We all have those dishes we’re nostalgic for.

They don’t need to be anything fancy. In fact, they frequently aren’t.

That’s certainly the case with several of my family dishes, including the cheesy corn casserole and the orange fluff salad my great aunt Nadine used to bring to our Fourth of July family gatherings.

My grandma had an affinity for the jello salad with the pretzel crust.

We had to have it every time she visited. It was just her thing. Jello is on the outs right now in terms of popularity. I’ll be the first to admit that, if I hadn’t had this particular dish before, I’d hesitate to try it out. If you have an issue with textures you might want to give it a miss, but I personally like the mixture of sweet, salty, crunchy and creamy. Apparently I’m not the only one.

None of these is exactly fine dining, but the people who like them like them a lot.

Many of those people are children and even I — with no children of my own — understand enough to know how important it is to find dishes children enjoy.

Especially if those dishes contain some approximation of fruits and vegetables. The casserole is just macaroni and cheese with vegetables tucked inside.

I won’t lie and suggest any of these recipes is exactly healthy — macaroni and cheese never is — but you could do worse. They’re definitely weeknight friendly. Every child in our family loved each of these dishes and I expect yours will as well.

Orange Fluff Salad


1 large package of orange gelatin

2 small packages of tapioca pudding mix

2 3/4 cups hot water

1 can of mandarin oranges OR eight fresh mandarin oranges, peeled and pulled apart into segments

9 oz. whipped topping such as Cool Whip


Dissolve gelatin and tapioca mixes in hot water. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once the gelatin mixture has cooled, add oranges and whipped topping. Pour into a large bowl and refrigerate until set.

Corn Casserole


1 can whole corn

1 can creamed corn

1 cup uncooked macaroni

1 medium onion, diced

1 stick of butter, cut up with some reserved to cook the onion

1/2 cup Velveeta, diced


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook onion in butter for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Place in a greased casserole dish and bake for 1 hour or until the macaroni is cooked through. During the cooking process, remove and stir once every 15 minutes to incorporate the ingredients. Serve hot.

Grandma’s Favorite Jello Salad


1 cup crushed pretzels

3 tbs. sugar

1/2 cup melted butter

1 8 oz. package of cream cheese

1 cup sugar

1 tub Cool Whip

1 large package of strawberry gelatin

1 cups boiling water

2 packages frozen strawberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix crushed pretzels, sugar and butter and place in a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

While the crust is cooling, mix cream cheese, 1 cup sugar and Cool Whip. When crust is cool, spread cream cheese mixture over it.

Dissolve strawberry gelatin in 2 cups boiling water and add frozen strawberries. Allow to cool to room temperature and pour over cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until set.

LYDIA KAUTZ is the Managing Editor of the Junction City Union.

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