Happy Monday, everyone! After a fun trip to Illinois to see family this past weekend, it’s back to the normal workweek grind in Madison for me today.
But this past weekend was anything but a normal weekend. And it was definitely anything but boring. My sister-in-law’s three kids were turning 5, 3 and 1 (over the course of 3 months) and this weekend she threw a big circus-themed joint birthday party for all of them — bounce house and all. Let’s just say, my sister-in-law knows how to throw a party! She single-handedly made our wedding look 10x better than if it had been solely up to me. I think it’s safe to say her motto is “Go big or go home.”
Although the rain put a damper on things, it was still a glowing success and gave Philip and I a chance to connect with family and for me to see his old stomping grounds again — including some of his favorite restaurants he grew up going to as a kid. Every time we go back home, it’s safe to say we’ll either be having “Gondolas” (a ham and salami sub sandwich) from Avanti’s Restaurant or pizza from Monical’s, a family-favorite pizza place in town. I love seeing how food can bring so much joy to people and bring back fond memories; especially for Philip since he gets so excited when he knows a childhood favorite is coming, like the grilled steak dinner I made for him last weekend.
Another childhood favorite of his that happens to also be a favorite in my family as well is a Midwest classic: Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad. Only in the Midwest can something containing Jell-O and Cool Whip be considered a “salad.” By no means am I promoting this as a healthy alternative to a green-tossed salad, but in light of recognizing the joy food can bring and the memories certain foods can hold, this is one that I keep in my back pocket for nostalgic purposes (oh, and okay, because it tastes so gosh darn good).
Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad is most definitely a treat, but it’s perfect to bring to potlucks or other large gatherings. Because for one, after you get past the artificially bright orange color, everybody loves this salad. (Any time you take home an empty container from a potluck means success). And two, it’s so easy it’s almost impossible to mess up.
With summer gatherings and Memorial Day right around the corner (umm, can anybody tell me where May went?! How is it almost June?!), this “salad” is the perfect dish to accompany any outdoor grilling, picnics, and everything in between. It’s refreshingly light and simply delicious — a crowd pleaser for all ages.
Start your summer off right with a family favorite — from our family to yours. Enjoy!
Orange Tapioca Jell-O Salad
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup orange juice
- 2 (3-oz) packages tapioca Jell-O mix
- 1 (3-oz) package orange Jell-O mix
- 1 (8-oz) package Light Cool Whip
- 1 (11-oz) can mandarin orange slices in light syrup, drained
- Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add orange juice to the water and mix together; bring back to a boil.
- Turn heat to low after bring orange juice mixture to a boil. Add the tapioca and orange Jell-O mixes; stir until combined and mixture starts to thicken.
- Remove from heat. Fold in the Cool Whip until thoroughly combined. Pour Jell-O into serving bowl. Stir in the mandarin orange slices, leaving out a few oranges to place on top of the mixture.
- Refrigerate until Jell-O has set. Enjoy!