Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stuffing OR dressing?

I never knew the difference between stuffing and dressing until a few weeks ago.  I just called it all stuffing.  I figured that calling stuffing "dressing" was an old person term.  Guess's not!  The conversation came about when I was talking to my mom about her famous stuffing recipe, which I will be revealing in this very post.  It was the first time that I would be making it by myself for Thanksgiving, so I had her on the phone with a ton of questions.  Thankfully, she walked me through the whole thing.  Anyways, she kept correcting me when I would call it "stuffing".  It was getting annoying.  Then she told me why I was wrong.  It turns out, "stuffing"  is actually stuffed into the turkey.  "Dressing" is the same food as stuffing, but kept out of the turkey.  It makes sense now doesn't it?   So I ended up making "dressing".  I am kinda grossed out by "stuffing".

I made two different dressing recipes for Thanksgiving.  One of them was Italian Sausage Dressing from "Our Best Bites".  I have to be honest, I wasn't too thrilled with it.  I like my Mom's stuffing, excuse me, dressing recipe better.  Here it is!

Mom’s Turkey Dressing

(Makes enough for 15)

3 cubes of butter

1/2 c olive oil

4 or 5 sticks of celery

2 large sweet onions

1 large bundle of fresh parsley

3 12 oz boxes of seasoned cubed bread

1 can chicken broth (I use more)

Craisins (put in as much as you'd like)

black pepper to taste

1. Chop celery first and sauté it in a large pot with 3 cubes melted butter and ½
cup olive oil.
2. Chop parsley and onion while celery is cooking. When celery is soft, add
onion and parsley. Cook for approximately 5 minutes and add Craisins. Cook
another 5 minutes or until onions are clear.
3. In an extra large work bowl, place bread cubes, add hot vegetables and toss
until well mixed. Slowly add 1 can of chicken broth and toss again. Add black
pepper to taste.
4. Line extra large baking pan with heavy-duty foil. Spread dressing evenly in
pan and wrap until ready to cook.
5. Cook dressing for about ½ hour at 450 degrees and serve hot.

Note: Dressing can be frozen before it is cooked. Sometimes I freeze ½ of dressing
and eat the other ½.

*Notes from Jesse.  My Mom chops everything in the food processor.  It's so much faster.  Also, I added a little more chicken broth (about 2 cans total) than what my mom says to add.  I used 15 oz bags of the cubed bread, because that's all I could find.  It actually worked out better with a little more cubed bread.  I think my mom's vegetable to bread ratio is a little off.  And one more thing, I like to cook mine longer than 30 minutes.  I like it really crunchy on top.  That is a personal preference. 

So there you have it.



Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gingerbread Houses for Dummies

I am not a good gingerbread house maker.  I have made them a total of two times ever.  So if you are experienced in gingerbread house making, you will not find this post useful.  But if you are like me, I have a few helpful tips.

We had a group activity with Levi's classmates at HBS last weekend, making gingerbread houses.  They had a pretty brilliant idea, which is my first and most exciting tip.  The people in charge went to Dunkin Donuts and got a bunch of the to-go boxes.  That is what we used as our foundation!

This idea made the house building a breeze.  I think that is important.  I am the kind of person that would spend forever building the house, and by the time i'm done, I've lost all my steam for decorating it.  You will need to manipulate the box to your liking.  I tucked in the handles. Other people found really creative ways to get the box how they wanted it.
Don't be afraid to cut the graham crackers with a knife.  I used what was there, which was a plastic butter knife.  It worked just fine.  I also shaved down jagged edges.  I could have done a much better job, as you'll see in the pictures.
Toppings are everything.  Don't underestimate the power of cute candy.  

With that in mind, try to remember that less is more.  It's so easy to get carried away with decorating when you have so much cute candy in front of you.  I'm not really sure how to stop.  I wish I had a good tip for that.

Last tip is to pipe the icing on.  I think that one is a no-brainer.  I'm pretty sure that most people know to do that, but thought i'd put it in just in case.

I'm sure there are a billion icing recipe's out there, and if anyone has a great one please pass it on!  Here's an icing recipe from a friend.  I've never actually made it, but she says that it's reliable.  


3 egg whites, room temp.
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
Combine all ingredients and beat for 7 to 10 minutes. Spread as desired.

Well, I guess it's time to reveal the gingerbread house that I made.  I'm actually really embarrassed by it.  Here I am, giving these tips, while I've made a pretty sad looking house.  

Ok, I doubt anyone fell for that one.  Here it is:

Yet, another lie.  If only.  This is the look I will go for next year.  I grabbed these pictures off of the internet.  Is that legal?  Ok, here's the REAL thing:

Ugh.  I really don't like looking at it.  It doesn't even have a chimney!   But I can tell you one thing . . . that foundation is a strong one!  I could throw this baby off of my balcony and it would still be intact.  I will try to do better next year.  At least now I know how to make these.  It can only go up from there right?