Salads & Cake

A week’s work of business travel and, boy, was I happy to get home again.  Home to my own bed, my own kitchen and my own crew.

Back in the office Monday, I immediately noticed the sign-up sheet for our next office potluck.  This time a salad bar was suggested.  In keeping with our company’s increased attention to our health and many people’s efforts to trim their waistlines, the salad bar sounded like a great idea … on paper.

You see, we’ve been down this path before.

Yep, this ain’t our first rodeo.

Hold on a minute .. did you say potluck?? (the great Sam Elliott in Tombstone)

Office potlucks are, for some, a delightful opportunity to pound the communal drum, for others, the bane of their office existence.

Here are a few simple guidelines that I’ve found work for me; I’m sharing them here so we can all navigate easily through the political landscape of the office potluck:

  • Contribute on some level. Can’t cook? Stop by the local deli and buy something to share. Limited budget?   Bring a (new) roll of plastic wrap or tinfoil – the cooks in the crowd will admire your creativity (and you can save $$ by buying at the dollar store).  Having said that, showing up with a half eaten bag of Lay’s potato chips does not make you a hero, it makes you a putz.
  • No showing off. Love to cook? Go for it! We love that you orchestrated a seven layered Tiramisu for us but if you get all Braggerty McBraggert about it we’ll nibble it down with a spoonful of resentment. And when we’re annoyed with you, we’re less likely give compliments. And admit it, that’s why you stayed up till midnight anyways.
  • Take part.  I have a few food sensitivities but that doesn’t mean I can’t participate. I bring my lunch and I can always find something to comment on and sample.  And, I make it a point to join the crowd and eat with the group – the communal setting lends itself to getting to know each other a little bit better.
  • Mind your manners.  If you have a comment about what another person brought or made, please make sure it’s kind.  Even better if its within earshot.  Remember your parents saying,  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Announcing that you hate garlic, going into gastric detail about how it affects you and that you don’t understand why anyone in their right mind would even use garlic just makes makes me want to bring garlic bread next time. 🙂
  • When in doubt, admire the effort.  Not willing to try chain smoker Carl’s brownies?  Avoiding cat lady’s cheese ball?  Doesn’t mean you can’t give them something to go on, “Wow! That must have taken you a lot of time to put together!”  Trust me: people will love that you noticed.  Warning: don’t say this unless you’re already holding a full plate.  Otherwise you could end up with a heaping helping of the delectable you’re trying to dodge.

So, back to our salad bar potluck today; here’s the hard, cold truth of the matter –the fruits and veggie tray, the lettuce and toppings – they will be left largely untouched and dishes containing these three food staples – cheese, Cool Whip or BBQ sauce –  will disappear faster than you can make room for pie.


I’m packing my lunch and bringing a cake! (recipe below)

Yep, a cake mix cake topped with, you got it, Cool Whip, pineapple, Jell-O pudding and cream cheese.  Fantastic with a salad!

MJ’s Pineapple Delight Cake:

  • 1 box yellow or white cake mix
  • 1 small (1 oz.) pkg. vanilla or lemon instant pudding
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. whipped cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple, SAVE the juice*
  • 1 12 oz. container of Cool Whip
  • 2 c. milk

Directions — Make cake according to box instructions except substitute the pineapple juice for any water the cake mix calls for.  Bake in a 9 x 13 pan and let cool completely.

For the topping, pour the cream cheese, instant pudding and milk into a mixing bowl and blend well with an electric mixer (about 2-3 min or until it starts to set).

Spread the cream cheese/pudding/milk gloriousness over the cooled cake. Next, cover that goodness with the crushed pineapple and top with a hearty layer of Cool Whip (or real whipped cream if you’re feeling ambitious).  Top with nuts if you like – or not – it’s delicious either way.

Refrigerate overnight and, before serving, take a slab for yourself  ’cause there’s no way any of it is coming home with you!

see the layers? Double click on image for a drool-worthy closeup.

