Apple Cornbread Stuffing

Thanksgiving is arguably the best holiday. You have basically zero obligations to go anywhere, get anyone a gift, or even really put on decent clothes (yoga pants to the rescue!).

At our house, Thanksgiving is my dad’s holiday. It’s his absolute favorite and it’s really his time to shine with all of his favorite recipes. They’re the same every year (I am so not complaining!) but we are not a family that tries new things on Thanksgiving — it’s time for the tried and true classics that you only get to eat once a year!

Arguably my favorite thing on the table is my dad’s Apple Cornbread Stuffing. I finally asked him for the recipe so I could replicate it for a Friendsgiving, and now I can share it with you! The beauty of this recipe: the apples keep the stuffing nice and moist, and also give it a bit of a bit / crunch (none of that soggy / mushy stuffing). And since it’s cornbread, it’s gluten free, and I make mine with almond milk, so it’s dairy free as well! Pretty inoffensive to most people 🙂

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It’s a two day process simply because you should make the cornbread the day before and let it sit out on the countertop so it dries a bit. The stuffing recipe itself is the Betty Crocker Bread Stuffing recipe, using the apple cornbread, but otherwise sticking to her directions.

To make the Apple Cornbread:

  • 2 cups yellow stone ground corn meal
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 Tbsp. shortening
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp. cold water
  • 1 apple chopped (I leave the peel on)

Directions:

  1. Grease your pan (approximately 8×8 inches).
  2. Mix corn meal, sugar, and salt, in a double boiler (I did this just in a pan on the stovetop). Add milk and shortening.
  3. Cook over hot water until shortening is all melted in stirring often – about 10 minutes. If you’re doing this in a regular pan on the stovetop, stir constantly to avoid burning. Remove from heat.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Mix eggs, soda and cold water; add to corn meal mix. Fold in apples.
  6. Bake 25 minutes or until cracked and golden at the edges.
  7. Allow to cool, then remove from pan and cut in squares ( ½ to 1 inch). Allow to sit out overnight to dry before making the stuffing.

The next day, follow the Betty Crocker Bread Stuffing recipe, using the apple cornbread for the bread cubes in the recipe.

I realize I’m not completely objective on this recipe, since I grew up with this stuffing every Thanksgiving, but it really is the best! Try it out for yourself and let me know what you think!

xx Jess

 

Tex-Mex Chicken & Black Bean Soup

I make chili often. Every time football is on (every Sunday, all the time), I’m cooking. And when it’s cold, chili is the perfect answer. I’ll fully admit, that last year, I think I made the same chili every time. Props to my husband, he never complained. So this year, I’m determined to try out new chili recipes (although the tried and true classic will always have a special place in my heart).

Enter this Tex-Mex Chicken and Black Bean Soup. It’s really not a chili — sorry for the long intro — but I did put some tomato paste and additional tomatoes in it to make it a little thicker since that’s what I was craving.

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Super easy and super tasty. It’s definitely a recipe to add to the rotation! Topped with a little avocado and cilantro (would also be great with sour cream, if you’re ok with the dairy!).

You can find the full recipe here.

Do you have a favorite chili (or multiple!) that you make all the time? I want to hear about it! Happy cooking!

xx Jess

 

 

Alternative Birthday Cake: Baked Brie with Walnuts, Pistachios and Figs

During our Woodstock weekend (I hope you’re not sick of it yet!) we were celebrating our friend Brett’s 30th birthday. Since he isn’t a cake person, we have him to thank for this AMAZING baked brie “birthday cake” that we made!

After a five mile hike (honestly, anything would have tasted amazing!) we made a serious charcuterie board, with a centerpiece Brie. Topped with chopped walnuts, pistchios and figs, we baked the Brie at 375 degrees for 10 minutes (until warm and soft, but not until you have it melting outside of its casing). It was gorgeous, so hopefully you’ll forgive me for taking a million photos….

Not only was the full charcuterie spread gorgeous, but to make it even better, we topped the Brie with birthday candles and it was just too cute not to share!

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This was the first time that I’ve seen an alternative birthday cake like this. Have you done anything along these lines? I would love to hear about it!

You can find the full baked Brie recipe here.

xx Jess

P.S. for anyone that has been following closely enough, you know my lactose-intolerant self did not eat the cheese 🙂 but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a good charcuterie board, and even better, appreciate my friends loving a great dish! 🙂

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

I came across this recipe on Epicurious and immediately thought that someone named Marie-Hélène obviously must make an amazing apple cake. To fill you in a bit on the back story (I had to do some digging) Marie-Hélène Brunet-Lhoste is a friend of Dorie Greenspan (enough said, right?) as well as a top editor of the Louis Vuitton City Guides, and one of the restaurant critics for the Paris edition. And she’s French. And bakes. Basically, I would eat anything that Marie-Hélène wants to make.

As the story goes, this recipe is Dorie Greenspan’s interpretation of Marie-Hélène’s cake, as she naturally doesn’t use a recipe and makes it by feel (and a little different) every time. The recipe is pretty fantastic, if I may say so myself (huge Dorie fan here!), although halfway through, I was convinced that this was going to be a flop.

