Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sweet & Salty Jello Salad

If this is a 'salad' then I'm fired as a Nutritionist. But, for lack of a better name, my family calls this a Jello salad. We serve it as a side with dinner, but in truth- this is more like a dessert. It is SO SCRUMPTIOUS. The bottom layer is made of a crushed pretzel crust and it is so buttery & salty & crunchy. The top layers create a strawberry-cheesecakeish effect that is creamy & sweet & smooth. All of these complimentary opposites make this dish absolutely irresistible. Everyone at your table will have seconds! 

It was recently my sister-in-law's birthday and this was one of her specific requests for her birthday dinner. It was a good choice because it's something that everyone is always happy with. 
There was one lonesome serving that made it back home with us, and the next morning Peter said he wanted it with breakfast. I tried to just laugh and pass it off as a joke... but as I stood in front of my griddle making french toast- the next thing I knew Peter was sitting at the table with a fork in hand and the last piece in front of him! Oh geez! Dessert before breakfast!?

This recipe came from one of our close family friends, Theresa. Theresa is one of my mom's best friends; She's part of a group of ladies that are like a second set of aunties to me and my siblings. Theresa originally got this recipe from her mother-in-law... If a recipe has been passed down and around that much, then it's definitely a keeper. 

Recipe (makes one 9x13 casserole dish):
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled Pretzels
  • 1/2 cup Butter (1 stick)
  • 3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 1 (6oz) box of Strawberry Jello
  • 2 cups Boiling Water
  • 1 cup Ice Water
  • 16 ozs sliced Strawberries (I use a frozen package that has been thawed, but you can use fresh if they are in season)
  • 1 small (10 oz) container of Cool Whip
  • 1 cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 8 oz package Cream Cheese
*This can EASILY be made healthier by using using a sugar free Jello, light cream cheese and/or Neufchatel cheese, and by using half the amount of cool whip/sugar/and cream cheese. 
...still doesn't make it 'healthy', but will make it healthier.

Melt Butter and brown sugar together and remove from heat. Stir in the crushed pretzels and spread mixture into a sprayed/greased 9x13 dish. Bake 10-12 min in preheated 350 degree F oven. Set aside (or in fridge) to cool completely.

Mix together jello in boiling water and stir for 2 minutes until all dissolved. Then add the ice-cold water (without the ice) and sliced strawberries. Stir well and allow to cool and thicken slightly in fridge, but not till it's completely firm or else you won't be able to pour it on as the top layer.

While the two other components are cooling, whip together cool whip, cream cheese, and sugar.

Spread evenly over the COMPLETELY COOLED pretzel crust.

Then top with the slightly chilled jello mix.

Enjoy!'s hard to take a picture of jello that looks pretty, but I promise this is DELICIOUS!

For an elegant presentation, try serving it...

  • on a leaf of Bibb lettuce,
  • with a dollop of cool whip, 
  • with a strawberry on top, 
  • with a sprig of mint on top,
  • or ALL of the above :)

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