Culinary Cardinals: Tom Lawless’ Strawberry Pretzel Salad

IMG_3394I am going to occasionally feature my cooking experiments with recipes from Cooking with the Cardinals – a cookbook from 1985 chock full of recipes by the Cardinals and their wives. Luminaries in the book include Whitey Herzog, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, Bob Forsch, Darrel Porter, and Jack Clark.

While not the most famous Cardinal of the era, Tom Lawless did contribute one of the best recipes in the book: the iconic Strawberry Pretzel Salad.  This recipe had been in my mom’s recipe box for many years, and it’s a dish I’ve made quite a few times over the years and enjoyed at many Midwestern gatherings.

I served this at a BBQ yesterday. Guests were skeptical, but they couldn’t help but be bewitched by the sweet/savory combo of the pretzel crust, the cream cheese, Cool Whip, and strawberry jello. Oh, and lots of sugar. Even Jell-O haters are converted by this recipe, I promise ya.

Here’s the recipe, as written by Tom’s wife Cheryl.

2 2/3 cups crushed pretzels
3/4 cup margarine, melted
3 tbs sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese
1 8 0z pkg Cool Whip
2 pkgs (3 oz each) strawberry Jell-O
2 cups boiling water
1 pint frozen strawberries, with juice

Mix pretzels, margarine and 3 tbs sugar. Press on sides and bottom of a 9 x 13 pan. Bake 10 mins at 350 degrees. Cool. Cream 3/4 cup sugar with cream cheese; add Cool Whip and mix thoroughly. Spread on top of cooled pretzel crust. Dissolve jello in boiling water. Cool. Add strawberries and juice. Pour on top of cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until set.

Tom Lawless is most famous for being the only player traded for Pete Rose. Cardinals fans will never forget his game-winning home run in the 1987 World Series Game 4, which was pretty amazing especially when you consider he only hit two regular season home runs in his entire career (1982-1990). Check out the bat flip!

Tom-Lawless-Cardinals-Astros-Twins-bat-flip-090214.gif

Tom has gone on to manage minor league teams and served as the Astros interim manager in September 2014 after Bo Porter was fired. He even coached the Chinese national team for three seasons! Based on this news story from January, it looks like Tom and Cheryl are still married, and Tom is looking for work. With all the sugar, Cool Whip, and cream cheese in this recipe, I’m guessing Cheryl made it during the off-season, or Tom would have never been good at running the bases.

Then:

IMG_3396

Now:

AR-160129638

If you like Jell-O, check out my old blog: Julie and Jell-O. About five years ago, I was inspired by Julie and Julia and decided to cook my way through a 1970s Jell-O cookbook. Eventually, I gave up – too many molds involved canned salmon, eggs, ham, and other savory items. Jell-O should only be sweet!

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