Got hotdish? You betcha! Polar Fest's inaugural 'Minne-Soda' Hotdish Challenge brought in nine mouthwatering contributions from area businesses, organizations and individuals, and packed the fellowship hall at Grace Lutheran Church almost to capacity on Sunday, Feb. 11.

A panel of celebrity judges including former Fargo-area television journalist Kathy Coyle, Hotdish Challenge Chair Jim Brogren, DL Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes and Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steven Todd conducted a blind taste test on each of the nine entries submitted, while a full house of happy diners were also invited to vote for their own People's Choice winner.

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Luanna Lake's first place hotdish, titled "Hot Chicken Salad," combined chicken, vegetables, eggs and cashews and earned her a nice commemorative trophy.

Norma Flem Perry's second place hotdish - which also took People's Choice honors - showcased the beauty of North Dakota beans by combining a unique variety of them with a sweet sauce, and earned her a stocking cap commemorating the event's featured new 'Minne-Soda,' Mountain Dew Ice.

Lake said she got the winning recipe from Kyle Shulz, a longtime neighbor at her family's home in Sebeka. Shulz, in turn, informed her that she got the recipe from her own mother, the late Bernice Herfindal of Hitterdal, Minn. - who said she had copied it out of a magazine, where it was listed as the favorite recipe of former First Lady Pat Nixon.

Here is the complete recipe for Lake's winning dish:

Hot Chicken Salad


• 4 c. chicken, cooked, diced

• 4 hard boiled eggs, diced

• 2 c. celery

• 1 small jar piementos

• 4 tbsp. onion

• 3/4 c. mayonnaise

• 1 can cream of chicken soup

• 2 tbsp. lemon juice

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese


Mix this all together in a bowl and transfer to an oblong baking dish, then top with:


• 1½ c. crushed potatoes chips

• 1 c. slivered almonds


Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.