Mom's Birthday Recipes Revealed


Aunt J's Wild Rice Salad

Our Aunt made this salad for a storied visit to the cabin last Summer and I just had to have the recipe. One recipe turned into a whole slew of them.  As I thumbed through the cards and pages I realized I'd seen and tasted quite a few of the dishes at all sorts of events and occasions.  I spent the afternoon copying down all the recipes I recognized (and some to try).  I love the nostalgia of a recipe card that's worn or stained. You can be sure you're going to have something delicious when you copy those.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Servings: 6-8

2/3 cup uncooked wild rice
1/4 cup Italian dressing
6 ounces artichoke hearts
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/3 cup green pepper, chopped
1/3 cup green onion, sliced
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

1. Cook wild rice according to package directions and cool.
2. Mix all ingredients and refrigerate several hours.
... That's it!

Asian Chicken Salad 

My mom and I used to frequent The Boundary Waters Restaurant in Marshall Field's, now Macy's. They would have the most delicious popovers right out of the oven.  They also have a crisp, fresh Asian chicken salad.  Although the salad likely doesn't reflect anything resembling Asian cuisine the flavors were so good. In honor of those wonderful memories I tracked down a version of our salad. 

Prep time: 45 minutes... lots of chopping!
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6

1 cup canned unsalted chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breasts, well trimmed
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed
5 1/4 cups sliced Napa or green cabbage
4 1/4 cups sliced red cabbage
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted until golden

For the dressing:
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño chili (with seeds)
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar

1. Bring broth to simmer in heavy large skillet over medium heat. 
2. Add chicken and simmer until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. 
3. Transfer to work surface to cool. 
4. Add snow peas to broth and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. 
5. Using slotted spoon, transfer peas to bowl of cold water. Drain. Set aside.
6. Boil broth until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 7 minutes. Transfer to bowl; cool.
7. Combine vinegar, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chili, sesame oil and sugar in medium bowl. Whisk in reserved broth.
8. Place cabbages, carrots, sliced almonds and onions in large bowl. 
9. Chop chicken and add to bowl
10. Pour dressing over and toss to combine.
11. Can be made 6 hours ahead. Just cover and chill until you're ready to serve.

Sunshine Salad

One of our cousins makes this salad for family gatherings and I'm so glad she does. It combines all the most delicious flavors into one dish and tastes like summertime. I love salads that mix sweet and savory and this one hits the spot.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Servings: 10-12 as a side dish

1 bundle of broccoli
1/3 of a red onion, chopped
1 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 # of bacon, crumbled

For the dressing:
1 cup regular mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons vinegar

1. Cook bacon, cool and crumble.
2. Cut up broccoli into small bite size pieces (including most of the stem) into little pieces. Put in a large bowl and add the remainder of the ingredients.
3. In a separate bowl mix up the dressing ingredients.
4. Add all other ingredients to your broccoli bowl.
5. Pour the dressing over the broccoli salad & mix well.

Toasted Crostini 

This is an easy way to add substance to any meal.  Just preheat your oven to 150º slice a french baguette into 1/2 inch thick slices, spray with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.  Throw them in the oven until they begin to brown.  Remove them from the oven and serve them piping hot.

Coconut Dream Cake

I though this was a special family recipe and I come to find out it's right off the back of the Dream Whipped Topping Mix box! Dream Whip is usually used by folks that want a non-dairy alternative for their cake or pie topping.  I use it when I want a fluffy super sweet treat that's dresses up a standard boxed cake mix.  I used coconut in the frosting because my mom loves the stuff.

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Servings: 12 (frosting yields 4 1/2 cups)

1 package (2 layer size) white cake mix
1 envelope Dream Whip whipped topping mix
4 eggs
1 cup cold water

For 7 Minute Frosting:
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
Dash salt
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup coconut flakes

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
3. Combine cake mix, whipped topping mix, eggs and water in large bowl.
4. Beat with electric hand mixer at medium speed for 4 minutes.
5. Pour into cake pans and bake for 45-50 minutes.
6. While cake is baking make your frosting.   Bring water to a boil in the bottom pot of a double boiler (you can use a heat resistant bowl above a small boiling pot if you don't have a double boiler... just please handle with care).
7. Combine egg whites, sugar, salt water and corn syrup in the top of the double boiler.
8. Beat ingredients using a electric hand mixer for one minute.
9. Place over bottom pot of the double boiler.  Beat with a hand mixer constantly at high speed until the frosting holds stiff peaks.
10.  Remove the top of the double boiler and pour frosting into a separate room temperature bowl to stop the heating process.
11. Add vanilla and beat for 1 minute until thick enough to spread.
12. Gently fold in coconut flakes.
13. Once cake is done remove your pans from the oven.  Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes then turn them over to remove the cake from the pan.
14. Once the cake has cooled it's time to assemble the masterpiece.  Decide which round has cooked more flat and even.  Put that one aside and use it as the topper.
15. On the second round use a bread knife to cut off any lumps or bumps.  You're trying to create a flat surface to ice and place the second round atop.
16. Once you're satisfied with your rounds ice the top of the bottom round.
17. Place the top round firmly and evenly overtop.
18. Ice the outside edges completely.


  • Not sure if your cake is done?  Insert a toothpick or uncooked spaghetti noodle into the center of the cake.  If it comes out clean it's ready to be taken out of the oven, if not leave it in for a few more minutes. Every oven is just a bit different.
  • This cake turns out beautifully in a bundt pan too.
  • You can do anything with this cake/frosting combo.  Try strawberry cake mix and fold pureed strawberries into the frosting mix.  Tastes like summer!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

If you were an over achiever you could make some creamy coconut gelato to go beside your cake and bring your guests to their knees.  I bought my ice cream and that turned out just great too.  If you don't feel like making your own but want something more high end than grocery store bought dairy head over to Adele's Frozen Custard and grab some of their fresh churned coconut or vanilla.  You can stand there and watch them make it!  Check their website for featured flavors or special order a batch of whatever you like.


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