Thanksgiving Recipes and Tips


Thanksgiving is just around the corner.    Everyone seems to have their own opinions on what method makes the perfect bird.   Brining (both wet and dry), roasting, grilling, frying……. The list goes on.   And can be overwhelming for a “first timer.”

Take solace.   My “First Thanksgiving Menu” article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will provide with a complete menu along with tips to make your first Thanksgiving Day dinner perfect.   Remember, don’t try to go full Food Network on your first time.    Prepare a simple but delicious menu with lots of items that can be prepared ahead.

Don’t forget to check out my Turkey Day tip section in the article.    Beyond the menu you will need to remember decorations, place settings and kitchen items you may need.

Don’t know the difference between fresh and frozen, heritage and organic?   Fine Cooking Magazine has a great article explaining everything you need to know when selecting turkey.

Need more tips?    Here is a list of “hot line numbers” from turkey prep to cranberries.   A lot of them are open help on Thanksgiving!

To get you started, here are some photos and quick links to my “First Thanksgiving” menu.



Herb Butter Roasted Turkey


Quick Cranberries with Grand Marnier

close up dressing

Simple Dressing

pumpkin mousse

 Pumpkin Mousse with Gingersnaps



 Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables

Don’t forget the appetizers.   Cheese balls (yes cheese balls!) are making a comeback.    Since Thanksgiving and foot ball seem to go hand in hand, why not serve an edible “pigskin” by creating a cheese ball encased in crispy bacon.   Shape the cheese ball like a foot ball, complete with edible mozzarella laces.


Additional recipes for Thanksgiving Entertaining
Cast Iron Skillet Buttermilk Cornbread
use this terrific recipe as a bread for your Thanksgiving dinner or as part of your dressing/stuffing


Pigskin Cheese Ball

For an edible centerpiece, create my pine cone cheeseball.    Use toasted whole almonds to create the pine cone effect.   Present your cheese ball on a cake pedestal with fresh rosemary greenery and bright red cranberries.


Pine Cone Cheese Ball

Whole toasted almonds create the perfect edible centerpiece – a cheese ball pine cone!



Easy Appetizers – six in sixty minutes

Don’t have a lot of time for any extra appetizers?   Check out how to make six appetizers in sixty minutes.


Triple-Layer Pumpkin Cheese Pie
Layers of cream cheese, chocolate and pumpkin make a pie to please all!


Sweet Potato Crescent Rolls

A switch-up on a traditional yeast roll.   Use sweet potato in the dough with a touch of cinnamon.

Posted in Desserts, Entrees, Holiday & Entertaining | Tagged , , , , ,

Are you ready for some cheese ball?


Cheese balls are back!    Try your hand at this fun pigskin cheese ball shaped like a football and encased in delicious, crispy bacon.    The recipe is below.  For hands-on training, take a look at the quick “how to” video above.

Go Packers!

The Pigskin

If preparing with your family, you may need a little more bacon for snacking during the cheese ball creation process!

Serves 16

2 pounds of sliced bacon, divided
1 medium jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
20 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
1½ cups shredded white Cheddar cheese
2 thin slices of provolone, white Cheddar or mozzarella
3 green onions, roots and tough top greens removed, finely chopped
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon white pepper
¾ teaspoon Creole seasoning


Preheat t oven to 400 degrees.    Lay the bacon sliced in even layers on two baking sheets.  Bake until crisp, about 12 minutes.   Remove from oven and drain bacon on paper towels.  When cool, coarsely chop and set aside.

Place the room temperature cream cheese and 1½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer.     Mix on medium speed until combined.

Add the green onions, ½ cup chopped cooked bacon, chopped jalapeno, garlic salt, white pepper and Creole seasoning.   Mix to combine.

Place a large piece of plastic wrap on a work surface.   Place the cheese mixture in the middle of the plastic wrap and form it into a football.  Cover loosely with the plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

When ready to serve,  remove the cheese ball from the refrigerator and place on a work surface.   Cover the cheese ball completely with the remainder of the cooked bacon.    Cut the cheese slices into ¼-inch wide strips.   Place two longer strips down the middle of the football.   Place five smaller strips of cheese over the long strips to create the football laces.   Transfer to a serving platter.





Posted in Appetizers, Holiday & Entertaining | Tagged , , ,

Getting to the “root” of the matter


The bright vegetable stars of summer are beginning to dim. The zucchini have all been plucked. The trellis of pea pods has been picked clean. Even those tomato plants you thought would never stop producing fruit are almost bare.

We are in the midst of Vegetable Turnover: that time of year when a new crop of fall vegetables steals the spotlight.

Nestled in the ground, cool-weather loving root vegetables are ready to burst into the light. With their crooked features and unusual names, these late-garden gems may not win a beauty pageant, but they will lend delicious earthy flavors to your autumn cooking.

Rhizomes, tubers and corms …..oh my!

The term “root vegetable” often is used for any produce that grows below ground level. Although it may not make a difference when working with them in your kitchen, a little root veggie education is worthwhile.

True root vegetables are exactly that, the underground part of the plant. Think carrots, beets, parsnips and radish. But there are a multitude of other vegetables that are labeled as root vegetables but actually come from a different vegetable family.

There are rhizomes (ginger and turmeric) and tubers (jicama and potatoes), as well as corms (taro and Chinese water chestnuts). For the purposes of my root vegetable cooking, I throw them all into one big delicious vegetable basket.

Here’s some root vegetable recipes to get you started in your fall cooking……

parsnip apple bisque 5

Roasted Parsnip and Apple Soup
as featured in the fall edition of Edible Door Magazine


Roasted Vegetable Hummus


Skillet Roasted Vegetables with Apple Chicken Sausage


Bittersweet Chocolate Beet Brownies


Shaved Vegetable Salad with Hard Cider Vinaigrette


Roasted Multi-Colored Carrots with Whipped Feta

Links to Root Vegetable articles by Chef Terri Milligan

Know your roots – The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The Root of it All – Edible Door Magazine

Root Vegetables Take Over the Spotlight – The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Posted in Uncategorized