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challah stuffing

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Thirty-six hours before the cooking-est day of the year in America is as good time as any to for us to talk about some hard-won cooking truths: There’s the idea of the perfect menu (all of my favorite recipe darlings in one place) and then there’s the actually perfect menu (the one you can pull off in a reasonable amount of time with as little stress as possible; darlings, murdered.) This is the kind of recipe we use when we come to our senses.


celeryleeksherbsin buttercook the leeks and celeryready to assemble

The reasoning is deliciously selfish: I’m not throwing feasts to miss them. I want to be wedged on the sofa between friends I never see enough of with a cocktail in my hand, telling terrible stories, not sweating in the kitchen because I forgot to wash the thyme leaves before stripping them and now my fingertips are worrisomely gray? (This is highly specific because it happens all the time.) Nobody I know or care to hang out with is going to care if I chuck the thyme in the trash and move on. The way I want to cook is — excuse the crushing earnestness here — the way I want to live; little extraneous noise in my recipes, lots of noise in the living room. Repeat after me: The time for the 4-process side dish is when it’s the only thing you’re making.

a stale challah

Which brings us to the stuffing I began making when I started hosting Friendsgiving dinner vs. contributing to Thanksgiving Official in another home. It began in a kind of silly way. After shooting this episode earlier one fall, we ended up with a serious surplus of challah dough. I shoved it in the freezer in a big plastic bag and then, as I was trying to figure out the best bread to use for stuffing, I took it out, braided it up, brushed it with egg and made the sloppiest challah you’ve ever seen and what turned out to be the simple, easy to scale, easy to replicate forever, stuffing of my dreams — just celery, leeks, and herbs and although you can add diced mushrooms or sausage or use onions instead. This is an extremely flexible recipe, but the simplest route is all you’ll need.

cubecubed, dried-out breadadd to bread, toss to combineadd broth, eggs if you wish

You’re about to say, “Deb, you just told us about a very simple stuffing recipe that starts with making your own challah? You’ve finally snapped!” Which means it’s time to channel my queen, Ina Garten: store-bought is fine! Barring that, and high in the category of things I probably could have mentioned last week but am not, as you probably know by now, “on top of things” or “organized” or “great at adulting despite being too old for it to be charming” is that my challah recipe makes two loaves. Two! You can have your challah (whenever you want) and save the other one for whenever. Further, my challahs clock in at 2 pounds but you truly only need 1.5 to fill a 9×13 dish as shown, meaning that you’ll have snacks or French toast or other formats of great glutenous joy with the other half. It’s the holidays, after all, and yours should be exactly this good.

challah stuffing

Previously

Six months ago: Exceptional Grilled Chicken
One year ago: Cabbage and Mushroom Lasagna
Two years ago: Endive Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs and Walnuts
Three years ago: Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Salad
Four years ago: Pecan Pie and Roasted Leek and White Bean Galettes
Five years ago: Classic Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline Sauce
Six years ago: Apple-Herb Stuffing for All Seasons
Seven years ago: Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Eight years ago: Sweet Potato and Marshmallow Biscuits
Nine years ago: Creamed Onions with Bacon and Chives and Sweet Corn Spoonbread
Ten years ago: Creamed Spinach
Eleven years ago: Meyer Lemon and Fresh Cranberry Scones and Winter Fruit Salad
Twelve years ago: Pumpkin Waffles and Nutmeg-Maple Cream Pie
Thirteen years ago: Classic Grilled Cheese + Cream of Tomato Soup

Challah Stuffing with Leeks and Celery

Five notes, at the end!

  • 1.5 pounds challah bread (storebought or 3/4 of one of these), cut into generous 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup turkey drippings or melted unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
  • 2 cups small-diced celery (from about 3 large ribs)
  • 2 cups small-diced leeks or yellow onions (from about 2 large leeks or 1 large onion)
  • 1 tablespoon each minced fresh rosemary, sage, thyme
  • 1/2 cup packed, chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable, chicken, or turkey broth
    One day, two days, or even the night before: You can either spread your challah cubes on a large pan or even loosely pile them in the baking dish you’ll use for the final stuffing and leave them to dry anywhere you can find a surface. Oh you didn’t do this and you need to make the stuffing right now? Spread them on a baking sheet and dry them in the oven at 300&$176;F until firm but not brown.

