Recipe Round-up: Cherries!

To be very honest with you, I don’t think I tried cherries until I was out of college, living on my own. Outside of maraschino cherries on ice cream or in Shirley Temples, I wasn’t aware they actually existed! I can’t recall when the first time I had a fresh or dried cherry was, but I know I was instantly hooked.

When I set out to begin this blog, it took me days, weeks even, to come up with my name. Once I finally had it, I began to dream about how my page would look. This is a work in progress, but I knew I wanted the theme to center around food, since that’s something that I love to work with. I love being in the kitchen, cooking and baking away. Cleaning dishes, not so much – I prefer to make be mess and have someone else clean it up. Sadly, I don’t have someone to do that for me – yet.

As I was envisioning my blog, I also thought about my logo and my picture. About this same time, I was baking a lot and complaining about how often I would spill flour on my clothes. And then I had a wonderful thought – I should get an apron! I went to Joann’s Fabrics with only a faint idea of what design I was looking for and eagerly searched through the fabrics they had. I spotted a cute pink print with cherries on it and fell in love. I quickly found a pattern and sent all the materials to my mom. She’s a veteran seamstress and always likes a new craft project.

And so I decided that cherries would be a part of my theme. Thinking of this made me realize how much I missed eating the delectable little berries, so I began to dig through my recipe books and boxes for something to make. There are so many ways you can use cherries in a variety of dishes! Now, if you’ve been shopping lately, you’ll notice that cherries aren’t the most reasonable of fruits on the market. Of course, I had to get a hankering for them after they were in season, so I had no hope for fresh ones. But even the frozen and dried versions cost more than comparable fruits!

This didn’t deter me though; I had a hankering for cherries and I would not be stopped! I opted for frozen and dried cherries and used them in place of fresh in my recipes. I personally think the dishes still turned out fabulous and there was no fear of eating a cherry pit! Next summer, I won’t wait so late to work up an appetite for them. Until then, I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I did!

Breakfast

Cherry and Banana Oat Smoothie

Total Time: 5 mins

1 large chopped banana, previously frozen
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cherries, halved and pitted
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Place frozen banana, cherries, oats, milk, and vanilla into a blender or food processor.
  2. Pulse for 1-2 minutes until everything is smooth.
  3. Pour into your favorite glass and enjoy immediately!

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Dark Cherry Smoothie Bowl

Total time: 10 minutes

1 cups of frozen cherries, pitted
1 banana, chopped
1/3 cup coconut water
8 additional cherries (for topping)
2 T coconut flakes (for topping)
2 T sliced almonds (for topping)
2 T raw cacao nibs (for topping)

  1. Place the frozen cherries, banana, and coconut water into a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour the smoothie mixture into a bowl and sprinkle with toppings. Enjoy immediately!

Lunch

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Super Summer Detox Salad

Total Time: 30 minutes

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 large or 2 small lemons)
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
1 cup pitted cherries, halved (fresh or frozen)
15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
14 oz. can artichoke hearts, rinsed and sliced into quarters
1/4 cup toasted walnut halves, roughly chopped

  1. Place the quinoa in a medium saucepan with 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 25 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt until well combined.
  4. Pour over the warm quinoa, then toss to coat.
  5. Add the kale, cherries, chickpeas, red onions, and artichokes to the quinoa and toss to combine.
  6. Sprinkle the walnuts over the top.
  7. Serve immediately or store up to 30 minutes in a refrigerator before serving. Enjoy!

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Cherry Summer Kale Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Total time: 15 minutes

Salad

6 cups kale leaves, de-stemmed and chopped
6 strips bacon, diced
1 cup cherries, halved (fresh or frozen)
½ cup blueberries
½ cup diced granny smith apple
¼ cup pecan pieces

Balsamic Vinaigrette:

1 T Dijon mustard
½ T honey
½ tsp dry basil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to season

  1. Heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes until crispy. Remove and place on a paper towel to let grease drain.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Whisk to emulsify to ensure that the oil and vinegar aren’t separated.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together all salad ingredients. Toss salad with dressing or serve with dressing on the side. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Snack

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Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Bars

1/3 cup honey (do not substitute with agave nectar or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond meal
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 T almond butter
2 cups almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix together first five ingredients (through butter) until combined.
  3. Next, fold in almonds, cherries, and chocolate chips.
  4. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan and press very firmly into an even layer. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely in the pan for 1 hour.
  6. Transfer pan to the refrigerator and chill for 1 more hour.
  7. Remove bars from the pan and cut into bars. Individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap or parchment.
  8. You can store at room temperature for 1 week or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Dinner

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BBQ Cherry Pork Chops & Quinoa

4 pork chops
1 cup quinoa (dry)
1 cup organic chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup cherry juice
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
1 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp BBQ rub/seasoning
Sea salt & pepper to taste

  1. Rinse quinoa. Combine broth and quinoa in a stock pot or dutch oven pot.
  2. Clean and trim pork chops if excess skin is on them. Place pork chops on top of quinoa.
  3. Pour cherry juice evenly over pork chops and quinoa. Add remaining ingredients to the pot.
  4. Cook on medium low for 70-90 minutes. About halfway through (35- 40 minutes), flip pork chops.  if you want them coated with more broth/sauce on the other side.
  5. Serve with desired vegetable and enjoy!

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Cherry Almond Broccoli Salad

Total time: 20 minutes

Dressing:

½ large peeled avocado
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 T water + more as needed for desired consistency

Salad:

2 slices turkey bacon, cooked and diced
4 cups fresh broccoli, cut into very small florets
2 cups cherries, seeded and halved (fresh or frozen)
¼ cup finely diced red onion
½ cup almonds, coarsely chopped

  1. To make the dressing: combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. If needed, add an extra tablespoon or two of water to achieve desired consistency.
  2. To make the salad: combine the bacon, broccoli, cherries, onion and almonds in a large bowl. Slowly pour the avocado dressing over the salad and mix. Enjoy!

Dessert

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No-Bake Cherry Cheesecakes

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs, finely ground
2 T vegan butter, melted
8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 T sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
14.5 oz can cherry pie topping

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs with melted butter. Stir until well blended and press into the bottom of 3 mini dessert glasses or tumblers.
  2. Beat the cream cheese until it has a smooth consistency. Slowly add the sugar and continue to mix until combined.
  3. Add sour cream and vanilla extract; mix well.
  4. Carefully spoon the mixture into the wine glasses and smooth out. Spoon cherry pie filling over top.
  5. Place glasses in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving.
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