French Onion Soup and Tart Cherry Dessert

My youngest daughter is a busy stay-at-home mom who always finds time to get together with me on Fridays for lunch.  I try to make meals that are tasty, quick and easy, and reduced in fat and calories.  Here is what we enjoyed last Friday.

I adapted this recipe from one in a cooking newsletter I received awhile back (can’t remember source) and found this amount of soup is perfect for the 4 servings I like to make for our  Friday lunches.  I leave one serving on the table for my daughter who works at home and take three servings in a picnic basket to my youngest daughter – two for our lunch and an extra for her to use another time.  This is the first recipe I’ve seen for French Onion Soup that uses chicken broth and since I cook a chicken almost every week, I have a lot of broth in the freezer.  I also freeze any leftover broth from roast beef and this enhances the flavor of the soup quite a bit.  I also think the red wine vinegar gives the soup a special boost in taste.  Canned broth can also be used but the flavor may not be as good.

FRENCH ONION SOUP

• 1-½ lbs. sliced yellow onions  (7 cups)
• 1 Tlsp. olive oil
• Approx. 2 Tblsp. water
• Chicken stock, plus beef broth and water as needed, to make 4 cups total
• 1 Tblsp. all-purpose flour
• 1 Tblsp. dark brown sugar
•  ¾ tsp. salt (taste before adding especially if using canned broth)
• 1 Tblsp. red wine vinegar
•  4 slices sturdy bread (I used my homemade Italian bread*)
•  4 half-slices Swiss cheese
•  ¼ cup parmesan cheese

Saute onions in olive oil, add water.

Stir often on medium low heat until onions are soft.  Turn heat to low, stirring occasionally, cooking for an hour or so until onions are sweet and lightly browned.  Add small amounts of water as necessary to keep onions from sticking to pan.

In a large pot, place chicken stock/beef/water to make 4 cups.

In a small bowl, whisk until smooth the flour, brown sugar and salt.

Add red wine vinegar.  Bring stock to a boil and add the flour mixture, whisking well and bring back to a boil.  Boil on medium heat for 2 minutes.  Add sautéed onions last.  Pour into 4 oven-proof bowls and top each bowl with a slice of sturdy bread, a half-slice of Swiss cheese and a tablespoon of parmesan cheese.

Broil for a minute or so, watching carefully so the cheese doesn’t burn.  Serve immediately.

4 servings 

*Italian Bread

Based on 4 servings, the soup with bread and cheese is 264 calories.

For dessert, I made a light but very flavorful dessert from an old Shaker cookbook, We Make You Kindly Welcome.

TART CHERRY DESSERT

  • 3 oz. package of cherry Jello
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • ½ cup cherry brandy/liqueur or cherry juice
  • 1 Tblsp. Lemon juice
  • 1 cup frozen tart cherries
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

In a medium bowl, place cherry Jello and  pour boiling water over.  Stir for 2 minutes.  Stir in cherry liqueur/juice and lemon juice.  Pour into a 9-inch dish and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, pour cherries into a small bowl and add sugar.

Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours while gelatin mixture is chilling.

Remove gelatin mixture from refrigerator (should be partially set) and stir in cherry/sugar mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for another 2 hours.

4 servings 

Can be served plain or with a bit of whipped topping.

Based on 4 servings, this dessert is 192 calories.  Add 20 calories if using lite whipped topping (2 Tblsp.).

The soup and dessert were a good combination – low in calories and very tasty.

Blueberry Pineapple Dessert

svgOver 20 years ago, my husband and I were members of a wonderful round dance club in Cincinnati, the Bendoliers.  At Christmas time, the couple who served as President gave a brunch for the other officers in the club.  As Secretary, my husband I were invited and it was a beautiful meal.  I told the hostess that my favorite dish was what she called “Blueberry Salad” and asked for the recipe.  She was amazed that I didn’t know this old standby and as the years have passed, I’ve seen many versions of it in community cookbooks.  But at that time it was new to me and I loved it.

I adapted her recipe a little bit and I think of it as a dessert rather than a salad, but basically, it’s the same great dish we had that long-ago Christmas.

BLUEBERRY PINEAPPLE DESSERT

  • Two 6 oz. packages of blackberry gelatin (I used four 3 oz. packages of Jell-O Blackberry Fusion)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup cold fruit juice*
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • One 8 oz. can crushed pineapple

*Whenever I drain a can of fruit, I put it into a pint jar that I keep in the freezer.  I keep adding the drained juice from whatever fruit I have until I have enough to replace the cold water in a gelatin recipe.  In this case, I used a mixture of several kinds of fruit.

Topping

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans

In a 9×9 pan, dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Add the cold fruit juice, stirring well.  Chill in the refrigerator for about 1-1/2 hours until the mixture cools and begins to thicken.  After the mixture has thickened, add the blueberries and pineapple.  (Pineapple should be drained through a sieve into a cup, lightly pressing with a spoon.   I add this juice to my jar of stashed juice in the freezer.)

pinecup

Chill gelatin/fruit mixture until set.

After the gelatin/fruit mixture has set, make the topping:  Beat together the cream cheese, dairy sour cream, granulated sugar and vanilla.  Spread the topping over the gelatin/fruit mixture.  Sprinkle chopped pecans over the top.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Yield:  9 delicious servings. 

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