* * *

How about your office? 

Do people go for the green or sprint to the cheese & Cool Whip?

Categories: Determination, Food, Fun, Life, Personal, Recipes, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 43 Comments

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43 thoughts on “Salads & Cake

  1. 1.) I’ve missed you!
    2.) A photo of Sam Elliott: way to start my day!! (swoon)

    Motor Man has been counting Weight Watcher points recently, and I’ve been making a pineapple cake for him to snack on. I’m sure yours is MUCH better. (His has 2 ingredients: angel food cake mix and a can of crused pineapple.)
    Good luck at the pot luck!

    • Thank you, Dianna! I’ve missed you, too 🙂 And … yeah, Sam Elliott. You’re welcome … heh heh.

      Your cake sounds delicious as well …. I love pineapple – fresh or in a cake like this.

      As I expected, the potluck was a hodge-podge of dishes but the cake was definitely a hit 🙂 MJ

  2. Great post idea, MJ. Someone should have written something like this a long time ago. Salad pot luck sounds yummy to me–but so does the cake! Looks like a wonderful recipe!

    • It’s super easy, super yummy and travels pretty well. I accidentally tipped my lunch bag over onto one corner of it (it was covered with plastic wrap) and smooshed some of the cool whip; no one noticed 🙂

      Cheers! MJ

  3. ooo…are those walnuts on top? All that smooth, creamy goodness and some crunch too. You think of everything! Yes, I’m there in line for the cake.

    • Yep; I decided to leave them big enough to pick off. This cake is the bees knees. Generations of Church Ladies can’t be wrong! 🙂 MJ

  4. This is a fantastic post 🙂

    Sam Elliot is SO yummy, errr, I meant your cakes sounds yummy, lol

    Offices everywhere should post your advise 😀

    • Yes … he is yummy. He’s got that rugged cowboy male part down pat. Sigh.
      anyways .. what were we talking about??
      🙂 MJ

  5. Oh so that’s what they do in offices 🙂 Pot luck here usually involved hauling pots of dirt to and fro. Although Sam is cute in a rougish way, I cast my vote for Harrison (Ford)…my kinda cake…beef-cake 😉

    • hee hee! I am with you – Harrison Ford — hello! I always had a crush on Magnum P.I. too — except the voice. Never could get over Tom Selleck’s squeaky voice.

      Cheers! MJ

  6. Sam Elliott makes me swoon. SWOON!
    I’m sorry, did this post have words?

  7. I have a great Taco Casserole or Taco Salad recipe I use as my standby pot luck
    Easy and good (I think) usually its gone because it has sour cream, cheese is easy to make
    The cake looks great by the way

  8. cooper

    wow that looks good. due to the cultural makeup of this business we have international food day. it’s…um…interesting to say the least

    • It is that good. It’s light and fluffy, creamy and fruity; it makes your taste buds stand up and say “thank you dear friend.” I would love to hear more about your international food day — is there a variety of (un)eatable delights? 🙂 We had one unidentified item today .. it was pink and runny, not sure what it was, but it looked like a bowl of Pepto Bismol to me.
      Cheers! MJ

  9. Kathy

    A must share with our pot luck organizer. Now just to get the rest of our staff to follow these simple pot luck guidelines, lol.

    • My experience? The same people will contribute something, the same people will show up early to eat and haven’t brought a thing, the same people will go back for 2nds and the same bunch will clean it all up. And – those core groups don’t really overlap 🙂 MJ

  10. We do “grill outs” with the boss buying the burgers or brats, then everyone else contributing a dish. I grill the food, then smell smokey the rest of the day.
    I love the “chain smoker Carl’s brownies”!! LOL, I know that guy!! I always approach casseroles cautiously, once I heaped a couplea scoops of scalloped corn on my plate only to find out that the lady must have stored her moth balls right NEXT to her corn casserole fixings. I choked down a couplea small bites….darn near killed me. She’s a sweet lady….killer corn casserole though. 🙂

    • Mmmm brats! I will have to suggest that. We had a grill but it died and we haven’t replaced it :).

