You can host the most celebrated family meal of the year AND enjoy the gathering too with tips from the pros.  Jacques Pépin, Bill Telepan, Paula Deen and Rachel Hollis to the rescue sharing their secrets to a successful Thanksgiving meal with Fox News's Lilian Huang Woo.

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photo credit: Lilian Huang Woo
photo credit:
Lilian Huang Woo

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Bacon and Green Chile Mac 'n' Cheese

Rachel Hollis/Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese
Rachel Hollis/Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese

Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt

1 pound macaroni (or any other short-cut pasta)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1½ cups whole milk, warmed

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1¼ cups grated sharp Cheddar cheese, divided

1¼ cups grated Monterey Jack cheese, divided

1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles

1 pound bacon, diced and cooked until crispy

½ cup plain bread crumbs


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic until the onion just begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the dried pasta and cook until al dente according to package's instructions. You don't want to overcook the noodles, as they'll continue to cook in the oven. Drain and set aside.
  1. Warm a medium saucepan and melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat.  Add the flour and stir to evenly combine. Cook for a few seconds and then whisk in the warmed milk, making sure the flour and butter have dissolved. Season with remaining salt, black pepper, and cayenne and simmer until bubbly and thick. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 cup Cheddar and 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese.
  1. Add the green chiles and the crispy bacon (saving some bacon for the topping). Add in the cooked noodles and onion and garlic and stir until evenly combined.
  1. Generously grease a baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter--this keeps the macaroni from sticking once it's baked. Pour the mac 'n' cheese in the baking dish and top with the remaining cheeses and reserved bacon. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and the top is golden brown.

Butternut Squash Velvet

Butternut Squash Velvet by Jacques Pépin
Butternut Squash Velvet by Jacques Pépin

by Jacques Pépin

Serves: Makes 4 servings


  • 1 butternut squash (about 1½ pounds), peeled, seeded, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • ¾ cup diced (1-inch) onion
  • 1 cup sliced leek, including some of the lighter green inner leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ cups chicken stock, homemade, or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Garnishes:
  • ¼ cup crushed pistachio nuts
  • A few sprigs fresh chervil, dill, chopped fresh tarragon, or chives


Butternut is one of my favorite squashes. In this recipe, it is made into a velvety concoction that makes an elegant first course for any dinner and is good cold as well as hot. I garnish the dish with herbs and roasted pistachio nuts, although you can substitute slivered almonds. Buy peeled butternut squash if you find it at your market, it is well worth the extra money because it is difficult to peel.

Put the squash, onions, leek, olive oil, salt, pepper, stock, and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and boil gently for 20 minutes. Emulsify with an immersion blender until smooth. You can use a regular blender or food processor, but an immersion blender is more convenient. (The soup can be prepared to this point a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated. It also freezes well.)

At serving time, add the cream and bring the soup to a boil. Serve garnished with a sprinkling of crushed pistachios and a sprig of fresh chervil or dill or a sprinkling of tarragon or chives.

Cranberry Crackle Tart BAKING CHEZ MOI, © 2014 by Dorie Greenspan.
Cranberry Crackle Tart BAKING CHEZ MOI, © 2014 by Dorie Greenspan.

Cauliflower Gratin by Jacques Pepin
Cauliflower Gratin by Jacques Pepin

Cauliflower Au Gratin

Serves 6

Made with a béchamel sauce and finished with cheese, this cauliflower dish is one I remember well from my childhood.

1 cauliflower (about 11⁄2 pounds)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

11⁄2 cups milk

3⁄4 cup heavy cream

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

1⁄8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1⁄2 cup grated Gruyère or Emmenthaler cheese

2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Trim the green leaves and cut out the core from the cauliflower; separate it into florets. Drop the florets into a large stainless steel saucepan of boiling salted water, bring back to a boil, and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes; they will be crunchy. Drain and set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and cook over low heat for about 1 minute, stirring with a whisk; do not let the mixture brown. Add the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, then simmer over low heat for 1 minute. Add the cream, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat.

Generously butter a gratin dish. Put the florets in the dish stem side down and coat with the béchamel. Sprinkle with the cheeses. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve.

