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Butternut Squash & Sausage Stuffing

This weekend, we had our annual fake Thanksgiving.  Each year, around the end of October or the beginning of November, we have a large meal full of all the Thanksgiving dishes I’m planning on sharing here on Biscuits and Such.  Usually we invite friends over and make a day of it.  This year was no exception.  I have an awesome array of Thanksgiving (and other holiday appropriate) dishes for you, starting with the chipotle cranberry sauce I posted last week.  This might have been our best fake Thanksgiving yet, I cannot wait to share the spread with you!

Today’s recipe was one of the favorites of the meal.  To begin, I’ve never made stuffing before.  I am not usually a big stuffing fan, as I would rather spend my Thanksgiving stomach space on mashed potatoes and crescent rolls.  And pie.  Stuffing, for me, was always something I could skip over without regret.  But, when planning the meal this year, I felt like there needed to be a filling, delicious, carb.  And since I wasn’t making a potato dish I went with stuffing.  I’m happy to announce that it was an excellent choice.

When I first started thinking about the menu, I decided I would do a bourbon brine on the turkey.  And then I was all hell, let’s also do a bourbon glaze.  After that my friend Sara convinced me to make a bourbon pecan pie instead of the apple I had been planning, and before you know it there was bourbon in every inch of this meal.  Delicious, delicious bourbon.  I’ll clarify that when it comes to drinking bourbon straight, or even in a mixed drink, it kind of makes me want to die.  But in food, hot damn! I want to put bourbon in everything I eat from here on out.

So anyway, while I was sautéing the squash, onions, garlic, and shallots for this stuffing I thought, what the hell, a splash of bourbon can’t hurt.  And it didn’t.  It helped, a lot.  Overall, this stuffing is everything I would like from a side dish.  It’s a little sweet (because of the squash and bourbon), a little spicy (because I don’t make anything without red pepper flakes), and finishes with a burst of rosemary.  This recipe makes enough to fill a squash boat (if you so desire), plus a 9 x 9 pan’s worth of stuffing.  It was exactly the right amount for 6 adults plus leftovers for everyone.  In fact, I’m about to go fry and egg to eat over the last little bit.

Happy Fake Thanksgiving, friends!

Butternut Squash & Sausage Stuffing

1 large butternut squash

1 white or yellow onion

5 cloves garlic

1 large or 2 small shallots

3 large hot italian sausage (I went with turkey)

1 whole wheat or demi wheat baguette

1 cup turkey stock (or drippings)

1/4 cup bourbon

2 tbsp fresh rosemary

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 pat butter

Parmesan cheese to grate

I opted to make a boat with my squash because it’s fancy.  You really don’t have to, it would probably save you a lot of tedious time.  But doesn’t it look pretty?  If you want to make a boat, start by finding the side of your squash that sits flat.  Then, cut a wedge about 3-4 inches across out of the top.  Using a knife and a spoon, core the squash (leaving at least 3/4″ on each side so the boat is stable).  Dispose of the pulp and set the flesh aside.

Chop your onions, squash, and garlic.  Heat oil in a pan and sauté everything.  Add salt, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and bourbon. Cook until the onions are semi-translucent.  This way, the squash is tender but not mushy.  While that is on the stove, cube your bread.

In a large bowl, combine bread, stock, and everything you just cooked.  Stir together.

Using a paring knife, cut a long slit down the side of each sausage.  Remove the casing.  Throw your sausage into the pan, using a spatula to break it up as it cooks.  Cook until almost done.  Add them to the bowl.

Slice your shallots into rings. Throw them into the pan, letting them caramelize in the sausage juices.

When everything is cooked, mix together well in the bowl.  Cube your pat of butter and place it in the bottom of the sausage boat.  Fill the boat with stuffing, and then fill your 9×9 pan with the remainder.  Top with grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.


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Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

It’s that time of year  (my favorite time of year), where we start to prepare for Thanksgiving.  The best holiday that ever was.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know that Thanksgiving is a big deal for me, and that over the course of November I post recipes once or twice a week, helping you put together your Thanksgiving menu from appetizers to dessert.  It’s also when we roll out our very long, very comprehensive Guide to Holiday Eating (look for the snowflakes in the sidebar). I may hate everything about winter but holy cow do I love the holiday season.

