Crisp Pastel Cookies AKA Jello Cookies

This is a recipe from my childhood. And it was my Auntie Jeanne, not my Mom, who made these. I had actually forgotten about them (and how much i love them) until my cousin, Judy, posted a party picture that included these lovelies. I immediayela asked for the recipe. In the note that came with this recipe, Auntie Jeanne said this was a favorite cookie to make and take when they went camping. Whatever excuse you need for making them, just do it! I made them in both strawberry and lime jello for a cute Christmas cookie.

Crisp Pastel Cookies

Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 (3 oz.) pkg flavored gelatin
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400°.
Mix shortening, sugar, gelatin, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Blend in remaining ingredients and mix well.
Roll dough into 3/4″ balls and place 2″ apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Press cookies flat with bottom of glass dipped in sugar (Auntie Jeanne used a stemware pudding dish with a fancy bottom to make designs on the cookies.)  Bake 6-8 min. Tops should not brown.

Karinna’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole.

Several times a year I help my good friend, Karinna, to cook a luncheon at her church. We usually plan for 75-100 people. Karinna has a good selection of meals she chooses from; all made from scratch and absolutely delicious! Karinna has celiac disease so many of these meals are gluten free. This is one of those meals. When I make it for my family I dont always go with the gluten free option, depending on what I have on hand. I’ll note those changes in italics.

    Karinna’s Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

1 whole cooked chicken, bones removed, meat diced or shredded (rotisserie chicken is excellent, should have 5-6 cups)
1/2 pound very thinly sliced deli-style ham, rough chopped
1/4 pound thin sliced baby Swiss cheese

[For the sauce:]
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons gluten free or all purpose flour
3 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper

[For the topping:]
6 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs or regular bread crumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
Put cooked shredded or diced chicken on the bottom of the baking dish. Rough chop the ham and scatter it over the top of the chicken. Lay the Swiss cheese on top of the ham.
To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a large sauce pot over medium heat. When butter is melted, quickly stir in the flour to form a smooth roux. Do not brown! Once the roux is smooth and bubbly, slowly pour in the cold milk while stirring briskly to make a smooth sauce. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Stir in the lemon juice, Dijon mustard, salt, smoked paprika and white pepper. Bring sauce just back to a low boil and turn off heat. Pour sauce evenly over the casserole, being certain to get some of the sauce around the edges of the pan.
To make the topping: Melt the butter in the microwave in a medium sized microwaveable bowl. Heat it for 30 seconds at a time and stop once it’s melted. Take the bowl out of the microwave and stir in the panko bread crumbs, seasoning salt and crushed dried parsley. Sprinkle over the top of the casserole.
Bake casserole uncovered for 45 minutes until hot and bubbly throughout and topping has turned a light golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes prior to serving.

Instant Pot Beef Stew

1 1/2 – 2 lbs beef stew meat (I usually cut the pieces into smaller, 3/4″ pieces)
Salt and pepper
3 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 Tbs tomato paste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 C. beef broth
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 C. water
Cornstarch
Optional:
1 can peas, drained

Push ‘saute’ button on Instant Pot. While pot is heating up, season beef with salt and pepper. Once pot says ‘HOT’ add olive oil and a portion of the beef and brown on all sides. You will need to cook remaining beef in batches, transferring cooked beef to a bowl. Once all the beef is cooked, put onions into pot and saute a bit to loosten any browned bits left from cooking meat. Turn off saute. Add carrots, potatoes, tomato paste, garlic, beef broth, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, thyme and water.

Cover Instant Pot (checking to ensure gasket is in place and pot is set to seal). Push either the ‘Meat/Stew’ button or ‘manual’ button and set time for 20 min.

Once pot is finished cooking, do a quick release and remove lid. Set pot to ‘saute’. At this point you may add the drained peas. To thicken stew, make a slurry of 1 Tbs cornstarch and 1 Tbs cool water. Pour into pot while stirring. Stir until mixed and thickened. Serve immediately.