1 tbsp lemon juice (optional, but I like the tartness it provides)
3 cups milk
1 cup icing sugar (also known as powdered sugar or confectioners sugar)
3 tbsp finely chopped pecans (to sprinkle on top)
I’ve had many readers from Australia and the UK ask if there’s an alternative to Cool Whip (I guess it’s a North American thing?). A thoughtful reader passed this recipe for homemade Cool Whip for those of you who can’t find the name brand in your grocery stores.
TO MAKE THE CRUST:
Combine flour, chopped pecans and melted butter. Make sure your pecans are either ground or chopped very finely. This will produce a crust that holds together nicely.
Stir these three ingredients until well-blended and crumbly.
Press this mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes.
ADDING YOUR LAYERS:
With electric beaters, mix cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth and creamy.
Fold in 1 cup of Cool Whip, and spread over crust.
*If your crust pulls apart, don’t panic. Your pecans were likely a bit course (ask me how I know this). Just work slowly (you may have to get your fingers in there) to spread the cream cheese layer as best as you can.
Whisk together pudding packets and milk. Add lemon juice, and continue to stir until thick.
Since first publishing this recipe a little over a year ago, it has received over a half a million views, hundreds of comments, and people have written to me from all over the world telling me that it is now their favorite dish. And the best part is it is super simple to make! I originally came up with this recipe when looking for a new side dish for BBQs. I am not a big fan of mayo and wanted something a little less “wet” and non-traditional. It has been a wild success and I’m not allowed to host any BBQ now without making this and doubling the recipe!
Fully Loaded Baked Potato Salad
One 5 pound bag medium Russet Potatoes
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 package of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 small onion, chopped
Chives, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Wash the potatoes and poke holes in them with a fork. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until fork tender.
2. Cool and cut the potatoes into bite sized chunks. I put them in a separate bowl and once they cooled enough I put them in the fridge to cool all the way. This gives them an excellent texture and prevents the dairy ingredients from getting hot or the cheese from melting. If you are serving this salad hot then you don’t need to cool the potatoes, just skip that step!
3. Mix the mayo and sour cream together in a bowl. Add to the potatoes, then add the onions, chives, and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste – I use a pepper grinder and a sea salt grinder for EVERYTHING so I never know exactly how much of either I put in. I think the taste is far superior to just using regular table salt and pepper.
4. Top with extra shredded cheese, bacon, and chives, and serve!
This is a simple and inexpensive side dish for any meal but especially great to take to a barbecue. My favorite part is that this is one of the regular ole recipes that anyone would make without realizing that it happens to be gluten free naturally. Those are my favorite! No special ingredients or expensive grocery stores, just regular food that I can eat along with everybody else. And it’s delish!
Wire wreath form (I used an 8″ form. You can get these at craft stores.)
Fishing line or stout thread
Long needle with a fairly small eye
Floral wire (optional)
1 package cranberries
About 4 cups popped popcorn
For the sake of birds’ health, use unsalted, unbuttered popcorn only. It’s best to use air-popped popcorn with minimal added oils. If you use pre-packaged microwave popcorn, choose only “Plain” or “Natural”.
Author’s Note: I had several readers who commented they were concerned about the use of fishing line in this project. I actually chose it over thread because it is very strong and much less likely to break or come loose and get tangled in bird bills or feet. Fishing line usually causes problems when it is loose and a bird becomes tangled in it, such as when a fisher discards a broken line along the shore instead of in the trash. Fishing line is actually pretty hard to break, and if tightly tied around the wreath is unlikely to cause problems for the birds. However, if you are concerned about using fishing line, use strong thread instead.
I found it was easiest to work in shorter sections around the form. Cut a three-foot length of fishing line and knot it to the wire wreath form. Thread the needle and begin stringing the popcorn and cranberries. I used three popcorn kernels, then one cranberry, and so on.
Once you have about a foot of popcorn and cranberry strung, carefully wrap it around the wreath form. Continue stringing and wrapping until you reach the end of the line. Tie it off firmly to the wreath form.
Repeat steps one and two until you have covered the wire form.
If you like, you can use any leftover cranberries to create a “bow” at the top. Cut a length of floral wire about 3 feet long. String it with cranberries, twist into a bow shape, and attach with additional wire at the top of the wreath.
Use floral wire to add a hanging loop to the top of the wreath, and hang it out for wildlife to enjoy!
What other ideas do you have for decorating your yard while also providing a banquet for birds? Share with us in the comments!