Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Life has gotten busy and thus the blog has been neglected. Morgan and I had a wonderful anniversary celebration in Asheville, which I have been remiss in posting about. I’ve also participated in one of my favorite events, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in Atlanta. Just this past weekend, Morgan and I were in a community theatre production of “The Bad Seed.”

It’s been a fun fall so far, but sadly all the activities have left me run down and battling a bit of a cold.

Lucky for me I have a wonderful husband to swoop in and save the day with the most wonderful soup to help me get over my cold!

Morgan’s Southwestern Kale & Sausage Soup

Ingredients:

• 1 large or 2 small links chorizo sausage

• 1 small onion, diced

• 2 cloves garlic, minced

• half pound of kale, chopped

• 1 carton beef stock

• 1 large can diced tomatoes

• 1 can pinto beans, drained

• 1 Chipotle pepper, chopped

• dash of crushed red pepper flakes

• 1/2 teaspoon cumin

• teaspoon oregano

• salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Brown chorizo in a large soup pot. Once sausage is browned, added in diced onions and saute until translucent. Add in minced garlic and kale and saute a few minutes more. Add tomatoes, broth, beans and seasoning and bring to a boil. Boil for five to 10 minutes then reduce to simmer. Simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.

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Lettuce and onions

Lettuce and onions | The Lush's Blush blog
Lettuce and onions, also known as a wilted salad.

If I say “lettuce and onions” that likely means the start of a salad, or maybe toppings for a burger to most people. Where I’m from in Yadkin County, NC, it means something a little bit different. This time of year, in the early spring, lettuce and onions is a special treat.

When that early lovely light green lettuce and spring onions come in the garden, Yadkin County folks pick them and serve them sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, vinegar and piping hot oil poured on top. It seems like such a simple thing, but there is something about this dish that just tastes like springtime and it is so delicious. Some folks choose to use bacon grease to create this wilted salad.

I did a quick survey of some friends near and far and sure enough, those from outside the Yadkin County area just thought lettuce and onions are burger toppings. My Yadkin County friends were quick to answer though on how to prepare lettuce and onions as described above.

We typically serve lettuce and onions with pinto beans and cornbread. I remember my Mamma making this when I was little. It was always one of her very favorite meals. She’d always shoo me out of the kitchen when she was heating up the oil in the cast iron skillet. She didn’t want me anywhere near the hot oil though she wasn’t afraid of it herself. I think maybe that’s when I really felt like a true adult myself, is the first time I made lettuce and onions my own self. There is something so satisfying about the sound of that hot oil as it sizzles on the lettuce.

Snow day link roundup

We are getting hammered here in Yadkin Valley Wine Country with snow and sleet. I’m really more of a warm weather gal, but I have to admit the snow is pretty. Now we’re just hoping it doesn’t turn to freezing rain.

So on this snow day here at The Lush’s Blush headquarters, here a few things I’ve been perusing on the internet.

How delicious does this look?  Prosciutto Lemon Wrapped Chicken from The Splendid Table.

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Photo from The Splendid Table

Boy, I sure wish I had started this soup earlier in the day. This Slow Cooker Potato Soup would have been perfect on a day like today! Great recipe from Gimme Some Oven!

 

 

 

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Photo from Gimme Some Oven

Looking for an awesome new app to keep you busy on a snowy day? Check out the amazing new app A Color Story!

Crystals in the snow at The Lush's Blush
Crystals in the snow
The Lush's Blush blog | www.thelushsblush.com
Snow covered sacred bamboo

Living somewhere warm and wishing for snow? You can view my snow scopes and chat on Katch.me!

My Korean cooking adventure

kimchi
Korean Kimchi | Photo courtesy of Alicia B.

I heard a really interesting segment on NPR not long ago about kimchi. I know next to nothing about Korean cuisine, but I do know the word kimchi. My dad served in the army and was stationed in Korea from 1965-1966. He was not a fan of Korean food and doesn’t speak highly of kimchi. But, my dad is not too adventurous when it comes to food.

Click here to skip to the recipe for Kitsey’s Kimchi

I, on the other hand, like to try new things and especially spicy things. And so I decided to try my hand at making my own kimchi. I used a really simple recipe I found on The Kitchn, one of my favorite cooking websites.

I wanted to dig a little deeper into the cultural tradition that is kimchi though. While my dad didn’t care for it, kimchi is a staple in the diets of the people of Korea. There are more than 50 million people in South Korea alone, that many people can’t be wrong.

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My kimchi

My friend Alicia is currently living in South Korea where she teaches English. Here’s what she had to say about kimchi.

