March is nearly over, and what a difference a year has made.

Last year, we welcomed March with warm weather, but as we have found out, March can be known to be a battle between winter and spring. It’s officially spring, but winter is still winning the battle. As we begin each new day, we aren’t sure just what the weather is going to be. Still, each day we know we have a family that needs to be fed.

Each month has a “special” food recognition day, and oranges and lemons share March 31 with “taters.” Even if meat is the star of most of our meals, potatoes come in a close second. And there is no shortage of ways to prepare a perfect potato side dish. Top off your meal and brighten any day with a colorful salad and dessert. Put a little spring in your step as we enter April, and don’t let the weather fool you with your meal planning — just enjoy each new day.

Lemon Salad

1 large package lemon gelatin mix

1 cup boiling water

1 (15-ounce) can crushed pineapple, do not drain

1 (8-ounce) package pineapple-flavored cream cheese

1 (8-ounce) carton whipped topping

1 large jar maraschino cherries, chopped

1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Add pineapple and juice. Chill until almost set. Beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Fold in whipped topping. Fold into almost set gelatin mixture. Fold in cherries and pecans. Pour into desired mold and chill until firm.

Potato Dish for 2

2 potatoes, peeled, sliced thin

3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

Salt and pepper to taste

Lay potatoes into ungreased 1.5-quart casserole dish. Toss together butter, onion, salt and pepper. Drizzle over potatoes. Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 1 hour or until potatoes test done.

Fluffy Fruit Salad

2 cans (20 ounce each) pineapple tidbits, drain, save juice

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 beaten eggs

1/4 cup orange juice

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 (15-ounce) cans fruit cocktail, drained

2 (11-ounce) cans mandarin oranges, drained

3 bananas, cubed

1 (12-ounce) carton whipped toping

Measure 1 cup of the pineapple juice into a small saucepan; add sugar, cornstarch, eggs, orange juice, lemon juice and oil. Mix well and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool. In a large bowl, toss all fruits together; fold in whipped topping. Fold in cooled cooked mixture. Chill at least 4 hours or overnight before serving. Makes 12 servings.

Sparkling Fruit Salad

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin

3 cups sweet white grape juice or 1 1/2 cups grape juice and 1 1/2 cups sweet white wine

1/4 cup sugar

2 (11-ounce) cans mandarin oranges

1 cup seedless green grapes, halved

1 cup fresh red raspberries

In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup of the grape juice. Let stand until softened. Heat gelatin over low heat until completely dissolved. Add remaining grape juice, sugar and either 1 1/2 cups more grape juice or the 1 1/2 cups wine. Cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and chill until almost set. Fold in fruit. Pour into desired mold, and chill until firm.

Grandma’s German Oven Potatoes

8 potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

1 1/2 cups cooked, diced ham

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 cups grated cheddar cheese

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

1 cup heavy cream (or half-and-half )

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 teaspoon paprika

Salt and pepper

Toss together potatoes, ham, red pepper and cheddar cheese until well mixed. Pour into buttered 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Whisk together eggs, sour cream, cream, Parmesan cheese and chives until well mixed. Season with paprika, salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over potato mixture, and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour or until tests done. Makes 6 servings.

Potato Beef Casserole

2 pounds ground beef

1/2 cup chopped onion

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups peeled, diced potatoes

1 can tomato rice soup

2 cups peeled, sliced carrots

1 can tiny peas

2 stalks (ribs) celery, sliced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice

1 soup can tomato juice or more, if needed

Brown beef and onion together, season to taste. Pour over bottom of baking dish. Lay potatoes over beef. Pour tomato rice soup over potatoes. Lay carrots next, top with peas, then celery and drizzle tomato juice over all. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until all is tender. Makes 8 to 12 servings.

Chocolate Leftover Mashed Potato Cookies

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine

1 egg

1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup chocolate chips, melted

1/2 cup leftover mashed potatoes

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Combine brown sugar, butter, egg and extract in a large mixing bowl; beat until smooth and creamy. Beat in melted chocolate and potatoes. Sift together flour, salt and soda; gradually beat into creamed mixture alternately with milk. Fold in walnuts. Drop by small spoonfuls onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool and frost with your favorite chocolate frosting. Makes 5 dozen.

Sunshine Lemon Cake

2-layer lemon cake mix

1 small box lemon gelatin (dry)

2 small jars apricot baby food

3/4 cup cooking oil

3 eggs

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed of mixer for 5 full minutes. Pour into well greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Glaze while warm with following glaze: Whisk together 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thin glaze. Drizzle over warm cake.

Springtime Cake

2-layer yellow cake mix

1 cup orange juice

1/3 cup canola oil

1 (6-ounce) carton orange creme yogurt

1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel

1 egg

2 egg whites

1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon orange liqueur or orange juice

1/2 cup orange marmalade

Combine cake mix, 1 cup orange juice, oil, yogurt, orange peel, egg and egg whites in a mixing bowl; beat until smooth and well mixed. Pour into cooking-spray-coated Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes or until tests done. Let rest in pan 5 minutes before removing from pan. Place on serving tray. Combine liqueur and marmalade in microwave-safe bowl and microwave until jam is melted. Drizzle over warm cake.

My Version Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

2-layer lemon cake mix

1 small package instant lemon pudding mix, dry

4 eggs

1 cup water

1/2 cup canola oil

1/4 cup poppy seeds

In a large bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil; beat for 2 minutes. Fold in poppy seeds. Pour into greased and floured 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool and drizzle following glaze over top: Combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons water and enough lemon juice to reach a thin glaze consistency.

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