Friday, December 16, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

Over the past two weeks I have shared some of my favorite cookie recipes - those that I have taken to my annual cookie exchange that I participated in when I used to live in Las Vegas.  Today's recipe is the recipe that never was...had we not moved last year, this would have been the cookie that I would have taken to last years exchange.  I LOVE chewy gingerbread cookies!  Leave it to Martha to add chocolate to a favorite and  make it that much more irresistible!

One of my favorite ways to dress up a cookie is to drizzle melted chocolate over the top of it, or to dip half of the cookie into melted chocolate. Here is this cookie done both ways...

I saw this darling idea on Pinterest (I never should have logged on!).  They used peanut butter cookies, but I immediately thought of this recipe to use to make these darling reindeer cookies with the kids.

(recipe from Martha Stewart)

7 ounces semisweet chocolate (or chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon flour
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 Tbs. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 Tbs. freshly grated ginger
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Line two baking sheets with parchment. Chop chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks; set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and grated ginger until whitened, about 4 minutes. Add brown sugar; beat until combined. Add molasses; beat until combined.
In a small bowl, dissolve baking soda in 1 1/2 teaspoons boiling water. Beat half of flour mixture into butter mixture. Beat in baking-soda mixture, then remaining half of flour mixture. Mix in chocolate; turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Pat dough out to about 1 inch thick; seal with wrap; refrigerate until firm, 2 hours or more.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls; place 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Refrigerate 20 minutes. Roll in granulated sugar. Bake until the surfaces crack slightly, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes; transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Melt Aways

Cookies with only four ingredients and no eggs! Crazy but true!  Trust me.  In fact, you have to trust me because as you begin to blend the ingredients together you will doubt that I wrote the proportions correctly, but turn up that mixer and just wait.  Magically the dough will come together and you will be left with a buttery, crumbly yummy cookie that gets all the better when topped (generously) with cream cheese frosting.

I took these cookie to my annual cookie exchange the year before my last year to participate.  Then last year I got a sweet note from one of the participants...she had made these cookies for last years cookie exchange.  It may be the only "repeated" cookie in all the years of the exchange.  I felt like having my recipe present somehow kept my presence there despite me physically being hundreds of miles away.  Thanks Sue!

printable version

1 cup butter
1/3 cup powdered sugar
¾ cup corn starch
1 cup flour

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Beat ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Form into small balls, about the size of a quarter (and no bigger – they will grow as they bake). Bake fro 12 minutes.

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla (almond extract is delicious!)
Food coloring

Make frosting by mixing beating all ingredients until well blended. Frost cookies when they are completely cool. Be generous with the frosting.

Eat the cookies in one bite, as they crumble once bitten into.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Brownie Roll Out Cookies

I have been sharing cookie recipes that I have taken to my annual Christmas Cookie Exchange.  If you have ever wondered what twelve dozen cookies look like, this photo may give you an idea!

The final year that I participated in the cookie exchange was the year that I hosted the event.  It would probably have been a good year for me to choose an easier cookie, but I thrive under unrealistic pressure that I place upon myself, so I chose a cookie that had to be rolled out, cut and baked.  And then I chose to dip each and every cookie in melted white chocolate and sprinkle with crushed candy cane.  It was over the top when multiplied by 12 dozen, but was worth it for every single bite!

This recipe would make a REALLY good crust cookie if you were thinking of making homemade ice cream sandwiches.  In fact, they would be REALLY, REALLY good if you were thinking of making said ice cream sandwiches in the next couple of weeks when you can get seasonal peppermint ice cream found only in the month of December.  Yum!  Enough drooling, here is the recipe...

(recipe from Smitten Kitchen)
printable version

3 cups flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking powder
1cup butter ( ½ cup salted, ½ cup unsalted)
1 ½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup cocoa

Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out cookies on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes. Bake on parchment lined baking sheet for 8-11 minutes until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Holiday Mint Cookies

I am half way through my walk down memory lane...cookie recipes that I took to my annual cookie exchange when I used to live in Las Vegas.  These are truly some of my very favorite.

