Friday, November 21, 2014

{Recipe Redux} Sausage & Fennel Dressing for Thanksgiving

Food memories.  That is The Recipe Redux challenge for this month. 


Goodness gracious, where do I start?

When I was growing up, Mom’s homemade bread, hot out of the oven and spread with salted butter.  Or her apple pie.  Feeling very grown up eating Dad’s caviar pie at Christmas.  Granny’s sausage balls—basically a sausage and cheese biscuit. I could eat one after the other (even now). Fishing with Pappy, followed by a lesson in filleting and a fish fry.  Making Chicken Cordon Bleu for my entire high school French Club. Sitting cross-legged on the floor to eat my first sushi.  Lobster rolls eaten on the deck of a sailboat. 

More recently, a grilled egg sandwich with crispy prosciutto, melty cheese and fig jam—the first thing I ever made for my husband.      

But, it’s the beginning of the holiday season, and that makes me think of dressing, my favorite turkey side dish. When I was growing up, we would go to Granny's and Pappy’s for Thanksgiving.  Granny used to make the dressing with lots of onion, celery and sage and then pressed it thin in the pan, so it would have lots of crispy edges.  It was my favorite.  The smell of dressing baking always makes me feel like a kid.  

I’ve kept Granny's general formula but added sausage and fennel, for lots of savory flavor.  I make my dressing with whole wheat bread, and I love the rich, toasty flavor it adds to the dressing (and the added fiber).  I think the biggest secret to a good dressing is this:  add enough liquid (like chicken broth) to completely saturate the bread crumbs, and then let it sit overnight to soak up all of that liquid.  After the turkey is done, put the dressing in the oven and bake until the edges are crispy but the center is still moist.  Everyone will be happy.




I hope you enjoy this recipe, preferably surrounded by all the people you love.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Fennel & Sausage Dressing

One loaf of whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
1 ½ pounds mild breakfast sausage, or turkey sausage
1 onion, cut into ¼-inch dice
2 celery stalks, cut into ¼-inch dice
1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into ¼-inch dice*
1 ½ teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped (about 3 sprigs of thyme)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, preferably homemade
2 eggs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Place the bread cubes on a large rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 15 - 20 minutes until golden and crispy. Transfer the bread to a very large bowl and allow to cool.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with the back of a spoon, until the sausage is very brown.  Remove the sausage from the pan and place it in the bowl with the bread crumbs, leaving the fat in the pan. 

If you have a lot of excess fat, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the pork fat.  Add the onion, celery, fennel and sea salt to the pan and cook until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are soft.  Scrape up any of the sausage that has stuck to the bottom of the pan. Scrape the vegetables into the bowl with the bread.  Add the sage, thyme, red pepper flakes and black pepper.  Stir everything together to combine.

Whisk the eggs into a little bit of the chicken stock.  Pour the eggs and all of the chicken stock over the bread mixture and toss until the bread soaks up the liquid. Scrape the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with foil.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Dot the top of the stuffing with the butter.  Bake for about an hour, or until it is cooked through and the edges are browned.  If it starts to brown too quickly, cover with aluminum foil. 


*Save your fennel tops! Freeze them and use them when making chicken or vegetable stock. 






Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

A few years ago, McKenzie gave me Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook for my birthday.  It’s become a butter-stained staple in my kitchen.  I have loved experimenting with the recipes, because they are all wholesome baked goods made from good, simple ingredients.  And because the cookbook is divided by types of flours, it’s a great way to experiment with cooking with different grains. 


My Granny is visiting this week, before we go to my aunt’s house for Thanksgiving.  I thought I’d make a little (not too) sweet treat to enjoy with our coffee in the morning.  And since my husband loves chocolate, these muffins sounded just right.

I adapted the recipe from the Chocolate Persimmon Muffins recipe from the cookbook.  Living in a small town, persimmons aren’t readily available.  But I always have a bag of frozen raspberries in my freezer.  I also switched out the all-purpose flour for whole wheat pastry flour, to add additional fiber to the recipe. 

I love the fact that these muffins are not very sweet, which makes them perfect for breakfast or a coffee break.  They don’t taste like dessert.  They are also delicious toasted and spread with butter and raspberry jam.  In fact, that’s when they’re best.



Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

Adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain

Makes 12 muffins

Butter for the tins
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
3 cups frozen raspberries
¾ stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup sugar (I used coconut sugar)
2 eggs
½ cup plain yogurt, 2% or whole
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cup into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Rub the inside of a 12-cup muffin tin with butter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, baking powder, sea salt and baking soda.

Place 2 cups of the raspberries in a glass bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until thawed.  Mash the raspberries to make a pulp.

Add the butter and sugars to the bowl of stand mixer (or use a hand mixer).  Beat the butter and sugar together until creamy.  Add the eggs and mix until creamy.  Add the yogurt and raspberry pulp and mix until combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix until just combined.  Add the chocolate pieces and the remaining 1 cup of raspberries.  Stir those into the mixture until evenly combined.

