We all have that friend or neighbor.

We'd like the recipe for every dish this person serves. If we need a recipe or an idea or baking advice, we know where to turn. We love them, but we love their eye for recipes and their recipe collections as well.

Nancy Burns has Lois, a former neighbor. "Lois is an outstanding cook," Burns says. "Her husband was career Army, and they did a great deal of entertaining during that time. Her recipe boxes are a true treasure trove."

When a reader asked for an apple-sweet potato casserole, Burns thought of the version she copied from Lois. While it might not fit the reader's needs because of its sugar content, the recipe is worth sharing -- and saving for Thanksgiving, too.

Sweet potato slices, apple slices and dried cranberries are layered, then sprinkled with brown sugar and drizzled with melted butter. Cinnamon adds a little spice. Lois used the old Scout cooking method of making the dish in a foil packet. Burns uses a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and I'm with her on this. I just know I'd be setting off the smoke alarm with juices dripping in the oven if I tried the foil packet.

The dish bakes for only 30 minutes, so it's probably best to use thin slices of sweet potatoes.

Jane Wallace, of Brentwood, also makes a sweet potato-apple casserole. "Not a new recipe; I've had it for over 20 years," she says. She mixes together canned sweet potatoes and canned apple pie filling. This rich casserole also includes milk, butter, brown sugar, molasses and eggs, along with cinnamon, nutmeg and raisins.

SECOND HELPINGS: This information comes to you in typical Plates fashion. Longtime contributor Jan Bossetto, of Hayward, says a neighbor asked his co-worker about a source for kaffir lime leaves, a topic of discussion in recent columns. "She told him she buys hers at Berkeley Bowl and freezes them," Bossetto says.

Request line

  • Scott "Sugarbear" Pearson labeled his request "fat chance?" Indeed, fat is what he is after. Pearson seeks leaf lard, the rendered fat from around a pig's kidneys and loin. Leaf lard has "far less pork taste, which makes it perfect for baking," he says. He has yet to find a source in the area.

  • Oh sure, says Jo Mullins, of Pebble Beach, you can find plenty of overnight French toast recipes on the Internet. However, "none compares to the one I used to have, which had a nice caramel topping when baked."

  • A reader named Robert is searching for a bakery in Santa Clara County or nearby that still sells the "original" Napoleons. "The ones that they sell now are like a cake, and not the flaky ones they used to sell a long time ago," he says. If you have a recipe for a similar dessert, please share as well.

  • The Spring Tea at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alameda is just a couple of days away, and Fredi Kapp needs your help. She can't find a favorite lemon-blueberry scone recipe she clipped from the newspaper several years ago. Kapp used the recipe as a jumping-off place for scones made with orange-flavored cranberries and orange zest. "I also infused butter with orange zest to place on the scones," she says. "If my memory serves me right, the recipe used whole cream instead of buttermilk. The recipe makes a wonderful, moist scone." If you've got a favorite scone recipe using these flavor combinations, please help Kapp out.

    Send recipes and requests to Kim Boatman at homeplates@bayareanewsgroup.com. Find recent Home Plates recipes online at www.mercurynews.com/home-plates.