It's the countdown to a very ninja Christmas! Here at the Fur Ninja house, we had a special early Christmas with Mike's kids since we won't see them on the 25th. We opened presents, baked and decorated vegan Christmas cookies (and spilled lots of colored sugar on the floor!), went to see the Love Park Christmas Village, and even got a special phone call from Santa Claus! Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and Mike and I will be dropping the kids off at their mom's, going to see my grandmother, attending a live nativity Christmas Eve service at the church I've been attending, and then lounging on the couch drinking spiked vegan nog and chocolate martinis while watching "Love Actually" and "Gremlins." We've been so busy for the past few days and working on so very little sleep, that we may not get off that couch for quite a while!
But in case you've got more time and energy that I've had lately, or in case you need another dish to round out your Christmas dinner, here's a recipe for a very non-traditional stuffing made with lots of delicious veggies, yummy cornbread, and some smoky and sweet tempeh bacon. Lots of fresh herbs round out the flavor and walnuts add a wonderful crunch. This stuffing is pretty and delicious and would make a great addition to any dinner or family gathering.
Cornbread, Squash, and Brussels Sprouts Stuffing with Tempeh Bacon
A double recipe Ninja Skillet Cornbread cut into 1" cubes OR enough vegan cornbread cubed to make 12 cups
One recipe Smoky Tempeh Bacon cut into bite-sized pieces
1 - 3lb butternut squash
Olive oil for roasting the squash
4 Tablespoons non-dairy butter
1 large leek, cleaned and sliced
2 cups diced celery
1 Tablespoon minced fresh sage
1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup brussels sprouts, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup walnut halves
Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, and rub the squash with oil. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, cut side down and roast for one hour. The squash is done when easily pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and remove the skin from the flesh but do not turn off the oven. Dice the flesh into 1" pieces and place in a large bowl with the cubed cornbread.
Meanwhile, melt the non-dairy butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced leeks, celery, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper and saute for 5 minutes until the vegetables soften. Add the vegetable broth and simmer for another 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Add to the bowl with the cornbread and squash.
Heat a saucepan of water to boiling and add the brussels sprouts. Boil for 4 minutes. Drain and add to the bowl with cornbread and other ingredients along with the chopped parsley and walnuts. Using salad tongs or two large spoons, gently toss everything in the bowl until the ingredients are evenly mixed.
Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan and add the stuffing mixture to the pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Tips and Tricks:
1. This recipe tastes best if your cornbread is slightly stale. The best way to accomplish this is to cut the bread into cubes, place the cubes in a bowl, and just let them sit for a day either on the counter or in the fridge. If you are using fresh cornbread, or if you want a crunchier texture, you can toast the cubes in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
2. Cleaning leeks - leeks tend to have a lot of grit, so make sure you clean them well before using them in this or any other recipe. The easiest way to do this is to slice the leeks and add the slices to a large bowl of cold water. Swish the leeks around a bit, then let them sit in the water for about 5 minutes. The grit will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove the leeks with a slotted spoon without disturbing the water too much and you're ready to go!
3. If you're making a big dinner and need to save time in the kitchen, you can assemble the whole recipe a day or two ahead of time into the baking pan, but don't bake. Cover with foil and place in the fridge until you are ready to pop it in the oven.
So I hope this latest recipe finds all of you well and ready to spend some quality holiday time with loved ones. I will have one more recipe to post before Christmas (chocolate dipped sugar cookies) and then I will be taking some well-deserved down time on the 25th. Mike and I are going to spend a quiet Christmas at home with the kitties and just appreciate how thankful we are to have so much love and so many blessings in our lives. I hope all of you are looking forward to a holiday filled with warmth and love as well. Until next time!
The Fur Ninja <3 3>