Plated + Served: Sriracha Potato Salad


Your potato salad is about to get a kick in the chops.

This summer, you’ll probably eat a lot of forgettable (but hopefully not regrettable) potato salads. Here’s one you’ll remember.

You start with the usual: mayo and potatoes, of course. But then, you’ll take a sharp left turn: mint, carrots and lemon juice. Oh, did I mention: Sriracha Sauce?

The garlicky sweet and salty Sriracha Thai chili sauce brings a bright umami curiosity to this usually reserved (and often bland) summer salad staple.

You’ll be tempted to go overboard with the Sriracha. Don’t… you’ll blot out the cool freshness of the mint. I threw in carrots for crunch, but, you can add celery to keep some semblance of the traditional recipe.

The summer heat is coming… in more ways than one.



Plated + Served: Vegetarian Baked Beans


Yup, Baked Beans… and these take a looooonnnngggg time to cook.

But. Oh. How delicious. How sweetly delicious. And the perfect balance for all that spicy grilled or smoked barbecue you’ll be sliding onto the plate this weekend.

Never thought I would put this much effort into beans.

But I did. And so will you. These are my take on Boston Baked Beans. Traditionally, BBB are made with salt pork or bacon. Not a trace of meat in this recipe… but still amazingly flavorful.

Crank up the oven! These beans go great with everything: fried chicken, hamburgers, steaks…







Gadget Tree: Breakfast of Champions


We can all agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…. Yes?

But how many times do you skip it… or worse, feed your kids something less than healthy and send them off to school?

My good friends at Lékué have solved your problem with a couple of products that I know will become part of your early morning repertoire.

These three items are made with 100% pure platinum silicone (the same thing used to make baby bottle nipples) and are completely dishwasher safe (always a plus in my book). You can find them at Sur la Table.


Get your protein fix with the Ovo egg cooker (now in fun shapes like the heart in the image above). What’s great about this cooking gadget is that you can make eggs in the microwave or cooked in a pot on top of the stove. Rub the inside of the egg cooker with a little butter or olive oil, beat the eggs, throw in some cheese, a little seasoning or leftover veggies and in few minutes you’ve got breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. This is a terrific way to get kids to eat eggs!


Here’s another egg-making idea: a non-stick omelet maker that you pop into the microwave. Just three easy steps and in five minutes you’ll have a beautiful, fat-free fluffy omelet that looks like an omelet not scrambled eggs. This little handy-dandy device is something the older kids will want to use to whip up a quick after-school snack.


Making waffles is usually relegated to the weekends… or you’re forced to settle for eating those cardboard-tasting frozen waffles. Forget it. With these oven waffle molds, you can prepare eight waffles in the oven so you don’t have to drag out your electric waffle maker.

Hey, here’s an idea! Why not make a waffle egg-sandwich? Now THAT’s a breakfast of champions!


posted under Gadget Tree | 2 Comments »

Extra Helpings: I Yam What I Yam… Unless I’m Not


Jay asks: What’s the difference between a Yam and a Sweet Potato? Can I use them interchangeably?

Sweet PotatoYams and sweet potatoes are both fleshy, orange tubers, that’s true, but you’d be hard pressed to find a REAL YAM in a regular supermarket. For years, food companies have been putting sweet potatoes into cans and mislabeling them “yams.”

The confusion between yams and sweet potatoes probably began in the early 1950’s when Louisiana sweet potato growers started using the term “yam” as a marketing tool. The Food and Drug Administration requires that canned yams also have “sweet potato” on the label.

Yams are a starchy tuberous tropical vegetable native to Asia and Africa. They are very bland and very, very dry when cooked. Occasionally, you’ll find yams (sometimes) in Latin American, Japanese or African grocery stores, but more often than not, they are actually sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes come in several sizes and colors (yellow, orange, red, brown, purple and beige). Darker sweet potatoes tend to be more flavorful.

• Louisiana: The standard supermarket sweet potato. Moist and delicately sweet.
• Garnet and Jewel: Smaller, with deep orange-red skins and flesh.
• Jersey: Light in color and a bit drier than other sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes may look hearty, but they’re actually quite perishable. Look for smooth, bruise-free skins with pointed ends. Use them within a week of buying and store them in a cool, dry place.

To (finally!) answer your question, Mama wouldn’t use real yams (if you find them) and sweet potatoes interchangeably because yams are so dry and basically flavorless. You can fry yams into chips, but they are better suited for stews or soups that have a lot of liquid.

Here’s a terrific sweet potato recipe… enjoy!


« Older Entries

I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: