Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes

Cooking, Holidays

I’ll never forget the year I slaved over creating a gourmet Thanksgiving feast for my family and my 2-year-old son only ate a crescent roll. The audacity! Didn’t he know that I had been Pinning recipes for weeks, woke up at the crack of dawn to properly season and dress the turkey, and my cherry chorizo stuffing is the best ever?! Of course not — he was only 2!

Despite being a bit miffed at my son’s lack of interest in our Turkey Day meal, it made me rethink how I should prepare Thanksgiving moving forward. I realized he had no idea the amount of preparation that went into Thanksgiving. He didn’t yet know the traditional foods. How could I expect him to love green bean casserole when he doesn’t even like regular green beans? Right then and there, I decided I would involve my children in preparing our Thanksgiving meal next year, and I’d introduce more kid-friendly recipes!

Below are six kid-friendly Thanksgiving recipes that the whole family will love! These recipes give kids confidence in the kitchen and encourage picky eaters to enjoy their Thanksgiving meal. These delicious recipes are so easy that both kids and parents have stress-free fun in the kitchen, plus they have the joy of indulging in their scrumptious Thanksgiving meal together.

Be sure to scroll to the end for additional Thanksgiving meal preparation tips!

6 Kid-Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes The Whole Family Will Love:

Veggie Turkey Plate with Healthy Veggie Dip

The best way to get my kids to eat veggies is to introduce them first and make it fun! A veggie plate appetizer shaped like a turkey is sure to get your kids interested! Arrange cucumbers, carrots and celery for the turkey feathers and use bell peppers to create turkey wings and face. I like to pair veggies with my favorite Healthy Veggie Dip, which is so easy to make! Go to Favorite Family Recipes for tips on how to create the veggie turkey here.

Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes

What kid doesn’t love mashed potatoes? Make this elevated version of mashed potatoes using Cacique Oaxaca Cheese, Crema Mexicana, Pork Chorizo and bacon for a side dish that the whole family will love! Cacique brand makes my favorite hispanic foods, including their high-quality, authentic Oaxaca Cheese which has a mellow, earthy flavor with a superior melt. It’s the perfect cheese to add a special spark to your favorite dishes like classic mashed potatoes. My children love helping sprinkle the shredded Cacique Oaxaca Cheese as the final touch on the casserole, and my 4-year-old is great at mashing potatoes! Another thing that’s fabulous about this mashed potatoes recipe is that you can assemble it the day before Thanksgiving, then pop it in the oven for 30 minutes when you’re ready to serve. This makes the day easier to enjoy relaxing and visiting with family instead of stressing out in the kitchen. For more information about Cacique, including mouth-watering recipes made with authentic ingredients, head to www.CaciqueFoods.com. You can find this Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes recipe here.

Stuffins

Stuffins = stuffing muffins!! My kids always love making muffins with me, so why not make stuffing muffins! These are easy for little hands to eat and perfect for dipping in gravy or topping with mashed potatoes. I also love that stuffing in muffin form makes sending home leftovers easier. Just pop one of these in a to-go bag! Now you can eat one of everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving side dishes on-the-go! These stuffins are sure to be a big hit with the whole family! Find the full recipe from Forkly here.

Cranberry Crescent Rolls

This is the easiest recipe that combines two traditional Thanksgiving sides – Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and cranberry sauce! Simply add a spoonful of cranberry sauce to your crescent roll dough and roll up as usual. Your kids will love helping you assemble these Cranberry Crescent Rolls! Our family always looks forward to a night when we serve Pillsbury Crescent Rolls with dinner, and the cranberry sauce makes this dish feel more festive. You can even serve these as an appetizer! Find the full recipe from Beauty From Imperfection blog here.

Healthier Pumpkin Pie

I have two priorities when cooking for my family: make it easy and make it healthy-ish. I’m not a dictator about removing sugar from our house, but I do try to cut back where ever I can. That’s why I love Truvia Sweet Complete Monk Fruit Sweetener to replace sugar in baking. It’s a 1:1 replacement, so no additional measuring when following your favorite recipes for cookies, cakes, brownies and pies. Speaking of pie, Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe is our go-to because, well, it’s easy as pie! My children help combine and stir the ingredients in a big bowl, then I pour it the filling into a pie crust and place in the oven. Voila! Traditional pumpkin pie without all the sugar!

