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.

Cherry Fudge Mousse

I wanted to make a dessert that would use up some leftover frozen tart cherries and a carton of Greek yogurt.  I thought about how much we like a Cherry Fudge Pie I make and translated it into this dessert.  It is easy to put together, can be made ahead of time, and is really delicious.  Using 2% milk and lite Cool Whip, a serving is 250 calories.

CHERRY FUDGE MOUSSE

  • 1-½ cups frozen tart cherries, thawed, with juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. quick cooking tapioca
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • ½ cup chocolate chips (Ghirardelli milk chocolate)
  • 4-serving package of instant French Vanilla pudding
  • 1 cup milk
  • 5.3 oz. container of Greek yogurt (Dannon)
  • 1 cup Cool Whip frozen topping, thawed

To make the Cherry Fudge Sauce:

In a small saucepan over medium high heat, mix the cherries, juice, sugar, tapioca and salt.  Cook until mixture begins to boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil for another minute, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and stir in almond extract and chocolate chips.  Let cool to room temperature.

To make the mousse:

In a medium bowl, place the instant pudding and milk – whisk until smooth and starting to thicken.  Whisk in the yogurt and then the Cool Whip topping.

Spoon into six small serving dishes.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Spoon the cooled Cherry Fudge Sauce over the chilled moose and serve immediately or cover and return to the refrigerator.  Further chilling will thicken the sauce.  Can be kept refrigerated for several days.

Yield:  6 servings.

You might also like this Cherry Fudge Pie

https://lillianscupboard.wordpress.com/2008/02/18/presidents-day-and-cherry-fudge-pie/

Tart Cherry Pie

cherrypie1

I always make the fruit pies I’ll serve on Thanksgiving well ahead of time.  When I was competing in county and state fairs, I found I could bake a fruit pie and freeze it.  Then the night before I needed it, I could take it out to thaw and the next morning crisp it in a 350 degree F oven for about 10 minutes with basically no change in the original pie.  I had to do it this way for the Ohio State Fair because of time restrictions plus a 2-hour drive and I continued to win ribbons.  I’ve used the technique since the early 1980s to get a jump on holiday baking.

This morning, I baked two apple pies which will go in the freezer after they have cooled, and I was remembering other Thanksgiving pies I have made through the years.  For the 20 years we lived in Blue Jay on the Ohio/Indiana border, I had the benefits of a front yard full of fruit trees.  In July, there was one old tree that produced a huge amount of tart cherries.  These snapshots from 1991 show my son and his family who were visiting from St. Louis and helping me by picking some cherries.

picking cherries 1991_0001

picking cherries 1991_0002

The little girl with the pail graduated from college last year and the baby is now a sophomore in college.  Time flies.

I froze a lot of cherries but to have the very best pie for Thanksgiving, I made one while the cherries were fresh off the tree – my husband’s favorite.  Here’s the recipe:

TART CHERRY PIE

  • Pastry for 9″ double crust pie
  • 4 cups fresh tart cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 Tblsp. quick tapioca
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1 Tblsp. milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In a large bowl, mix together the cherries, sugar, tapioca, salt, and almond extract.

Fit bottom crust in a 9″ pan, pour filling into crust and dot with butter.  Place top crust on pie, crimp edges and brush with milk.  Cut vents and place on a larger flat pan to catch spills.

Bake @ 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes.

Cool pie completely on rack.  Serve to a hungry family or wrap and place in a two-gallon ziplock bag.  Place in the freezer until needed.  For best flavor, use within 6 months. 

cherrypie2

I only wish I had one of those fresh cherry pies in the freezer for this Thanksgiving and my husband here to enjoy it.

A good piecrust recipe

My favorite apple pie recipe