We’re in the final stretch, folks. With Christmas just a few days away, Pinterest and Google searches regarding anything holiday related are completely overwhelming. Right? Right. Every 2 seconds a new “Must Make” list comes out pertaining to holiday goodies. It’s too much (and this is coming from someone who ADORES the holiday season and anything and everything related to it). …
The next installment in my 2014 Thanksgiving faves is this incredible stuffing. It’s half family tradition, half my own twist.
What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner? The turkey? Cranberry sauce? Potatoes? Gravy?
Mine is the stuffing. Hands down. My mom ALWAYS uses a bag of stuffing mix, and I’ve tried to make stuffing using my own breadcrumbs and seasonings, and I never like it as much as the bagged stuff. Probably because that’s what I grew up eating. It tastes like home. My sisters completely agree. If you’re into making your own breadcrumbs and such, though, absolutely go for it. This is just what works for me.
Despite the fact that I used the regular ol’ stuffing mix from years past, I did put my own spin on the flavors. My mom always cooks the stuffing according to the bag’s instructions. She makes half to stuff inside the bird (which is the BEST), and half to put in an extra pan. My sisters and I have all declared it the best part of the meal, so extra stuffing never goes to waste.
I wanted to tweak my mom’s standard version slightly and add an apple-cranberry flavor twist. And as much as I hate change, this one rocked. It was the best of both worlds. It still tasted like tradition to me but had a sweet and tangy kick that was absolutely delicious. My husband and I both loved this version. I have been eating it all week, simply warmed up in the microwave with a glug of gravy. And because I only made a turkey breast for my husband and I, we didn’t have any bird-stuffed stuffing…and it was still perfectly moist and flavorful!
It is holiday comfort food at its finest.
Apple Cider & Cranberry Stuffing (makes 4-6 servings)
4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, finely minced
2 celery stalks, finely minced
2 apples, cored and diced
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1 tablespoon chopped sage
2 cups apple cider
1 cup chicken stock
1 (14-oz) bag of stuffing mix (I like Pepperidge Farm’s plain herb variety)
1 cup dried cranberries
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a 2-quart baking dish (use one that has a lid).
Sauté the onions, celery, and apples in 4 tablespoons of butter until they are translucent. Add the garlic and herbs and cook for another minute.
Add the apple cider and chicken broth, bring to a simmer, and turn off heat.
In a large mixing bowl, add the stuffing mix and pour over the hot cider mixture. Add in the cranberries and mix everything to combine. Transfer to a covered 2-quart baking dish.
Bake, covered, for 30-40 minutes. Remove the lid during the last 5-10 minutes if you like a lightly browned top.
I have a festive cocktail for you today. It’s perfect for serving to your Thanksgiving guests – no shaker required. Just whip up a pitcher of this and serve it all day long. Couldn’t be easier!
This sangria is wonderful for this time of year…which is weird to me because when I think of sangria, I think of summer. It strikes me as a warm-weather drink. Maybe it’s just me. It’s just that sangria is usually light and crisp and chock-full of yummy fruit. These characteristics pair perfectly with those of warm summer evenings…complete with lightening bugs, burgers on the grill, lingering sunsets, and…ankles covered in mosquito bites. Er, sorry for that last visual, but it’s true for me! I’m their victim of choice.
In recent weeks, I’ve seen many variations on standard summery cocktails, like margaritas, that have a seasonal twist. Not that I need to be talked into drinking a margarita in the dead of winter! Margaritas, no matter when consumed, remind me of warm sun and bowls upon bowls of chips and salsa. Mmm. Nothing wrong with that when it’s freezing outside! Aside from the margarita, however, I struggle with drinking summery drinks at this time of year. I mean, you won’t find me with a mai tai in hand after Labor Day (likewise with my white cranberry cosmos after March).
This cocktail challenges my notion of seasonally appropriate drinks. It is warm, effervescent, and punchy all at once. The addition of ginger liqueur gives it that warm spiciness we all know and love this time of year, and the bright flavors of apple, cranberry, and lime keep things fruity and balanced.
So, while I’m calling this a “holiday” sangria, feel free to make it year-round. Just like those margaritas. No judgement from me.
White Cranberry Holiday Sangria (makes 8 servings)
1 bottle of dry white wine
½ cup apple liqueur (I used Berentzen – Calvados would also work)
½ cup ginger liqueur (I used Domaine de Canton – gingered brandy would also work)
2 cups white cranberry juice
2 Granny Smith apples, sliced
1 lime, sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
2 cups frozen cranberries
Ginger ale, for topping off the glasses (club soda works too)
Extra cinnamon sticks, for garnish
1. Combine the wine, liqueurs, and white cranberry juice in a large pitcher. Stir well to combine.
2. Add the sliced apples, lime, and cinnamon sticks. Give a good stir and then transfer the mixture to the fridge to chill for a couple hours.
3. Before serving, add the frozen cranberries to the mixture (Note: I wait to add them at the last minute because as they defrost, they turn the sangria a light pink color…which is totally fine, but I wanted to keep it as “white” as possible). Taste to see if it is sweet enough, and if desired, add the maple syrup (I ended up using about 1 tablespoon). Pour into chilled glasses and top off with ginger ale for a little effervescence. Garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick and serve!
Disclaimer: I forgot to garnish the glasses with cinnamon sticks for the photos, but I added them before consuming! Do it!
I could really go for one of these right now.