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KCTS 9 Cooks

Plan Your Holiday Menu

November 23, 2015

Make your holiday meals unforgettable with sides and desserts from our creative home cooks!

What's on the menu? 

Apple & Sausage Stuffing

Sarah Boyd, Seattle - KCTS 9 Cooks for the Holidays


  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1 cup wild mushrooms, rough chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • dried thyme and parsley, to sprinkle
  • 6 breakfast sausage links, or 6 ounces bulk sausage meat
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 Gala apple, peeled and diced small
  • 5 cups assorted ripped bread
  • 1/2 cup unfiltered apple juice
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock


Heat a nonstick high-sided pan with vegetable oil. Add finely chopped onion and celery. Sauté on medium-high heat for about 3 minutes until vegetables start to soften. Add mushrooms and continue cooking another 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, parsley and thyme. Squeeze sausage meat out of casings into vegetable and apple mixture. Break up with spoon. Add Gala apple and sauté 2 minutes. Add dried sage. When sausage meat is cooked through add bread pieces. Mix well with spoon to incorporate.

Pour apple juice over the stuffing to moisten the mixture. Add chicken stock and continue stirring to combine. The stuffing should be moist and cohesive, with distinctive chunks of apples, mushrooms and sausage. More liquid may be needed depending on how dry the bread was. Add extra apple juice as needed.

Put stuffing into stuffing bag, cheesecloth or nylon stocking if it is to go inside the bird, otherwise place in a buttered baking dish that can be covered with foil or lid. Bake 30 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Quinoa & Butternut Squash

Paula Nemzek - KCTS 9 Cooks 

This beautiful, healthy and delicious side would be perfect as the main course of choice for any vegetarians on your holiday guest list, and might even replace traditional stuffing on your menu To avoid the oven logjam, roast the veggies a day ahead, bring them to room temperature and add to the hot quinoa before serving.

Serves 6 to 8


  • 1 butternut squash, peeled seeded and cubed (see tips for peeling the squash)
  • 1 whole red onion, cut in large dice
  • 5-8 large cloves garlic, with peel still on
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 11/2 cups red quinoa, rinsed (You may use any color; red looks best in this dish.)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • zest of 1 large navel orange (optional)
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios


Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large-rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

In a large mixing bowl, toss cubed squash, onion, garlic cloves (with peel on) and olive oil until veggies are evenly coated with oil. Spread them out evenly over the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven and set aside, removing the garlic peel and cutting the large garlic cloves in half. (Note that the roasted garlic has a mellow taste, but still packs a flavor punch.)

Meanwhile, on the stovetop, stir together quinoa, broth and orange zest in a saucepan. Cook according to quinoa package instructions.

In a large mixing bowl, add quinoa, roasted veggies, spinach, cranberries and pistachios. Gently toss to combine, adding salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pacific Northwest Potatoes

Paula Nemzek - KCTS 9 Cooks

Adapted from a recipe in KCTS 9 Cooks Potatoes, by Robert Jacobsen of Issaquah. One of my all-time favorite Cooks recipes; we have it every year on Christmas Eve. Without the salmon, it would make a fabulous holiday side dish.

Serves 8


  • 9-10 medium-sized red potatoes
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 1 pound Tillamook sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 8-10 ounces smoked Pacific Northwest salmon
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped, including some greens


In advance, prick the potatoes with a fork (keep the skins on) and cook them in the microwave just until tender, 8 to 10 minutes, depending on size of the potatoes and your microwave. Cool and slice.

In a saucepan, combine milk, sour cream, cheddar cheese, mustard, salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Cook over medium heat just until the cheese melts. Do not boil. Sauce may look lumpy, but it will cook out just fine.

In a well-greased 9 x 13-inch casserole dish, add the sliced potatoes. Sprinkle salmon bits and green onion over the potatoes and cover with the sauce. Bake uncovered in a 350-degree oven for 1 hour.

Missy Potatoes

Paula Nemzek - KCTS 9 Cooks

An always useful, go-to potluck dish adapted from an old Southern Living recipe. It's the perfect dinner or brunch side for a crowd. This version is even less healthy than the original, but oh, so delicious! It's definitely worth a splurge once a year during the holidays. You will be showered with compliments.

