Barbara Kjos' homemade potato salad is made with potatoes boiled just enough, but not too much, and with lots of crunchy onion, pickle and celery to balance out the texture.


You wouldn't think eggs and whiskey would go hand in hand, but if you're in the kitchen with my dad, they might just end up together.

Among the many things my relatively worldly dad taught my mom when he was wooing her - this was in the mid-1960s - is that a dash of good whiskey lends a lovely smoky flavor to scrambled eggs. Just add a splash after you've poured the beaten eggs into the skillet over medium-high heat, then allow the eggs to cook several minutes, stirring every once in a while, so the alcohol dissipates and the eggs set.

While the clichéd dad is known for his steak-charring charms, my dad, Glenn, is known for turning his version of pasta and sauce into two delicious meals: traditional sauce and noodles the first night, then baked spaghetti the second.

Just place the leftover noodles in a baking dish, add some spaghetti sauce, stir to coat the noodles, top with whatever extra sauce you might have, and let cool. Refrigerate overnight. The next day grate enough cheese over the top of the spaghetti to cover it - medium to sharp cheddar holds up to the sauce - and bake for about an hour, covered, at 350 degrees.

Dad also makes a mean chili, which is a close cousin to his spaghetti sauce but with green pepper and, of course, chili powder.

But as we gear up for the Fourth of July - my dad's birthday - something cold is more appropriate. Beer comes to mind here, but what I'm talking about is another one of my dad's favorites: Mom's potato salad. What makes this a star versus others I've tasted is that my mother, Barbara, boils the potatoes just enough, but not too much, then once they're cooled, peeled and cut up, adds plenty of crunchy things to balance out the texture of the dressing (she uses Miracle Whip), mayonnaise and potatoes.

We spent some time recently experimenting with measurements and cooking times, since Mom makes this dish out of habit, not by following a recipe. Cooking time for 12 medium potatoes ended up being 45 minutes; be careful to not overboil them.

My colleague Ann Brown, a Star copy editor, offered her version of potato salad, too. Not a fan of things caloric - she loathes full-fat mayo - Ann created her version about 20 years ago and has had nary a complaint.

She assures me that diners can't tell it's low-cal, which is a huge selling point for this all-American favorite.

Whichever you choose, be sure to make plenty because both go fast.

Barbara Kjos' Potato Salad

Prepare this dish a day in advance to allow it to chill and the flavors to mingle. If the mixture seems dry right off, do not add mayonnaise. If it's still dry after it's refrigerated, then add mayonnaise as needed. If it needs salt and/or lacks flavor, add 1/2 teaspoon of pickle juice.

Serves: 10 to 12

• 12 medium russet potatoes, about 4 1/2 pounds, scrubbed and boiled (cooking directions follow)

• 8 eggs, hard boiled and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces

• 1 cup Miracle Whip

• 3/4 cup mayonnaise

• 4 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard

• 1 1/2 cup celery, diced

• 1/2 cup white or yellow onion, diced

• 3/4 cup dill pickle, diced

• 1 tablespoon pickle juice

• Salt and pepper to taste

• Celery seed for garnish

Place whole potatoes in a 5-quart saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, with lid slightly ajar (about 20 minutes). Reduce heat to medium and boil until potatoes are tender - but not too soft - when pricked with a fork, 23-25 minutes. Drain, then cool about an hour, until they're cool enough too handle. Use a paring knife to remove peels in long strips, then cut the potatoes into 1/2-inch cubes and place them in an oversized bowl.

While the potatoes are cooking boil the eggs: Carefully place eggs in a 2-quart saucepan, cover with cool water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the eggs on the stove for about 10 minutes. Drain and cool, then chop into 1/4-inch pieces. Add to the potatoes along with the celery, onion and pickle.

In a small bowl mix together Miracle Whip, mayonnaise and mustard. Fold this mixture into the potatoes, carefully coating all the ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste.

Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least two hours. When ready to serve, garnish with a sprinkling of celery seeds.

Ann Brown's Potato Salad

This version of the summertime favorite cuts the calories and fat grams of traditional potato salads by using fat-free Italian salad dressing for flavor and moisture, and fat-free mayonnaise as the binding ingredient. Leaving on the potato skins bumps up nutritional value and adds color to the salad.

Makes: 10-12 side dish-size servings

• 3 pounds of red bliss potatoes with skins, cut into 3/4-inch chunks

• 1/2 cup green onions, chopped (use some of the green part, too)

• 1/2 cup fat-free Italian salad dressing

• 1/2 cup celery, chopped

• 3 eggs (hard cooked, sliced and chopped)

• 1/2 - 3/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise

• Paprika for garnish (optional)

• Sprig of parsley for garnish (optional)

Scrub potatoes and prick the skins with a fork. Cover potatoes with water in 4-quart saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender; drain and cool slightly.

When cool enough to handle, cut the potatoes into 3/4-inch chunks. Combine potatoes with onions in a large salad bowl and pour on Italian dressing. Toss gently, cover and chill at least 2 hours.

Set aside a few slices of egg for garnish. Add celery and eggs to potatoes and mix gently. Add 1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise and stir. If a more moist salad or additional binding is desired, add up to an additional 1/4 cup.

Smooth the top of the salad with the back of a large spoon. Garnish with egg slices, a sprinkle of paprika and a sprig of parsley. Refrigerate before and after serving.

Variation: Mix up the types of potatoes in the salad and explore the varying flavor and textures of potatoes, like the buttery flavor and creamy texture of a Yukon Gold. Trader Joe's often has a medley of yellow, red and purple - yes, purple - potatoes.