Friday, June 17, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

This is THE perfect salad in my books --> that's because it tastes like a dessert, but since it's listed in the salad section of the cookbook, I can justify eating it before my meal, too. (Or as my meal, for that matter!) This was at many potlucks and most family gatherings when I was growing up, but it wasn't until I moved far away from my hometown that I actually made it myself. It quickly became a favorite at our house, too.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad
adapted from Westside Nazarene Church Cookbook

3/4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cups pretzels, crumbled (I like some "crunch" to mine, so I crushed about 3 cups, and then broke up some more to add into the crust mixture.)

1 cup sugar
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces whipped topping
1 cup miniature marshmallows

6 ounce package strawberry Jell-O (this is the big box!)
2 cups boiling water
16 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced

Mix butter, sugar and pretzels and pat into a 9x13" pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool.

Cream together sugar and cream cheese. Fold in whipped topping and marshmallows. Spread evenly over crust, pushing all the way to the egdes to seal. (This is important so the topping doesn't seep through before it gels.) Store in the refrigerator while preparing the topping.

Pour the boiling water over the Jell-O and stir to completely dissolve. Cool 25-30 minutes in the refrigerator - it should be cool enough to not melt the cream cheese, but not starting to gel yet. Place the sliced strawberries over the cream cheese filling. Slowly pour the cooled Jell-O over the strawberries. Chill until firm.

If you don't have fresh strawberries, you can use frozen strawberries: Instead of putting the strawberries directly over the cream cheese filling, stir the still-frozen strawberries into the Jell-O before cooling. Reduce the cooling time to 15 minutes since the strawberries will cool off the mixture. Be v-e-r-y careful about pouring the Jell-O mixture over the filling so that you don't make holes in the filling and cause the Jell-O to seep through. Still yummy, just not as pretty!

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