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Kitchen Mailbox: This trio of yummy recipes an excuse for a picnic anytime

Thursday, January 06, 2000

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

It's too late for Steelers tailgating and too early for picnics, but we couldn't keep these recipes tucked away any longer -- they're perfect for any time of the year.

Our first recipe is a potato salad. This is not your ordinary, everyday potato salad; it's special. It's easy to prepare, it can be served hot, cold or room temperature and it's delicious. The wonderful flavors of potatoes, fresh green beans and cherry tomatoes are enhanced by garlic and tarragon and olive oil. We served ours warm -- it didn't at last long because everyone asked for seconds. We'll make a double batch the next time.

The second recipe is another quick dish: Penn State Chicken. As you've probably guessed, this is a tailgating recipe and even though the gusto has gone from tailgating for this year, you have to try this chicken. The ingredients are chicken legs or thighs, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and Italian salad dressing. Just these few ingredients come together to make a perfect dish for any occasion.

We don't know how our last recipe got its name -- Chop Suey Cake -- and we really don't care because we think this cake is outstanding. This moist cake is loaded with sweet pineapple and walnuts and the icing -- wow! Creamy, but not too sweet.

This versatile potato salad was sent in by Lynn Steffan of Gibsonia. Steffan, like many cooks, does not measure any of the ingredients, so to make it easier for our readers, we've come up with ingredient amounts that worked well for us.

Lynn Steffan's Potato Salad

5 medium-sized potatoes, cooked and cubed
1 pound green beans, cooked until slightly crisp
1 bunch scallions, sliced
2 radishes, sliced thin
1 cup cherry tomatoes, see note
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Combine warm potatoes and green beans with remaining ingredients, mix well. Serve warm or cold.

Note: We used grape tomatoes (whole) -- they're smaller than cherry tomatoes with a sweeter taste.

Jean Balla of Monroeville said this chicken dish is "good hot, even better cold."

Penn State Chicken

2 to 3 pounds chicken legs and thighs
8 ounces any zesty Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups Italian-flavored bread crumbs

Mix cheese and bread crumbs. Dip chicken in salad dressing and coat with crumbs, let stand 10 to 15 minutes on a cake rack. Place on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes.

Note: We made 10 chicken legs and still had plenty of the bread crumb mixture and salad dressing remaining. We believe this recipe could make at least 14 legs or thighs.

Kathryn Troup of Meadville requested a recipe for Chop Suey cakes. Here's Whitehall reader Sue Bower's version.

Chop Suey Cake

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups sugar
20-ounce can of crushed pineapple, juice included
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Mix all ingredients in order given. Pour into greased and floured 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes at 350 degrees.


8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick), room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped walnuts

Beat all ingredients, except nuts, until smooth. Add nuts, spread on cooled cake.


Al Stoehr of the North Side is searching for a tomato soup recipe from Switzerland.

Hilary Meister from Allison Park would like a recipe for cranberry cookies.

Bisrat Birru of Squirrel Hill would like a recipe for spaghetti sauce made with canned tomatoes. The recipe Birru has turns out a bit sour -- even with the addition of a pinch of sugar.

Mary Ballas of McKeesport would like a recipe for rugelach.

If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number on all correspondence. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.

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