    The day of, at any point, or an hour before you want to serve the stuffing: Heat oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9×13-inch baking dish. I always forget to do this. Don’t forget. It will absolutely stick if you don’t. Add challah cubes to the dish.

    In a large frying pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add celery, leeks, half the salt and pepper, and cook, stirring here at there, until the celery is mostly tender and onions are translucent and sweet, about 10 minutes. Add sage, rosemary, and thyme and cook for one minute more. Sprinkle over challah cubes along with parsley. Use your hands — it’s so much easier this way — to gently disperse the vegetables through the challah, being careful not to let all the vegetables fall through to the bottom.

    Add remaining salt and pepper to broth (although if your broth is very salty, maybe you will want less) and pour it over the challah. Challah is very tender, even when stale, so it doesn’t need soaking time.

    Cover pan tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes, then increase the oven heat to 425°F. Remove the foil and drizzle challah with remaining 6 tablespoons of melted butter, you don’t want to skimp on this. Return the pan to the oven and bake the stuffing for another 15 minutes, until the top edges are crisped and it’s nicely browned on top.

    Serve right away or reheat when needed at 350°F (foil-on because it’s already well-browned.

    Other ways to make this ahead: You can just bake it for the foil-on portion the day before and blast it at the higher heat before you serve it, although if it’s coming from the cold fridge, it may need 20 minutes, not 15.

    Tools: This is my forever easy favorite baking dish, although I’m down to 2 of them after dish-cident this weekend, woe.

    Notes:

  1. Should you wish to add [insert whatever stuffing ingredient you wish was here, like sausage or mushrooms], you absolutely can. I’d normally add about 2 cups diced mushroom, sauteed with the other vegetables. You can also brown up 1/2 pound of sausage you like and add it with the vegetables.
  2. I like some stuffings torn and others cubed; this is cubed. Challah is already on the tender size and they don’t need any help crashing into each other. Cubes provide better overall texture.
  3. If the photos look generous, it’s because I’m making a double batch because I do think you should have two pans for more than 16 people. Nobody will want to go easy on this.
  4. Finally, and this is the biggest piece, I don’t add eggs by default. Egg bind stuffing together so but I like it kind of loose. (Although “bound” stuffing is better for next-day stuffing waffles, just saying.) However, I know everyone is like me and should you wish to add eggs, add two large and whisk them into 1/2 cup less broth than written below, then continue as written, however you might find you need up to 10 extra minutes (on top of the 20) foil-on for the eggs to set. That’s it!
  5. Finally, thanks to Cathy Barrow for loosely inspiring this one five years ago, although I’ve, like a good little bird, flown off on my own.
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Perfect Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust

https://thestayathomechef.com/chocolate-cheesecake/

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This Chocolate Cheesecake recipe is smooth, rich, and full of chocolate flavor with an Oreo crust to take it over the top. It’s the perfect cheesecake for chocolate lovers!

Cheesecake. It says so much all on its own. Adding chocolate to the mix just takes that delectable dessert to the next level. This recipe uses an easy technique to make sure you get a rich, smooth cheesecake that is both decadent and delicious. Thanks to this amazing recipe, you don’t have to go out to get your dessert fix—you can make the perfect chocolate cheesecake from the comfort of your own home.

Oreo crust is the perfect touch to make this the best cheesecake ever! It’s up to you whether you want to share, but the finished product might just make you want to show off too.