“I’m picky about the kimchi I allow onto my plate. Some kimchi can be really spicy, some too fishy, some too salty, and I know of one place that serves kimchi that tastes like it was just dunked in tomato sauce. If I were Korean, I would be embarrassed to serve it!” Alicia said.

In the fall and winter of the year, the women of the household begin the process of making kimchi which is called Kimjang.

“The moms and grandmas get together and make huuuuge batches of kimchi around this time of year,” Alicia explained. “One of my boyfriend’s students said she was stuck making kimchi all weekend with her grandmother, and one of my adult students said she made about 30kg of kimchi one Sunday!” That’s around 66 pounds of kimchi! Wow!

“Traditionally, kimchi is left to ferment in an onggi, which is an earthenware pot/urn that comes in all different sizes, but these days people can just put it in a glass container or a BPA-free plastic container. Easier for storage, especially in the tiny high-rise apartments in the cities,” Alicia said.

“There are actually dozens of different kinds of kimchi, even though most people think of the napa cabbage kimchi when they hear the word.”

Alicia said in Korea that kimchi can be served for lunch or dinner and even at breakfast!

“Kimchi is as good thrown onto a hot grill as it is served in fried rice or eaten on its own,” she added.

12469380_10103252485150508_1446807820842409094_oMaking kimchi is a real family affair in Korea, Alicia said. It was a family affair at the Harrison household as well. Morgan helped me chop all the vegetables up, and by help I mean he did it all. We used carrots, radishes and green onions in ours, in addition to the Napa cabbage.

But our kimchi making was on a minute scale compared to how they do it Korea.

Alicia said a woman from her class, who goes by the English name of Jasmine, spent an entire day making kimchi with her husband.

“They made three different kids of kimchi with 100kg  (about 40 heads of Napa) salted cabbage! The kimchi she made will be sent to her daughter’s family and her son’s family. Another woman (Jun), her sister, and mother made the same amount of kimchi to be divided among 11 people in their family. I asked if they had to wait a couple of days before eating it, and they laughed and said, ‘Oh noo.’ They usually end up picking at the kimchi while they are making it, and often eat it with boiled pork as they go. Some women said there is no real recipe they follow, but one woman (her English name is Naomi) said that she wrote down her mother’s recipe about 20 years ago because she knew she would have to make it for her two daughters one day. Her daughters are now in college and do get the kimchi that Naomi makes.”

Kimchi is so popular in Korea that many apartments come equipped with a special refrigerator just for storing the kimchi.

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A kimchi fridge in Korea

“They’re about the size of a dorm fridge, set under the counter where cabinets would be. There are usually two drawers with separate climate controls. Kimchi tends to make everything else in your fridge smell and taste like kimchi, so a separate fridge is a must when you have 30 kilos of it!” Alicia said.

“We use ours to store leftovers and beer though,” she added.

Morgan and I made only a small amount, which

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A peek inside the kimchi fridge

fit into a quart mason jar. We served it with rice and chicken stir fry. I was a little nervous to cook it into the rice as I had never had it before so I cooked the stir fry and rice and just added a bit of the kimchi afterwards. I really enjoy it though and so did Morgan so next time maybe we’ll try making fried rice with the kimchi.

Alicia recommended the website Maangchi for anyone interested in cooking Korean cuisine.

Another friend of mine, Rachel, has an entire blog about her adventures in Korean cooking. 

Lush'sBlush

 

Kitsey’s Kimchi

Ingredients

  • 2 small heads Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • Water
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you want)
  • 4 to 5 radishes, sliced thin
  • 1 medium carrot, julienne
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions

Chop cabbage, remove core and cut cabbage into two inch pieces. Put cabbage into large bowl and gently massage salt into cabbage until it begins to soften. Once cabbage has softened a bit, cover with water and let sit in brine for one to two hours.

Following the brining process, rinse cabbage and allow to drain thoroughly while chopping the remaining vegetables. Using a small chopper or food processor, combine water, sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes to make a paste.

Combine the cabbage with the other veggies in a large bowl. Using disposable gloves (seriously, you’ll burn your hands if you don’t!) massage the spicy paste into the vegetables. Keep massaging until the mixture becomes fairly liquidy.

Next pack the kimchi until a clean and sterilized glass quart jar. Pack mixture down into jar until liquid covers. Allow to sit on counter in a cool dry place for one to five days to ferment. Each day check the kimchi, open jar to release air bubbles and use a clean spoon to pack kimchi further down into the brine in the jar. On day five move kimchi to fridge. Serve with stir fry!

