Thanksgiving Fun in the Kitchen

One my family’s favorite holiday traditions is making at least two or three kid-friendly recipes and allowing the youngest members of the clan to create edible masterpieces with help from mom, dad, grandma or grandpa.

Each year my mom, my sister-in-law and I comb through our recipe boxes to find simple yet tasty treats the kids can make with little assistance. I always make sure that we choose at least one dessert and one main or side dish, so they can feel as though they contributed to different aspects of the meal.

This year I settled on the following recipes:



1 loaf pumpkin bread

1 large can pumpkin pie filling

1 large box vanilla pudding (use directions on back of box to make)

1 (8-ounce) container of mascarpone cheese

1 large container of Cool Whip

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup candied pecans (see recipe below)

1 cup candy pumpkins


Mix pie filling and pudding, set aside.

Mix mascarpone cheese and cinnamon.

Gently fold in Cool Whip.

Cut bread into 2-inch cubes and place half in large trifle bowl or other large glass bowl.

Pour half of pudding mixture over bread and spread evenly.

Dollop half of the Cool Whip over pudding.

Sprinkle half of pecans and pumpkin candy over Cool Whip.


Chill for about an hour before serving.

Recipe for Candied Pecans:


1 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 pound pecan halves


In medium saucepan bring first five ingredients to a boil, and then add pecans.

Pour onto lined cookie sheet.

Cool well before adding to trifle.



8 tablespoons butter, divided

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon garlic salt

Tabasco sauce (a dash or two)

Worcestershire sauce (a dash or two)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, divided

1 pound American cheese, cubed

1/4 grated Parmesan cheese

16 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked al dente

8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large non-stick pan melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in flour.

Cook for a minute, stirring constantly.

Add milk and bring to a boil, whisking often until it starts to thicken.

Stir in heavy cream, garlic salt, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mustard.

Add 2 cups of cheddar cheese, a handful at a time. Whisk until smooth.

Add American and Parmesan cheese. Stir until melted and smooth.

Stir in pasta and bacon.

Spray a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with PAM and then add in mixture.

Top with remaining 2 cups of cheddar.

In a large bowl mix together the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter and breadcrumbs. Sprinkle the mixture on top of the cheese.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Related Articles:

Ways to Keep Kids Busy During Thanksgiving Break

Homemade Thanksgiving Decorations

Simple Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Hands-On Thanksgiving Fun

Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Art Projects

Homemade Thanksgiving Decorations Courtesy of Mother Nature

Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Entertained on Thanksgiving

Keeping Kids Busy on Thanksgiving

More Easy Thanksgiving Pumpkin Crafts

Thoughtful Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Crafts for Kids

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About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.