Thanksgiving specials

It’s that time of year, my friends! A repost of some of my Thanksgiving go-tos.

Over the years, many of my family’s special recipes come back into play for Thanksgiving. Through handcrafted food, we create a home filled with love, care and tradition.

Later this month, we’ll celebrate another Thanksgiving together. It is my family’s main event. It is the day when my husband and I roll up our sleeves to start cooking at 5am for a 1pm meal, with a ton of prep done in the days beforehand and all hands on deck from the kids. It doesn’t matter if we are feeding our family of six or our extended group of more than 30 in our home – our menu is typically made up of about 15 dishes, plus desserts and assorted appetizers. We love it and pace ourselves for one of the best days of the year.

As you begin your grocery-shopping plan and menu, let me share a few of my tried and true Thanksgiving menu items that you might claim as your own for this holiday and many more to come.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via

Let’s talk pie. It’s a mandatory part of our celebration. I always make no less than three. One has to be pumpkin, one has to be apple and the third has to be a berry pie.

Cherry Pie: gluten-free, with a flakey, butter crust. As you know, all of my recipes are completely free of peanuts and tree nuts. But more than likely, you will be attending Thanksgiving this year where at least one person has a food sensitivity or chooses not to eat gluten. Well, even if you don’t love the idea of cherry pie, (Could that be possible?) you’ll want to use this crust for other fillings.

cherry pie updated: gluten-free and all-butter crust. Recipe via

Another wonderful berry pie offering: Blueberry Pie.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via

The pie filling is the ultimate! If you aren’t sure about making a pie to bring or serve, let me suggest a very cool gift: just the pie filling. Make this incredible filling, as per my recipe, place the goodness in a sealed mason jar and offer it to the host/hostess as a thank you for the invite.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via

I’m a little obsessed with meringue. If I’m going to go there, I want to have a ton of it. It’s amazing on pumpkin pie. If lemon is your thing, try making a Lemon Meringue Pie. My recipe for fluffy vanilla meringue is on this same post.

lemon meringue pie, lemon curd and vanilla meringue - recipes via milissweets.comAnd then there’s pumpkin pie. It’s a must. I tried to take it to another level with a phyllo crust. For the recipe, please see my post, where I share how to make my Pumpkin Pie and Chocolate-Pumpkin Layer Pie with Phyllo Crust. I love the way this looks but really love and prefer a traditional crust with my pumpkin pie.

pumpkin & chocolate-pumpkin layer pie, with phyllo crust - recipe via

If for any reason, you’re not in the mood to make pies for Thanksgiving this year, then please allow me to do the baking for you! Now that Mili’s Sweets is at retail, I’m offering pies for the holidays. On the menu: either classic, gluten free or vegan Apple Pie and either classic or gluten free Pumpkin Pie. If you live in San Diego County or are willing to travel to MiaBella (the shop where I work and offer my products) then you can place the order and pick up as late as Wednesday, November 25th.

If you love pumpkin, but are not a fan of pie (personally unthinkable), maybe you’d like to try other pumpkin treats to offer for dessert? Try my recipes for Pumpkin Flan (another great offering for your gluten-free family and friends) or Pumpkin Spice Churros.

Next up, My favorite Cranberry Sauce. It’s not about having a lot of it, but it’s a must-have menu item for our Thanksgiving. Over the years, this is our favorite way to prepare it, with orange juice and zest, and bites of Granny Smith Apples.

sweet side: favorite cranberry sauce by Mili

Now, it’s really up to you, but in our family, Buttermilk Biscuits are a must-have on our Thanksgiving table. They are the very last item to go into our oven. The “crowd” goes wild for them!

how to make the best buttermilk biscuits by Mili

If rolls are more your style, then I say go for Trinity Rolls. We save these for our Christmas meal, but they are good for any special occasion.

Trinity Rolls - recipe on

Last but not least, you will want to have some special spreads for either your biscuits or rolls. Check out my recipes for Beautiful Butter. Orange Butter is my personal favorite and one I try to offer my family throughout the year.

butter trio, recipes by Mili

I hope you enjoy a very blessed Thanksgiving!

