• Cranberry Jello Salad


    Jello salads and molded jello salads were all the rage in the 70’s and they still are for my family in the Pacific Northwest.  Most jello salads I don’t particularly care for, but I eat enough to be polite.  There is one exception.  My Great Aunt Arlene makes this wonderful raw cranberry jello salad every Thanksgiving.  It’s bright, cold, and refreshing, which is a nice contrast to the heavy hearty Thanksgiving meal.

    Since I’m not with my family for Thanksgiving this year, I emailed Aunt Arlene for the recipe and made it for my family.

    It didn’t disappoint.

    My son said “this is the best jello I’ve ever had. And he had 3 helpings!

    I think what makes this jello salad so delicious is that it has all fresh fruit…none of the canned stuff.

    Try it…you’ll really like it!

    Ingredients Option 1:

    • 1 c. raw cranberries
    • zest of 1 orange
    • orange segments and juice from 1 orange
    • 1/2 c. sugar (or Stevia)
    • 1 small box of sugar free raspberry jello
    • 1 1/2 c. boiling water
    • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced

    Ingredients Option 2:

    • 1 c. raw cranberries
    • zest of 1 orange
    • 6 oz. can of pineapple juice
    • 1/2 c. sugar (or Stevia)
    • 1 large box of sugar free raspberry jello
    • 1 1/2 c. boiling water
    • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced

    Directions for Option 1:

    1. Mix sugar, jello, and boiling water in a bowl; cool slightly.
    2. Combine the cranberries, orange zest, orange segments and orange juice in a food processor and pulse until all is ground into small pieces.
    3. Combine cranberry mixture, jello mixture, and apple pieces in a bowl. Chill until set.

    Directions for Option 2:

    1. Mix sugar, jello, and boiling water in a bowl; cool slightly.
    2. Combine the cranberries, orange zest, and pineapple juice in a food processor and pulse until all is ground into small pieces.
    3. Combine cranberry mixture, jello mixture, and apple pieces in a bowl. Chill until set.

    Cranberry Jello Salad:


  • Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting


    We went to Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house this year and we were tasked with desserts.  We brought a traditional pumpkin pie, chocolate chip cheesecake bars, and pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting.  The pumpkin cake was pretty good, especially if you love pumpkin and spice cakes, and for that reason I would give this recipe 4 stars, but since our house isn’t a fan of either, we likely won’t be making this dessert again.

    Recipe from the November 2009 issue of Cooking Light.



    • 10.1 oz. all-purpose flour (about 2 1/4 cups)
    • 2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
    • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 tsp. salt
    • 1 c. packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 c.  butter, softened
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
    • Cooking spray


    • 2 TBSP butter, softened
    • 1/2 tsp.  vanilla extract
    • 1 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
    • 2 c. sifted powdered sugar


    1. Preheat oven to 350°.
    2. To prepare cake, weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
    3. Combine brown sugar, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, 1 at a time, to sugar mixture; beat well after each addition. Add pumpkin; mix well. Fold in flour mixture. Spread batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
    4. To prepare the frosting, combine 2 tablespoons butter, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cream cheese in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until combined. Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until well combined. Spread frosting evenly over top of cake.

    Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting:


  • Tomatillo-Serrano Salsa


    Tila’s in Houston has the most delicious tomatillo sauce.  Luckily we found a recipe that tastes pretty much identical to Tila’s, and we’ve been making this sauce ever since we lived in Houston…almost 9 years ago!

    This recipe is from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen (the photo on my cookbook is different, but I assume it’s all the same recipes).

    This sauce is excellent for just about anything: with chips, enchilada sauce, tamale sauce etc.


    • 1 lb. tomatillos, husked and rinsed
    • 1 to 3 serranos
    • 1 1/2 TBSP olive oil
    • 1 medium white onion, roughly chopped
    • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 2 c. chicken stock
    • 1/3 c. roughly chopped cilantro
    • salt, 1/2 to 3/4 tsp., depending on the saltiness of the broth


    1. The tomatillos and chiles: lay the tomatillos and chiles on a baking sheet and place about 4 inches below a very hot broiler.  when tomatillos and chiles blister, blacken and soften on one side, about 5 minutes, turn them over and roast the other side.  When all sides are roasted, transfer tomatillos, chiles and any accumulated juices to a food processor or blender.
    2. The puree: heat 1 TBSP oil in a deep skillet.  Add the onion and cook, stirring often until deep and golden, about 8 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook a minute longer; then scrape the browned mixture into the processor or blender. Pulse to a rough looking puree–smooth enough to hold together but rough enough to keep it from being too smooth.
    3. Finishing the sauce: Heat the remaining oil over medium high heat. Add the Puree and stir constantly for 4 or 5 minutes. The sauce base sears and sizzles into a darker and thicker mass. Stir in the broth, return to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer briskly until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, then taste and season with salt.

    Tomatillo-Serrano Salsa:


  • Easy Homemade Mac-N-Cheese


    I’m not ashamed to admit that I like boxed mac-n-cheese, especially with some chipotle Tabasco sauce. I’ve made homemade mac-n-cheese before, and most of the time the result is disappointing.

    The most important thing I’ve learned is the type of cheese you use is extremely important. Regular mild cheddar doesn’t melt well and doesn’t have any flavor, so your mac-n-cheese will have an odd consistency and be bland.  Even if you don’t like sharp cheese for regular eating use it for you mac-n-cheese…I promise you will love it and you won’t taste the sharpness. I used Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar, I totally recommend it.

    This recipe is adapted from the October 2009 issue of Southern Living.


    • 2 c. milk
    • 2 TBSP butter
    • 2 TBSP all purpose flour
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 10 oz. block of Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 1/4 tsp. ground red pepper (optional)
    • 10 oz. package elbow macaroni, cooked


    1. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
    2. Preheat oven to 400.
    3. Microwave milk on high for 1 1/2 minutes.
    4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt butter over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth.  Cook, whisking constantly for 1 minute.
    5. Gradually whisk in warm milk and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.
    6. Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 c. shredded cheese, and red pepper until smooth; stir in cooked pasta. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2 qt. baking disk; top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

    Homemade Mac-N-Cheese: