Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free)

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

This year was my third year to host Friendsgiving here in Kansas City.  The first year, we had 11 friends and no kids gather in our small home and bring an amazing assortment of food…including jello shots. Over the years, some friends have moved away and others have moved in. We love welcoming new friends into our hearts and home. This year was much bigger with 15 adults and six children, as many of our friends have become parents. No jello shots this year. Womp Womp. Although the dynamic was slightly different, the joy and love was tremendous.

Friendsgiving 2012

Friendsgiving 2014

Time management is key to hosting a low stress and enjoyable holiday party. By organizing my dishes and using slow cooking techniques, I was able to enjoy the beautiful day and amazing friends that came to our home.

I spent the day preparing for a full house in my tiny space. Since my kitchen and my oven is quite small, I chose to roast a 7-lb pork shoulder in a roasting oven (life saver), roast a 4-lb free range chicken in my oven, and cook my cornbread dressing in my slow cooker. During the great cooking adventure, I did lose a breaker and a fuse a few times (and ended up placing my slow cooker with the cornbread dressing in a spare bedroom!). But it all turned out great and I kept my wine glass FULL.

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

So let’s get to this Cornbread Dressing, shall we?

Apples, Fennel, and Pecans! Yeeeeeeaaaas. And don’t forget sage!

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

There are several parts of this dressing that can be made ahead of time. The Gluten Free Old Fashioned Cornbread can be made up to 2 days ahead. The aromatics in the dish (onions, celery, and fennel) can be braised in a little olive oil up to two days ahead of time as well. I mixed everything together and placed into my slow cooker and allowed to cook while I was getting other things together. This also kept the cornbread dressing warm until it was time to eat.

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free) // Big Eats Tiny Kitchen

Slow Cooker Apple, Fennel, and Pecan Cornbread Dressing (Gluten Free)

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 batch of old fashioned skillet cornbread
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 bulb of fennel, slivered
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 medium apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Prepare cornbread at least one day ahead of time. Crumble up cornbread and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Allow to sit out at room temperature and dry out. Alternately, preheat oven to 250F and scatter cornbread in a single layer on the rimmed baking sheet and bake (stirring often) for about 1 hour or until the cornbread is dried out.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fennel, onion, and celery and cook, stirring often, and beginning to soften. Add apple, pecans, and herbs. Cook for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and gently stir in dried out cornbread and 1 1/2 cups of broth. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
  3. Spoon cornbread dressing mixture into a large slow cooker or crock pot. Cook on low for about 4 hours. Keep warm until ready to serve.

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Paleo Cranberry and Apple Cobbler

My heart is heavy on this last day of December and this last day of 2012. I’m staying in my pajamas and watching the snow fall. The snow falls so peaceful outside my window, yet I know that sometimes there is no peace and life is just not fair.  

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My thoughts go out to everyone who has lost someone this year. My thoughts go out to those that are lost. My thoughts go out to those that are enduring hardships that are unfathomable. 

There are so many cruel and unfair things that occur and I always ask “why?”…but sometimes there is no reason. It’s just the way it is.  I only hope that there is something better that hopefully will come out of tragedy.

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So I make this cobbler for my friends that are struggling right now, my friends that are enduring an unfathomable loss, my friends that are lost in life.  I make this cobbler to hopefully bring comfort into their hearts and to warm their souls.

Paleo Cranberry and Apple Cobbler (Grain Free, Gluten Free, and Diary Free) (adapted from Beeckman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook)

Filling:

  • 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • 3 medium apples, cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder

Topping:

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease a 9X9-inch baking dish with butter, coconut oil or nonstick spray.  Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, apples, crystallized ginger, water, and honey. Heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to boil and the cranberries pop. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in arrowroot powder. Pour the hot cranberry mixture into the baking dish and set aside.
  3. In a separate medium bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients. Mix well.  Spoon the topping mixture evenly over the filling.
  4. Bake at 350F for 30 to 40 minutes. The cobbler will begin to bubble and the topping should lightly brown.  Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Best when served with vanilla coconut ice cream!