Sunday, April 24, 2011

MOPS (My Own Potato Salad)

Happy Easter, everyone!

We're having rib roast today, but last night we BBQd hamburgers and pineapple slices, and ate lots of watermelon and potato salad. Potato salad is one of those really "personal" dishes - everyone has their own recipe, or at least "type," of potato salad that they like. Some people like mayo and others swear by Miracle Whip (I use both!). Some people just have to have pickles and others don't want onions.  I usually shy away from OPPS (Other People's Potato Salad) because to ME, most OPPS is just too bland. SOME people don't even put eggs in their potato salad and that's just WRONG, as far as I'm concerned ;-) 

I do have to admit that once in awhile, I come across a bowl of OPPS that I can tolerate, or even like a bit. But mostly, I like MOPS (My Own Potato Salad ;-) Here's how I make mine...

6 cups peeled, diced potatoes (1/2-inch cubes) (I use russet potatoes, but have been known to use red or yellow if that's all I have)
6-8 eggs, hard-cooked, peeled and egg-cuttered (I don't think that's really a word, LOL!)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup Miracle Whip
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup very finely minced onion
3-4 thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 Teaspoon celery seed
1 Teaspoon seasoned salt such as Johnny's Dock or Lawry's
1/4 Teaspoon black pepper

Start the cubed potatoes in salted water in a saucepan on high. When it boils, turn to simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes (depending on if the potatoes are starting to get a bit soft/old, I might reduce the cooking time to 9 minutes). Remove from heat and immediately drain in a colander. Let cool slightly while you make the dressing. Update: a friend asked me why I cook the potatoes peeled and cubed, as opposed to whole, unpeeled like "her mom does." Any way you want to cook the potatoes is fine - this is just the way it works best for me - the pieces are uniform and I've tweeked the cooking time so they really do come out perfect every time - done, but not mushy. You could cook the potatoes in a cave in the mountains if you wish, if that's the way you've always done it, OR if that's the way "your mom does it"  ;-)

Dressing: Combine all the other ingredients - save out 1-2 eggs to decorate the top, if desired. I like to use an egg cutter to dice the eggs - set the egg in the holder, slice, then remove carefully and position the sliced egg the opposite direction to dice the egg.

Combine the dressing with the potatoes that have cooled somewhat while you made the dressing - adding the still-warm potatoes helps the dressing to soak in and be more flavorful. But make sure your bowl or container is more "wide" than "tall," and refrigerate the finished salad quickly so it cools properly. Decorate with the reserved sliced eggs if you wish. I also sprinkle a bit of paprika on top to look pretty :-)  Serve with love, and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

And A Partidge In A Pear Tree...

Soooooo....on the 11th day of "Brown guy" brought to me.....
I still love Dale even tho he's not racing anymore...

Three Skeins of Yarn....

Two Jelly Rolls....

And an Amy Butler Box of Pretty Thread.....
Huh? I didn't order any thread...

I'm always excited when I see Dale the UPS truck come down the driveway.  So today, when Dale the UPS truck delivered my latest order from, I snatched the box off the porch. I ripped it open. I found the three skeins of Peaches & Creme yarn...I found two Jelly Rolls. And then....I found a box of thread. Hmmmm, I hadn't ordered thread. Was it a "free gift with order"??? I didn't remember a "free gift with order." I checked the invoice and I checked my online order. Nada. Nothing. Zip. Why did Dale the UPS guy bring me thread?

Dale! I'd "spool" with you anytime!!!

So...I called the toll-free number. Some mechanical voice tells me I'm #782 in the queue. Ok, I'm exagerrating a little. Actually I couldn't tell WHAT number I was because the auto-person apparently had marbles in their mouth. So I  got online at (where I was #1 in the queue - yay!) and chatted with "Janelle." I explained what happened. She said  she would check and see if it "may be able to be a gift." About an hour later (I'm exaggerating again, but only a little) she came back on and said "we can actually retrieve it back from you" and instructed me to put it in the box it came in and leave it outside for Dale UPS to pick back up. was sooooo pretty - like a box of funny-shaped Easter Eggs...but if I didn't pay for them, I really couldn't enjoy them, and would have most likely stuffed them under that huge pile of UFOs in the corner, never to see the light of day because I would have felt too guilty to use them. So back in the box they went, with a little note to Dale the UPS guy to send them back home. The box is sitting on my porch. 

This whole time, I was thinking that thread was probably $14.99 or maybe even $ out of curiosity, I zipped back out to and found this:

Holey-Spooley-Moley! No WONDER they wanted it back, LOL! Well, at least I can console myself that I'll get to see Dale the UPS guy one more time.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I've Got Mad Crochet Skills ;-)

I'm "pretty darned good" at quite a few things, and "satisfactory" at lots of others. But apparently one thing I truly EXCEL at is...LAUGHING AT MYSELF...otherwise, I'd never be able to post (for the two or three people who actually read my blog) THIS:

Go ahead. Laugh. I know you want to. I can see that quiver/smirk starting at the corner of your mouth. And that "WTF is THAT!?!" look on your face. It's all right...I give you permission...

See, it all started here...Val, my partner in Aunt Pitty Pat's Easter Mug Rug Swap, sent this tuck-in with her swap package to me.

