Cranberry Jell-o Salad

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Okay, obviously not my best photo, but I only make this once a year for Thanksgiving so there was slim pickin’s for available photos. I’m not a big fan of the canned cranberry sauce that people throw on the table at the last minute, but I also try to make big meals as easy as possible. This cranberry salad can be made days ahead of time and kept in the fridge. I have traveled with this Jell-o salad on a long car ride with an insulated cooler bag and an ice pack with little to no melting. You can add whatever you want to this salad (my grandma would add apples, celery, and walnuts or pecans which isn’t my favorite, not by a long shot). If you don’t have your mother’s Tupperware Jell-O mold from 1979 as I do, you can easily use a loaf or bundt pan

Cranberry Jell-O Salad

1 bag fresh cranberries

Sugar to taste (1/2 c. to 1 cup)

I 20 oz. can crushed pineapple

1 11 oz. can of mandarin oranges

1 package raspberry or cranberry flavored Jello (cranberry Jello is hard to find)

In a medium pot or large saucepan boil enough water to cover the cranberries (3-4 cups) with 1/2c. – 1 cup of sugar until sugar dissolves. Add cranberries and cook until cranberries begin to split open. Drain cranberries and set aside. Drain canned pineapple and reserve juice. Prepare Jello by package instructions replacing around ½ the water with reserved pineapple juice.

Pour 1/3 of Jell-O mixture into a Jell-O mold (a loaf pan also works) and arrange 1/3 the cranberries, pineapple, and oranges in the mold. Let set in the fridge for 5-10 minutes while the remaining Jell-O mixture stays warm on the stove. Repeat with the rest of the mixture and as much fruit as you like. Refrigerate for at least four hours but can be made 2 days ahead of time.

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Low Calorie Cocktail – Cranberry Pomegranate Cosmo

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Since I plan on gorging myself on chicken wings and guacamole tomorrow while watching the Super Bowl, I thought it would be a good idea to come up with a low calorie drink option that is festive and tasty. I could just drink light beer, I guess, but I really don’t care for light beer in the slightest. Also, there is no rule that says you can’t watch football while drinking something out of a martini glass. I infused some vodka with orange for this martini, but you could use an orange flavored vodka or omit the orange all together. Infusing vodka is so easy there is no reason to buy a flavored vodka if you have the old plain stuff on hand. Once you get into the pepper infused vodkas and all that it is a different story, but if I wanted something akin to pepper spray in my mouth I would go to Downtown LA on May Day (zing!). That was a police brutality joke. Anyway, now for the drink!

Recipe:

1 orange or tangerine slice

1.5 oz Vodka (I used Stoli)

1.5 oz. Diet Cranberry-Pomegranate Juice

generous squeeze of fresh lime juice

lime for garnish (optional)

  1. Pour the vodka in a container with the orange or tangerine slice and, with a lid on,  give it a good shake. Store in the fridge for at least an hour (overnight is better). You can use the martini shaker if you won’t be needing it in the meantime, which is unlikely. It’s the weekend, after all. You can always pour more vodka in if you are planning on making many more drinks. If you are trying to infuse more than 8 oz. of vodka I would use more orange slices.
  2. Fill a martini shaker with ice and add the cran-pomegranate juice, vodka and squeeze of lime.
  3. Shake vigorously and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge if desired.

This cocktail is about 100 calories, which isn’t bad at all, and tastes better than some of those pre-packaged cocktails that also claim to be low calorie.  If serving a crowd, you could always use a little more juice and add some club soda to make a nice punch. This drink is not “all natural” or healthy. The diet juice does use an artificial sweetener (Splenda), and I know some people try to avoid artificial sweeteners. Alcoholic drinks are not supposed to be healthy, and anyone who tells you otherwise is probably a snake oil salesman. If you want an alcoholic drink with long term health benefits, drink a glass of red wine 2-3 times a week. I will be posting a few more low calorie options over the next few weeks along with some not-so-low-calorie selections. If you do try this recipe, please let me know if you liked it or not.