Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

My favorite stuffing recipe that I used to make nearly every holiday season is my own take on Whole Foods’ Southern-Style Chicken Sausage and Buttermilk Cornbread Stuffing recipe.  I hadn’t brought this to a potluck in a few years as I’d been more focused on dessert, so I decided to make it this year and finally share the recipe.

Cornbread stuffing in general is never too mushy, and it lends some extra texture and flavor that white bread doesn’t have.  I really like this recipe because of the sweet and salty nature of it.  You can change up the balance of flavors by using a different type of sausage too – sweet, spicy, salty, etc.  Here’s the recipe as adapted from Whole Foods:

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe cornbread (I used Marie Callenders’ cornbread mix)
  • 1 pound Trader Joe’s Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage, sliced into bits  (1 pound is about 1.5 packages)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken broth, more if needed
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

Directions:

  1. Cut cornbread into cubes and spread out on a baking sheet to dry overnight or toast in a 300°F oven for one hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add sausage and break up using a spatula. Cook 5 to 7 minutes, until browned. Remove from pan using a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

    Lay your cooked sausage on a towel
    Lay your cooked sausage on a towel
  3. Remove drippings and add 4 tablespoons butter to the pan and heat over medium heat. Add onion, celery and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft, about 4 minutes. Add apples, sage and thyme. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, until apples are softened. Stir in sausage.

    Soften celery and onions, mince the apple
    Soften celery and onions, mince the apple
  4. Place dried cornbread in a large mixing bowl. Stir in sausage mixture and pine nuts. Add just enough broth to moisten the cornbread, about 1 1/2 cups. Add plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Spread into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Cut remaining 4 tablespoons butter into small pieces and place on top of stuffing. Bake 35 minutes.
Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing
Chicken Apple Sausage Cornbread Stuffing

Old faithful never lets me down!

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Chicken Sausage and Brussels Sprouts (Dinner à la Trader Joe’s)

I love Trader Joe’s.  I have lived walking distance from aforementioned lover ever since I finished college.  It’s the perfect place for people who don’t have time to cook, don’t know how to cook, and/or don’t want to cook. They have lovely niche items, as well as your every day staples – all at great prices.  There are a handful of items that I now purchase exclusively from Trader Joe’s not just due to their great prices and bountiful array of healthy options, but also because I’ve found that the TJ brand just tastes better than competitive brands (i.e., sun-dried tomatoes, butternut squash ravioli, beets, dark chocolate, almond butter, etc.).

Nothing hurts my soul more than a market-meanderer.  Those people set up camp in the aisles with no purpose other than to double the time my trip to the store is supposed to take.  They walk right in front of me and then stop to add nothing to their cart, staring longingly at the cheese puffs. I can be pretty patient with situations like these, but after waiting longer than what’s fair, I always intercede the wretched chicken stock-blocker with an “Excuse me, can I get by?  PS – don’t buy the cheese puffs. You are fat.” Okay, maybe that last part is just what goes through my head.

One mistake you never want to make is to go to a grocery store before you’ve eaten dinner without a list or idea of what you want to eat. You’ll end up buying way too much stuff and be one of those aisle-cloggers I so detest. I did exactly this last week (sans aisle-clogging), and decided to try to make my hoard somehow work.

I wanted to make something with the TJ butternut squash triangoli (super low in fat and calories for what it is, btw) and brussels sprouts. But what?  I ‘ve paired bacon with brussels sprouts many a time, so I decided to try it with chicken sausage. However, chicken sausage generally isn’t as sweet as bacon and I didn’t want to get something as sweet as a chicken apple sausage which would compete with the sweetness of the triangoli.  Being obsessed with the California sun-dried tomatoes from Trader Joe’s as it is, I got a package of those and then went with the sun-dried tomato chicken sausage.

Ingredients - all from TJ's
Ingredients – all from TJ’s

Cooking the brussels sprouts in the chicken sausage grease (I know – it sounds so gross) gave the otherwise pretty bitter brussels some great flavor.

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, Onions, and Garlic
Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, Onions, and Garlic

Here’s my original “recipe”.

Ingredients:

1 package Trader Joe’s Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Sausage, sliced
3 cloves garlic*, minced
1 small Vidalia (sweet) onion*, diced
1 bag of Trader Joe’s brussels sprouts (16-oz), halved
1 tbsp Trader Giotto’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning
Handful of Trader Joe’s California Sun-Dried Tomatoes – Julienne Cut
1 package Trader Giotto’s Butternut Squash Triangoli, cooked
Grated parmesan cheese* (optional)

*also purchased from Trader Joe’s

Directions:

  1. Heat a nonstick skillet to medium-high heat.  Slice and cook sausage til brown. Transfer sausage to a plate covered wtih a paper towel, without losing any of the drippings.  There won’t be very much as it is.
  2. Heat olive oil in the same skillet, and cook the  onion and garlic until the onions become soft, scraping up the bits of the sausage drippings that have now browned. Add about 4-6 turns of the Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning.
  3. Add brussels sprouts and cook until slightly softened but crunchy, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the brussels sprouts are cooking, prepare the triangoli according to package directions.
  5. Toss everything together, add some the sun-dried tomatoes and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
  6. EAT.
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Chicken Sausage and Brussels Sprouts
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Chicken Sausage and Brussels Sprouts

I like dishes that combine sweet and salty, so this might be a bit off the beaten path but I’ve really enjoyed it. Hopefully you can too!

P.S. This post is not sponsored by Trader Joe’s.  I just love them.