We all remember the myth of our first president who chopped down the cheery tree, then was honest enough to admit it to his father.
Whether the young George Washington chopped down that tree or not, he has been forever associated with cherries.
His birthday, Feb. 22, has been rolled into Presidents Day, a day it seems for car sales and a much-welcomed winter vacation. It’s also a time to look for yummy and creative ways to use cherries.
Although this is definitely not the season, which comes in mid-summer, cherries can be found in the frozen section or on shelves of the supermarket. There’s also canned pie filling and lovely jars of bright red and green maraschino cherries. And some of us may be fortunate enough to have canned or frozen some when they were in season.
However we get our cherries, now’s not only the time to prepare something delicious in honor of our first president, but also a way to perk up this winter that seems to be going on forever!
My first recipe is for a lower-fat, low-sugar version of the popular, cherry cobbler. Each serving of this recipe contains about 200 calories. If it’s topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream, the calorie count, of course, will be more.
Cherry Cobbler (4 servings)
1 16-ounce can of cherries in juice (not pie filling)
2 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
one-quarter teaspoon cinnamon
dash of ground cloves
one-half cup flour
three-quarters teaspoon baking powder
a couple of dashes of salt
2 tablespoons butter or butter substitute
one-quarter cup skim milk
In a small saucepan, combine the cherries and their juice, tapioca, brown sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Over low heat, cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Pour mixture into a vegetable oil-sprayed glass pie plate.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the cold butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in milk. Drop dough in four mounds over the cherry mixture.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Parfaits are an elegant way to top off a meal. Calories and fat can be reduced in this dessert by using sugar-free instant pudding, low-fat sour cream, and skim milk in place of their full-calorie counterparts. Top with a low-fat whipped topping (or whipped cream), and add a sprig of mint or chopped almonds or other nuts, if desired.
Remember to use your prettiest stemmed goblets. I’m a Fiesta Ware fan. My goblets are very colorful and make this dessert really special.
Cherry Parfait (4 or 5 servings)
1 21-ounce can cherry pie filling
one-quarter teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sour cream
1 cup cold milk
1 3.4 ounce package instant vanilla pudding
Topping of mint or almonds
Combine pie filling and extract, then set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine the sour cream and milk. Stir in the pudding mix, then beat by hand or on low speed of an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Spoon half the pudding mixture into stemmed goblets, then half the cherry mixture. Repeat. Garnish and serve.
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