Aluminum Foil Ice Bath Trick

This recipe uses a modified water bath trick to keep your oven nice and moist, but not risk any water leaking into your pan. Start by crumpling up 3 to 4 balls of aluminum foil into small balls. Place these onto a baking sheet and place your cheesecake on top, making any adjustments needed to the aluminum foil to keep your cheesecake level. Place an even layer of ice onto the baking sheet to surround the cheesecake. The ice melts while it is baking so there’s no risk of spilling as you transfer this into your oven. 

  • Why do I have to cool the cheesecake in the oven for so long?

    In order to create the perfect texture and smooth top, you will want to allow the full baking and cooling times in the oven, without opening the door. By cooling the cheesecake in the oven, without opening the door, the cheesecake continues to bake and then cools in a controlled environment. If you skip this step, you can “shock” the cheesecake and it could crack.

  • What kind of baking chocolate is best?

    This is not a chocolate bar or another kind of cocoa. Baking chocolate is sometimes called bitter chocolate and is a dark, unsweetened chocolate that is made specifically to be used as a raw ingredient in baking. Just be sure to use baking chocolate. Pro Tip: Add in the melted chocolate slowly. If you add it in too quickly, it will harden and can become clumpy instead of blending perfectly with the rest of the ingredients.

  • Why do I need to use a springform pan?

    A springform pan has a clasp on the side that allows it to expand outward and separate from the cheesecake in the ideal way—your cheesecake will retain its tall, flat form around the edge by using this kind of pan. It is possible to make the cheesecake in a deep dish pie pan, but you won’t be able to serve it in free form.

  • How do I keep my cheesecake from cracking?

    There are several tricks incorporated into this recipe to help prevent your cheesecake from cracking. Cracks do not impact the flavor in any way, but they do look funny. To keep your cheesecake from cracking:

    • Grease your springform pan really well. If your cheesecake sticks, it’ll pull the center and create a crack. 
    • Give your cheesecake a few taps on a countertop before baking to make sure the filling is settled into the pan with no bubbles.
    • Bake your cheesecake in a steam-filled oven to keep the moisture content high on the outside. Dry cheesecakes crack easier.
    • Do not open the oven door while baking! Allow the cheesecake to cool completely in the oven, without ever opening the oven door. Sudden exposure to major temperature differences may crack your cheesecake. 

If you are looking for great cheesecake recipes, we have your covered—check out this variety of delectable cheesecake treats:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Chocolate Cheesecake on a white plate surrounded by oreos

Perfect Chocolate Cheesecake with Oreo Crust

This Chocolate Cheesecake recipe is smooth, rich, and full of chocolate flavor with an Oreo crust to take it over the top. It’s the perfect cheesecake for chocolate lovers!

Prep Time25 mins

Cook Time1 hr

Cooling Time6 hrs

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Servings: 12 slices

Ingredients

Oreo Crust

  • 24 oreos
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Chocolate Cheesecake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese softened
  • 4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate melted
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with butter or shortening.

  • Crush the Oreos in a food processor or blender until finely ground. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Stir in melted butter until the crumbs are all moistened and press into the bottom of the prepared springform pan.

  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together sugar, flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt. Use a hand mixer (or stand mixer) to whip in the cream cheese until creamy and smooth.

  • Roughly chop the baking chocolate and place into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments on high until melted, stirring in between.

  • Slowly add the melted chocolate to the cream cheese mixture while you mix until the chocolate is fully incorporated. Mix in eggs, sour cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low until combined.

  • Pour mixture into the springform pan. Give the pan a few taps on the countertop to make sure any air bubbles have been removed and the filling is settled.

  • Crumple up 3 sheets of aluminum foil into flat discs and place on a baking sheet. Place the springform pan on top of these discs to elevate the cake so it doesn’t touch your baking sheet. Fill the baking sheet with a layer of ice, surrounding the springform pan, about 4 cups.

  • Bake in the center rack of the oven for 1 hour. Do not open the door. At the end of the hour, turn off the oven, keeping the door closed. Let the cheesecake slowly cool in the oven for 5 to 6 hours to prevent cracking. Remove and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • Remove the springform pan ring before serving. Keep cold. Serve plain or topped with whipped cream or even drizzled with chocolate ganache or syrup.

