Thanksgiving specials

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.

In just one week, 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!

family desserts at the wedding

family desserts at the wedding, via

Several months ago, my friend asked if I’d cater and set the desserts for her son’s wedding. I said yes. Since Mili’s Sweets became a retail business almost a year ago, working as the bakery inside MiaBella, I have had to let go of the catering portion of my business so I just can’t do both and maintain a balanced life, but I work it out to say yes to close friends a couple of times a year.

Anna was helping to throw a big, beautiful reception at The Santaluz Club. I was so honored and excited to make everything she wished for come true, inside the tented area, placed just outside this gorgeous restaurant.

family desserts at the wedding, via

She ordered a tiered cake from Jenny Wenny (I made room for it on the tables. It’s not shown because I finished my work before it arrived.) and I filled in all of the blanks to feed the more than 200 guests and add to what her mother and sister in law were making for the wedding. There would be many, many, many (you get the point) Italian cookies, made by hand and at home by these two wonderful ladies. We really wanted to be respectful and honor them at the dessert tables, so besides catering, I also set everything with my own plating and labeled the items so that they can receive their due credit.

family desserts at the wedding, via

The cookies were lovely and I’m sure enjoyed by the family and friends in attendance! Many of them looked similar to cookies that I had as a child. Some of the cookies had almonds but I didn’t mind plating them since she is my friend sand I could clean all of my items at home.

Now for what I made. I filled my glass cylinders and apothecary jars with her items and some candy. One thing I made for the jars were chocolate-dipped pretzels.

family desserts at the wedding, via

The funny thing about this day and the whole situation of setting the tables, was that it was incredibly hot and humid in the tent and the chocolate did want to melt. I felt like I was melting! To top it off, I had to wait to set the tables since they were not prepared for me when I arrived, so that created a little unorganized situation that made the job take longer. No matter what, the job will always get done. Thankfully, I had my daughter with me to help.

family desserts at the wedding, via

The bride wanted cupcakes, but she wanted the frosting to be very low-profile and have a different look than my typical frosting technique, which is tall and generous. One you-tube video later, I figured out how to frost in a style that she preferred, and added a touch of edible pearls. On her menu were Italia, Perfectly Pineapple and Espresso Chip.

family desserts at the wedding, via

Alongside these cupcakes, I stacked the vanilla biscotti that I made and half-dipped into chocolate. I could eat one of these each and every day, if only my jeans would let me!

family desserts at the wedding, via

I added more chocolate to my menu of offerings since I knew that the treats that they would offer would not be chocolate. I also wanted to take care of any gluten free guests, so I offered decadent, flourless brownies. For my recipe, please see my post: heaven by flourless chocolate cake.

family desserts at the wedding, via

My very favorite item that I prepared for the wedding, were the cannoli. I am in love with this dessert! I think that they are so beautiful too. They are tedious and time consuming to make since the pizzelle on the iron press come out very hot and you can only roll them while they are hot. My finger tips were tender for a whole day after rolling this order. It was totally worth it and makes my baker-fingers even stronger!

family desserts at the wedding, via milissweets.comMy sweetheart of a daughter took the camera to snap some shots of the table while I organized our things to head home from our job of setting. She snapped this photo of me with the desserts. It was nice for my daughter to be behind the camera this time.

This was a lot of work but it was a wonderful feeling to be trusted by my friend to make it happen. I always feel so honored and grateful when I can accomplish my work.


let’s get out there make something

This week has been pretty incredible, as I’ve witnessed many young girls and women around with some of the same struggles as I have had in the past, with perfection and courage. Some of us have an issue with making mistakes in front of peers. We don’t have the confidence to just go for what we want to do, even if it means we’ll fail or make mistakes the first few times or the first 100 times.

I want to share with my friends out there, what I am now telling my own daughter and anyone I run into. Just go for it! You have nothing to lose! Take a leap of faith and just have the courage to do it because you love it.

Love and passion for your work or anything you want to achieve will take you anywhere you want to go. If you have faith in the process, you have solid ground. Love really is the driving force behind good things. Without it, we’re just robots. Without it, there’s no point in what we’re doing here or anywhere.

Without love and passion, you aren’t going to care about having courage to do what you really want to do in life. By looking around at what everyone else is doing or looking like, you are only hurting yourself.

