Stack-E-Up-Es (or the Polynesian Buffet)

by Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom on December 3, 2010

Just before Thanksgiving, we had the pleasure of eating dinner with Christan, her husband and her 3 girls.

(It was so lovely being in a “hormonally balanced” place. 3 boys. 3 boys. All the estrogen and testosterone totally cancelled each other out. But really, it made for a loud and rambunctious evening.)

Christan shared this in an email before we headed over.  I was intrigued.

We’re having Stack-E-Up-E’s…It’s basically rice, topped with shredded chicken, and whatever toppings one desires. I usually put out a variety of veggies, some fruit, and a few nuts. Top it all with soy sauce or teryaki. Everyone gets what they like.

Stack-E-What-Es?!?  I’d never heard of this concept before.

And once I walked into her kitchen as saw this…

…on the counter, I was in love.

I didn’t even need to taste it. Love at first sight.

And then there were these.

Deeper and deeper I fell.

And then there was this. The double date.

If there is a bottom to falling in love, this is when I hit it. These little people of ours had a lovely first double date…and we’re already planning their engagements and weddings!

(I kid.)

Maybe not.

So, like Christan said…you get your plate, add some rice. Add some chicken (hiding under the foil). Then top with the fresh veggies, fruit, nuts, coconut. And drizzle with soy sauce of teriyaki sauce.

Polynesian Buffet. Stack-E-Up-Es. Whatever you want to call it, it was perfect. It had the perfect balance of flavors, colors and textures. It was all-natural, raw-ish ingredients, and left me feeling perfectly full and satisfied! It was gluten free, dairy free…great for those families with food allergies. Skip the parts you can’t eat and add the parts you can. Perfection.

This is the BEST idea for “potluck” style dinner when families get together.

And Christan was right…”Everyone gets what they like.”

And everyone loved it.

(I brought dessert. I will share that recipe tomorrow.)

Thank you Christan for hosting us, and for sharing this amazing concept with us all!!!

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Christy B. December 3, 2010 at 6:44 pm

We call them “Hawaiian Haystacks”. :)


Sarah DeKeyser December 3, 2010 at 6:52 pm

My family has a similar tradition we call “Rice and Curry”
its rice and ground beef cooked up with curry powder. Our family started over 40 years ago with a handful of ingredients. The story is that my great grandfather brought the tradition over from the south pacific after one of the wars (WW1 I believe).
Over the years we have added and taken things off the list of ingredients. Now its over a page long. We divide it up and everyone preps a group of ingredients. We have a whole double table of ingredients.
Whenever you want to “bring someone into the family” they have to attend this rite of passage.


Christan/MamaBearPing December 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm

I would love to see that list. I’ve thought of doing it with ground beef before, but not with curry. Sounds yummy!
What a beautiful family tradition with a great history (my family comes from a long line of veterans too).
Seriously, I would love to have a copy of your recipe with all the different toppings you use. Is it a big family secret, or would you (and your family) be willing to share?


FishMama December 3, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I’d never heard of these either, until recently. A friend facebooked them, only she called them, “Haystacks.”


Crystal from Cincinnati December 3, 2010 at 7:52 pm

We call it Mt. Fuji in our house…we mix the chicken with cream of chicken soup, though, and we also add as an ingredient those crunchy chow mein noodles! You can add whatever crunchy veggies and fruit you want/have on hand, and it’s super easy! We also do a variation of the “haystack” recipe…plate Fritos on a plate…mix a ratio of 1:1 cans of Franco-American Spaghetti in tomato sauce (or generic) and cans of chili beans in sauce. Heat. Put mixture on top of Fritos and add shredded cheese. You can even use canned Hormel Chili when you get it nearly free, instead of the above mixture. Just put over Fritos and add cheese to the top.


Ellen December 3, 2010 at 8:00 pm

I just saw a similar recipe in a cookbook and was thinking “Man, that looks good and fun!” She called them Chinese Sundaes.


Nicole December 3, 2010 at 8:07 pm

And we call them Polynesian Volcanoes.


Debi December 3, 2010 at 10:04 pm

We call them Hawaiian Haystacks and love them. Thanks for the inspiration for tonight’s dinner! It was a little random based on what we had in the kitchen – starting with my hubby’s awesome BBQ Chicken, diced apple, carrots, green onions, pineapple, toasted pecans and peanuts. Oh and rice. Hey – that’s what we had! Everyone loved it :) Thanks again!