      You know Chain Smoker Carl? I worked with a gal (previous job) who chained down Marlboros. She was the kindest lady and loved to bake. She meant well but her “no bake” cookies should have come with a nicotine warning .. one bite was like cleaning out an ashtray with your face. UGH!

      Moth ball corn casserole!! Who knew??

      Good to hear from ya, Rich Ripley 🙂

  11. You are so smart and your choice will be really appreciated I am sure!

    • You know what it is? I’m experienced. I knew darned well that the green stuff would be ignored by most .. and it was. 🙂 MJ

  12. Sam Elliot….what cake? Missed you very much to:)

  13. love your tips! “Avoiding cat lady’s cheese ball?” – ha! well, i am probably the dog lady, so i shouldn’t laugh 🙂

    • I know, me too .. in fact, I have a huge fear about cooking for the office and one of MY long hairs falling in – eek!! MJ

  14. Your cake topped with cool whip sounds amazing! Thanks for the pot luck tips 🙂

    • It’s pretty darned wonderful if I do say so myself. The office staff finished off the last few pieces today; I heard several moans of contentment during and afterwards 🙂 MJ

  15. MJ, this is fabulous. I will definitely try your cake. I’m a huge fan of anything cool whip and/or pineapple. I’ve missed you but hope you had fun which of course you did. A bad week off is better than a good week at work – right? As for the comments on food – add this one. It isn’t ok to assess someone’s dish based on perceived effort. If one person spent three days tempering their own chocolate after roasting cocao beans they had flown in specially for the event, it doesn’t trump someone else’s celery and prepared dip.

    Your office must have missed you too. I bet the dinner is in your honor!

    • I hope you enjoy the cake, Renee – it’s a “tried and true.” I’m so behind on my reading, but I will try to catch up this weekend. My week away was good – meetings all day and dinners at night + a 2 hour time change and altitude change. But – it was held at a beautiful resort near the Rockies. Who can complain about that? Not I! I had a gorgeous room with a King sized bed – had to take a running jump just to get up into it. Positively glorious :). I agree with you — shouldn’t assess based on perceived effort — but I think all effort should be applauded. I may sway that direction b/c I’ve worked with enough who showed up early to eat without EVER bringing a thing … grr.

      Thanks for popping in 🙂 MJ

  16. Only one potluck where I worked – Christmastime. We all waited for it each year. A chance to eat stuff we wouldn’t dare eat outside of work at least while anyone (like spouse :)) was looking. Can’t wait to try the recipe!

    • Yeah, I am with you there, Brian. The Christmas potlucks are the cream of the crop :). We usually do ours on the day of our Christmas party and have an “appetizer lunch” and then head out later for more decadence. I hope you enjoy the recipe – it’s easy, sweet, creamy and light. Just a little bit goes a long ways … Thanks for visiting again! MJ

  17. We having a standing invitation for Salad Wednesday…if you want to join in bring a salad topping…we are all trying to eat healthier…so the toppings are typically low in calories.

    • Great idea! There would be a mutiny in my office of cool whip/cheese/bbq loving peeps but if you can pull it off I sure applaud you 🙂 MJ

  18. Good rules to live by with regard to office potlucks (and a lot of other things in life!). A little grace goes a long way, doesn’t it?

    Your cake looks delish! Can’t wait to give it a try. I have someone coming for dinner this weekend. Guess what’s on the menu?! Thanks! ~ Sheila

  19. Your recipe sounds delicious. I like the fact that it looks easy to make, too. Even I could make it? I’m sold!

    • It’s easy AND delicious – the best kind of recipe 🙂

      I’ve made it without the cream cheese before (forgot to buy it) and it was just as good.

      Have fun! MJ

  20. That sounds wonderful, MJ! With a side of Sam. Gotta love that mustache!

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