Grazing with Gary

Christmas cooking with Mom and Nana

By: Gary Gilligan
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Merry Christmas to everyone. This is the last Grazing with Gary before Christmas. I hope you all have a fabulous holiday with friends and family. For me, Christmas is always bitter sweet. I love this time of the year but my mother passed away on Christmas Eve several years ago and since then, the family Christmas was never the same. We now move forward and keep the memories of yesteryears and make new memories.

This week’s recipes were some of what I grew up with on Christmas. Now remember my mom was not a very good cook but there were a few things she did well. The stuffing recipe is a repeat from last year but it is too good to not repost it. The Jell-O recipe was from my Nana. I still have the tin mold she made them in for each person.

So from me to all of you, merry Christmas and I hope Santa is good to you.

Nana’s Lime Jello Salad


  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained with juice reserved
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package (3 ounces) lime Jell-O
  • 1 package (3 ounces) lemon Jell-O
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup small curd cottage cheese
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½  cup coarsely chopped pecans


  1. In a large measuring pitcher, mix reserved pineapple juice and enough water to yield 2 cups. Pour into a pot and bring to a boil. Add the lime and lemon gelatin mixes and stir until completely dissolved.
  2. Stir the mayonnaise and evaporated milk together in a mixing bowl. Stir in the gelatin mixture until completely blended. Mix in the crushed pineapple, cottage cheese, celery and pecans. Pour the gelatin mixture into a serving bowl. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.


Mom’s Strawberry Jell-O Salad


  • 1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water


Middle layer:

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup half-and-half cream
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Top layer

  • 1 package (6 ounces) strawberry gelatin
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 to 4 cups sliced fresh strawberries


  1. In a bowl, dissolve strawberry gelatin in boiling water; stir in cold water. Pour into a 13-by-9-inch  dish coated with cooking spray; refrigerate until set.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over cold water; let stand for 1 minute. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat cream (do not boil). Add softened gelatin; stir until gelatin is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
  3. In a bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add the unflavored gelatin mixture; mix well. Carefully pour over the bottom layer. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.
  4. For top layer, dissolve strawberry gelatin in boiling water; stir in cold water. Cool to room temperature. Stir in strawberries; carefully spoon over middle layer. Refrigerate overnight.


Mom’s meat dressing

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1 bag stuffing mix
  • 1 yellow onion
  • ½ pound carrots
  • ½ stalk celery
  • 1 teaspoon poultry season
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Using a meat grinder, grind the beef, pork and veal into a pot. Grind the onion, carrot and celery into the pot. Place the pot on stove on medium heat until cooked. Add stuffing mix. It may cook 10 minutes. Season to taste.