I attended an impromptu turkey dinner (I know, it was as fabulous as it sounds) at a friend's place last night and brought this little number.Read More
So usually I wait until after the jello has been unmolded and consumed before writing about it but tonight I thought I'd bring you along in real-time for a suspense-filled evening wondering: will it set??Read More
Finally! Jello. I was itching to try out the new tiny, round molds I bought back in Sonora over the 4th of July weekend and did a little late-night jello-molding (as you do) with a leftover half-box of Raspberry Jell-O.Read More
My summer in California continues to be a sun-soaked dream and this weekend we went exploring up north to a friend's BBQ and along the coast for some beach time. The friend is actually someone I went to elementary school with but haven't seen since then. Paige, however, has stayed in better touch with him and so we decided to stop by his Saturday afternoon backyard BBQ to say hello. And obviously jello is a great icebreaker. It was a hit.
We only decided to go the night before, so around 8pm on Friday I turned to Pinterest for inspiration (come find me on Pinterest, by the way!) and came across this recipe. Which, let me tell you, was a REVELATION. Jello layers are tough and require time and patience (both of which I am usually lacking). But this version gets you two perfect layers while you sleep. I kid you not.
Orange Creamsicle Jello (slightly modified from The Food Librarian)
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1/2 cup cold water
1 six ounce box of Orange Jell-O
2 cups Cool Whip, thawed
1 packet of unflavored Knox gelatin
Dissolve the Orange Jell-O and Knox gelatin in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water and then add the 1/2 cup of cold water. Whisk in 2 cups of Cool Whip until it melts and dissolves. Pour the mixture into your pan (8" square is recommended) and let it chill overnight.
That's it. The layers separate on their own while you sleep. Obviously this is an opportunity for a food chemistry lesson but I prefer to just explain it as voodoo gelatin magic.
I made the original recipe as described and found it quite difficult to unmold (also due to the glass dish I used which makes it hard to evenly heat and release). So I recommend the modified version above and to use a metal pan if you have one.
Just to keep things interesting, my trusty gelation assistant filmed (and yes, we realized after the fact that we had filmed it vertically - won't happen again) this hyperlapse of my jello slicing.
And this little number. You love the jiggle.
It's safe to say that my first first year of graduate school was not all sunshine and butterflies. Not by a long shot. But there were some moments of genuine delight and many of them occurred thanks to one particular club on campus that I (thankfully) found early on. This was where I found people who saw the world just a little differently and who I felt like myself around. These people felt like home in a sea of fear and confusion and for that I am grateful.
I believe so much in this home for the dreamers and change-makers that I decided to run for the executive board. I wanted so badly to help keep this place alive for other students to find a home in that I swallowed my nerves and submitted my nomination.
The nerves came because I do not have a great track record when it comes to elected positions. In the 7th grade I ran for Treasurer of my middle school and the night before my big speech, my cat (who at the time I readily identified as my best friend) was hit by a car and died. I was devastated. But I got up on stage with my speech crumpled in my sweaty little hand and did my best. I didn't win. I found out later that someone circulated a rumor that my cat hadn't really died and I just told people that for pity votes. Middle school girls can be cruel.
For those who know me in real life (and not just the internet) it might alarm you to hear that as a little kid I was actually painfully shy (I know). But somewhere towards the end of middle school, I found my voice. This didn't mean that I always knew how or when to use it (although, as usual, there's some gendered stuff in here that I'll unpack another day). I think I hit peak "opinionated" at some point in college and I've been mellowing out ever since. For many years I was just a bit of an acquired taste. I was often appointed to positions by teachers (especially if some kind of social justice was involved - law & order wasn't just a great TV show but a rule to live by) but rarely elected by popular vote. Now that I'm an adult (!) I have enough self-awareness (on most days) to listen more and talk less, something I have been practicing diligently at graduate school (and am successful at, on most days).
The good news is that this particular election went my way and I had my very own Sally Field moment and now the real work begins. But before it did we had a lovely brunch with the outgoing and incoming club executives and obviously the occasion called for a jello mold.
