Holiday Favorites


Looking for some inspiration for your holiday cooking?   I have rounded up some favorite holiday recipes for your culinary review!

From appetizers and salads to entrees and desserts, here are some quick links to some of my holiday “all-star” recipes.   Enjoy!



Think “Frozen Assets”
Your most important appliance may not be your stove or refrigerator.   Dust off that freezer that is lurking in you basement or garage and fill  it up with some frozen appetizers.  Your arsonal of “frozen assets” are just waiting to be called to action of a holiday party assignment.

Click to see my Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story on creating make-ahead appetizers that can be frozen. 


Pig Skin Cheeseball

Everyone likes a cheeseball, especially when its shaped like a football and covered in bacon.


Gazpacho “Shooters” with Shrimp
Don’t settle for shrimp cocktail when you can make these simple gazpacho shooters that were featured in Chef Milligan’s Labor Day Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article.   Use small shot glasses of any size and simply pour in the gazpacho and garnish with a cooked shrimp!


Crostini Bar

Have your guests do the prep work!   Offer a crostini “bar” which various toppings and toasted French bread slices.
Along with traditional toppings, try sliced pears and bleu cheese or pomegranates, honey and goat cheese.

Brussels sprouts and tomato shooters

Six in Sixty

One of Chef Milligan’s favorite Milwaukee Journal Sentinel articles was her “Six in Sixty” feature.  Six appetizers that can be prepared in 60 minutes, with one minute to spare to have a glass of wine before you open the door for your guests!
Take a look at these easy to prepare quick appetizers.


Charchuterie Platter with Olives

Head to the deli and grab some interesting sliced meats, cheeses and sausages.   Set them out on a
decorative board along with toasted bread slices.    Hit the olive bar and grab a mix of your favorites.   Make a

tapanade, marinate the in olive oil or put the on top of some feta cheese for some quick bites.

Soups and Salads


Maple Butternut Squash Bisque

Chef Milligan’s most requested soup of all time – her Maple Butternut Squash Bisque.
You can’t go wrong with this heart-warming soup for a holiday first course.


Winter White Vegetable Bisque

A great winter soup, this vegetable bisque is made with parsnips Yukon gold potatoes and cauliflower.
Garnish with a drizzle of basil oil and garnish with frizzled sweet potato.


Tuscan Tomato Soup

Even though it may not be tomato season, you can still make a delicious tomato soup.   Garnish with a French bread
cheese crouton.


Shaved Brussels Sprout and Pomegranate Salad

Brussels sprouts are not just for a vegetable course.   Shaved sprouts tossed with pomegranates and walnuts make
a terrific holiday salad course.


Roasted Pear and Butternut Squash Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

Pre-roast the pears and squash a day ahead.   The dressing can also be prepared ahead.



Beet, Cara Cara Orange and Goat Cheese Salad

The Cara Cara orange, available December through April, is a newer addition to the American citrus market. Sometimes referred to as a red navel, the Cara Cara is a cross between the Washington navel and the Brazilian Bahia navel.  Try them with roasted beets and goat cheese for this colorful salad.


Try something different this holiday season.  How about a delicious rack of lamb or duck breast for a holiday dinner entree?
You can even “fancy up” a chicken breast by making a chicken roulade (rolled stuffed chicken breast) finished with 
a colorful lingonberry sauce.

Chicken Roulade with Lingonberry Sauce


Rack of Lamb

finished duck

Caramelized Apple Stuffed Duck Breasts

Grain Stuffed Acorn Squash

Need a vegetarian entree for the holidays?   Try this delicious grain-stuffed acorn squash.
Watch a video of me making this great entree with its own edible container – the squash!

Grain-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Salmon Wellington
Watch this video of Chef Milligan preparing individual salmon wellingtons (salmon stuffed with shrimp basil mousse

and wrapped in puff pastry) finished with a raspberry reduction.


Even it your dinner has a few “bumps on the road,” a great dessert will make your guests forget all of your
minor culinary mistakes.   Here are some recipes you may want to try

IMG_8043 (2)

Door County Cherry Linzer Cookies


Buche de Noel
Christmas Log Cake

It looks harder than it is!   This impressive cake is actually a chocolate cake made in a jelly-roll pan (or a cookie sheet pan with sides) then filled and frosted with an easy chocolate buttercream.   Meringue mushrooms and some rosemary finish the dessert.


Triple Layer Chocolate Pecan Pumpkin Pie

Add all three types of pies into one so your guests don’t have to decide.

Lemon Lovers Tart

Lemon Lover’s Tart

Three layers of lemon – lemon zest is in the shortbread crust following by a layer of homemade lemon
curd then a topping of baked lemon custard.


Winter Spiced Creme Brûlée

Add some winter spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger to give a creme brûlée a touch of the season!

Posted in Appetizers, Desserts, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, Soups & Salads, Vegetarian

Experimenting with grains


Most of us have heard of quinoa. Gluten free and available in a rainbow of colors, you’ve probably tried quinoa in either a recipe you created in your home kitchen or in a dish at a favorite restaurant. In my mind, quinoa has opened the grain door to many a cook.

