Thanksgiving 2012 & Feeding the Stuffing Addiction

apron brooch

CB thinks it’s hilarious when I wear his apron because I can’t eat pork.

I have to admit, Thanksgiving went down better than I ever anticipated.  I made the entire meal gluten-free rather than having things I couldn’t eat after I slaved over it for two days.

Here was our menu:

Turkey (cheated and bought a Marks and Spencers ready-to-roast job)
Gravy
Cornbread and bacon stuffing
Sweet potato casserole
Green bean casserole
Pecan-crusted spinach and artichoke dip (with homemade creamed spinach, no less!)
Baked macaroni and cheese
Sour cream mashed potatoes
Pao de queijo (not traditional Thanksgiving by far, but I wanted rolls, and this is what I got)
Pumpkin cheesecake
Pumpkin cupcakes

I was going to make oven-roasted root vegetables but decided at the last minute that we had more than enough food already.

Clockwise from top left: Cornbread and bacon stuffing, sour cream mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin cupcakes, pecan-crusted spinach and artichoke dip, pao de queijo, turkey breast, green bean casserole (left), sweet potato casserole (right), and the shining sun in the center is the baked macaroni and cheese. Pumpkin cheesecake not pictured.  And, yes, we have a terrible tablecloth.  We know.

Clockwise from top left: Cornbread and bacon stuffing, sour cream mashed potatoes, gravy, pumpkin cupcakes, pecan-crusted spinach and artichoke dip, pao de queijo, turkey breast, green bean casserole (left), sweet potato casserole (right), and the shining sun in the center is the baked macaroni and cheese. Pumpkin cheesecake not pictured. And, yes, we have a terrible tablecloth. We know.

When I was young, I became fascinated with stuffing.  It was my favourite part of Thanksgiving, and I remember being so excited when I found out you could eat it other times of the year.  I begged for it until my mother finally showed me a box and told me I could make it myself.  No, it’s not good for you, and it’s especially not good for you from a box!

When I found out I couldn’t eat gluten, stuffing was the first thing that came to mind.  Instantly, I wanted it all the time and for every meal.  Gluten-free stuffing mixes exist here (well, at least one), and, while tasty, they just don’t scratch the itch of this Stove Top purist.  I’m afraid nothing ever will.  However, last year, while visiting my parents for Christmas, I came upon a recipe that I adapted into a satisfying replacement.  Don’t get me wrong — it doesn’t taste like Stove Top — but it is good enough to go back for seconds.  I used a bag of Bob’s Red Mill cornbread mix last year, but I didn’t have one for Thanksgiving.  I immediately went to the Gluten Free Goddess and located something I could make work for me with several adjustments.  So, without further ado, here is my version of what makes Thanksgiving Thanksgiving.

Cornbread and Bacon Stuffing

Sweet Cornbread

Ingredients:
1 cup stone ground gluten-free cornmeal
3/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (optional — not included in dry ingredients list)
1/2 cup organic light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 cup very warm water
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
2 extra tablespoons water, if needed

Hardware:
Cast iron skillet
Oven
2 mixing bowls
2 whisks
Measuring cups and spoons
Spatula (to get the last bits out of the bowl)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C with lightly greased skillet inside.

Combine the dry ingredients — cornmeal, sorghum flour, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, fine sea salt, and brown sugar — in a bowl and whisk until they are thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

Whisk the eggs and olive oil together for about 1 minute.  This is where the original recipe had me confused.  I checked the comments and notes, and it seems like I’m the only person who can’t seem to figure it out.  I don’t see where the warm water and juice is meant to be added.  I choose to add it here, as I thought it might be lumpy if you tried to mix it in later.  So, add the lime juice and the warm water. Mix to combine.

Add the dry bowl to the wet bowl in three or four portions, ensuring to mix thoroughly between each portion.  You are looking for a smooth, cake-like batter; do not beat it past when it looks like cake batter.  If your batter is too thick, add in a little extra warm water, bit by bit, until you get the consistency you want.  Mine came out perfect without extra water.

Remove the skillet from the oven (carefully!) and sprinkle the coarse sea salt into it.  The salt here is optional, but I love the complexity it gives a sweet cornbread.  Pour the batter into the skillet, scraping the bowl with the spatula to make sure you have it all.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Definitely check on it at 25 minutes because mine did not need any longer.  Let the cornbread cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and serving (or turning it into stuffing).

Stuffing

Ingredients:
3 cups crumbled cornbread
6 slices gluten-free bread, toasted
6 slices bacon (I used 4 slices of turkey bacon [turkey bacon has bigger pieces because there is less fat])
2 eggs
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped (I didn’t bother)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Hardware:
Casserole dish with lid that can go in oven
Oven
Stove
Small bowl
Measuring cups and spoons
Frying pan or skillet
Various kitchen utensils (fork, spatula, something to help with frying)
Mixing bowl

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Cut the toasted bread into small cubes.  Set aside.

