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!

RANCH POTATO SALAD
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!

 

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!”

ZUCCHINI GRATIN
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!

Cheddar Zucchini Rice

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Hey there– here’s a new favorite side dish, easy, fast, fresh and creamy delicious.  It is a good match for a whole list of main dishes.  I made it a couple weeks ago when my dear friend Jenon came for dinner– lime salmon, asparagus, sturdy bread, a bright salad and this yummy rice.  Add in easy conversation with an old friend and it makes a fine dinner…

CHEDDAR ZUCCHINI RICE
2 tab. butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
2 zucchini, grated to shreds
1 cup grated cheddar cheese*
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large saucepan.  Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds over low heat.  Then stir in the rice, water and salt.  Bring up to a low simmer and cook 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the rice is tender.

Stir the uncooked, grated zucchini and the cheddar into the hot rice. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if you want to season it a bit more.  Easy, beautiful and delish!

*I used Colby-jack cheese, any easy melting cheese will do.

Green Chili Cornbread

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Hello all– We love cornbread around here, just the simple cut a slab sort of cornbread, with a little non-fat sour cream and a squeeze of honey on top.  Perfect.

But I’ve been seeing this “fancy” cornbread recipe around for years.  It’s chock full of extras– cream corn, green chilis, cheese!  Not your everyday, serve it up with soup cornbread, but special occasion, pullout for friends at the table cornbread.  So if you want to step up your cornbread for an eventful meal, here’s your new pumped up version!

GREEN CHILI CORNBREAD
1 1/4 cup flour
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tab. baking powder
1  1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
1  1/4 cup creamed corn (most of a 15 oz. can)
4 oz. can mild green chilis
1 cup grated cheddar*
3/4 cup canola oil

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In a large mixing bowl, stir up the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar.  Then add in the eggs, creamed corn, chilis, cheddar and oil and mix it all up.

Spoon the thick batter into a 10″ skillet** or baking dish.  Bake it up at 375 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, until it’s golden and cooked through (test it with a thin knife).

Best served up with sweet butter or sour cream and a lot of honey or jam.  Oh yumm!

*I used colbyjack, combined cheddar and jack.
** The recipe I worked from cooked this up in a skillet — but alas, I don’t have one, so I used a stone baking dish and it was just fine.

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Confetti Baked Eggs

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Hello there– Last week we had a Thanksgiving breakfast with friends.  We talked and sang and prayed and were hopeful and thankful together.  If was a fine morning.  Everyone brought food to share and here was our contribution to the table– eggs with peppers.  Hope you shared dear times of thanks with people you love…

CONFETTI BAKED EGGS
5 eggs beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups grated cheddar-jack cheese
1 cup red, green, orange bell peppers, chopped fine
4 oz. black forest ham, cut to bits.

IMG_5946Whisk the eggs until they are foamy and then whisk in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir in the cottage cheese, cheddar, peppers and ham.  Spoon it all into a 9″ baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake it up at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then turn down the heat to 350 degrees and cook for 20 minutes more.  Serve it piping hot and puffy from the oven.

Spinach Cheddar Rice

IMG_0798Hello there–  I have a favorite old cookbook that I got for a wedding gift 38 years ago– The Pillsbury New Family Cookbook (not so new now!).  I’ve made dozens of recipe from that book and it looks like it’s been well used, held together with ugly brown electrical tape. I noticed this dish years ago, and always intended to make it.  So with a few tweaks, here’s good old Spinach Cheddar Rice.

SPINACH CHEDDAR RICE
1 cup rice
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar
1 cup spinach leaves, cut in shreds
1/3 tsp. garlic salt

Cook the rice in 2 cups of water with the salt, simmering on low for ten minutes.  Then beat the 2 eggs.  Stir in the milk, cheddar, spinach and garlic salt.  Finally mix in the rice and turn it all into a baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes until it starts to brown around the edges.  Simple and good.

Brie and Cheddar Mac-n-Cheese

IMG_9450Hey all-  Larry’s on his way home for dinner–listening to a books on tape, I’ll bet, for his long commute.  And what’s for dinner?  Well, I pretty much scavenged around the kitchen to see what I could team up with some leftover ham, just waiting to be eaten.  A bit of cheddar, a chunk of brie, and pasta–always in the cupboard (like at your house).  And some asparagus to freshen it up a bit.  I thought of calling it “Clean out the fridge Macn’n’cheese”, but that sounded less than appealing.  It’s in the oven and the pre-dinner sampling was delicious.

BRIE AND CHEDDAR MAC-N-CHEESE
8 oz. pasta (I used those tiny salad macaroni tubes)
1 cup ham, but to small bits
1 1/2 cups asparagus cut to short pieces
a few shakes of garlic salt
2 tab. butter
2 tab. flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup cheddar, grated
1 cup brie, cut to small bits
1 tab. bread crumbs.

IMG_9463Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain well.  Cook the asparagus in the microwave just 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how thick the stalks are)  in a dish of water sprinkled with garlic salt–until it is edible but still crispy.  Then in a nonstick pan, melt the butter, stir in the flour until it is a begins to bubble.  Slowly add the milk, stirring as you go.  When it’s all mixed and begins to thicken (about 5 minutes), stir in the cheddar and brie.  Then mix in the macaroni, ham and asparagus. and turn it all into a 2 quart baking dish that’s been sprayed with cooking spray.  Sprinkle on the bread crumbs and pop it into a 400 degree over for just 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden and the sauce begins to bubble around the edges.

There. Dinner and cleaning out the fridge all at once.  Two birds with one stone.  With an apple almond salad and some crunchy bread it was a fine meal when Larry made it home.