Thanks to mystery author Debra Goldstein for a recipe that caught my imagination, although I must say not in a good way. Making a guest appearance on the blog, Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen (August 16), she shared her recipe for Jell-O in a Can. Now Debra will tell you she does not cook, and she’s created a main character, Sarah Blair (even has her own series) who’s afraid to be in the kitchen. So here’s what you need for Jell-O in a Can:
1 20 oz. can sliced pineapple
1 3 oz. package Jell-O gelatin, flavor of your choice
1 cup boiling water
Open pineapple and drain but leave slices in the can. Separately mix gelatin into boiling water. Let is cool a bit and then pour into the can. Chill until set. To get it out in one piece (a good trick), run a knife around the inside and coax it onto a platter, like you would a can of jellied cranberry sauce (another thing on my never-never list). Slice between pineapple rings and arrange attractively on the platter. The beauty of it is, of course, that it’s quick and easy.
And sometimes you need quick and easy, no matter how much you like to cook. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Chili-cheese dip: Mix one 15-oz. can Wolf chili without beans with 16 oz. of Velveeta, cubed. Throw it in the crockpot until the cheese melts. Stir. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
Want to get fancy? Turn it into what I call Colin’s queso after one of my sons. Brown a lb. each of ground beef and pork sausage, crumbling it as it browns. Put in the crockpot and stir in one can cream of mushroom soup, one 16 oz. jar Pace Picante sauce and that cubed lb. of Velveeta. Stir when cheese melts and serve warm with tortilla chips. I used to put chips in a bowl, pour the queso over it, and tell my kids it was supper.
Onion soup-sour cream dip: is there anyone in the world who doesn’t know how to do this? But maybe you’ve forgotten about it because it’s so retro. Simply mix one pack onion soup dip with one pint sour cream (do not use low-fat—that’s a disaster). I swear one night I watched a friend gobble this down and turn to his wife to ask, “Can you get the recipe for this?” She smiled and said she thought she could figure it out.
Cream cheese-crab spread: Arrange a block of cream cheese on lettuce; splurge and open a can of flaked crab meat; douse it all with bottled cocktail sauce. Serve with crackers. Messy but good.
And here are a couple ideas I cribbed from responses to Debra’s column:
Tortilla snacks: Lay out tortilla chips on a cookie sheet; top each with a small slice of cheddar and then a slice of pickled jalapeno. Broil about three minutes.
In the spirit of “Not everything is an appetizer”:
Fruit cocktail pudding: Drain a 15 oz. can of fruit cocktail (yes, it’s still on the market) and a can of mandarin oranges; Mix in bowl and stir in one dry packet of instant vanilla pudding. Chill and serve. (The retro cookbook From Calf Fries to Caviar has several fruit salad recipes that use Jell-O instant pudding mix that way.)
Pumpkin dessert dip: Mix one 15 oz. can pumpkin puree with one 8 oz. container of creamy Cool Whip. Serve with apple slices and gingersnaps for dipping. Want to get fancy? Put a bit of cinnamon in it.
Want more retro quick-and-easy recipes? Read Debra’s favorite cookbook, Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Book (check out her Lazy Day Beef Stew among other goodies). Or read one of Poppy Cannon’s books like The New Can Opener Cookbook or Poppy Cannon’s all-time, no-time, any-time cookbook.
Want to relax and read while the crockpot cooks supper? Check out the Sarah Blair series: One Taste Too Many, Two Bites Too Many, and the new one, Three Treats Too Many.