Notes

Cheesecake should be refrigerated. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1slice | Calories: 674kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 25g | Cholesterol: 174mg | Sodium: 481mg | Potassium: 348mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 46g | Vitamin A: 1355IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 5mg

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Chocolate Cheesecake

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Most Amazing Red Velvet Cupcakes

https://thestayathomechef.com/red-velvet-cupcakes/

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The Most Amazing Red Velvet Cupcakes are moist, fluffy, and topped off with velvety ermine frosting for the perfect Red Velvet Cupcake you’ve been dreaming of!

Red velvet cupcake with ermine frosting with a bite taken out of it

Here it is, the recipe you have been looking for—red velvet cupcakes you will come back to every time you crave these babies! So delicious, tangy and moist, red velvet cake is a thing of its own. Some people think its chocolate cake with red coloring, but those who love red velvet know it is so much more.

Red velvet cake has hints of chocolate but is better known for its tangy, acidic flavor. It was originally made with beets, which added sweetness, flavor and tanginess, along with its signature red color. If you want to try making it that old fashioned way, here is a recipe for a Naturally Red Velvet Cake .

  • Isn’t red velvet cake just chocolate cake with red food coloring?

    Good question, and no. That is a common misconception. Red velvet cake does have some chocolate flavor to it, but it is also known for its slightly acidic or tangy flavor, which results from the buttermilk, vinegar, and either cream cheese or ermine frosting. In this recipe, we include the instructions for an ermine frosting that we love as a great balance to the tangy flavor of red velvet, but you can also use cream cheese frosting.

  • What kind of food foloring should I use?

    This recipe was made and tested using red liquid food coloring. You can also use gel food coloring or a natural red food coloring made from beets. You can find a wide variety of natural food dyes on Amazon.

  • What is ermine frosting?

    Ermine gets its name from the cute, weasel-like animal that has a white, fluffy coat. Ermine frosting is made of heated milk, sugar and flour and then whipped with butter. It is light and delicious, but not as tangy as cream cheese frosting. It will hold its shape better if it is refrigerated before and after icing. You can also use cream cheese frosting if you prefer it and like a little more tang on your red velvet cupcakes.

  • Is there a substitute for buttermilk?

    Buttermilk is a key component in this cake recipe. If you don’t have access to buttermilk, please use a buttermilk substitute. There are lots of options and you are sure to find one that you can make work in our article on buttermilk substitutes.

 

Check out these other recipes for more delicious cake and cupcake recipes:

Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Ermine Icing on a wire cooling rack

Most Amazing Red Velvet Cupcakes

The Most Amazing Red Velvet Cupcakes are moist, fluffy, and topped off with velvety ermine frosting for the perfect Red Velvet Cupcake you’ve been dreaming of!

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time22 mins

Frosting Cooling Time3 hrs

Total Time3 hrs 37 mins

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Servings: 24 cupcakes

Ingredients

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (up to 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2/3 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring (1 fluid ounce)

Ermine Icing

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups unsalted butter , cubed and softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners. Recipe makes 24 cupcakes.

  • In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

  • Add eggs, buttermilk, warm water, oil, vanilla, vinegar, and red food coloring. Use a hand mixer to beat on a medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl to make sure everything got mixed in.

  • Fill each cupcake liner 2/3 full.

  • Bake for 20-22 minutes until the cupcakes meet the toothpick test (stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean). Remove from tins and cool completely.

Ermine Icing

  • In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour sugar, and salt over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and bring to a boil. Cook until thickened into a pudding-like consistency, about 1 minute, and then remove from heat. Pour into a bowl and place plastic wrap directly on top of the mixture so no skin forms. Set aside.

  • In a large bowl, use a hand mixer to whip butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in cooked milk mixture 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, mixing well between each addition. Once all milk mixture has been added in, beat in vanilla and continue beating until the frosting is thick and creamy and everything is well mixed in.