Scoop the batter into the muffin tin, evenly distributing it between the 12 cups.  Make for 30 minutes, or until the muffin tops spring back lightly when pressed.  Take the tins out of the oven.  Remove the muffins and let them cool slightly on a wire rack.  They are best served warm, or reheated in a toaster oven and spread with butter.

Enjoy, preferably with someone you love! 

Disclaimer: We were not compensated for this post. All opinions are our own.  Ware the consulting dietitians for the National ProcessedRed Raspberry Council, but we're sharing this recipe simply because we love it! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Healthy Holiday Side Dish Recipe Round-Up!

People always ask us what we like to eat for the holidays. For us, it’s all about the sides! Side dishes are a perfect opportunity to give fruits and vegetables, whole grains, herbs & spices a starring role. We recently asked some of our RD blogger friends to share some of their favorite healthy side dishes – and here they are!

We hope these help you plan a flavorful and nutrient-packed Thanksgiving!





With just six simple ingredients, these Curry Roasted Baby Carrots bring a special flair to the holiday table. 



Brighten up the flavor of cauliflower with rosemary, red pepper flakes, raisins and red wine vinegar!



This whole grain wheat berry salad will add a burst of color to any Thanksgiving table. Chunks of roasted butternut squash are tossed with bright pomegranate arils, sliced green apple, baby kale and candied walnuts, all bundled up in a warm cider vinaigrette.



Pumpkin Cornbread from Michaela Ballmann of Wholify
You’re sure to fall in love with this fall-inspired, gluten-free version of the much loved corn-based bread.



Looking for an easy, yet elegant healthy holiday side dish? It doesn't get much easier than this simple side dish of steamed carrots, toasted pine nuts, and feta cheese!



Breaded n Baked Broccoli Bites from Stephanie & Willow of CJ Nutrition
This dish makes a great side dish or appetizer. If you think you don't like broccoli...give this recipe a try! 



If you don't eat dairy, you've probably had to steer clear of jalapeño poppers at parties. And that's sort of a drag, because jalapeños stuffed with cheese and then coated in a crispy breading are...delicious. This version is so good that cheese eaters and non cheese eaters alike will all love them. Bring a batch or three to your next get-together and let the noshing begin!



Pumpkin Hummus from Lisa & McKenzie of NourishRDs
This flavorful spin on your typical hummus recipe makes it the perfect appetizer or side dish for your Thanksgiving gathering. Loaded with vitamin A and fiber, pumpkin hummus is not only a treat for your tastebuds, it’s a dish you and your family can feel good about eating.



Roasted Vegetables with Tahini Dip from Lisa & McKenzie of NourishRDs
This recipe for roasted vegetables with tahini dip is one of our favorites.  Despite being one of the healthiest options at a holiday party, it's always one of the first things to disappear off the buffet!


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Very Vanilla Bean Raspberry Chia Pudding

I’ve never had a strong preference for chocolate. I know, it’s shocking. Whenever this comes up in conversation, I’m usually asked, “Why?!?” It’s not that I don’t like chocolate. I do. Especially really good dark chocolate that has the ability to satisfy my sweet tooth in one simple bite.

Very Vanilla Bean Raspberry Chia Pudding

It’s just that if I were given the choice between a vanilla cupcake and chocolate one, I would always choose the vanilla. I inherited this taste preference from my dad.

I once saw a segment on the local news that mentioned one’s craving for chocolate can be inherited.  While I haven’t yet found a study that discusses chocolate cravings in particular, I have read studies that address sweet cravings. This 2007 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, for example, found that up to half of a person’s tendency to crave sweets can stem from genetic factors. Additional research has been done by teams at Harvard Medical School in Boston and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.




So, while this doesn’t necessarily address my chocolate vs. vanilla conundrum, I do like the connection that my dad and I share over vanilla.

Since Dad's birthday is in a couple of days, I made this Very Vanilla Bean Raspberry Chia Pudding to celebrate.

Very Vanilla Bean Raspberry Chia Pudding

Breakfast or dessert? We’ll let you decide. This pudding is healthy enough for breakfast and special enough for dessert!




Ingredients:
1 cup frozen raspberries
¾ cup almond milk
1 heaping spoonful of plain, reduced-fat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions:
1.     Place raspberries, almond milk, Greek yogurt, honey, and vanilla bean in a blender. Blend until smooth.
2.     Add the chia seeds to the mixture and shake or stir until well mixed.
3.     Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Enjoy, preferably with those you love.


Disclaimer: We were not compensated for this post. All opinions are our own. Frieda's sent me samples of their vanilla bean, and we are the consulting dietitians for the National ProcessedRed Raspberry Council, but we're sharing this recipe simply because we love it!