Please contact me if you have questions about any of my recipes. If you do try them out, let me know how it turned out!

xox, Mili

Ashley Norris - November 30, 2014 - 12:05 pm

Hi Mili! I just wanted to let you know I made your blueberry pie and cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, and they both turned out fabulous! I’ve had a lot of problems making berry pies in the past and getting the consistently of the filling right and not too liquidy. It turned out great! Everyone loved the cranberry sauce too, so I’m sure that will become a staple for our Thankgiving’s from now on. Thank you for the awesome recipes! - December 13, 2014 - 9:51 am

Thanks for your note Ashley! It means so much to me! Take care and great big hugs!

cookies-only party

cookies-only party, dessert table via

This is a repost. I love the flowers and colors for fall, so I thought it was prefect timing to share again. xox, Mili

My catering mission, was to bake 1,000 cookies from scratch in one day. The easy part would be styling and setting the dessert tables. It was the first and only time I have ever catered cookies as the only dessert. It was a hit!

cookies-only party, dessert table via

I was asked by two very generous women to treat the parishioners of St. Thomas More to a cookie-buffet, to be enjoyed after the ground-breaking ceremony of their new church-build.

cookies-only party, dessert table via

On the menu: Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip, Lemon Tea, Chewy Ginger and Snickerdoodle.

It was a very good thing to have my mom by my side for all of this work! I simply could not have done this without her. I was also fortunate to have scheduled the time needed in the commercial kitchen I was renting. My momma and I rolled out more than enough dough and baked 12 or so dozen at a time. It was awesome! We are a good team and made it fun.

cookies-only party, dessert table via

The floral arrangements made the dessert tables so lovely! The small arrangements had orange roses with ivory and green hydrangea. The larger arrangements were beautiful as well, with more greenery and lilies in both yellow star and white cala.

I loved the white plating, placed on brown and wood-toned pedestals. The set-up squeezed in nicely onto three, 6′ tables.

cookies-only party, dessert table via

It didn’t take long at all to plate the cookies, since I was organized and knew exactly how I wanted to lay them out beforehand. The best part was meeting the sweet parishioners and knowing how much the enjoyed the cookies.




cherry pie: gluten-free with flakey, butter crust


cherry pie updated: gluten-free and all-butter crust. Recipe via

This is a repost for you to enjoy! It’s almost time for Labor Day and the end to Summer-time. I just think pie is the way to go to celebrate this special time.

When we made plans to visit our friends for dinner the other night, I wanted to bring something special that I knew they would enjoy. I remember them mentioning how much they love cherry pie. I also knew that for the last couple of years, my friends’ husband has been avoiding all gluten products, as a health-conscious choice.

I can totally understand and respect the need and even the desire to avoid certain ingredients, and decided to give myself a baking-challenge: bake a totally gluten-free pie, with from-scratch crust. It’s what I did and as promised, if it worked out really nicely, I would share the recipe.

First, I’ll share my gluten-free pie crust recipe, that can be used for any and every pie you make.  From there, I’ll share my recipe for my from-scratch cherry pie filling, that I’ve been making for my family and friends to enjoy, for the last 10 years or so.

gluten-free and all-butter pie crust. Recipe via


Mili’s Sweets Gluten-Free Pie Crust Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 and 1/2 cups gluten-free, all purpose flour (I used Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend, all purpose, gluten-free flour)

2 sticks salted butter (1 cup, cold)

1/3, plus 2 tablespoons cold water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

Tools: pie tin, pastry cutter, parchment paper or silpat mat, bowl, standing mixer, rolling pin

for egg wash (optional): 1 egg white, whisked and applied with a kitchen-safe brush


gluten-free and all-butter pie crust. Recipe via

Here’s what you’ll do:

Cut the butter into tablespoon-size pieces. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and sugar. Place the butter in the bowl and and use your pastry cutter to push into the butter, cutting it into small, pea-sized pieces.

Place this mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer, and place the standard paddle attachment. Add the water and mix at medium speed until the dough completely lifts from the bowl.

