Food quote of note

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience"…Eleanor Roosevelt

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Celebrating Mom - and Cool Whip

     My mom is a pretty darn good cook - she's the oldest of 8 siblings, and was always the one hosting holidays and birthdays/celebrations for this large group at our very small house.  My love of entertaining  started with her and with the many meals we made together.  Over the past few years, as I've gotten increasingly into food and cooking, I've become more exposed to professional techniques and approaches.  As a matter of fact, sometimes my family teases me a little bit about my "fancy cooking" - as only your family can do.  Although I do love conquering a complicated recipe or understanding the details about how to make something from scratch - I have to admit that some of the yummiest treats I've eaten and some of my fondest memories revolve around the dishes my mom made for those family gatherings -- in a small kitchen, no double oven, no warming drawer and very few of the essential cooking tools I own today.  So - today's blog is to honor our Moms and some of these "homemade" specialties - all made with love, and usually including one of the following pivotal ingredients - Cool Whip, Dream Whip or Jello.
     At our house the dessert of choice for any holiday was something called Cherry Dream Pie - a layered treat which features a white, fluffy layer of cream cheese/sugar/Dream Whip mixture, poured over a graham cracker crust and topped with canned cherry pie filling.  I cannot tell you how many of these I have made/helped make over the years - and, quite frankly, how many spoonfuls of this white wonderful filling I have snuck out of the bowl and tasted during the making.  Of course, I had to fight my brother for these stolen tastes - this is his favorite dessert as well.  This last week I travelled to Ohio to visit my family - so my brother and I made this dessert together to share with my mom.  As usual, we fought over the extra filling - but both managed to eat our share and still leave enough for the dessert.

The building blocks for Cherry Dream Pie. 
By the way - does anyone really know what is in Dream Whip?

Graham cracker crust forms the base for this layered treat

Here's the good stuff - the fluffy white layer that combines sugar, cream cheese,
milk and Dream Whip.  OMG - pure heaven on a spoon!
THE dessert of my childhood - Cherry Dream Pie.

My Mom Fran, enjoying a piece of Cherry Dream Pie
at my brother's house in Ohio

     Another wonderful woman I need to highlight for this blog is my sweet mother-in-law, Mary.  Mary is your quintessential midwestern farm gal - practical, honest, hard-working, and alot of fun.  When I joined their family, I got a few Leach specialties to add to this list of homey favorites - again, all including the key ingredient - Cool Whip.  When I asked for these recipes, I had to laugh at the names - Pink Salad, Chocolate Dessert.  In her typical no-nonsense style, Mary called these treats exactly what they were, no fancy names (for example, I have seen this same recipe for her Chocolate Dessert also labeled as Chocolate Delight, Chocolate Cream Cake, etc - but not our gal Mary - Chocolate Dessert is just fine).  Pink Salad combines Cool Whip, bananas, sugar , cream cheese, frozen strawberries and canned pineapple into a whipped treat that can double as either a salad or dessert - one of my husbands personal favorites.  Chocolate dessert is a layered treat of nut crust, chocolate instant pudding, cream cheese and Cool Whip deliciousness.  Both of these are at every holiday dinner with Guy's family in Michigan - and, I definitely eat more than my share!

     As I was thinking about this blog, I shared the idea with  several of my friends - wouldn't it be fun to highlight all of those special treats our moms had made all of our lives that included Cool Whip, Jello or some other "packaged" ingredient.  As soon as I brought it up, the stories started to fly - the memories made us all laugh and smile as we thought about family dinners and cooking with our moms.  So - in honor of the great women who raised the great group of women I have for friends - I have several guest authors on the blog who are going to share their stories and recipes: 

My friend Patti polled her sisters on which of their family traditions to highlight - here's their selection:

     "When I asked my sisters the dessert that they remembered my mom making, a few 'creations' came to mind. I must add that a few of these desserts did involve some flavor of jello. But one creation was repeated by all and this dessert would be a spice cake made with her pudding icing. No special recipe for the cake, as it was your favorite Betty's creation, yes, Betty Crocker. You see the pudding icing did not only have pudding, confectioners sugar and butter, but wait, the secret ingredient is crisco....yes, this is not a typo, I did type crisco. By request of my sisters, I purchased the box spice cake (just as my mom would have made for us) and topped off that 9 x13 cake (again, Mom only made cakes in a 9 x 13 pan) with that pudding icing.
     Crystal, thank you for asking me to pass along the memory of desserts of my childhood as this Mother's Day we recreated a few of my mom's desserts. We shared memories with my nieces and found that these long lost desserts are now part of their memories, too."

