The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 18, 2012

Cheryle Finley: You won’t eat just one of these chips

By Cheryle Finley
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — When Vicki Mays told me several months ago about a microwave potato chip maker, I set out to find one.

Only trouble was, I couldn’t find one. I looked for several months, then happened upon one by accident at an open house that showcased different vendors. This little jewel was offered by Pampered Chef, and once I realized what it was, I grabbed the box before anyone else had a chance.

There are two stackable trays in the box and you can use them together or alone. The first time I tried to make microwave potato chips, I wasn’t impressed. But it turns out it was operator error. Last weekend, I gave it another try and was so happy with the results I will be using this chip maker regularly. The difference in the two times I experimented? The thickness of the sliced potatoes. Using my trusty mandolin, my first attempt was made using the regular setting I use for frying potatoes. Too thick. The second time, I sliced potatoes almost paper thin, made sure they were dry and sprinkled with a little kosher salt. I was skeptical when the directions said to cook 5 to 61/2 minutes or until chips are crisp and golden brown. Golden brown in the microwave on a rubber tray with no oil or frying? They did indeed turn crisp and golden brown and were absolutely fabulous. Homemade potato chips in a few minutes that are so good you won’t want to share. There’s also recommended cooking times for sweet potatoes and apples. I’ll bet the apples would be good with a little sprinkling of cinnamon. That’s next on my list to try if I can ever talk myself into freeing up the chip maker for anything other than chips. Look for one of these gadgets if you want delicious homemade potato chips.

Check out the soup aisle for the Progresso recipe starters cooking sauces. There’s several from which to choose and I went right for the creamy portabella mushroom. The can label has a recipe for beef stroganoff that is wonderful. Just poured over some everyday hamburger patties this sauce will amp up those patties a notch with great taste and ready-made gravy. A couple of cans over some beef in the slow cooker and you have dinner ready for family or company. I’m looking forward to what I can do with the cheesy sauce.

With Carthage’s Maple Leaf week in full swing, don’t forget the Three Minutes of Fame lip sync contest at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Carthage R-9 auditorium. I will be there as the emcee and can assure you that if you haven’t been to one of these competitions, you are missing out on one of the most fun evenings you could imagine. Check out everything going on for this big celebration.

What could be better than a big pot of soup for after Saturday’s Maple Leaf parade? The taco soup is a family favorite and I try to share this recipe once a year around this time. I got the recipe from my dear friend Cindy Harding, and I thank her each time I fix this soup. Make it spicier with hot Ro-Tel. The potato soup recipe is from Jana Dunkle, of Carthage. Jana shared that she changes the recipe up a little, using Ore-Ida steamed and mashed potatoes instead of peeling and dicing the potatoes, uses already shredded carrots and adds a bag of Colby/Monterey Jack cheese mixed in at the end instead of using as a garnish. Sounds easier, faster and just as good. A good idea to have ready after the parade is caramel apples fixed in the slow cooker. This recipe is from the “Fix-It and Forget-It” cookbook and it’s the perfect fall dessert that will fill your kitchen with a mouth-watering aroma. The cinnamon candies the recipe calls for are the small red dots, not the larger hard discs. The recipe says to serve with whipped cream but I say a drizzle of melted chocolate would be good, too. Enjoy Maple Leaf week and happy eating!


Taco soup

1 pound ground beef

1 onion, diced

2 cans pinto beans

1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 can niblet corn

1 package taco seasoning

1 package dry ranch dressing mix

1 to 2 cups water

Brown meat with onion until done. Combine all ingredients in stock pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour. Yields 10 servings.


Loaded baked potato soup

1 pound bacon, roughly chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and diced

3/4 cup diced celery

4 large Russett potatoes, peeled and diced

4 medium red potatoes, diced

1/4 cup flour

2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

4 cups heavy whipping cream

Optional garnishes: chopped chives, bacon bits, sour cream, shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese

Fry bacon until crisp in a 6- to 8-quart stockpot. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. In bacon fat, cook onions, carrots and celery until onions are translucent. Add potatoes and cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in flour and stir constantly over low heat until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add chicken stock and bacon; season with salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Mash some of the potatoes for a thicker, creamier texture. Add whipping cream and simmer 5 minutes. Add water or stock to adjust thickness to creamy consistency. Season to taste and garnish with desired toppings. Serves 6.


Caramel apples

4 very large tart apples, cored

1/2 cup apple juice

8 tablespoons brown sugar

12 hot cinnamon candies

4 tablespoons butter or margarine

8 caramel candies

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Whipped cream

Remove 1/2-inch wide strip of peel off the top of each cored apple and place apples in slow cooker. Pour apple juice over apples. Fill the center of each apple with 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 3 hot cinnamon candies, 1 tablespoon butter and 2 caramel candies. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours or until tender. Serve hot with whipped cream. Yields 4 servings.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.