Desens: ‘Food shouldn’t be kept a secret’

Desens: ‘Food shouldn’t be kept a secret’

Mary Beth Desens cooks or bakes nearly every day using skills honed growing up on a farm in Wisconsin. Her grandmother taught her the ways of the kitchen.

Desens’ love for creating food has led  family members and friends to develop their favorite Desens’ dishes.

But she doesn’t concoct meals in a vacuum. She wants to spread what she learns to others.

Desens, the library media specialist for the Cedar Grove-Belgium School District, recently won a Papa Murphy’s national contest for her idea for a pizza salad bowl.  She shares photos of food on her Instagram page at mbdesens and will provide recipes upon request.

Inspiration for her meals comes from a variety of sources. She finds some online, but many come from fellow cooks and bakers who, like Desens, want to dish out their deliciousness to others.

“Family gatherings and church gatherings are the best. That’s where you get to try different things,” Desens said.

Many of the fruits and vegetables she uses in her recipes come from Desens’ garden.

When they go out to eat, Desens and her husband David enjoy all kinds of foods, from exotic fare to meat and potatoes dishes.

There’s just one thing Desens avoids: celery. She doesn’t like the taste. She won’t even include celery salt in dishes.

But she has plenty more to pick from. Here are a few from her Instagram page.


recipes from mary beth desens



Radish and Fried Egg Salad


2 eggs

Olive oil cooking spray

1-1/2 cups spinach

1-1/2 cups arugula

2 to 3 radishes, shredded or sliced

1/2 large or 1 small avocado

1/2 cup or more sauerkraut

1 tablespoon diced red onion, optional


Fry eggs in the cooking spray to your liking.

Arrange spinach and arugula on a plate or in a shallow bowl. Top with radishes, eggs and avocado.

The sauerkraut goes on top as the dressing. The sauerkraut is best with a little of the juices at room temperature, but can be eaten warmed or cold if you prefer.



Peanut Butter, Butterfinger-Filled Breakfast Biscuits


1 can refrigerated biscuits or 1 batch homemade biscuit dough

2 standard-sized Butterfinger bars, crushed

1 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

1 cup chocolate chips


Separate biscuits in half horizontally. Spread two to three teaspoons peanut butter on half of them, then sprinkle with one of the crushed Butterfingers and 3/4 cup chocolate chips.

Press the plain half of the biscuits onto the loaded ones, then press the edges to seal.

Place biscuits on their edge in a loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 13 to 15 minutes, until biscuits are done.

Top with remaining peanut butter, chocolate chips and Butterfingers. Return to the oven for one to two minutes to melt the toppings.

Serve warm.

Leftovers can be eaten cold or warmed in the oven/microwave.





Cod Vera Cruz


2 large or 4 small cod fillets

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pint Creole sauce

1/2 cup sliced green olives

1 tablespoon capers

1 tablespoon fresh parsley for garnish




Drizzle olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Place cod fillets in hot oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook three minutes, then flip.

Add Creole sauce, olives and capers. Cook three to five more minutes, until fish is flaky or tests done with a thermometer.

Place fish on a plate and top with sauce.

Garnish with fresh parsley..





Turkey Poutine


1 bag frozen French fries

Leftover turkey, cubed or shredded

Leftover gravy

Leftover stuffing

Cheese curds


Prepare French fries according to directions.

Warm turkey, gravy and stuffing.

Divide ingredients among four bowls with the fries on the bottom, then the turkey, stuffing and cheese curds. Drizzle gravy over the top.

You can add other leftovers such as green beans to this.



Reese’s Crock Pot Cake


1 box Devil’s food cake mix

1 package instant chocolate pudding

1 cup whole milk

3 large eggs

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup peanut butter, creamy or crunchy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups peanut butter chips

1/3 cup melted peanut butter, for garnish

10 mini Reese’s cups, halved

1/4 cup chopped Reese’s Pieces


Use mixer to combine cake and pudding mixes. Whisk to combine. Add milk, eggs, sour cream, peanut butter, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth. Fold in peanut butter chips.

Coat the bowl of a crock pot with nonstick cooking spray. Add batter and smooth the top with spatula. Cook on low for 3-1/2 to four hours, checking at three hours to make sure the edges aren’t burning. If they are, turn it down. If not, leave it alone.

The finished cake should be set on the sides and still gooey in the center.

Just before serving, drizzle with peanut butter and garnish with Reese’s cups and Reese’s Pieces.

The cake can be kept on warm for as long as four hours before serving.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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