Turkey Handprint Cookies

How adorable are these handprint cookies? Trace your child’s hand on card stock and cut out the handprint. Use it as a stencil as you cut handprint cookies out of sugar cookie dough. Your children will love decorating the turkey feathers with colorful chocolate covered sunflower seeds. These cookies are perfect to give to our dinner guests! Set them at each place setting for a thoughtful take-home treat! I got the idea for these Turkey Handprint Cookies from Stephanie over at Somewhat Simple. Find the full recipe here.

My Thanksgiving Meal Prep Tips:

Use the best cookware! As someone who loves to cook, I’ve learned that the quality of your cookware makes a huge difference! Le Creuset has been my favorite cookware brand for years because of its superior quality, versatility, and its beautiful! Their dishes are crafted from the fineest quality stoneware to ensure excellent heat distribution for uniform browning and even cooking with no hot spots. The dishes are finished with a beautiful glaze that is virtually nonstick for easy cleanup. This Thanksgiving, I’m using the Heritage Rectangular Casserole to make the Make Ahead Creamy Mashed Potatoes, but the dish also is perfect for making comforting casseroles, marinating meats, broiling fish and more. I love that it comes with a stoneware lid that locks in moisture and heat while baking and makes it easy to transport and serve dishes at a holiday buffet or potluck. For my pumpkin pie, I’m using Le Creuset’s Pumpkin Casserole to create a perfectly even-cooked pie, plus its so festive with its pumpkin shaped lid! My favorite Le Creuset glaze color meringue, and you’ll be happy to know the glaze is non-porous, non-reactive, scratch-resistant, and resists stains and flavor absorption! Le Creuset really is the best with its unmatched thermal resistance for temperatures ranging from -9°F to 500°F, and it’s safe for the freezer, over, microwavem broiler, dishwasher and metal utensils. These are dishes that you will use and treasure for a lifetime! Check out all their fabulous products at http://www.lecreuset.com.

Cook the day before Thanksgiving. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving Day to make your meal or else you’ll be miserable trying to balance cooking and entertaining guests. I always make my stuffing, potatoes and dessert a day or two before Thanksgiving, and save the vegetables and turkey for the actual holiday.

Enlist help! If you can get a guest to bring a dish, do it! I usually have family visiting from out-of-state for our Thanksgiving, so it can be challenging to ask them to bring a dish when they can’t cook in their hotel rooms. However, I solicit them to bring easy items, like wine or a pre-made appetizer or dessert from a gourmet grocer like Bristol Farms.

Set your table the night before. One less thing to do on Thanksgiving Day! The worst is when all the food is ready and you’re rushing to get the table settings out. I like to do a full tablescape with florals, poppers, formal napkins and china. It makes for a beautiful space for guests to take photos throughout the day, too!

What are your best recipes and tips for hosting Thanksgiving? Let me know in the comments below! For more recipe ideas, parenting and lifestyle tips, follow me on Instagram and TikTok!

XO Maggie

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Kid-Friendly West Hollywood: The Best Dining, Hotels and Activities for Families in WeHo!

Lifestyle, Travel

I had so much fun speaking with Tracy Paaso and Felicia Terwilliger, hosts of the “We Know WeHo” podcast, about all things family related in West Hollywood! One of my biggest hopes in using this platform is to be a helpful resource to parents with young children. As a mommy with two little ones, I know firsthand how overwhelming and challenging it can be to make the transition from being young, fun and childless to a responsible new parent. I was one of the first of my friends to have kids and had no idea what to expect from parenthood, in addition to having no clue where to take my children in L.A.! Now, after a few years of experience, I’m here to help you find the best for families in Los Angeles – and, in this case, West Hollywood! Read on to learn more about my history with West Hollywood, and I’ll also recap all the kid-friendly restaurants, shops, hotels and activities that I mentioned in my interview on the “We Know WeHo” podcast! Read more about this podcast episode on Wehoville.com!

