Our Thanksgiving Menu


One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is enjoying family recipes that have been passed on by generations. This is the first year I’ll be hosting Thanksgiving completely on my own. However, I have a helpful husband who’s agreed to be on turkey duty, which takes a major load off my plate. He’s pretty brilliant with all types of meat, so I’m confident it’ll be a turkey to remember. I also took a shortcut by picking up a frozen apple pie last weekend at Abel’s Acres in Apple Hill, but they do such an amazing job with their pies I really don’t feel guilty — I’m basically doing my family a favor. I LOVE to cook but don’t have much interest in baking desserts. Plus, every other item on this menu is made from scratch.

If you’re still searching for the best recipes to use, I highly recommend all of the ones below. I pulled from some of the best of Ryan’s family dishes as well as mine, then threw in some of my own flare. Everything on here is guaranteed to leave your guests satisfied and Thanksgiving stretchy pants full, which is what we all strive for isn’t it?

The Turkey

Brine Recipe

Roast Recipe

The Sides

Danelle’s Bread Stuffing

Great Gram’s Sweet Potato Casserole

Chive and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Green Bean Casserole

Parmesan Peas 

Slow Cooker Creamed Corn 

Cranberry Sauce **I hate every single cranberry sauce I’ve ever had – trying this one out for the first time**

Homemade Gravy


Potato and Leek Soup


Soup is a major staple in the Mitchell house, mostly because when Porter was about one and a half we discovered that he LOVES soup so it provided some dinner table harmony where we aren’t constantly on Porter’s case to eat his damn dinner. We eat soup literally all year long – I’ve even been known to make soup when it’s 105 degrees out.

Now that we’ve reached November (when normal people start making soup) I thought I’d share a family recipe that was recently passed down to me from my mother-in-law. It originated with Ryan’s grandmother, but his mom added/tweaked some ingredients to make it even more delicious. Ryan grew up eating it and now Porter can’t get enough. He literally asks for “Nana Danelle’s soup” for breakfast if he has it for dinner the night before. I must admit, it’s pretty bomb, it’s fairly simple and it incorporates my current favorite, leeks.

I make my own chicken broth from scratch because it’s just too easy not to, but if you want to use store bought I’d recommend you splurge a little and get some of the good stuff; don’t buy the cheapo ones in the can.

Recipe is below. Hope you and your families enjoy! Xo

Potato and Leek Soup

Aka Nana Danelle’s Soup


3-4 lbs russet potatoes, chopped 1-2 inch pieces, peeled or unpeeled. I leave them unpeeled because that’s how Danelle does it and we like it that way. If you choose unpeeled make sure you scrub the potato first.

1 celery stalk (include some of the leaves), chopped into ½ inch pieces

2 white or yellow medium sized onions, diced

3 leeks, use white and tender green parts, ½ or ¼, thin sliced

2 bunches of kale, roughly chopped

½ cube butter (unsalted)

¼ extra virgin olive oil

1 qt. chicken broth

1 pint cream or half and half (I used 2% milk and it turned out fine)

1-2 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper


In 8 qt. stock pot, melt butter, add onions, leeks, ½ of the celery, saute 3 min (or so), add potatoes, chicken stock, salt and pepper.

Cook for 15 minutes, potatoes should be ½ cooked, add kale and rest of celery.

Mash the mixture (we like it chunky), add your cream or milk (whatever you decided to use), taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed.

Sometimes we serve the soup with sour dough bread or ciabatta (something with nooks and crannies for soup) to dip in the soup.

Protein Options:

Add halibut, shrimp, tilapia, scallops or chicken.



Healthier Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes


When I was growing up, pancakes meant getting out a giant yellow box of Bisquick. For my kids, I try to make things a tad healthier (no offense to moms who use Bisquick).

I know there are a million variations of a “protein pancake” online. I’ve played around with different recipes and I feel like I’ve got one good enough to share, but I will probably continue to alter it because I just can’t help myself.

I’ve made some leaner ones in the past, but I wanted to make something that Porter would actually eat. What I like about this is that the only sugar added is the natural sugar from the banana…and the maple syrup if you choose to use some. My friend’s husband spreads a little peanut butter on his, so you could always try that as an alternative.

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes


4 Tbsp all-purpose flour (I used gluten free)

1⁄4 tsp baking powder

1⁄4 tsp salt

1⁄4 tspground cinnamon

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

2 bananas, ripe and mashed well

1⁄2 cup Peanut Butter Fit ®

4 Tbsp low-fat milk

2 eggs (or 3 egg whites)

cooking spray

maple syrup (optional)


Place all dry ingredients together in a bowl, mix together. Place all wet ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Then, combine the wet and dry ingredients and mix together. Cook them on a pan the same way you would any ordinary pancake. Hope you enjoy!

