Summer of Salads, let’s talk potato…

Happy Memorial Day 2013

Well hello there!

Okay, so this is post number ONE in our #summerofsalads posts and I really had a hard time allowing myself to start with potato salads!  I wanted to ease you in, start off by talking about the different kinds of greens available and then move on to dressings…but, Memorial Day is coming this weekend and when I think of Memorial Day eats, I think of BBQ & potato salads!  I’m saving coleslaw for the 4th of July 🙂

So, the objective of these posts this summer, is to inspire you with different takes on salads.  So, instead of your basic potato salad, made with mayo, mustard, eggs etc. I am giving you a few twists on that.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some traditional potato salad!  When I was a little girl, my Grandmother would make potato salad, putting HUGE pieces of raw onion in it.  (okay maybe they weren’t that big, but to a punk kid that didn’t like onions back then, they were!) I told her that once and she would make a little for me, without onions.  She also did that with chocolate chip cookies sans nuts, fudge the same.  That woman spoiled me for sure.

Anyway, back to this post!  Today I am making you Tarragon Potato Salad.  We pretty much just stumbled on this salad one day, looking for ways to use up our gigantic Tarragon plant in the garden.  We make pork chops quite often with Tarragon & mustard & garlic, so this salad is pretty much all that, minus the pig of course.

Tarragon Potato Salad, #summerofsalads

Tarragon Potato Salad:

potatoes (use whatever type you’d like & one potato for each person you are feeding-I used six small-medium sized russets)

Fresh Tarragon

Fresh Chives and/or onions

mayo (I used 1 cup)

Dijon & whole grain mustards (I used 1 T. of each)

apple cider vinegar (I used 2 tablespoons)

sugar, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic (to your taste…)

Begin by washing up your potatoes and then boiling them until fork tender.  Let cool & remove skins from potatoes.

Whole Grain Mustard

In a separate bowl, mix together your apple cider vinegar, sugar, mayo & Dijon mustard.  Taste to be sure you have a balance of sweet, sour etc.

Fresh ChivesFresh Tarragon

Chop up your fresh herbs.  It’s really important for this recipe that you use fresh Tarragon, so if you don’t have it, look in the produce section at the grocery store.  And if you live close to me, you are always welcome to some of mine!

Herbs mixed in...

Then mix in the herbs to your potato salad dressing and taste again.  Adjust seasonings as you prefer.  Then mix in your potatoes, carefully not to crush them in the process.  Put this in the fridge to chill out and let the flavors get all groovy together!  Enjoy with your favorite BBQ grub!

As I did a little research for this post, I came across the following unique “potato” salads I wanted to share with you!

Warm Bacon Potato Salad – via Steamy Kitchen.  Don’t know where I first saw this recipe, but when I got a look at the picture, I knew I HAD to make it!  You had me at Bacon…and warm…

Sweet Potato Salad  – via The Loveless Cafe.  I am SO glad I found this website!  OMG, wait till you see some of the other recipes they have!  Can you say Bacon Pralines?  Or Carrot Puddin’ or Chow Chow Deviled Eggs….check them out!

Sour Cream-Dill Potato Salad – via Cooking Light.  I’m not usually one for Cooking Light recipes (because this girl likes her fat!) but I do love me a sour cream & onion potato chip so I thought this sounded intriguing!  I haven’t made it yet, so if you do, let me know how you like it!

Grilled Southwestern Potato Salad – via Fine Cooking.  I love this salad because you grill all the veggies first and then make the salad.  It has corn, chiles, red onions, peppers, and some crisp bacon. Yes more bacon. YUM!

Potato Salad with fresh stir-ins –  via Recipe.com.  Now this idea is great!  It’s kinda like a potato salad bar, if you will.  Make your basic base potato salad (with or without mayo/mustard) and then set out different “stir-in” that your guests can add.  This post gives you some ideas but you could really go crazy with this idea!

Wishing you & yours a wonderful & relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s first #summersippers cocktail post & next week we’ll talk salad basics!

Cheers, Shawn

Where’s Waldo?

Where's Wally scene

A favorite book series to many, the story of Waldo (known to the rest of the world as “Wally”), lost in a sea of people & things.  Your challenge, is to find him.  Always dressed in a red & white striped shirt, with goofy glasses & hat.  Can you find him?

I’ve been feeling a bit like Waldo this past month.  This time of year always kicks my a**.  It’s the end of the school year and I am gearing up for a manageable summer with the kids & two jobs.  It’s a juggling act for three months, but, I am looking forward to spending more time with my kids.  Last summer, I was still working at the hotel so they were on their own for the better part of the day, four days a week.  It broke my heart everyday, leaving them.  I want to get them out this summer; to the park, museums, the beach etc. but know I have to balance that with work.  And this blog!  I am super excited to share my two summer blog series with you; “Summer of Salads” #summerofsalads & “Summer Sippers” #summersippers, hopefully both will begin this week!  Today, I just wanted to share some delicious & fun things I have squeezed in the past month or so.  Enjoy!

