My love of cooking, and many of my favorite recipes come directly from the countless hours spent in the kitchen cooking and baking with my Auntie Vera.

Auntie Vera

I have such fond memories in Kansas City (my mom hails from there) with her as a little girl – visiting the giraffes in the zoo, or walking to the five and dime store together where she’d buy me all the candy my heart desired.

Cheeky little devil, Jewels

Sometimes we’d ride the bus (a very exciting mode of transportation) to a mall that had mechanical animals you could ride, or to see the lights on the Plaza, an outdoor shopping mall of Spanish-style buildings with every intricate detail lined in Christmas lights.

The Plaza lights

Vera spoilt me rotten, never told my parents when I was naughty, and would lull me to sleep at night with stories of her childhood growing up dirt poor on a farm in Kansas during the big depression.

Nick dancing with Auntie Vera at our wedding

Her mouth-watering fried chicken and buttermilk waffles were always the best, her chocolate cake legendary, and this cranberry Jell-o Mold has always been a holiday classic in our family for generations thanks to Vera Everly.

Dinner as a family in Clear Lake, Iowa

She may not have been a blood relative, but she was like a second mother to my mom, and an extra grandmother to me. As if to let me know how much she loved me, or to keep me from ever forgetting, she died on my birthday in 1998. I miss her dearly, but it never fails to make me smile when I think of her. She left an indelible mark on my heart, and gave me the seedlings of a career.

Auntie Vera’s Cranberry Jell-O Mold

This lovely pink cranberry mold has been a traditional holiday recipe in my family for generations. You can easily lighten up the calories (and I often do) by using sugarless Jell-O, and light sour cream. If you are taking it to someone else’s house, leave it already set-up, in the mold until you are ready to serve, and keep refrigerated as soon as you get there.

Servings: 12


  • 6 ounce package of raspberry Jell-O
  • 14 ounce can of jellied cranberry (plus I use an extra can for garnish)
  • 2 cups boiling hot water
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 1 cup sour cream


1). Dissolve raspberry Jell-O with the hot water in a large bowl. Add jellied cranberry. Using an electric beater, starting very slowly and building gradually (to keep from splattering the hot liquid everywhere), blend the cranberries into the Jell-O liquid until well blended.

2). Stir in ice water. Once ice has dissolved, blend in the sour cream with the electric blender.

3). Pour mixture into a cranberry mold, or I use a Bundt pan. Refrigerate until completely set, at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight, and can be made a day or two in advance if covered with plastic wrap and kept refrigerated until ready to serve.

Serving Suggestions: When ready to serve, fill a sink 1/4 full with hot water. Dip the bottom of the mold in the hot water for 30 seconds to loosen the cranberry mold, cover with serving platter, and invert onto platter. I like to garnish with extra jellied cranberry

PS. Don’t forget to enter the “What Have You Got to Lose” Giveaway for a signed copy of A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson. 

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  • December 5, 2010
    12:06 pm

    Julie Anne that is such a sweet post! All the fancy food in the world doesn't compare to sentimental family favorites. Those are the comfort foods that bring back fond memories and the ones that you want to pass along to your child. That Cranberry Jello Mold is Auntie Vera's legacy carried on through you. That's love! Cupcake

  • December 5, 2010
    5:04 pm

    This brought back some wonderful memories of my own mother making this for the family before she died 47 years ago. Dad continued on the tradition and every holiday meal would not be complete without the cranberry Jello at the table. Maybe I'll have to make one to serve to company when they are over and a bundt pan, that I can probably find easily as opposed to an old fashioned jello mold. Wonder whatever happened to mom's old molds and pretty dishes?

  • December 5, 2010
    6:14 pm

    Hi Ruthee – I saw some for sale at Williams Sonoma online, but I like the bundt pan, because it holds more jellied cranberries inside to give people a choice.Cupckae – I have eclectic taste in everything, including food and fashion!

  • December 5, 2010
    6:45 pm

    Okay, that's THE cutest little girl I've EVER seen – my BFF!!!!!!Sammy Phillips

  • December 5, 2010
    6:45 pm

    That's my "caught red handed " face, but thanks!

