Thursday, May 10, 2012

Wednesday: Thanksgiving Dressing

Thanksgiving Dressing
Our theme at house church this week is meals that remind you of your mom.  I chose this not because it is her recipe, but because I loved watching and helping my mom prepare Thanksgiving dinner.  My favorite dish was the dressing.  There is an art to making dressing.  Notice that I don't call it "stuffing."  Stuffing is slimmey and disgusting and cooks inside a raw animal carcass.  Nasty!  I like my dressing to be moist in the middle with a nutty brown crusty top.  My mom made delicious dressing and I have taken her same recipe, with a few changes.  First, I make a homemade loaf of bread and batch of cornbread where my mom bought a box each of Mrs. Cubbisons cube stuffing and cornbread dressing.  Second, I added some shredded zucchini and carrots for color, texture and to sneak in some veggies.  I think this is the best dressing I have ever tasted and wish I could get a Scentsy candle that smelled like it cooking.  I hope you try it and love it as much as I do.

I started by making a loaf of bread in my breadmaker.  Most of the time I think my bread maker is a stupid appliance that takes up too much space on the counter, so I have relegated it to the garage.  But when I need a loaf of bread in a hurry, it gets promoted to the kitchen.  I just use the basic white bread express loaf that my breadmaker bakes in one hour start to finish.  This was perfect for me today because my go-to bread recipe takes 3 hours.  Next, I sliced it up then cut it into cubes.  I cut it while it was still warm, so many pieces are torn into chunks.  I think this adds to the rustic look of the dish.  Then I spread all my bread onto a cookie sheet.

While my bread was making, I mixed up 2 boxes of Jiffy Corn Muffin mix according to the package directions except that I spread the batter out onto a rimmed cookie sheet and baked it for about 10 minutes.  Feel free to substitute your favorite cornbread recipe.  When it was done I began cutting it into small squares and breaking it up with my fingers while it was still on the cookie sheet.  This is a perfect job for kids who need something to keep their hands busy.  I then put both trays of bread into a 200 degree oven for about an hour stirring up the breads about halfway through.

Remove the ends from 2 small onions.  Peel and quarter them and put in the bowl of a food processor.  Add 2 medium stalks of celery cut into 1" pieces.  Pulse until chopped finely.  Using a shredder attachment, shred 2 peeled, medium sized carrots and 1 zucchini.  Thank you, Mom, for my awesome food processor.  It has been life....wait for it....changing!  If you don't have a food processor, you can finely dice the onion and celery then shred the carrot an zucchini on a box grater.  Saute in a large skillet or wok in 1 teaspoon of olive oil for 5 minutes.

While the veggies are cooking, chop a few sprigs of fresh parsley.  I just wanted to show off some of the herbs from my herb garden.  Remember the basil trick we learned from the pizza recipe?  If you think you will use an herb at least twice, just buy a plant and put it in a simple window box to set in your kitchen.  Super easy to take care of and you always have fresh herbs ready for those fresh herb emergencies.  Oh yes, I have had a few fresh herb emergencies in my day.

And a few sprigs of fresh thyme.  Again, from my garden.  Aren't they cute and pretty?  The one downside to cooking with the thyme is that I use an organic bathroom cleaner that's made from lavender and thyme oils, so whenever I smell the thyme it makes me think of cleaning toilets.  Not the best visual to have while preparing dinner.  This is probably one of those stories I should have kept to myself.

If fresh herbs scare you, feel free to use 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley.

Add 6 sticks of butter cut into chunks to the veggies.  Just's only 2 sticks.  See now, two sticks doesn't sound like that much.  You saw six and thought "holy crap, this woman is trying to kill me!  No wonder she's a chubby chick!" but now that you know it's only two that doesn't sound so bad.  I also use this trick when telling my husband how much I spent on a purse. Add herbs and 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning and 2 cups of chicken stock.  Heat to a boil.

In a large casserole dish or roasting pan mix breads together.  If you want more crunchy part, use a pan that gives you a large surface area.  If you want it more moist, use a deep casserole dish. Pour veggie broth on top and mix it.

It should be moist and a little wet in spots.  A joke here is too obvious, so I will just leave it alone.  Add up to 2 more cups of chicken broth if it's too dry.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until top starts to turn golden brown.  Really want to make it feel like Thanksgiving in your house?  Burn and apple pie candle while this bakes.  Mmmmmmm it's like a hug from you favorite person going on in your nose.  Except without the pain and awkwardness. 

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