published Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

Fare Exchange: Recipes to make life easier during the holidays

Jane Henegar
TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

• Email: chattfare@gmail.com

The day approaches, and both busy-ness and thankfulness abound. Marietta D. has our first request — a make-ahead breakfast casserole. Next came the once-published World’s Best Chocolate Cake. And here are related recipes that would make life easier for holiday hosts of house guests: make-ahead, freeze-ahead main dish casseroles.

Lois Whitehead added some details about that world’s-best cake, which came from a Fare Exchange years ago. “I made it at that time for family, and all agreed it was just the best. I still get requests for the cake.”


Mrs. Nicholas Aspen, a seasoned cook, sent two easy and tempting recipes. Of her first recipe she wrote, “This is a great alternative to tuna casserole and to regular tuna salad. It is supposed to be for kids but this adult has to have it every once in a while. These were called tuna burgers in an old Betty Crocker Kids Cookbook.”

Easier Than Tuna Casserole

No need for precise measurement. Take anywhere from a half to a whole can of drained tuna, some chopped celery, a slice or so chopped onion and a slice of either processed American cheese or Cheddar cheese; mix together and perhaps had a tiny bit mayo. Salt and pepper to taste. Butter or put mayo on both sides of a hamburger or hot dog bun, whatever you have left over. Slather with tuna mixture, wrap each bun in foil and put in 375 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes.

There is something about the unique flavors of these 4 ingredients heated up that makes this a special sandwich, and one can of tuna will stretch to 3 or 4 sandwiches. The bun gets all toasted too, even wrapped in foil. Great with tomato soup for lunch.


Next up is Peggy Sult of LaFayette, Ga., with a holiday-ready pie.

“I found this recipe in the December 1999 issue of Cooks Magazine, tried it, and have used it ever since. The original recipe called for mashing the cooked sweet potato pulp with a fork, leaving small lumps of potato, then gently combining all the filling ingredients by hand in a mixing bowl. My family is suspicious of lumps, so I throw everything in the food processor (or blender) to have a completely smooth filling.”

The Best Sweet Potato Pie

1 (9-inch) pie shell, prebaked to a golden brown

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

5 small to medium skin-on sweet potatoes

Evenly sprinkle packed dark brown sugar in the bottom of the warmed shell. If the shell is completely cool, reheat until warm in a 350-degree oven, about 5 minutes.

Microwave sweet potatoes until easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven until cool enough to handle, then remove and discard peels. Coarsely mash and measure 2 cups pulp.

Filling

2 cups cooked sweet potato pulp

2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

3 large eggs plus 2 yolks

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 to 3 tablespoons bourbon

1 tablespoon molasses (optional)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2/3 cup whole milk

Using a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients, mixing until smooth. Pour over the brown sugar in the crust.

Bake until filling is set around the edges but the center jiggles slightly when shaken, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, cool to room temperature, and serve.

If the sweet potatoes are still really hot when you make the filling, add the eggs last after the milk has cooled the mixture some. This will avoid getting bits of cooked egg in the filling.

You may need to cover the edges of the crust to prevent excessive browning.


For chilly days, here is a cabbage beef soup attributed to Shoney’s. It came from Mrs. D. Spain of East Ridge, who has just been on a culinary tour with her son to Wooden’s Apple Barn in Pikeville and Simonton’s Cheese Factory in Crossville. Sounds like an adventure worth copying.

Shoney’s Cabbage Beef Soup

1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained

5 ounces chopped onion

3 ounces chopped bell pepper

3 quarts water

1 large (29-ounce) can tomatoes or more

1 large (29-ounce) can kidney beans or more

8 ounces beef consommé

3 ounces tomato paste

3 ounces Worcestershire sauce

1/2 pound chopped cabbage

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together and cook until cabbage and onion are done.


And finally, a butternut squash casserole that would go well on the Thanksgiving table. It is from the Bright School cookbook, “Fork Knife Spoon.”

Butternut Squash Casserole

3 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced onion

2 tablespoons butter

8 ounces mascarpone cheese

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, snipped

Heat oven to 425 degrees. On a cookie sheet, toss squash with olive oil and bake 30 minutes or until tender. Grease a 2-quart casserole dish and set aside.

In a large pan, add onions and butter and sauté until translucent. Add to large pan the squash, mascarpone cheese, salt and pepper and half of the Parmesan to onion mixture. Mix well and transfer mixture to a casserole dish. Sprinkle casserole with panko and remaining Parmesan. Bake uncovered until golden brown. Garnish with parsley.

Just a Dash…

Mrs. Nicholas Aspen serves up this tasty combination that has to be classified as comfort food. She wrote, “Toast a slice of bread for each person. Season ground beef (I try to use ground sirloin) with salt and pepper and Worcestershire or your favorite way. Slather beef all over one side of the toast very thickly (at least 1 1/4 inches); place on that a slice of onion, a slice of salted, peeled tomato, and a slice of Cheddar cheese. Put them all in a low baking pan and place in oven at 350 F for 30 minutes. No need to look at it. In 30 minutes it will be delicious. These and tossed salad and dessert make a great meal.”

And here is a dash-sized treat that I heard about at a luncheon. There was a discussion of Little Debbie snack cakes and other individually packaged sweet things prepared at McKee Bakery. One man said, “There is no need to add anything to a Little Debbie to make a dessert.” His companion disagreed. “Take Sunbelt granola bars (also made by McKee). I take one out of its package and slather it with peanut butter. Now that is good.”

And for simple and fancy, for slathering and dusting, for the gracious plenty that will fill our Thanksgiving tables tomorrow, we do indeed give thanks. And after the feast, send us the how-to for your biggest successes.

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