Ranch Potato Salad

Hey there– I’m a little picky about potato salad.  I think a lot of people are.  Some people love big chunks of egg or spoonfuls of pickle relish.  And then there’s hot German potato salad.  But to my way of thinking, this potato salad is practically perfect.  Ranch dressing flavors the sauce and bits of bacon and cheddar play against the firm starchiness of the golden potatoes.

My sis Lulu and I spent a morning peeling a mountain of potatoes  (21 pounds!!) to make potato salad for the party for our John and Laurel last weekend.  I think it turned out pretty and delicious!

3 pounds golden yellow potatoes
8 slices of bacon (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2  1/2 tab. dijon mustard
1 oz. package Ranch Dressing Seasoning Mix
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1  1/2 cups grated cheddar
4 green onions, cut in thin slices

Cook the unpeeled potatoes in a large pot of salted water 15 to 20 minutes until a knife slides in easily, but they are still firm.  Pour them potatoes in a strainer to get rid of the water and let them cool completely.  Peel them and cut them into polite little chunks.

While the potatoes are cooking, cook the bacon, cool it and crumble it to little bits.

In a large mixing bowl stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, Ranch seasoning mix, salt, pepper and cheddar.  Add in the potatoes and stir until they are all coated with dressing.

Keep the mixed potato salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve it up– Then fold in the green onion & bacon and set it on the table.  Enjoy!


Celebrating John and Laurel

Hello everyone– This past weekend we celebrated our John and Laurel here in California– They were married in the woods of Wisconsin in August,  so we had a little second party (because you can’t have too many parties!) here at our house for family and friends who couldn’t make it back to the wedding.

There was lots of busy prep going on a couple days ahead– picking up supplies (thanks Lulu & Jenon!), early morning cake decorating,  getting grand-girls all decked out in the “Link’s Camp” shirts! and setting out cupcakes, setting up tables.  (The bride & groom on the cake is from Grandma Lo’s 1949 wedding and has graced many family wedding cakes since!)


Then in came family & friends to congratulate John & Laurel, here with Roni & Bret– Jill & Tim loading up on bratwurst, salads and Wisconsin cheese!, Jobay hanging out at the cupcake table, chatting with friends, Grandma Lo and soon-to-be-mom Andrea, friends & family under the maples trees…



And thanks to my trusty kitchen crew (all 7 of you!) who slaved away all afternoon to make it all go smoothly– And the Gayland for brewing up a keg of Wisconsin Spotted Cow Beer!

Laurel and I ended the weekend with a birthday shopping trip to Homegoods and the requisite stop at Yogurtland.  Thanks for coming out– love you girl of my heart!

Easy Apple Tart

Hello all– When fall rolls around, I’m ready to start baking — with pumpkin and cranberries and apples, lots of apples.  But today the temperature topped off at 97 degrees! In October??! Yikes!!  So I’m just pretending it’s fall– and trying to stay cool.

But just in case it’s turning crisp and fall-ish where you live, here’s a quick and easy apple recipe.  Flakey pastry, tender apples and a sweet glaze.  It’s real fall baking…

1 sheet of puff pastry
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, cut in slices
1 tab. butter, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 or 2 tab. whole milk (0r half & half)

Roll the of puff pastry onto a sheet of parchment.  With a sharp knife, score it 1/2 inch in from the edge.  (Don’t cut all the way through).

In a mixing bowl, stir together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Stir in the prepared apples to coat them completely.

Layer the apples in a pretty way over the crust– inside the scored marking.  Sprinkle any leftover brown sugar in the bowl over the apples.  Then pop the tart into a 350 oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the apples are tender and the crust is golden.

While that’s baking, make the frosting by whisking together the powdered sugar and milk.  Set with 1 tablespoon of milk and add the second if you want the glaze to be thinner.  Drizzle it over the tart when you are ready to serve it up (good hot or cooled).  Enjoy!

Being Known

“The beautiful thing about God is that even though we cannot fully comprehend his love, he fully comprehends us.”       — Morgan Harper-Nichols  (Daily Life Devotional)

It’s true– we all want someone to truly know us, to understand us deeply.

I had a older woman friend in Spain.  She would have us for coffee and spoil our little kids like they were her own grandchildren.  We would walk arm in arm to the plaza for pastries.

And one day in her kitchen, she told me the story of her marriage to her husband.  She had been in love with another young man, but her parents arranged for this marriage.  He had provided well and it had been a fine home for two sons over the years.  But she ended telling me,  “I just wanted someone to know.”

