Dressing is something that defines a family. A simple comfort food made from leftover bread to stretch an expensive meal (typically using what type of bread you had available so in the south- cornbread, in the north- wheat bread.) You can almost guess where someone’s grandma hails from by what type they serve you. (Dressing, stuffing, cornbread, white bread, fruits, nuts, oysters, chicken, chestnuts…)
My maternal grandmother was Canadian. She moved to the deep south in the 1940’s, marrying into a family of Scarborough’s where her mother-in-law had been a true southern debutante and did NOT appreciate her son marrying a “Yankee.”So my southern mother learned to make a white bread stuffing (not dressing) usually studded with fresh pecans.
My husband’s grandmother was from the south and made a traditional cornbread dressing.
When we started hosting our family holidays we had an unexpected conflict on what we would serve- an all white bread dressing with nuts like my Canadian grandma made or a total traditional cornbread dressing like my husband’s grandmother made? Everyone wanted their personal favorite and so a compromise was needed. Thus, I came up with a yin-yang combination dressing that seems to please everyone!
16" branchfresh Rosemarytake leaves off of stem and finely mince
1Tablespoonfresh Thymefinely minced
4cupsvegetable, chicken, or turkey stockHomemade is best but even bouillon will do!
1 cupmilk or Half & Half
Salt & Pepperto taste
Nuts, raisins, or chopped apricots (Optional additions)
Put bread and cornbread in a large bowl and mix.
In a medium skillet over medium high heat, saute onions and celery in olive oil or butter until translucent.
Add fresh herbs and cook 1 or 2 minutes more.
Add about 1/2 cup of stock to the pan to deglaze the juices and remove from heat.
Add stock and melted butter to bowl with breads.
Mix and slowly add remaining stock and milk (or half & half) NOTE: The total amount of liquid may vary depending on how dry the breads are and humidity in air. You want the mixture to stick together and be fairly moist (so it won't dry out too much when baked.)
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Butter a large baking pan (12 x 24)and bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. (Or until golden brown on top.)
Time Saving Tip: I make my cornbread a day or two before the holidays. I also saute onions, herbs, and celery and add them to the cornbread before baking. This allows you to skip steps and have all your burners free for other dishes!
1-In a large bowl put bread and cornbread and mix together.
Yin & Yang of Bread waiting to be mixed!
2-In a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, saute onions and celery in olive oil or butter until translucent. Add fresh herbs and cook approximately 1-2 minutes more.
Time-saving tip: I make my cornbread a day or two before the holidays. I like to saute the onions, celery, and herbs then add to the cornbread before baking. Then when I go to make the dressing I can skip step 2 all together. This is especially helpful when you have all the burners cooking for other dishes!
3- Add about ½ cup stock to the pan with vegetables to deglaze the juices and add all of this to the bowl with bread. Add your melted butter also at this point.
4- Mix and slowly add the rest of the stock and milk. The amount needed may vary depending on how dry ingredients are, humidity etc. You want the mixture to be sticking together and pretty wet (not total mush, but til it’s VERY wet so it doesn’t dry out too much when baking.) Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper to taste and more herbs if necessary.
5- Put in a large buttered baking pan (12×24) and bakeat 375 for 45 minutes to an hour. You want it to be golden brown on top and edges.
Ready to bake
Remember that dressing is something that you can easily give your own family touch by simply adding local ingredients or that mean something special to you!
We had a fun impromptu cookout for the 4th of July with friends and family!
I love salads in the summer and we had some great ones yesterday.
Here’s what I made:
Red, White, & Blue ‘Tato Salad
2 Bags of fingerling potatoes (Red, White, & Blue- these were called “Sunset Varieties”)
Cook potatoes according to bag directions until firm but not mushy. (I boil mine but you could oven roast or microwave too.) Cool potatoes quickly by running in cold ice water.
Chop into bite sized pieces.
Chop some red onion and add to taste. (I added about three tablespoons or so.)
I made a mustard vinaigrette by mixing balsamic vinegar, white vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over potatoes.
Chop some fresh mint and dill and add to salad.
I added a few tablespoons of pimento peppers for color.
Turned out to be a nice salad, and I didn’t have to worry about it getting too hot sitting out.
I started using quinoa instead of bulgur wheat in my tabouli recipes a few months ago and my hubby loves it! It’s easier on tummies and has more protein too!
Cook desired amount of quinoa according to package directions. I used 3 cups (makes a TON.) and had to rinse several times and then cook in 6 cups of boiling water. I usually toast my quinoa first after rinsing, but it’s not necessary.
Peel, Seed, and Chop up one large cucumber into cubes and add to a large bowl.
Wash and Chop up at least one bunch of parsley(I like Italian flat leaf) and add to bowl.
Chop up some fresh mint (I used about 4 large stems) and add.
For dressing put about 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, and 2 Tablespoons (or so) of Penzey’s Greek Seasoning. Mix well and taste before adding to bowl.
Mix cooked quinoa into bowl and toss to coat. You might need to add more of something to make it to your taste.
Wash and chop one package of bite sized tomatoes to salad and enjoy!
