Friday, April 29, 2005


This is a really easy dish (it works wonderfully in an electric skillet)


1 1/2 cps Water
1 envelope French's Brown Gravy Mix
1/4 cup Honey
3 Tbl Soy Sauce
2 Tbl Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp ground Ginger
1/4 tsp minced Garlic
2 Tbl Oil (I prefer peanut oil)
2 to 3 lbs Pork Steak (boned, trimmed, and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 med Onion (chopped)
1 sm Bell Pepper (any color), chopped
4 Carrots, thinly sliced

In a mixing bowl, whisk the gravy mix into the water. Stir in the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and garlic. Set aside.

In large skillet (NOT cast iron), heat oil on med high (350 on elec. skillet) till you see a wisp of smoke. Add the pork, and brown about 10 min. Add onion and bell pepper, cook, stirring, until onion just begins to clarify. Stir sauce and pour over meat, reduce heat to simmer and cook, covered about 15 mins, stirring occasionally. Add carrots, cook 20 min covered, stirring occasionally. Serve over rice.

Like my sister, I can almost never resist the temptation to experiment with recipes. Over the years, this recipe has morphed into:

1 1/2 cp Water
1/4 cp & 1 Tbl Brown Sugar, firmly packed
3 Tbl Soy Sauce
2 Tbl Red Wine Vinegar
1 tsp ground Ginger
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 tsp Cornstarch

Whisk together and set aside.
2 Tbl Peanut Oil
2 to 3 lbs Pork Steak (boned, trimmed, and sliced against the grain into 1/4" strips
2 ribs Celery, sliced thin
4 Carrots, sliced thin
1 bunch Green Onions (including greens) , sliced diagonally into 3/8" pieces
1 med Bell Pepper (sliced into thin strips)
8 oz Sugar Snap Peas, fresh or frozen

Heat Wok over med high heat. It is is ready when it is uncomfortable to hold your hand 1" above the surface. Add the oil. When the first wisp of smoke appears, add the pork. Stir fry until juice cooks off and pork just starts to brown. Add celery and carrots, stir fry 6 min. Add remaining vegetables, stir fry 3 min. Stir sauce and pour over wok contents. Cook, stirring, until sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat, serve over rice, chinese noodles, or chow mein noodles.

Best song to cook this dish by: RUNNING ON EMPTY by Jackson Browne

posted by Mark

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Better Than Sex Cake

In the church cookbook it is simply labeled 'Chocolate or Lemon Dessert', but half the fun's in the name!

I very seldom leave a recipe entirely alone, so I'll give you the original version, and then tell you how I make it:)

1 cup flour
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (plus some extra)
1 stick butter
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz tub Cool Whip
2 small boxes of pudding (Cook 'n Serve chocolate, or instant lemon)
[Instant chocolate works, but it isn't nearly as good]

Layer 1:
Combine flour, nuts, and butter. Mix and press into ungreased 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees 15 minutes. Cool.

Layer 2:
Cream together powdered sugar and cream cheese. Fold in (actually I just use the mixer) 1 cup Cool Whip. Spread over cooled crust.

Layer 3:
Prepare pudding, using 3 cups of milk. Pour over 2nd layer (chocolate pudding will need to be cooled first--you might want to make it ahead witht the crust).

Layer 4:
Spread the remaining Cool Whip over the top and sprinkle with nuts. Regrigerate.

This makes a very nice dessert, however, I find the crust a little bland. So I substitute an Oreo Cookie crust (recipe to follow) and sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top instead of the nuts. The chocolate crust gives the dessert a little pizzaz! (Note: Oreo crust would probably
notgo well with the lemon, but why would I choose lemon over chocolate?!?)

Oreo Cookie Crust:
2 cups Oreo Cookie crumbs
6 tbls sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened

Mix ingredients with a fork and press into the bottom of the pan. Chill.

Actually, a graham cracker crust works well, too. I use 2-1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, 2/3 cup butter.

This is one of my absolute favorite desserts!


Wednesday, April 27, 2005


This is a recipe I adapted from one of Jeff Smith's (The Frugal Gourmet) books. Basically, I use small curd instead of large curd cottage cheese (I like the texture better), and changed the cheeses. I used to make it for Easter Sunrise breakfasts, and carry in brunches. Along with biscuits and gravy, it is now part of my families Christmas breakfast tradition!

This is a wonderfully versatile dish. You can add almost any ingredients to it your heart desires. I like it with sausage, sauteed onions and bell peppers. My son likes it with bacon. Fish, shrimp, scallops, mixed veggies, all are excellent ingredients. At one of Jeff Smith's restaurants, they used to make this quiche every Friday and add the weeks leftovers to it. They called it a Synopsis Quiche, because it was a brief synopsis of what had been on the menu during the week. The leftovers are great because this dish microwaves wonderfully!


10 Eggs
1/4 lb Butter (melted)
1/2 cp Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 lb Cottage Cheese (small curd)*
1/2 lb aged Swiss Cheese (shredded)
1/2 lb Monterey Jack Cheese (shredded)

Whip eggs until fluffy. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, cottage cheese, melted butter, swiss cheese.** Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Top with Jack cheese. Bake 400 deg. for 15 min, reduce to 350 for 35 to 40 min, or until top is lightly brown.

