Twists on Tradition

Local Culinary Grad Shares Thanksgiving Family Favorites


Sweet and Sour Meatballs

These meatballs are to die for! If there was anything my five-foot tall grandma knew how to do it was cook. Every year about this time, she would make these mouth watering bite-sized morsels for me to munch on. They are a perfect Thanksgiving side dish and offer a hearty option for the non-turkey lovers at the table. The meatballs are super easy to make and fill the house with such a warm and inviting scent.


For the meatballs:

2 pounds ground beef

1 cup cornflakes

2 Tablespoons dried onion

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/3 cup dried parsley

1/3 cup ketchup

3 eggs

For the sauce:

1 jar chili sauce

1 can cranberry sauce

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix meatball ingredients in a medium bowl together until blended and form into golf ball sizes. Place in a deep baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients together over low heat until melted. Pour sauce over meatballs and bake for 40 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

Every year my family caves into buying a pumpkin pie from the local grocery store or (dare I say it?) even Costco. Last year I decided to do something different while keeping the festive and necessary pumpkin dish in mind. These Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars are such a perfect alternative to a pie. They are so easy to make its crazy, and have such a beautiful color.


For the crust:
3/4 cup crushed chocolate graham crackers
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:
2 8oz. packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling!)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice (see note)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, slightly beaten


To make the crust:
Line an 8″ square baking pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor or blender, crush crackers until fine. Add melted butter and process till combined. Press the crust into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in the oven for seven minutes.

To make the filling:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese for 30 seconds until creamy. Add sugar and mix well. Add pumpkin and mix well. Add vanilla, flour, pumpkin spice and salt. Mix well. Add eggs and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix. Pour the filling over the baked crust. Tap the pan against the counter to release the air and get rid off air bubbles on the surface. Bake the cheesecake for 35 to 38 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit at room temperature until completely cool. Refrigerate for at least 2-4 hours—the longer the better. Remove the cheesecake from the pan. Slice and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers for up to two days, in an airtight container.

If desired, top the bars with whipped cream, a dash of ground cloves and a drizzle of caramel sauce.
The total time includes the minimum chilling time. If you do not have a pumpkin spice on hand, use 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or nutmeg.