Broccoli Cheddar Garlic Bread from Upscale Downhome by Rachel Hollis
Broccoli Cheddar Garlic Bread from Upscale Downhome by Rachel Hollis

Broccoli Cheddar Garlic Bread

This pull-apart bread is the perfect appetizer for a newbie hostess since you don't need much kitchen prowess to pull it off. If you own a knife and have the ability to melt cheese, you're about twenty minutes away from flavor town!

Makes 6 to 8 servings


1½ cups broccoli pieces

1 round sourdough bread loaf

¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese

1 scallion, chopped (about 2 tablespoons)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set Steam the broccoli. You can do this in a steamer or place the broccoli in a bowl with a ¼ cup of water and cover with plastic wrap. Cut a few holes in the plastic wrap to vent. Cook in the microwave for 5 minutes.
  1. Slice a crisscross pattern into the top of the bread, creating ½-inch cubes, but don't slice all the way thr Stop about a ½ inch from the bottom of the bread. Transfer the bread to the foil- lined baking sheet.
  1. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, and crushed red pepper flakes. Pour the mixture over the bread separating the bread with your fingers to allow the sauce to fall between the cubes. Make sure the entire bread is coated with the butter Distribute the minced garlic evenly, tucking it between the cubes. Stuff the broccoli pieces between the cubes of the bread. Bake for 10 minutes.
  1. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese, making sure to tuck some of the cheese in between the cubes as Sprinkle with the scallion and return to the oven to bake for another 12 minutes, until the cheese has melted and the bread has browned. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

 Herb Sausage and Mushroom Stuffing

2 tablespoons butter 11/2 pounds of herb pork sausage 1/2 onion, minced 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 stalks celery, peeled and thinly sliced Salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced 1 pound sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 10 cups) 3 to 4 cups turkey or chicken broth 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh marjoram

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a skillet, add the sausage, break into pieces, and cook until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, celery, and a pinch of salt, and sauté, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and a pinch of salt and cook for 3 minutes.

Place the bread in a large bowl and stir in the sausage mixture. Add 3 cups broth and marjoram and mix well (if the mixture is still dry, add a little more broth). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Butter a 9-by-11-inch baking dish and transfer the stuffing to the dish, cover with foil, and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for about 45 minutes, until the top is crispy and brown.

Bill Telepan, Executive Chef Oceana Restaurant and Wellness in Schools
Bill Telepan, Executive Chef Oceana Restaurant and Wellness in Schools


Chicken Jardinière by Jacques Pépin
Chicken Jardinière by Jacques Pépin

Chicken Jardiniere

Serves 4

 My mother made this type of stew from the carcass of a raw chicken and its gizzards; I use pancetta instead of gizzards for additional flavor and chicken legs, which stay moist during the cooking. means "gardener" in French, and the vegetables change according to what is in season or in my garden. The stew is easy to put together, and it gets better every time you reheat it.

2 ½ ounces lean pancetta, cut into lardons (strips about 1 inch long and½ inch thick)

1 ½ tablespoons peanut oil

4 chicken legs (about 2 3/4 pounds), left whole or cut into 2 pieces each, ends of the drumsticks and skin removed (about 2 1/4 pounds trimmed)

1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup fruity dry white wine

¾ cup water

12 small red potatoes (about 8 ounces), peeled

8 small baby bella or cremini mushrooms (about 5 ounces), washed

12 small pearl onions (about 4 ounces)

1 ¼ cups diced (1-inch) carrots

1 ½ tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic

1 fresh thyme branch

1 cup frozen baby peas

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Saute the lardons in the oil in a large saucepan or a Dutch oven (the pan should be wide enough to hold the chicken in a single layer) over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and sauté them, turning once, for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned. Sprinkle with the flour, salt, and pepper and move the chicken around to distribute the flour evenly. Cook for 1 minute, then add the wine and water and mix well.

Add the potatoes, mushrooms, onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and mix well. Bring to a full boil, making sure that the stew is boiling throughout, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 45 minutes. (The stew can be prepared ahead to this point and reheated to serve.)

At serving time, add the peas to the stew, bring to a boil, and boil for 2 minutes.

Transfer the stew to individual plates or a large platter, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.


Rachel Hollis
Rachel Hollis

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