grill on a hot grill until lightly charred.
  2. Grill hot dogs until lightly charred.
  3. In a small sauce pan, stir together the beans, cheese and salsa. Heat until warmed through and cheese is melted.
  4. Spread the bean mixture on one side of the buns. Spread mustard on the other side of the buns. Pile into buns one hot dog and some peppers and onions.
  5. Serve immediately.


Other southwest spins on Hot Dogs:

Columbian Hot Dogs, My Columbian Recipes
Chorizo Dogs, Laylita’s Recipes
Green Chile Mole Dogs, A Spicy Perspective
Jalapeno Pepper Hot Dogs, Shared Appetite
7 Layer Dip Hot Dogs, Oh Sweet Basil

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Egg in the Hole Stacked Enchiladas with Guajillo Sauce http://www.apronstringsblog.com/egg-in-the-hole-stacked-enchiladas-with-guajillo-sauce/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/egg-in-the-hole-stacked-enchiladas-with-guajillo-sauce/#respond Thu, 11 Jun 2015 20:55:46 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9138

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Egg Stacked Enchiladas

Enchiladas are the favorite dish of my favorite male on this planet: my husband. If you ask him his favorite thing for breakfast, lunch or dinner, 99 out of 100 times he will say enchiladas.

That’s why I will be making these for Father’s Day breakfast this year. No other present necessary.

Stacked enchiladas are the way to go if you’re looking for less time and mess – no rolling required. All you do is layer the tortillas, cheese mixture and sauce and bake.

This guajillo sauce is my very favorite red enchilada sauce of all time. It is packed with flavor but has very little heat, just a kick of heat to spice things up. Just the way I like my dishes – enough heat to make things interesting, but not enough to blast your taste buds. I want to taste the dish, not just be overwhelmed with heat. It is very Old School Mexican, but so easy.

This dish takes me back to our “starving student” days – when I was a law student and The Hubs was a young newspaper editor. In the late 1970’s, not too many people had microwave ovens, but we did. Neighbors would stop by just to OOOh and AAAh at how fast the microwave cooked things. Never mind that we exploded our share of food – including eggs in their shells. And yes, there was the time we cooked a piece of meat for 2 hours in the microwave. Let’s just say it resembled a brick in more ways than the color. So, we made stacked enchiladas. A lot. Once or twice a week. They were cheap, easy and so perfect for the microwave oven that made us the envy of our friends.

I love the addition of eggs to this enchilada recipe. Eggs are a traditional addition to enchiladas, so are perfect for Breakfast Stacked Enchiladas. It is a perfect way to start the day – especially on Father’s Day!


Egg Stacked Enchiladas

Egg in the Hole Stacked Enchiladas with Guajillo Sauce
  • Egg in the Hole Stacked Enchiladas with Guajillo Enchilada Sauce
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 ounces dried guajillo peppers, stem and seeds removed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, diced (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper sauce
  • For the enchiladas:
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 4 large kale leaves, stems removed
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
  • 8 ounces medium Cheddar cheese
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • For the garnish:
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup oyster crackers
  • Peanut oil for frying
  1. Heat a medium skillet to high heat. Add peppers to dry skillet and toast for a minute or two on each side of peppers, until browned and fragrant. Add broth and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let sit for 30 minutes, up to overnight.
  2. Pour peppers and broth into a blender. Wipe out skillet and heat to medium high heat. Add butter, salt, pepper and onions and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add skillet mixture to blender. Blend the peppers and onion mixture until very smooth.
  3. Return the blender mixture to skillet and whisk in the tomato paste, soy sauce and cayenne pepper sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cut bacon into thin matchstick pieces. Cook bacon in a skillet until browned. Pulse the kale in a food processor until small bits. Add kale to skillet and cook until softened. Let skillet mixture cool. Toss in green onions and cheese.
  5. With a 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut a hole in the center of each tortilla. In a small skillet, sauté the corn tortillas in butter on both sides until pliable, but not crisp. Spoon a little warm sauce into four oven safe round dishes that are the width of the corn tortillas. Place a corn tortilla on top of sauce. Spoon a layer of warm sauce on top of corn tortilla. Sprinkle generously with a layer of cheese mixture. Repeat two times, for a total of 3 corn tortillas in each dish. Crack an egg into the center of each dish. Microwave each dish for 90 seconds. Check doneness of eggs and continue to microwave each dish for 20 seconds at a time, until egg whites are done, but yolks are soft.
  6. Place oyster cracks in a zip top bag and smash to very fine crumbs. Heat a small saucepan with the peanut oil to medium heat, 350 degrees. Cut jalapenos into round slices. Dip the slices into the buttermilk and then coat with the oyster cracker crumbs. Fry the jalapeno rings in batches until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Use for a garnish on the enchiladas.

