The family has gathered around in a warm cozy house, and the smell of food is wafting through the air. The kitchen is all hustle and bustle, and tasty appetizers are awaiting.
Veggie trays, olives, cookies, fudge, chips, and cream cheese dip with chips.
When it comes to a holiday dinner, though, there was one dish that always completed the festivities, and these holiday gatherings wouldn't be the same without it.
The only bad news is that this favorite was filled with red dye and processed sugars.
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At least until now.
My grandma always made this Orange Cranberry Jello salad for every holiday. Sometimes she made it for birthday gifts. Well, not the jello so much. The jello was used as a prop rather.
Yep, I know, that sounds totally confusing. How is jello a prop?
Well, sometimes the jello was in a glass jar, and in the middle of the jello was a $20 bill. The bill was wrapped in a plastic bag, of course. Grandma always had fun watching who ever try and get their birthday present out of the jello. Sometimes they ended up with pink money.
That is how much everyone loved this cranberry jello salad... enough to have their birthday money buried in it. Grandma was always up for playing games, and that included playing with our birthday money.
This jello salad has a history, it has a story to share with you all, and it has a flavor that you will never forget.
The sweet fruitiness of jello paired with crunchy walnuts and tangy cranberries along with the fresh citrus of oranges. It beats out the canned cranberry sauce any day. It adds a little extra something to that basic traditionally side at family gatherings.
To increase the healthiness of this dish by removing the dye-filled cherry jello and processed sugar, we replaced it with some natural and organic ingredients.
Instead of cherry jello, this cranberry salad is infused with Coastal Cranberry Spice Loose Leaf Tea, sweetened with maple syrup, and features grass-fed beef gelatin. It might almost qualify as a health food at this point. Shhh! Just don't tell everyone, or they might think there is something wrong with it.
The only way to know for sure if it tastes that good is to make some yourself, and I'm happy to oblige with the recipe.
Orange Cranberry Jello Salad
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups maple syrup
- 1.5 oz gelatin (about 5 tablespoons powder)
- 8 tablespoons Coastal Cranberry Spice Loose Leaf Tea
- 1 small can pineapple crushed, with juice
- Juice of one orange
- Zest from one orange
- 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
- 2/3 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 cups of cranberries, chopped
- Add orange juice, pineapple juice, and loose leaf tea to the water in a medium pot and bring to a boil.
- Simmer tea, water, and juices for 15 minutes on medium-low heat.
- While the tea is simmering add the gelatin to the 1 1/2 cups of maple syrup and let sit.
- Mix the chopped cranberries, chopped walnuts, salt and crushed pineapple in a large bowl and set aside.
- Add the maple syrup and gelatin mixture to the large bowl and mix well.
- When the tea has finished simmering for 15 minutes strain the liquid through a wire mesh strainer into the large bowl of ingredients. Discard loose leaf tea or compost.
- Stir all ingredients together and pour into a greased jello mold or baking pan.
- Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
It's incredible how a recipe like this can so quickly and simply come together yet be so fabulous! This salad really doesn't take much time other than the chill time. It's the perfect make-ahead recipe for the holidays and made to impress.
This recipe may even be frozen and used at a later time or save in the refrigerator for several weeks. It would also make an excellent hostess gift placed in a cute mason jar and tied with a bow.
I made this just recently for my grandmother. She hasn't made jello salad in years due to dementia. While she does and doesn't remember making this, it seemed to have brought back the memory of a flavor that is cemented deep in her mind somewhere.
It made me glad that I can carry on this tradition with my own family. While Grandma doesn't remember how to make it or even that she did make it at times, the recipe isn't lost and will carry her memory on even when she is no longer with us.
What holiday meal traditions does your family have?
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