First up this year we have a chipotle cranberry sauce.  Now, if the idea of a cranberry sauce that is spicy and not sweet and citrusy completely turns you off, try this one.  But, for you more adventurous folks, let me tell you about this sauce.  It’s tart, it’s a little bit sweet, it’s smokey and spicy, and the perfect spread for funky cheese and crackers, turkey, cornbread, muffins, or mashed potatoes.  I’m loving it on everything.

Also, here’s what I don’t understand.  Why would anyone buy canned or jarred cranberry sauce that’s bland and full of chemicals when you could make this at home in half an hour with the smallest amount of effort.  Seriously, this stuff is easier to make than pecan pie.  You mix all the ingredients together and then let them simmer.  Exactly.  Not to mention that the sound of cranberries popping is one of my favorites. Hear it for yourself:

Chipotle Cranberry Sauce from elena rosemond-hoerr on Vimeo.

For me, the best part of that video is the middleish when it’s been silent for a while and you were getting bored and then POP! Remember when I promised to do monthly videos and then didn’t follow through at all? I bet you’re glad that happened.

Chipotle Cranberry Sauce

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup water

1 tbsp chipotle spice

1 tsp cumin

2 cups fresh cranberries

Juice from one lemon

Bring water, spices, and sugar to a boil.  Add cranberries, and return to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for fifteen minutes or so, stirring every once in a while, until the cranberries burst.  Squeeze in lemon juice. Remove from heat, cover, and cool completely at room temperature.  Refrigerate before serving.

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Fall Donuts

This month I decided to give up processed sugar (as well as all processed sugar substitutes).  I did it for two reasons.  First off, I have been looking for a way to cut artificial sweetners out of my diet, specifically heavily processed candy and soda.  Very specifically diet coke. I love me some diet coke.  Secondly, I wanted a kickstart. I’ve been tired, sluggish, cranky, and downright hard to deal with lately.  I haven’t felt like cooking or writing or waking up, and I was hoping that a sugar-free period would allow my body to rediscover an energetic, sugar-free life.

Mostly, at the near end of the month, I feel the same.  I don’t have much more energy and getting out of the bed is still totally the pits.  I haven’t lost any weight and my hair is still frizzy. But, what did I really expect to happen? That one day, a few weeks into October, I would wake up Penelope Cruz? Unrealistic. Mostly I wanted a way to say goodbye to the sugary crap that was killing me slowly, and that I have accomplished.  I haven’t craved soda yet, and the only chocolate I want is on a croissant (I guess that reveals my real dependence- butter).  What I have been craving, like it is my job, is a donut.  I want a donut.  On November 1st, I will eat all the donuts. (PS- Donut or doughnut? I’ve gotten mixed feedback. I prefer donut).

I’ve been saving this recipe since last fall, and I have to tell you, these donuts have been in my dreams.  They’re light, delicious, and covered in tasty chocolate that makes your mouth water.  Mostly, they epitomize the things I love about this time of year.  The beautiful colors, the slightly richer food, frying things in my backyard… oh fall.

Still on a quest to kick my ass into gear I’m thinking that in November I’ll excuse myself from white carbs and alcohol that isn’t red wine.  Thanksgiving aside, of course.  We’ll see.  Fall is always a hard transition for me, I don’t expect there is a magical cure to the shorter, darker days and the dreary prospect of a long winter.  If there is, please let me know.  Also, I’d love to hear what worked for you, if you’ve tried something similar!

Fall Doughnuts

3/4 cup milk, warm
1/4 cup heavy cream, warm
1 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, very soft
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
Peanut oil, for frying

1 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup hot water

Chocolate topping
2 cups dark chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups fall-colored chocolate candy, crushed

Mix milk, cream and yeast. If you’re using a stand mixer, go ahead and combine them in the bowl for your mixer. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. Add sugar, butter, yolks and flour. In a stand mixer, or by hand, mix together and then knead until it forms a ball. Add warm water as necessary.

Cover and let rise 1 hour.

Roll the dough out to 1/4 inch. Use a biscuit cutter (3 to 4 inches) to cut out circles. Use a smaller cutter (or a doughnut roller, if you have one) to cut a 1-inch hole from the center.

Heat your oil to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Two or three at a time, drop your donuts into the oil. Let fry one minute, flip, and then another minute on the other side.

While your doughnuts cool, make your glaze. Combine all ingredients. Dunk your doughnuts in the glaze and set aside.

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Stir in cream. Dip each donut in the chocolate and then sprinkle with chocolate candy.

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