Food has styles and fashions. And in the last few years, as we've gotten out of the habit of ready-to-eat frozen foods or canned foods in favor of fresh, home-made, and preservative free. But there are still a few stand-outs that make holiday cooking easy, elegant, delicious and less time-consuming. (The products we use, for the most part, are made from fresh ingredients and have no added colors or dyes or unpronounceable ingredients.)
Frozen Phyllo Dough: I think frozen phyllo dough is one of the greatest inventions (my mother thought Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry was, so it runs in the family). Simply defrost the phyllo dough and melt some butter. Using a pyrex baking dish, grease the dish with butter, then line the bottom with a layer of phyllo dough, brush with melted butter.
Then open up our other favorite things that comes in a jar -- "The Ultimate Cherry Pie Cobbler Filling" -- which is on sale at William Sonoma. Add a thinnish (not too thin) layer of cherry pie filling, place another layer of phyllo dough, brush with butter, add a thinnish layer of cherry pie filling -- until you have about four layers.
If you want to be extra fancy, crush some walnuts and toss with brown sugar and make a top layer of the walnuts and brown sugar, drizzle with melted butter, add one more layer of phyllo dough and brush with butter.
Bake in a 350 oven for 45 minutes to an hour, checking it occasionally to make sure the top is golden brown and not burning and that the cherries aren't losing too much liquid.
Voila, you have a faux cherry strudel that's so impressive you could even make up a story about the amazing Austrian lady you discovered who bakes these at home and sells them out of her kitchen, if you wanted to.