This recipe was one that I found on the Good Things Utah recipe website.  It calls for cookie dough to be wrapped around miniature mint patties.  The mint melts into the center of each cookie, but when you bite into the cookie there is a thin layer of chocolate remaining and a delightful mint flavor that pleasantly surprises.  The first time I made these cookies they brought back a definite memory, but to this day I have not been able to place the memory - I almost wonder if my mother or one of my grandmothers made a similar cookie.  I'm not sure but if any of my relations make these and have the same recollection, please let me know.  Maybe we can unravel the mystery together :)

I dressed these cookies up for the cookie exchange by drizzling them with some melted chocolate.  Really simple but I think it adds a lot to their appeal.

printable version

3 ¼ cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 stick butter
½ cup shortening
1 cup sugar
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbs. water
1 tsp. vanilla
1 package mini chocolate mint patties (like York Peppermint Patties)

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In mixer, cream butter and shortening; add sugar and brown sugar and cream until mixed thoroughly. Add eggs, water and vanilla.
Blend in dry ingredients.
Chill dough.
Open package of chocolate mint wafers and unwrap. Enclose each wafer in cookie dough. Place on greased baking sheet.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Once cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate chips if desired.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Premier Cheesecake Cranberry Bars

The first time I ate these Cheesecake Cranberry Bars was at my mom's home when I was visiting.  I knew after the first bite that they would be the next "cookie" that I would take to my annual cookie exchange.  As I packaged 12 dozen plates of them, I realized that they were a bit more labor intensive than some of my other choices, but they were worth it.  I was confirmed that they were worth it when a couple of days after the cookie exchange the hostess for that year called me directly to tell me how much she loved them.  This meant a lot coming from this individual as she was a known entertainer and an amazing cook!

If you need a real "knock your socks off" dessert this holiday, this may be just what you are looking for.

(recipe from Linda W.)
printable version

2 cups flour
1 ½ cups quick-cooking oats
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
12 oz. pkg. white chocolate chips
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
14 oz. can sweetened condensed. Milk
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce (I prefer Trader Joe's "fresh" sauce sold in the refrigerated section)
2 Tbs. cornstarch

Combine flour, oats and brown sugar in large bowl. Cut in the butter until crumbly. Stir in the white chocolate chips. Set aside 2 ½ cups of this mixture to be used as topping. With floured fingers, press remaining mixture into a greased 13x9x2 inch pan.
Beat cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add condensed milk, lemon juice and vanilla; mix until smooth. Pour over crust layer.
Combine cranberry sauce and cornstarch and spoon over the cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle reserved morsel mixture over top of all.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until the center is set.
Cool completely on wire rack. Cover and refrigerate up to one day. Cut into bars.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Loaded Chocolate Crinkles

I am posting the recipes for my very favorite cookies over the next couple of weeks - cookies that have "represented" me at my annual cookie exchange.  The best of the best!

These may look like your standard chocolate crinkles, but the key word her is LOADED.  And when I say "loaded" I mean loaded with good things like chocolate chips and chunks of candy cane kisses (like hershey kisses/hugs but sold at Christmas time - white chocolate and peppermint swirled together).  These are good enough to warrant your eyes rolling back into your head, or maybe that is just me.

Whether you are looking for cookie exchange inspiration or something to leave out for Santa to enjoy - these will definitely fit the bill.

(recipe from Karen S.)
printable version

¾ cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
¾ cup cocoa
2 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 pkg. Hershey’s Hugs (try candy cane kisses for an awesome twist)
½ pkg. milk chocolate chips

Chop the Hugs into large, coarse pieces.
Mix together well: butter, sugar, vanilla, eggs, & cocoa.
Stir together flour, baking powder & salt, then add to chocolate mixture.
Stir in chopped Hugs and chocolate chips.
Chill dough for a couple of hours.
Form dough into balls and roll in powdered sugar. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
When cooled, they can be dipped halfway in melted white chocolate for a fancier look.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Serving Up {Cookies}: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Bites

Prior to our move to Oregon we lived in Las Vegas for nine years.  For eight of those years I participated in a Cookie Exchange with a group of ladies from my church.  It was something that I totally looked forward to every year - not because of the cookies (although that was a bonus) but because we treated it as a ladies night out and I could not ask for better associations.

Our cookie exchange consisted of twelve women.  Each participant baked 12 dozen (yes, twelve) and packaged them in 12 containers of one dozen each.  We would get together at the hostess' home (which we switched each year) and have a delicious dinner.  When the evening ended we would then each present the cookies we baked and give each participant one container.  We would then return home with 12 dozen cookies of all variety.  I don't know what others did with their cookies, but I would always promptly go home, eat one of each kind and then freeze the remainder.  Throughout the month of December, whenever someone came over I would pull out of the freezer a variety of cookies to serve.  It worked great!