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Super simply spicy enchiladas

DSC_0610You can certainly make enchiladas all the way from scratch, even making your own sauce. They are delicious. But sometimes, you want something a little easier and a little quicker.

My husband and I made these super simple spicy enchiladas last week and they hit the spot!

Super Simple Spicy Enchiladas

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground beef (You could substitute ground turkey if you prefer.)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 4 oz can chopped green chilies (we used the hot kind, but you can do mild if you prefer)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese (or cheddar if you prefer, we actually used a little of both)
  • 1 can red enchilada sauce
  • flour tortillas

Directions:

In a skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat. Once browned, remove beef from pan and drain the fat. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in pan and saute diced onion until golden brown. Add chilies and stir to combine. Return ground beef to the pan and half the can of enchilada sauce. Season with cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Put half the cheese into the beef mixture and stir to combine. Spread some of the beef mixture into each flour tortilla, roll up and place seam side down into a lightly greased 9 X 13 casserole dish. Pour remaining enchilada sauce on top of rolled enchiladas and top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes.

 

 

Red wine braised roast

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I can take absolutely no credit for this recipe. This is my husband’s culinary creation and it is amazing. I’ll spare you a long and drawn out post describing exactly how good it is and just give you the recipe and some photos. I promise it is amazing and you’ll want to make this as soon as absolutely possible!

Morgan’s Red Wine Braised Roast

Roast marinade ingredients:

A 2 to 3  pound chuck roast

1 bottle red wine (Morgan recommends a Cabernet Sauvignon)

1 tsp kosher salt

2 tsp cracked black pepper

2 tbsp dried rosemary

1 tbsp dried thyme

4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Marinade directions:

Combine all ingredients other than roast and bring to a light simmer over medium heat just enough to warm it up and “wake up the flavors. ” Let cool. Put roast into large freezer bag and pour cooled marinade mixture over it. Let marinate overnight.  Don’t throw out the marinade mixture, you’ll be using it later.

Roast ingredients:

3 pieces bacon, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 small carrots, chopped

flour for dredging

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp tomato paste

Roast directions:

In a large Dutch oven, brown chopped bacon over medium heat to render fat. Meanwhile, remove roast from marinade, sprinkle light with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Remove cooked bacon from pan and sear roast in bacon drippings. Brown roast well on all sides. Remove the roast from the pan. Add two tablespoons olive oil to pan and saute chopped vegetables until they begin to brown. Once vegetables are golden brown in color, add two tablespoons tomato paste and saute a minute longer. Pour in marinade mixture to deglaze the pan. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan to remove all the “yummy crusty bits.” Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for two minutes. Add roast back to pan, cover and braise on 325° for two and half hours.

We serve ours with sauteed asparagus and Parmesan garlic grits. Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe for Morgan’s creamy cheesy Parmesan grits.

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Wicked chicken

I know there is a big push these days to eliminate all pre-made, processed foods from one’s diet. I get it. Pre-made stuff is just not as healthy or good for us. Le sigh. . .

But sometimes you just want a meal that you can throw together that doesn’t take all night and dirty up every pan in the kitchen.

A good friend of mine and her amazing friends have spent the last four years putting together a cookbook in honor of their high school class. You can read all about the Starmount Class of 1970 and their cookbook Ramalicious here. 

DSC_0514There are some complicated, dirty-up-all-dishes-in-the-kitchen recipes in Ramalicious, but there are also tons of super easy, quick and totally delicious recipes as well.

On Sunday night my husband and I spent at least an hour in the grocery store and by the time we got home in the cold and the dark, we certainly didn’t want to spend all night in the kitchen.

Enter the Ramalicious cookbook and one of my new favorite recipes Wicked Chicken.DSC_0526

Holy cow, y’all. This recipe is so simple, but the best thing about it is, it is delicious and flavorful!

Wicked Chicken

From the Ramalicious Cookbook by the Ladies of Starmount’s Class of 1970

Ingredients

• 4 skinless chicken breasts

• 1/2 box any shape pasta

• 1 jar Classico Alfredo sauce or regular Alfredo with 1 can green chilies

• Salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes to taste

Directions

Cook and drain pasta. Salt, pepper and garlic powder the chicken breasts to taste and brown in a skillet for 3 minutes on each side until brown. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. In a casserole dish, layer the pasta and the chicken. Pour the Alfredo sauce over the chicken pasta mixture and then mix for all to combine. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I used a jar of Alfredo sauce and a jar of hot green chilies. I also added just a bit of Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning on the chicken. If you want a milder version, leave out the red pepper flakes and green chilies or be sure to get mild green chilies. I also used chicken tenders rather than chicken breasts. And I topped mine with a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese and served it with a salad. Yummy!