I took what I already had in my apartment - a box of raspberry Jell-O, fresh strawberries, and a bottle of lime Perrier - to make something fizzy and easy and required just the right amount of effort for a grad student. I used only half the total water prescribed and replaced the cold water with the Perrier, stirring in the sliced strawberries once it had gelled a bit in the fridge.
Et voilà! An attractive and fitting addition to any brunch.
Perhaps the most delightful byproduct of a blog about gelatin is when people tell you they made a recipe you posted. It's happened a few times and I get a kick out of it whenever someone tells me about it. Sometimes they're seasoned cooks who feel comfortable in the kitchen (and with following directions - jello is chemistry after all) and sometimes they're...less so. Amateurs, if you will. But as fickle as jello can be, certain recipes are a lot more forgiving than you might imagine. A few months ago my partner told me he was going to make the infamous jello pretzel salad for a competition with a few friends at school (he's also in graduate school, but we're not in the same program because we like to do things the hard way). There's a group of about six friends who get together every month or so for dinner at someone's house and they call it "Come Dine With Me" after a UK television show, apparently. So each dinner they choose a dish for two challengers to prepare for the next dinner and he chose jello as the theme. When he first told me this I was delighted and then a little leery that he could pull it off without my help. I should point out that my partner is not a total moron and is quite a good cook but a jello amateur is a jello amateur.
But he picked the recipe and we talked through it on the phone and off he went to the grocery store.
He's British, so we had several conversations about what exactly Cool-Whip is and where to find the cream cheese but he made it home with the proper ingredients and got to work.
There were a few check-in phone calls (particularly pertaining to the "done-ness" of the jello) but the final product looked pretty good (at least in person, next time we'll work on the food photography).
The competition ended in a draw (which I still find hard to believe, jello pretzel salad is a blue ribbon choice) but I was super impressed. Always a good reminder to have a little more faith in your own and others' abilities when trying something new.
Pip pip, gov'na.
Well, friends. I went and turned my life upside down a bit so there hasn't been much time for jello blogging. But I've been missing it and, I can assure you, I haven't stopped making jello so I have quite the backlog of gelation-related adventures to share. I'll kick things off with a improvised little number that I brought to my dear friend (and oft mentioned jello-photographer) Paige's house for a barbecue this weekend.
I just moved to California for the summer and, after spending two days cleaning and unpacking in my 400 sqft one-bedroom home for the next few months, I went hunting for jello. The local Trader Joe's doesn't carry gelatin (perhaps their only shortcoming) and Whole Foods only has the unflavored stuff (so fancy). I found a Safeway a few miles away and my partner and I raced the setting sun on our bicycles to pick up a few boxes. He's a very patient man.
Our kitchen was still a bit of a mess and I didn't want to make an entire mold so I literally just made half a box (6 tablespoons) of raspberry jello with 1.5 cups of hot water in a glass mixing bowl. I then added California's finest blueberries while it was still liquid so it formed a nice even layer on the bottom. I actually made this the morning of the barbecue and was able to unmold it later in the afternoon because it was a small amount that firmed up quickly. Glass molds are actually pretty tricky because the thick glass doesn't conduct heat the nice, even way that metal does so you have to be a bit more patient and give the glass time to warm up. It wasn't a perfect unmolding but the blueberry garnish covered up the few small flaws and it actually turned out to be quite pretty.
Jello at a party is always a novelty (and usually a hit) and this one would only have been improved with a side of whipped cream. Next time.
I wish I'd remembered to take a group shot before I handed these cuties out but I didn't, so this one will have to do. Also, who thinks I should invest in an actual camera this year? I really shouldn't be subjecting you lovely people to my grainy/poorly lit/awkwardly staged cellphone pictures.
At any rate, I decided to take a crack at the delightfully named "jello poke cake" last week. I was in a sugar (and tequila, if I'm being honest) induced baking frenzy thanks to Valentine's Day and thought cupcakes would be a nice vehicle for these adorable (and previously referenced) sprinkles.
These cupcakes are sweet enough to put a healthy adult into a diabetic coma but they were delicious and adorable and pink - all important criteria for Valentine's Day treats.
