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Shaping Up Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Ever Consider Shaping Stuffing into Muffins, Loaves or Balls? Or preparing an Upside-Down Salad? Your Guests Will Love These Surprises

If dinner rolls and pumpkin bread are usually guests at your Thanksgiving table, you can save a step and impress your guests by substituting savory stuffing loaves, muffins or balls. Molded stuffing is a tempting two-in-one side dish that is easy, too, since convenient packaged stuffing mix is the perfect foundation from which to start your adventure.

Wowing your guests this way isn’t a new idea, but rather based on a very old, tried-and-true one. The archives that span 60 years of recipes from Mrs. Cubbison’s Foods are full of stuffing balls, loaves and muffins from the early days when the company began publishing its recipes for home cooks. The company was started in the early 1900s by the late Sophie Cubbison -- an outstanding cook who invented packaged stuffing mix.

“Although these recipes take just minutes to make, because they are so interesting looking and tasting and different than what we traditionally serve today, they are showstoppers that draw ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ from guests around the holiday table,” said Leo Pearlstein, a longtime friend of Sophie Cubbison, who now serves on the company’s board of directors.

Convenience is important for today’s cooks who want to emulate antique recipes to the delight of their holiday guests, but who don’t have time to slave over a hot stove. There has been a boon in sales of packaged homemade-style croutons in recent years from popular companies like Mrs. Cubbison’s Foods (prepared from freshly baked bread that is lightly toasted and perfectly seasoned, they are based on recipes invented by Sophie Cubbison in the early 1900s).

Our holiday side dish soiree includes stuffing muffin, loaf and ball recipes from Mrs. Cubbison’s Foods archives dating from the 1950s followed by a distinctive salad recipe:

Fig Stuffing Loaves

2 (6-ounce) bags of Seasoned Cornbread Stuffin’

1 cup melted butter or margarine

1 cup chopped celery, including leaves

1 orange, chopped, including peel (seeds removed)

1 cup chopped dried figs

2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup milk

Combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. Pack mixture into 8 small (4 1/2 by 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch) greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Unmold and serve.

Yields 8 single-serving loaves.

Pumpkin Dressing Balls

1 (6-ounce) bag of Seasoned Dressing

1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

1 cup mashed fresh or canned pumpkin

1 teaspoon allspice

3/4 cups water

6 to 8 walnut halves

In a large bowl, combine stuffing mix with melted butter or margarine. In a separate small bowl, blend pumpkin with allspice. Add pumpkin mixture to stuffing, reserving about 2 tablespoons for garnish. Blend in water, mixing well, but lightly. Shape dressing into 6 or 8 balls and place in greased casserole. Top each with about a teaspoon of reserved pumpkin and place a walnut half in center of each. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes, or until firm.

Yields 6 to 8 dressing balls.

Apricot Stuffing Muffins

1 (6-ounce) bag of Seasoned Cornbread Stuffin’

1/2 cup melted butter or margarine

3 eggs, well beaten

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup crumbled crisp bacon

3/4 cup chopped dried apricots

In a large bowl, combine stuffing mix with melted butter or margarine, eggs, broth, bacon and 1/2 cup of the chopped apricots. Spoon mixture into 12 greased muffin cups. Top each muffin with a sprinkling of the remainder of chopped apricots. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or until firm. Cover muffins with aluminum foil if chopped figs on top brown too quickly.

Yields 12 stuffing muffins.

Spicy Cranberry Salad with Feta Crust

1 (6-ounce) box of garlic-flavored croutons

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 cup feta cheese

3 cups mixed greens

3/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped Granny Smith apple, with peel

Italian salad dressing, to taste (approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup)

Finely crush croutons. In a medium bowl, add croutons, olive oil and feta cheese. Combine well. Divide into six portions. Take each portion and mold as crusts into six individual small salad bowls. In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, dried cranberries, celery, apple and Italian dressing. Mix well. Place greens mixture in each salad bowl, slightly pressing greens into crust.

Yields 6 servings.

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