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Mrs. Soergel's Simple Baked Apples ~ Low-Fat Cherry Cheesecake

By Jane Miller, Avalon free-lance writer

My favorite recipe is Jean Soergel's Apples from the story about Soergel Orchards celebrating their 150th year in the same family. It is a healthy and quick microwave dessert that I've made many times since sharing a meal with the Soergel family in theirfarm house above the orchards. The combo of cinnamon and apples makes the kitchen smell wonderful.

Another favorite is the Fat-Free Cherry Cheesecake from the story about Highmark's Dean Ornish program for reversing heart disease. My husband and I attempt to follow this meatless, low-fat diet. For anyone who imagines a fat-free diet as tasteless and bland, I recommend this recipe.

Mrs. Soergel's Simple Baked Apples

Jean Soergel says her family "just loves this."

6 to 8 apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon (if you're a cinnamon lover, sprinkle it on heavily)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon butter or margarine to dot over top in 4 or 5 places

Peel and slice apples, usually into eighths, to fill a 9-inch pie pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, water and butter. Bake in the microwave oven on full power until apples are soft, usually about 20 to 25 minutes. Or bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees in conventional oven.

Tester's notes: Jean Soergel does not measure any of the ingredients. The amounts and times will also vary depending upon the sweetness and moisture of the apples, as well as the microwave wattage. She says you can also substitute "Twin" brown sugar, for a lower-calorie version.

Tester's comment: This tastes just like an apple pie filling without the crust. Place a paper towel under the dish to catch overflow in case there is too much moisture or it overcooks, which doesn't harm it.

Jean Soergel, Soergel Orchards and Garden Center, Wexford

Low-Fat Cherry Cheesecake

Crust (see note):
1 1/2 cups fat-free graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons liquid egg substitute

15 ounces nonfat ricotta cheese
12 ounces nonfat cream cheese
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 1/2 cups canned light cherry pie or blueberry filling

Place the cracker crumbs, sugar and egg substitute in a mixing bowl. Blend until mixture is moist and crumbly. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Use the back of a spoon to press the crumbs over the bottom of the pan and half up the sides. Dip the spoon in sugar to prevent sticking. Bake the crust in 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool the crust to room temperature. Place all of the filling ingredients in a food processor, and process until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust, and bake in a 325-degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until the center feels firm when lightly touched. Turn the oven off, and let the cake cool in the oven with the door ajar for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and cool another hour at room temperature. Remove from pan to serving plate. Spread fruit filling over the top of the cooled cake. Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. Cut into wedges.

Tester's notes: Save time and substitute a prepared crust that has 3 grams or less of fat.

Note: Keebler's Lite crust has 2.5 grams of fat. Our kids couldn't believe this was "Ornished."

"The Cooking Cardiologist (RevisedEdition)" by Richard Collins

Thursday, January 04, 2001

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