Chestnut Stuffing

I'm pretty sure numerous wars have been fought at the dinner table over which type of stuffing (or dressing) reins supreme and with so many varieties to choose from, it really isn't any surprise that my family frequently finds itself debating their various merits. Personally, I've always been a fan of my grandmother's mushy breadcrumb dressing, but mine never tastes quite as good as hers, so I decided it was time to start the painful process of coming up with my own recipe. I've spent years cycling through various styles—sausage stuffing, cornbread dressing, variations on bread stuffing—I've tried them all (well, except oyster stuffing since it would cause me to stop breathing forever... stupid shellfish allergy.) It took me roughly 6 years of rejecting recipes before I finally discovered chestnut dressing and I haven't tried another recipe since.

What I love is that this recipe has a fairly simple ingredient list made up of things I typically keep in the pantry, plus it's flexible and can be dressed up to suite a variety of tastes. I've added additional things like fennel, pancetta, or fresh herbs—just to change things up a bit, but it's perfectly tasty just as it's written. It's been served alongside deep-fried turkey, honey-roasted ham, and most recently whole roast duck. It's always the first thing to disappear from the table, so if you want to have leftovers you'll need to make a double batch.

Chestnut Stuffing | Not Starving Yet

 

Chestnut Stuffing
 

makes 6 - 8 servings

Ingredients

1lb loaf stale sourdough bread, torn into chunks
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 - 3 stalks celery, diced  
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 stick salted butter
1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
13 ounce package peeled chestnuts, roughly chopped
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large skillet add onion, celery, shallots, and butter. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until the celery is tender. Add poultry seasoning, bread, and chicken stock, then mix until all of the liquid is incorporated. Add additional stock as necessary if you still have dry bread or want your stuffing to be more moist.
  • Chop or crumble the chestnuts, add salt and pepper to taste, then mix everything together.  Transfer the finished stuffing to a baking dish. Bake uncovered for 20 - 30 minutes or until the stuffing is slightly brown on top.

Notes

You'll want to lay your bread out several days before making this recipe so it will have time to dry out. I put mine on a cookie sheet, then let it sit in the oven for at least two days. If I need to use the oven I toss it on the counter while I'm cooking and put it back in the oven once it has cooled off. If you decide to make stuffing at the last minute you can always bake your bread for 20 - 30 minutes, then let it cool off before you tear it into chunks.

The amount of chicken stock you'll need can vary, so make sure to have extra on hand. If your stuffing comes out of the oven a little dry you can always add a little bit of extra stock to moisten it up a bit. Just remember not to add cool or room temperature liquid to a hot ceramic or glass baking dish as it can cause thermal shock. This will break your dish and render your stuffing inedible (because no one wants to accidentally munch on glass shards.)

Chestnuts can be hard to come by, if you can't find them at your local supermarket talk to someone in customer service and most times they'll be happy to order them for you. Otherwise, check out your local asian market, many of them carry chestnuts year around.

Sriracha Potato Salad

May weather can be unpredictable in Wisconsin. Our days are either cool and rainy, warm and sunny, or in the case of one year in recent memory, full of snow. Fortunately this year we've had absolutely beautiful weather, so I've decided to declare Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer.

As we always do, we kicked off Memorial Day weekend with a visit to Brat Fest, which is a uniquely Wisconsin thing—a festival dedicated to bratwurst. Now a festival dedicated to brats in and of itself is amazing, but what I really love is that it's staffed by some incredible volunteers. Instead of being paid to work the event their salary goes to support over 100 local charities. With over 3,200 volunteers working the event for a combined total of 16,495 hours they raise a significant amount of money to help ensure our local charities can continue giving back to our community throughout the year.

We spent a good part of the weekend gorging ourselves on brats, soaking up some much needed sunshine, and listening to live music—although sadly we missed out on seeing our favorite 80s cover band, Cherry Pie and Travis Tritt. Baring the slight snafu with security who decided my keysmart posed a security risk, yet couldn't explain why they considered a set of keys a weapon and wouldn't let me enter the festival, a good time was had by all. Just don't tell anyone that I hid behind a horse trailer and pocketed my contraband keys—that's a secret for you, me, and the rest of the internet—no one else ever has to know.

Sunday morning after we had consumed more brat cakes (brats wrapped with pancakes) than any one person should in a single sitting, we headed home to pack up the car so little man and I could head off for Oklahoma to visit family. We left the husband behind, with a fridge stocked with enough beer, brats, and sriracha potato salad to feed a small army—or a hungry husband for a day or two, possibly more if he decides to enjoy the time off and play video games instead of doing yard work.

Speaking of sriracha potato salad, if you happen to be looking for a summer side dish to shake things up, this is my suggestion—it's a huge hit with my friends and family. Although if spicy isn't your thing, you might give our Creamy Summer Coleslaw or Loaded Potato Salad a try instead, you really can't go wrong with any of these summer side dishes.

