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IDEA ALLEY: Cornbread, casserole, cranberries for holidays

by Kelly Brant | November 24, 2021 at 1:49 a.m.
Lightly spraying liners with a bit of baking spray before filling and baking can help cupcakes and muffins release without sticking. (Democrat-Gazette file photo)

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

"I baked cupcakes for my book club gathering yesterday and used paper liners in the baking pan. They tasted fine — not overbaked — but the batter was solidly stuck to the paper liners, meaning that a lot of the cupcake ended up in the trash. Any idea what I did wrong?" — Karen Martin

There are a variety of reasons baked goods might stick to their paper liners. Not letting them cool completely is a common cause, especially with muffins, but often it isn't the baker's fault. Not all paper liners are made of the same type of paper and some paper is more nonstick than others. I've found the basic, inexpensive liners sold at the grocery store most likely to stick and parchment liners to be the best for releasing. If you can't find parchment liners or liners that explicitly say nonstick, try spraying the liners with a bit of baking spray before filling and baking.

Thanksgiving is Thursday and most of you probably have your menu set already. But if you don't or you've misplaced you recipes Alley Kats are here to help. These ­recipes would work for Christmas dinner.

"This recipe has been in my family for three generations," writes Amy Chastain.

Mom's Cornbread Dressing

  • Double recipe Mom's Cornbread (recipe follows)
  • 10 to 12 pieces bread, cubed and toasted
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 (8-ounce) cans oysters, optional
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Stock from turkey

Crumble cornbread into a very large bowl. Add the bread, onion, eggs, oysters (if using), salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Add turkey stock (and hot water if necessary) until well moistened. Place in a large baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

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Mom's Cornbread

  • 2 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¾ cup buttermilk

Melt bacon grease in an iron skillet until hot.

Mix together the remaining ingredients and pour into hot skillet. Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.

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"[I] got this recipe from my hubby Harlan's mom in 1980," writes Nancy Weber. "[It is] easy to make and delicious to eat."

Cranberry Salad

  • 1 pound bag cranberries
  • ½ orange peel
  • 1 whole orange
  • 1 cup celery
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ½ cup pecans

Grind in food processor as listed.

Makes 3 pints.

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Nancy Sessoms shares this cranberry relish recipe.

"I put it in jars and store it in the fridge to [serve as] an appetizer on top of cream cheese or on a charcuterie board and I give it away. It will last at least 2 to 3 months in the refrigerator," Sessoms said.

Heavenly Cranberries

  • 2 pounds fresh cranberries, sorted and washed
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 (18-ounce) jar orange marmalade
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • Juice and grated rind of 2 lemons

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a 2-quart baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 45 to 55 minutes.

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And we can't forget the sweet potatoes.

"This is a family favorite," writes Marcella Jones.

Sweet Potato Casserole Plus Topping

  • 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup butter, divided use
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • Topping:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • ½ cup flour

Combine sweet potatoes, 4 tablespoons butter, sugar, milk, salt, vanilla and eggs and mix well. Pour into a greased casserole dish. Mix brown sugar, nuts and flour and pour over sweet potato mixture. Cut remaining butter into squares and scatter evenly over topping. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

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