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Candy, casseroles and Christmas

Rich cooking punctuated with easy-to-cook main dishes is the mark of the season from Thanksgiving through New Year. And, past issues are a treasure trove of such recipes from local cooks, and many times revives good memories.

CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH - From “As You Requested” by Linda Adams (Dec. 7, 1994)

1 medium orange, peeled, quartered and seeded

2 cups fresh cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup nuts, (optional)

In a food processor, process orange for 10 to 15 seconds or until coarsely chopped. Add cranberries, sugar and nuts. Pulse to desired consistency. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

LINDA’S HINT: Will keep up ‘to one week in refrigerator.

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PECAN BRITTLE - Carla Huggins, Cabot (Nov. 11, 2000)

2 cups sugar

1 cup white Karo 3 cups pecans

1 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp, baking soda

1 tsp. salt

In a large, heavy pan, cook sugar, Karo, water and pecans until it spins a thread (250 degrees on candy thermometer). Add salt and butter. Continue cooking quickly to 300 degrees. Add vanilla and baking soda. Do not stir too long after adding baking soda- this is the secret of this candy. Pour into buttered pan and cool.

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BEA’S PECAN PIE - Sharon Dixon, Cabot (Nov. 15, 2000)

“This is my mother’s recipe and was handed down to her by my great-grandmother.”

1 unbaked pie shell

1 cup white Karo syrup 112 cup granulated sugar 3 eggs

Pinch of salt

114 cup butter or oleo 1 cup broken pecans I tsp, vanilla

Mix all together and put into pie shell.

Bake 35 minutes at 350 degrees.

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GENEVA BARNWELL’S CHRISTMAS FUDGE - Marietta Riddle, Cabot

“[her note] I’m sure Dr. Jack won’t mind my sharing this recipe with everyone. Geneva used to make this every Christmas and share it with us. It is delicious!”

Part 1:

In a large bowl put:

2 jars marshmallow cream

1 large pkg. chocolate chips

4 plain Hershey bars (broken into pieces)

2 cups pecans, chopped

Part 2:

Place in a saucepan:

4 1/2 cups sugar

1 tall can Pet Milk

1 stick oleo

Bring to a boil, boiling hard 10 minutes. Add oleo last. Pour over part one. and mix well. Pour into buttered pans to cool.

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BREAKFAST MAKE-AHEAD - Marietta Riddle, Cabot (Nov. 15, 2000)

4 English muffins, split and buttered

1 lb. Jimmy Dean sausage

8 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup sour cream

1 1b. medium cheddar cheese, shredded

1 can chopped green chilies

Butter muffins; lay buttered sides down in buttered baking dish.

Cook sausage, drain and crumble over muffins.

Beat eggs and add sour cream. Pour over muffin and sausage mixture.

Add chilies to cheese and sprinkle over top of casserole. Cover. Let set in refrigerator overnight.

Bake one hour at 325 degrees.

[Marietta’s note] “This is very good. I eat mine with a little hot sauce on the side.”

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Shelly Magie Moran wrote “Sharing the best” from Dec. 1991 until she moved to Siloam Springs about 10 years later. Longtime typesetter Bonnie Roberts stepped with her own column, “What’s Cooking?” until her retirement.

One of Bonnie’s columns included recipes from her hometown of Marianna. These from the Dec. 17, 2001 issue:

CHARLESTON CHOCOLATE PIE

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 stick margarine, melted and cooled

1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped

I cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 10-inch pie shell, unbaked

In large mixing bowl, combine first five ingredients. Stir until well blended, then fold in nuts and chocolate chips. Scrape batter into pie shell and bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely before serving.

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ULTIMATE CORNBREAD (What’s Cooking, Dec. 2001)

2 cups onion, chopped

1,4 cup margarine

I 8-oz. carton sour cream

I cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 1/2 cups self-rising cornmeal

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. dill weed

2 eggs, beaten

1 8lA oz. can cream corn

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Dash of hot sauce

Sauté onion in margarine un tender. Let cool. stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup cheese. Set aside. Stir1 together remaining ingredients and spoon into lightly greased square pan. Spread sour cream mixture over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 degrees about 35-40 minutes or until done. Cut into squares.

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CHOCOLATE CHIP CHEESE BALL - Jo Walloch, Cabot (Nov. 15, 2000)

1 8-0z. pkg. cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter (no substitutes) softened

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar 2 Tbsp. brown sugar

3/4 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup finely chopped pecans Graham crackers

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours. Place cream cheese mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap; shape into a ball. Refrigerate at least 1 hour. Just before serving, roll cheese ball in pecans. Serve with graham crackers. Yield: 1 cheese ball (about 2 cups).

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Hazel Sheets of Cabot, known around town for her continuing work visiting area rehabilitation centers, was making herself known in 1994.

