Emily EllynAfter competing in the eighth season of Food Network Star this year, Emily Ellyn is back home in Orlando, creating “wholesome food with an edge.”

“I take retro favorites, remix and make it rad,” says Ellyn. “I urge everyone to dig through family recipe boxes, dust off pressure cookers and crock pots and learn how to take the old and make it new through retro re-dos.”

One of Ellyn’s challenges on the television competition was to cook the perfect bite. Her answer was this elaborate Thanksgiving stack inspired by one of Americans’ favorite days in the kitchen. It’s also a delicious way to use leftovers.

She’s also sharing her mom’s coveted pineapple–cheddar cheese Jell-O salad.

“My mother told us the story of when she made the salad to take to her very first holiday dinner with her new in-laws,” says Ellyn. “She proudly added it to the holiday table, but her pride turned to horror as her new family members began to ladle the ‘sauce’ onto the stuffed peppers next to the Jell-O salad, as her feather-light salad had become a saucy mess.”

So Ellyn re-imagined that favorite, too. “I’m sharing my version of my family’s Jell-O salad for readers to try at their own risk,” she says with a smile. For the record, the Edible Orlando editors tried it, and it’s delicious.

Thanksgiving in a bite

Gobble-It-Up Turkey Dinner Bites 

Makes about 16 appetizer stacks


1 tablespoon olive oil 

1 onion, quartered 

1 quart chicken stock

1  turkey leg, skin removed and reserved 

1 turkey breast, skin removed and reserved 

2 sliced portobello mushrooms

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 fresh sage leaves

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning, plus more for seasoning turkey skin

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 to 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

Poultry seasoning, to taste


4 slices bacon, diced small 

1 large red onion, diced small 

3 carrots, diced small 

3 ribs celery, diced small

½ cup frozen corn

¼ cup dried cranberries

1 portobello mushroom cap, diced small

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

2 tablespoons poultry seasoning

¼ cup chicken stock

7 slices prepared cornbread, torn into pieces

5 slices cranberry nut bread, torninto pieces

3 eggs, beaten


Cranberry Sauce

1 can jellied cranberry sauce

1-pound bag fresh cranberries 

½ cup cranberry juice

Zest and juice of 1 orange 

1 tablespoon ground ginger

½ cup sugar

Pinch of coarse salt

Smashed Potatoes

2 parsnips peeled, diced large 

20 red fingerling potatoes, diced large

¼ cup coarse salt 

¼ cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons butter 

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 

Special equipment: 1½-inch-wide, deep ring mold


For the turkey:

1 Heat oil over medium heat in a pressure cooker; add onion and cook until lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients except reserved turkey skin, olive oil, and poultry seasoning. Seal lid and cook over full heat to a full pressure for 30 to 40 minutes.

2 Release pressure and carefully remove lid. Remove turkey, cut up breast and remove meat from leg. Set aside.

3 Heat a few tablespoons olive oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat. Fry turkey skin until crispy. Remove from oil and toss in salt and some poultry seasoning. Set aside.

For stuffing:

1 Preheat oven to 400˚F.

2 Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add bacon. Cook and render fat, then add onion, and sauté until onion is translucent.

3 Stir in carrots, celery, corn, dried cranberries and mushrooms. Add 1 stick butter and sauté until vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper.

4 Add poultry seasoning and stock and bring to a simmer. Add bread, remove from heat and let cool. Stir in egg and transfer mixture to a rimmed baking sheet, spreading evenly.

5 Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

For cranberry sauce: 

1 Slice canned cranberry sauce into 1½-inch slices. Set aside.

2 Combine remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer until cranberries are fork-tender. Set aside.

For potatoes: 

1 Combine potatoes, parsnips and ¼ cup salt in a medium saucepan; fill with water to cover vegetables.

2 Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are fork-tender. Drain potatoes, then heat cream and butter in same pan over medium heat. Add potatoes and smash.

To serve:

1 Assemble each bite by using 1½-inch ring mold to cut out components: jellied cranberry, stuffing, smashed potatoes, and turkey meat. Create a stack in that order.

2 Top with piece of fried turkey skin and a dollop of fresh cranberry sauce.