Fry the bacon until crispy and remove from the pan.  If you are using veggie or turkey bacon, add some oil to the pan, as there is a lot less fat in them than pork bacon.  Add the onion, celery, sage, and thyme to the pan and fry until the onion is tender and translucent.  Remove from heat.  Crumble cooled bacon back into the pan.

In the small bowl, beat the eggs with the fork.  Add to the mixing bowl with the bacon and onions/celery and all seasonings — salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.  Fold together with the fork.  Add the cornbread crumbles and bread cubes and fold with the spatula.  Try to ensure that all the dry parts are covered.  Pour half of the chicken broth over the mixture and fold with the spatula.  Assess how much more broth you need (I needed the whole cup) to completely moisten the mixture and add it in.  Fold again.

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish (no need for greasing) and cover.  Bake in oven for 30 minutes.  Alternatively, it can be used to stuff a bird instead of baking.  I’m not that adventurous yet.

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German & American Potato Salad

There is little more that says American summer than a yellow, mayonaissey potato salad.  Besides meat, it was the bit of the various holiday cookouts that I despised the most.  I’ve never been a big fan of mustard, which both my parents love, and there are hundreds of other tasty ways to eat potatoes.

When I spent time in Germany, I came to try potato salad again.  It just didn’t LOOK like mustard.  I loved it.  Then, years later, my husband tried potato salad on a cruise ship.  He ate massive amounts — I simply hoped that he would OD on it and never really want it again.  No such luck.  One lovely day, a cookout of our own took place, and I made both German and American potato salads because I was eager to please. To my surprise, I actually enjoyed the American variety best, and my dear husband liked the German one more.

German potato salad


Ingredients:
2 lbs. new or baby potatoes
1/2 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup water (plus enough for boiling)
2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 slices bacon/turkey bacon/veggie bacon (depending on whether it needs to be veggie for you or not. I use turkey bacon.)
salt and pepper

Hardware:
small frying pan
knives (or knife, singular, if you want to wash between uses)
large pot for boiling potatoes
colander
fork
cutting board
wooden spoon
measuring cups and spoons
medium casserole dish
plastic wrap (if your casserole dish does not have a lid)
stovetop
refrigerator

Directions:
Cut potatoes into small, bite-size pieces and boil in salted water until just tender. Stick a fork into them to check — you want the fork to enter easily but the potatoes to cling to the tines rather than crumble off.  Drain through the colander and allow to sit to cool to room temperature.

Dice the onion.  Fry the bacon in the frying pan until it reaches your desired crispiness.  Veggie and turkey bacon doesn’t really crisp up the same way pork bacon does, but both are considerably healthier options.  Remove the bacon from the pan, and add the onion, butter, and 1/4 cup butter to the pan.  Stir quickly with the wooden spoon until the onions begin to soften — only two minutes or so.  Stir in the bouillon cubes until completely dissolved; the consistency will resemble a thin paste. Try to work out as many bouillon lumps at this stage as they will be harder to mush later.  Remove from the heat, stir a bit more, and set aside to cool.  Chop bacon into small pieces.

Place cooled potatoes into the casserole dish.  Pour vinegar and oil over the potatoes. Spoon the onion mixture into a thin layer on top of the potatoes.  Sprinkle bacon bits over the top.  DO NOT mix together yet.  Cover with lid or plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.

Let sit for at least two hours.  It’s best if you can leave it overnight. Just before serving, mix the entire potato salad together.  Serve cold.

American potato salad


Ingredients:
2 lbs. new or baby potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 eggs
1 cup each chopped onions and celery, if desired
2 slices bacon/turkey bacon/veggie bacon (depending on whether it needs to be veggie for you or not. I use turkey bacon.)
salt

Hardware:
small frying pan
knives (or knife, singular, if you want to wash between uses)
large pot for boiling potatoes
colander
fork
whisk
medium mixing bowl
cutting board
wooden spoon
measuring cups and spoons
medium casserole dish
plastic wrap (if your casserole dish does not have a lid)
stovetop
refrigerator

Directions:
Cut potatoes into small, bite-size pieces and boil in salted water until just tender. Carefully add the eggs to the boiling water for the last few minutes to hard boil.  Stick a fork into the potatoes to check — you want the fork to enter easily but the potatoes to cling to the tines rather than crumble off.  Drain through the colander and allow to sit to cool to room temperature.

Fry the bacon in the frying pan until it reaches your desired crispiness. Veggie and turkey bacon doesn’t really crisp up the same way pork bacon does, but both are considerably healthier options.  Remove from pan, allow to cool to room temperature, and chop into small pieces.

In the mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the mayonnaise, the dry mustard, garlic powder, basil, apple cider vinegar, cayenne, and sugar. Whisk together until combined.  Ensure the dry mustard does not have any lumps as it will be unpleasant to bite into a mustard lump in the finished product.  Add the remaining mayonnaise and the yellow mustard and whisk together.  Add in the onion and celery, if using.

Chop eggs into small pieces.  Add potatoes, egg, and bacon to the sauce mixture. Pour into the casserole dish and cover with lid or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least a few hours.  Serve cold.