Bacon, apples, and herbs season this bread stuffing, which is baked in muffin cups. It makes a wonderful side dish for turkey or ham.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Spread bread cubes in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes or until cubes are dry, stirring twice; cool. (Cubes will continue to dry and crisp as they cool.) Or let bread cubes stand, loosely covered, at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat twelve 2-1/2-inch muffin cups with cooking spray; set aside.
In an extra large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels; crumble bacon. Drain fat, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet.
Add butter to skillet. Add onions, celery, and herbs; cook over medium heat for 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add apples and garlic; cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes or until apple is just softened. Transfer to an extra large bowl.
Add bread cubes, crumbled bacon, and pepper to vegetable mixture; toss gently to combine. Add broth and toss until moistened.
Spoon about 2/3 cup stuffing into each prepared muffin cup; press to pack tightly. If desired, top each cup with a fresh sage leaf. Bake, uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until stuffing is hot and tops are light brown. Cool about 10 minutes. Carefully remove from pans. Transfer to a large covered conatiner; cover and chill up to 24 hours.
To reheat, transfer stuffing servings to a 13x9x2-inch baking pan; cover with foil. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through. Makes 12 servings.
Stuffing muffins may be served without the chilling step.