The cookies that I baked each year are some of my favorite so I thought that I would share the recipes for my cookie exchange cookies over the next couple of weeks.  Of the eight years, I attended seven exchanges, yet can only remember the cookies I baked for six of the years.  Yes, it is really bugging me that I can't remember!  You would think after baking 12 dozen it would be etched in my memory.  Super annoying, but I have no choice but to move on :)

The very first year of the cookie exchange I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with my second child and thought I would go for a less labor intensive cookie.  I baked Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cup Bites, which use a refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough and peanut butter cups.  Could not get any less labor intensive than that.  I distinctly remember sitting on a bar stool while I unwrapped 144 peanut butter cups (plus a few more to reward my efforts :)

The chocolate chip cookie dough is placed in mini muffin tins and baked until done. 
(I prefer slightly under done for this recipe)
When the muffin tins come out of the oven, immediately press an unwrapped peanut butter cup into the center.
(I keep my peanut butter cups in the fridge after unwrapping them so that they aren't soft for this step)
The peanut putter cup will melt but as the cookie cools, so will the chocolate.
Delicious & Easy!


1 package of refrigerated Tollhouse Cookie dough
1 package miniature peanut butter cups

Unwrap the peanut butter cups and set aside (preferably in the refrigerator).
Use a cookie scoop and place cookie dough into greased miniature muffin tins.
Bake at time and temperature as directed on cookie dough package.
Remove cookies from oven and place a miniature peanut butter cup in the center of each cookie and press into the center.
Allow to cool slightly before removing from muffin tin.  Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Serving Up {Candy}: Peppermint Oreo Bark

There is something dangerous about a recipe that only requires three ingredients and tastes THIS GOOD! Consider yourself warned...

I received a bag of this Oreo Bark upon the birth of my third child.  A friend that I went to church with brought over dinner and included this candy treat.  The problem was that my husband loves mint and chocolate and he didn't realize how dangerous this candy would be.   One bite and he was hooked - until it was gone. Now take into consideration that I had just had a baby and was hormonal. I'm embarrassed to say that I was MAD that he had eaten all the candy. Hadn't I been the one that had had the baby?  

Luckily we made it past that little incident and I secured the recipe for myself.  I have since been able to make this recipe many times, and haven't had to have a baby each time :)

This is a perfect treat to give out at holidays.  I like to use green food coloring at Christmas or St. Patrick's Day.  I've used red for Valentines day as well as for baby showers for little girls.  This batch was made in yellow, pink and green and was given as an Easter treat at church.  Super fun and easy and well received.

(recipe from Julie R.)
printable version

3 11-ounce bags of white chocolate
3 sleeves (one box) OREO cookies
peppermint extract
food coloring (optional)

Break OREO cookies into fourths and place into a large bowl.
Melt white chocolate in double broiler over low heat.
Once chocolate is completely melted, add 6-8 drops of food coloring, if desired.
Add 1 generous cap full of peppermint extract and stir well.
Pour chocolate over the broken OREOs, stir to mix together and spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place in a cool spot and allow to set for 5-6 hours.
Once the chocolate is firm, break into bite sized pieces.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Serving Up {Candy}: Oreo Truffles & Cake Balls

Today is a double feature!  Two DELICIOUS recipes for homemade chocolates that anyone can make!

The holidays are upon us and that frequently means that it is time to make goodies to share with friends and neighbors.  Both of these recipes are "cheater" recipes that will taste absolutely gourmet but will not require candy thermometers or anything similarly "daunting".
(another similarly easy candy recipe will be coming later this week - stay tuned)

The Oreo Truffle recipe I first made for a St. Patrick Day treat a few years ago and I opted to crush mint Oreo's and dipped them in green wilton chocolate melts.  They turned out really cute and the mint was really a yummy twist.  Keep that in mind.

The Cake Ball recipe has been all over the internet for years and people get darned creative with them.  The original recipe I saw called for red velvet cake mix and cream cheese frosting.  I have branched out and tried just about every cake/frosting flavor combination you can come up with (yes, even lemon and strawberry - but not those two together!).  My favorite is a chocolate cake mix and a chocolate fudge frosting.  In defense of my playing favorites, I took a plate of these (made with chocolate on chocolate) to a new family in the neighborhood who had just moved from the east coast.  The response I got was that they were "exactly" like some insanely expensive "truffles" that they had enjoyed in their previous hometown and they didn't believe that I had made them - after their enthusiastic response I never dared tell them that I had used a cake mix!

I have been asked before how I "dip" my chocolates.  I learned this little trick a couple of years ago and it is now the only way I "dip".  Take a plastic fork and break off the two middle tines, leaving just the two outside tines in place.  Place your balls of candy in your melted chocolate and use the fork to roll it around and to scoop the finished product out of the chocolate.  (see photo below).
I also have discovered that I prefer parchment paper over wax paper for setting my chocolates on to set up - there is a difference and parchment paper is MUCH better!

