When unlikely flavors come together, the results can be delicious.

Take, for example, Lillian Stungis’ Pineapple Cheesecake recipe. Combine the rich and creamy texture of cheesecake with the sweet, juicy flavor of pineapple, and you get a superstar dessert to take to the (drive-through) holiday party.

Stungis’ mother, Anna Mikulak, passed down the recipe, which earned Stungis a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore. Mikulak always made the dish for church affairs or family gatherings, much to the delight of all in attendance.

“I’m just carrying on the tradition,” said Stungis, who lives in Simpson with her husband, Edmund.
While the dessert was and remains such a hit, Stungis doesn’t know where it originated, although she has a theory it came from one of her mother’s former co-workers at G&S Fashions, a dress factory in Carbondale.

The recipe calls for a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan, but Stungis said bakers can use two 8-inch-by-8-inch pans instead, putting half the ingredients in each one. She also noted the batter will be very thin and the pan very full before baking.

“If you don’t have steady hands, don’t put all the batter in the pan,” she said. “Transfer it to the oven. Then, pour in the remainder.”

In addition to the delectable Pineapple Cheesecake, Stungis carries on her mom’s tradition through other foods. Stungis’ two daughters, Joanna Grizzanti, M.Ed., and Linda Sudlesky, M.Ed., helped Stungis bake when they were little, and both had favorite desserts, such as red velvet or chocolate cakes.

While her daughters are all grown up now and have children of their own – Taryn Tolerico and Bayley Grizzanti – Stungis still creates special memories around meals, including a Holy Supper every Christmas Eve, which includes homemade French bread and Bubalki, small pieces of French Bread soaked in a poppy seed sauce.

Stungis doesn’t consider herself to be a master cook or baker and needs a recipe for “just about everything I make,” she said with a laugh, but Pineapple Cheesecake remains one of her specialties.

“I was once told by a gal who went to culinary school for baking that my cheesecake came out perfectly,” she said. “No cracks on the top and the crust just a little away from the pan. Boy, did that make me feel good.”

Lillian Stungis’ Pineapple Cheesecake
For crust:
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, well beaten
1 large can crushed pineapple, drained well
Mix all ingredients except pineapple together until a dough forms.
Grease a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan.
Roll out dough between wax paper. Spread dough up sides of pan, using hands if needed.
Spread pineapple over dough and pat down a little. Put in refrigerator to chill.
For filling:
1 cup sugar
2  8-ounce packages cream cheese
4 eggs
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 quart whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream sugar and cream cheese well. Then add eggs, flour, lemon juice, milk and vanilla. Mix well (batter will be very thin).
Pour slowly into pan over pineapple.
Bake at 325 F for 30 minutes on lowest rack. Then, transfer to second rack from the bottom and bake for another 45 minutes.