The BEST Stuffing EVER.

This is my mom’s recipe–it is seriously my favorite thing she makes for Thanksgiving.  I’m making it, too!  She came up with this about 30 years ago.  I am JUST NOW starting to see recipes for stuffing that includes most of these ingredients (namely the sausage and wild rice).  She is one of the reasons I am a good cook.

One box of Mrs. Cubbison’s cornbread stuffing mix (Vons, Ralphs or Stater Bros should have this)
CAVEAT: you can make this with day old cornbread that you have made (that’s how I do it)–make your cornbread from scratch if you can using real cornmeal.  Make cornbread up to two days earlier, set it out on towels and break it up.  Leave it uncovered to get it stale.  If you do it this way, you will probably need a 9×13 size cornbread.  
One cup of cooked wild rice
1/2 pound sweet italian sausage removed from casing
1 small onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 med apple diced finely (green or yellow)
3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1 egg
1/2 cup slivered almonds
sage or thyme or poultry seasoning (not a lot)
black pepper
1 stick of butter
1 cup chicken broth (you may need a little more, so have a little extra on hand)
Cook your rice–you will probably only need a 1/2 cup to yield 1 cup+
While the rice is cooking, dice your onion, celery, apple, mushrooms
In a deep frying pan (the biggest one you have), over medium-high heat, melt the whole stick of butter, and add sausage (make sure to break it up so it’s in small pieces), celery, onion, apples, mushrooms.  Saute until sausage is cooked.
Add chicken broth to make sure all the good stuff on the bottom comes up.  TURN HEAT OFF.  Then add stuffing mix, rice, and almonds.  Add seasoning now, too.  You will not need salt for this recipe! Combine all until it is the consistency of slighty tacky meatball mix.  You don’t want it drippy, but it needs to be saturated.
Put in large baking dish, 9×13.  HERE’S the MOST IMPORTANT PART: crack and beat one egg in a small bowl, and add it to the baking dish, incorporating it with your hands.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until crispy and brown on top.
I think you will love it as much as I do:)

Radical Education

Yesterday, while on lunch duty with the K-3 crowd, I asked one student what she had for lunch.  Before she answered (this being a first grader, so you know the answer is never the FIRST thing they tell you), she proceded to let me know that the hot lunch was chicken nuggets.  The following conversation ensued:

Me: Don’t you like chicken nuggets.

Girl: Well, I do, but I don’t eat them.

Me: Why not?

Girl: They have nitrates.

Me: (Knowing this, of course) Do they?  What are nitrates?

Girl: They’re a chemical that’s in some meat.

Me: Did your mom tell you about this?

Girl: No, my dad did.  He’s pretty smart.

Me: I’ll say!

Personally, I don’t think she’s missing out on her childhood because she doesn’t eat chicken nuggets (I am guessing that’d be some people’s argument to this little story).  We never had the luxury of eating out while growing up, so my mom made everything we ate.

I know I didn’t miss out on my childhood because I didn’t have chicken nuggets.

Kids say the funniest things, don’t they?

Stop the Presses! I Used a Crockpot

Youguyssss…I am not a fan of the crockpot.  Why?  Because I CAN’T CONTROL IT.  But seriously, I love cooking, and that involves more than just ingredients.  It’s the process, the prep work, the timing, everything.  And, I fancy myself a really good cook.

But this post is to inform you that I, the only person I know who doesn’t own a crockpot, actually used one.

I put a beef loin in the crockpot.  Then I dumped (super appetizing word, huh?) a jar of peperoncinis in the crockpot. I turned it on, and walked away.

BUT I KEPT THINKING ABOUT IT ALL DAY LONG.  Is that supposed to happen?  Because everyone I know who “cooks” in a crockpot says they just forget about the thing as they go about their day.

I actually made THREE trips home to check on it throughout the day.  Which, I suppose was totally unnecessary  but I couldn’t help myself.  I felt like I was cheating.  Cheating on my kitchen, my food, myself.

I was definitely having a hard time with this.

I mean it smelled good and all, but it always smells good in my house because I am always cooking.

Was I missing something about this so-called glorious cooking device?

The beef came out great–very tender, and a little spicy–and it made for some great sandwiches.  A little mustard, some onion, but I have to wonder, can I really say I cooked it?

It’ll be a while before I use that sucker again, methinks.

Fitness Fail–When a Favorite Exercise Just Doesn’t Work Anymore

I was thinking the other day about how much I used to run…at my peak, I was logging 35-40 miles per week.  I ran four half-marathons and one full marathon in just under 2 1/2 years.  Coupled with my 3-4 cycling classes, plus at least an hour of weightlifting a week, I was working out A LOT.  I loved it, but I was going pretty hard.

And then the knee pain started.

It didn’t go away.

So, in June of this year, I started something I thought I always despised (or, at least thought was not a real workout): yoga.  Hot yoga.  Everyday.  Sometimes twice a day.

Let me say this, I have more muscle mass, more LEAN muscle mass than before when I was running, cycling, and lifting like a crazy person.

I still go for occasional runs, but yoga has become the predominate form of exercise for me.  Also, at almost 33 years old, I just think my body wanted a change.  And, my yoga studio offers a multitude of classes–even one using lighter weights–that have just completely changed my body.

I am ten pounds over my weight from when I was running, etc., but I look and feel

better than I ever have.

I’ll take those ten pounds.