Use your hands to form the dough into a ball.

gluten-free and all-butter pie crust. Recipe via

Place the dough onto a silpat mat or parchment paper that has been dusted with the gluten-free flour.

With a rolling pin, roll the dough flat, until it’s smooth and about 1/4″ high.

Using the mat or paper, invert the rolled-out dough into your pie pan.

The dough is very similar to shortbread so it’s elastic and super easy to work with. You can fill in any spaces or mistakes with your hands and like magic, it comes together beautifully.

Once your pie pan is prepared with the dough, set it aside. Form another ball with the remaining scraps of dough and re-roll out the rest, that will be used for the top of your pie.

If you like to use an egg wash, for a golden-brown finish to the crust, simply take one egg white and whisk it in a small bowl. Use a kitchen safe brush to apply it onto the inside and all around the crust. It would be best if you do this just before pouring in the prepared pie filling.

Now it’s time to prepare the cherry pie filling. This is so delicious and is definitely amazing in other desserts besides pies. For example, it is over-the-top served with vanilla bean ice cream, used as a filling for cupcakes or as a topping for cheesecake. The list goes on and on. . . (I hope you really enjoy this and tell me if you do make this pie.  This recipe, like all of my recipes that I share with you on my blog, is a personal  treasure.)

Mili’s Sweets Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

6-7 cups (or about three, 12oz. bags) of dark, sweet pitted cherries.

1 and 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons all purpose flour (When making gluten-free pie, I substitute with Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons salted butter (added after pie has been filled)

cherry pie updated: gluten-free and all-butter crust. Recipe via


Here’s what you’ll do:

Please note that you can find dark, sweet, pitted cherries in the frozen fruit section of your local grocery store. There are also organic varieties. If you have the tools and the time and can pit the many fresh cherries needed for a single pie, then I am amazed! I love the fresh-frozen option and you’ll find that there are better brands than others. I honestly do not want to pit fresh cherries, in fear that I might leave a pit or two in a pie.

Over medium heat, place all of the ingredients (except for the butter) into a large saucepan, including: 6-7 cups of cherries, sugar, cornstarch, flour, salt and water.

Stir to dissolve the sugar. More water will created in the pan as the cherries start to cook. I typically use my wooden spoon to do all of the mixing for fruit pies. Bring the mixture to a boil. Once you see small bubbles forming around the edge of the pan, it’s time to continue stirring. From start to finish, it will take a total of 30 minutes to cook the cherries down to a nice thickness, perfect for pie filling.

cherry pie updated: gluten-free and all-butter crust. Recipe via


Once it’s done, pour the hot prepared filling into the prepared pie crust. Now is the time that you’ll add the two tablespoons of butter. Make little pats and place the pieces all around the top.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Next, you’ll cover the pie with the remaining dough. You’ll notice that the dough is delicate, compared to dough that uses shortening. It will make it a little more challenging to lift strips for a lattice. You should have enough remaining dough to either cover the top completely, or to make a lattice.

Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash and if you wish, sprinkle the top of the entire pie with granulated sugar.

I placed the pie in a cookie sheet, in case some filling decided to seep out during baking (which usually happens). It helps to keep the oven clean.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to completely cool before serving.

Some people (like my husband) prefer a cold pie. If that’s what you like too, then cover with plastic wrap and serve when you are ready. Vanilla bean ice cream makes the perfect pair with this dessert. I prefer to eat pie without any sides.


cherry pie updated: gluten-free and all-butter crust. Recipe via

I topped the pie with a fake-lattice design, by simply leaving the top strands at the top, without weaving them over and under the bottom pieces. No one noticed, but of course I did. After tasting the pie, I didn’t care either. The crust is light, flakey and absolutely divine. It takes the pie to a whole other level. No one would even care or notice that it’s gluten-free. It’s that good!


