Maya’s Delicious Jello Dessert

A proud Midwestern gal, I know the value of having a few good jello desserts in my repertoire and this is one of the best. I think Maya and I probably made this together the first time.

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup sugar, divided
6 Tbsp melted butter
12 oz. cream cheese
2 Tbsp milk
3 cups sweetened whipped cream or cool whip, divided
2 cups boiling water
1 large or two small packages jello (any flavor that works with the fruit)
1 1/2 cups cold water
2 cups fruit, cut into bite-sized pieces (Berries, peaches and pears work well or a combination of fruits. Strawberries are pretty traditional.)

Mix graham crackers, 1/4 cup sugar and butter and pat into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 375 for 7 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Beat cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar and milk until smooth. Fold in whipped cream. Gently spread onto cooled crust.

Mix jello and boiling water, and stir well until the jello is completely dissolved. Add the 1 1/2 cups cold water and fruit and stir gently so you don’t break the fruit up too badly. Pour jello mixture onto cheese layer.

Cover the dish and refrigerate it for 2 hours. Just before serving spread 2 cups of whipped cream on top. If you have extra fruit, use it to garnish the top.

Coconut Milk Jelly

Maya chose this for her birthday “cake” on her 7th birthday. I think the recipe came out of an old Canadian cookbook I had.

3 1/2 cups coconut water
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 knox gelatin packets
drop of red food coloring

Heat coconut water and sugar to boiling. Remove from heat.

Stir half and half, gelatin and food coloring together.

Pour boiled mix into gelatin, stir well and add vanilla. Pour into a pretty mold and refrigerate overnight.

Just before serving, loosen mold by gently going around the outside edge and flipping it on a platter.

Peach Crisp

Yum!  That’s all I have to say.

4-5 peaches, sliced or two can peach slices, drained
1 1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal (I use the quick-cooking kind.)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter

Place peaches in a 9×9 baking dish. Mix everything else and drop onto peaches. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, or whipped heavy cream sweetened with a bit of brown sugar.

Pear-Blueberry Variation:

3-4 very ripe unpeeled pears, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries

Substitute pears and blueberries for the peaches. If pears are very ripe, reduce brown sugar to 1 cup.

Pineapple Pudding Cake

If you’re crushing for a sweet treat, this cake is for you. It is a very semi-homemade type dessert (ie uses lots of packaged things) but is so good…

1 yellow cake mix, made according to directions and baked in a deep 9 x 13 pan
2 small packages instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups whole milk
1 can crushed pineapple
3/4 cup sugar
Sweetened, whipped cream or Cool Whip

Bake cake, and remove from oven.

While it’s baking, heat pineapple and sugar in a saucepan until sugar dissolves and mixture becomes syrupy. Pour over hot cake.

Make pudding with mixes and milk. Pour over pineapple, and smooth. Refrigerate for two hours. Before serving, top with whipped cream or Cool Whip. Ridiculously good.

You’ll want to be sure to use a deep pan so there’s plenty of room for the layers of pineapple, pudding and whipped cream on top.

Faye’s Oatmeal Cake

We worked with Faye for many years, and she is a great cook and wonderful person.

1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup oatmeal (I use McCann’s quick cooking.)

Mix and let sit a while.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs

Cream butter and sugar together in a big bowl, and add eggs and oatmeal. Stir well.

1 1/2 cup flour
3 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup pecans

Blend all but pecans in a bowl, and fold into butter mixture. Turn out into a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Spread topping over while it’s still warm, and sprinkle with 1 cup pecans.  Set under the broiler for 2-3 minutes.


1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 white sugar
6 Tbsp butter
1 cup coconut
1/4 cup cream
1 tsp vanilla

Cook sugars and butter in a pan for a few minutes until sugar is dissolved. Add coconut and cream and cook a couple more minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Apple Pan Dowdy

Okay, so I found this recipe and had to make it because I have always loved the song “Shoe-Fly Pie” (and Apple Pan Dowdy, make your eyes light up, your tummy say howdy!)  Here’s a link to Dinah Shore singing it.

But it turns out that it’s really good, and even better with ice cream on top!

4 1/2 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples, placed in a 9 x 12 baking dish

1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup apple cider (or water)

Mix in a saucepan and cook for a few minutes until it’s thickened a bit. Remove from heat and add:

1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter
Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Pour over apples.

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp baking powder
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup milk

Blend dry ingredients, cut in butter until crumbly. Add milk and gently blend. Drop by the spoonful onto apples. Smooth it out a bit so it’s more evenly distributed.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Sunburst Peach Tart

This is such a pretty dish. I first served it at a National T.T.T. Society Holiday Tea at my house in 2002. Maya was about 3 and greeted each guest at the door with a curtsy. I have no idea why – but everyone loved it. She said she thinks

6 oz. butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1 1/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
Juice of half a lemon
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
large can sliced peaches, drained
4 oz chopped pecans or hazelnuts

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add everything else, except nuts, folding gently. Pour into a large springform pan, and arrange peach slices in a sunburst pattern. Sprinkle with chopped nuts, and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. Serve with pouring custard. (With Strawberry Trifle recipe.)

Thai Sticky Rice

We met Tao because her son Benson was a really good friend of Samir. She is a great cook and shared her Thai Sticky Rice recipe with me. Super easy and super delish!

2 cups sticky rice (it’s a sweeter rice but you could probably make it with jasmine rice, too or even regular long grain rice if you don’t have an asian market close by.)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (not coconut cream)
1/2 cup plus a little more sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Soak rice in a glass dish in plenty of water for 30 minutes. Drain until there’s just a little water left. Cover and microwave on high for 4 minutes.

Remove from microwave. Stir coconut milk, sugar and salt in a bowl and blend gently into the rice. You can add a drop of food coloring to the sticky rice if you like.

Put the cover back on and microwave for 5-10 minutes until the rice is done. Fluff gently with a fork and serve.

Apple Cake

This makes a simple, yet really lovely cake.  It’s moist, spicy and very apple-y.  (Not sure that’s a word.)  It also comes out of the oven with a crunchy, spicy top.  

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
1 egg
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cups apples, cored and chopped

Preheat oven to 325.

Blend sugar, butter and egg in a medium bowl until smooth and creamy. Mix dry ingredients in a small bowl and add to sugar, butter and egg mix. Stir gently until fairly smooth.  Add apples and toss gently with the dough (it’s quite thick and sticky.)  Turn out into an 8×8 baking dish and bake for 35 minutes.