Fresh Strawberry Jello & Whipped Cream

We’ve been touring middle schools this week (!!!) and I’m having to come face to face with the reality that yes, this is happening. I’m as nervous and excited as my son is. I feel the desperate desire to cling to every shard of his childhood, yet I have to remind myself that this is the whole point of raising our children. We want them to grow up and become the fullest version of themselves. It’s a new phase, yet reminds me of when we were getting ready to start kindergarten. Which school is best for him? Will he be able to remember his schedule and locker combination? Will he make friends? The truth is yes and no. It won’t be perfectly smooth but this is the truth of life. We learn and grow and change.


In an attempt to help myself make this transition to the middle school years, I have been reading a book called “Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World“. This book was recommended to me by a friend and WOW is it eye opening. I really appreciate how the book highlights how the relationship between son and parent changes. It gives us practical advice that actually comes from teenage boys. We get to see situations through their eyes and gain wisdom from those parents that have gone before us. Effective parenting, it seems, is a balance between letting our boys grow up and make mistakes while loving and supporting them through this complicated and complex world. Wish us luck.

This is the consistency of the puree that is ready to be simmered.

Thankfully, February is one of my favorite months of the year. I love any excuse to shower the people I love with affection. especially if it involves something from the kitchen. I found these little heart shaped ramekins and knew immediately what I wanted to fill them with. When JP was two, I had a Valentine’s Day party at our house. We had heart themed activities and bright red jello cut in heart shapes for snack. I may not be able to turn back the clock but this is the beauty of food. It holds the memories for us, connecting our past with our present.

Adding the gelatin

I think it’s time for jello to get an upgrade. Let’s do away with the watery, jiggly, artificial tasting, neon jello of our youth. This jello has everything good: a strong strawberry flavor (that is actually from strawberries), a firm texture, and a beautiful ruby color. I like how it feels in my mouth as the gelatin softens. The sweetened whipped cream is the perfect accompaniment to the juicy strawberries. Strawberries and cream are a classic combination in any form, but heart shaped might just be the sweetest of them all.

Most of the gelatin has been absorbed into the puree. Give it a little whisk before adding it to the hot strawberry mixture. This will make it easier to not have lumps.

Fresh Strawberry Jello & Whipped Cream

Strawberries and cream are a classic combination that illicit happy memories of spring. Being a bit impatient for the perfect strawberries to arrive at the grocery store, I found that this recipe appeased my strawberry craving. Frozen strawberries are a good option to use here if fresh are not optimal. This recipe is adapted from the Knox gelatin package.

Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound ripe strawberries, washed and hulled; or frozen strawberries, thawed
  • 2 packages unflavored gelatin (I use Knox brand)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or more to taste)
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (from 1/2 small lemon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Whipping Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • pinch of salt


Puree strawberries in a blender, using a little water if needed to thin. You should have 2 cups of strawberry puree that is the consistency of heavy cream or slightly thicker. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the puree into a medium pot. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar, salt and lemon juice and stir. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. It should taste delicious at this point, full of strawberry flavor and just sweet enough to be pleasing to the palate. Adjust as needed.

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup puree into a wide bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over the top and don’t stir. The gelatin should mostly dissolve into the liquid but don’t worry if some still remains on the top. The back of the Knox package suggests 1 minute.

Once the strawberry mixture is at a simmer, take it off the heat and whisk gelatin mixture before adding it to the hot strawberry puree. Whisk to incorporate the gelatin mixture. There may be some lumps at this point but keep whisking and watch as it thickens. Whisk for 3-5 minutes. Strain to remove any remaining lumps. Pour into 4 – 4 ounce ramekins and cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. These will firm up in an hour or two but can be stored for 3-4 days before serving if desired.

To serve: Combine all the whipping cream ingredients in a medium bowl and whip to firm peaks. Spoon over strawberry jello and serve.

Berry Smoothie & Freezer Packs

Feeding children three meals, plus snacks, seven days a week for the last 10 years has taught me many forms of patience and humbleness. I honestly thought that all I had to do was offer my children food and then they would eat it. HA! In reality, it is a much more complex situation; with many moving parts and ups and downs.


Smoothies are one of the foods that bridge the gap between what I want them to eat and what they want to eat. I used to make smoothies in the morning, but now it has become our afternoon snack. The boys come home from school hungry, thirsty and wanting something sweet. This smoothie is like a daily fruit milkshake. Everyone wins!


In the past, I often used what ingredients I had on hand to make smoothies. I thought I could throw whatever fresh fruit I had in the fridge or skip the orange juice if I didn’t have it. Silly me! My kids truly only like this one combination. Smoothies with peaches or kale just aren’t enjoyed the same way. The banana? Non-negotiable it seems. So, I have settled on this combination and stick to it religiously.


My boys want a snack 0.2 seconds after we walk through the door after school. Though blending a few ingredients is super easy, I find that prepping the smoothie bags weekly is helpful in easing the afternoon rush.

What about you? What is your quick, kid friendly, go-to food?

Berry Smoothie

I know it may seem silly to use three different liquids but I truly do think this works best. Using water as the majority of the liquid keeps the berry taste bright. Milk helps mellow the yogurt but too much would make it taste like berry milk. Orange juice helps round out the flavor profile and helps disguise the spinach successfully. Also, I know that the banana would freeze well but fresh and at room temperature is more successful in getting a creamier texture in my opinion.


  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup blueberries, frozen
  • 4 strawberries, frozen
  • 1 banana, at room temperature and broken into chunks
  • small handful of baby spinach
  • Pinch of flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons of orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cold water plus more if needed


In blender container combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Add additional cold water to thin the smoothie if it is too thick. Add extra frozen fruit if the smoothie is too thin. I like ours to be thin enough to drink easily through a straw but thicker than juice. Pour into large glass (16-18 oz) and serve with a straw.

Pro tip: These smoothies freeze well as popsicles!

Frozen Smoothie Packs:

Each smoothie pack includes the ingredients for one smoothie: blueberries, strawberries, spinach and flax. Store in freezer.