And now, let the posting of lightened up Thanksgiving recipes begin! This cornbread stuffing combines our apple destination with the new theme hitting the blog this week: Cranberries! Over the weekend, I was in full-fledged Thanksgiving mode, whipping up staples like turkey, mashed potatoes and this stuffing, while also trying out some unique Thanksgiving leftover recipes that I can’t wait to share with you!
Before we get to the leftovers though, let’s concentrate on actual Turkey day eats. What are you cooking this year? Were you assigned a dish to bring? I’m on veggie side dish and dessert duty. But those recipes are coming later because right now, I’d like to talk about this fabulous cranberry apple bacon cornbread stuffing. Did you catch all of that deliciousness?
This ain’t your standard stuffing. This isn’t even a twist on the classic. This is like a whole new world…a dazzling place I never knew. (sorry, couldn’t help it!) Up until a few years ago, I didn’t even know cornbread stuffing was a thing. Who knew you could use sweet crumbly cornbread in place of dried up breadcrumbs, add fruit for a tangy punch of flavor, and bacon for a salty kick? Being the biggest sweet/savory/salty dish fan in the universe and having discovered this ingenious combination of flavors, I will never make another kind of stuffing again. Cornbread stuffing for life.
The challenge for me in developing this recipe was to find a way to lighten it up. Cornbread and bacon don’t exactly scream healthy. Luckily, I saved some fat and calories in the cornbread department by using nonfat greek yogurt in place of buttermilk. And for the overall dish, I bulked it up with the fruit and veggies. But can’t do much to lighten up bacon. Bacon is bacon and we don’t want it any other way.
Quick confession here. Baking intimidates the hell out of me. I was thisclose to buying a boxed cornbread mix. I can throw together a savory dish with no prob. But baking is another ball game –one in which I feel obligated to follow the recipe to a T or else I risk a kitchen disaster. And then throw in the commitment to making it light and healthy, and I feel completely overwhelmed. But hey, the theme of this blog is adventurous healthy cooking. So this is the perfect opportunity to conquer my fear of (healthy) baking!
The lightened up cornbread I used in this stuffing turned out perfect. Slightly sweet, tangy from the greek yogurt, moist, and crumbly at the same time! Refrain from snacking on all those cornbread pieces before assembling the dish.
Once the cornbread is baked and the veggies and fruit are cooked, this dish comes together so quick and easily. Mix everything together with chicken broth and pop it in the oven. Serve this hot out of the oven or like someone I know (ahem Dan), you could grab a fork, take the entire container straight out of the fridge at 8am and go to town.
- 1 ¼ cup ground yellow cornmeal
- ⅓ cup flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon agave
- ¼ cup egg whites
- ½ cup milk
- 4 slices center cut bacon
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 small apple, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Dash ground pepper
- ⅓ cup craisins
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped sage
- 1 can low sodium chicken broth
- Prepare the stuffing: Heat oven to 375 degrees. For the cornbread, combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the wet ingredients in another bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir lightly until combined. Coat a tin foil lined baking sheet or a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Spread the batter into the dish. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown.
- Prepare the mix-ins: While cornbread is baking, prepare the rest of the ingredients. In a large sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat until crispy. Place bacon on a paper towel to soak up the grease. Then, chop the bacon into small bits. In the same pan used for the bacon, add the onions, celery, and apple, cooking on low-medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and ground pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes until soft. Add the cranberries and sage and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Bake the stuffing: Once cornbread is cool, slice it into ½” cubes. In a large bowl, combine the cornbread cubes, bacon bits, and cranberry apple mixture. Pour the chicken broth over the mixture little by little, stirring in between pours. Coat a casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread the stuffing evenly into the pan. Pop in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and slightly crispy.