  • December 6, 2010
    12:57 am

    What a QT Pie……….. And your still a QT Pie.Stuart Drexler

  • December 6, 2010
    4:56 pm

    what a cute picture :)Tracy Williams Walls

  • December 6, 2010
    4:57 pm

    LOVE the pic of Nick and Aunt Vera @ your wedding!! ;)Tracy Williams Walls

  • December 6, 2010
    4:57 pm

    I was so touched when I saw that picture Tracy – I had no idea he asked her to dance (and he hates dancing), so it was extra sweet.

  • December 6, 2010
    5:13 pm

    I know he does.. I think that's why he hates the New Moon on Monday video so much! LOL How sweet…I love your stories they are all so good… the ones of about Nick are extra special for his fans…I've met him many times and know was a sweet guy he is… he always takes the time even when hes in a hurry. When I saw it I have heard him say many times over the years that he really doesn't dance. That's why the pictures made me giggle! Gonna try Auntie Vera Cranberry Jello… Looks YUMMYTracy Williams Walls

  • December 6, 2010
    5:44 pm

    Thanks for such a wonderful post. My parents have both passed away and I too have such fond memories of Christmas time growing up. We didn't have much money but my mom made sure I felt like I did. BTW that picture of you as a small child is so cute! Regina

  • December 6, 2010
    6:32 pm

    You really were a cute little kid, Jewels, even with that devilish grin. I love all of those comfort foods. Jello has never been my thing (I think it's the texture?), but it sure looks pretty. Our major holiday tradition is always gingerbread houses and people. This year, I'm having my gall bladder out two days after Christmas so I'll not be doing too much celebrating until after all of this pain goes away (it hurts to eat which has been sort of helpful to losing weight…though only carbs seem to feel good on my belly right now)

  • December 6, 2010
    7:13 pm

    What an adorable pic Julie! :)Julie Moreschi Barrientos

  • December 6, 2010
    7:14 pm

    She is now officially my favorite aunt.Cynthia Occelli

  • December 6, 2010
    9:56 pm

    What a lovely tribute to your aunt!

  • December 6, 2010
    11:10 pm

    So lovely. I also had an aunt who brought jello molds to holiday dinners – just LOVED them. She was my father's eldest sister (he had 5) and led such an interesting life. I may just have to try Vera's recipe to see what sort of memories it brings back. A wonderful tribute. She would be proud.

  • December 7, 2010
    5:25 pm

    Vera did another one with orange jello and shredded carrots and crushed pineapple that I used to love. Sneaky way to get your kids to eat veg. My parents are visiting from tomorrow, so I'll ask mom if she remembers the recipe.

  • December 7, 2010
    5:25 pm

    I'm stuck in a rut where fish recipes are concerned, sigh.Sheela Goh

  • December 7, 2010
    5:26 pm

    Hi Sheela – I'll help you out after the holidays. We are not big fish eaters this time of year. In the meantime – check out the seafood section under recipes on my website

  • December 7, 2010
    6:22 pm

    So funny! Our family has this every year too! It's delicious ♥Angelia Marie

  • December 8, 2010
    2:19 am

    Lovely tribute!

  • December 8, 2010
    8:00 pm

    MMMMMMM…. SE VE RICO!!!!Alejandra Gutierrez

  • December 10, 2010
    12:13 pm

    That lady reminds me so much of my Grand Aunt Lilly – she raised my mother from she was 2 weeks old after her own mother passed so we always called her Granny. She was the best i ever saw at Sponge Cakes – beaten by hand and would NEVER fail to rise. The day she announced to us kids that she could no longer make Sultana Fairy Cakes is painfully etched in our minds! She was an amazing cook who showed me the basics of everything and as they were true working class she could make the tastiest meals from very little. Decorum reigned though and at 1pm every day you sat down to meat and two veg with lashings of butter and bread, tea and a cake and on Sunday it was chicken with stuffing and jelly and custard. Monday's soup came from the chicken bones.I miss her terribly – she was kindness and generousity itself and full of love for us – more of a mother than my own really.God Bless her – and Aunt Vera too.