Sunday, May 23, 2010

Whoa!....Blast from my past.... maybe yours too?

Walking down memory lane I was remembering dishes we had as kids or that relatives served us; at parties attended or maybe when we were young and starting out to learn to cook. Remember when Mom's where still home and name brands would give out recipes for their products? I remember trying Betty Crocker recipes and having a little recipe box of hers I sent away for.... (which "Betty" do you remember? Look at how she's changed over the years, lol) She's an old friend, as is Jello, Coca-Cola and others..... Ah, the so called "good old days"..... food was funky and nobody was into the organic, gourmet or any other food tendencies we now espouse, food was either good or bad, simple and real.

While looking into my pantry, this being end-of-month and all, trying to use up whatever we have on hand already and stretching it all out to make it to the beginning of June (Yikes! June already?) I came upon two boxes of Jello. One Lemon and the other Lime. All of a sudden I remembered my "Nina" (my mother's mother) who used to make an Avocado Jello Mold and all at once I was transported back in time...... seeing Jello Molds and all kinds of fancy desserts and more using Jello. You remember,right? My mother used to have this collection of copper molds along the top of the kitchen ceiling as decoration in her knotty pine kitchen (Whoo! Is that a time machine trip or what?) so for lunch I am making my Nina's Avocado Salad to go along with some Pulled Pork Sandwiches. This will help me take advantage of some leftovers that are in the fridge too.

But while still trolling down memory lane I've got one or two other classics for you. Maybe you'll remember them or maybe they'll be new to you. In any case they're all worth giving a try. Some have some unusual ingredients but all are tried and true, so come along for a trip of re-discovery won't you?

I will begin this journey with the amazing Jell-o which we have all mostly forgotten about. I've got an old "Joys of Jell-o" book which I'd lost track off but looking through the pages left me wondering... the recipes are amazing, easy, cheap to make and very pretty. So today we will work with Jell-o and go from there, ok? Go look for your copper or metal molds or maybe you've got those Tupperware ones. I borrowed a couple from an old neighbor of mine that was going to throw them out, but I'll make some extra and return them filled with some gooey goodness!.... (I adapted recipes to fit the molds so they'd look extra nice.... but any Pyrex baking dish, plastic or other vessel will also work)

My Nina's Avocado Salad Mold.- Long a favorite at Baby Showers and Canasta Parties (what happened to these, they were fun!), this old time classic is worth bringing back....

1 box Jell-o Lime gelatin
1 box Jell-o Lemon gelatin
1 cup cold water
1 1/4 cups mashed avocado (about 2 medium)
1/4 cup mayo or salad dressing
1/4 cup plain yogurt (or 1/2 cup either)
1/2 tsp grated lime or lemon peel
2 tbl lime or lemon juice (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
Salad greens
6-8 strawberries, sliced

Sprinkle gelatin on cold water in 2-quart saucepan to soften; heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved. Stir into avocado, mayonnaise, yogurt, lime peel, juice and salt. Beat with hand beater until smooth. Pour into 3-cup mold or individual molds.

Refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours. Unmold on salad greens. Arrange berries slices on top of molds. Serve.
NOTE: You could add shrimp to this or maybe some white fish too. Green onions, dill, etc. and use unflavored gelatin instead of the lemon-lime (to make it savory instead) and serve on a bed of greens too.

Amazing Peach Jell-o Dessert.- Looks impressive but very easy to make. Perfect for warm weather too! WOW!

2 boxes of Jell-o Peach gelatin (you can also use unflavored with fruit juice added)
3 1/2 cups boiling water
1 1/4 cups cold water
3/4 cup peach schnapps (or substitute cold water for non-alcoholic version) optional
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 can sliced peaches
2 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin

In a med bowl, stir 2 cups boiling water into both packages of peach gelatin for 2 min until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Stir in 3/4 cups cold water and 3/4 cup peach schnapps if using (you could use juice). Refrigerate until gelatin thickens to the consistency of raw eggs. Drain peaches well and arrange them in a formation in the bottom of the mold. Reserve the syrup from the can. Spoon the thickened peach gelatin into the mold over the arranged peach slices. Refrigerate until the gelatin is set but not firm (gelatin should stick the fingers when touched).

Meanwhile, in a med bowl, sprinkle 2 packages of unflavored gelatin (because you don't want an color for this one) over 1/2 cup cold water and allow the gelatin to absorb the water. Stir in 1 1/2 cups boiling water for 2 min until gelatin is fully dissolved. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and peach syrup until the mixture is smooth. Refrigerate mixture until slightly thickened then gently spoon into the mold over the firmed peach gelatin layer. Refrigerate overnight or until firm at least 4 hours.