My friend Patti with her sisters and Mom - of course, featuring the star
  of the day - spice cake with pudding icing.
(Left to right - Stephanie, Julie, Mom and Patti).

Most of you know my friend Rosie - she's been making cakes along with me for The Year of the Cake.  Of course, she has a great entry for this blog - one of her mom's favorites followed by one of her own:

     "My Mom loved nuts and she loved pineapple. She also loved desserts that were quick and easy to put together, yet tasted really yummy! If you combine all that, it’s no wonder this recipe became one of my Mom’s favorites! We had this throughout the year, but it was always a MUST HAVE at Thanksgiving and Christmas!
     What is also nice about this recipe is how flexible and forgiving it is. You can make this totally from scratch, or you can make it with prepared products – bottled lemon juice, already chopped nuts, prepared graham cracker pie shells, etc. And if you are crazy, you can make it low fat using low fat Cool Whip and/or low fat condensed milk.
     My Dad could not eat nuts and coconut, so Mom always made two small pies – one for Dad without nuts or coconut, and one for us - she often added coconut to the filling for our pie. You can easily adapt this recipe by adding other fruits to the filling, or trying different crumb crusts."

Rosie's Mom's Cool Whip Pie

A slice for me - I love it when Rosie shares! 
I can attest - this is a rich but yummy treat!

Cool Whip Pie
1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 8-oz. container Cool Whip
1 20-oz. can crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice, pressed and well drained
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup finely chopped nuts (we normally use pecans)
½ cup lemon juice
Shaved or shredded coconut

In a medium bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter together until well blended. Using the back of a spoon, press crumb mixture firmly into the bottom and up side of a large or deep dish pie plate, or 2 small pie plates. Place in refrigerator to chill.
Using a hand mixer, in a large bowl whip Cool Whip, pineapple, condensed milk, nuts and lemon juice until well blended. Spread into graham cracker shell. Sprinkle top with coconut. Refrigerate 1-2 hours until firm before serving.
Makes 1 large or 2 small pies. Keep refrigerated.

     And since I’m a mom, here’s a favorite recipe I used to make all the time. It was great in the summer and was always a hit at my daughter’s birthday parties when she was young!
Lemon – Lime Refrigerator Cake
1 package lime jello
1 package lemon cake mix
3 eggs, 1 ¼ cup water, 1/3 cup oil (or as directed on lemon cake box)
1 envelope Dream Whip
1 package lemon instant pudding
1 ½ cup cold milk

Dissolve lime jello in ¾ cup boiling water. Add ½ cup cold water. Set aside.
Mix and bake cake according to box directions in a 9 x 13 glass or decorative pan. Cool cake for 20 minutes. Poke cake all over with large fork. Pour lime mixture over cake.
Whip Dream Whip, milk, and lemon pudding until stiff. Frost top of cake.

Keep refrigerated.

My friend Kim sent me one of the best notes about her Mom - and, even though there isn't a recipe attached, I think you will all agree that this sentiment is a true honor to her Mom and an inspiration to us all:

     "Due to the fact that my mom didn't cook because of her blindness, I must tell you that her favorite dessert was Pav's custard stand!  I have many fond memories of going to get ice cream with her on a hot summer night.  If I could share with you any "recipe" from a mom, it's to enjoy the time you have to spend with her.  My mom left me not with great recipes, but with the gift of laughter and friendship and lots of love, and for that, I am very thankful".

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