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IDEA ALLEY: Five holiday-ready recipes for Alley Kats

by Kelly Brant | December 22, 2021 at 1:48 a.m.
(Illustration by Kelly Brant)

Recipes that appear in Idea Alley have not been tested by the ­Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

These five recipes — two appetizers and three desserts — offer nostalgic comfort and holiday cheer as we enter the home stretch of the December holidaze.

"I take this to parties frequently and it's always gone in a hurry," writes Beth Page.

Cracked Pepper Summer Sausage

  • Summer sausage (Page recommends Hillshire Farms brand)
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Honey
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Ritz crackers, optional, for serving

Remove casing from sausage.

In a large zip-close plastic bag, combine sausage and Worcestershire sauce. Marinate overnight. Roll sausage in honey and black pepper. Bake at 275 degrees for 1 ½ to 2 hours.

Serve with crackers, if desired.

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This recipe is from Sherrie Smith.

Strawberry Preserves Cheese Ring

  • 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
  • 1 cup or more strawberry preserves (jelly will not work)

In a large bowl, combine cheese, mayonnaise, onion, garlic powder and cayenne. Mold mixture into a ring. Place strawberry preserves in the center. Chill for several hours before serving.

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"My mom, Ruth, always made this for our family holiday meals," writes Beverly Brooks.

Ruth's Pie

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (8-ounce) container Cool Whip OR 1 cup whipped cream
  • Up to 3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, optional
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons whole milk, as needed
  • 2 to 3 bananas, sliced
  • 1 (9-inch) graham cracker crust
  • 1 (21-ounce) can blueberry OR cherry pie filling (no sugar pie filling is OK if a low-sugar pie is desired)

With the mixer on low speed or by hand, combine cream cheese, Cool Whip and confectioners' sugar (if using), being careful not to over-whip. If mixture is too thick, add whole milk 1 tablespoon at a time. It should be a little thicker than cake icing.

Place sliced bananas in the bottom of a prepared graham cracker pie crust. Spread cream cheese mixture over bananas. Smooth mixture so that there is a shallow well in the center, leaving about 1 inch of raised mixture on the outside edges. The well should be ¾ to 1 inch deep.

Carefully spoon the pie filling into the well. You may not need the entire can to fill the well.

Chill for 2 to 3 hours before serving.

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If cake is more your style, this one is from Betty McLeod.

White Wine Cake

  • 1 ½ cups chopped nuts, divided use
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup white wine, divided use
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup butter

Grease and flour a Bundt pan.

Sprinkle ½ cup of the nuts in the bottom of the prepared Bundt pan.

Combine the remaining nuts with the cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, ½ cup white wine, oil and ½ cup water. Blend well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. Leave in pan.

In a saucepan, combine the sugar, butter and remaining wine and bring to a boil. Drizzle over cake (still in pan) and let glaze soak into the cake for 15 minutes. Turn cake out on to a plate.

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"[This recipe is] out of an old Hershey's recipe book. I love them and make them often," writes Kay Daniel.

Chocolate Syrup Brownies

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup Hershey's chocolate syrup
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • Dash salt
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • ¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg and add the sugar and chocolate syrup.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Add flour mixture to the chocolate mixture. Fold in butter and nuts. Spread in a well greased 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Cut while warm into small squares.

Makes 16 brownies.

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