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Christmas Jello Salad

IMG_7628I hope your Saturday was profitable and that your OK with the things that didn’t get done.  I don’t know how it happens but my kitchen seems to always end up being messier then I want way to late on a Saturday night.  I had to fight hard at not having the ‘grouchies’ tonight as I was cleaning up from too much soup, creamed eggs, rice krispy treats, spinach artichoke dip and jello salad.

If your planning a menu for Chirstmas and want a festive addition here is this recipe.  It is so simple to make and so pretty HOWEVER it does require some time, I only plan to make it on days where I am in the kitchen all day.


Christmas Jello Salad

2 – 3 oz (small) boxes of raspberry gelatin

(When I did this recipe with 6 goblets, for the first layer of red I only used half of the small box of raspberry gelatin, which is 3 Tbsp to 3/4 cup of water.  And then I topped the layers with the remainder of that box, you will notice the bowl did not have a top layer of color).

2 – 3 oz (small) boxes of lime gelatin

2 – 3 oz (small) boxes of lemon gelatin (I only used 1 box when I did the jello salad in the goblets)

1 cup whipping cream, UNWHIPPED

4 oz cream cheese, soft

4 tbsp sugar

boiling water – You need 1 & 1/2 cups for each small box of jello.  A quick way to get it to cool down quickly is use 1 cup of boiling water and add ice cubes or cold water for the remaining 1/2 cup of water.  That way you don’t run the risk of the jello being too hot when you pour it over your chilled layer.  I have made this before where the layer that was chilling was not chilled long enough and then when I poured the hot gelatin over top of it, it did weird things.

I used 6 goblets or you could you an approx dish size of 9X9.

Dissolve your first small gelatin box (your color choice) with 1 1/2 cups hot water.  Pour into your dish.  Let chill for 30 minutes.  Dissolve second box in same about of water.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Dissolve box of lemon gelatin in 1 cup boiling water (you don’t use the full amount of water).  Beat 2 oz of cream cheese with 2 Tbsp sugar.  Add lemon jello mixture; beat.  Pour in 1/2 cup of whipping cream, un-whipped.  Stir together and pour over layer.  (When I used the 6 goblets for this recipe I halved the small box of lemon gelatin -3 TBSP is half the box of jello to 1/2 cup boiling water but kept all the other ingredients the same).

Repeat until you have the desired layers you would like.  You could keep going 🙂

 IMG_7621This jello salad will keep for days in your refrigerator.

Cheers to a restful Sunday!


Homemade Soft Pretzels

IMG_1353This winter it has been fun to introduce my boys to soft pretzels.  If we have a Sunday night at home, it has become the thing to do; make some homemade pretzels. We love ours with cheese sauce, pure and simple, oh wait that’s a boat load of carbs isn’t it?  Not quite as simple as I had hoped.  But cheers to great memories and a recipe!


1- 1/2 cup warm water

1 heaping tbsp yeast

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

2 cups bread flour (you don’t have to use bread flour or white wheat, you can use all purpose for the whole recipe if you want)

1- 1/2 – 2 cups white wheat flour

1 tbsp baking soda dissolved in 1 cup warm water

coarse pretzel salt

2 tbsp melted butter

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water.  Mix in the salt, baking powder and flour.  Knead until smooth and elastic, not more then 5 minutes.  Let rise 30-45 minutes.  Prepare the soda and water.  After the dough has risen, divide into 7 or 8 pieces.  Using both hands roll the dough out to a 1/2″ rope.  Place the rope in a U shape and then twist the ends and seal at the bottom of the U.  Pinch the ends at the bottom of the pretzel.  Dip in soda water.  Arrange on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with pretzel salt.   Allow the pretzels to rise 15-20 minutes and then bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden on top.  Drizzle with melted butter.


Cheese sauce:

1/4 lb white American cheese

2+ tbsp milk or half and half


Heat cheese and milk on low heat, stirring often so it won’t burn. If it is too thick for your liking, add more milk.  Serve with warm pretzels.

Cheers to a great weekend, loving well the ones in your

sphere of influence!  Spring is coming! Dawn

Panera Bread’s Black Bean Soup (kind-of)

  This is a recipe that would never have grabbed my attention if it wouldn’t have been for Panera Bread’s black bean soup. They make a great black bean soup, and  here is a some-what-similar version.

This soup was quick and easy because I used can beans and I had peppers, carrots and onions already chopped up that I pulled from the freezer.  It was 10 minutes from start to finish!  Yeah for quick dinners!

This soup was quick and easy because I used can beans and I had carrots, celery and onions already chopped up that I pulled from the freezer. (I also added green peppers) It was 10 minutes from start to finish! Yeah for quick dinners!

Black Bean Soup

3 – 15.5 oz cans of black bean, rinsed and drained

4 cups chicken broth

1 cup onion, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup celery, diced

½ cup carrots, shredded

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

½ tsp black pepper

1 tsp salt

Red pepper flakes, to your liking


½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

½ cup tomatoes, chopped

¼ cup green onions, chopped

 Drain and rinse the beans. Place 1/3 of the beans in your blender with a little bit of the chicken broth.  Blend well. In a slow cooker, add the  remaining whole beans and mashed beans . Place the remaining chicken broth, onion, garlic, celery, carrots and seasonings into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours.


Serve the soup with the garnishes. Crusty bread is always great with this soup! Serves: 4

 We are loving this snow storm that we were hit with here in the DC area!!  It was the only significant amount of snow we received this year.  Daffodil’s were blooming 2 days before it came, I think spring is soon to come!



Maple Hot Cocoa

A tradition we are crafting in our home are ‘Time  Outs’ for hot cocoa. Sometimes it’s  just because one of the boys thought it was a good idea.  Sometimes it’s to celebrate ‘family time’ sometimes it’s ‘just because’.  Here is a new twist to the traditional hot cocoa.



1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 tbsp cocoa powder

1/8 tsp salt

¼ cup water

1 tbsp salted butter

4 cups milk

1 tsp maple extract

8 large marshmallows or whipped cream

In a small saucepan, combine maple syrup, cocoa powder, salt, water and butter; stir well and bring to a boil. Add milk and heat just until hot; do not scorch. Remove from heat and add maple extract. Pour into mugs and top with marshmallows or whipped cream, drizzle with maple syrup. Serves 4.

You will find this recipe on page 24 of the cookbook.