Thanksgiving is fast approaching and we are starting to meal plan! Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving, bringing a dish to share, or just want to try something new these recipes are the best of the best, compiled by the CU Engage team.  These recipes are new, old, hand-me-downs, and family traditions.  We’ve got a little something for everyone this Thanksgiving, just add the turkey!


Cinnamon Baked French Toast Ava

Ava says: “Not KETO-but also a family favorite that can be made the day   before for breakfast—so good!”


French Toast:

  • Butter, for greasing
  • 1 loaf crusty sourdough or French bread
  • 8 whole eggs
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup whipping (heavy) cream
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract


  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces, plus more for serving
  • Warm pancake syrup, for serving
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries, for serving

Special equipment:

  •  9-by-13-inch baking pan


  1. For the French toast: Grease the baking pan with butter. Tear the bread into chunks, or cut into cubes, and evenly distribute in the pan. Crack the eggs in a big bowl. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Pour evenly over the bread. Cover the pan tightly and store in the fridge until needed (overnight preferably).
  2. For the topping: Mix the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and some nutmeg in a separate bowl. Stir together using a fork. Add the butter and with a pastry cutter, and mix it all together until the mixture resembles fine pebbles. Store in a re-sealable plastic bag in the fridge.
  3. When you’re ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the casserole from the fridge and sprinkle the topping over the top. Bake for 45 minutes for a softer, more bread pudding texture or for 1 hour or more for a firmer, crisper texture.
  4. Scoop out individual portions. Top with butter and drizzle with warm pancake syrup and sprinkle with blueberries.
  5. Enjoy!


Spicy Pretzels – Chassidy

Chassidy says: “this is my favorite snack/appetizer to make!”


  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 dry ranch-style dressing mix
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 15 ounces of stick pretzels


  1. In a small bowl, mix together cayenne pepper, lemon pepper, garlic salt, ranch-style dressing mix and vegetable oil
  2. Place pretzels in a large, sealable plastic bag. Pour in mixture from bowl. Shake well. Allow pretzels to marinate in the mixture approximately 30 minutes. Shake occasionally to maintain coating.
  3. Set Oven to 200 Degrees. Bake for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

Baked Brie in Puff Pastry James


  • Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (2 sheets for top & bottom)
  • Brie wheel, LG or medium-sized (buy @ Sam’s Club)
  • 1 egg diluted w/ 1 Tbsp water (for wash/brush pastry before baking)

For the topping (combine):

  • walnuts toasted, 1/2 c.
  • dried cranberries or apricots, 1 c.
  • brown sugar, 1/4 c.


  1. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface for a thinner crust
  2. Place the Brie sheet in the center and top with combined toppings
  3. Place another pastry sheet on top, leave about 2 inches on the edges to seal **
  4. Carefully brush egg wash all over the top and sides of the pastry
  5. Place in a tray lined with aluminum foil in preheated 400º oven
  6. Bake 400º for 7-9 minutes or until pastry turns light brown and puffy.

** Tip regarding enclosing in pastry: If using a medium sized Brie wheel, you can roll dough larger/thinner, place Brie on one side and fold over the other half over the Brie, then cut extra edges before sealing with your fingers.

Serve with apples (or your choice of fruit) and/or Carr Biscuits or crackers.


Glühwein! Kristin

Kristin says: “Meant to warm you and traditionally drank at the Christkindl Market in Germany; best enjoyed with friends”

 What you’ll need:


  • 1 Large non-aluminum pot (or Crockpot if you’re into that sorta thing)
  • 1 Small saucepan
  • Optional:
  • 1 square of cheesecloth
  • 6” twine


  • Two 750 mL bottles of a light to medium bodied red wine.
  • **Beaujolais Nouveau is best, but a Cotes du Rhone or a Grenache are great too.
  • ½ cup brandy (I use Christian Brothers)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 8 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 3 oranges
  • A dozen whole cloves
  • 1 TBSP whole allspice
  • 2-star anise


  1. Place the allspice and star anise in the center of your cheesecloth, gather its corners, tie with twine and the bundle set aside.
  2. Note: if you don’t have cheesecloth or twine you can just strain out when you pour your glass
  3. Slice the oranges and pin the cloves into the peels
  4. In the small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon sticks. Place the pan over high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the sugar has dissolved and the mixture becomes thick and syrupy, you’ve made a nice simple syrup! Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. Grab the big pot and set it on the stove.
  7. Pour the two bottles of wine into the pot and set the flame to LOW (do not allow to boil!!)
  8. Squeeze the oranges and in the pot they go.
  9. Pour in half of the simple syrup mixture and all the cinnamon sticks.
  10. Save the remaining simple syrup for later.
  11. Add the brandy and bundle of spices in with the wine and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
  12. Warm wine over low heat for at least 30 minutes (and up to 3 hours)
  13. After 30 minutes or so, give your glühwein a try and ass the remaining simple syrup to taste.
  14. Remove spice bundle and oranges and keep wine warm over very low heat until ready to serve.

