Buttermilk Cornbread Dressing with Italian Sausage

I loved that this recipe used buttermilk to moisten the stuffing- in addition to the more typical stock and butter. The sausage was not overpowering in the finished dish but added great flavor. I used locally made sweet Italian sausage with fennel seeds- perfect.

This recipe was adapted from the New York Times, contributed by Yewande Komolafe. The sausage could be omitted for a vegetarian version. The original recipe notes that if store-bought or boxed mix cornbread is used, it should be crumbled and and spread out on a sheet pan to dry for 4 to 12 hours prior to assembling the dish. I made the accompanying cornbread recipe, which does not require drying time, two days prior to making the dish.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings

For the Cornbread:

  • 8 T/115 grams/1 stick unsalted butter, melted, plus more for brushing the pan
  • 1 1/2 cups/250 g medium-coarse yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup/114 g all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup/55 g granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups/470 milliliters buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Dressing:

  • 3 T unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the pan
  • 1 T neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola, plus more if needed
  • 1 pound loose pork sausage (I used sweet Italian sausage)
  • 1 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 4 celery ribs, very finely chopped (2 cups)
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 T chopped fresh sage (from 10 large leaves)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe cornbread for dressing, broken into 1-inch pieces, or 10 cups loosely packed cornbread
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup buttermilk, preferably full-fat (I used low-fat)

To Make the Cornbread:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch skillet, preferably cast-iron, and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. (I weighed the dry ingredients when possible.)
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk and eggs. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir until incorporated.
  5. Fold in the melted butter.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared skillet and smooth the top.
  7. Bake until the top is lightly browned and the sides pull away cleanly from the skillet, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. Cool completely and serve warm or room temperature, or reserve to make cornbread dressing.

To Assemble & Bake the Dressing:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium and pour in the oil.
  3. Add the sausage and cook, using a wooden spoon to break it into small pieces, until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about 8 minutes.
  4. Transfer the cooked sausage to a plate, keeping any fat in the skillet. Add a few additional tablespoons oil if needed to evenly coat the bottom.
  5. Add the onion and celery to the skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, fennel seeds and sage, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  7. Return the cooked sausage to the skillet and stir to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, add the cornbread pieces and toss to combine.
  9. Pour in the stock and buttermilk, and stir until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  10. Transfer the cornbread mixture to your prepared dish and spread evenly.
  11. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.
  12. Cover the dish with foil and bake until heated through, 30 to 35 minutes.
  13. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees, remove the foil and bake until the surface is golden brown in spots, 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving warm.

French Apple Cake with Brown Butter

I almost made this custardy apple cake instead of an apple pie for our Thanksgiving feast. Then I realized that it was a better plan to make both! 😉 We enjoyed the cake on Thanksgiving Eve- perfect. I loved that this version incorporated browned butter.

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Erica Bruce. I modified the method and substituted apple cider for the brandy. I would recommend baking the cake the morning it will be served because it requires an extended cooling time prior to slicing and serving.

Yield: One 9-inch cake (about 8 to 10 servings)

  • 8 T (1 stick) salted butter, plus more for pan
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 pounds (about 4 apples) Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 pound (about 2 apples) Braeburn or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 156 g (12 T) white sugar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 T apple cider, brandy or Calvados
  • 86 grams (2/3 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional
  1. Heat the oven to 375ºF, preferably on convection, with a rack in the middle position.
  2. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with butter, dust evenly with flour, then tap out the excess.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, melt the butter. Cook, swirling the pan frequently, until the milk solids at the bottom are golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. (I used a 12-inch stainless steel all-in-one pan.)
  4. Pour into a small heatproof bowl without scraping out the skillet. The remaining butter in the pan is used to sauté the apples.
  5. Stir the allspice into the browned butter and set aside.
  6. Add all of the apples, 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt to the still-hot skillet and set over medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all moisture released by the apples has evaporated and the slices are beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.
  7. Add the apple cider (or brandy) and cook until evaporated, 30 to 60 seconds.
  8. Transfer to a large plate, spread in an even layer and refrigerate uncovered until cool to the touch, 15 to 20 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  10. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla and 9 tablespoons of the remaining sugar.
  11. Gradually whisk in the browned butter.
  12. Add the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until smooth; the batter will be very thick.
  13. Add the cooled apples and fold until evenly coated with batter.
  14. Transfer to the prepared springform pan, spread in an even layer and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Place pan on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
  15. Bake until deeply browned, about 30 minutes on convection or up to 35 to 40 minutes in a standard oven.
  16. Let cool completely in the pan on a wire rack, about 2 hours. Run a knife around the inside of the pan and remove the sides before slicing.
  17. Serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Note: Don’t slice the cake until it has fully cooled; if it is at all warm, the texture at the center will be too soft.

Thanksgiving Menu 2021

Happy belated Thanksgiving and Happy Holiday Season! 🙂 We were so happy to be able to celebrate with extended family this year!

I love to post my Thanksgiving Menu to help me plan in the future. Hopefully some of my menu choices are helpful to others too. I will link the new menu items to posts as soon as I am able.