To make these delightful sugar-bombs, start by preparing your cupcakes. Boxed mixes work great for this - I used plain vanilla but you could use any flavor that you think would go well with your chosen Jell-O flavor. Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a fork to pierce the cupcake 3-4 times all the way down to the bottom.
Dissolve 6 tablespoons (a three ounce box) of your Jell-O - I used strawberry but again, your choice - into 1 cup of boiling water. You'll want to set the cupcakes in a pan (preferably on a wire rack) to catch the Jell-O run-off. Carefully pour the Jell-O over each cupcake so that it can soak through the pierced holes. Then, refrigerate for at least 3 hours to let the Jell-O set.
Top with your frosting of choice - I used a simple white icing recipe and added a few drops of food coloring. Be sure to garnish with something fun!
Did everyone have a nice Valentine's Day? Anyone else whip themselves into a treat-making frenzy? Have one margarita too many with fabulous friends (Natasha and Alexa - holler!)? Maybe that was just me?
He may be 49 years older than me but Bill Cosby and I have two things in common: our birthdays and Jell-O. Today I turn 25 and although I'm not having a "quarter life crisis" (eye roll) the last year has certainly been one of change. I'm feeling incredibly thankful for my amazing friends, family, and YOU my dear blog readers. All five of you. I love each and every one of you.
But enough about my birthday, you're here to read about gelatin right? Well for the 4th of July I decided to make some festive star-shaped jigglers. I haven't made jigglers in many, many years and I must admit that it was a little tricky cutting them out.
I may have been a little overambitious because I made a double recipe in one of my jellyroll pans and it was pretty stressful trying to unmold so I could cut out the shapes.
Once I had the massive sheet of jello out of the pan I used a metal cookie cutter to make the stars and I have to say that they were pretty festive.
Jigglers are super easy to make:
2 1/2 cups of boiling water
2 - 6 oz. packages of Jell-O, any flavor
Just stir the gelatin into the boiling water until completely dissolved and let set in a 9x13 inch pan for at least 4 hours. Unmold and cut into squares or whatever shape your heart desires.
I served my Cherry Jell-O stars with blueberries and Cool-Whip because that's just how you do things on the 4th of July.
Now, enjoy this classic Jell-O Jiggler commercial from before I was even born:
So I'll admit that "jello," "pretzel," and "salad" aren't usually words that you hear together nor do they sound very appetizing but this is one of the tastiest jello recipes I've ever made. The salty pretzels, the smooth cream cheese, and the sweet jello is so, so good. I've seen various versions of this recipe pop up from time to time in recipe books and online but I decided to use this recipe to start from.
Jello Pretzel Salad
Editor's Note: Recipe updated June 28, 2016 with minor adjustments
2 cups of crushed pretzels (not too fine, but no huge chunks)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup of butter (a stick and a half. I know. but trust me)
1-6 oz. box of Strawberry Jell-O
2 cups of fresh sliced strawberries (or whatever fruit you'd like to add)
1-8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 cup of sugar
1-8 oz carton of Cool Whip
First, grease a 9x13 inch pan (I only made half a batch so I used a smaller pan in my photos). Then melt the butter and mix in the crushed pretzels and brown sugar. Press the pretzel mixture into the pan and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Next, dissolve the package of Strawberry Jell-O into 1 cup of boiling water and then slowly stir in 2 cups of cold water. Add the sliced strawberries and put the jello in the fridge to firm up a bit. You don't want it to be runny but definitely still stir-able. Got it? Good.
On to the creamy layer. Beat the cream cheese with the sugar until smooth. This is important! You don't want a lumpy layer. Blend in the Cool Whip and then spread the mixture on top of the cooled pretzel layer. Make sure this layer extends all the way to the edge! You need to create a "seal" between the pretzels and jello. The last thing you want is soggy pretzels. Blech.
Carefully pour the jello and strawberry mixture onto the creamy layer and refrigerate at least a few hours. This dish is best served within 48 hours or the pretzels start to get a little...soggy. And like I said before, the last thing you want is soggy pretzels.
Did any of you eat this delightful salad growing up? I want to hear your family recipes!