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From Our Freshologists: Coffee Talk – Spice Up Your Holidays

Too often, during the holidays, we seem to stick to our old, traditional, tried-and-true meals. Now, I like tradition as much as anybody, but sometimes, I do think you need to get out of that box.

So that’s what we’ll be doing at 10 am Tuesday, Nov. 8, during our next Coffee Talk – learning how to add some new, unexpected, and fun dishes to all the family gatherings we’ll be having over the next couple of months.

To help us get out of our holiday rut, we will have our wonderful  FRESH Executive Chef, Casey Shanower, join us in the FRESH Taste Kitchen.

Casey is the perfect choice to help us think outside the box. He was just seven years old when he started working in restaurants. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to call the child-labor authorities; it was his parents’ place.) He has cooked in fine restaurants in San Francisco, Portland, and Austin,  so you know he will have some creative ideas to help you dazzle your guests.

In fact, to give you a taste, here is one of Casey’s holiday recipes. Yes, it’s cornbread dressing, but it’s not like any cornbread dressing you’ve tasted before: His has lots of fresh herbs, toasted pecans, and jalapeños. Delicious!

For more ideas, please come see me and Casey on Tuesday in the FRESH Taste Kitchen. Come hungry because as usual, it will be your job to sit, taste, and talk (amongst yourselves, of course.)

Jalapeño Pecan Cornbread Dressing
4 cups cornbread cubed into 1 inch pieces
1 cup  chicken broth
1/4 lb butter (1 stick)
1 medium yellow onion, diced 1/4-inch
3 stalks celery, sliced 1/4-inch
1 large jalapeño, minced
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 Tbs chopped Italian parsley
1 Tbs chopped fresh sage
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup toasted pecan pieces

Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Toast cornbread cubes on a sheet pan until golden brown about 10 minutes, watching carefully to prevent burning. Remove from oven and let sit at room temperature.

Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan on medium high and melt butter. When butter is melted, add onions and cook until golden brown, stirring often, about 10-15 minutes. Add celery and jalapeno, cook about 3 minutes longer.

Remove pan from heat, add salt, pepper and fresh herbs, and mix well. In a large bowl, combine cornbread, chicken stock, vegetable mixture, and pecans. Stir thoroughly, allowing some of the cornbread to break up.

Place in a buttered casserole dish and bake in oven until nicely browned on top about 25-30 minutes.