Highlights of our celebration this year included my son’s Chamber Orchestra Thanksgiving concert and the beautiful place cards that my daughter made for our table. My kids also helped cook! My son made the mashed potatoes (his favorite) and gravy. My daughter made the vegetables and dip, photo above, to bring to a Friendsgiving celebration. My 19-month old niece brought her fabulous artwork to contribute to the decor, photo below. 🙂

Our meal included many old favorites. I revisited an apple-pear pie which was absolutely wonderful. I also tried new stuffing, Brussels sprouts, and pumpkin pie recipes. Lovely!

Thanksgiving Eve Eve:

Thanksgiving Eve:

Thanksgiving Day:

Breakfast:

Lunch:

Festive Cocktail: (served with our “Turkey Bread” appetizer)

Dinner:

Leftover Dishes:

Frog Birthday Cake (Yellow Layer Cake with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting & Oreo Filling)

My daughter’s 15th birthday celebration involved several sweet treats. All of her requests were granted! 🙂 We enjoyed crumb cake, salted brown butter blondies, number cookies, of course, and this cute cake. She asked for a frog cake after falling in love with others she had seen while perusing Pinterest.

For dinner, we had Summer Corn Pasta with Sausage & Basil– her favorite dish from our summer vacation in Rehoboth Beach. I was surprised by this request because we usually have calzones!

The recipe for the yellow layer cake was adapted from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated. We also enjoyed this cake on her 13th birthday. I used the vanilla cream cheese frosting with Oreo filling from her 12th birthday cake– it’s her favorite.

Yield: One 9-inch layer cake, generously frosted

For the Cake:

  • 7 oz (1 3/4 cups) plain cake flour, sifted, plus more for dusting pans
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 10 1/2 oz (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 16 T (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
  • vanilla cream cheese frosting, recipe below
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans and cover the pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Grease the parchment rounds and dust the cake pans with flour, tapping out the excess. (I would consider using 8-inch pans next time to elevate the cake slightly.)
  3. Beat the eggs, milk, and vanilla with a fork in a 2-cup measuring cup with a spout. Measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside.
  4. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Beat at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds.
  5. With the mixture still running at the lowest speed, add the butter, one piece at a time; mix until the butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, about 30 to 40 seconds after all the butter is added.
  6. Add the reserved 1 cup egg mixture and mix at the lowest speed until incorporated, about 5 to 10 seconds.
  7. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
  8. Add the remaining egg mixture (about 1/2 cup) in a slow, steady stream, taking about 30 seconds. Stop and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.
  9. Beat at medium-high speed until thoroughly combined and the batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds.
  10. Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans. (about 1 lb plus 2.5 oz per pan) Spread to the sides of the pans and smooth with an offset or rubber spatula.
  11. Bake until the cake tops are light gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 27 minutes. The cakes will mound slightly but will level when cooled.
  12. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  13. Run a knife around the pan perimeter to loosen. Invert one cake onto a large plate and reinvert onto another wire rack. Repeat for the other layer. Cool completely before frosting.

For the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting and Oreo Filling (as well as Frogs & Mushrooms):

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 6 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 to 6 full-size Oreos or 15 mini-Oreos, crushed in a food processor
  • green gel food coloring, plus additional colors for mushroom caps, as desired
  • chocolate chips, for frog eyes
  • chocolate sprinkles, for frog mouths
  • sugar pearls, for mushroom caps
  1. Place cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low-speed to combine.
  4. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.
  5. Remove about 1 cup frosting and set aside for mushrooms and frog cheeks.
  6. Remove 1 1/4 cup of frosting for the Oreo filling and place in separate bowl.
  7. Incorporate the crushed Oreos in the reserved 1 1/4 cups of filling frosting. Spread on one of the layers.
  8. Place the second layer on top.
  9. Tint the remaining frosting pale green with food coloring, mixing well.
  10. Cover cake with a crumb coat and chill briefly, if necessary before continuing.
  11. Using an offset spatula, ice the sides of the cake with the pale green icing.
  12. Tint the remaining frosting deeper “frog green.” Place the majority of the icing in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip, for the frog bodies. Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, for the frog eyes, arms, and legs.
  13. Pipe the frogs on the cake, as desired, using the large bag/tip. Add eyes, arms, and legs using the small bag/tip.
  14. Divide the remaining frosting into 4 bowls. Keep one bowl of frosting white for the mushroom stems.
  15. Tint one bowl red, for the frog cheeks and mushroom caps.
  16. Tint the other 2 bowls of frosting, as desired, for mushroom caps.
  17. Pipe mushroom stems around the sides of the cake. Using a variety of pastry bags and tips, pipe decorative multi-shaped mushroom caps on the stems. Decorate caps with sugar pearls.
  18. Pipe rosy cheeks on each frog with the red frosting.
  19. Place 1-2 tablespoons of chocolate chips in a sandwich sized ziplock bag. Microwave until melted. (I check the progress in 30 second increments.) Cut a small corner off of the ziplock bag; use the melted chocolate to pipe eyes onto the frogs.
  20. Add mouths onto the frogs with chocolate sprinkles.
  21. Chill prior to serving and store any leftover cake in the refrigerator.

