Dr Pepper Jello Salad

Yeh, I went there.

I made a molded jello salad, and you know what?

It wasn’t half bad, and loaded with cherries and pineapple and Mandarin orange slices.

Even the kids who Mira said wouldn’t touch a jello thing were kinda pleased with it, and, as you can see, it came out of a kind of complicated mold with little trouble. I call that winning!

The original recipe, from spendwithpennies.com, called for strawberry jello and pecans, but I thought cherry jello would work better with the Dr Pepper, swapped Mandarin oranges for the nuts, and thought it a very good thing.

Note: for any recipe calling for soda, I try to find the all-sugar, no corn sweetener version; widely available in the markets around here, usually in retro looking glass bottles. Check out my Dr Pepper Cherry Cake here.

•1 cup water
•6 oz Jello – I used cherry
•1-1/4 cup Dr Pepper
•10 oz jar Maraschino cherries, with juice
•8 oz can crushed pineapple, with juice
•1 cup Mandarin orange slices, drained
•Cooking spray

Apply non stick cooking spray to a mold pan, I used a heavy metal cathedral shape, but silicone will work, too.

Bring the water to a boil, then pour into the jello in a large bowl, stirring until the jello has dissolved.

Stir in the Dr Pepper, then stash in the fridge for 30 minutes. I transferred my jello mixture to a smaller, two quart measuring cup for this bit.

Add the fruit to the jello and pour into the pan…


Next time I make this salad, I am gonna arrange the cherries in the bottom of the pan, stir the cherry juice and pineapple into the jello, and drop the Mandarin orange slices on top of the jello in the mold.

You do what you want.

Cover and chill the jello for at least four hours – I did mine the night before – before serving.

To unmold, use a table knife to gently loosen the jello from the mold, dip the mold in warm water, then invert onto a serving plate. See? Worked a treat!

Note: Jello salads tend to “weep” a bit, so I would use a plate or platter with a sloped rim, so you don’t end up with jello juice everywhere.

Serve with additional fruit, this time of year fresh sliced cherries would be nice, and whipped cream.

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Grilled Shrimp Burgers

For my brother, Butch, who always said: “Forget about the salad bar at a buffet, you wanna concentrate on the shrimp!”

I’ve featured shrimp burgers in the past, and they were quite good, but, they were really fried shrimp cakes served on a bun.

These burgers are pretty darned terrific on the grill, and, yes, they have shrimp in them, but also an equal mixture of ground beef and pork, so you can stretch your shrimp and still in up with one tasty burger.

Oh, and did I mention they are gluten free?


I found these gluten free Panko crumbs at the market and decided to test ’em out.

They worked a treat.

I also substituted the soy sauce in the original recipe for lower sodium Tamari, which is basically gluten free soy sauce.

Also worked a treat.

•1 lb ground pork – I used meatloaf mix
•1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
•1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
•3/8 cup Panko crumbs
•3 garlic cloves
•1 tbsp lower sodium Tamari
•1 tbsp Cowboy Candy juice*
•Black pepper
•Waxed paper

*Or your fave hot sauce, to taste. I like Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce.

Combine all of the ingredients in your food processor fitted with the metal blade.

Pulse until ground and nicely mixed together, then shape into patties.

Note: I used one of those burger press thingies (available at Amazon, or most any well equipped kitchen store), and ended up with eleven patties.

Line a platter or container with waxed paper (the patties will be kinda sticky).

Place the patties on the waxed paper, cover with another sheet, and stash in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before grilling.

I was making these burgers to bring to a lunch gathering, so lined a storage container with the waxed paper, then layered the patties, with a sheet of waxed paper in between each layer, then covered, and stashed in the fridge overnight.

Made transporting them a cinch.

When ready to grill, remove the burgers from the container and grill over direct, high (450º) heat, for three minutes or so, before flipping and grilling for another three or four minutes, until the burgers are cooked through and nicely browned on both sides.

Now, because this was a gathering with gluten free friends, we skipped the buns and enjoyed our shrimp burgers with tossed salad, Korean Potato Salad, and a dab o’ HoJo’s Thousand Island Sammich Sauce and Dressing on top.

Go shrimp!

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My Take on Waldorf Salad

As was made extremely plain in a 30+ year old episode of Fawlty Towers; a Waldorf Salad is: apples, celery, walnuts, and mayonnaise.

Except, when it’s not. My Waldorf Salad has apples, sure. And celery. But then I go a bit off the rails and add pitted cherries, pistachios, and diced prosciutto.

And, mayonnaise? I think not. Blue Cheese Basil Vinaigrette works a treat!