Serves 10 to 12


  • 1 2-pound package frozen southern-style (cubed) hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 16-ounce carton sour cream
  • 1 10 3/4-ounce can cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 cup buttery cracker crumbs, such as Ritz, or bread crumbs


Combine first seven ingredients in a large bowl and stir well. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish; sprinkle with the cracker crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until bubbly, and serve hot. Great reheated, too! If preparing in advance, put the cracker crumbs on right before baking.
Note: We did a little research on this recipe, and with the substitution of cornflake crumbs for the cracker crumbs on top, the recipe transforms into Funeral Potatoes, traditionally served at an after-funeral meal.

Maple Pecan Green Beans

Paula Nemzek - KCTS 9 Cooks

This side dish is served at room temperature. All components can be made in advance, making it perfect for a holiday menu, or for any time of year.

Serves 4


  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pounds green beans, trimmed

Maple Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons country style Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon real maple syrup
  • salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and bake 6 to 8 minutes until toasted, tossing once in the middle of cooking time. Let cool, then roughly chop. If making ahead, store at room temperature. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 1 teaspoon salt. Add green beans and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until just tender and bright green. Drain and quickly run under cold water to cool and stop the cooking process. If making ahead, let beans dry out a bit and refrigerate.

For the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard and maple syrup. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate if making ahead.

Before serving, bring dressing and beans to room temperature. Place green beans and pecans in a large bowl and toss with all the dressing, or to taste.

Toffee Pecan Sweet Potato Casserole

Paula Nemzek - KCTS 9 Cooks

The scrumptious crunchy topping makes this decadent sweet potato casserole a family favorite.

Serves 8 to 10


  • 5 sweet potatoes, between 4 1/2 and 5 pounds (I use Garnet yams)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cream, half-and-half, or milk

Toffee Pecan Topping

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or spray a 9 x 13-inch glass baking dish.

Bake sweet potatoes 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until they begin to soften. Cool slightly, peel and mash. Instead of oven-baked, you may peel and boil the sweet potatoes (my preferred method) or cook them in the microwave.

In a large bowl mix the mashed sweet potatoes, salt, 1/4 cup butter, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, sugar and cream. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup butter, flour, brown sugar and chopped pecans. Mix with a pastry blender or your fingers to the consistency of coarse meal and sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.

Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until topping is crisp and lightly browned.

Note: For extra flavor, toast the pecans before adding them to the topping mix. Spread pecans on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes, or until fragrant. Chop or break up into pieces when cool.

Jacques Pépin's Pumpkin Gratin

Public television cooking legend Jacques Pépin turns 80 in December. We want to start the celebration now, honoring his gift of inspiring us to cook and eat well for almost 20 years on PBS. Enjoy one of his childhood favorites that captures the flavors of the season. This custardy side dish pairs well with salmon or a roast.

Serves 4 to 6


  • 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 6-cup gratin (soufflé) dish with the butter.
Spoon pumpkin puree into a food processor and add eggs, cream, Swiss cheese, salt and pepper. Process for 15 to 20 seconds to combine.
Fill the prepared dish with the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake for 35 to 45 minutes until set and lightly browned on top. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

Cranberry Sauce

Holly Hoag from our Corporate Support department made this easy homemade sauce at a recent staff potluck to rave reviews.

Makes about 4 cups


  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 10-ounce packages fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup mixed raisins
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries


Rinse cranberries and discard any that are not sauce-worthy.

In a medium to large non-reactive saucepan, heat sugar and water on high heat and bring to a boil. Add in the cranberries, and return mixture to a boil. Add cinnamon, raisins and blueberries, lower heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until most of the cranberries have burst.

Let the sauce cool to room temperature, then transfer to a covered container and refrigerate. Wait for compliments at the holiday table!

Magic Apple Pecan Pie

Paula Nemzek - KCTS 9 Cooks

Short and sweet – this easy and delicious dessert is a hybrid of apple and pecan pie, with a hint of custard inside. Best of all, it comes together in minutes and makes its own crust as it bakes! Perfect for the holiday table.

Serves 8


  • 2 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 11/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pecan halves


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the inside of a 9-inch pie pan.

In a large bowl, mix prepared apples with remaining ingredients and stir well. Spoon mixture into pie plate, and bake for one hour.

Let cool slightly before serving.

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There are 4 comments

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Your recipes look wonderful but they can be made and be delicious without white/brown sugar, corn syrup or white flour and will be much more healthy. Also, the flours can easily be gluten free if needed. Thank you.

These look great,creative and delicious. However I really think that the amount of sugar added to these recipes in unnecessary. Empty calories and research is proving that it is harmful to our bodies. Thank you.

I'd have one in the oven right now but ran out of pecans. Am tempted to pretend my walnuts are just as tasty!