(recipe from Kraft foods magazine)
printable version

1 8-ounce pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 pkg. OREO cookies, finely crushed
Milk chocolate (or dark chocolate) wafers, for melting and dipping

Blend cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well blended.
Using cookie scoop, make 1" balls.  Place in refrigerator for an hour or so to make the balls more firm.
In a microwave safe glass bowl, melt your dipping chocolate.  Heat for 1 minute and remove and stir.  Heat for additional 30 minute intervals, stirring between each until smooth.
Remove balls from refrigerator and dip in the melted chocolate.
Place on parchment paper and allow the chocolate to set up.
Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs or holiday sprinkles.

(recipe from Bakerella)
printable version

1 box chocolate cake mix + ingredients to bake as directed on box
1 can chocolate fudge frosting
chocolate bark or "wilton melts" - chocolate or white chocolate

Bake the cake mix, as directed, for 13x9 cake.  Once baked, allow to cool completely and then crumble it into a large bowl.
Add the can of frosting and mix well (I use my beaters).
Using cookie scoop, roll into 1" balls and place in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours to chill and set up.

In a microwave safe glass bowl, melt your dipping chocolate.  Heat for 1 minute and remove and stir.  Heat for additional 30 minute intervals, stirring between each until smooth.
Remove balls from refrigerator and dip in the melted chocolate.
Place on parchment paper and allow the chocolate to set up completely.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Serving Up {Snacks}: Peanut Butter Fritos

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away.  I have posted my recipes for stuffing, yams, potatoes, beans, rolls and two pies (here and here).  I hope that your Thanksgiving is a delicious success!  I got out of hosting and cooking this Thanksgiving with a doctor's release, so I will be a guest this year and enjoy the delicious traditions of others.

Not to jump ship from Thanksgiving too quickly, but at our home there is as much talk about the "Civil War" game this weekend as there is about turkey day.  Here in Portland, the big game is Oregon State vs U of O.  I don't know if all civil war rivalry games fall on this weekend, but should your big game be this weekend, like ours is, I have the perfect football game snack...Peanut Butter Fritos.  The combination of sweet and salty and crunchy is nearly perfect - this is truly a dangerous combination.  Dangerous but delicious!  And oh so easy!  Give it a will be glad that you did!

(recipe from Skip to My Lou)
printable version

1 package Frito corn chips
1 cup light corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter

Spread corn chips onto a greased baking sheet.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring corn syrup and sugar to a boil, stirring frequently until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in the peanut butter until smooth. Pour the sauce over the corn chips and lightly toss to coat.
Cool and break into pieces.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Serving Up {Pie}: Decadent Triple Layer Mud Pie

While my mom's recipe for Pumpkin Chiffon Pie is a standard Thanksgiving dessert at our house, we don't generally stop with only one pie offering. In fact, prior to our move from Vegas, we had a traditional "Pie Night" a couple of days after Thanksgiving and were joined each year by another family that we loved and adored greatly. My husband and I discussed having the tradition continue last fall after our move but my heart was not ready to replace those dear friends and so we will wait until their first visit to Oregon and will then pull out the pie :)
(you know who you are and, yes, that was an invitation).

As traditional as pumpkin pie may be, our family Thanksgiving has always included this recipe for Decadent Triple Layer Mud Pie.  It is a favorite.  You can just never go wrong with chocolate!

I would like to give credit to it's source but all that I can remember is that I got the recipe out of a magazine in the waiting room to donate blood.  Weird that I remember it, but it's probably because I tore the page out of the magazine and I would totally chastise my child if they did that to a "public" magazine.  I guess the call of the recipe was just too great for me to ignore.  I have absolutely no regret :)

printable version

3 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 OREO pie crust
½ cup chopped, toasted pecans (optional)
2 cups cold milk
2 pkg. (4-serving size) chocolate instant pudding
8 ounce cool whip

Mix chocolate and sweetened condensed milk until well blended. Pour into crust and sprinkle with toasted pecans.
Pour milk into a large bowl. Add both packages of pudding and beat with a whisk until well blended.
Spoon 1 ½ cup of pudding over chocolate and pecans in the pie crust.
Add ½ of the cool whip to the remaining pudding; stir until well blended. Spread this over the pudding layer in the crust.
Top with the remaining cool whip, or just add a dallop of cool whip at the time of serving the pie.
Refrigerate 3 hours, or until set.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Serving Up {Vegetable}: Thanksgiving Beans

Last Thanksgiving was the first Thanksgiving in twelve years of marriage that we celebrated with (part of) my husband's family.  Isn't that crazy?  We had just moved to Oregon and were living with my in-laws who were preparing to move back east.  Needless to say, the household in general was a bit topsy turvey.  My sister-in-law and I took care of everything except for the turkey, which we left to my father-in-law.  When it came to vegetables, I prepared a green salad and my sister-in-law prepared roasted brussel sprouts and we both agreed "NO GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE".