Gayle Chase - July 21, 2014 - 6:30 am

You have wonderful pastries. - July 21, 2014 - 8:06 am

Thank you Gayle! xox

[…] have shared my best and favorite pie crust recipe with you, when I posted my Cherry Pie Recipe. Please refer to this post, for details on how to create this wonderful […]

Thanksgiving specials » Mili's Sweets - November 16, 2014 - 5:35 pm

[…] Cherry Pie: gluten-free, with a flakey, butter crust. As you know, all of my recipes are completely free of peanuts and tree nuts. But more than likely, you will be attending Thanksgiving this year where at least one person has a food sensitivity or chooses not to eat gluten. Well, even if you don’t love the idea of cherry pie, (Could that be possible?) you’ll want to use this crust for other fillings. […]

[…] can make a pie crust by hand. I have a great gluten-free pie crust recipe, that you can make the same way with all purpose flour, if you prefer. Otherwise, you can cheat […]

my Thanksgiving at home » Mili's Sweets - November 29, 2014 - 6:24 pm

[…] recipes, please see my posts for Cherry Pie and for Pumpkin […]

Laci - June 18, 2016 - 3:28 pm

Can you make this ahead of time and freeze the dough in a ball? - July 12, 2016 - 10:02 pm

Hi Laci. Sorry for my delayed reply. I think that pie dough is always OK to freeze! Take care and thanks for reaching out!

citrus-orchard reception

This is a re-post from 2014. It’s fun to look back and celebrate the wonderful couples I have serviced over the years. I also like to reminisce about how little my daughter/assistant was at this time when we worked on setting and delivering before guests arrived, and how far we have come together since then.

After setting this wedding cake and cupcakes for my son’s Kindergarten teacher, I realized that I have been blessed with the opportunity of catering the weddings of most of my children’s school teachers. It’s sweet to think how they love and nurture my precious child for a whole school year, and in-turn, I am able to love and nurture the dessert table details that they wish for. It’s been a joy that these opportunities have had such perfect timing.

citrus orchard reception and hydrangea wedding cake, via


citrus orchard reception and hydrangea wedding cake, via

The highlight of the dessert table, was the centerpiece, the wedding cake for Bridget and Justin. They enjoyed 200 guests at their wedding and each guest received a slice of Perfectly Pineapple, filled with toasted coconut and vanilla butter cream, covered with vanilla butter cream. I placed three tiers on display and made three other, separate tiers for the food caterers to cut on-site.

citrus orchard reception and hydrangea wedding cake, via milissweets.comThe bride wished for everything to be pretty, in either white or ivory. The main detail was her request for cascading, white hydrangea on the cake. On either side were Peach Cobbler cupcakes and mini Vanilla Velvet cupcakes for the children.

The family orchard in Poway was stunning, set with white tables and chairs and white linens draped to touch the ground – my favorite way to display table linens. The highlight color was gold and one of the best parts as the reception went on, into the evening, were the lights and lanterns that hung from the trees.

citrus orchard reception and hydrangea wedding cake, via

I loved that they used vintage cake cutting knives. Alongside them, in the foreground, I placed a small, framed wedding etiquette sign and three bunches of hydrangea in vintage glass vases, to match the floral used on the cake.

It was a beautiful day for such a wonderful couple. I’m so happy for them and was happy to hear that the cake and dessert table were enjoyed.


baby shower for Hana Grace

Yesterday I had the honor of catering and setting a sweet baby shower dessert table in San Marcos.

My daughter was there to help me and it made for an easy-breezy set up. Unfortunately, I forgot the battery to my “good camera,” so everything was captured from my phone. I made the best of it to share the details.

Jennifer hosted about 30 women, for a lovely shower to honor the arrival of her grand-baby, Hana Grace.

When we talked about desserts, she decided to go all-mini, so the menu included

Guests enjoyed Angel Food with strawberry buttercream and fresh cut strawberries, Vanilla Velvet with peach buttercream and rose petals as decoration, Pineapple Paradise and mini Creme Brûlée, garnished with a fresh raspberry.

The lace decoration and floral H were already on the wall and table cloths were provided. As soon as my daughter and I got there, we started setting the plating and then the mini desserts. The final touches were made with placing rose petals and decorating the cake with fresh flowers and the topper I made.

This was a joy, and I was so happy and excited to be able to do this work for such a wonderful family.