Every week we’ll post a recipe that we both made. This week’s recipe was Strawberry Pretzel Squares, found over at Kraft Recipes® Printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this post.
This week’s recipe was Nance’s choice, and I agreed to it because I tend to agree to everything Nance suggests (I’m easy like that) and also a quick glance of the recipe made it look like it would be quick and easy.
I love quick and easy.
So I had to put off making this thing all week because first I thought I had Cool Whip® in the freezer and realized I didn’t, and then realized I’d only bought one block of cream cheese when I needed two, and by the time I got my ass in gear, I was like “I ALREADY HATE THIS RECIPE.”
Then I gathered my ingredients (does it look like I just tossed everything, willy-nilly, on the counter? Because I totally did.)
Cream cheese, Strawberry Jell-O® Cool Whip,® sugar, milk, melted butter, and pretzels.
See, the first thing you need for this recipe is 2 cups of finely crushed pretzels. Which means that as part of making it, you have to finely crush those fucking pretzels. Note that they don’t MENTION that in the recipe. If they sell bags of finely crushed pretzels, I sure wasn’t able to find them anywhere.
So as step one, throw pretzels in the food processor and crush ’em. I bought a big bag of mini pretzels because I figured mini pretzels would crush more easily than the big ones.
I had to fill the food processor with pretzels and crush them finely twice to get two cups. I had about half a big bag of pretzels left over when I was done. The pigs got ’em, ’cause guess who doesn’t like pretzels in this house? Actually, that’s a misleading question because it makes you think that maybe there’s someone in this house who DOES like pretzels. Neither of us do.
(The pigs liked ’em, though.)
In a bowl, put your finely crushed pretzels. Dump in sugar and butter, and mix. This is where I realized that my butter hadn’t completely melted, so I fished out that lump of butter and microwaved it some more. Then mixed it up.
Then press the whole shebang into the bottom of a 9×13″ pan and bake for 10 minutes. Imagine there’s a picture of the pretzel/ sugar/ butter stuff pressed into the bottom of the pan. I forgot to take a picture of that.
I don’t know why, but the recipe has you bake the crust, let it cool, spread the middle layer on and THEN mix up your Jell-O ® put it in the fridge to jell. Instead, while the crust was baking, I mixed up the Jell-O® and put it in the fridge.
Here’s the crust, baked. It looked exactly like that before I baked it, for the record.
While that sat on the counter and cooled, I mixed up the middle layer: cream cheese, sugar and milk.
I used my hand mixer so I didn’t have to get out my big-ass KitchenAid® mixer. Once the cream cheese, sugar, and milk was nicely mixed, I added in a cup of Cool Whip®
Confession: even though I know it’s made of unpronounceable chemicals, I love Cool Whip® I bought the big container so I’d have leftover Cool Whip® to occasionally eat out of the container. DON’T JUDGE ME. Between the Diet Coke® and the Cool Whip® I’m going to live forever.
I mixed the Cool Whip ® with a small rubber spatula.
The friggin’ crust was taking forever to cool. I finally put it in the fridge while I chopped up my strawberries. The recipe instructed that I should “slice” the strawberries, but I prefer them in smaller chunks.
I bought the big-ass container (2 pounds) of strawberries, figuring that it would be way too much, but it was actually just right. 2 pounds gave me 4 cups.
When the crust was finally cool enough, I spread the cream cheese/ sugar/ milk layer on it.
The pan and the strawberries went in the fridge and I ignored it all until the Jell-O ® ready.
If you were wondering, this is not something you’re going to just throw together at the last minute. This is a multi-hour affair and a pain in the ass.
FINALLY the Jell-O® was jelled, and I stirred in the strawberries.
And spread it on top of the cream cheese layer.
Then put it in the fridge for three hours to set or whatever.
When I was 95 years old, I pulled it out and cut a square for myself and a square for Fred. Then I took a really shitty picture of it.
The verdict? Meh. Fred hated it, but the next morning he tried it again (when he was in a better mood instead of having to wait all day to try it) and said “It’s not terrible.”
It was okay, but am I going to devote my day to making it again? Oh, hell no. (I should add that although it took several hours to get to the finished product, it’s not like I had to stand there and supervise it or anything. But still.)