To unmold your Jell-O mold, fill a sink or basin with warm water. Dip the mold just to the rim in the warm water for about 10 seconds. Lift from water, hold upright, and shake slightly to loosen the gelatin from mold. Place a cold, moistened plate over the top of the mold and invert the plate and mold together. Carefully lift the mold, if gelatin does not release dip the mold in warm water and try again.
NOTE: This is the procedure for most Jell-o molds. Before adding another color, allow the first to almost set up so they won't mix, then add the other color that's been allowed to thicken too. This way you could add as many colors or layers as you wanted and they'll stay separate.

Sophisticated Wine Jell-o Mold.- Here's a great way to use wine or sparkling beverage, add fruit and you're all set.

1/2 cup water
1 1/2 apple juice, boiling
2 envelopes of Knox unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups cold white wine
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup grapes, sliced in half
1 cup diced apples

In large bowl, sprinkle Knox over 1/2 cup water until gelatin absorbs water. Stir in boiling apple juice for at least 2 min until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in wine . Place in the fridge until gelatin thickens (to the consistency of raw eggs). Fold in strawberries, grapes, and apples. Spoon into mold and refrigerate until firm.
NOTE: Another trick when adding fruit to Jell-o. Allow the gelatin to almost set before you add the fruit or else they'll just sink to the bottom and won't look "suspended" and separate which is much nicer. You could also make patterns if you like....

Mexican Jell-o Flan Dessert.- If you're Mexico , this Jell-o flavor is available. Just follow box directions (you'd need 2-3 boxes for a mold) but easy and most people love it! Want to make "real" Mexican Flan? Recipe coming soon..... Mexico has lots more flavors of Jell-o than the US, you can find Pistachio, Almond, Tropical Fruit Flavors, Rompope and much more!

NOTE: This is that Tupperware mold I was mentioning which I found in a box being used as a button and thread receptacle! Knew I had seen it somewhere.... Had to wash it with lots of hot water and Comet to get it really clean but it's back in service now!


Chicken Salad Mold.- Here's a real "blast from the past" and memories of Baby Showers past.... I know it sounds weird, but it tastes pretty good actually.....

3 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and diced fine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 box lemon Jell-o
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
1 cup Miracle Whip or salad dressing
1/2 cup onions, chopped fine
1/2 cup green peppers, diced fine
1/2 celery, diced fine

Put chicken into cream of chicken soup and heat. Add lemon Jello. Whip together cream cheese and water, then add to soup. Stir remaining ingredients into soup mix. Put in mold and chill at least 4 hours or overnight. Serve with crackers or toast.
NOTE: Could be potato, shrimp, crab, turkey, ham.... you name it salad with any combination of veggies.

Jell-o Shots.- Always popular at parties or rave's and although usually consumed by high-school or college kids, people love them!

1 cup vodka
1 cup scotch
1 box Jell-o cherry gelatin
1 box Jell-o strawberry gelatin

Follow the instructions on the package of jello (using twice the amount since there's cherry and strawberry), and add both the vodka and the scotch to the mixture. Make sure you measure the correct amount of liquid so it will firm up hard, substituting the liquor for the water needed. Freeze in plastic cups, then serve and try to stand up. These pack a wallop!
NOTE: You can see how any flavor of Jell-o can be used as well as any combination of liquors or just one. Wine, champagne... whatever....

Orange Mimosa Mold.- A perfect Brunch item everyone will love, super easy too!

3 cups orange juice
4 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
3 1/2 cups champagne (or even cider or apple juice if you don't want the alcohol)

Boil the orange juice in a pan then add the unflavored gelatin, stir until completely dissolved then add the champagne. Then pour into a mold and let set overnight. You can add a can of Mandarin orange slices, well drained or orange supremes if you like. Allow the jello to thicken to gel in the freezer before string in the Mandarin oranges and spooning into the mold.
NOTE: If you've got some crystallized orange peels, they'd be great in this too.

How about that, bring some memories for you? I've got some more old style recipes coming up that you might want to try so keep checking in. Everyone gets into the new food trends and we forget all about other recipes which we used to like before.... just think back to what you Mother or Grandmother used to make and you'll see what I mean. I was looking for molds on the Internet and found a lot of them available! Plus lots of other recipes (most from the mid-west where they seem to still be using all of these) and ideas from the past. Good for them! I love to look back and get ideas that I can update. Maybe you need a "Pot-Luck" item to bring, wouldn't these be ideal? Just a thought..... Talk soon!

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