Lauren December 3, 2010 at 11:07 pm

My husband’s family does something similar. They call it Fiesta. They basically have taco meat and tortilla chips (or sometimes Fritos) and then lots of different toppings that you can add to make your own personal plate. They have a large family and it’s an easy way to make something that everyone likes


Cara December 4, 2010 at 8:59 am

My grandmother used to make this all the time! We called it Chicken on the Mountain!


Kim December 4, 2010 at 11:07 am

Hawaiian Haystacks! We use those crunchy chinese noodles (the name is escaping me now) and shredded cheese along with other fruits and veggies.


Ruth December 4, 2010 at 11:48 am

I LOVE this idea! I have some picky eaters and think they will appreciate the variety. LOVE the dishes too! (from The Pampered Chef)


Christan/MamaBearPing December 4, 2010 at 3:30 pm

The dishes ARE Pampered Chef with a little IKEA mixed in. I heart them too :) I have to keep myself from buying any more. But if I keep adding toppings, I’m going to have to! I’m sure my Pampered Chef consultant will be happy about that!


Christan/MamaBearPing December 4, 2010 at 3:28 pm

OMG! I love all the different names for this! Next time I invite someone over, I’m going to say, “We’re having Stack-E-Up-E Chinese Fuji Haystack Hawaiian Chicken Sundaes on the Volcano Mountain of Rice Fiesta.” It’s like a multi-ethnic party on a plate! And the ideas for toppings are great! I love the thought of using Chow Mein Noodles, Pecans, Peanuts and chopped up apples. I’m going to add them to the mix next time. We have used Shredded Cheddar in the past, but didn’t since we were trying to be dairy-free for that meal.


Claire December 5, 2010 at 5:09 pm

I love all the names as well. Very creative! I hope to make these soon. Maybe at my daughter’s first birthday party on Sat. Hey, that’s a good idea. We will have them! Forget the homemade mac and cheese or the BBQ chicken I was gonna make. This looks more fun and healthy. Now to come up with a new name for our family?


Joanna @ Starving Student Survivor December 7, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Another vote for the name “Hawaiian Haystacks.” Although my mom would randomly call them “Chinese Sundaes,” which with the pineapple and coconut didn’t quite make as much sense.


Claire December 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Alright! We had them tonight for my daughter’s first birthday party and they were a hit. My brother really liked them. I had 2 plates of it, so good. Thank you for the idea. We stuck with the name Plynesian Buffet.


nellana December 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Which veggies did you use and are the carrots raw or cooked? these sound really good. we have done a mexican one with crushed corn chips with a meat and bean mixture and then all sorts of toppings including coconut and nuts.


Erin, The $5 Dinner Mom December 29, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Hey Nellana,

The carrots Christan used were raw…but either way would work! I love the Mexican themed idea too! Yum!



Nicki January 12, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I tried this for the first time tonight with my family and it was a HUGE hit! My son is a very picky eater and he just loaded up his plate without hesitation…3 times! He even put sliced almonds and coconut on top. I was amazed. I just called them stacks because I didn’t want to call them anything too fancy because I didn’t want to turn my son off before he tried it. The only thing I did different was I made a sweet sauce I found in a blog during the summer (might have been $5 dinners) that was for a veggie dip but I liked it enough I used it on salad as well and it worked awesome on these. The sauce is 2 Tbsp rice vinegar, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, then gradually wisk in 4 Tbsp of olive oil. Thanks so much! Definitely a keeper.


Lauren S February 18, 2011 at 8:19 am

Just came across this post today. These look wonderful. I’ll be adding them to my menu for next week. I think my hubby & teen boys will love them. Now to go make a shopping list for all the fun toppings I want to include.


Mary June 15, 2011 at 12:14 pm

How do you could the chicken? Like what kind of spices and such?


Christan/MamaBearPing June 15, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I use boneless/skinless thighs (you could use breasts too). I salt and pepper them, cover with chicken broth (homemade or canned) and then cook covered at 375 until done (which is usually around an hour or so – it’s best when the chicken shreds easily). Or, you can do the same thing and put it in a crockpot on low for about 8 hours. Hope that helps.


Shonda June 16, 2011 at 8:49 am

We’ve had these at church fellowships and family get togethers – we call it Happy Mountain! Always rave reviews and many refills – it’s been awhile since we’ve had this, so I think I need to put it on the menu soon!!


Beck April 20, 2013 at 7:11 pm

I just wanted to say “thank you!” for this blog post. This is now one of our family favourites. :)


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