CANDY CANE COOKIES- Hazel Sheets, Cabot

“Candy Cane Cookies have always been a favorite at school Christmas parties,” Hazel remarked.

1 cup butter, softened

2 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 Tbsp. (1 1/2 tsp.) water

1/2 tsp. salt

2 1/2 cups sifted flour

1 1/2 cups oatmeal (any kind)

Beat butter and vanilla until creamy. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, then add water. Sift flour and salt together and add to mixture. Add the oatmeal, mixing thoroughly. Batter will be stiff. Shape into candy cane shape by taking a small amount of dough and rolling it into a long rope, then curving the end over when placing on the non-greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. When cool, frost with glaze below. Makes 24 canes.

Glaze:

Powdered sugar

Milk

Add small amount of milk to powdered sugar and stir until mixture is a thick, smooth consistency. Remove a small portion and color with red food coloring. Spread each cookie with white frosting (or dip cookie into glaze) and set aside until frosting is dry. Using a toothpick, I draw on stripes of red frosting to 1 resemble candy canes.

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“TEMPTATION” SPICECAKE - Hazel Sheets, Cabot

The “Temptation” Spice Cake recipe is more than 50 years old [in 1994], Hazel said, and produces a dessert that “melts in your mouth.”

2 cups sifted all purpose flour

3 1/2 tsp. double-action baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1 113 cups sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. allspice

1/2 cup shortening

1 cup milk

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 to 2/3 cup unbeaten eggs (3 large)

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Shortening should be soft, but not melted. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-inch round layer cake pans (1 1/4 inches deep) and dust with flour. Sift flour before measuring. Measure all ingredients accurately before starting to mix. Sift together in a large bowl the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices. Add the shortening, milk and vanilla and beat vigorously with a spoon for 2 minutes (about 150 strokes by hand per minute.) Rest momentarily if necessary when beating by hand - just keep up 1 with number of strokes or time 1 spent beating. (Or use an electric mixer on slow to medium speed, beat for 2 minutes.) Scrape sides and bottom of bowl frequently. Add (eggs and continue beating for 2 more minutes, scraping bowl frequently. Pour into prepared pans. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, frost with Creamy Raisin Nut Icing.

CREAMY RAISIN NUT ICING:

2 1/2 Tbsp. flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup shortening (may use half butter)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp, vanilla

1/2 cup raisins, cut lengthwise in fourths

1/2 cup nuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

In saucepan, gradually blend milk into flour. Cook. stirring constantly, until mixture forms a very thick paste (about 10 minutes). Cool to lukewarm. Meanwhile, cream shortening with granulated sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add lukewarm paste. Beat with rotary beater until fluffy. Fold in vanilla, raisins and nuts. Use about 1/3 of the amount to fill between layers. To the remainder, blend in the confectioner’s sugar. Spread on top and sides of cake. Makes enough for 2-layer cake.

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“‘Simple, easy and good describe the Chocolate Peanut Clusters,’ Hazel says.”

CHOCOLATE PEANUT CLUSTERS

1 small pkg. chocolate pudding

(not instant) 1 cup sugar

112 cup evaporated milk 1 Tbsp. butter

1 cup small, salted peanuts

Mix in a 1 l/2-quart saucepan the pudding mix, sugar, milk and butter. Cook and stir to a full all-over boil. Lower heat and keep stirring while mixture boils slowly 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in peanuts all at once. Beat until candy starts to thicken. Drop from teaspoon onto waxed paper to form 24 clusters.

Hazel Sheets, Cabot

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“Geneva Edmondson of Lonoke, known to be a “good cook,” is a regular contributor. Her date cake is timely for this season,” Shelly wrote.

DATE CAKE - Geneva Edmondson. Lonoke

4 eggs

1 cup sugar

3 cups chopped pecans

1 lb. pkg. dates, chopped

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp. vanilla

1 box whole candied cherries 6 slices candied pineapple, finely chopped

Beat eggs well. Add sugar and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Add half of the flour mixture to the egg-sugar mixture. Dredge dates, cherries, pineapple and nuts in remaining flour mixture. Stir into cake batter. Pour into pan and bake at 300 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. - Geneva Edmondson. Lonoke

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Geneva’s casserole recipe would be perfect for large family gatherings or potluck dinners. Forget the calories when you prepare this, or use lower fat versions of mayonnaise, milk, cream soups and cheese.

CHICKEN AND RICE CASSEROLE - Geneva Edmondson. Lonoke

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

1 1/2 cups milk

1 can cream or mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

2 cups chopped celery

6 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1/2 lb. grated cheddar cheese

4 cups chopped chicken

3 cups cooked rice

1 cup slivered or sliced almonds 1 large can Chinese noodles

Mix all ingredients together and pour into large greased 2- or 3-quart casserole dish. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Freezes well.

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