Check it out…

•1 cup diced celery
•1 cup diced cored apples
•1 cup seeded cherries
•1/2 cup pistachios
•2 oz chopped prosciutto

•6 tbsp olive oil
•1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
•2 cloves garlic*
•3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (2-1/2 oz)
•2 tbsp sherry vinegar
•2 tbsp rice vinegar
•1 tbsp water
•1 tbsp sugar
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/2 tsp Kosher salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

*I buy marinated garlic from the olive bar at my market.

Place all of the dressing ingredients, except for the oil, in a blender jar and pulse until nicely chopped.

With the blender running, slowly stream the oil into the blender through the hole in the lid, until the dressing has absorbed the oil and you have this lovely, creamy looking basil salad dressing.

Toss the salad ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the dressing and toss to coat.

Cover and chill; or, serve at room temperature; it really is all good.


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Blue Cheese Basil Vinaigrette

I’ve had issues, in the past, making a vinaigrette I really liked. I watch friends and family toss a few things into a bowl or container and, voilà! Tasty vinaigrette.

Me? Not so much.

But this vinaigrette? With zingy gorgonzola cheese, basil from my kitchen garden, and marinated garlic?

Absolutely lovely! Simple, too, which is always a bonus.

•6 tbsp olive oil
•1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
•2 cloves garlic*
•3/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (2-1/2 oz)
•2 tbsp sherry vinegar
•2 tbsp rice vinegar
•1 tbsp water
•1 tbsp sugar
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/2 tsp Kosher salt
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

*I buy marinated garlic from the olive bar at my market.

Note: feel free to use red wine or cider vinegar; even salad vinegar would be nice.

Place the basil, garlic, blue cheese, sherry vinegar, rice vinegar, water, sugar, hot sauce, salt and peppers in the jar of your blender.

Cover and pulse until everything is nicely combined and chopped.

With the blender running, slowly add the olive oil through the hole in the lid – that’s what it’s there for – until the dressing has emulsified.

Transfer to a jar, cover, and stash in the fridge for up to a couple of days before using on a green salad…

or, a my take on Waldorf salad.

Those details, to come!

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Another (and BETTER) Shrimp Salad

I was getting together with friends for a middle of the week lunch; summer weekends tend to get filled up quickly, especially if you have kids, as they do, so a little get-together on a Tuesday was a perfect time for gathering for lunch, a but of wine (we call it “fruit salad”), and conversation. As luck would have it, I was working on adapting a shrimp salad recipe I’d come across at Uncle Phaedrus, Consulting Detective and Finder of Lost Recipes – which is a terrific resource for old, but still quite lovely recipes. My new fave Pineapple Mustard is based on one of his recipes.

I made a fair number of changes to the original, swapping out chilled French Peas for the broccoli; axing the artichoke hearts entirely (tho, I might add those back in for the next batch), and making a Rémoulade style sherry mayonnaise, instead of just stirring 1/4 cup of sherry into one cup of Hellmann’s.

Nice salad – and perfect with Barb’s grilled pork tenderloin tips and veggies!

Ermmm, the fruit salad was good, too.

Sherry Mayonnaise:
•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•2 tbsp ketchup or cocktail sauce
•1 tbsp dried parsley
•2 tbsp good sherry*
•1 tsp Dijon mustard.
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/8 tsp salt
•Black pepper

•1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
•1 lb bag small frozen peas, thawed
•2 tbsp room temperature butter
•1/2 tsp sugar
•1/2 tsp salt
•Baby spinach
•Chopped scallions

*None of that “cooking sherry” from the market shelves; a bottle of decent sherry will taste much better, and needn’t be all that expensive.

Whisk the mayonnaise ingredients together, transfer to a jar, cover and stash in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Add the shrimp to a pot of salted boiling water and cook for three minutes – just until pink and still curled up.

Remove from the water to a colander with ice cubes to stop the shrimp from over cooking while cooling. Remove the shells and devein, unless, like me, you bought yours raw, but already peeled and deveined.

Stash the shrimp in a bowl in the fridge until you are ready to build the salad.

Place the peas in a large pan and add the sugar and salt. Stir in the softened butter until the peas are lightly coated with the butter, sugar, and salt.

Add cold water to just cover the peas, then cover the pan and bring to a boil.

Simmer for six minutes or so, checking often to make sure the water hasn’t boiled off, until the peas are tender.

If your peas a nice and tender (and oh! so tasty), but there’s still a bit of water in the pan, remove the cover and continue to simmer until the liquid has cooked off and your left with lovely, butter coated peas.