* Always use 100% dairy Cottage Cheese (like Michigan Brand). If ingredient list says much beyond milk, cream, rennet, salt...avoid it!

** Add any other cooked ingredients you desire at this point!

posted by Mark

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Lime Jello Salad

Aha! Success!!

Mark asked me to look for this recipe, and I was unable to find it--until I started looking for something else, that is. And after all, what is a potluck without jello salad?

This is as easy as it gets. It is traditionally made with lime jello, but any flavor you like will do. I sometimes use strawberry or cherry.

2 small or 1 large package jello
1-1/2 cups boiling water
1 can ginger ale (and, of course, around here's it's Vernor's)
2 cups applesauce

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Add ginger ale and applesauce and refrigerate until set.

Posted by Barb

Mark's note: The original reecipe calls for this salad to be topped with coarsly ground peanuts!

p.s. At family dinners, my niece Krista and I always fight over this dish!

Monday, April 25, 2005

Fat Potatoes

This is my family's absolute favorite potluck dish--and if you want something that'll stick to your ribs and clog your arteries, this is it!! I make these for my family at the holidays because all the prep work can be done a day or two in advance, and then they can be popped in the oven or crockpot the day of dinner. And when I make them for potluck, there are never any leftovers.

These instructions are for a small batch. I usually make a double, or for my six-quart crockpot, 2-1/2 batches.

9 medium white potatoes
1 stick butter
8 oz cream cheese
8 oz sour cream

Peel and boil potatoes with a little salt in the water until potatoes are tender (just like you're making mashed potatoes).

Drain potatoes and add butter, cream cheese, and sour cream and beat with electric mixer until smooth.

Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees (45 minutes if they have been made ahead and refrigerated), or cook in crockpot on high about 4 hours or on low for 6-8.

I've yet to meet anyone who doesn't love these!


Sunday, April 24, 2005

Strawberry Refrigerator Cake

This is a favorite (and easy to make). It can also be made as a reduced sugar dessert for diabetics--just substitute sugar-free jello, and buy unsweetened strawberries and sweeten to taste with Splenda or NutriSweet.

You will need:

(2) commercial (not made from package mix) angel food cakes.
(2) packages strawberry jello
(2) 10 oz packages frozen strawberries
(1) 8 oz tub Cool Whip (or one package Dream Whip, prepared as directed)
(1) tbls cornstarch
(1) tlbs butter


Dissolve 2 packages of strawberry jello in one cup of boiling water. Drain 1 cup of juice for the strawberries and reserve. Add berries and remaining juice to jello mixture. Refrigerate jello mixture until it begins to thicken. Break cakes into walnut-size chunks and fold cake pieces and Cool Whip into jello mixture. Place in large, well-buttered angel food cake pan. Refrigerate until set.

Unmold cake onto large platter. Mix 1 tbls cornstarch with 1 cup of strawberry juice. Cook until mixture boils and thickens. Add butter. When cool, pour over unmolded cake.

posted by Barb

Mark's note: This is my daughter's absolute favorite cake. She ALWAYS requests it for her birthday. It is one of the few things we agree on, it's my favorite too!


My ex wife used to teach kindergarten at a parochial school here in South Bend. The principal there used to make this soup for school "carry ins" (apparently the Catholic term for potluck). This is a terrific soup for a cold winters day (like we are currently experiencing here)!


3/4 cp wild rice, cooked according to package directions, rinsed, drained well
4 Tbls butter or margarine
1 sm. onion, minced
1/4 cp flour
4 cp chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
1 cp half and half
2 Tbls dry sherry
1 cp ham cubes

Saute onions in butter until clear. Blend in flour, then gradually add broth. cook stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in rice, salt, and ham. Cook 5 min. Blend in half and half and sherry. Heat to serving temperature!

posted by Mark

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Here it is, our first post! This is one of my all time favorite church potluck desserts. My mom used to make this often for church potlucks and Sunday School class parties.


2 cps Flour
1/2 cp Brown Sugar
1 cp finely chopped Nutmeats
1 cp Butter

Mix like pie crust. Spread in 9x13x2 pan. Bake 15 min at 400 degrees. When cool, crumble into fine pieces and press firmly on bottom of pan.

1 8oz pkg Cream Cheese
1 cp Powdered Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
2 pkgs. Dream Whip
1 1/2 cp. (1 can) Cherry Pie Filling

Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla together. Beat Dream Whip as directed on package, then add cheese mixture. Pour onto crust and top with pie filling. Chill 12 hours.

This goes really well with a good cup of coffee! Enjoy!


Barb's note: Mom always used pecans in the crust. I usually use a graham cracker crust because my husband doesn't like the original one (as Mom would have said, "There's no accounting for taste.") He also doesn't like cherry pie filling, so I often use strawberry (usually homemade--there's just something weird about the consistency of canned strawberry pie filling!). Blueberry's pretty good, too!