Feeling Spicy? Optional add-ins:

  • Vanilla bean
  • Ginger
  • Nutmeg pods
  • Cardamom pods

Side Dishes

Dressing from Scratch, No Stove-Top in Here Kody

Kody Tuupo CU Engage Strategic Business Analyst

Kody says: “There’s only three things I care about on Thanksgiving: Dressing, Gravy, and Turkey (preferably deep fried).”


*based on normal family size

*Samoan family x 4

  • 1 Corn Bread Mix
  • 2 Sticks of Butter
  • 1 Cup of Chopped Celery/Onions
  • 1 pack Chicken Livers
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups of Turkey Stock
  • 1 pack of Turkey innards
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons of Sage
  • Garlic Salt/Pepper to taste
  • 2 to 3 slices of Bread


  1. Cook cornbread mix according to directions.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease baking dish.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and sauté celery/onions
  4. In a medium pot over medium heat, boil chicken livers
  5. In a large bowl, crumble cornbread mix/bread and combine celery/onions, eggs, chicken livers, turkey stock, turkey innards, and spices
  6. Place mixture into a pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 – 45 minutes
  7. Hide a large bowl of dressing/gravy before serving and enjoy

*Note: It is vital to have a perfect gravy to match the level of bombness in the dressing. The turkey, however, plays only a minor role and unless deep fried, is typically just a vessel to carry more dressing/gravy home.

Vegan Stuffing Kristin

Kristin says: ‘This can easily be made gluten-free too, just use either millet bread or Ezekiel bread.”


  • 1 loaf of bread (14-16 slices)
  • 1 heart of celery, diced (about 5 stalks)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons ground sage
  • 1.5 teaspoons thyme
  • 1.5 teaspoons oregano
  • 4 tablespoons vegan butter (we use earth balance)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups veggie stock


  1. Cut bread into cubes and crisp in the oven until slightly crunchy, about 10-15 minutes on 400 degrees (roast dry on a baking sheet)
  2. Combine diced celery, onion, carrots, garlic, 2 tablespoons of vegan butter, salt, sage, thyme, oregano, and pepper in a skillet.
  3. Sautee until just soft (about 10 minutes on medium heat)
  4. Add bread to skillet and stir well, add in veggie stock
  5. Taste to adjust seasonings if necessary
  6. Pour stuffing into a large glass baking dish (grease with vegan butter first)
  7. Dot the top of the stuffing with 2 tablespoons of vegan butter, cut into small cubes
  8. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until desired texture (we prefer it drier, but you could cook less for a more soft stuffing)

Apple Walnut Thanksgiving Dressing Loretta

Loretta Weller-Mowers Digital Strategic Consultant CU Engage

Loretta says: “This is my grandmother’s famous dressing”


  • ¾ lb. mild ground pork sausage
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 medium granny smith apples
  • 1 cup celery
  • 2 large Garlic cloves
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoon fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground pepper
  • 12 cups assorted bread cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups low-sodium turkey or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • fresh parsley


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté sausage and onion in a large skillet over medium heat 6 minutes or until sausage is no longer pink. Add apples and next 2 ingredients; sauté 5 more minutes or until apples are tender. Stir in walnuts and next 5 ingredients. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool 10 minutes.
  2. Fold in bread and broth until well blended. Spoon into a well-greased 3 quart or 13 X 9-inch baking pan. Brush top generously with butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until top is crusty and brown.

Perfect Gravy Vikki

Vikki Wagner CU Engage

Vikki says: This one is so quick and easy. Plus, you can freeze the leftovers…if you have any!”


  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 c. turkey pan drippings
  • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth (or turkey stock)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. freshly minced thyme
  • 1 tsp. freshly minced sage


  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour and cook until golden, 1 minute, then whisk in pan drippings. (If you have more than a cup of drippings, use it and reduce the amount of broth!)
  2. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in fresh herbs, then whisk in 1 cup broth and return mixture to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Simmer 10 minutes, gradually adding more broth if gravy is too thick. Adjust seasoning.
  5. Pour into your gravy boat and enjoy!