Now, I've used knitted or crocheted cotton dishcloths before. I have always found them to be heavy, bulky, and "hard." But something about this one that Val sent seemed different. It was so soft and light! So I decided to give it a go! Well, I've been using it every day to wash dishes and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I finally emailed Val to ask why it was so special. She said she used a "special yarn." I emailed back asking if it was something other than Sugar & Cream, which was the only cotton yarn I was familiar with. She said it was Peaches & Creme, which I had never heard of. A Google of "What's the difference between Sugar & Cream and Peaches & Creme" produced a number of reviews that said Peaches & Creme was softer. I checked Wal-Mart and JoAnn's, but neither had it, so I ordered a few skeins from While I'm waiting for my order, I picked up one skein of Sugar & Cream at Wal-Mart and decided to "practice" for when I got the "good" stuff. Val had included in her email the instructions she used (which she said were on the back of the Peaches & Creme label). Uhhh...I have to admit it was a foreign language, since I really don't crochet...full of things like "ss," "sc," "hdc," and phrases like "3 hdc at corner, hdc across, ss in top of 1st hdc." 


Well, never mind - I have never been one to let ignorance stand in the way of creativity. I grabbed a crochet hook - any one will do! - from the stash of crochet hooks I inherited from my mom. I like the blue one - I don't care what size it is - yes, let's use the blue one, because it's pretty, and it kinda sorta matches the yarn, and isn't that what's important???!!!

So let's begin: Knit one, purl, I guess that's knitting. I'm almost as good at knitting as I am crocheting! Well, let's just start doing SOMEthing and see how it goes. I'm really good at making that first loop thing and then a bunch more after that. In fact, I could make those single loop things all day long. It's when I have to turn around and go back down that chain of single loop things that I run into problems. So I just "made it up" and started sticking the hook indiscrimately in whatever loop I could find...obviously, that's what I did...yes.. 
After awhile, I decided that it was kinda sorta square-ish, but needed to be bigger, so I just started going around the edges, adding an extra loop thing here and there for good measure. When I felt it was big enough to wash a dish, I stopped.

Ta da!

I'm sure you've noticed by now that there are holes big enough to drive a truck through, and that it's not exactly square. Pish-tosh, I say! I'm only going to use it to wash dishes, after all!

That was yesterday. This morning, I was looking around for the remains of the skein of yarn and couldn't find it. I looked in the living room and the dining room and on the sewing table. I looked in the kitchen. I asked my hubby, and he said it had "probably run away to prevent me from making anything else with it." Harrumph! Then I found it - in the kitchen, under the big pull-out cutting board, hiding in the electric roaster, next to a pan of extra kitchen utensils (we are remodeling and purging and these items hadn't found a new home yet). It was obviously hoping that the spatulas and wooden spoons would disguise it if I came close, but I found it and snatched it up before the pancake flipper could give me the "Aunt Jemima Treatment"! 

"Oh nooooo, she's coming! Hide me!!!!"

I'm quite sure those skeins of Peaches & Creme are shaking in their knitted booties in the UPS truck on the way to Apron Valley Road....  Now, what shall I make next?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

JBLM Casserole

Here's what we had for dinner last night...and how it got its name...

JBLM Casserole *

(Uh, I couldn't snap a pic fast enough before the vultures dug into it, so here's a half-eaten pic...)
1 ¼ cups chopped onions (about 1 medium)

1 ½ cups sliced celery

1 pound ground beef (my package was 1.37 pounds and I used it all – hard to find an actual 1-pound package of ground beef these days)

1 pound Italian Sausage (I used Safeway brand in the tube)

3-4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and drained

2 11-ounce cans mexi corn

3 14 ½-ounce cans stewed tomatoes (note these are STEWED)

1 14 ounce can tomato sauce

8 ounces longhorn cheese, grated

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Velveeta cheese – a 1” piece cut from a 2-pound block

1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Johnny’s or Lawry’s, etc.)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Brown ground beef and sausage until it starts to lose its pink color, then add onions and celery and cook until veggies are opaque and somewhat soft. Drain fat, if necessary (we just kinda boil it dry because there’s always so much WATER in the ground beef these days!). Stir in stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, mexi corn, and seasonings and cook, stirring, until heated through. Combine in a large bowl with cheeses and cooked, drained pasta (if you want, you could save some of the cheese to sprinkle on top after you load the whole mess into a casserole).

Place in greased or sprayed casserole. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Now this is the tricky part – having a casserole large enough. I use a 4.5 litre Corning French White casserole dish that is larger than a 9x13 – but you could use two smaller ones, or a large aluminum disposable. *This is the reason I call it “JBLM Casserole” – JBLM = Joint Base Lewis-McChord, which is the joint basing of Fort Lewis and McChord Air Base here in Washington (just up the road about 20 minutes from where I live).

Why do I call it that? Because the first time I made this dish, the next morning, my husband casually mentioned “So…you’re going up to Fort Lewis today?” I had no clue what he was talking about and just looked at him funny. He asked me again. I looked at him even funnier. Finally, I said “Why would I be going up to Fort Lewis?” He said “Well, you made enough food last night for an army!” LOL! So now we call it the JBLM Casserole for that reason.

So, ok…I could cut down the ingredients so it would more properly fit into a 9x13 pan…but what fun is that? We eat up every last drop (over a couple of days), and I’ve worked this recipe out over time and we think it’s perfect. Yes, you could do your own fiddling with the proportions if you want, but we will keep making it and calling it the JBLM Casserole here in my family, thank-you-very-much ;-)

"Come and git it!!!"

Serves: An Army, Doh!