Utah - Green Jell-o Lime Divine

Green Jell-o is the official state snack of Utah and Utahans consume the most Jell-o per year in the world!!!  We spent Thanksgiving in Utah last year so I made sure to check out the Jell-o selection at two grocery stores - pretty impressive!!!! 

Notice it is all Jell-o brand too!  Utah celebrated their love for Green Jell-o with a commemorative pin for the 2002 Winter Olympics and the pin quickly sold out and became a hard to find collectible. 

So what do Utahan's make with all that green Jell-o?  I bought a fun cookbook on our trip creatively named Utah Cookbook: A collection of favorite recipes from Utah and found a recipe for Lime Divine.  Above the recipe it says "A mainstay at Utah reunions and receptions, Lime Divine has become a cultural culinary representation of family fun!  It has also inspired the official Green Jell-o Olympic Pin." 

Ok - let's make some Lime Divine! 

1 can (16 oz) pear halves, undrained
1 (6 oz) package Lime Jell-o
1 1/2 cups carbonated lemon-lime beverage
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup chopped pecans


  • drain pears, reserving liquid
  • dice pears and set aside
  • add water to reserved pear liquid to make 1 1/2 cups
  • place liquid in a saucepan and bring to a boil
  • put gelatin in a bowl and add boiling liquid; allow to dissolve fully
  • add carbonated beverage and lemon juice and combine
  • pour 3/4 cup gelatin into a 5-cup mold
  • refrigerate for one half hour, until thickened
  • arrange 1/2 cup of diced pears in thickened gelatin in the mold
  • in a large bowl, whisk the balance of the gelatin gradually into cream cheese until smooth
  • refrigerate for one half hour or until thickened slightly
  • stir in remaining pears, add chopped pecans and spoon mixture over gelatin layer in the mold
  • refrigerate 4 hours or until firm
  • release from mold and garnish as desired 

While it does look like a slice of glycerin soap, I have to say - I really enjoyed Lime Divine!  

There are three reasons this could be:
  1. my southern heritage predisposes me to a fondness for congealed salads
  2. I am pregnant and things cold and fruity taste really great right now
  3. I like things that are green (see my California post) 

If any of the above apply to you, maybe you should make some Lime Divine!  Just know that there is a definite art to working with Jell-o molds - but even if it doesn't un-mold perfectly, it will still taste good!  


Texas - Texas Sheet Cake

They say "Everything's big in Texas" and that might be why this huge chocolate cake is called Texas Sheet Cake!  While not everyone in Texas calls their go-to, family chocolate sheet cake a Texas Sheet Cake, they most likely have some version of this cake in their baking arsenal.  Maybe they call it Aunt Peggy's chocolate cake, but all of these recipes can be pulled together quickly, make a big cake and are a great way to share warm, Texas hospitality.

This particular Texas Sheet Cake has a good dose of cinnamon in it giving it a little Tex-Mex flare. 

for the cake

for the icing

for the cake:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa 
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

for the icing:
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon milk
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease and flour a 9 x 13 inch baking pan
  • sift the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, baking powder and salt twice, set aside
  • add vanilla extract to buttermilk and set aside
  • cream butter at medium speed for about 3 minutes
  • add the sugar in a steady stream with the mixer running and cream for 4 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl once
  • add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, with the mixer running and continue beating for 2 minutes
  • remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the oil, mixing well
  • fold in half of the flour mixture with a rubber spatula then add half the buttermilk and stir well
  • repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk until batter is completely mixed
  • pour batter into pan and bake for approximately 40 minutes
  • make icing while cake is baking
  • mix the milk and cocoa in a large saucepan, and stir until smooth
  • add the butter, and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly until butter melts
  • remove from heat, and stir in confectioners sugar and vanilla
  • beat until smooth
  • stir in pecans
  • when cake comes out of the oven, spread icing on the hot cake
  • serve warm or at room temperature 

Good grief!  Pour yourself some milk, dig in and don't mess with Texas! Delish!!!! 


Tennessee - T cakes

Tea Cakes are a very traditional, southern sweet.  Think cross between a cake and cookie with a not too sweet, vanilla flavor.  Some are dusted with sugar, others frosted and decorated, but all were served with tea (sweet, iced that is) or coffee.  

Now, Tennessee T-cakes are different and were made popular by an entrepreneur in Nashville named Frances Barkley.  She used her family's 100 year old recipe to start a thriving business with a unique product that made it onto Oprah's favorite things list one year. Unfortunately, Frances passed away and her business is no longer around - but I found a copy cat recipe for her famous T-cakes and wanted to feature it for Tennessee. 

what to expect...
While these little baked goodies are shaped like a  cupcake or muffin, and are called T-"cakes", they taste nothing like cake.  They are rich and gooey and in a category of their own that is hard to describe, even after eating a lot of them (in the name of research, of course)!  ; )  

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup salted butter, melted and hot 
1 large egg
2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla
3/4 cup all purpose flour
powdered sugar, for garnish


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • add the brown sugar and white sugar to the melted butter and set aside (some of the brown sugar will melt)
  • in mixer with paddle attachment, gently mix the egg and bourbon vanilla
  • add the butter and sugar mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low until mixed well
  • add flour all at once to mixer.  mix well until ribbon-like
  • bake in paper lined mini-muffin tin for 14 minutes, turning at 7 minutes.
  • dust with powdered sugar when cool

Simply ahhh-ma-zing!  Love these and can't wait to bake more!  


South Dakota - Kuchen

South Dakota designated the Kuchen (pronounced "koo-kin") as the official state dessert in 2000 as a nod to the rich cultural heritage and traditional foods of their German ancestors.  The name Kuchen comes from the German word for cake and comes in many forms ranging from a streusel like coffee-cake to this version with a shortbread crust, cream cheese filling and fruit topping! 

Kuchen can be made with any type of fruit but I chose a recipe that called for apples.

for the crust 

for the filling

for the topping

2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces

1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, at room temperature 

3 granny smith apples
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar 


  • preheat oven to 450 degrees 
  • lightly grease and flour 9 x 13 pan
  • place flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl or food processor and mix to combine
  • add vanilla and butter a little at a time and mix until dough comes together
  • press into baking pan and bake until slightly golden but not brown (7 - 9 minutes depending on oven) 
  • lower oven temperature to 400 degrees 
  • make filling: mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla in mixer and beat until creamy
  • add the egg, mix to combine and pour over the cooled crust
  • mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl
  • thinly slice the apples and place on top of the filling in two or three columns
  • sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake until firm and rich brown, (approximately 30 minutes, depending on oven) 

This Kuchen recipe is great as a dessert or breakfast / brunch treat!