Today is a day to celebrate your dad.
There are about a million things I love about him.
He cares about people. Really cares.
He believes deeply and lives out those convictions.
He works hard and plays hard.
He makes me laugh.
He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met. He somehow managed to get a DVM, a Ph.D., and two board specializations when y’all were little, and he hardly ever missed dinner while doing it. He would come home at the end of the day, enjoy the family meal, play with y’all and Beth and then stay up studying after bedtime stories and prayers.
He truly is the best dad I’ve ever seen.
I could write a book about him, but I won’t do that here.
We’re all so blessed to have him.
Almost all of his birthdays that we’ve been married, he has chosen strawberry pretzel salad for his birthday “cake.”
Y’all have eaten it. You know it’s that perfect meeting of sweet and salty.
To make it, you’ll need 2 cups crushed pretzels.
My little food processor tends to turn the pretzels to powder, so I just use a small glass to crush them.
Be sure to measure after crushing to make sure you have two full cups.
Add 1/4 cup sugar and
1 1/2 sticks butter.
You’ll need to melt the butter.
I put the sticks in a glass and microwave for 45 seconds or so, but you could melt it in a pan, as well.
Stir all these ingredients and empty into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Use the spoon to evenly distribute the mixture. Then place in the refrigerator to cool.
Now you will need 8 oz. cream cheese. I always get the fat free or reduced fat. The Givens men tend to stay lean and trim, but they do have cholesterol issues. Hate to break it to you.
Add 1 cup sugar and
2 cups whipped topping. This is the same thing as Cool Whip, but the Kroger brand tastes great.
Mix with an electric mixer until smooth. Pour this on top of the pretzel layer
and gently smooth over the entire dish. You’ll want to be careful not to move any pretzel pieces when you do this.
Return dish to refrigerator.
Now comes the ingredient that makes this whole dish.
I have had strawberry pretzel salad that used water rather than juice, or apple juice instead of the pineapple.
The pineapple gives it just a little twang to go with the sweet and salty. This is why all your taste buds go nuts when you eat this.
Pineapple juice comes in a large can. If I don’t need it right away for something else, I freeze the remainder in 2-cup portions to use another day. You can set it out to thaw when you’re ready for it or defrost it in the microwave.
You need to bring to a boil 2 cups of pineapple juice.
If you go back and look at the original recipe in the cookbook Granny gave me, you’ll see that she wrote in to heat the juice.
The first time I made this as a young bride, I did not do so.
I should have.
When I took out my dish to serve to friends for lunch, there was a runny mess on top. Gelatin does not do so well in the absence of heat.
Moral of this little story: Always heed good instruction. Especially when it’s from your mother.
To the juice, add 2 3-oz. boxes strawberry gelatin (AKA Jello).
Stir with a whisk until the gelatin is dissolved and then place in the refrigerator to cool.
You can use frozen strawberries for this next step if needed, but I always opt for fresh if they’re available. In the good ‘ol USA in 2013, they usually are.
You’ll want to wash them and let them dry on a towel.
Cut off the green caps and then chop into small-ish pieces. I think I used 10 or 12 strawberries, but you could do more or less.
Spread them over the cream cheese mixture and then return the dish to the refrigerator once again.
This dessert requires a bit of patience.
(Remember the definition we learned from Mrs. Renee for patience years ago? Patience is waiting without complaining.)
When the juice mixture has cooled – but not set – you’ll gently pour it on top. You have to do this carefully, or you’ll destroy the cream cheese layer.
Guess where the dish goes now.
Yep. Back to the refrigerator.
It needs to set a couple hours or even longer.
Then you can take it out and enjoy a piece and think of your wonderful dad who loves you so much.