Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mexican-inspired stuffing

Stuffing and its culinary cousin, bread pudding, are my favorite adult comfort foods. Stuffing seems underutilized when it only comes out on holidays. I'm calling this "stuffing," although I know it's really "dressing" but that's what I put on salads!
I recently learned that my new bread machine can be used to bake Savory Bread Stuffing. That thrilled me because "fix the oven" has yet to make it to the top of the priority list in our new house, so my choices were going without or making tiny one-serving versions in a miniature loaf pan using the toaster-oven. I may continue to use the bread machine when I do have an oven -- it uses less energy and, if I should want it in the summer, it doesn't heat up the house.

So, when I end up with too much bread, accidentally or on purpose, I make bread stuffing. The recipe is open to endless variations -- I usually let the variety of bread I'm cubing suggest possibilities. Today's purpose was to use up asiago sun-dried tomato bread. I usually make that to go with chili, so I was thinking Mexican as I invented this version.

Using the recipe linked to above as my base, I substituted red pepper for celery and added a chipotle pepper to the vegetables. I always use a couple of tablespoons of oil (in this case, olive) instead of the stick of butter and my stuffing comes out nice and moist and much healthier. I seasoned it with cumin and stirred in a couple of tablespoons of grated asiago cheese.

Stuffing makes a warm, nourishing accompaniment to the main dish salad that my New Year's Resolution has me eating for lunch most days.

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