My West Hollywood Story

I absolutely love West Hollywood. During my 13+ years in Los Angeles (over 10 years living here and 3 years visiting), I have spent lots of time in West Hollywood. When I was single, it was a hotspot for nightlife, dining, and parties. My girlfriends and I used to love going to Skybar at Mondrian Hotel, The Belmont, Rock & Reilly’s, Pink Taco and the now closed Hyde Lounge, Pearl’s Rooftop, Bagatelle, and The Hudson. Once I started dating my now husband, we loved date nights at Laurel Hardware, Eveleigh, Katana Robata & Sushi Bar, Ysabel, and STK Steakhouse (which has now relocated to STK Westwood). Even after kids, date nights and group dinners with friends are always memorable in WeHo, especially at Catch, Cecconi’s, Gracias Madre, Toca Madera, and E.P. & L.P.

Before Kids! My 30th Birthday in West Hollywood at Toca Madera

West Hollywood is a fun destination for live entertainment. The music scene is legendary on the iconic Sunset Strip, and my husband I have spent lots of time there before and after kids watching live music and even playing live music — my husband used to play bass guitar in a local band! I’ve watched my husband play at The Viper Room and The Roxy, and we’ve seen some phenomenal shows at The Troubadour and Whisky A Go-Go. Our favorite date nights involve a comedy show, and there’s always top talent at Laugh Factory and the Comedy Store!

West Hollywood is a fabulous destination for working professionals, too, with its multiple co-working spaces and walking accessibility to so many great restaurants and shops! In 2017, I started my own PR business and bought-in at a co-working space called The Wing, which is the perfect place for working moms. The Wing is dedicated to inclusivity and lifting up women in the workforce, and the West Hollywood location was a great place for me to network with other working mommies and attend inspirational events hosted by top women in their respective industries. I once attended a screening and Q&A with Maggie Gyllenhaal that discussed her show “The Deuce” and focused on women in film and media’s portrayal of women. It was really cool! The Wing also has beautiful pump rooms for breastfeeding moms, and I’ve often seen strollers and children wandering around the space while moms work. I gave up my membership during the pandemic to create my own work-from-home space, but prior to the pandemic, The Wing offered “The Little Wing” which was a playroom and babysitting service. I’m not sure if they still have that now, but it was such an outstanding perk for moms – and kids!

Kid-Friendly West Hollywood

When most people think of West Hollywood, they imagine the very adult version of the city with its sexy dining, nightlife and music scenes, but I’m here to tell you that West Hollywood can be a very fun destination for kids, too! Below are the best restaurants, hotels, parks and activities that I mentioned in my “We Know WeHo” podcast interview with Tracy Paaso and Felicia Terwilliger. For all the juicy details on each business, you’ll have to take a listen to the podcast! Since Felicia is currently pregnant, we also discussed some of the best places for moms for prenatal and postpartum self-care! Check out the best WeHo businesses for families listed below, and take a listen to the podcast here! The podcast is also on Apple, Spotify and Google podcasts. My interview starts around the 35-minute mark.  

Enjoying the patio at Hugo’s while we wait for our food

Restaurants:

  • Hugo’s – Expansive menu for adults and great menu for kids! They provide crayons for coloring while you wait for your food! My kids like the macaroni and cheese and sitting on the patio!
  • Mel’s Drive-In – Fun classic diner! Kids food comes in car boxes!
  • Bottega Louie – Kids love the pastries!
  • Justin Quesos – Not necessarily designed for kids, but Tex-Mex is my favorite and kids live the queso and quesadillas! Go early for a more family-friendly atmosphere.
  • Shake Shack – Kids love the fries and frozen custard! Mommy and daddy love the burgers!
  • Carney’s – Iconic LA restaurant in a train car – so fun for kids!
  • Urth Caffe – We enjoy sitting on the patio. Or, you could get the food to go and make the 10 minute walk to Hollywood Park for a picnic!

