Mustard potato salad (a Southern-type recipe)

There are not so many variations in potato salad (that I’m aware of), but there are loyalist fanatics to the versions I’m aware of: the “classic” mayo base, the mustard base, the vinegar base, and of course, the German and Dutch variations. I’m sure there are plenty more out there, given the prevalence of potatoes in the world, but I’m not familiar with those versions. Then there are the nearly infinite variations on the old favorites: red potatoes, new potatoes, fresh dill, pickle relish, hard boiled eggs, homemade vs. store-bought… the list(s) go on and on.

I’m not too picky, but I have my preferences. I like my potato salad simple and colorful. If done “right,” I like a mayo base, but prefer mustard or vinegar, and I don’t want a lot of it covering up my potatoes. (If I wanted to eat condiments with potato in it, I’d glop some on some potato chips. And right now, people would expect it of me.) I like it good and cold, and I don’t really care for anything other than potato and seasoning in my salad – no pickle relish, egg, or other “texture,” please. I don’t mind a little paprika, and I love me some fresh dill, but don’t get crazy. I like colorful potatoes when I make my salad. Give me some skin-on red potatoes for best results, but I love the look of some Russian blues, purple Peruvians, or Yukon Golds for variety. What about a red, white, and blue potato salad with a vinegar or mayo base for the Fourth of July? Beats that Jello cake with blueberries and Cool Whip every time. In a pinch, I’ll buy a tub of it from Publix, but not often (I prefer their mayo base with dill and red potatoes).

After a request for potato salad and some debate over the best kind, I went on a search for a good basic mustard version. I couldn’t seem to find any that fit my needs or desires, and had started to get a little frustrated when I mentally thumped myself in the head. Why, if I know what I like and I know what the general outcome should be, am I searching for potato salad recipes? Internet dependency; I rue the day. I started mixing ingredients in a bowl and voila! A desirable potato salad is born. Keep in mind that most of this is to taste – I have yet to actually measure anything out, and am afraid that actually doing so would take all the taste out of the dish. So forgive my this and that, grab a bowl, and make you some of your own. Add relish if you want, or egg, or smoked paprika. Take some to that church potluck, or keep it all to yourself. I won’t tell.

Mustard Potato Salad
serves 4 generously

ingredients:
2 lbs. red potatoes, washed & quartered
1 heaping tablespoon mayonnaise (I use Duke’s, or homemade, if I have it)
2 heaping tablespoons yellow mustard
2 teaspoons coarse-ground mustard
fresh dill, finely minced
salt & black pepper

directions:
Place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with water; salt generously, and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until just tender. If serving immediately, prepare an ice bath and cool potatoes for 5-10 minutes, or until cool. Drain well.

In your serving bowl, combine potatoes, mayonnaise, mustards, dill, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently but thoroughly, until potatoes are evenly coated. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight. (If overnight, you may want to add the dill right before serving.)

Grilled honey-soy chicken.

With the temperatures as high as they have been lately, it’s been an ideal time for getting your grill on. It’s just not as satisfying to stand around a grill with a heavy jacket and skullcap, as it is to hang around in a tank top and shorts. At least, it’s not as satisfying to me. The other night, chicken was on the menu, but the seasoning decision was a little up in the air. We were cooking for the family, and while some of us like it spicy, others can’t eat anything much more than some barely-applied black pepper. Cullen had to step out for a while, so everything got left up to me. I decided I’d halve the seasonings between blackened and… something else. A few minutes of searching Epicurious yielded Grilled Lemon-Honey Chicken Breasts, and it sounded just like what I was looking for. Even better, I had everything in the kitchen to make the marinade!

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Popsicles for breakfast? Berry smoothie protein pops.

I have a problem with breakfast. Not eating it, but fixing it. See, I’m trying to be better about breakfast, because it’s the most important meal of the day. And I’m trying to lose a little weight, too. Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to fix breakfast before I’ve had appropriate amounts of coffee, and by then two hours have gone by and I’m not hungry. Until lunchtime, when I could eat everything in the kitchen, all because I didn’t eat breakfast. So I’m trying to be better about it, but it’s hard because of the aforementioned autopilot/zombie state I’m in when I get out of bed. I want something I can grab, heat up, and eat. Nothing complicated. I don’t even like to have to put anything together, like yogurt and granola and fruit and nuts. Too much time taken with getting stuff out, eyeballing it in the cup, yadda ya. And yeah, sometimes I like doing that, but most mornings, not so much. Even worse, now that summer is upon us, I damn sure don’t want to eat anything that requires a hot stove or range. Microwave if necessary, but preferably just serve and eat.

Enter berry smoothie protein pops.

Everybody loves smoothies – maybe not like everyone loves parfaits, but close enough. Green smoothies, strawberry smoothies, blueberry-banana-chocolate smoothies. Good for you, quick and on the go. The ultimate breakfast. This is better: smoothie in popsicle form. Now you can eat your breakfast, get all your start-up nutrition and feel like you’re eating dessert for breakfast! I can’t think of a better idea. All you need are your ingredients, a blender of some kind and preferably an ice cream maker. That last isn’t vital, but it makes your popsicles creamy as opposed to icy when you bite into your frozen breakfast treat. I prefer creamy, and I have two ice cream makers, so there you go.

Berry Smoothie Protein Pops
serves: 4-8, depending on the size of your molds

ingredients:

2 pints strawberries, or berries of choice
1 cup Greek yogurt
2-3 scoops vanilla protein powder
splash of milk or water (optional)

directions:

Hull strawberries; blend and strain into bowl to remove seeds (if desired). Whisk together strawberry puree, yogurt and protein powder and/or blend to thoroughly combine. Add water/milk to reach desired consistency if necessary. If using an ice cream maker, freeze according to manufacturer’s directions. Spoon into popsicle molds and freeze 3-5 hours.

If you have any leftover smoothie fro-yo, you can always make it into scoopable fro-yo and have that for breakfast too. I did, and it was awesome. Especially because I made the bars in the morning, so all the scrapings of ‘hard’ fro-yo from the sides of the freezer bowl were mine for the taking. Am I the only one who enjoys that bit of making my own frozen treats? I hope not. It looks a mess, but it’s definitely my favorite part.

These also make great afternoon snacks in the heat that you don’t have to feel too guilty about eating. Again, healthy dessert! How much better can it get?

Simple strawberry ice cream.

Strawberry Ice Cream

It seems like strawberry ice cream is a summer staple. Every time warm weather rolls around, the photos overtake Tastespotting and Food Gawker. Strawberry sorbet, strawberry ice cream, strawberry gelato – strawberry, strawberry, strawberry. Forgive me, but strawberry isn’t necessarily one of my favorites. I like other berries, if any at all. The Husband, though, really like fruit ice creams, and strawberry is a flavor right up there with the rest.

We went to one of the local farm stands and picked up some fresh strawberries. Other than strawberry shortcakes, we didn’t have any idea what to do with them – then I got the “wild idea” to make ice cream with them before they wasted away. Again, too lazy to deal with separating eggs and wasting whites, or to cook up a custard (although the recipe across the page from the one I used looked pretty damn tasty). I found the recipe for Vanilla Ice Cream and thought “what the hell, let’s go.” I halved the recipe since my ice cream maker only makes a quart at a time, and still got just shy of two.

Strawberry Ice Cream, Decorated

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