Posts for side dishes

Thankfully It Tastes Good No Matter What It Looks Like

Barbeque, Desserts, Potluck, Recipes, Salad - Jennifer - August 8, 2011

I don’t know why she makes it for Christmas, but my aunt makes Jello/Pretzel Salad every year.  And every year, I make up my mind to add it to my summer potluck rotation.  And every year, I follow the directions to the letter, and every year I fail.  Luckily, Cool Whip hides a multitude of sins.  Here’s my step by step near disaster, complete with pictures!

What you need:

2 c. crushed pretzels
2 tbs. sugar
3/4 c. melted butter

Okay, so far, so good.  Mix these three together, and transfer into a 9×13″ glass pan.  Bake at 400 for 10 minutes, and allow to cool completely.

Nice and crust-y!  Next:

8 oz. softened cream cheese
9 oz. thawed Cool Whip
1 c. sugar

Blend these three and spread over cooled pretzel crust.

Now, see the pretzels standing all around the edges?  Don’t do this.  I’m telling you, don’t do this.  My recipe told me to, and I think this decorative touch is the source of my constant woes with this dish.  Instead, make sure you spread the cream cheese mixture all the way to the edges so you get a good seal around the layer.  And then let me know if yours turns out better than mine.

6 oz. strawberry Jello (this is the big box, and trust me when I tell you, two small boxes do NOT equal 6 oz.–that was a return trip to the grocery store for me)
2 c. hot water
2 c. cold water
20 oz. frozen strawberries

Prepare jello according to package directions, and add strawberries.

Look at that!  They float!

Pour jello over cream cheese mixture and refrigerate overnight.

Okay, here’s where it gets tricky for me.  Every time I add the jello, it seeps under the entire thing and starts bubbling like it’s alive.  The cream cheese mixture sort of fragments and floats, which makes the whole thing look like what comes out of my 8 year old after he ingests too much cottage cheese and fruit punch significantly less appetizing.

Cool Whip to the rescue!  What they don’t know won’t hurt them, right?  (Side note:  I love Cool Whip beyond all reason.  I use it so much, I should purchase stock.)

It may not be pretty, but the Lunch Bunch crew loved it, kids and adults alike!

P.S.–Neither Cool Whip, nor Jello, nor Kraft Foods compensated me in any way for this post.  But if they’d like to, I’m willing to talk;)






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Pink & Delightful Summer Dessert with Just a Hint of the Macabre

Desserts, Salad - Jennifer - May 31, 2011

It’s a tactic I learned from my aunt when I was a kid and she fooled me with it: re-naming foods to get kids to eat them. I wouldn’t touch tomato soup with a ten-foot pole, but I just loooved her “Cream of Red.” My brother would run ten miles in the opposite direction of anything with tuna, but when Aunt Ronni crumbled some Jays over it and called it “Potato Chip Casserole,” he couldn’t get enough.

With my own kids, broccoli soup has become “Cream of Green” (thanks Aunt R.), and sloppy joes are “Dog Food on a Hamburger Bun” (from my oldest son’s long-ago Clifford obsession). So should it have surprised me when the kids re-named my favorite summer fruit salad “Patrick Mousse” because of its lovely pink Patrick Star hue? I didn’t even blink. And we receive many requests for contributions of Patrick Mousse to summer potlucks. It’s super easy and super yummy:


1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can pineapple chunks
2 cans cherry pie filling (we’ve also used blueberry and raspberry)
1 lg. tub Lite Cool Whip

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate until serving. Can’t get much easier than that, huh?

Is this what Patrick would look like if he lost a battle with my Magic Bullet? You decide!

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My Favorite Holiday Go-To Sidedish

Non-meat dishes, Recipes - Jennifer - December 19, 2010

My Aunt Barb is one of those amazing cooks who can pull off dinner for 30 and make it look like the simplest feat in the world. We always used to celebrate Thanksgiving at her house, but as we all started growing larger and larger families, she ran out of room for the cousins, and the tradition became a thing of the past. But back in those days, I remember standing in front of Aunt Barb’s fridge and marveling at the lists she always hung there. First the menu, then the shopping lists, then the make-aheads and oven schedules: she had it down to a science.

Hand in hand with being an amazing cook comes the ability to make favorite dishes year after year without benefit of recipes (I’m not there yet!).  So it took me years to get Aunt Barb to take a stab at writing down the steps she puts into her Broccoli Cheese Casserole.  You’ll see below that the ingredient quantities are pretty subjective.  You can adjust according to the size of the crew you’re feeding.  Hands down my favorite side dish, it’s quick and easy, and I will make this at least three times over the holidays.  In fact, I think I’ll make it right now!


1-2 bags frozen broccoli
1-2 cans cream of mushroom soup
Lots of Cheddar, Swiss or Colby cheese (grated or pre-shredded)
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. chopped onions
bread crumbs

Pre-heat oven to 350.  Steam or microwave broccoli until tender.  Combine remaining ingredients in separate bowl.  Spread broccoli in 9×13 baking dish and cover evenly with mixture.  Bake uncovered in 350 oven for 1/2 hour.  Midway through, cover with breadcrumbs and, if you like, sprinkle with paprika and parsley flakes for color.

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