Sriracha Potato Salad | Not Starving Yet

Ingredients


3 pounds red potatoes
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon siraracha, or more to taste
⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ cup celery, finely diced
black pepper

top with:

scallions
 

Directions

 

  • Peel potatoes, cut them into ½ inch cubes, then place them in a saucepan full of cold water. Add two tablespoons of kosher salt, then bring the water to a boil. Let the potatoes cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until they are fork tender. Keep in mind that larger chunks of potato will take longer to cook, so you may need to increase the cook-time a bit to compensate if your cubes are larger than ½ inch. 
  • Once the potatoes have cooked transfer them to a bowl of ice water and allow them to cool. It's important that they cool completely before adding them to the dressing, if you add them while hot the dressing may separate and become oily.
  • In a large bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, siraracha, and smoked paprika. Mix well, then add the cooled potatoes, celery, and black pepper.
  • Allow the potato salad to chill for at least three hours, or over night for the best results. Before serving add additional siraracha to taste and top with scallions.
     

Notes
 


This potato salad is tasty just the way it's written, but if you want to dress it up some try adding some hard boiled egg, Vidalia onion, or bacon. This is one time I'll encourage you to mess with perfection.

 

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Because it's summer I've decided to step out of the kitchen for long periods of time and enjoy the warm weather. You've probably noticed my posting has become a little sporadic because of it, but I do have a new recipe for you today. It's quickly become my favorite way to serve asparagus since it produces perfectly cooked spears with the minimal amount of effort. That means I can kick back with my feet up, soak up some summer sun, and read a salacious romance novel without feeling the slightest tinge of guilt about my lackadaisical lifestyle.

If you're not an asparagus fan, but still want something green and tasty in your life you'll want to try our recipe for Parmesan Garlic Green Beans. Your mouth will thank you, trust me!

Oven Roasted Asparagus

Oven Roasted Asparagus
makes 4 - 6 servings

Ingredients

1 bunch asparagus, fresh
1 Tablespoon lemon infused olive oil (see notes)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons parmesan, freshly grated
sea salt, to taste 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Rinse spears under cool water before removing the tough portion of the stalks. If you aren't sure how much to trim your asparagus, take the stalk, hold it towards the end and bend. It should easily snap off the dry, woody end.
  • Place on a foil lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, add minced garlic, then toss the spears until they're well coated.
  • Sprinkle with fresh parmesan, add salt to taste, and bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or longer for thicker stalks.

Notes

Thick or thin, which asparagus should you use? For this recipe I prefer thicker stalks. The thin, early spring varieties tend to over cook quickly in the oven. You can still use think stalks, but you'll want to reduce the baking time and watch the oven carefully. Nobody likes mushy, overcooked asparagus!

  • If you can't find lemon infused olive oil you can purchase it online (we love the Lucero Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil our friends gave us a few weeks ago.) Otherwise, drizzle extra virgin olive oil over your stalks and once the asparagus is done baking squeeze a wedge of lemon over the top.

 

Disclosure

This post contains my Amazon affiliate links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Purchases made through these links ensure I can continue providing you with quality content.

 

Loaded Potato Salad

With our busy schedules I don't get the opportunity to do much entertaining, but I always make an exception for the 4th of July. The weather this time of year is beautiful so we invite our family up from Missouri and host a huge BBQ. My husband picks up brats, which are made fresh at the local deli, while I take care of the side dishes and dessert. This year I set about making a double batch of the Creamy Summer Coleslaw I posted last week and went to work on finally perfecting the perfect potato salad. 

Coming up with a potato salad that will please everyone is much harder than you would think. Every person I know has a very firm opinion about what makes potato salad great and don't even get me started on the mustard vs mayo debate. This is one of the few dishes I know that manages to spark an argument every time it hits the table. While my version is mayonnaise based the sour cream gives it a tang that mustard lovers will appreciate. It also doesn't hurt that I've loaded it with shredded cheese, bacon, and chives. My guests managed to tuck away over 3lbs of potato salad in under 20 minutes. It's the first time I've ever run out of a dish halfway through a meal since I tend to make enough food to feed a small army. My Loaded Potato Salad is the perfect summertime side dish so make sure you whip up a batch for your next picnic or BBQ, it's sure to be a hit.

LoadedPotatoSalad.jpg

Loaded Potato Salad
makes approximately 6 - 8 servings 

Ingredients

2.5lbs Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
8 ounces apple wood smoked bacon ends and pieces
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
3 fresh chives, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese 

Directions

  • Place potatoes in a stockpot, cover with warm water, and boil for 25 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Keep in mind that larger potatoes can take as long as 40 minutes to cook. Transfer cooked potatoes to a bowl of ice water and once cool enough to handle remove the skins. Dice potatoes and set aside.
  • Add bacon to a cold skillet, then set heat on medium. Allow to cook until crispy, periodically flipping so it browns evenly. When cooked to desired level remove and set on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Once cool cut or crumble the bacon and add to diced potatoes. 
  • In a mixing bowl combine mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix well, then add to diced potatoes. 
  • Refrigerate at least 6 hours or preferably overnight. Before serving add shredded cheese and stir to combine. Top with additional shredded cheese, bacon, and chives if desired.

Notes:

I like to use bacon ends and pieces because they contain more salt than standard bacon. If you can't find them use an equal amount of sliced bacon and add more kosher salt if you feel it is necessary.