  • Frost completely cooled cupcakes.

Notes

COLOR NOTE: If you want a brighter red color, use only 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder. If you want a better flavor, use up to 1/4 cup. You’ll simply have much deeper brown notes to your red cake. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupcake | Calories: 369kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 70mg | Sodium: 221mg | Potassium: 92mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 560IU | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg

Course: Dessert

Cuisine: American

Keyword: Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Ermine Icing on a wire cooling rack

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30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

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This 30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup is delicious and easy to make. Tender chicken, black beans, and hearty Tex-Mex vegetables together in the perfect comfort food for busy chilly evenings.

Pot of chicken tortilla soup topped with cheese, avocado, tortilla strips, lime, and cilantro

Comfort food isn’t comfort food if you have to slave over a stove all day to make it. This soup is the best because it is so easy to make and comes together so quickly. It also happens to be ridiculously delicious.

We love having soup for dinner, so busy nights or chilly evenings are the perfect excuse for us to make this family favorite. It’s a great party food, or a handy and healthy family meal. Whatever your reason for wanting a great soup, you will love the warm flavors and hardiness of this comforting Tex-Mex treat!

  • Can this be made in a slow cooker?

    Yes. You can add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker except for the lime and cilantro. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Shred the chicken and add lime juice and cilantro just before serving.

  • Can I make this soup in advance?

    Yes. This recipe freezes well. You will want to make the soup and not add the lime and cilantro. Allow the soup to cool completely and then store in an airtight container for up to three months. When ready to prepare this soup, thaw and heat either in a slow cooker or on the stove. Add the lime and cilantro just before serving.

  • How to make your own tortilla strips:

    Heat about a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add a corn or flour tortilla and fry for about 30 seconds and then flip it over, using tongs, and fry the other side until it is nice and crispy. Then, remove from the skillet and place on a cutting board. While it is still warm, you will cut it into strips using a regular knife or pizza cutter.

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Watch the video below where Rachel will walk you through every step of this recipe. Sometimes it helps to have a visual, and we’ve always got you covered with our cooking show. You can find the complete collection of recipes on YouTube, Facebook Watch, or our Facebook Page, or right here on our website with their corresponding recipes.

Bowl of chicken tortilla soup topped with cheese, avocado, tortilla strips, lime, and cilantro

30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup

This 30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup is delicious and easy to make. Tender chicken, black beans, and hearty Tex-Mex vegetables together in the perfect comfort food for busy chilly evenings.

Prep Time10 mins

Cook Time20 mins

Total Time30 mins

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Servings: 6 servings

Ingredients

Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion , diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper , diced
  • 5 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce (passata)
  • 15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 15 ounce can black beans
  • 7 ounce can diced green chiles
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn (or use canned)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lime juice

For Serving

  • 3 cups tortilla strips or tortilla chips
  • 2 medium avocados , diced
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add in onion and bell pepper and saute 5 minutes. Add in garlic, chili powder, cumin, and paprika and toast for 60 seconds.

  • Pour in chicken broth, add in chicken breasts, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes.

  • Remove cooked chicken from soup, shred with a fork, and return to the pot.

  • Pour in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, black beans, green chiles, and corn. Return soup to a simmer and let simmer 5 minutes.

  • Turn off the heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt, to taste. Serve hot, topped with tortilla strips, diced avocado, cheese, and sour cream.

Notes

Slow Cooker Instructions:

You can add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker except for the lime and cilantro. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. Shred the chicken and add lime juice and cilantro just before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 516kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 1743mg | Potassium: 1369mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1685IU | Vitamin C: 68.3mg | Calcium: 245mg | Iron: 4.5mg

Course: Dinner, Main Course, Main Dish, Soup

Cuisine: American, TexMex

Keyword: Chicken Tortilla Soup

Bowl of chicken tortilla soup topped with cheese, avocado, tortilla strips, lime, and cilantro

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