Keto Twice Baked Cauliflower Casserole Recipe Ava

Ava says: “This recipe has become a new family favorite- even for those not doing Keto.”

Need to know:

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 9 servings
  • Serving Size: 1


  • 1 large cauliflower head
  • 4 oz. full fat cream cheese (take out of the fridge to soften prior to mixing)
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 cup full-fat cheddar cheese
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder / or 1-2 cloves of fresh pressed garlic.
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Fry 6 pieces of bacon. (Tip: You can use bacon bits/pieces if you’re in a hurry!)
  2. Cut out stem and core from cauliflower, and chop into small pieces
  3. Cook cauliflower in a large pot of boiling salted water until cauliflower is tender (15-20mins)
  4. Preheat oven to 350°F
  5. In a large mixing bowl add cream cheese, sour cream, green onions, parmesan cheese and 4 pieces of chopped fully cooked bacon
  6. Drain cauliflower well, then pour over top of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  7. Mash with a potato masher/mixing whisk, until the consistency is to your liking (I like mine chunky, so it breaks up while mixing to nice bite-size chunks)
  8. Spread evenly in a medium-sized (8×8) casserole dish (spray with a non-stick cooking spray so it doesn’t stick)
  9. Top with cheddar cheese and two pieces of chopped bacon.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350°F

Brown Butter and Shallot Sautéed Haricot Vert Kaytee

Kaytee Hoechlin CU Engage Team


  • 1 lb Fresh Haricot Vert Green Beans
  • 1/2 Stick Salted Sweet Cream Butter
  • 2 Garlic Cloves Minced
  • 1 Large Shallot Minced
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp White Pepper (Black works too)


  1. Clean and trim green beans
  2. Mince garlic cloves
  3. Mince shallots
  4. Boil pot of water
  5. Once boiling drop in cleaned green beans
  6. Cook for 2 minutes
  7. Remove and place them in an ice bath to stop the cooking
  8. Once cooled remove green beans from the ice bath
  9. In a large sauté pan melt the half stick butter on low
  10. Once melted, turn up the heat to medium and slowly brown the butter
  11. Once the butter is a light golden color add the garlic and shallots.
  12. Sauté the garlic and shallots just until they are translucent
  13. Add green beans to the pan and sauté on low to medium heat turning frequently until they are your desired tenderness
  14. Add salt and pepper and stir to dress
  15. Enjoy!

Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables Jen Shefner

Jen Shefner Circle Headshot CU Engage Business Analyst

Jen says: “I made this last year with the original mustard variation and it was a hit.  I used butternut squash, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, carrots, and Yukon potatoes.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 pound peeled cubed butternut squash (about 3 cups)
  • 1-pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-in. pieces (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 1-pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 8 ounces small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
  2. Combine oil, mustard, thyme, 2 teaspoons vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine butternut squash, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes in a large bowl. Add mustard mixture to squash mixture; toss to coat.
  3. Spread vegetable mixture in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450°F for 35 minutes or until browned and tender, stirring gently with a spatula after 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven. Drizzle with remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar; toss.

Variation: Lemon-Herb Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables:

  1. Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine butternut squash, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes from above recipe in a large bowl. Add oil mixture, 10 peeled garlic cloves, and 1/2 thinly sliced lemon to vegetables; toss to coat.
  2. Bake as directed in step 3 of above recipe. Remove pan from oven; sprinkle vegetables with 1 cup fresh at-leaf parsley leaves, 1/3 cup chopped fresh chives, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest strips, and 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; toss.
  3. SERVES 10 (serving size: about 2/3 cup)

Variation: Orange-Tarragon Sheet Pan Roasted Vegetables:

  1. Combine 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine butternut squash, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes from above recipe in a large bowl. Add orange juice mixture to vegetables; toss to coat.
  2. Bake as directed in above recipe. Remove pan from oven; sprinkle vegetables with 1 teaspoon orange zest strips, 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, and 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon; toss.
  3. SERVES 10 (serving size: about 2/3 cup)

Slow-Cooker Green Beans Vikki

Vikki Wagner CU Engage

Vikki says: “I love that this frees up valuable stovetop space.”


