Correction: An earlier version of the recipe for chocolate sauerkraut cake in this article listed two-thirds of a cup of butter or margarine twice in the ingredients. The recipe requires two-thirds of a cup, plus some for the pan. One ingredient was also omitted: The recipe requires one cup of cold water. This version has been corrected.

Some foods naturally go together: peanut butter and jelly, macaroni and cheese, bacon and eggs. Yum!

Then there are combinations of foods that you would never think of putting together . . . but someone did. The following examples may sound yucky but are surprisingly tasty. Besides, winter is a great time for experimenting with new recipes.

For these recipes, have an adult help you measure ingredients and supervise as you use the oven, stove, food processor and blender. Make sure you have all the ingredients before you start each recipe. Maybe you can come up with some unique food combinations of your own!

So if you’re feeling brave, try . . . — Ann Cameron Siegal

Peanut Butter and
Dill Pickle Sandwich
1 serving

Yep, leave the jelly on the shelf, and reach for two slices of your favorite bread. Spread one slice with peanut butter (either smooth or crunchy), then add enough dill pickle slices to cover the peanut butter, and cover with the other slice of bread. The crunchy sour pickle complements smooth peanut butter nicely.

Chocolate-Sauerkraut Cake
Makes one 13-by-9-inch cake (15 servings)

Sure, people usually think of sauerkraut (it’s cabbage that has been pickled) as something to put on hot dogs, but in this cake, it adds a nice moist texture without the sour taste. Yummy! Some people call it the “Don’t Ask Cake” because people who eat it can’t guess what the secret ingredient is — and don’t want to believe it when they find out.

Add your favorite chocolate frosting or sprinkle the cake with confectioners’ (powdered) sugar.


2 / 3 cup margarine or butter, softened to room temperature, plus more for the pan

141 / 2 ounces canned or fresh sauerkraut

2½ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1½ cups sugar

3 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup cold water


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13-by-9 baking pan with butter, margarine or nonstick cooking spray.

Place the sauerkraut in a colander and rinse under cold running water for several minutes. Drain the sauerkraut, and squeeze until it is almost dry. Transfer to a food processor and finely chop, scraping down the sides of the work bowl as needed.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

Place the margarine or butter in the large bowl of an electric mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on medium speed for several minutes, until it is fluffy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the sugar, eggs (one at a time) and the vanilla extract until well blended. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add half of the flour mixture; beat on low speed to combine, then add the remaining flour mixture and the water, beating to form a smooth batter.

Stir in the sauerkraut by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly into the corners. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool completely before cutting into 15 equal squares.

Chocolate Chili
About six 1-cup servings

This is great for a family dinner on a cold winter’s night.


2 tablespoons canola oil

3 / 4 cup finely chopped onion

1 pound ground turkey

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground allspice

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

28 ounces (about 3½ cups) canned chopped tomatoes, with their juice

6 ounces canned tomato paste

½ cup water

2 ounces dark chocolate

151 / 2 ounces canned dark red kidney beans, with their liquid


Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until it has softened, then add the turkey and cook until no trace of pink remains, stirring to break up any clumps as it cooks. Carefully drain and discard the fat from the skillet. (It will be hot, so a parent should do this.)

Add the cocoa powder, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, allspice, cinnamon, the tomatoes and their juice, tomato paste and water. Stir to combine. Cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring a few times.

Increase the heat to medium-high; once the mixture starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the chocolate and beans. Cook for 30 minutes, sitrring a few times.

You can taste and adjust the seasoning as you like.