A few things to watch out for:

  1. This is more apple than cake. As you’re mixing the apples intoDSC_0454 the batter, you’ll have a moment of near-panic when you’re looking at a bowl of apples with some batter on them, and thinking that there is no way this will ever set up / make anything. Hold true to the recipe – it does work. I’ve included a few photos just so you get a sense of just how much apple I’m talking about.
    • A side note on the apples: I cut mine in chunks, as the recipe calls for. Looking at the pictures in the Epicurious recipe, my guess would be that they cut their apples in thinner slices, more like you would for an apple pie (maybe cut in half, though). All will taste great, just a slightly different aesthetic!
  2. My cake had to cook about 30 minutes longer than the recipe recommends. It just stayed sooooo moist from all the juice of the apples that it just needed a lot more time. In the end, I took it out before burning, but never really got to a point where a knife inserted in the middle was coming out clean. Luckily, as the cake cooled, it did look as if it was cooked enough, but I was pretty deflated as I was taking it out of the oven, and was almost certain that I would be chalking this up to a loss.
  3. Use the springform pan. I didn’t have one (literally since making this, I have gone out and bought one), but it will make your life so much easier. The cake is so moist that inverting it / trying to get it out of a regular cake pan nearly destroys it. I got lucky, honestly, as I was convinced that it would completely fall apart.

Other than that, the recipe is super simple and clean. Do use the rum (it tastes amazing) and do use the four different types of apples. Don’t be shy putting them in — it’ll be a ton of apples and it will 100% taste amazing.

There are just two of us, and we ate the whole cake in 2 days. Just saying. Guess there will be a lot of gym time in my future this week!

Let me know how it works for you! If you’re in doubt, just cook it a little longer, but be patient. It will turn out!

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess

Creamy Tomato Soup

Soup season! I’ve been fighting off a bit of a cold, so feeling extra cozy, and looking for a bit of extra warmth (plus, my whole anthem this fall / winter is going to be souppppp). And today that meant a craving for some creamy tomato soup. I found this amazing recipe from A Sweet Pea Chef and it was so easy to make, and the perfect creamy soup that I was looking for.

DSC_0444As I went to put this together, I realized that I didn’t have carrots (oops) so I used a sweet potato instead, just to give it a bit of depth and add that texture to the mix. Other than that, I actually followed the instructions (haha, for once!).

I also toasted some bruschetta because soup is always better that way! You just need to heat the oven to 425, then brush the bread (a hearty / crusty bread is your best bet) with olive oil on both sides. Toast the bread in the oven for about 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. You may need to toast for more or less time, depending on the thickness of your bread slices.

Are you making some amazing soups this fall? I want to hear about them so I can add them to my soup list!

You can find the full recipe here.

xx Jess

Sausage & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

If it’s not obvious, I’m in a huge squash mood. Fall has just started (seemingly) and I just can’t get enough! This week, I made Sausage & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash with a recipe inspired by blogger Cherished Bliss.

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These are so cute. Seriously, I can’t get enough of them. I bought a fairly large squash, so served mine as a main course. I also added wild rice and brocoli to the stuffing, so it was more substantial and could stand on its own (rather than as an appetizer as the recipe suggests). The squash is so sweet, and paired with hot Italian sausage, and a bit of bite from the apple, it’s the perfect fall dish!

Since I am lactose intolerant, I left out the cheese, but I’m sure it would still be phenomenal. Everything else I followed to the tee, and honestly, you don’t miss the cheese at all! I also think that if you wanted to make this dish a little lighter, you could use ground turkey (or a mix of turkey and sausage) to take a bit of the fat out.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

xx Jess

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

Fall sweeps into Chicago quickly, but it’s also pretty fickle (you know, the kind of fall where you have rainy 50 degree days but also still some 70 degree days, although I think those are fading fast) and I am so ready for fall foods! I have been feeling soups lately and think it’ll be a season of lots of soups at our house, so I got started this week with a Butternut Squash Soup.

DSC_0330My mom was never someone that would follow a recipe and to be honest, it used to drive me crazy! I’m starting to understand the beauty in it and soups are probably the easiest place to get away with not having a recipe. So here is my best interpretation of the soup that we made. It’s incredibly flexible and soup is so forgiving, so if there is something that you want more or less of, or if you have some veggie leftovers in your fridge, throw them in! Every variation will be slightly different but all excellent!

Butternut Squash & Carrot Soup

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed

2 cups carrots, peeled and cubed

5 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon cumin

1 cup coconut milk

  1. In a large pan over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic until fragrant and clear, stirring frequently for approximately 3-5 minutes. Add the turmeric and cumin and stir for 1 minute.
  2. Add the butternut squash, sweet potato, and carrots. Add chicken broth (there is definitely leeway here – make sure that the vegetables are fully covered in broth. If you prefer a thinner soup, add more broth; if you prefer a thicker soup, add less broth) and stir. Add salt and pepper
  3. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer with a lid on the pot for approximately 35 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove center from blender lid to allow steam to escape. Divide the soup into two batches and blend each until smooth. Combine blended soup in a large bowl.
  5. Add coconut milk and stir to incorporate. Option to add additional salt and pepper to taste.

I topped the soup off with some homemade croutons and pepitas for a little crunch. To make the croutons, simply dice bread of your choice (1-2 days old, and a little hard will be best). Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic (or any seasonings of your choice) and roast on a pan in the oven at 375 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes, turning halfway through. Good news, once the croutons have cooled, you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks (if you can keep them that long!).

And ta-da! You have an easy, interchangeable soup (and croutons) recipe that you can always pull out of your back pocket. The beauty is that it will be different every time (try it with different veggies, or different spices – a sweeter nutmeg / cinnamon version would be nice, or you could go with a more savory version and add celery and bell peppers). It’s perfect for those cold, rainy Saturdays or if you’re looking to make a week of soup to have with sandwiches for lunch.

Another tip – if it’s just me and I don’t want to eat a whole pot of soup over the course of a week, I will freeze it in muffin tins. Once frozen solid, you can pop them out of the tin and save in a freezer bag. I’ll then reheat 2-3 “pucks” for a hot bowl whenever I want one!

Happy cooking!

xx Jess