Tucci Benecch  Homemade Ricotta in the making!

Homemade Ricotta with Balsamic Syrup  Chef Donald & Chef J.D.

Oh my gosh, people, have you ever made your own Ricotta Cheese?  It’s ridiculous!!!!  Both in taste & ease!  (see top right pic) I’ve been seeing posts for the past year about homemade Ricotta cheese and kept telling myself to try it.  Then one night, after watching Chef Donald Gonzalez (shown bottom row, right, with JD Fratzke of the Strip Club in St. Paul) from Forepaugh’s Restaurant, (owned by the company my hubby works for, Taher Inc.) win the Minnesota Monthly Local Chef Challenge (and the $10k prize!), we decided to get dinner at our favorite MOA restaurant, Tucci Benucch.  We had this Ricotta cheese appetizer that was TO DIE FOR.  (see pic top left) It had lemon & fried Rosemary (um, yum!) and was served with these delicious little toast points.  Sadly, it was a seasonal appetizer, so don’t get mad at me when you go and they don’t have it.  But keep an eye out for it and be sure to go on a Sunday or Monday night, for  half-priced bottles of wine!  Yea!  And then go home and make your own Ricotta cheese!  Do you want me to post a recipe/how-to on it?  It’s super easy, but I certainly can, along with some great ideas of how to use your fresh Ricotta.  Tell me in the comments below!

Hummus!  Hummus Kawarma2

Speaking of my husbands employer, every year, they send the Taher Chef Council, (a group of chefs from within the company) on a trip somewhere in the world.  Yes, he’s very lucky, and no, I don’t get to go along.  This year was Jerusalem and he came back eager to make Hummus & this incredible dish shown on the right, Hummus Kawarma.  O M G…make it!!!  Find the recipe in the cookbook Jerusalem.  I checked out a copy at my local library but you can buy one here on Amazon.  Do you like to make your own Hummus?

Treats from Cat  Cat Cora cooking demo

And speaking of chefs, I was excited to meet Iron Chef Cat Cora at Byerly’s earlier this month.  (she was so tiny & awesome!) I joined my blogging lovelies, Kate from Kate in the Kitchen and Rachel and her very own adorable Cora, from The Realistic Housewife. Chef Cora did a cooking demo, highlighting her new product line called Cat Cora’s Kitchen.  Hey Byerly’s, where’s that recipe for her Olive Oil cake?  I did bring home some of her olive tapenade, in addition to her new cookbook and had that one day on my homemade Ricotta, obviously. (see picture above with Ricotta) YUM!  🙂

Stuffing for Pork Chops  Stuffed Pork Chops

I have been obsessing about Pine Nuts lately.  Yeah, why can’t it be with a less expensive nut…anyway, I’ve been bored with our typical Pork Chop preparations lately so one day, I decided to stuff them.  The recipe has herbs, cheese, zest, garlic, pine nuts & golden raisins in it, and was from Fine Cooking.  You can find the recipe here.  Have a good Pork Chop recipe?  Share it below!

Chai BellaVitano  Radisson Blu Social Media event  Turkey Tetrazzini

A few other random fun things…I finally found the Chai BellaVitano cheese from Sartori.  I LOVE Sartori cheeses, especially the BellaVitano line and this one was as good as the rest!  A new food blogger friend Chris,  who writes the blog, Wedge in the Round,  just returned from cheese-making with Sartori.  LUCKY!  Read about his adventure here.  My favorite Sartori cheese is a tie between the MontAmoré and the Espresso BellaVitano, but this Chai variety had such a great flavor of the spice blends in Chai.  Find it!  Try it!  Also shown above, some delicious nosh I enjoyed at the Radisson Blu Mall of America recently.  I was invited to attend a Social Media special event there and in addition to the delicious food & drinks.  Those little new potatoes were stuffed with creme fraiche and topped with caviar!  I was also given a great tour of this incredible new hotel.  The rooms are amazing & they even have a salt water pool!  I am staying there at the end of the month, for my first board retreat with MPI MN.  Can’t wait!  And last, I made Turkey (Mushroom) Tetrazzini.  Yep.  Never made it before.  Super easy, super delish!

Bacon Pancakes!

And last, I made Bacon Pancakes on Mother’s day.  With chocolate chips.  For myself.  Then later, the hubby made me Eggs Benedict for dinner.  It was all about breakfast that day!  YUM!  If you are a Mom, I hope you had a delicious day as well.  My kids made me the CUTEST things as well.  I have to share!

Dominic - Mother's Day 2013

This was from my son…please note that I am “Fabulous” and that he likes my hair because “it’s curly & fresh” OMG, I died!

Gabby - Mother's Day 2013

And my daughter made me a video, which I posted on my Vine account.  You can watch here.  Again, the cuteness!

Until next time,

Cheers!  Shawn