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3 cups bread cubes
1/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons chopped onions
2 cloves minced garlic (optional)
1 cup (or more) celery, chestnuts, mushrooms, etc.
1/2 cup chicken or ham broth or milk
salt, pepper, paprika, sage or poultry seasoning (to taste)

Stuffings are a budget-stretching side dish often overlooked in everyday cooking. The next time you have a loaf of day-old bread, it can be put to good use by making your own stuffing cubes for a creative side-dish limited only by your imagination. For a sweet stuffing such as apple stuffing, omit garlic, onions, sage and chicken broth and opt instead for a pinch of cinnamon or ginger and milk. Toss the apples in sugar. Or for a savory apple stuffing, use only a pinch of sage and sausage meat with mushrooms and celery.

The making of a good stuffing calls for culinary art-a taste for interesting combinations, a choice of appropriate seasonings, a blending of ingredients and a nice proportion of liquid.

Cut stale bread into 3/8-inch cubes. Cubes give a lightness to the stuffing since they do not pack into a soggy mass as crumbs do. Brown 1/3 of the cubes in the oven with the butter. Saute the onion in the butter until lightly browned, then add to the bread.

If using chestnuts, cook them first and remove the skins. Any combination of ingredients can be added to the stuffing, as desired. All ingredients should be chopped into bite-sized pieces.

As a general rule, bake stuffings at 375F (in a loaf sized pan) for approximately 45 minutes, or until done. Reduce oven temperature to 350F if stuffing is browning too quickly.

Suggestions: cooked chestnuts celery mushrooms sauteed in butter onions or shallots cooked giblets (very finely chopped) cranberries walnuts or pecans hard cooked eggs oysters cooked in milk browned sausage meat (skins removed) apple chunks cooked chicken or turkey (skinless) lobster meat.

A side of gravy or white sauce can be used to dress up the stuffing, flavored to accompany the choice of ingredients.

Submitted by: CM
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