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Make stuffings, dressings for Thanksgiving dinner

November is here and that means Thanksgiving Day dinner is on my mind pretty much every single day.
In two weeks (Are any readers saying “yikes?”), we will all be sitting down to enjoy this iconic meal with family and friends.
This column begins a month-long series of recipes for all things Thanksgiving. Today, I wanted to include some of our favorite recipes for dressing, easily my favorite side dish of the meal.
Those who make “stuffing” probably stuff the dressing into the turkey’s cavity and cook it while roasting the bird.
I often call what I make stuffing, but what I really make is dressing.
That is because I much prefer to stuff our turkey with lemons, herbs, and onions and bake the dressing separately.
I love dressing so much, I always make two different ones. Here are some traditional favorites, as well as a few recipes with a twist.
Traditional cornbread stuffing
1/4 cup butter
2 onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup parsley, minced
4 cups crumbled corn bread, dried out in a low oven (preferably homemade)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper

Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onions, celery and garlic until softened but not browned, about seven to eight minutes. Remove from heat. Place cornbread in a large bowl and pour onion mixture over. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, chicken stock and parsley. Pour mixture over cornbread. Stir in walnuts, salt and pepper. Toss together and add more chicken stock if it seems to dry. Pour into a buttered casserole dish and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.
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 Calvados is apple brandy and although it is a little on the pricey side, it truly makes this recipe and is worth seeking out. It can also be used in sangria or mulled wine, so go ahead and splurge on a bottle this holiday seasoning.

Apple and
pistachio stuffing
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Calvados (or brandy)
1/4 cup olive oil
6 cups cubed French bread, dried out in the oven
2 cups shelled pistachios, chopped and lightly toasted
8 tablespoons butter
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Pinch cayenne (optional)
Salt and pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade

Place cranberries in a small bowl and pour Calvados or brandy over. Let sit for an hour or so. Toss bread cubes with olive oil and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven until lightly toasted. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute onions and celery until softened, eight minutes.
Add mushrooms and garlic and cook another few minutes until mushrooms are soft. Place toasted bread cubes in a large bowl.
Pour in sauted vegetables. In a small bowl, toss apple chunks with lemon juice and add to the mixture. Stir in toasted pistachios.
Add nutmeg, paprika, poultry seasoning, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir in chicken stock, adding more if stuffing seems too dry. Pour into buttered casserole dish and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.
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Sausage stuffing with prunes, rice and walnuts
1 pound good quality pork sausage
1/2 cup raisins, chopped
1 cup pitted prunes, chopped
2 cups onion, finely minced
3 tablespoons butter, melted
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
2 cups long grain rice
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
3 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
Cook sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, pour boiling water over raisins and prunes and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, remove sausage to a bowl. Add butter to sausage drippings and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about eight minutes.
Add salt, pepper, thyme and rice, stirring to coat rice kernels in fat. In a separate saucepan, heat chicken stock to boiling. Pour into the rice mixture, cover and cook until rice is tender, but not mushy, about 20 minutes.
Drain the raisins and prunes, patting dry on a paper towel. Add fruit to the sausage and then add rice mixture and parsley, stirring well to combine. Taste for seasoning. Pour into buttered casserole dish and bake in preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.