Since I began writing novels in 2013, I have come to know a LOT of Self-published and Small Press published authors. We tend to belong to the same social media groups and forums. It seems like just about every post, comment, email or newsletter “we” produce is chocked FULL of “Buy my Book” links. Like any relationship that starts with enthusiasm and mutual respect, that sort of monotonous one-sided/ one-subject discussion necessitates a “break”. That’s what this post is.
During the day I design, produce, sell and support Water Treatment control systems for industrial cooling towers and boilers. I also help authors with websites and novel formatting. Besides being physically well-rounded, I have other interests as well. Motorcycles, Cars, Guns, Reading, Writing, 3D CGI Modelling, and Masonry.
And cooking. Yes, the Big Biker-Nerd loves to cook. As a matter of fact, when I’m not tuned into channels like “Velocity” or “SyFy”, I land on “Good eats” or “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Cooking is like experimenting with that chemistry set I had as a child, but with a LOT less explosions and holes eaten into the carpet when the caustic mixes sprang out of test tubes.
I didn’t just “follow recipes”. Sometimes, I go out on my own. For years, I’ve kept the following concoction to myself, only serving to the wife and kids (as well as guests) once a year. Now, I’m going to share the dish with you, the peeps that invest in my efforts.
Here it is. The WORLD’S GREATEST STUFFING. (Seriously…the greatest).
What you need:
4 regular boxes of stuffing mix (Stovetop or your favorite off the shelf)
2 1/2 sticks of butter
2 cans chicken stock
2 “sticks” (8oz) Philadelphia cream cheese
Half pound pre-cooked Shrimp (not canned). get tailed small to medium size Rough chop these.1/4 inch pieces).
12 ounces imitation Crab chunks (not the rolled kind. Rough chop these 1/2″ to 3/4″inch pieces)
One large, or two regular sized, can(s) of SPICED apple pie filling (slices)
1/2 cup of rough cut mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped Green onions (5 or 6)
1 1/2 Teaspoon Old bay seasoning
1 Teaspoon of garlic powder
9×15 cake pan ( or thereabouts)
First, go ahead and make the four boxes of stove-top per the instructions in a big pot, but substitute the chicken stock for some of the water (use a measuring cup). Use the damned BUTTER!! Margarine sucks.
Next, sweat the mushrooms and onions in a pan with butter and add to stuffing mix while it is “resting” in the big pot. It is OK to try and fluff the stuffing so it does not get too clumpy.
In a medium saucepan over med low heat, melt the cream cheese sticks. This is a pain, because you have to move the cheese around and roll it over so it melts evenly into the pan and becomes a pile of GOO.Pay attention or you “cook” it rather than melt it.
Now that it is thoroughly gooey, add the chopped crab and shrimp, as well as the garlic powder and old bay. Stir (Fold) thoroughly but not aggressively. Try not to break the imitation crab up any more than necessary. Leave over low-low heat.
Get the cake pan. Take one half of the stuffing and make a layer in the cake pan. Try not to tap it down, but it needs to be kind of even.
Next, use a spatula to pour and spread the seafood/cream cheese mix EVENLY over the bottom stuffing layer. Make the layer flat and even.
Open the can of spiced apple pie filling. Use a fork to spear and lay individual pieces to create a uniform layer of apple. Use the liquid portion to cover any open areas. Use the second can as needed. Don;t double down on the apple layers, single layer or it gets to sweet.
Now, use the other half of the stuffing to create a top layer. It’s a pain because the stuffing wants to slide around on the apples, but go slow. Use a fork and just work over small areas.
Cover with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350. Remove tinfoil and bake another 5-10 minutes. This re-melts the cream cheese and fills in the gaps. For best results, make this the night before, cool in fridge and reheat before serving. It tastes even better. Also, Turkey gravy goes very well over this stuffing.
Make this once and you’ll end up making it every year.
And now, the story behind the World’s Greatest Stuffing.
When My Wife and I first met, she worked at a restaurant, so she cooked all of the time. I worked in Plastic Molding business (another vocation I became skilled at). Eventually we moved in together. She had kids already, and was used to cooking their meals, so she did most (and by most, I mean “ALL” ) of the cooking.
Two years after moving in together, I was at a different job and told that the company I was working for was putting together a “Christmas Pot Luck lunch”. “Just bring whatever you want to, but most people do something special”.
Great. I hadn’t done any real cooking for a long time, but thought it would be fun. The Interwebz was just getting hot, so I looked up some recipes and dishes. Saw a few ideas for the holiday and decided to make something myself. The recipe above was pulled out of thin air.
I made a shopping list, went to the store, bought the ingredients from my original idea, saw other things to include (like the pie filling) and headed home. I fired up the stove and oven, started mixing, chopping, sauteing, cooking and adjusting.
My wife walked in and her jaw dropped. “You can cook?”
Her: “Since when?”
Me: “Since forever. Cooked when I was a kid because Mom worked. Cooked my own meals in the Air Force. Hell, I took Home Economics in High School.”
She looked mad. What was that about? As I removed my masterpiece from the oven, the uncomfortable silence was interrupted.
Her: “So, even though you know how, you let me do all of the cooking this entire time?”
Me: “Well, you had to do it for the kids anyway and it seemed like you were enjoying it.”
She reached for a fork and stabbed it into the Stuffing. “This better taste like crap.”
She chewed thoughtfully,
“How’s it taste?” I asked.
She frowned, tossed the fork into the sink, and said “You’re going to make a batch for our Christmas dinner and you’re doing half the cooking from now on.”
And that is how the World’s Greatest Stuffing came into existence. Also, it’s why our kids hate to eat “out of the box”. I went nuts with the dinner menu after that.
Hope to see you there. Have a safe and happy Holiday Season!
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