Chocolate Cornucopia and Milk Chocolate Rum Raisin and Dark Chocolate Truffles

Top photo: finished Jalapeno Sausage Cornbread Dressing, bottom–the ingredients

I made so many things this year that I chose one recipe and dish to feature–the cornbread dressing. I will describe some of the other things I made, though. I wanted to wow my granddaughters, Grace and Kyndal with something really different so I made a chocolate cornucopia and truffles. Some of the truffles were milk chocolate with rum raisin milk chocolate filling, some were dark chocolate and kahlua rolled in toasted nuts, coconut, and sprinkles. Judging by how quickly they disappeared I think they were very good. I had the granddaughters break up the cornucopia which they really enjoyed.
I also made a New York cheesecake for my daughter, Helen. She wanted just plain cheesecake, no fancy toppings, and gluten free. I found gluten free graham crackers and they tasted just like the regular ones. The cheesecake was silky smooth and delicious.

Here’s the entire menu:

Spicy cranberry chutney
Sweet potato souffle with chipotle peppers
Sauteed green beans with almonds
Jalapeno and sausage cornbread dressing
Brined and Roasted turkey
Smoked turkey
Baked acorn squash
Sweet potato rolls
Brown butter pecan pie
Rum raisin truffles and chocolate cornucopia
New York Cheesecake

I also made hot smoked salmon on Friday for a second family dinner, pictured here. We had leftovers from Thanksgiving that and the salmon for Will, who is a pescatarian.
My thoughts about the menu this year:
Cranberry chutney–excellent, sweet, spicy with lime and orange zest and juice. I’d make it again.
Sweet potato souffle–ick–overcooked it–enough said.
Sauteed green beans–fresh green beans, blanched and sauteed in olive oil with toasted almonds. Simple and wonderful

Jalapeno and sausage dressing–best thing!
Brined and roasted turkey–my first time brining and probably my last–too salty and changes the texture of the meat in a weird way
Smoked turkey–8 hours in the smoker for a 10 pound turkey. The day after is the best and it was tender and flavorful. I used a simple spice rub and just set in directly on the rack. I’m going to experiment and try wrapping it in a butter soaked t-shirt like my friend, Chef Lisa.
Baked acorn squash–simple, just a little butter and seasonings, and very tasty
Sweet potato rolls–from Artisan Baking Company were wonderful
Brown butter pecan pie–another favorite this year–next time use the vanilla bean
Rum raisin truffles–loved them–a good Christmas gift for sure
New York Cheesecake–should have taken a photograph.
Jalapeno Cornbread Dressing
4 T butter
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups corn kernels
2 T minced garlic
1 cup diced red bell pepper
3-4 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
8 ounces bulk pork sausage (omit for vegetarian version) Brown, drain, and set aside.
2 eggs
3 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 T freshly chopped cilantro leaves
2 T freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 cups cubed and toasted cornbread (or use my gluten free green chile cornbread found on previous blog post)

I made my own cornbread for Thanksgiviing but used Central Market cornbread last week for a potluck and it was fine. Toast cornbread by putting in on a sheet pan and in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees. Melt butter and sweat vegetables until tender. Whisk together eggs, stock, cream and herbs and season with salt and pepper. Combine all items, including cornbread in a 4 quart lasagna pan and cook covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 20 more minutes.
The spicy jalapenos, tender cornbread, and all the flavors worked so well together. I would have been happy just eating a bowl of this dressing.
It’s bittersweet to be able to make anything I want for holiday dinners now. While I love choosing my own menu I really, really miss my parents and their special holiday cooking and I missed making the icky things my children had to have–the pink stuff ( a cherry, cool whip, fruit concoction) and the sweet potato casserole (with the tons of brown sugar and butter) for Alexandra, as well as the canned cranberry sauce for John David. Glenn always wanted green bean casserole. My mother always had to have canned yams cut up dotted with butter, brown sugar, and maple syrup, and pumpkin pie. I made my fancy and not good sweet potatoes this year and missed hers. She also always made up a “relish tray” of pickles, peppers, olives, and the like. I skipped that this year and I’ll admit I preferred the cheesecake and pecan pie over the pumpkin pie, though. My father used to get up early and make turkey stock and stuffing. He was an Army food service expert and used to making Army size portions. He also believed in brown food. I remember him showing me how to make roux when I was a child, and his gravy was excellent, much better than mine. I wish I knew how to make his dressing. I have tried many times but it’s never the same. It had a combination of herb bread stuffing, cornbread stuffing, celery, onions, sausage and then various seasonings. Although I don’t make the same foods I remember those Thanksgiving dinners fondly and would love to taste his highly seasoned dark brown stuffing and great gravy again. But now I make my own lighter dishes, spiced up with peppers, and nothing out of a can.
Sitting around the table with my four children and their partners, my grandchildren, and Steve was a special time. I hope one day my children reach back in time and make something for their families that I loved.
On Saturday, my son John David, called to ask me a question (about cooking ) and mentioned that Lauren, his wife, who couldn’t be at the family dinner, really liked the dressing. He wanted the recipe. I told him I planned to post it here and thought to myself with a little sadness how I wish I had asked my father many, many years ago for his stuffing recipe.