First of all, let’s just clarify that this recipe is not for a real salad. It is for a dessert. It is called a salad in the sense that Jell-O with fruit or nut bits mixed in is known as a Jell-O salad, gelatin salad, or congealed salad (that name gives me the “no” feeling).
My grandmother had a whole box of these gelatin salad recipes. Some of the combinations made no sense to me like grated onion in lime Jell-O with a tuna topping. I am happy to report that there is nothing repulsive about this strawberry pretzel salad. It is delightful and delicious, and it was the perfect ending to our neighborhood 4th of July parade and feast.
2 c. crushed pretzels
10 T. butter, melted
1 c. sugar
16-oz cream cheese, softened
1 t. pure vanilla extract
8 oz. Cool Whip, thawed
1 6-oz pkg strawberry flavored Jell-O
2 c. boiling water
3 c. strawberries, sliced
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a bowl, pour the crushed pretzels and 1 cup sugar and stir to combine. Add the melted butter and stir again until mixed thoroughly.
Press the pretzel mixture on the bottom of a 9×13 pan and bake for ~8 minutes.
Remove pretzel crust from oven and let cool completely.
While the crust is baking, slice strawberries and put them in a bowl in the freezer. The cold strawberries will help the gelatin set up faster.
In a large bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar, and stir until smooth. Add the Cool Whip and continuing stirring until cream cheese is combined, and the texture is smooth again.
Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the cooled pretzel crust. Make sure the cream mixture is against the edges of the pan to prevent the Jell-O mix from seeping through.
Place the pan with the crust and cream layers in the refrigerator while you mix the Jell-O.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Remove from the stove and add strawberry Jell-O. Stir until Jell-O is dissolved. Let sit for a few minutes to cool. Add the strawberries from the freezer and let Jell-O cool a little more.
Remove the pan from the refrigerator and carefully poor the Jell-O mix over the cream layer.
Put pan back in the refrigerator until the Jell-O is set. It will take a minimum of 1 hour.
If the Jell-O is too hot when you pour over the cream layer, it will leak through. This will not ruin the taste of the dish, but it won’t look as pretty.
Skinny pretzel sticks or the tic-tac-toe board pretzel shapes work well. You can crush in a food processor or put the pretzels in a Ziploc bag and run a rolling pin over them. Pretzel crushing is a great job for littler helpers.
There are many versions of this dessert, and I compared several recipes. The ingredient list and amounts stay about the same. You may want to add a few more scoops of Cool Whip than what I listed.
So, here is the download from our 4th of July neighborhood party. We have a fab neighbor who has a degree in recreational something and is a professional when it comes to organizing group events. She agreed to again coordinate a 4th of July family bash for our street. We followed the same basic format as last year and here are a few highlights. In case you are new to TheRoomMom’s world, you can read about last year here.
The Parade, The Games, and the Prizes
Each family decorates bikes, scooters, wagons… This is the kick off to the party. Any participants ride up and down the street a few times to the cheers and shouts of the bystanders.
Following the parade, we are teamed up and compete in a sack race, dizzy bat race, egg carry, and other classic relay races.
Prizes for the winners awarded after dinner. I made this year’s “medals” with Mardi Gras beads, jewelry clips, and silver posterboard with a printed message glued to the top. They are not as nice as the Dollar Store trophies from last year, but I was under a time crunch.
After the races ended, a few adults wrote in silly award names like “Best Competitor”, “Most Confident Egg Carrier”, or “Best Spinner”.
The Food and Drinks
There was lots of grilled meat and tasty (but bad for you) party food. One person did contribute a fresh fruit salad, but we mostly ate things with melted cheese in them.
I baked a pizza dip, which is a party dip that works for any occasion, any age, and any time of year. Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.
I also concocted a blue drink for the adults. Be careful because it does look like Gatorade. I wanted to make the cherry margaritas for the crowd, but it takes time to pit all of those cherries, so I tinkered with the recipe for this blue drink and created the Dizzy Eagle (name is not finalized– please send suggestions if you have them). Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.
The Cake Walk
This is everyone’s favorite event. Each family donates a sweet treat or two. Kids stand on a numbered square. An adult plays music. When the music stops, the child stops on a square. Our organizer draws a number. The child standing on the matching number gets to pick a treat from the table.
You can let adults play too, but we have it worked out so all kids win one item.