We want someone to know…  The wondrous thing is that there is one who knows us profoundly and loves us fully– it’s an enormous comfort.  So thankful for the love and understanding of God.

Search me, God, and know my heart;”  –Psalm 139:23

photo– Marin headlands hike

Buttery Biscuits

Hi all– Our Laurel flew into town yesterday!!  Hooray!  She makes everything double the fun around here.   So we had the grandparents in for dinner to see their girl– for chicken soup, a peachy salad and these biscuits.

They are a little more work– but there are a couple little magic tricks that make them layered and crispy.  Don’t you love biscuits?? And I’ll bet you have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), frozen
2 cups flour
1 tab. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup cold buttermilk

Take the butter from the freezer and use a larger holes on a box grater to grate the frozen butter.  Scoop it into a bowl and set it back in the freezer

In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Then add in the frozen butter using a pastry blender or 2 forks to mix it to a pebbly mixture.  Stir in the buttermilk until the dough is all cohesive and moist.

Turn the dough out on to a counter dusted with flour and shape it into a rectangle about an inch thick.  Cut the dough in half and stack the two layers.  Cut it in half again and put both halves in a stack again.  Do it a third time.  Reshape the rectangle and cut the dough into twelve squares and set the biscuits onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Then– don’t put them in the oven!!  Set the baking sheet back into the freezer for 10 minutes.

Take the biscuits on the baking sheet directly from the freezer to a 425 degree oven and bake them for 10 to 12 minutes until they are nicely browned.  Serve them hot with still more butter and pretty jam!

And here’s our Laurel with her John just before there Wisconsin wedding this summer.  So glad she’s here!  (and John arrives this evening!)

Carrot Cake with Coconut Pecan Topping

Hello there– It’s Larry’s birthday today!!  I’m 3 months older than him so now he can stop teasing me about my advanced age.  Our parents are coming for dinner– chicken & rice– and we’ll top it off with this hearty cake.  Happy Birthday dear Larry!!


1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup canola oil
1  1/2 cups grated carrot (about 3 carrots)
2 eggs

1/2 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup butter (2/3 of a stick)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut
1 1/2 cups pecan, coarsely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Then mix in the oil, grated carrot and eggs.

Spoon the stiff batter into a 9″ cake pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  And pop it into a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, until a small knife inserted comes out clean.  Let the cake cool.

To make the topping, stir together the milk, 2/3 cup sugar, egg yolks, butter and vanilla in a sauce pan.

Then put the pan over medium heat, bring to a simmer and stir until the mixture thickens (2 or 3 minutes).  the stir in the coconut and pecans.  Let it set a few minutes to cool and then heap it onto the cake.

P.S. This is an OLD post– Larry’s birthday is in August!!  But I saved it and the cake was lovely, so I’m passing it along.  Better late than never!!

Zucchini Gratin

Hi friends– We have a smallish Farmers Market in the next town over– every Thursday.  Not like the lavish markets I hear some you refer too (I mean you Brooklyn & Madison), but OK.  So last week Larry stopped in and brought home a bagful, including the cutest little assortment of squash.

It sort of inspired me to make this zucchini dish I’d been eyeing– although I didn’t really use his squash (ran to the store for actual zucchini!).  It’s a luscious beautiful way to “eat your vegetables!”

1  1/2 pounds zucchini (8 or 9)
garlic salt
1  1/2 cups cheddar, grated*
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp.salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

With a sharp knife thinly slice the zucchini.  Toss the slices in a bowl with a few shakes of garlic salt.  Let it sit for 20 minutes.  Then wrap the zucchini in paper towels and give them a squeeze to take out extra moisture.

In a mixing bowl beat together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.  Stir in just 1/2 cup of the cheese.

Arrange 1/2 of the zucchini in a tart pan (or 9″ square deep baking dish) that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over the stop.

Repeat with the rest of the zucchini and the pour the milk & egg mixture over it all.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Pop the whole thing into a 375 degree over for 40 to 45 minutes until the zucchini is tender when stuck with a fork.  (Watch it in the oven, if it starts to get too brown on top, cover the top with a piece of foil.)  Serve hot from the oven– Delish!!

*I like Colby jack for the color and the way it melts…

And these are the tiny squash Larry brought home from the Farmer’s market– really unrelated, but so cute!