Cooking Up Memories

A Local Family Shares the Thanksgiving Recipes They Can’t Do Without

There’s nothing better than gathering together to make memories and savor the food you love. As Thanksgiving approaches, we reached out to the community to highlight cherished family recipes. Rachel Pitman and her mom, Charlene Burrell, delivered these delicious dishes to our doorstep: From-Scratch Apple Pie and Cheesy Potato Puff. 

Charlene has been making Cheesy Potato Puff for nearly 20 years, based on a recipe from a longtime family friend, Deata Nichols.

“It’s just the right amount of cheese, and the way she blends it all together really makes it,” Rachel says. “They’re smooth, lightly cheesy and perfect with a bite of turkey. We would be devastated not to have them, and there are rarely any leftovers!” 

As for the From-Scratch Apple Pie, Rachel has been perfecting it over the last eight years.

“I pay a lot of attention to the baking time to make sure I get the perfect crunch,” she says. “The crust is a great mix of dense and crispy. It doesn’t fall apart, but it melts in your mouth.”

She recommends that it’s served warm with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.

If you decide to make these recipes Thanksgiving traditions in your home, don’t forget the secret ingredient.

“Your mom can give you a recipe and no matter what you do, it just will not be the same,” Rachel says. “That’s where the love comes in; you can’t put that on a recipe card.” 

From-Scratch Apple Pie 


  • Crust: 

    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

    • 1/2–1 cup ice water

  • Filling:

    • 8 cups assorted baking apples (Granny Smith, Cortland, Jonathan)  peeled and sliced (about 3 pounds)

    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    • 1/2 cup white sugar

    • 1/3 cup brown sugar

    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

    • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

    • 2 tablespoons butter

    • 1 egg yolk

    • 1 tablespoon milk



  1. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is coarse crumbs. Be careful not to overwork the dough.

  2. Sprinkle ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, evenly over flour mixture, tossing lightly with a fork until mixture forms an even ball of dough.

  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight. Cold dough is very important!

  4. Once cold, remove the dough from the plastic wrap and divide in half. Place 1 ball (wrapped in plastic) back into the refrigerator until you’re ready to roll it out.

  5. Roll the first ball of dough on a floured surface, rolling into a circle (12- to 14-inch round)

  6. Carefully fold in quarters, lift gently and unfold into 9-inch pie pan. 


  1. In a large bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice.

  2. Combine sugars, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg; add to apples and toss well to coat.

  3. Fill pastry-lined 9-inch pie pan with apple mixture. Dot with butter.

  4. Place second rolled out crust on top of pie filling. Cut slits in the top crust to vent. Seal the edges of the crust with a fork or by hand.

  5. In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk and milk. Brush mixture over top crust.

  6. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes.

  7. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 40–45 minutes more or until crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.

Cheesy Potato Puff 


  • 12 medium potatoes, peeled (5 pounds)

  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided 

  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine 

  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded (8 ounces)

  • 1 cup milk 

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • Fresh or dried chives (optional)


  1. Cook potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of salt; drain and mash until smooth. 

  2. In a saucepan, cook butter, cheese and milk and remaining salt until smooth; stir into potatoes and fold in eggs. 

  3. Pour into a greased 3-quart baking dish.

  4. Bake, uncovered at 350 F for 40 minutes. 

  5. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chives as desired. 

Note: This can be made ahead and refrigerated overnight. Allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking. 

“Your mom can give you a recipe and no matter what you do, it just will not be the same. That’s where the love comes in; you can’t put that on a recipe card.” –Rachel Pitman

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