This year I boxed Oreo Truffles. I had trouble melting my white chocolate, so they did not look as professional as I would like. The taste, however, was not compromised. Click for the 4th of July Recipes 2013.
Jackie knows how to cut a large white paper plate into 3 masks from a former job as a camp director. She cut an oval (football shape) from the center of the paper plate. The resulting 3 pieces are the 3 mask shapes. Then, two eyes are cut in the center of each shape. You can also do the football shape in the top half of the plate and create 2 masks from one paper plate.
I took over after Jackie cut the masks. I found red bamboo skewer sticks in the 4th of July section at Hobby Lobby. Using a piece each of red, white, and blue curly ribbon, I tied them together around the end of a stick in a knot. I hot glued the stick at the point where the ribbon knot is to the back edge of each mask. Once the glue cooled, I curled the ribbon.
We had a table at the party with Elmer’s glue, glitter, sparkly stars, and markers. Kids could walk up and decorate a mask.
We set a big disposable roasting pan on the table with the glitter jars inside. Kids set the mask in the pan to glitter. It made clean up very easy.
FYI– this would be a great craft for Halloween parties and school celebrations.
How do you celebrate the 4th of July? Jackie was exhausted, and this may have been the last time she will be organizing a neighborhood event of this scale. Do you have any suggestions I can bring to her for consideration?
Since I will need a cocktail for our 4th of July block party, I wanted to focus on a cocktail that has a red, white, or blue theme for this weekend’s new drink. Last night I tested cherry margaritas. I mentioned last week that I like tart drinks better and this one is almost perfect. Even if it did not taste that great (which it does), the color is so vibrant that people assume it is going to be delicious.
cherries (you need 15-20 for one batch)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 c. (plus a splash) of tequila
1/4 c. (plus a splash) of triple sec
lime wedges for garnish
Make a simple syrup by adding 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar to a pot on the stovetop at medium heat. Do not stir, but swirl sugar water occasionally while the pot is on the stove. Remove from heat once the sugar dissolves.
Pit ~15 cherries and put them in a blender. You can do more or less cherries depending on your taste. Add tequila, triple sec, 1/2 cup lime juice, and 1/2 cup cooled simple syrup to the blender.
Blend ~20 seconds until the cherries are ground up. It will look like a dull color, but as soon as you start blending, it turns this really bright pinky red color.
Pour the mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher. Press the mixture around the sieve with a spatula to get as much liquid through as possible.
Serve margarita over ice with a wedge of lime for garnish.
Makes ~4 servings
In Other News
A dear friend of TheRoomMom e-mailed the picture below to me. She served the Watermelon Vodka Slushie in this totally awesome watermelon keg. She said she had a few leakage problems. She picked up two more foam circles a little larger than the lock nuts to try to prevent leaking next time. My friend is visiting in a few weeks, and I will get a full report, but the materials list is below if you want to use the picture and the list to give it a try.
Hose Bibb, quarter turn (that’s the tap)
Faucet Lock Nuts (those black circles)
Brass Pipe Nipple 1/2″ (the piece with threads on both ends)
I have a new Pinterest board called Yummy Drinks. I pin any yummy looking drink I find, but there seems to be a trend emerging of fresh, fruity drinks that lend themselves to summer consumption. On the horizon is our neighborhood 4th of July party and the unbelievably oppressive heat of South Carolina summers. I will need good cocktails for both events, so I tested one of my finds this weekend.
My father-in-law was visiting and gave the drink a hearty approval. You know if it is in-law approved, it has to be good.
Blackberry Lemonade with Vodka
1 c. sugar
fresh lemon juice
Make a simple syrup by bringing the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes; do not stir. Remove from heat and let cool. Simple syrup recipe can be doubled or tripled.
In the bottom of a glass, smash 4-5 blackberries with the back of a spoon. Add 1 oz. vodka (about a shot), 1 oz. simple syrup, and 1 oz. fresh lemon juice (I like a little more lemon juice).
Fill the glass about 2/3 full with crushed ice.
Pour a splash of soda on top and stir gently.
Can be made alcohol free too!
TheRoomDad, Mr. Star Wars, and my father-in-law spent the day fishing and brought home a fresh catch for dinner. We served drinks with grilled fish tacos and the Mexican Chopped Salad that I shared last week. I even remembered the cilantro this time!