Set aside to cool.

To make the salad, toss the shrimp and the peas in the sherried mayonnaise until coated. Keep chilled until time to serve.

To serve, arrange the arugula and baby spinach on a plate and top with the shrimp and pea salad.

Sprinkle with the chopped scallions.

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Sherry Mayonnaise

We’re building a shrimp salad.

So. We’ve made Julia Child’s Peas and set them aside to cool; now let us turn our attention to the sauce – not unlike a Rémoulade, and just the thing to combine with shrimp, peas, and scallions.

You certainly can make your own mayonnaise, it’s really easy with a food processor; you can even make mayonnaise without eggs, but I just went with my old standby of Hellmann’s.


It’s good. It’s simple. And I was fussing about the kitchen enough.

First thing, though. Let us talk about the sherry.

This is not a time to use any of that “cooking sherry” from the supermarket shelves. Go and buy a decent bottle of real sherry – this one comes from Trader Joe’s, but the old standby Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry is available most everywhere, is not that expensive (like, under $10 around here), and will work a treat.

•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•2 tbsp ketchup or cocktail sauce
•1 tbsp dried parsley
•2 tbsp sherry
•1 tsp Dijon mustard
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1/8 tsp salt
•Black pepper

Add the ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to combine. Stash in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to combine.

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Parfait! French Peas

I was meeting friends for lunch, general chat, and wine.

I had a nice looking shrimp salad recipe I wanted to try on them, but…

It called for broccoli and, much as I like broccoli, it just somehow sounded wrong for a shrimp salad, so…

I got to thinking about peas; specifically, my favorite way to make them – Julia Child’s French peas – made super simple by using frozen tiny sweet peas, butter, salt, and a bit of sugar.

So. Julia says to “bruise” the peas by rubbing the butter, salt, and sugar into the peas until they’re well and truly coated and, that works, but…

If you get a bit lazy and simply stir the salt and sugar into the peas, then top ’em off with the butter, that works too!

Let’s make us some peas!

•1 bag frozen peas
•2 tbsp unsalted butter
•1 tsp sugar
•1/2 tsp salt

Go ahead and bruise the peas in a sauce pan with the salt, sugar, and butter.

Or don’t.

Stir the salt and sugar into the peas in the pan, then add the butter and cold water just to cover the peas.

Cover the pan, bring to a boil, and simmer for six minutes.

If the water has cooked off, you’re golden. If it hasn’t, remove the cover and continue to cook until it has cooked off and you’re left with lovely, butter glazed peas.

These peas are practically perfect with a baked potato and marinated, then grilled lamb chops, but…

They also happen to work a treat when tossed with shrimp and scallions in a sherry mayonnaise.

Those details, to come…

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Brioche, Sausage, and Egg Bake

I came across a breakfast casserole calling for brioche, sausage, cheese, and eggs, but; instead if whipping the eggs into the milk and cream cheese mixture, they are added on top, in little divots made in the sausage and brioche surface. You could prep it and bake it all at once, too, instead of popping it into the fridge to chill overnight; though next time I make this (and there will be a next time), I believe that I will, in fact, prep the casserole up to and including adding the simmered milk and cream cheese, then covering and popping the whole thing in the fridge; add the eggs and cheese just before baking – which I believe will make it easier to shape those little egg cups.

Well, you’ll see…

First, you’re gonna want to make, or find at your market, a brioche loaf. Our market’s bakery happens to carry brioche loaves sliced for sammiches, brioche hamburger rolls, and mini brioche baguettes, which is what I used for this recipe.

Thing is, I had already sliced the baguettes and slathered ’em with my garlic cheese butter before stashing ’em in the freezer for a garlic bread kinda day.

Well… as it happens, extra butter and garlic and herbs and stuff is practically perfect in every way; so I’ve added the garlic cheese butter, just in case you wanna go for a little sumpin’ sumpin’ extra.

Garlic Cheese Bread Spread:
•2 tsp Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle
•2 tsp pizza seasoning
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp onion powder
•1/4 tsp chives
•1/4 tsp parsley
•1/4 tsp oregano
•1/4 tsp basil
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp tomato powder
•8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

•3 cups cubed brioche
•1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Sausage Mixture:
•8 oz pork sausage
•2 cups diced sweet onion
•3 cloves garlic, chopped
•2 cups sliced ‘shrooms
•2 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or your fave hot sauce, to taste
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•Black pepper

•2 cups whole milk
•1 cup garlic chive whipped cream cheese
•1 tbsp sherry vinegar
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1 tsp dried chives
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•Black pepper

•6 eggs
•Shredded cheese

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

First things first, if you’ve decided to add the garlic cheese spread, cut your brioche in half lengthwise (for baguettes) or mebbe into quarters (for larger loaves) and spread with the garlic cheese mixture. Cut the brioche into cubes and toss with the additional melted butter to coat.