It's been said that I can make a mean biscuit...Making biscuits is one of those things that isn't hard, but that people tend to overthink and overwork. Some secrets? Use real salted butter, a hot cast iron pan, and a hot oven.
4cupsOrganic unbleached flour
4tablespoonSugar (unbleached granulated)
1teaspoonCream of tartar
1cupButteryou can also substitute butter with coconut oil to equal 1 cup.
1 1/3cupMilkpossibly more depending on humidity.
Preheat oven to 450.
Put about a tablespoon or two of oil in skillet and place in oven.
In bowl stir together dry ingredients. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or hands until it resembles coarse crumbs or peas. Add milk and stir until dough just clings together. You may have to add more if dough is too dry. You want it to be moist but not mushy.
On floured surface, knead dough GENTLY for 10 strokes. Pat into a rectangle shape gently and then roll to about 1/2 inch thickness. Fold in half and repeat twice.
Dip a glass in flour and cut into biscuits.
Transfer to hot skillet and bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Mom decided we should pick all the peppers and tomatoes we could from her beautiful garden.
She has a beautiful garden, and I didn’t realize how many she was talking about until I went to help her pick!
One of many trays…
There must have been four large baskets of tomatoes and probably two full trays like this. As for peppers we couldn’t even pick them all- habaneros, hot Chinese, jalapenos, and more.
We scoured the internet for recipes for green tomatoes and peppers, and ended up mostly just winging it anyway…
Pickled (Dill) Green Tomatoes!
For the pickles we just followed a basic pickle formula (with regular vinegar, not cider) and then added fresh dill, some hot peppers, garlic, peppercorns and sliced green tomatoes then processed them.
Upside Down Pepperoncini!
She had enough banana peppers to make about five or six jars of pepperoncini (our fave.) We just pickled these too (with no dill.)
Green Tomato Salsa!
We had so many tomatoes left over and wanted to make a salsa of some kind. Our favorite salsa is Herdez Tomatillo/Green salsa and we thought, “Why not make a green tomato salsa?” We only made about three jars of this and it came out so yummy! Basically it was chopped green tomatoes, jalapenos, chopped onion and garlic, cilantro, a bit of cumin and salt, some lime juice and touch of vinegar and then we cooked it. I should have written the recipe down!
Our Green Bounty
Our next day we made THE HOTTEST pepper jelly from basically all habanero (aji chombo) peppers and a few jalapenos and Cayenne peppers. We had to cook it outside on the grill because it was so hot, then processed it inside. It came out a beautiful golden color with red and green flecks. I just used the pepper jelly recipe on the pectin package. I swear it’s the hottest goodness you have ever tasted.
Mom still had a ton of peppers at her house so she made aji chombo sauce (Panamanian hot sauce) basically just aji chombo (habanero) peppers chopped up, vinegar, mustard, chopped garlic, chopped onion, and salt and pepper put into a bottle to sit in the fridge. Very, very, hot so be wary.
I LOVE the beet salad at Ya-Ya’s, a restaurant my honey and I go occasionally, usually sans kiddos. The last time we were there I thought, “This has got to be the easiest salad on earth to make, why don’t I ever make it?”
Spring Mix of lettuces and arugula (whatever greens you have)
Goat cheese, queso fresco, or feta (I’m using chevre)
Some pickled beets (The recipe I found online used roasted beets, but I don’t have any so I used the pickled.)
Slivered almonds (roast til light golden brown)
Section or slice an orange (or tangerine, or clementine…)
chopped green onions or sliced red onion
For the dressing I took:
Juice of one orange
Juice of two lemons
2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
4 Tablespoons olive oil (more or less)
Salt and pepper
*Mix the dressing with a whisk and chill.
I tossed the greens and almonds with some dressing (yes, I used too much- will know better next time.) Then I finished it with the beets, cheese, and oranges.
It was almost exactly like the restaurant! (Much cheaper!)
Salad with Yummy Cornbread Hits the Spot on a Spring Night!
Yesterday I made spaghetti and meatballs (turkey) and homemade French bread for dinner. The recipe I use for the bread is a great one and makes 4 loaves. It’s from a great bread book mom gave me a long time ago “Farm Journal’s Homemade Breads” Usually I cut corners on time and it’s just OK. Last night I was patient and it was beautiful. I LOVE fresh bread. One of the biggest pains I have is missing the lovely fresh “michas” and “michitas” we would get in Colon (Panama) for $.25 to $.75. The smell alone makes you full and happy I think. They baked them with wood on a tile bed which makes all the difference. The kids actually ate. Many things have been happenning around us lately that makes me realize how lucky we are and how grateful I am for the life I have been given.
Things I’m grateful for:
Dishes left on the table and counter – means we have more than enough to eat. (And it means I don’t have to pay the kids their allowance!)
Clothes not in the hamper– We have clothes to wear (too many)
Legos on the floor I step on– means I have creative children (And again it means I don’t have to pay the kids their allowance!)
Too many things to do in the day– Makes me happy that I’m healthy enough to do them
My children arguing- We are all together and still speaking to each other
Library fines– I have a place I can find free books
Paw Prints on the clean floor
Sticky little kisses
Scratchy big kisses
I just know that we have to savour every minute of the beautiful lives we are given.