One of my many personal examples is making cakes. Oh my goodness, years ago, when I was a new, young mom, I wanted so badly to make beautiful and delicious cakes for my family. Guess what? I was terrible at it. However, my love and passion was not terrible. I had the courage and determination to just keep at it, because I really wanted to. It was for my own personal enrichment and joy to do it and my motivation was to give that joy to others. After too many attempts to count and a whole lot of good intentions later, a beautiful and delicious cake was finally made. The cherry on top, is that it’s not by anyone else’s standards but my own. It’s my gift to share. I really do believe each of us have very special gifts that we need to unwrap and discover. We just have to get out there and live in our own package.

A woman came up to me at the store just yesterday and said, “I’ve never seen a 25 pound bag of sugar! What are you making? Are you a baker?” That started a conversation. She said she has always wanted to start an event business of her own, but that she’s scared to go for it. I told her, what have you got to lose?! Have faith and just go for it! If she had enough faith to have seven beautiful children and drop them off to school every day, she can sure enough have the faith to just do what she wants to do on the side. You are in control to live your life and love your life. Take it one step at a time and then one day at a time. As long as there is love and passion in it, you’ll find joy and a good use of your time for just trying.

My daughter loves to swim. She is now on a swim team, which is a dream that we were finally able to make happen for her. When she was first on the block, learning to dive in, she just couldn’t get herself to take the plunge, literally and figuratively. I knew what she was feeling in her heart. She didn’t want to be judged in front of her peers for not doing it perfectly. Guess what?! You’re going to belly flop at first! You’ll just have to keep getting out and back into the water, if you want to fulfill your personal goals! Everyone who matters is cheering for you! Say a little prayer, give it to God and just go for it! TAKE THE PLUNGE!

With that, I’m leaving it to St. Teresa of Avila. She has so many awesome words of encouragement and inspiration and today is her Feast Day. Leave it to her to break it down for us: “One who makes no mistakes, makes nothing.”

Let’s all promise to get out there and make something!

get out there and make something

game-day popcorn buffet

Game-Day Popcorn Buffet, recipes via

Here’s an awesome snack idea for Game Day this football season: set up a party-style, popcorn buffet. I have four recipes to share to make it fun and super special, and you may want to save this idea for your parties in the future.

First, you need to know how to make perfectly popped popcorn on the stovetop. Do yourself a favor and make it from scratch. You’ll be glad you did. It’s kind of my philosophy when making all things. Like cake for example: a boxed recipe can still taste pretty good, but in all ways, it’s just not as good as making it from scratch.

perfectly popped, stove-top popcorn, recipes on

Mili’s Sweets Perfectly Popped Popcorn Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 tablespoons of canola oil or grape seed oil

1/3 cup corn kernels

Tools: stopwatch, pot, oven mit

Here’s what you’ll do:

For every 1/3 cup of kernels, use 3 tablespoons of oil. In my 10 quart pot, doubling this is the perfect amount, for an even distribution at the bottom. Therefore, I use 2/3 cup kernels and 6 tablespoons of oil.

Both oils are good and perfect for popcorn popping, since they burn nicely at high heat. I’ll explain how to work with each one.

how to make perfectly popped, stovetop popcorn, recipe on

First, measure your kernels and oil and place them in a cold pot. Move the ingredients around to completely and evenly cover the bottom.

Next, place the pot on the stovetop and set to medium-high heat. Set your stop watch to start. When 3 minutes are up (when using canola oil) you’re oil is ready. When 4 minutes are up (when using grape seed oil) your oil is ready, and at least one kernel will be popped.

At the moment you see a single kernel popped, (when the 3 or 4 minutes are up) cover the pot with a lid. Reset your stopwatch. Move the pot back and forth, over the medium-high heat. Once your stopwatch reads 3 minutes, remove it from the heat. You’re done.

There you have it! Perfectly-popped popcorn, with no burn, in 6 minutes. I love this recipe since it’s easy to remember with all of the 3s: 3 tablespoons of oil, 1/3 cup kernels, three minutes to heat, three minutes to pop. Perfect! xox

It’s always fun to offer a variety of flavors. Below are a few recipe ideas. I’m going to share how to make “Chocolate Caramel Pretzel,” “Caramel Corn,” “Cracked Pepper” and “Kids at the Movies.” Each flavor is great, but if your home is like mine, the caramel corn will be the first to disappear!

photoGame-Day Popcorn Buffet, recipes via

Mili’s Sweets Caramel Corn Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need: 

8 cups popped popcorn

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

10 standard sized marshmallows

kosher salt, to-taste

how to make caramel corn. Game Day Popcorn buffet recipes on

Here’s what you’ll do:

While stirring constantly, melt the butter and brown sugar in a non-stick pan, at medium heat.

