Kids Can Cook–Southwestern Recipes

posted in: Books, Published Works | 0

In January 2011, I wrote two recipe books and this was one of them the other is here. Many of these recipes are family favorites. I grew up in the West/Southwest and have a mom who loves to cook and bake. We always had a home-cooked meal every night. I can count on one hand the total number of times I remember going out to eat as a kid–and those times were when we were far away from home on vacation.

For each recipe in these books, I needed to have a picture of the final product plus a picture of a child making the recipe. I rounded up my five nieces and nephews and with the help of my sisters and my mom we had a marathon cooking day. In the days before our cooking event, I made the kids each a matching apron so they would look professional in the photographs. Then, on the day of, we ran around from one station to the next making hot dogs in blankets, salads, cakes, cookies, barbecue beans, tacos, burritos, and homemade rootbeer (amongst MANY other recipes) while I photographed the action. We spent about 8 hours cooking total and the kids loved every second of it.

The next morning, my sister told me that in the middle of the night she could hear little Ava (who was only 2 1/2 at the time) tossing and turning in her bed and talking in her sleep. My sister went in to see if she was okay and she was saying, “But I don’t want to put it in the bowl!” hahahah!! She was still dreaming about our day of cooking and clearly had her own ideas about how the next recipe should turn out! What a fun day filled with great memories and yummy food.

Here’s Ava’s Marshmallow Jello Salad Recipe that didn’t make the final cut for the recipe book. I hope you enjoy it!

Marshmallow Jello Salad

Summer is a popular time for people in the West to gather together for family reunions. Most of the time, these gatherings include potluck lunches and dinners where people bring a salad, dessert, or side dish to share with others. It’s a guarantee that at least one person will bring this marshmallow jello salad to the potluck.

This salad is easy to make and can be a different flavor every time you make it depending upon the type of jello you use.


1 can crushed pineapple, drained

1 can mixed fruit, drained

1 16-ounce imitation whipped topping

1 package peach jello (or use your favorite flavor: raspberry, strawberry, cherry, etc)

½ bag miniature colored marshmallows


  1. Pour crushed pineapple and mixed fruit into a bowl.
  2. Using a large spoon, gently mix in the whipped topping. Don’t mix too hard or the whipped topping will break down and get runny.
  3. Mix in the dry jello powder.
  4. Add the marshmallows.
  5. Cool for at least 3 hours in refrigerator before serving.

Variation: You can also use pistachio pudding mix instead of jello for a green pudding salad.