Other blogger do southwest breakfasts:

Huevos El Diablo, Everyday Southwest
Egg Enchiladas in Pipian
, Closet Cooking
Breakfast Enchiladas, Cocina de Leslie
Huevos Rancheros Enchiladas, Ambitious Kitchen

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Frothy Chilled Cucumber Soup http://www.apronstringsblog.com/frothy-chilled-cucumber-soup/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/frothy-chilled-cucumber-soup/#respond Tue, 09 Jun 2015 22:25:28 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9101

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Chilled Cucumber Soup

I have to admit that I ma late to the cucumber party. I once disliked them – something about the weird texture of the seeds and gel in the middle, I guess. Also, they just seemed like so much work for very little flavor.

But my taste buds have changed over the years. I now appreciate subtle flavors. And I have to say that foods that are in season are foods that I crave – they just seem so, well, right.

Take cucumbers in the summer time. Just the right freshness and cool subtle flavor. And I have learned to just scoop our the seedds and gel in the middle and then the crunch is refreshing and lovely, really.

This cucumber soup is one of my summer recipes. I love the frothiness of the texture. And the flavor – well it just screams “SUMMER!” to me!

If you chill all your ingredients first, this soup only takes minutes to whip up.

Happy Summer, Everyone!

Frothy Chilled Cucumber Soup
Prep time
Total time
If you start with cold ingredients, you can skip the chilling in the fridge - making this a 10 minute recipe.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4 to 6 servings
  • 16 ounces cold English cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 thinly sliced cold green onion
  • 2 tablespoons cold lime juice
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 cup cold plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For garnishes:
  • Halved grape tomatoes
  • Chopped avocados
  • Cilantro or parsley leaves
  • Feta cheese, cubed
  1. Place all ingredients except garnishes in a blender and blend until frothy, about 2 minutes.
  2. Taste and add additional salt as desired.
  3. Serve with garnishes spooned on top.

Other noteworthy liquid cukes:

Cucumber Buttermilk Soup, Cafe Johnsonia
Cold Cucumber Soup, Jeanette’s Healthy Living

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Three Secrets to Perfect Potato Salad (and Our Potato Salad Moment) http://www.apronstringsblog.com/three-secrets-to-perfect-potato-salad/ http://www.apronstringsblog.com/three-secrets-to-perfect-potato-salad/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2015 14:45:27 +0000 http://www.apronstringsblog.com/?p=9089

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Perfect Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of those iconic dishes with every family having their unique spin. No matter how delicious, how creamy, how flavorful the salad is, you will never enjoy it unless it tastes like the potato salad your mom/grandpa/auntie made for you while you were growing up.

But there are three things – let’s call them three “secrets” – that will take any potato salad any style from good to WOW!

I’ll get to these three things in just a moment. But first, I just have to share with you my greatest potato salad moment ever. And, Yes, I do have a “potato salad moment.”

Here it is.

In the summer of 2000, I had packed my Mom Van to the ceiling with inner tubes, air rafts, towels, picnic baskets and then headed out for the day’s anticipated adventures. Lost Lake, a magazine worthy pristine lake in the foothills of majestic Mount Hood in Oregon was a favorite of the Kelly family. Breathtaking views abound, including the Matterhorn-ish Mount Hood reflecting in the clear blue lake waters. There are huckleberries aplenty for the picking, easy lakeside hikes, people-friendly chipmunks scurrying at your feet begging for crumbs. Usually I happily smiled at the thought of the fun-filled day that stretched out ahead of me.

But today my heart was racing because my newly rediscovered, all-grown-up daughter Anne was among the precious Mom Van cargo.

My birth daughter Anne, born in 1972, and I had been secretly reunited for almost a year. On this Lost Lake day, Anne joined her first Kelly family outing.