Salted Brown Butter Birthday Blondies

My daughter is a blondie girl. ❤ We enjoyed these amazing no-frills blondies as part of her 15th birthday celebration this year.

The original recipe is titled Caramel Canvas Blondies in Midwest Made: Big Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever, one of my favorite books. Sever comments that they are known by many other names such as Butterscotch Bars or Toffee Bars in Midwest community cookbooks.

The salted caramel-esque base could easily accommodate any add-in but my birthday girl requested this minimalist version. 🙂 Classic, crowd-pleasing deliciousness.

Yield: about 2 dozen bars

  • non-stick cooking spray, for pan
  • 384g (3 cups, spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 480g (2 cups plus 2 T, firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, fridge cold
  • 1 large (20g) egg yolk, fridge cold
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups or 339g) unsalted butter, browned and cooled
  • 2 to 3 cups (about 300 to 450g) chocolate chips, nuts, candy bits, or other mix-ins, optional
  1. Make the Brown Butter: Place the butter in a light-colored pan over medium heat. Cook until foaming, amber in color, and until the milk-solids brown and separate, about 5 to 7 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl to cool.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 325 F (170 C), preferably on convection.
  3. Spray a 9×13-inch (23×33 cm) metal baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 opposite sides. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and flaky and fine salt.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla until lighter in color and texture, about 1 minute.
  6. Whisk in the cooled browned butter.
  7. Fold in the flour mixture just until no dry floury streaks remain.
  8. Fold in mix-ins, if using. Stir until just combined.
  9. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use and offset spatula to smooth the top.
  10. Bake until the blondies are fragrant and golden, with a slightly glossy surface and a raised, wrinkled perimeter beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes in a convection oven or up to 40 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  12. Using the parchment paper, lift the blondies out of the pan to transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars of desired size.

Note: Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Mini Banana Doughnuts with Brown Butter Glaze

One more baked doughnut treat to share. This version can (dangerously) be made very easily with one overripe banana. 😉 More fun than banana bread!

The recipe was adapted from chiselandfork.com. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour and modified the method. The fabulous brown butter glaze was essential.

Yield: 8 mini-doughnuts

For the Doughnuts:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup mashed banana (1 large banana)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 T milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Brown Butter Glaze:

  • 4 T (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 4 to 5 T confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt

To Make the Doughnuts:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F, preferably on convection. Spray 8 wells of a mini-doughnut pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Add mashed banana, egg, melted butter, milk and vanilla extract and stir until just combined.
  4. Using a small cookie scoop, distribute the batter into the prepared 8 wells of the pan, about 3 scoops of batter per well. Using an offset spatula spread evenly. (Alternatively, place batter in ziploc bag and squeeze out air. Cut corner of bag. Pipe the batter evenly in the pan.)
  5. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes clean.
  6. Remove from oven and let rest on a rack in the pan for 5 minutes. Then remove from pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.

To Make the Brown Butter Glaze:

  1. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it foams and has a nutty aroma, about 5-7 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof, shallow bowl to stop the cooking process.
  2. Add the sifted confectioner’s sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition. Add enough sugar to reach desired consistency.
  3. Whisk in a pinch of salt and vanilla extract.
  4. Dip each doughnut in the glaze and place back on cooling rack.
  5. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple cider doughnuts are one of my favorite autumn treats. A tasty baked version reduces the guilt- a little bit. 😉 This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell.

I made mini-doughnuts and madeleines. I must say that we were surprised by how much we enjoyed the apple cider madeleines which were absolutely amazing with crispy edges. The batter could also be baked in a muffin pan.

Yield: 12 mini-doughnuts and 8 madeleines (or 12 muffins)

For the Batter:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cup/225 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 T (140 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup/165 grams light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters apple cider

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 T unsalted butter

To Make the Doughnuts & Madeleines: (or Muffins)

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly grease 2 (6-cavity) doughnut pans and 8 wells of a madeleine pan (or a 12-cup muffin tin) with nonstick spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 10 tablespoons/140 grams butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated after each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  6. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  7. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  8. With the mixer running, add the apple cider in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine.
  9. Scrape the bowl well to make sure the batter is homogeneous.
  10. Spoon the batter into prepared doughnut pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way. (I use a small cookie scoop and fill each well with 3 scoops. You can also do this using a disposable piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with a 1/2-inch opening cut from one corner.) Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  11. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the thickest portion comes out clean, about 7 to 9 minutes on convection. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. (If you are making muffins, divide batter evenly between the prepared cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.)
  12. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, if making madeleines. (I reduced the oven temperature because my pan has a dark finish.)
  13. Using a small cookie scoop, fill each well with 3 scoops, or until 2/3 full. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  14. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 9 minutes on convection.

To Make the Topping:

  1. While the doughnuts bake, whisk 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl to combine.
  2. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the microwave.
  3. Let the doughnuts cool for 5 minutes after baking, then unmold them from the pans.
  4. Brush with the melted butter and dredge them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still warm.
  5. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature.

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