Place the marshmallows and continue to stir. Allow the marshmallows to break down and melt.

Pour the mixture over the popped popcorn and mix with a spoon.

Place in a serving bowl, sprinkle with salt to taste and serve. This is a more sticky, pull-apart snack. It’s the only popcorn flavor recipe I’m sharing where a scooper can’t be used when serving.

This week in the shop, I came up with a very good use for caramel corn. My FunFriday cupcake flavor was Carnival Caramel Corn!

carnival caramel corn cupcake by Mili

Mili’s Sweets Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Popcorn Recipe 

Here’s what you’ll need:

8 cups popped popcorn

1 cup chocolate covered pretzels

1/4 cup prepared caramel (I sometimes use my homemade version. This time I used Mrs. Richardson’s Butterscotch Caramel Topping.)

kosher salt, to taste

how to make chocolate-caramel-pretzel popcorn. Game-Day Popcorn buffet recipes via

Here’s what you’ll do:

In a non-stick pan, on medium heat, place the caramel and heat until it simmers.

Pour the warm caramel on top of the pretzels and popcorn. Mix with a spoon. Some of the chocolate on the pretzels will melt onto the popcorn. That’s what you want! If you want the end-result to be more beautiful, remove the melted pretzels and replace with fresh ones. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.

Mili’s Sweets Cracked Pepper Popcorn Recipe

This is the easiest and the healthiest! Honestly, I can enjoy this popcorn, plain and unsalted. To but to kick up the flavor, I like adding freshly cracked pepper, using a pepper mill. Sprinkle kosher salt to taste, and you’re done. It’s super simple and amazingly delicious, especially when the popcorn is fresh and warm.

Mili’s Sweets Kids at the Movies Popcorn Recipe

This is all about my kids. Whenever we go to the movie theatre, our tradition is for the kids have a box-tray on their lap. I give a portion of popcorn and sprinkle onchocolate covered raisins and sour candies. They love the combination of sweet, salty, chocolatey and sour. It’s a no-brainer for kids of all ages.

game day popcorn buffet, recipes by Mili

So there you have it! I’m sure you can think of 100 other different flavor combinations for freshly-popped popcorn, but this is a nice start. I hope these easy-breezy recipes make for lots of fun at home.

Take care and enjoy.


a happy halloween » Mili's Sweets - October 29, 2014 - 10:21 am

[…] My husband and kids love candy corn, so I always make a point to have some in the house around fall. I couldn’t resist adding them into the desserts. One of their favorite treats at the dessert table were the candy corn popcorn balls. […]

blueberry pie: plus cupcakes, muffins and tartlets

blueberry pie by Mili

Blueberries are one my favorite things to eat and to bake. Blueberry pie tops the list. This post is all about my recipe for blueberry pie filling, and many awesome ways to prepare it into beautiful and delicious treats including blueberry pie cupcakes, blueberry muffins, blueberry pie tartlets. Of course, I’ll also share how to make it into a traditional pie.

Once you make this simple filling, you’ll want to make big plans for it. Let’s get to making something so good, you’ll want to make it over and over again, and pass the recipe on:

Mili’s Sweets Blueberry Pie Filling Recipe (with gluten-free version) 

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 cups blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1/2 cup orange juice

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons flour (all purpose or substitute with artisan, all purpose, gluten-free flour)

1/4 teaspoon salt

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

Here’s what you’ll do:

In a pan, over medium heat, combine blueberries, 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar.

Add the 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of either traditional or gluten-free flour. Stir to dissolve.

Once the mixture comes to a low boil (starts to bubble) you’ll want to continue stirring for an additional 20 minutes. The mixture will be think, full and ready to fill your desserts.

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

Blueberry Pie 

Blueberry pie is one of my favorite desserts to serve. If you are filling a pie crust you’ll want to add 2 tablespoons of butter, cut into very small pieces, to place over the filling, once it has been poured in and is ready for the top pie crust. I love to make a lattice design for berry pies.

I 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 option.

I bake my berry pies at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and at 375 degrees for an additional 40 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving. My family actually prefers cold berry pie, so my berry pies go in the oven before serving.

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

Blueberry Pie Cupcakes and Blueberry Muffins

I know how much you love cupcakes!  This recipe is great for muffins too!

I let the blueberry pie filling do all of the work, to take this cake flavor to another level. I make these cupcakes and muffins, using my favorite gluten-free vanilla cake recipe.

