Thursday, May 8, 2008


I wasn't born a food snob. Like all prejudices, it began at home. I remember the school nurse calling my mother to report that I was not eating my lunch--not a problem these days, regrettably--and suggesting that she make me peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. My mother gave her an earful on the subject of peanut butter and jelly, something we did not have in our home until my father developed a taste for it when he was well into his 50's. We also did not have cream cheese, cottage cheese, sour cream, fish sticks, canned ravioli, casseroles of any kind--what my mother, a second generation American, deemed "ah-meh-dee-gan"; or, "American" food. Sad to say that my disdain for "inferior" foods only grew worse. Many foods were relegated to inferior status: iceberg lettuce; all canned fruits and vegetables; bottled sauces and salad dressings. Early on, I guess you could say that anything that wasn't prepared from scratch was deemed inferior. I am a harsher critic of restaurants than any NY Times critic--just ask Larry! Then, about 10 years ago, I noticed a seeming contradiction in my formerly "pure" palate. I began to like, then crave, certain dishes that could only be described as the lowest form of cooking. Suddenly casseroles and desserts prepared from store-bought ingredients made it to my table, first just for the two of us and then for company. It had finally happened. I was now truly assimilated. If you promise not to tell, I'm going to share two of my favorite "dirty little secrets."

(I call these church potatoes because this is just the kind of casserole you might find at a covered dish supper. These are equally good at brunch or dinner. People practically lick the bowl clean.)

1 2 lb package frozen hash brown potatoes
1 10 3/4 oz cans cream of mushroom soup
3 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
3 finely chopped scallions

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Transfer to a lightly greased 13X9X2 glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for about 75 minutes.


7 Hershey Skor bars, finely crushed (leave wrappers on to do this)
1 chocolate pudding cake OR pan of brownies OR any chocolate cake, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup coffee liqueur
4 boxes of chocolate mousse, prepared according to package instructions
freshly made whipped cream (1 pint cream; 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar; 1 tsp vanilla)

In a pretty glass bowl layer:
1/2 chocolate cake pieces
1/2 mousse
3 Skor bar pieces
1/2 whipped cream

Repeat and top with 7th Skor bar. Refrigerate and serve. Be ready for lots of moaning.

1 comment:

  1. Arlene, I'm going to copy your recipes for an exquisite cookbook!!
    I'm looking forward to your blog.

    Love and Hugs, Peg


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