Looking back, my anxiety was sort of silly. I fretted over everything. Would she like us? Would the four Kelly kids behave? Would there just be awkward stares across the picnic table? And the food. My biggest worry was the food. Nowhere was that more apparent than in my fretting over that seemingly benign picnic staple: the potato salad.

What if she hated my version of potato salad? What if her mom made it with more mustard? I should have used fresh dill! I should have asked her if she likes boiled eggs! Does she like sweet or dill pickles? If I am her mom, why-oh-why didn’t I know these things about her?

My family had been making our potato salad the same way for years: chunks of potatoes, creamy mayo-based dressing, dill pickles, hard boiled eggs. But what about Anne’s family? Did they like their potato salad sweet or vinegar-y? Celery or no? Flecks of red pepper? Onion tang or without?

Back then, I didn’t know how to approach issues such as the Family Potato Salad. There are no rule books to consult for reuniting with your long-absent biological child. No potato salad etiquette. No Emily Post to consult.

As we unpacked the Mom Van, I resigned myself to making the best of things and apologizing profusely as needed.

It started out to be a lovely day. Anne joined in with the Kelly kids. They all skipped around, arms linked, singing their mountain songs repertoire. Valder-ie! Valder-a! Valdera-ha-ha-ha! They floated and splashed. They chased chipmunks and gathered tadpoles. We all hiked around the whole lake.

When it came time to eat, Anne shared with us her vegan hot dogs, unappealingly named “Tofu Pups.” My sweet son Jake’s words were: “You can hardly tell the difference!” But the choking sound he made spoke volumes. He clearly just wanted to make his newly discovered sister fell loved, accepted, part of us. But then the dreaded moment came: the potato salad tasting.

It turns out I need not have worried. I later would come to know my rediscovered daughter Anne as a gracious and generous soul. But for that moment, I gratefully absorbed her “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” over my potato salad. She even miraculously ate seconds.

And then, of course, I cried. Tears of joy, to be sure, but mostly tears of relief.

She liked my potato salad. She liked us. She liked me. Everything was going to be all right.

So, I will never eat a bite of potato salad in my life without being back in that glorious day in the summer of 2000, when my rediscovered daughter Anne, now my co-blogger, joined our family.

And now back to the three secrets.

SECRET ONE. You must place bite-sized chunks of potato in salted water and boil until fork tender and then you must drain and spread those chunks out on a baking sheet or large cutting board. This will let the steam escape and the chunks will dry out and be perfectly light and dry. They will have a perfect texture and will not be soggy or gummy like they would if you leave them in the cooking pot to cool.

SECRET TWO. You must chill the cooled potato chunks and all ingredients except the dressing in the fridge for at least four hours, up to overnight. This lets the flavors blend and readies the salad for the dressing.

SECRET THREE. You must mix the dressing and chill it SEPARATELY in the fridge. You must then stir it into the salad right before serving. This technique insures that the potatoes will stay light and fluffy and the dressing will stay separate and not get absorbed. This makes for a perfect creamy potato salad.

potato chunks cooling

Chunks of cooked potatoes spread on a baking sheet to cool – allowing steam to escape.

potatoe salad chilling

Chill potato mixture withOUT the dressing to ensure the perfect potato salad texture.

Three Secrets to Perfect Potato Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A no fail version of the iconic All American picnic dish.
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12 servings
  • 5 pounds Russet potatoes
  • 6 large eggs, hard boiled
  • 3 stalks celery, with leaves, diced
  • ½ cup diced dill pickles
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup minced fresh dill
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 packet (1 ounce) Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
  • ½ cup dill pickle juice (from a jar of dill pickles)
  1. Peel potatoes and cut into 2 inch chunks. Place in a pot of well salted water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until potato chunks are fork tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain off water and then spread the cooked potato chunks on a baking sheet or large cutting board. Let the steam escape, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are dried.
  3. Place potatoes in a large serving bowl. Peel and dice the eggs. Stir into the potatoes the eggs, celery, diced pickles, green onions and dill. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours, up to 24 hours.
  4. Mix together the mayonnaise, ranch mix and pickle juice. Toss with the chilled potatoes mixture right before serving. Sprinkle with paprika for a traditional presentation

Other family heirloom potato salads:

Best Potato Salad, Foodie Crush
Potato Salad, Inspired Taste
Best Ever Potato Salad, Brown Eyed Baker

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