It’s The Holidays - Chill Out! [15-Minute Grainy Sausage Apple & Fennel Stuffing]

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If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, you’re probably feeling that all too familiar cocktail of nerves, excitement and yes, maybe a little exhaustion. 

Planning for the holidays is tough, often prolonged work. You mull over menu items, figure out dietary restrictions, shop, prep vegetables, appetizers and side dishes, spend a full weekend cooking and then, just like that, it’s over in a matter of bites. And maybe, like me, you sometimes feel a bit guilty that all that time spent stressing out could have been better spent in good company, chilling out, sipping a glass of wine with visiting family and planning a menu that came together extremely quickly, but still deliciously. 

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I make this stuffing almost every year for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. The main ingredients are all plenty flavourful making it less necessary to pump it full of extra spices and ingredients. Using less but making the most of the few things you are using is the easiest and most satisfying way to swap those kitchen hours for chill-time. The stuffing comes together in a hurry and bakes quickly so you can spend your holiday being Thankful instead of exhausted. 

Grainy Sausage Apple & Fennel Stuffing
makes 4 servings

I recommend dicing all the ingredients fairly small so the cooking time is reduced on them. If you have more than 15-20 minutes, feel free to make veg/bread/sausage a bigger dice. 

Recipe can easily be doubled/tripled. 


1 1/2 cups cubed Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage
2 tbsp olive oil or butter
1/2 large onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large Gala apple, small dice
1 fennel bulb, small dice
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, minced
4 cups multigrain bread, cubed
1/2 - 1 cup chicken/veg stock
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 425. 

In a large pan over med-high heat add the sausage, oil/butter, onion, garlic, apple and fennel. Saute until onions are translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add in the parsley and thyme. 

Pour vegetable mixture over the bread cubes and add enough stock to moisten the mixture, about 1/2 cup to start. Stir in the egg. Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 10-15 minutes or until mixture is golden brown and fennel is cooked through. 

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This is a sponsored post. Hillshire Farm sponsored it and compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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Dear Santa [Chocolate-Bourbon Eggnog and Felix & Norton Cookie Dough Review]



Can you believe we’re less than a week away from Christmas? Can someone tell me how on earth this happened? 2012 is less than two weeks away, too. Doesn’t it seem like we were just welcoming 2011 a month or two ago? 

I’m really not sure when November left us, but here we are, panicked and anxious, counting down the days until Santa squeezes his plump little body down your chimneys and crams a few billions cookies and 38495438932859023 liters of milk down his gob. How that guy avoids lactose-intolerance and heart-disease is totally beyond me. I do, however, agree with his present-giving policies. 



I haven’t been as on-the-ball as previous years so my offerings to Santa this year come thanks to Monsieur Félix and Mr. Norton cookies! When they offered to send me some samples to test out, I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Not only did it mean getting to eat cookies, it meant some of my Christmas baking would be done FOR ME. How awesome is that? It’s really awesome. 

I’m pretty sure I had the Styrofoam cooler in my hands and ripped open before the delivery guy even had a chance to say ‘sign here, please’. It was an exciting day, which might not say all that much about my social life, but I’m comfortable with who I am, cookie-obsessed and all. 



Now, I certainly wouldn’t call myself a cookie-connoisseur. Probably something more along the lines of “Will eat any cookie, any day” style. I’m not picky. I don’t like cookies ‘this way’ or ‘that way’. I just like them. Period. Most, if not all, of them. And Felix and Norton make great cookies. I’ve been lucky enough to try them at the Old Port in Montreal, where they sell from their Mobile Bakery, but when I found out they were selling pre-portioned frozen cookie dough, I was floored to say the least. Could it really be true that I could have one of their gooey, bursting-with-Belgium-chocolate, crisp around the edge cookies any time of the day (or..ahem…night)? There really is a Santa! And he must have gotten my wish-list. 



Felix & Norton are bringing the happiness of fresh cookies into your homes, to make at your will. Sure, it’s a little dangerous to have them at the ready 24/7, but we all need to practice self-control at some point, right? Right. I think.

The inviting smell of the warm, freshly baked cookies is enough to send me over the edge. I brought out 2 of of each flavour (Milk Chocolate Chunk, Ménage-à-trois, & Ebony & Ivory) for Mr. GL and I to sample last week and as we bit into the Ménage-à-trois variety, we were both whisked away into a euphoric state by the melty, buttery, warm cookies packed with white, milk and dark chocolate chunks. They were a little on the thin side, but personally, I’m a pretty big fan of a thin lacy cookie that’s soft through the middle. Each variety was perfect in it’s own right. The Ebony & Ivory was extra rich and satisfying, boasting a dark chocolate cookie filled with white chocolate chunks, and the Milk Chocolate Chunk was just as you’d imagine it to be, the quintessential chocolate-chip cookie. If, like me, the idea of having cookies at the ready any time of day appeals to you, Monsieur Felix and Mr. Norton cookie dough is available in the freezer section of select Foodland and Sobeys in Ontario and IGA on the Quebec side. They’re awesome for last-minute cookie-cravings when you don’t have time to plan, or anytime you want a tasty little treat. 



Because I’m hoping Santa will be extra generous when he visits my apartment, I thought it wise to be extra generous to him in return. Not only will I be leaving him a plate of Felix and Norton Cookies, I’ll also be jazzing up some eggnog for him to wash the delicious cookies down with. 

Those that know me well, know that I’m not much for Eggnog. It’s just one of those things I can’t get into, despite so badly wanting to love it. But rather than write it off completely, I thought I would dress it up a touch in hopes that I might fall madly in love as I’ve always hoped.

Mission accomplished! Success! HUZZAH, I say! If I knew all I needed was a little bourbon and melted Swiss dark chocolate, I would have been doing this ages ago. No longer will I stand on the sidelines of holiday parties, left-out and ashamed, as everyone chugs back their boozy eggnog. NO LONGER, I SAY! 

 

Chocolate Bourbon Eggnog and M. Felix & Mr. Norton Cookies
adapted from a recipe given to me by Claire, the wine blogger from foodiePrints 

Granted, I boozed the eggnog up just a little too much, but I’ve adjusted the amounts so that Santa doesn’t get a DUI after visiting your house. We wouldn’t want that. 

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulate sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup Bourbon
1 tbsp dark rum
Cayenne, nutmeg, cinnamon, for garnish (optional)

In a blender or with a hand-mixer, beat the eggs on high for 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat again for 3-5 minutes, until very pale yellow. 



Pour the cream, chocolate, cocoa powder, bourbon and rum into a large saucepan and heat over medium-low heat. Do not let it boil. Whisk often until chocolate is melted and mixed in with the cream. 



Pour the egg mixture into a large bowl and whisking constantly, add 1 tbsp at a time of the warm cream mixture to temper the eggs. If you add it all at ones, you’ll make a big bowl of boozy scrambled eggs. BLECH! Once you’ve added 4-5 tbsp of the warm cream, you can pour the rest in slowly while whisking. 



Ladle into mugs and top with a pinch of cayenne pepper nutmeg and cinnamon. 

And don’t forget to leave Santa some of your tasty Felix and Norton Cookies! 

Disclaimer: Felix and Norton did not compensate me beyond providing the cookie dough. The reviews and opinions are mine and mine alone. 

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