When my mother-in-law discovered that there wasn't a green bean casserole on the menu she let me know that it was requested yearly by one family member in particular who was going to be in attendance.  She offered to put it together and we left it at that.  When Thanksgiving arrived, there was a beautiful, creamy green bean casserole on the table - topped with golden crushed croutons and large shredded pieces of Swiss cheese.  I immediately understood that this was not the canned green beans and mushroom soup dish that I had attempted to void from the meal.  In fact, I determined to not title it "green bean casserole" because this is in it's own category - delicious!

(recipe from Marilyn D.)
printable version

2 (12 ounce) bags of French  cut beans (frozen)
2 Tbs. flour
2 Tbs. butter
1 pint sour cream
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. onion powder
½ pound swiss cheese, grated
croutons, crushed

Cook the beans until just tender; drain well.
In a saucepan make a rue by melting the butter and adding the flour; stir until free of lumps. Remove from heat and cool.
Combine sour cream, salt, and onion powder. Add to the cooled rue. Add the grated swiss cheese and then add the beans and mix everything together.
Pour into a buttered glass cooking dish and top with crushed croutons (could use crackers or corn flakes). Dot with additional butter and a bit more swiss cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until heated through.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Serving Up {Potatoes}: Refrigerated Mashed Potatoes

Fall is in the air and I am beginning to crave heartier meals.  Meals that I grew up on, like meat and mashed potatoes.  And these are my mom's ULTIMATE mashed potatoes.  In fact, she took these to every family Thanksgiving gathering that I remember - they are part of the tradition at our house.  I grew up not even appreciating gravy because, trust me, you don't need gravy on these potatoes.  They are loaded with yummy flavors and can definitely stand alone.  (I have since learned to appreciate the gravy and happily drown the turkey and stuffing with gravy).

I am not sure where the name came from, but I assume they are called "refrigerated" because my mom always made these the day before and then refrigerated them until serving them, when they would be warmed through in the oven prior to serving.  That option of making them ahead really helps out when you are in charge of Thanksgiving dinner and need to divide all the labor between a few days.

One last plug for these potatoes - my husband doesn't like potatoes.  Isn't that weird?  But he likes these potatoes and eats them whenever they are served.  So if these are good enough to win over a non-potato eater, you may just have to give them a try.

(recipe from Linda W.)
printable version

5 lbs. potatoes
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. butter

Boil the potatoes in salted water.  Mash until smooth, using reserved potato water for liquid.  Add remaining ingredients while potatoes are hot and beat until light and fluffy.  Cool, cover and refrigerate.
When ready to serve, place potatoes in a buttered casserole dish.  Dot the top with additional pats of butter. Bake in a 350 degree oven until heated through.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Serving Up {Side Dish}: Savory Sausage Stuffing

I have to admit that when it comes to stuffings, add some craisins to a box of Stove Top and I am actually quite happy. I guess I am admitting to easily satisfied taste buds or I am giving Stove Top quite the rave review. Hmmmm.

While Stove Top stuffing may meet my needs on a random week night, there is something about Thanksgiving dinner that demands that the onion and celery and garlic be freshly chopped... that the bread cubes be cut by my own hand, brushed with oil and toasted in my own oven... that I throw in some spinach and cashews, and maybe even craisins, by eyeballing it. I have been creating and adjusting this recipe for years. I will admit that this recipe is a bit of work but the end results are, dare I claim, better than Stove Top.

**as written this recipe makes a LOT!  As in, if you aren't taking it to a family gathering, you may want to scale it back**

printable version

2 packages Jimmy Dean sausage (I prefer Sage flavored)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ cup onion, diced
1 ½ cup celery, diced
1 cup grated carrots
3 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounce pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and drained (I use fresh)
2 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1 tsp. black pepper
15 ounce herbed dry bread, cubed
(use Italian bread, brush with olive oil and bake until browned)
2 cups chicken broth
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 cups whole cashews
Craisins, optional (wink)

In a large skillet, cook sausage until no longer pink. Add mushrooms, onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Cook and stir for 10 minutes until vegetables are softened. (If using fresh spinach, add the last 2-3 minutes to wilt it down).
Transfer meat and vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
Pour everything into a large buttered 4-quart casserole dish. Bake for 60 minutes at 325 degrees.
**Stuffing is a snap done in a crockpot. Cut liquid in half and cook for four hours**