Do-It-Yourself Recipes

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS Do it Yourself Recipes for Thanksgiving and more!


We found some of the best Do It Yourself Recipes for a delicious holiday dinner at home. Each of our talented chefs add a personal touch to their dish.


Along with great recipes for the holidays, we also introduce you to Hinck’s Turkey Farm, a 3rd generation, family-owned and operated, farmbased retail food and catering business. Their farm is located in Glendola and Wall Township where they raise approximately 10,000 turkeys. Their farm-fresh turkeys, turkey products, and select line of homemade value-added food items are available for those seeking unmatched quality and wholesomeness. Some of the ingredients to the following recipes can be found on this small family operated farm. Hinck’s Turkey Farm {1414 Atlantic Avenue, Manasquan: 732.223.5622;}

Big Joe Henry

Big Joe’s Big Stuffing

By Big Joe Henry of New Jersey 101.5 FM

Big Joe Henry is the legendary Garden State radio personality and disc jockey at New Jersey 101.5 FM. He is lovingly known as “America’s Biggest Disc Jockey”. The Big Joe Henry Variety Show in Seaside Heights entertains fans all summer long, but when the cool weather comes Big Joe finds time to whip up delicious dishes in his kitchen.

His Cookbook

In his sold out cook book, “Big Joe’s Big Jersey Cookbook – The Ultimate Taste of Jersey,” he shares a scrumptious recipe for a Thanksgiving stuffing. Big Joe Henry: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I love Christmas but Thanksgiving is always very, very special to me and my family. I’ve always had a big table for family and friends, and I always cook. It’s a four-day event to prepare for the big day and then it seems that once the food was on the table it was gone in ten minutes! I hated that part of the day. My Thanksgiving continues with my nieces and nephew and their children. It’s a cherished day and experience and it seems to get better every year. I have a tremendous respect for stuffing.



Big Joe’s Stuffing

Thanksgiving time is really the only time that most of us make homemade stuffing. With the incredibly packed schedule that surrounds Thanksgiving I use the Pepperidge Farm cubed stuffing to cut down on the time on this classic dish without compromising the tremendous flavor. I’m really into having the stuffing moist and tasty. Dry stuffing could put a damper on your meal. While you could certainly prepare this recipe the morning of Thanksgiving, if you’re under time restraints, you could make it the day before. That way flavors will really meld well into the stuffing. If you make it the day before add more chicken stock because the refrigerator will dry it out more than usual and wrap it very tightly before storing in the refrigerator the night before. This recipe is enough stuffing for a turkey (16 – 20 pounds) and enough for a pan for the table (about 8 – 10 servings). Just a note, remember that when you stuff a turkey your cooking time for the bird is increased. Don’t pack it in since the looser the stuffing in the bird, the better the juices.


Big Joe’s Big Stuffing


I like to start with Pepperidge Farm Herb “cubed” Stuffing Mix as a base for this tasty stuffing

  • 2 – 3 packages Pepperidge Farm Herb Flavored
    Stuffing Mix Cubed
    2 tubes Jimmy Dean sausage (I like one tube
    spicy and one tube mild)
    4 cans low salt chicken broth
    1 package button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
    2 medium onions, chopped
    4 to 6 stalks celery, chopped
    ¾ cup apple cider
    1 teaspoon each of parsley, sage, rosemary &
    thyme (yeah just like the song!)
    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    1 ½ sticks of butter
    salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
    aluminum casserole pan


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a big pot over med-high heat start cooking the sausage, breaking it up with wooden spoon. Add garlic, butter, spices and let cook until sausage is almost completely cooked. Add celery, onion and continue to sauté. Then add mushrooms, sauté for three to four minutes. Add chicken broth, increase heat under pot until mixture has a slow boil, add apple cider. Mix in Pepperidge Farm Stuffing. Turn off heat under pot. Mix thoroughly and let sit for 1 hour (I like to let it sit longer in covered pot because all the flavors marry well into the stuffing).

Loosely stuff the bird right before putting it in the oven. Bake the remainder of stuffing in an aluminum pan for about 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. Enjoy!
NOTE: I don’t use water to mix the stuffing although the recipe on the Pepperidge Farm stuffing bags call for it. I substitute with chicken broth.

Cranberry Relish

By Chef Phil Deffina of
Char Steakhouse, Red Bank

{Char Steakhouse; 33 Broad St, Red Bank;

Chef Phil Deffina

Chef Phil Deffina has been
synonymous with the New Jersey
dining scene. Deffina, once a Culinary
Institute of America graduate has
worked his way around the country
from Icarus in Boston to La Folie in
San Francisco then David Burke in
New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Chef Master Mind

Chef Deffina has been known to whip
up David Burke’s similar slam dunks
with his own innovative twists and
has been considered the new Burkean
acolyte. “After working for two of the
most playful and master minding
chefs in the country you start to look
at things from way out of the box,
melding flavor combinations and
creating well thought out presentations.”

Char Steakhouse

Chef Deffina has been at the
helm of New Jersey’s most popular
hot spots, Char Steakhouse located in
both Raritan and Red Bank and the
first of many, Char Burger & Creamery
in Bridgewater.

Phil Deffina: Here’s a recipe we do
with our “everything but the Turkey”
thanksgiving takeout meal. We take
preorders leading up to thanksgiving
for all the sides and fixings & dessert.
It’s available in both Char locations.


cranberry relish

dCranberry Relish by Chef Phil Deffina


Cranberry Relish
2 lbs. fresh jersey cranberries
3 cups orange juice
2 cups local honey
3 cinnamon sticks
5 star anise
1 whole orange washed, skinned and all cut into 1/8’s


In a small pot place all ingredients from recipe, bring to a boil, cover then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 45 min. Once the mixture has thickened and the orange pieces have started to disintegrate
remove from heat and cool.
This recipe can be serve with Crostini, Brie cheese and a dollop of cranberry relish as an hors d’oeuvres. Or alongside that beautiful thanksgiving bird.

Chef Cesar Cardenas
Chef Cesar Cardenas

Salt Creek Grille’s Legendary Mashed Potatoes

by Executive Chef Cesar Cardenas of Salt Creek Grille, Rumson

{Salt Creek Grille, 4 Bingham Avenue, Rumson; 732.933.9272;}

Chef Cesar Cardenas

Dreams do come true! Twenty-two years ago, the shy 18-year-old Cesar Cardenas from Ecuador started as a dishwasher at Salt Creek Grille. He excelled at each job he undertook, was reliable and rose through the ranks. He also became a U.S. citizen. Today he is Salt Creek Grille’s Executive Chef. Once an hourly worker, he now has an enviable career with competitive salary and benefits. Chef Cardenas is in charge of one of the Jersey Shore’s most popular waterfront American grills with a bustling bar/lounge, main dining room with 250-seats and two heavily-booked private event rooms. Chef Cardenas now exudes a sense of confidence and commands a kitchen staff of 15. Always the gentleman, he will be the first to tell you how blessed he is.

Salt Creek Grille

Salt Creek Grille has remained a cornerstone within the Jersey Shore restaurant scene and has had high retention rates among its employees. In its 25 years, Chef Cardenas is only the third executive chef at Salt Creek Grille! “Chef Cesar has shown himself to be a tireless, competent leader with a strong loyalty to Salt Creek. We have experienced some incredible challenges on the Jersey Shore like devastating floods from Hurricane Sandy to the Covid-19 restrictions and through it all Chef Cardenas has shown himself to be a true leader at our very busy restaurant,” describes co-owner Steve Bidgood. “He continues to strive for excellence at everything he does, from developing recipes for new menus, to securing the best product for the best price, to leading our teams. He deserves the success and rewards he is experiencing. We couldn’t be prouder of Chef Cesar and his accomplishments and we welcome him on board our executive team.”

Legendary Mashed Potatoes

Chef Cesar Cardenas: When it comes to mashed potatoes, experience counts. Salt Creek Grille is the all-time expert. Our Salt Creek Grille kitchen cooks up three to four 40-pound bags of potatoes a week using this perfected recipe! Actually, it’s even more than that because our private dining clients nearly always select mashed potatoes as a side to serve their guests. Mashed potatoes have a lot of appeal because they are universally loved among multiple generations. They also are versatile and go well with our main dishes whether it’s our Chilean Sea Bass, Baby Back Ribs or our Coffee Encrusted Strip Steak. Sometimes our guests order just a side of mashed potato to enjoy with one of our delicious appetizers or hearty dinner salads. Now celebrating our 25th year many, many children have grown up eating our mashed potatoes.

Salt creek Grill

Too see a sample menu of Salt Creek Grille in Rumson, NJ go to our Dining Guide HERE

Salt Creek Grille’s Legendary Mashed Potatoes


  • 5 pounds baby Yukon Gold, scrubbed thoroughly.
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper, ground
  • 3 tablespoons parsley, chopped


1. Scrub potatoes thoroughly with a vegetable brush. If you don’t want all the peelings, peel half of the 5 pounds. Keep potatoes whole. Rinse in cold water.

2. Bring water to boil in the bottom portion of a steamer. Steam potatoes for approximately 20 minutes until tender, but not falling apart. Place in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add half the milk, heavy cream, butter salt & pepper. Mix at medium speed for 30 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and mix until smooth, or approximately 1-2 minutes.

3. Serve warm. This recipe serves 10.

Helpful Tips from Chef Cesar Cardenas

We use the baby Yukon Gold potato variety for their mild, pleasing potato flavor for this recipe. We add a bit of heartiness – and healthiness – by leaving the skins on while cooking. Once they are cooked, we whip them and add a kitchen’s most basic staples – milk, cream, butter, salt, and pepper. One helpful tip I’d like to share with our home cooks during holiday times when you are entertaining large groups, keep the cooked mashed potatoes in a slow cooker at the lowest setting and they will be ready and warm when you serve them. I’ve reduced the ratio of ingredients to make our recipe manageable for home cooks.