  • 8 thick-cut bacon slices, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 thyme sprigs


  1. Cut 6 of the bacon slices into 1/2-inch pieces. Cook, stirring often, in a large skillet over medium-high until crispy, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain; reserve drippings in skillet. Crumble cooked bacon, and set aside. Add onion to skillet; cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in green beans; cook, stirring often, 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer green bean mixture to a 5-quart slow cooker. Stir in broth, salt, pepper, thyme sprigs, and 2 uncooked bacon slices. Cover and cook on HIGH until beans are tender, about 3 hours. Discard bacon and thyme; top with crumbled cooked bacon.

Corn Casserole Lizzy

Lizzy Shebanek Headshot CU Engage Market Strategist

Lizzy says: “This recipe is life changing.”

Need to know:

  • Total: 1 hr. 8 min
  • Prep: 8 min
  • Inactive: 5 min
  • Cook: 55 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
  • Level: Easy


  • 1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (14 ¾-ounce) can cream-style corn
  • 1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter.
  3. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown.
  4. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Wild Rice with Roasted Chestnuts and Cranberries Jen Shefner

Jen Shefner Circle Headshot CU Engage Business Analyst

Jen says: “I like it best without the chestnuts.”


  • 1 ¼ pounds fresh chestnuts (about 1 ½ cups peeled)
  • 2 cups wild rice
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • ½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • ¾ cup dried apricots, quartered
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large ribs celery, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage
  • ½ cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Using a sharp paring knife, score the flat side of each chestnut with a big X, cutting through the outer shell and inner brown skin. Place the chestnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes.  While the chestnuts are still quite warm but cool enough to handle, peel them with a sharp paring knife, removing both the outer shell and the inner brown skin.  Discard any chestnuts that look rotten. Set aside the chestnuts that are hard to peel and rewarm them in a 400°F oven; or place them on a paper towel and rewarm in a microwave for 45 seconds on High, repeating if necessary.  Cut the roasted chestnuts in half and set aside.  Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine the rice, chicken stock, water, and ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, about 40 minutes.  (Not all of the liquid will be absorbed.)
  4. In a small bowl, combine the cranberries and apricots, add hot water to cover, and allow to plump for 20 minutes. Drain and reserve.
  5. In a 12-inch sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the better and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the celery, carrots, and onion and sauté until soft and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme, sage, and parsley and sauté for 1 minute longer.  Remove from the heat.
  6. When the rice is tender, drain it in a sieve and add it to the sautéed vegetables. Add the reserved chestnuts, cranberries, and apricots and stir to combine. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  7. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon butter to grease an oven-to-table casserole. Spoon the rice into the casserole and cover with aluminum foil.  (The wild rice can be made up to this point 1 day in advance, cooled, covered, and refrigerated.  Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before baking and increase the baking time from 20 minutes to 40 minutes to ensure it is heated through.)
  8. Twenty minutes before serving, bake the rice until heated through, then serve directly from the casserole.

Serves 8-10

*If you prefer not to roast your own chestnuts, you can buy peeled chestnuts in vacuum-sealed packages, cans, or jars at specialty food stores.  If they are packed in liquid, drain it off.  Prepared chestnuts are usually boiled rather than roasted, resulting in some flavor loss.  To improve their flavor before using, place them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast them in the center of a 350°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes.

Crockpot Cheesy Hash Brown Casserole Chassidy

Chassidy says: “This is my favorite side dish to make!”


  • 2 (20 oz) bags of refrigerated hash brown potatoes
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 can condensed cream of potato soup
  • 1 Tablespoon All-purpose seasoning (such as Salt-free Mrs. Dash)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter


  1. Over a medium/high heat, sauté onions in 1 TB of butter, until translucent and soft. (about 3-5 minutes)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together hash brown potatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream, cheese, seasoning, salt and cream of potato soup. Stir until well combined.
  3. Place in a crockpot, prepared with cooking spray and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours. Mine are perfect at 5 hours.

Major Brown’s Sweet Potatoes Vikki

Vikki Wagner CU Engage

Vikki says: ” My dad was famous for this one; everyone would request it for the holidays, but the recipe is a little different every time.”


  • 5 lbs. sweet potatoes (3-5 large)
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 2/3 to 1 can evaporated milk
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ to 1 cup brown sugar
  • Molasses or maple syrup
  • Large marshmallows


  1. Peel & cut-up sweet potatoes.
  2. Boil in water until tender. Drain.
  3. Mash with an electric mixer with:
    1. Butter
    2. 2/3 can evaporated milk
    3. 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    4. ½ cup brown sugar
  4. Sweeten to taste using the rest of evaporated milk, brown sugar, and molasses or maple syrup.
  5. Pour into a 9×13” baking dish and dot with large marshmallows and cover with foil.
  6. Bake 350°F for 45 minutes to 1 hour
  7. Remove foil and turn on broiler to brown marshmallows if needed.
  8. Enjoy!


Grape Salad –Ana

Ana Stock Headshot CU Engage

Ana says: “This can be a side or a dessert.”


  • 2 pounds red grapes and 2 pounds green grapes
  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 ounces chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar


  1. Wash and dry grapes.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together until smooth the cream cheese, sour cream, sugar, and vanilla.
  3. Add grapes and mix until evenly incorporated.
  4. Sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans on top and refrigerate until serving.

Pecan Dump Cake – Tiffany

Tiffany says: “This is my ultimate fave dessert – super easy and yummy! …although I hate the name ‘dump cake'”


  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 ¼ cup pecans halves
  • 1 package box cake mix (Tiffany says yellow cake mix is great for this!)
  • 1 ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ cup hot water


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a 9×13 inch cake pan or casserole dish, pour in the melted butter. Sprinkle the one cup of the pecans over the butter. Sprinkle half of the brown sugar on top of the pecans, then spread the cake mix evenly on top of the sugar. Sprinkle the remaining brown sugar on top and add remaining pecans. Carefully pour the hot water over the mixture; do not stir.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm with ice cream.

Sugar Cookies with Fruit (or Mini Fruit Pizzas) Chassidy

Chassidy says: “This is my favorite dessert to make! We like to put different types of fruit on each of these miniature versions of the larger pie.”


  • 1 package (16 oz) Pillsbury™ Ready To Bake!™ refrigerated sugar cookies (24 cookies)
  • 1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons frozen limeade concentrate
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cups fresh blueberries, sliced strawberries, and kiwifruit
  • Powdered sugar, if desired


  1. Bake cookies as directed on package. Cool completely (10 mins).
  2. While cooling, beat cream cheese, limeade concentrate, and powdered sugar with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth
  3. Spread each cookie with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese mixture.
  4. Place fruit (blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, etc) on top of each cookie
  5. Serve immediately OR refrigerate for up to 2 hours before serving
  6. Optional = Sprinkle powdered sugar before serving.

Pecan Pie Cheesecake – Jessica

Jessica Schellhorn Financial Analyst at CU Engage

Jessica says: “I don’t enjoy cooking/baking, but for this recipe, the result is SO WORTH the effort!”



For the Crust:

  • 1 and 3/4 cups Nilla Wafers cookie crumbs
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (melted)

For the Pecan Filling:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (melted)
  • 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 and 3/4 cups pecans (chopped)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 For the Cheesecake Filling:

  • 3 8-ounce packages (24 ounces total) cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
  • 1 and 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

 For the Topping:

  • 3 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1/2 Cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup toasted pecans (chopped)



To Toast the chopped pecans:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly spritz baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Spread the chopped pecans evenly on the oil spritzed baking sheet and toast them just until they become aromatic, about 5 minutes.  (You have to watch them carefully as they are easily scorched.)

 To make the Crust:

  1. MAKE SURE you are looking at the ingredient measurements in the section just for the crust!
  2. Line the bottom of 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Combine Nilla wafer cookie crumbs and brown sugar, stir in melted butter, then press the mixture evenly into bottom and halfway up the side of your 9-inch springform pan.  Set aside in the refrigerator to firm up the crust while you make the filling.

To make the Pecan Filling:

  1. MAKE SURE you are looking at the ingredient measurements in the section just for the PECAN filling layer!
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine light brown sugar, corn syrup, melted butter, eggs, toasted pecans, and vanilla.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer stirring constantly until thickened (about 5-7 minutes). Pour into your prepared crust and set aside.

 To make the Cheesecake Filing:

  1. MAKE SURE you are looking at the ingredient measurements in the section just for the CHEESECAKE layer!
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Beat the cream cheese until creamy, then add brown sugar and flour and beat until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. ***Be VERY careful to not overbeat it.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla, then pour cheesecake mixture over your pecan filling.
  5. Place springform pan on a baking sheet, put it in the oven and reduce the heat to 325 Fahrenheit.   Bake the cheesecake for 60-70 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean). *“To check if your cheesecake is done, gently shake the cheesecake. If the cheesecake looks nearly set and only a small circle in the center jiggles slightly, it is done. (The center will firm up during the cooling time.) Do not use a knife to check doneness.”– BHG* Turn off your oven and leave the cheesecake in your with oven door closed for 1 hour.  (Set a timer!)
  6. Run a knife around edges of cheesecake but don’t take out of the springform pan until completely cooled.

To make the topping:

  1. MAKE SURE you are looking at the ingredient measurements in the section just for the TOPPING!
  2. In a small saucepan combine butter and brown sugar. Cook for 3-5 min or until very bubbly, then stir in cinnamon, heavy whipping cream, and chopped, toasted pecans. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Release the sides of springform pan and spoon the topping over cooled cheesecake.
  4. Store the finished dessert in the fridge until you are ready to serve it!

Roasted Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Maple Cream Jen Shefner

Jen Shefner Circle Headshot CU Engage Business Analyst


  • 2 dark orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb. total), such as jewel or red garnet (sometimes sold as yams)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Pecan Crust (recipe follows)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, regular or light (neufchâtel), at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Maple Cream (recipe follows)


  1. Preheat oven to 375° (convection not recommended). Peel sweet potatoes and cut in half lengthwise. Place in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and brush with melted butter. Bake until potatoes are soft when pressed, 45 to 55 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the crust. Bake in the same oven with potatoes until lightly browned all over, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Scrape any charred spots off potatoes, then cut potatoes into chunks.  Whirl in a food processor or mash in a bowl with lemon juice until smooth. Reserve 1 cup; save any extra for another use.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 325°. In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in granulated and brown sugars, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, until mixture is well blended and smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Add reserved sweet potato mixture, the whipping cream, sour cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix on low speed until well blended.
  5. Wrap bottom of cheesecake pan with heavy-duty foil, pressing it up the sides. Pour batter over crust. Put cheesecake pan in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Set pans in oven and pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cheesecake pan.
  6. Bake until cake barely jiggles in the center when gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Remove pans from the oven. Lift cheesecake pan from roasting pan and let cool completely on a rack, about 1 hour, then chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours, or up to 3 days (cover once cold).
  7. Up to 6 hours before serving, cut around inside of the pan rim to release cake; remove rim. With a pastry bag, pipe dollops of maple cream onto cake. Or serve maple cream separately, to spoon onto each wedge.
  8. Pecan Crust: Whirl 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans in a blender until finely ground; you should have 1/4 cup. In a bowl, mix pecans, 1 1/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 5 tablespoons melted butter. Pour into a 9-inch cheesecake pan with removable rim (2 1/4 in. tall). Press mixture evenly over bottom of the pan.
  9. Maple Cream: In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat 3/4 cup whipping cream until stiff peaks form. On low speed, beat in 1/4 cup maple syrup just until blended.

Chef’s Notes

You can make this cheesecake up to 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Garnish with cream up to 6 hours before serving; cover and chill until serving.

7-Layer Dessert Bars Heather

Heather Moshier CU Engage Director of Technology Consulting

Heather says: “These are my favorite dessert bars, also called ‘magic cookie bars.'”


  • ½ cup unsalted butter (1stick)
  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs (1 plastic bag)
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Place butter in 13×9 inch pan and melt in the oven. Swirl to coat bottom and sides with butter
  3. Spread crumbs evenly over bottom of the pan. Layer nuts, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, over crumbs.  Sprinkle coconut over everything.  Pour condensed milk over the coconut, trying to cover as much as you can.
  4. Bake until edges are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let cool.

Grammie’s Fudge Jenn Addabbo

Jennifer Addabbo CUEngage

Jenn says: “Prepare a day before, makes 4 pans!”


  • ½ lb. margarine
  • 24 oz. semi-sweet chocolate pieces
  • 1 tall jar (or 2 small, fat jars) marshmallow fluff
  • 1 ½ cups walnut pieces
  • 1 14-oz can EVAPORATED milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk!)
  • 4 ½ cups granulated sugar


  1. Soften margarine and mix it with chocolate pieces, marshmallow fluff, and walnut pieces.
  2. Heat evaporated milk and sugar over med-high heat, stirring constantly (or it will burn!) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and stir constantly for 11 minutes.
  3. Pour over chocolate mixture in a bowl.  Stir and put into pans. Refrigerate overnight.

We hope you love these recipes as much as we do! Let us know what you tried and how you liked it!  Happy Thanksgiving!