DSC_0552We also enjoyed this dish with a wonderful Pinot Noir.

I’m dreaming of a warm Christmas

Conch shells in Key West

Oh, the weather outside in the Yadkin Valley region is lovely. And I hope it stays this way until summer. I’ve been hearing a lot of people say they can’t get in to the Christmas spirit because it’s not been cold enough. Well, bah humbug I say to that. People in Florida still celebrate the season, don’t they? And I bet they get right on into the spirit while still in their shorts and sipping on a rum runner.

As I may have mentioned, I can’t stand cold weather. Yes, snow is pretty. Yes, a lot of holiday music is all about a “White Christmas” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” and all of that. I get it. And, honestly, I don’t mind a pretty snow once in a while if it comes on a day I don’t have to worry about driving in it.

I’m very much still pining for my wonderful days in Key West on my honeymoon earlier this year though and so this weather suits me just fine.

I’m perfectly in the holiday spirit of the season, even if it is 70 degrees. Last week Dad and I made two of our traditional holiday treats. We made homemade Chex mix and peanut butter crackers dipped in white chocolate.

I even watched the movie “White Christmas” while we were cooking. My favorite scene actually is when they are still in Florida and going to see the Haynes sisters perform. Of course, the “Sisters” number is classic with those gorgeous blue fans, but I also love the number “The Best Things Happen While Your Dancing.”

So, if the warm temperatures are keeping you from getting in the holiday mood, I suggest watching a good Christmas movie and baking some holiday treats to help get you in the spirit.

An easy and delicious treat to make is putting peanut butter between two Ritz crackers and then dipping it in white chocolate. The combination of salty and sweet is just divine. We make these every year.

We also love homemade Chex mix. It’s easy to make as well. The Chex cereal box likely has the recipe on it this time of year, but here is my version.

Kitsey’s Crispix Mix

Ingredients
• 1 box Crispix cereal
• 1 package colored goldfish snack crackers
• 1 package garlic bagel chips, crushed
• 1 can cocktail peanuts
• 3/4 of a large bag of Rold Gold pretzels (I like a lot of pretzels, but adjust to the amount you prefer. I use the stick shaped or the heart-shaped if I can find them.
• 1 stick butter, melted
• 2 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
• 1 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
• 3/4 tsp. garlic powder
• 1/2 tsp. onion powder

Directions
Combine all snack items into a large pan. Add Worcestershire and seasonings to melted butter and stir to combine. Slowly drizzle butter and seasoning mix over the cereal mix and stir gently with a large spoon or spatula to coat mixture well. I typically sprinkle a little additional Worcestershire and seasonings on mine at this point because I like it seasoned really well. Bake in a 250-degree oven for a total of one hour, every 15 minutes shake or stir mix to continue distributing the seasoning mix.

The great Christmas tree adventure

Black Friday shopping is just not a holiday tradition I can get in to. The only reason at all that I ever get up before dawn is if I’m headed to the beach. Putting up the Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend is, however, a tradition I can get behind. And so it was that reason, Dad and I found ourselves on a little adventure the Saturday after turkey day.

Our good friend Patty has been bringing us our tree for many years now. She makes a trip to the mountains of Virginia with her family every year on Thanksgiving weekend and has been kind enough to pick us up a tree also. Since this year we were putting up two trees — one at dad’s house and one at my house — we decided to make the trip ourselves. I was really hoping to make this a fun outing for my husband and I since it is our first Christmas as a married couple, but alas, our schedules are too crazy. Morgan and I are in two different holiday theater productions this year and are practically ships passing in the night.

Luckily, Dad is always up for a road trip so off we went to find Slaughter Tree Farm. The weather on

Thanksgiving weekend was lovely so it was a nice day for the trip, although it took us much longer than we anticipated. While the internet and smart phones are wonderful inventions, they don’t always lead you in the right direction. I typed in the name of the tree farm into my smartphone and off we went. We arrived at the Slaughter Tree Farm alright, only it was their shipping center and office, not the actual location where you pick and cut your tree. If I had been smart instead of relying on my phone, I would have called Patty and gotten the directions from her.

Nevertheless, Dad and I enjoyed the trip and the sights along the way. There are some adorable little shops in Floyd, Virginia, we discovered.

At last we arrived at our correct destination and chose a tree for both of our homes. There were quite a few other families out choosing a tree, but being surrounded by all the lovely trees spread out over the rolling hillsides was much better than battling shoppers on Black Friday.

