- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Many of my baby-boomer television memories have to do with someone on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” or “Bewitched” calling home to say he was bringing guests for dinner. Unlike Samantha on “Bewitched,” who could create a sumptuous meal with the twitch of her nose, we can’t perform such magic.

We have to open the freezer and the pantry, peer inside, pray a little and get creative.

If you keep steaks, chicken breasts, pork chops — something to grill — in the freezer, you always have dinner. Thaw the meat according to the directions that came with your microwave oven, season or marinate it (the meat) and chill until time to cook. Scrub some baking potatoes, prick with a fork and place in a 425-degree oven an hour before dining.

As for the salad, well, it prepares itself as long as you have a handy Caesar salad kit in the refrigerator drawer. Open the bag into a pretty glass bowl, add some cherry tomato halves if you have them and dress the salad at the last minute so it doesn’t get soggy.

As for dessert, you have to get baking. The pretty bundt cake that follows bakes like a dream and looks stunning glazed with a simple mixture of sugar and orange juice after being placed on a cake stand. Take a bite and savor the tang of the orange zest, and you’ll imagine you’re eating one of those creamy coated ice-cream pops.

Five time-shaving ways to turn a Caesar salad kit into a main dish: A typical Caesar salad kit contains chopped romaine lettuce, grated Parmesan cheese, croutons and a creamy dressing. It will serve three or four. Here are some ways to make the salad a bit more interesting and filling should you want it to be the meal.

• Toss the salad with 3 cups of hot cooked penne and pass extra grated Parmesan cheese at the table.

• Bake frozen popcorn chicken and scatter the pieces over the top of the salad while they’re still hot. Add crumbled blue cheese and halved cherry tomatoes.

• Top each serving of the salad with a small slice of grilled salmon. Serve with fresh lemon wedges and avocado cubes.

• Marinate chicken slices in bottled Caesar dressing. Remove the chicken and discard the dressing. Grill the chicken and pile it onto the salad, which is dressed with the packet that comes with the kit.

• Serve the salad with precooked shrimp, slices of fresh mango and a handful of chopped cilantro, if desired.

Orange Dreamsicle cake


Vegetable-oil spray for misting the pan

Flour for dusting the pan

1 18.25-ounce package plain yellow cake mix

3/4 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing

1 1.3-ounce package whipped topping mix

3/4 cup fresh orange juice (from 2 medium oranges)

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest


1½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Lightly spray a 10-inch tube pan with vegetable-oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pan aside.

Place cake mix, salad dressing, whipped topping mix, orange juice, eggs and orange zest in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.

Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula. Increase mixer speed to medium; beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well-blended and thick. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place pan on center rack of a preheated 350-degree oven.

Bake cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a long, sharp knife around edge of the cake, invert it onto a rack and invert again onto another rack so it is right-side-up. Allow the cake to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Place confectioners’ sugar and orange juice in a small bowl; mix with a spoon until smooth. Place cake on a serving platter. Spoon glaze over top of the cooled cake and let it drizzle into the center and down the sides. Let rest for 20 minutes for the glaze to set, then slice and serve. Makes 16 servings.


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