published Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Side Orders: Visit IHOP to help Children’s MIracle Network

Here's a tasty way to help Children's Hospital at Erlanger. For the seventh year, International House of Pancakes will celebrate National Pancake Day all day Tuesday by giving away free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes. In return, IHOP is asking that customers make a donation to their local Children's Miracle Network hospital. This year, the restaurant chain hopes to raise $2.7 million to add to the $10 million it already has raised over the past seven years.

IHOP's Pancake Day is an offshoot of Shrove Tuesday, a tradition that dates back several centuries when the English prepped for fasting during Lent. Strict rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products during those 40 days, so pancakes were made to use up the supply of eggs, milk, butter and other dairy products.

There are three IHOPs in the immediate area, and all are open 24 hours: 5814 Brainerd Road, 5113 Highway 153 and 2047 Battlefield Parkway in Fort Oglethorpe.

Today is George Washington's birthday. One of the most famous stories about our first president is that he cut down a cherry tree as a boy. Although the tale is supposedly fiction, invented by a biographer to show Washington's honesty, his birthday still makes me think of cherries, my favorite fruit, and reminds me of a story about my own birthday.

Instead of a cake, Momma would make a cherry pie and decorate it with candles. I was probably the only kid in my class who had a birthday pie, but for me there was nothing better.

A recipe for Cherry Crunch that came to me several years ago from Louise Crawford of Hixson is one of the easiest dessert recipes ever. I would suggest that you stop by the store on your way home, buy the ingredients and make it for dessert tonight. The prep work is so minimal, you'll have it on the oven in less than five minutes.

If you're counting calories, buy the sugar-free cherry pie filling, and look for a sugar-free white cake mix, too. You can even use a low-fat tub margarine to help turn this dessert into diet food.



Cherry Crunch

1 can cherry pie filling

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 package white cake mix

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup melted margarine

Whipped topping, if desired

Spread pie filling in bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine dry cake mix, nuts and melted margarine until crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over pie filling. Bake at 350 F for 40-50 minutes or until golden brown. Top with whipped topping. Makes 9 servings.

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