One of my favorite ways to make this traditional holiday side dish is in my slow cooker. It takes very little time to set up and then you can walk away for a few hours and know it's cooking just fine.
I bought a bag of bread cubes, but it wasn't nearly enough and pretty expensive for what you got, so I cubed up most of a loaf of bread on Christmas Eve and left it out on my cookie rack overnight to dry out. It was ready to absorb all that yummy flavour by Christmas morning.
Large chunks of dried bread. I had about 8 cups of cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
3 stalks of celery
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
spices (I used the same one as my roast turkey)
~3 cups chicken stock (You can use vegetable stock to make it vegetarian!)
Place your bread chunks in the slow cooker, and set aside.
Dice your vegetables, and sauté in the olive oil until softened. Add the spices, and stir in until well combined.
Add the vegetables to the crockpot, and then the chicken stock. Stir well until combined, turn onto low, and cover.
In about 2-3 hours, remove the lid and stir around the bread- in my crockpot the outer bread gets crispier, not softer! Replace the lid and in another 2 hours or so turn the temperature guage to "keep warm". Serve when needed.
Pictured with Mexican-Inspired Side-Salad.
The first time I used my Pampered Chef tool called "Cut n' Seal" was (seriously) a decade after I bought it. I was cleaning out my kitchen drawers and decided either it had to be used, or it had to go. So I thought I'd give pizza pockets a try.
They were awesome! They cooked beautifully with very few sauce "explosions", they tasted great, and froze really well. My son took some to school for a few lunches and said they were good to eat, even cold.
Rather than the safe cheese and pepperoni pockets, this time around I really wanted to experiment with fillings. Here is what I cut up for dinner:
Bell peppers (finely diced)
Canned pineapple tidbits (drained)
Grated reduced-fat pizza mozzarella
I've got canned pizza sauce for dinner tonight, because I haven't found a homemade one that everyone likes, and sometimes you really do need a shortcut. If you have a recipe for me, though, please send it my way. My dough recipe is tripled so that I can have lots of leftovers for school lunches. It came from The New Canadian Basics Cookbook, and I modified it slightly.
7.5-9 c. flour, half whole wheat and half all-purpose
3 pkgs. quick rising instant yeast
2.25 tsp sea salt
3 c. hot water
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
To make the dough, you mix it all together in a mixer, and let it rise, covered, for about a half hr. While it's rising you can cut up your veges.
Preheat your oven to 350*F.
Once you're ready to begin, pull out a chunk of dough, and roll it thin on a floured surface. Then, take the cutter and lightly press into the dough so you can see where your toppings should go. (picture 3, above). Put a few spoonfulls of toppings and sauce into a bowl, and mix together. They should be a little bit wet or your pockets will be a bit on the dry side. Place your toppings onto your dough in the centre of each circle. Roll out and stretch a second piece of dough over the first, and use the cutter to cut out your pizza pockets.
Place your pizza pockets onto a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Leave a little space between them. Bake for about 25mins. or until browning. The bottom will brown more than the top. Allow to cool a few minutes before eating them, and cool completely before putting the leftovers away.
This recipe left me with some leftover dough for the freezer, and a rainbow of veges for the fridge for dinner tomorrow night. It baked 32 pizza pockets, and is a Meals Maven exclusive!
Verdict: First son said "They're very tasty" Second son didn't try it. He ate plain old pizza bread and sliced apples instead. Husband said "The whole wheat makes it taste a bit different, but they're really good."