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Polar Fest's inaugural hotdish challenge brings in big, hungry crowd

Detroit Lakes Newspapers' own Luanna Lake took home the first place trophy from the inaugural 'Minne-Soda Hotdish Challenge,' held Sunday, Feb. 11 at Grace Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

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.

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.