Shops:

  • Eggy – Not technically in WeHo city limits, but serves many WeHo families with fashionable kids clothes and accessories.
  • Sunset Kids – High-end kids hop – great for gifts and novelty items!

Hotels:

  • Le Parc Suite Hotel – Recently renovated with colorful, artistic decor. All guest rooms are expansive suites with kitchenettes, fireplaces and sleeper sofas, so it is easy for families to make the hotel feel like home. Rooftop pool and rooftop tennis court are nice places for fun and recreation! While most WeHo hotels aren’t necessarily geared toward younger children, Le Parc Suite Hotel and it’s sister properties, Chamberlain and Montrose, are great for kids with their large suites, rooftop pools, access to house bikes and walkability to some of the best restaurants and shops in the U.S.!
  • Ziggy – Not exactly kid-friendly, but an awesome newly renovated property on the Sunset Strip to have a couples staycation without the kids! 

Classes:

  • BOUNCE LA –  An outdoor soft play gym and obstacle course led by fun coaches! Classes are not currently held at any WeHo parks, but they cater to a lot of West Hollywood families at their Coldwater Canyon location. The amazing coaches also host kids birthday parties in local families’ backyards and offer programs for schools!
  • PLAY Music & Art – A great selection of classes for your little artist or musician. This is another business that’s located on the edge of WeHo but serves many WeHo families. They also offer online classes, so you can utilize their classes anywhere!
  • West Hollywood Library Smarty Pants Class – Wonderful music and storytime class that helps prepare little ones for preschool and kindergarten.

Parks:

  • West Hollywood Park – Undergoing a massive renovation that includes a brand-new playground and aquatics center. This will be a fabulous place to take kids once its complete later this year!
  • Kings Road – Quiet, shaded park with a small play structure. Best suited for toddlers.
  • Plummer Park – Nice, small park for a picnic or to play tennis.
Playtime at Kings Road Park

Estheticians for Prenatal and Postpartum Self-Care:

  • SkinLab – Owner Joshua Ross saved my skin from pregnancy’s hormonal acne! He used to be based in WeHo when I was pregnant, but he’s now is located in West LA and South Bay.
  • Dermalogica – This flagship location recently opened in WeHo and has been a great place for postpartum skincare.

Family-Friendly Day Trips From WeHo:

  • Kidspace Museum – An amazing place for children to play and explore in Pasadena!
  • Exposition Park – The California Science Center is a great place for kids to explore and learn!
  • Griffith Park’s Travel Town – If your children love trains, they’ll get a huge kick out of this museum with several old locomotives to explore! There’s also a mini train ride!

Not Mentioned in the Podcast:

  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Just outside WeHo city limits, LACMA’s Boone Children’s Gallery hosts drop-in painting classes where their friendly staff provides tips on brush techniques. They even provide high chairs for our littlest artists! They also offer teen classes and camps that you can sign up for on the website. Kids under 17 can join their youth membership called NexGenLA where they can visit the museum anytime for free with a guest for free admission. Even babies can join!
  • The Grove – One of LA’s most beautiful outdoor shopping destinations, The Grove caters to many West Hollywood families (and all families across the LA!). It’s such a fun place for little ones with its trolley and fountains. My favorite restaurants at The Grove with kids are Blue Ribbon Sushi, Umami Burger and The Cheesecake Factory. Everyone loves a special treat from Sprinkles Cupcakes! The Grove has one of my most favorite children’s stores, Janie & Jack, along with a Nordstrom and Gap that offer clothing for kids of all ages.
  • Yardbird Restaurant – Located on the edge of WeHo at The Beverly Center, this is a tasty restaurant with a great kids menu! They serve elevated American classics like fried chicken, shrimp & grits, St. Louis style ribs and grilled blackened salmon. I love their brunch here!

What did I miss? Tell me your favorite family-friendly West Hollywood spots in the comments below or connect with me on Instagram at @maggiehjackson!