recipes

Fancied-up box stuffing

“Thanksgiving dinners take 18 hours to prepare. They are consumed in 12 minutes. Half-time takes 12 minutes. This is not coincidence.” Erma Bombeck, American humorist

I’ve been cooking a long time and I like to make things from scratch. So, for me, Thanksgiving has become a chance to pull out all the stops. But, when I was a young cook and it was just my husband and I, I used every shortcut in the book to bluff my way through the holidays.

A flavorful apple variety like Honey Crisp or Snap Dragon will really make this stuffing sing.

One of my favorites — which I used just last night — was this heavily doctored version of boxed stuffing. I add so much fruit and veg that the calorie count is seriously reduced at the same time the taste is being seriously enhanced.

So, if you are facing higher cooking expectations than you have experience this Thanksgiving, don’t despair. This recipe is one of many holiday hacks out there. And, pssst, it is likely that no one will know you didn’t start by growing your own sage and making your own bread to grow stale in a basket that you wove from reeds gathered from your backyard stream… 😉

Fancied-up Box Stuffing

Start with a box of stuffing mix. (There are many varieties to choose from, including ones that are vegetarian and/or gluten free. You pick.) Prepare the mix according to box directions. Set aside.

In a wok or large skillet, combine two coarsely chopped apples (peel on), a 1/2 cup of finely minced onion and two ribs of thinly sliced celery. Saute in 1 Tablespoon olive oil about seven minutes or until just fork tender.

Combine fruit and veggies with prepared stuffing. Add one cup black or golden raisins (or a mix if you’re really fancy). Gently stir.

If you are eating this right away, put in a microwavable serving dish and re-heat for no more than a couple of minutes before serving. If you are serving later (this recipe improves with a day or so of age), cool and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Re-heat before serving in a low-temp oven (covered with foil) or in microwave (covered with a paper towel).

This recipe serves 4-6. When doubled — which it does well — it will fill a 9- by 13-inch dish.

24 thoughts on “Fancied-up box stuffing”

  1. Thanksgiving is not a celebration as such here…I would imagine some migrants follow the tradition if that was what they did on birth turf. And hot turkey dinners are not usually on our Christmas menu either unless your forebears or close relative was from the Northern Hemisphere.
    You are more likely to find a cut up bird, steak or similar on a bbq – and often at the beach…as by Dec 25, summer should be here…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds delightful — I’d take a barbecue on the beach any day! 🙂

      I think many Americans have a nostalgic view of New England falls and winters that makes us want to re-create a bit of that life during the holidays, even citizens who are not of European descent. Thanksgiving is really a story of immigration and survival and that is universal in our nation, even though it has become a very complicated narrative.

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  2. I remember one year for some reason my Mom, who always made her stuffing from scratch, had somehow forgotten about the bread for it! There was one little market open because it had the town’s only gas station, and she sent Dad to get some bread, only the shelves were bare. He brought home a bag of stuffing mix and Mom made do. No one found any difference, and when Mom asked how everyone liked the stuffing, everyone said “Great as usual.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🙂 Hey, if your mom cooked like you do, I’m sure she wound up with something really good no matter the raw materials. Your story reminds me of a scene from John Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas.” All the female lead can find for the chaotic impromptu feast at the end is a dodgy smoked salmon (the entire thing). The best cook on the street is called in to work a holiday miracle!

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      1. Perhaps we are related!! That’s how I grew up, as well! (You won’t be sorry on the John Grisham book. I read it every Thanksgiving weekend. It’s poignant, but laugh-out-loud funny. I actually think it’s his best work.)

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    1. 🙂 For some reason, she resonated with me even when I was a little one. I was like 10 and checking her books out of the library. They would make me laugh out loud, even though I had never done anything like lose a sock in the laundry since I had never done laundry. I guess she made ordinary life seem hilarious, which it is.

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