Well, not really. Actually, I could be accused of stealing the idea from him. Doesn't matter, there's nothing unique or exclusive about a good ol' hotdish cookoff contest. The more the merrier.
Sen. Al Franken last year proposed a Minnesota hotdish contest "as a way to bring the delegation together at the start of the new session to celebrate Minnesota before tackling the issues facing the state."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar won last year's contest with her "Taconite Tater Tot Hot Dish." First District Congressman Tim Walz came in second with his "Chicken Mushroom Wild Rice Hot Dish."
This year, Franken and 8th District Congressman Chip Cravaak tied for the top prize.
Last summer, as you might recall, I hosted an "Ultimate Minnesota Hotdish" contest among Post-Bulletin readers. I got more than 100 entries, which were judged by a panel of real life "church ladies" and others at my church, Mt. Olive Lutheran in Rochester. The overall champion was Lynne Olson of rural Pine Island, who won with her "Chicken Artichoke Hotdish." Yes, a dish with the exotic artichoke won a Minnesota cooking contest.
You can find a rundown of this year's Minnesota congressional cooking contest, complete with recipes, compliments of Sen. Franken, here.
Here — back by popular demand — is Lynne Olson winning recipe:
2 cups bow tie pasta, cooked as directed
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
1 14-oz. can of water packed artichoke hearts. Rinsed, drained and chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Crushed croutons for topping
Bake in a greased casserole dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.