For most Americans, Thanksgiving stuffing is a must-have for traditional family dinners. As a child, I had to endure my Grandmother’s oyster stuffing. Yuck! When my mom took over the duties of making Thanksgiving dinner, she cheated by making boxed stuffing. Tasted like cardboard to me. It wasn’t until I became a mom and hosted turkey day dinner that I discovered the true essence of homemade stuffing. I’ve been hooked ever since.
Today, I’d like to share three Thanksgiving stuffing recipes served to my friends and family over the years. The first is a vegetarian recipe using quinoa instead of bread. The second is traditional bread stuffing with a twist, and the third is turkey and stuffing balls.
Each has been a big hit with guests and especially popular with cooks because these recipes are super easy to prepare. I hope you enjoy them and they become a holiday tradition in your household!
VEGETARIAN QUINOA STUFFING
Yield: 8 (1/2 cup) servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Quinoa is a seed used as a grain replacement. Quinoa is very small and resembles a miniature rice grain. It has a high level of protein and nearly perfect balance of amino acids. Quinoa should be rinsed prior to cooking to remove a bitter resin coating known as saponin. It’s best to use a mesh strainer or cheesecloth as the holes in most colanders are too large and the Quinoa falls straight through.
4 cups Water
2 Bay leaves
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
2 cups Quinoa
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Butternut Squash, peeled and diced
1 medium Zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 bunch Green Onions, diced
1/2 cup fresh Parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh Mint, chopped
1 cup dried Turkish Figs, diced
1 cup dried Cranberries
1 (16 oz) can Black Beans, rinsed & drained
Zest and juice of 1 Lemon
1. In a large pot, add water, bay leaves and salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Place quinoa in a mesh colander and rinse with water. Drain and add to boiling water. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until water is absorbed.
3. Remove from heat, carefully remove bay leaves and set aside.
4. In a medium skillet, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add squash and zucchini and sauté until light golden brown.
5. Combine sautéed vegetables with quinoa and drizzle with remaining olive oil.
6. Stir in onions, parsley, mint, figs, and cranberries.
7. Drain and rinse black beans and add to mixture.
8. Add lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
9. Transfer to serve bowl and enjoy.
TRADITIONAL BREAD STUFFING WITH A TWIST
Yield: 12 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
The twist to this homemade stuffing recipe is the secret ingredients of bacon and cocoa. Sounds strange, tastes amazing! When making traditional bread stuffing, I let the bread sit out overnight to become stale. I’ve found that stale bread absorbs the ingredients better and the crust tends to crisp better than fresh bread. I like my stuffing to have a little crunchiness on the outside. To dry bread, place slices on a large baking sheet and let air dry for 8 to 10 hours. Or, bake bread in oven at 350 degrees for 7 to 8 minutes.
3 slices Bacon (substitute with turkey bacon, if desired)
1/2 cup Celery, chopped
1/2 cup white Onion, chopped
12 slices stale Whole Wheat Bread, cubed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1 teaspoon dried Sage
1 teaspoon unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1-1/2 cups Chicken Broth (substitute with Vegetable Broth, if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In medium size skillet, fry bacon slices over medium heat until extra crisp. Place bacon slices on a paper towel lined plate to drain excess grease.
3. Sauté celery and onion in remaining bacon grease until onion is translucent. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine bread cubes, pepper, sage, and cocoa powder and gently toss to combine.
5. Break bacon into small pieces and add to bread mixture.
6. Slowly add chicken broth to bread mixture and gently mix with hands until all bread cubes are moist.
7. Transfer bread mixture to a 13x9x2 baking dish.
8. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is light golden brown.
9. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
TURKEY AND STUFFING BALLS
Yield: 16 (2-inch) stuffing balls
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Turkey and stuffing balls are a great way to use Thanksgiving dinner leftovers. They can also be served as part of the holiday meal or for any special occasion. These are quite popular at tailgating parties. They also make great appetizers for dinner parties and social gatherings. Make them into 1/2-inch balls and serve with decorative toothpicks.
NOTE: This recipe is made using packaged dry stuffing. If using leftover stuffing, use 3 cups stuffing mix, reduce cranberry sauce to 1/4 cup and eliminate chicken broth. If leftover stuffing is too dry, add small amounts of broth until mixture is pliable enough to retain its shape.
2 cups cooked Turkey, finely chopped (substitute with ground turkey, if desired)
1 (6 oz) box packaged Stuffing Mix, turkey or chicken flavor
1/2 cup Cranberry sauce (use 3/4 cup if not using dried cranberries)
1/2 cup dried Cranberries
1 cup Chicken Broth (substitute with Vegetable Broth or water, if desired)
1/4 cup Butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. In a large bowl, combine turkey and stuffing mix.
3. Add cranberry sauce, dried cranberries, egg, and broth. Mix until ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
4. Shape into 2-inch round balls and place on non-stick or foil-lined baking sheet.
5. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each ball with melted butter.
6. Bake 20 minutes or until light golden brown. Transfer to serving plate and enjoy.