Long Weekend Jello

There is something about a jello salad that screams summer. This is an old favourite given to me by my friend Kristin who, being American, makes this with the appropriate patriotic colours for the most American of all holidays, July 4th. Every time I make this jello it is incredibly popular with crowds of all ages. I think it has something to do with the creamy middle.

When I made the jello in the picture above, I started getting creative and tried a variety of different shaped jello servings. The feet were really cute, as were the hearts. If you are going to get creative with this jello, make sure it is well chilled beforehand, and don't even think about wasting the scraps. You will no doubt have family members who are willing to help you out with that!

Long Weekend Jello
Serves 8-10.

2 - 3 ounce packages flavoured jello* (choose your preferred colours and flavours)
2 cups half & half cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 packages Knox unflavoured gelatin
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Prepare the first layer: Make the first box of jello, according to the directions on the box, in the bottom of a glass 13x9 inch dish. Chill until firm.

Prepare the second layer: Heat the cream and sugar until warmed through, but not boiling. Dissolve the gelatin in a small dish with the water. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot cream and stir well. Remove from the heat and blend in the sour cream and vanilla. Allow to cool completely. Gently spoon the cooled cream mixture over the first layer of jello and return to the refrigerator until firm.

Prepare the third layer: Make the second box of jello, according to the directions on the box, and gently pour over the cream layer. Return to the fridge and chill until firm.

To serve, cut into 1 or 2 inch squares, or use a small, straight-sided cookie cutter to cut out your favourite shapes.
*For the jello in the picture, I used lime on the bottom and raspberry on the top.


Buckwheat, Banana & Blueberry Muffins at the Mount Albert Fair

This past weekend was the official start of the summer for me. The Mount Albert Sports Day Fair was on and I was in my element - at the baking contest!

After spending most of Friday and the early hours of Saturday morning preparing entries, I was well rewarded for my efforts. Here is what I had up my sleeve this year.

1st place - rustic bread loaf, bread & butter pickles
2nd place - buckwheat, banana and blueberry muffins, pumpkin pie, rhubarb custard pie, grape jelly
3rd place - apple pie squares, blueberry layer cake with banana mousseline buttercream

Besides being awarded with ribbons, there are cash prizes and a trophy which goes to the participant who has won the most prize money. Once again, I was beat out by one of Mount Albert's finest bakers, Evelyn M. One of the secrets to Evelyn's success, besides the quality of her entries, is the fact that she enters something in EVERY category. This can really boost your cash winnings, thus putting you in line for the coveted trophy. I know what I need to do next year to win that trophy. Look out, Evelyn! (Did I mention that she is in her mid-eighties?! It's the one's with all the experience that you have to look out for...)

These muffins were delicious and I loved the addition of the buckwheat flour instead of regular whole wheat flour (which can be substituted if you don't have buckwheat on hand). I seemed to have a banana/blueberry theme going this weekend. A great combination and with frozen blueberries, easily done any time of the year.

Buckwheat, Banana & Blueberry Muffins
Makes 12 large muffins.

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup butter, melted & cooled
1 cup mashed banana
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup demerara sugar, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-spot muffin pan with paper liners.
Combine the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, honey, melted butter, and mashed bananas in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Quickly fold in the blueberries.
Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Sprinkle the demerara sugar on the top of each muffin. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the muffins are light golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Serve the muffins warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.