Often referred to as a super food, quinoa is actually an edible seed originating in the Andean region of Chile and Peru. A true protein, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids. Light and fluffy when cooked with a slight nutty flavor, it is one of the oldest grains around.

Nothing against quinoa. It should serve as a staple in everyone’s cupboard. But it’s time to step out of your grain comfort zone. We are in the midst of a grain revival where everything old is new again. Grains with ancient roots like kamut, farro and amaranth are increasingly accessible. And winter provides the perfect time to partake in some grain experimentation.

The winter 2015/16 edition of Edible Door Magazine features my article discussing various grains and seeds along with some terrific recipes.

Here are some of my favorite recipes to get you started on your cooking with grains adventure.


Grain-Stuffed Acorn Squash

This delicious main course recipe is a great vegetarian option.  I used wild rice and kamut for the recipe but feel free to experiment with your blend.
Here’s a video of me making the dish……




Kamut Salad with Dried Fruit and Cashews

This delicious salad is from Greens and Grains in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin (Door County).   Kamut was used for farro or wheat berries could be substituted.  It is made without oil with extra crunch added with cashews and julienne carrots.


Farro, Sweet Corn and Shiitake Mushroom Risotto

Farro is used to make this creamy risotto.   Fresh corn (though you can substitute thawed frozen) and sautéed shiitake mushrooms
help create this heart-warming vegetarian dish.


Quinoa with Butternut Squash

This dish can be used as a main course, as a salad or as an addition to an entree of grilled chicken or fish.   A hint of maple syrup
and some toasted pepitas give this dish some extra flavor.   If you have fresh herbs like mint or basil, add them as well.


The Cookery’s Red Quinoa and Feta Salad

The Cookery, located in Fish Creek (Door County), Wisconsin has this delicious red quinoa and feta salad on their menu.  Add a protein
like grilled chicken or salmon for an entree version of this salad.


Quinoa, Bulgur and Roasted Eggplant Tabbouleh

This take off on the tradition tabbouleh combined quinoa with the bulgur along with roasted eggplant and chickpeas.
Feta, black olive, cilantro, mint and lemon are added to make a delicious salad.  Add tear-drop or cherry tomatoes if available.


Five-Grain Bread

This five-grain bread recipe is great to make on a snowy winter day!   I used quinoa and whole oats and part of the grain mix.

Posted in Appetizers, Breads, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, Soups & Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , ,

Grain-Stuffed Acorn Squash



The Winter issue of Edible Door Magazine features this terrific acorn squash recipe.  I first roast the squash halves with a little maple syrup glaze then stuff them with a mixture of grains.  I used kamut and wild rice in the photo, but any grain or rice will work.   Steamed sweet potato pieces and dried cranberries or cherries give the dish some added color.

Click here to see my  culinary video that shows the entire recipe.   I have also listed the print version below.   Hope you can try this satisfying and healthy dish!

Kamut and Wild Rice Salad Stuffed Winter Squash

Kamut is an ancient wheat.   Soaking the grain overnight helps the grain cook faster.  Cook the kamut and wild rice separately as the cooking time will vary for each one.  The diced sweet potato can be steamed in a microwave oven with a little water or in a small skillet.  The entire stuffing can be made the day before finishing the dish.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
¾ cup steamed sweet potato (about one small), cut into ¼ inch dice
1/3 cup uncooked wild rice
½ cup uncooked kamut
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
¼ cup chopped walnut or pecans
¼ cup dried cranberries, apricots or cherries
1 teaspoon salt
1/ teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
a pinch of pepper
2 medium acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons brown sugar

Soak the kamut overnight in water.   The next day, rinse the wheat berries and place in a saucepot.   Place 2 cups of water in the pot and bring to a boil.   Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the kamut  are chewy but not tough, out 30 to 35 minutes.   Strain and set aside.

Place the wild rice in a separate saucepot and add 1 ½ cups water.   Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.   Let rice simmer until it begins to “pop”, about 35 to 40 minutes.  Add additional water if needed.  Strain and set aside.

Place the olive oil in a sauté pan and heat on medium.   Add the white onion, garlic and celery and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes or until onion is translucent.

Transfer the sautéed vegetables to a mixing bowl.   Add the cooked wild rice, cooked kamut, nuts, steamed sweet potato, dried fruit, 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey, salt, thyme and pinch of pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.    Place the acorn squash halves, cut side up, on a baking pan.   Brush the squash halves with the melted butter and divide the brown sugar between the halves.    Bake until the squash halves are just tender when poked with a paring knife tip.   They will be baked again so be careful not to over bake them.

Remove from the oven but keep them on the baking sheet pan.   Divide the grain mixture among the four squash halves.   Place back in the oven and roast for another 15 to 20 minutes to heat through and finish roasting the squash.




Posted in Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining, sides, Uncategorized, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , ,