Thanksgiving Goodies for a Smaller Celebration

I love that Ordell has taken over smoking the turkey the past few years because it’s not my favorite task. In fact, I’d prefer not to deal with a whole turkey ever again if possible. With a bit more time (and over space) I could fill up our kitchen with a massive amount of food. However, it’s just us this year (thanks 2020 meh) due to Illinois’ current status. Normally we incorporate Sweetie Pie’s Mac and Cheese into the menu, but it’s a huge dish and a lot of work. Instead, this year we’ll cook up enough to get us through the weekend and enjoy a few days of rest and holiday decorating while we scope the deals online.

Here are a few things I’m looking forward to having on our Thanksgiving menu:

Side Dishes

  1. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Cranberries (The original recipe calls for sweet potatoes but I swap for butternut squash and I also add a little goat cheese at the end.)
  2. Baked Stuffing is easily accomplished by sautéing fresh celery and onion in butter and cooking a box stuffing mix. Once everything is combined toss into a 9×9 baking dish or small stone and bake until the top is crunchy. Usually about 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
  3. Roasted asparagus (because we love it!


Gooey Butter Cake is a family favorite and thanks to the base being yellow cake mix I can sub out a gluten free cake mix to make this a winner for the whole family. This 1x2x3 version from Julia Blanner is perfect!



  • 1 Golden Butter Recipe Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs


  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • 4 c powdered sugar (1 pound)
  • 1 egg


  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9×12″ pan.
  • Mix cake mix, butter and eggs until thick and smooth.
  • Spread and press mixture in pan (with the back of a spatula or your hands).
  • Mix the remaining ingredients on low until smooth. Pour over cake mixture. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top to garnish.
  • Bake 45 minutes, leaving it slightly gooey. You’ll notice a slight crust on top rather than a jelly texture.
  • Garnish with sprinkles of powdered sugar, cool and serve.


Optional Fold Ins

  • pumpkin and spices
  • blackberry
  • lime juice and or lime zest
  • espresso powder


  • Grease your pan so that the cake doesn’t stick.
  • Bake in whatever dish you have on hand – 9×11, 9×13, 8×11, etc. Adjust bake time as needed.
  • It’s done when a crust has formed on the top, yet the cake is slightly gooey and jiggles a bit when you shake the dish.
  • Make it ahead or bake and enjoy.


  • Refrigerate – The cake will last between for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Freeze – You can also freeze the cake for up to a month by wrapping it in plastic wrap or in a large freezer bag.

It’s amazing for breakfast the next day too!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Bars

Salad and Sweets posted these on her IG account and I fell in love immediately!

For the cookie layer:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (all-natural, the drippy kind)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I used cocoa nibs and highly recommend for extra crunch)

For the chocolate topping:
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 TBSP coconut oil
1 TBSP peanut butter

3 crushed up Simple Mills Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies (You can omit if you don’t have cookies they will still be amazing)


Mix cookie ingredients and form into a mold (I used a small glass rectangle container, maybe 4 x 6) or you can use a bread pan. Top with melted chocolate mixture (I ended up only using 1/2 the mixture) and crushed up cookies on top. FREEZE!

A treat like this could be filled with “better choice” ingredients or could be loaded with unnecessary ingredients.

Instead of using:
– All purpose flour
– Milk chocolate
– JIF peanut butter
– Chips Ahoy
– Aunt Jemima

I used:
-Almond flour
-Dark Chocolate
-Organic All-Natural peanut butter
-Simple Mills Cookies
-Organic pure maple syrup

Ingredients truly make a difference!

Recipe credit: @pb_lovin_pa

For the Weekend

To get through the rest of the weekend without having to cook I’ll make up a breakfast casserole and have the following items available for make your own meals with leftovers:

  • Great sandwich rolls
  • Cheese slices
  • Fruit
  • Veggies (including lettuce for salads)
  • Soup
  • Bags of chips
  • Mac and cheese from the guys favorite restaurant

While I’m sad we won’t be spending the holiday with family, this isn’t our first Thanksgiving weekend just the four of us. We will look at the latest movie releases and maybe we will even splurge on renting something. We’ll watch football games if they are on TV, and we will shift the house from fall to Christmas. Mostly, we will spend time resting after weeks and weekends filled with long hours of work and that is something to be thankful for in 2020.

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