If you held a gun to my head and forced me to make it again, I’d substitute graham cracker crumbs for the pretzels, double the middle (cream cheese) layer, and use blueberries instead of strawberries.
Okay, I’m not even going to try and hide it. I love the shit out of Jell-O® salads. In my defense I grew up in a family that was very involved with the Lutheran church (gasp!) and I have a lot of aunts and female cousins. Potluck dinners and baby/wedding showers were definitely a way of life around here.
I picked this particular recipe because it’s one of my favorites. Actually, any Jell-O® salad that has cream cheese in it is always going to be my favorite because I am Fatty McFattigan and the more fat the better!
I buy my pretzels on the cheap because they are my least favorite junk food.
My mom (Shirley) crushed the pretzels for me. You can thank me now for having her move the tube-top situation out of that shot. Lime green, people. Lime green. You’re welcome.
In my world this is margarine. My mother calls it oleo. Rick calls it butter. We all know better, but we’re stuck in a loop that we’re too stupid to escape. I am a real butter user, but I have found that in some recipes margarine (or some other type of spread) produces a better ending. I almost wrote happy ending there. OMG and Hee!
I decided to stray from the original recipe and replace the sugar with a substitute. I was a die-hard Splenda® user until I saw this at our local Aldi® grocery store at half the price. I decided to give it a shot because Splenda® is just too damn expensive. I was pleasantly surprised and it has now become a staple in our house.
I worked really hard on getting those damn pretzels laid into that dish neatly.
Yes, I was proud of myself. You have no idea how hard it is for me to stand there and do something like this. First of all, you have to be a little bit coordinated (of which I’m not) and you have to have the patience to not walk the fuck away because it’s a crust for chrissakes!
While the crust was baking I went ahead and mixed my Jell-O® (I used the sugar-free for this too).
If I lived alone I would have stopped right here, called it finished, and grabbed a spoon. Because that’s how I roll.
But I did the right thing. After I ate a couple of huge spoonfuls (see: Fatty McFattigan).
Don’t even. Just don’t. There are so many levels of bullshit in this picture that I don’t know where to begin. I’ll give you that these come in handy if you’re making a dessert with strawberries in the middle of winter. But I need my ass kicked for taking the easy way out. Especially when it is so much more expensive.
My Jell-O® was already starting to thicken so I just dumped the strawberries in. I was short on the 4 cups required, but I didn’t mind since I knew it was just us eating it here at home.
I dumped it over top of the cream cheese mixture and called it a day. This recipe is a pain in the ass because it requires you to pay attention to it so that you are able to add the fruit to the Jell-O® before it thickens. You can just imagine how many times my dumb ass has forgotten about the thickening Jell-O® and ruined an entire dish. Hint: Use your stove timer or set the timer on your phone or iPod. There is no excuse for not checking it. We have all this technology and we should make use of it.
Here’s my pathetic excuse for a finished product photo. I could have cut a prettier piece, but I was too hell bent on hogging it down. And I’m being all honest because you can plainly see where there might not have been enough cream cheese filling to spread it evenly the whole way around (see: Fatty McFattigan). Ahem.
I have no real bitch with this recipe. Sure, it’s a pain in the ass with the hurry up and wait game, but I think the end result is worth it. I really liked the salt in the pretzels combined with the cream cheese and fruit layers. It’s not something I would make often, but it’s definitely a good potluck dish.
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- 2 cups finely crushed pretzels
- ½ cup sugar, divided
- ⅔ cup butter or margarine, melted
- 1-1/2pkg. (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese (or Neufchatel), softened
- 2 Tbsp. milk
- 1 cup thawed Cool Whip Whipped Topping
- 2 cups boiling water
- 1 pkg. (6 oz.) Jell-O Strawberry Gelatin (or two 3 oz. pkgs)
- 1-1/2 cups cold water
- 4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced (or 20 oz pkg of frozen strawberries)
- Heat oven to 350°F.
- Mix pretzel crumbs, ¼ cup sugar and butter; press onto bottom of 13x9-inch pan. Bake 10 min. Cool.
- Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and milk until blended. Stir in Cool Whip; spread over crust. Refrigerate.
- Add boiling water to gelatin mix in large bowl; stir 2 min. until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate 1-1/2 hours or until thickened.
- Stir berries into gelatin; spoon over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm.