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IN DEPTH: Locals share favorite holiday recipes

IN DEPTH: Locals share favorite holiday recipes


Turkeys, potatoes, yams, buttery biscuits. Thanksgiving is nearly here, and area residents are sharing their recipes that help make the holiday flavors come to life at their gatherings.

Potato Pancakes

Susanne Zilewycz’s has fond memories of early Thanksgiving holidays. Growing up in Illinois around family, Thanksgiving was always a big occasion with a gathering of around 30 people.

“It was a lot of fun,” Zilewycz said. “I’d see family I barely saw all year and we would all come together and enjoy food and each others company.”

Zilewycz’s grandparents immigrated from Poland in the early 20th century, and though they did not initially celebrate Thanksgiving they took up the holiday as they started to have children.

“They came over because of the war,” Zilewycz said. “I’m sure it was culture shock for them to start with, but when I was a child they loved Thanksgiving and they passed that on to me.”

Because of their heritage, Zilewycz said her family had an interesting take on side dishes that go with the traditional turkey. Her favorite was the potato pancakes, which the family made instead of mashed potatoes.

“Potato pancakes are incredible,” Zilewycz said. “We would make almost a hundred of them all for one meal.”

Now that she has grandchildren of her own, Zilewycz is continuing her family traditions by serving potato pancakes at Thanksgiving for her extended family, with guests visiting from New Lisbon to Illinois.

“My grandkids are picky eaters, but they’ll eat those,” Zilewycz said. “They need to know about where they come from, even if most of the time they’re just eating chicken nuggets or macaroni and cheese.”

According to Zilewycz, the recipe takes about 30 minutes to make for a normal serving. If making the pancakes for a large family, she says it could take a couple hours.


Two pounds potatoes, no skin

One onion, preferably Walla Walla

One egg

One clove of garlic

Salt and pepper

Three tablespoons flour


Grate the potatoes and onion separately. Rinse the potatoes, and pat dry. Mince the garlic clove, then mix the potato, onion, and garlic together. If still excessively moist, drain the moisture or pat the mixture with a paper towel to remove liquid.

Separate the egg yolk from the white, and add the yolk, flour, salt, and pepper to the mixture. Parsley can be added for additional flavor. Once mixed, add the eggy white.

Cook the pancakes in oil in a skillet at high. Pancakes are done once both sides are brown and crispy.

Serve with salt, pepper, applesauce, or sour cream.

Wild Rice and Squash Stuffing

Lisa Buttonow said her recipe of wild rice and squash stuffing activates a variety of taste buds.

From sweet and salty to creamy and crunchy the Lime Ridge resident said the dish is her favorite go to recipe during the holidays because it combines all flavors of fall. While Buttonow mainly uses local ingredients from area farmers markets, she said the local grocery store is also a perfect place to purchase the items for the dish.

She said the stuffing recipe not only complements the Thanksgiving turkey, but also other dishes like pork chops and pork tenderloin. It was featured at catering events hosted by the Branding Iron Roadhouse, the restaurant she owns in Lime Ridge.

Buttonow said she starts the recipe by cubing one butternut squash into one-inch squares then tosses it with olive oil, salt and pepper. She spreads the cubed squash on a parchment pan, letting it roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the squash turns golden brown around the edges.

“It will get a crunchy outside and a creamy inside,” she said.

Next, Buttonow slices three onions, or three cups, and caramelize them with butter and olive oil on medium high heat, stirring often so it doesn’t burn. She adds one pound of sliced mushrooms to the pot, along with one cup of dried apples or pears to the pot. She adds one cup each of cooked white rice and wild rice after the mixture is browned. Buttonow cooks her rice in chicken broth with ¼ teaspoon of thyme, salt and pepper to taste. She said cooked rice can be purchased from Chinese restaurants, perfect for those on a time crunch.

She gently folds the squash and rice mixture into a baking dish, adds ½ teaspoon of thyme and ½ teaspoon dried sage. She places aluminum foil on the top before placing it in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes total. She said to leave the dish covered with the foil for the first 15 minutes and leave uncovered the last 15 to brown the top. Once the dish is done, she adds a dollop of cranberry compote on top for a “spicy kick.”

“The cranberry complements the squash very nicely,” she said.


Step 1: Cube one butternut squash into one inch cubes. Add salt, butter and olive oil to squash. Spread on a parchment pan and place in the oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until squash is golden brown around the edges.

Step 2: In a separate pot, cook three onions, caramelizing them with butter and olive oil on medium high heat on the stove. Cook until browned.

Step 3: Slice one pound of mushrooms and add one cup dried apples or pears to the pot. Add one cup each of cooked white rice and wild rice. Rice can be cooked with ¼ teaspoon of thyme, salt and pepper to taste or purchase cooked rice from Chinese restaurants.

Step 4: Combine roasted squash and rice mixture in a bowl, place in a baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Leave aluminum foil on for first 15 minutes and leave uncovered for last 15 minutes.

Step 5: Take out of oven and add a dollop of cranberry compote. Serve.


High Rock Cafe co-owner Justin Draper prides his restaurant’s tendency to step out of the box on the classics. So when it comes to his take on the Thanksgiving staple of pumpkin pie, it’s far from typical.

High Rock’s pumpkin cannoli, which is available for ordering through mid-December, puts a multi-culti spin on the classic Thanksgiving dessert. Draper enjoys the famous Italian street food, since the base recipe allows for so many different applications when it comes to flavors.

“The cannoli has just become almost a more savory dessert for us,” Draper said. “It’s got the ricotta cheese in it, so it’s not so super-sweet… just kind of our take on deconstructing the pumpkin pie.”

This isn’t the first cannoli Draper and his sous chef, Dean Goetz, have schemed up to celebrate the season. High Rock also showed off a lemon and lavender cannoli for summer this past year.

Draper enjoys the cannoli for its unique flavor, as the ricotta cheese included in all cannoli fillings brings a tangy quality you wouldn’t necessarily find in other pumpkin-themed desserts. It helps balance out the sweetness from the heaps of powdered sugar used in the filling, as well as the sugary quality of the bubbly pastry shell encasing it.

Although the High Rock team is dedicated to providing fresh ingredients for customers, they also know when not to waste their time hand-making something overly fiddly. The pastry shells for the pumpkin cannoli come pre-formed.

Goetz mixes up a fresh batch of the filling, consisting of ricotta, cream cheese, powdered sugar and an array of fall spices, in large quantities every day. There’s always a pastry bag full of the stuff just waiting to be piped into shells for a hungry customer. The kitchen staff also prepares fall-spiced walnuts to garnish the cannoli.

Goetz said that the success of the lemon lavender cannoli inspired this recipe, and that he and Draper are currently working on devising their seasonal dessert for the winter.

“That’s why I love working at this restaurant, I get to be creative,” Goetz said.

Although High Rock is closed on Thanksgiving Day itself, customers are welcome to order the pumpkin cannoli now, and indeed for some time after Thanksgiving. According to Draper, their take on the classic Italian street food should be available until approximately mid-December.

“This’ll probably go into December, I’d say Dec. 10 it’ll be off the menu,” Draper said. “Then we’ll go to something a little more seasonal.”

Draper wouldn’t say whether their winter specialty would also come in a pastry case and be stuffed with ricotta.

Reach Christopher Jardine on Twitter @ChrisJJardine or contact him at 608-432-6591.

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