Mili’s Sweets Gluten-Free Cupcakes Recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 and 3/4 cups gluten-free flour (I used Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend.)

2 cups sugar

4 extra large eggs, at room temperature (run them under warm water)

1 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

Here’s what you’ll do:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Fill your cupcake pan with liners. This recipe will yield 24 cupcakes or muffins.

In a standing mixer, with a paddle attachment, (you can use standard or the scraping-version) beat the 4 eggs for about 30 seconds. Mix in the two cups of sugar. Add the one cup canola oil and one teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Mix until completely incorporated. From here on with this recipe, mixing in the ingredients will be brief, and you’ll mix until only just completely moistened.

Mix in the dry ingredients including the baking powder, baking soda, salt and gluten-free flour. As the final component, blend in the buttermilk.

You will want the batter to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

Are you in the mood to make Blueberry Muffins? If so, this is the time to add one heaping tablespoon of blueberry pie filling to the center of each liner, prepared with poured batter. Swirl in the goodness and bake. If you want to make blueberry pie cupcakes, please see my how-to below.

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

Bake for 15-16 minutes, depending on your oven.

The result will be absolutely delicious, fluffy blueberry muffins. I simply add a sprinkling of crystalized sugar to the top of each one, once they are cooled. This is an outstanding treat to serve for breakfast, brunch or a snack.

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

If you’re in the mood to take it over the top and make Blueberry Pie Cupcakes, I’m right there with you! Let’s do this.

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

Allow the cupcakes to completely cool. Cut a hole at the center of each one, using a circular, metal cookie cutter. Remove the center portion of the cake and spoon in the berry pie filling.

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

Top with your choice of vanilla butter cream, blueberry butter cream or vanilla cream cheese frosting. You can choose to top with a dollop of blueberry pie filling, or a lattice-pie crust cupcake topper.

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

How to make lattice-design, pie crust topper:

Make two pie crusts. They can be either from scratch, or you can use prepared, roll-out crusts.

Roll them out thin, to about 1/4″. One crust should be placed on a silpat mat or parchment paper. The other crust should be placed alongside it.  Use a rolling pizza cutter, to make thin, vertical strips on both crusts.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

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

The crust on the mat (or parchment paper) will be the one to place in the oven. The crust set to the side, will be used to weave in the tight, lattice design.

never bored of blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via milissweets.comIt’s really simple, but takes patience and time, to make a lattice design, especially when it’s tight like this one. Start from the left and work your way to end, or the right-side. You’ll take each strip over and under, until you reach the top. Once you have it all latticed-up, use a cookie cutter to cut as many small (1″ is best) circles as possible. Remove the access dough around the cut circles.

Place the mat/parchment paper onto a cookie sheet. Brush circles with egg wash (one egg white, whisked) and sprinkle with a liberal amount of granulated sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool completely, before placing onto your frosted cupcakes.

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

Blueberry Pie Tartlets 

If you want to cut strait to the finger-foods, I recommend making sweet little tartlets. You’ll want to go back to my previous posts, with my recipes for how to make either Gluten-Free Pie Crust, or Shortbread Tart Crust. Either one is divine. The shortbread is a little more dense than that pie crust, which will be more flakey (but they tend to shrink a little). I personally prefer the shortbread crust, since it will provide a more consistent and easier-to-work-with result for these petite treats.

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

My daughter made the tartlets all on her own. She did a wonderful job! She opted for the gluten-free pie crust recipe. She rolled it out on a silpat mat, used the tartlet cutter and placed each piece of dough in the tin. She used an egg wash and then filled the tartlets with one heaping tablespoon of prepared blueberry pie filling.

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

In a 375 degree oven, they baked for 18-20 minutes. When the crust was golden brown, she removed them from the oven. After they cooled, she garnished them with a sprinkling of crystalized sugar.

They were beautiful and delicious! She was very proud of her work and that was the best part.

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

If for some strange, wonderful reason, you have extra blueberry pie filling, I recommend you save it in the refrigerator. You can enjoy it for up to a week in a sealed container.

One of my other favorite things to do with this filling is to top (or fill) pancakes with it. It’s outrageously good! For my Simple Saturday Pancakes Recipe, please see the link to my post.


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

Take care and enjoy!


blueberry pie: recipes for cupcakes, muffins, tartlets, via



Thanksgiving specials » Mili's Sweets - November 21, 2014 - 9:22 pm

[…] Another wonderful berry pie offering: Blueberry Pie. […]

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