My husband and I did have some time together on Sunday to decorate our Christmas Tree. Incidentally, it was also our three-month wedding anniversary. In honor of our first year of marriage our tree is decorated in peacock colors, the same as our wedding theme. I love it, although Morgan said he was not aware when we chose the peacock theme for the wedding that it would follow us forever. Perhaps not forever, but it did seem fitting for the first year at least, and especially since I still have lots of peacock feather decorations leftover from our wedding.

Below is a recipe we made a few weeks ago that is lovely for this time of year!
Oreo stuffed Red Velvet brownies (recipe from www.tasteandtellblog.com)

Ingredients

For the brownies
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 1½ teaspoons baking powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
• ⅓ cup butter, melted
• 1 cup packed brown sugar
• 1 egg
• 2 teaspoons red food coloring
• 1 teaspoons vanilla extract

Filling
• 8 oz cream cheese, softened
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 12 Oreos, roughly crushed (about 5 oz)

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with foil or parchment paper, then spray with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder. In another bowl, mix together the butter and brown sugar. Add in the egg, food coloring and vanilla. Stir in the dry ingredients and set aside. In another bowl, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla. Stir in the Oreos until evenly combined. Pour half of the red velvet brownie batter into the prepared pan. Smooth with a knife, spoon or offset spatula. Carefully spread the cream cheese mixture over the top of the red velvet batter. Drop the remaining red velvet batter over the top and carefully spread evenly over the top. Bake in the preheated oven until a tester comes out with only a few red velvet crumbs on it, about 30 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the pan and cutting into squares.

Mamma’s cranberry sauce

I mentioned last week how much I love Thanksgiving. I know it has come and gone now, but it is still on my mind. We had a wonderful celebration at my Dad’s house on Thanksgiving with a giant turkey and all the trimmings. With so many bad things happening in the world, it is a blessing to be able to spend quality time with family and friends in a safe and warm place.

Thanksgiving and the holiday season is certainly a time to reflect on what we are grateful for. I am grateful for so many things, but most importantly my dear friends and family.
Thanksgiving is also a little hard for me now. I lost my Momma to cancer just a few days before Thanksgiving in 2013. I know that for many who have lost loved ones, the holiday season can be difficult. The year my Momma died I was so grateful to be surrounded by family and dear friends.

My sorority sisters made a big difference in how I handled that first Thanksgiving without Momma. Momma’s funeral was just a few day before Thanksgiving when I know people are busy, but so many of my sisters came to the funeral and came back home to spend some time with me after the service.

My home was filled with so much love, as well as good food that many friends and neighbors brought to us. It was a hard day, but I know how much my Momma would have loved seeing everyone and that made it easier.

My little sister in the sorority, Amanda, flew all the way from San Antonio, Texas to be with me after Momma’s funeral and she stayed with me for Thanksgiving as well. She told me she didn’t want me to go to the trouble of cooking, but it actually helped to have something to keep me busy. Her being there that first Thanksgiving without Momma was such a precious gift.

This year my husband and I cooked Thanksgiving at Dad’s house and we were joined by my great Uncle Ken and our good friend David. My Uncle Clip and neighbor Zehra also stopped in to visit with us. Everyone enjoyed the food and couldn’t pick a favorite thing. They said it was all good. As usual, we had enough food to feed a small army. We enjoyed turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, which I burned the first time around and had to redo, Waldorf salad, green pea salad, macaroni and cheese, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and pumpkin cheesecake.

David said the cranberry sauce was the best he had ever eaten. It is, of course, my Momma’s recipe. Years ago when Momma worked at Jostens they put together a cookbook. Our good friend Patty’s sweet potato casserole recipe and my Momma’s cranberry sauce recipe are in this book and I use it every year to make these two Thanksgiving specialties.

I know Thanksgiving has come and gone, but cranberry sauce is a dish to serve throughout the holiday season so I’ll share Mamma’s recipe with you in case you’d like to try it.


Mamma’s Cranberry Sauce
Ingredients:
• 20 oz can crushed pineapple
• 1 large package strawberry jello
• 2 16 oz cans whole cranberry sauce
• 2 cups finely minced celery
• 1 cup crushed pecans
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• pinch of salt
Directions:
Heat pineapple just to boiling and add jello packet. Stir until dissolved. Add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Refrigerate until set. I typically make this night before I plan to serve it. Also, I use one of those electric choppers to do the celery so I can get it really finely chopped. Note: the original recipe called for a 15 1/2 oz can of crushed pineapple and 1/4 cup of water. I can only find 20 oz cans now so I eliminate the water so it will set better. If you find 15 oz cans, add 1/4 cup water to mixture.