Arrange in a single layer in a pan and bake in a hot 425º oven until the croutons are golden brown and crispity – mebbe seven to ten minutes. Arrange the toasted croupons in the bottom of a 2-1/2 quart (about 11×9″) baking pan and set aside.

Brown sausage, breaking up, in a pan over medium heat. Stir in onion and garlic and cook, stirring and breaking up the sausage for six minutes.

Add the seasonings and the ‘shrooms, stir to combine, then continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the pan liquids have been cooked off and the mixture is nicely browned and crispity in spots. Drain well, then add to the croutons in the baking pan, stirring to distribute more or less evenly.

Note: though I quite liked them, Rich was not thrilled about the ‘shrooms, so feel free to leave them out and just stir in the Sherry Peppers, hot sauce, and black and Aleppo peppers and cook for mebbe five minutes.

Wipe out the pan you used to cook the sausage and add the milk, cream cheese, and remaining ingredients.

Cook, stirring often, over medium low heat until the cream cheese has melted and the mixture has come to a simmer.

Allow to simmer for five minutes, still stirring often, then pour over the crouton and sausage mixture in the baking pan.

Here is where I plan on covering and stashing the pan in the fridge overnight before completing the dish.

Reason One: it will make putting breakfast on the table much simple, instead of getting up and doing all of this prep work first thing in the morning.

Reason Two: I think that the rest will allow the milk and cream cheese mixture to really soak into the brioche mixture, which will make creating “egg cups” in the pan much easier.

Heat your oven to 425º and, if you’ve let your casserole rest in the fridge, bring it out and allow it to come to room temperature.

Using a small bowl or prep cup, go ahead and make six divots in the crouton and sausage mixture.

Note: the original recipe I’ve adapted this from called for using eight eggs, but I didn’t really think this sized baking pan was big enough for that.

Break an egg into a small bowl and pour into one of the prepared divots.

Repeat with the remaining eggs.

Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese, I opted to outline each “egg cup” with cheese, then pop into the oven.

Add a bit of freshly ground black pepper over the top, if you like.

Bake until the egg whites are set and the yolks are as runny or firm as you like them, ten to twenty minutes.

Note: the original recipe claimed that the eggs would be perfect in eight to ten minutes, but in my oven, which is generally spot on, it took more like twenty for the whites to set and give us the runny yolks we prefer, so you may want to keep an eye on the casserole while it’s baking.

As you can see, the casserole came out looking pretty darned good, and tasting better than it looked – well, except for Rich and the ‘shrooms.

I served ours as “breakfast for dinner” with a cucumber fruit salad.


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Shaved Sprouts Salad

Shake up your salad with shaved Brussels sprouts, no lettuce needed!

The best thing is, you don’t even need to shave the sprouts, most markets sell ’em cleaned, shaved, bag, and ready for whatever you fell like doing to ’em!

We totally enjoyed ours with this orange and Sherry Peppers Sauce marinated pork tenderloin.

What you include in your salad is up to you; this is what I made…

•1 bag shaved Brussels sprouts
•1/2 red onion, sliced thin
•Shaved carrots
•Sopressata, lightly fried until crispity*

*Or any other salami or bacon you prefer.

Toss the ingredients together in a bowl, cover and chill until needed.

Serve with good ranch or blue cheese dressing.

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Parfait! Tomato, Basil, and Cheese Soup

This is one of those recipes you want to keep in the back of your mind for when you have folk you want to impress, but not a lot of time.

Or, when you just want a fine bowl of tomato soup, without a lot of fuss and bother.

Thanks to Sandra Lee and her inspired take on turning every day canned goods into something special. BTW, go ahead and add fresh basil to the soup at the end. It is wicked worth it!

•1 can condensed tomato soup
•1 can condensed cheddar cheese soup
•3 cups spicy vegetable juice (V8)
•2 tsp hot sauce
•1 tsp dried basil
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Note: spicy or not, I use the reduced sodium V8 juice.

Prep is dead simple; combine all of the ingredients together in a pot or a slow cooker and cook over low heat until warmed though.

Just before serving, it wouldn’t be a bad thing to stir in a bit of decent sherry, and mebbe a bit of freshly chopped basil, too.

Best thing ever with grilled cheese sammiches!

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