The Best Broccoli Chicken Mac&Cheese

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This is literally the best Mac&Cheese recipe I’ve ever made. Discovered on one of my fave food blogs, Gimme Some Oven, this recipe will make you want to toss out all those nasty boxes of cheese powder and never look back.  It isn’t exactly “healthy,” but the ingredients are real and it’s not loaded with butter like so many are. Plus it includes the protein and veggie, which makes my mom life easier.

After posting the mouth watering picture above to my instagram, I got a lot of DM’s asking for the link so I decided just to share on here. This way, I can also include the changes I made. I rarely ever make a recipe exactly as it says — more often than not I make my own tweaks.

Feel free to check out the original recipe, or use mine below. Hope you enjoy!


  • 12 oz dry macaroni (I used gluten free because my nursing baby has a wheat allergy)
  • 6 cups of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets (the original recipe had less broccoli)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (or butter if you’d like)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups reduced fat milk
  • 5 cups grated cheddar cheese (I recommend sharp cheddar)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • garlic salt (some for the sauce, some for the chicken, to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely-ground black pepper, or more to taste (I add a crap ton to mine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 3 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (*see instructions below for how to cook chicken breasts)
  • 1/2 cup extra shredded Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup GF Panko breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Cut up your chicken breasts into bite size pieces and saute on a skillet with olive oil and garlic salt to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the chicken pieces are white and relatively firm. (If you’re unsure if it’s done, check the temperature with a thermometer — it needs to be 165 degrees fahrenheit or higher).

Boil water in a large stockpot and cook al dente, according to the box’s instructions. About 2-3 minutes before the pasta is done, add the broccoli florets and let them cook alongside the pasta for the remainder of the cooking time.  Drain and set aside. (the idea to add the broccoli to the pasta water and cook them in tandem was from Gimme Some Oven and is genious).

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute until fragrant.  Whisk in the flour until combined and cook for an additional 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in chicken stock until the mixture is smooth (mine was a little lumpy but it didn’t seem to affect the final product).  Slowly whisk in the milk and continue cooking until the mixture comes to a simmer.  Immediately remove from heat and stir in the cheese, garlic salt and pepper until the cheese sauce is smooth.

Once the pasta and broccoli are cooked, pour into a large bowl and pour the cheese sauce over it and mix well. Then pour the pasta into a greased 9 x 13-inch baking dish, and sprinkle with extra Parmesan cheese and Panko breadcrumbs.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until the top becomes slightly golden.  Serve immediately.

The best BBQ chicken you’ve ever had in your life

As I mentioned in my post about our favorite chili recipe, I’m allergic to cumin – I don’t break out into hives or anything like that, but my body refuses to digest it and I feel like I have shards of glass in my stomach until I throw up. A little graphic for ya? Sorryyyyyy. I promise to lock it up for the remainder of this post. 😀photo (11)

Unfortunately for me, most store bought BBQ sauces are loaded with cumin – which is why I spent most of my life thinking I hated BBQ chicken. In my quest to find the perfect cumin-free BBQ sauce, I stumbled upon this recipe. I’ve made changes to it over the years and I swear by my version – it’s AMAZING. I’ve served it to a fair amount of people and everyone tends to agree that it’s the best BBQ chicken they’ve ever had in their lives.

My favorite sides to served with this are caprese salad and this balsamic marinated artichokes recipe. We are true California eaters over here ;). Hope you enjoy this as much as we do!


2 Tbsp worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce (we use Soy Vay)

1 Tabsp honey

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

1 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

4 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup of canola oil (we’ve experimented using grape seed and avocado oils too – we’ve found canola works best when it comes to grilling, but the other oils are healthier options. Don’t use olive oil – the smoke point is too low).

8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (we’ve also included bone-in breasts and legs. Just make sure everything is skinless so that the chicken can properly soak up the marinade).


Whisk together Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, and honey in a bowl. Add sesame seeds, brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic salt, pepper, minced garlic, and oil; mix well (make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl – the honey tends to want to stick to the bottom). Place the skinless chicken in a ziplock bag, pour in the marinade and make sure each piece of chicken is coated, seal it, and marinate for AT LEAST 4 hours in the refrigerator (the best is to marinate for 24 hours), redistributing the chicken in the marinade occasionally.

Preheat your outdoor grill at medium heat.

Remove chicken from marinade and grill until the chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (about 10 minutes per side). Ryan pours some of the marinade over the chicken as it’s grilling, but you want to keep the grill lid shut for most of the time.