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GFCF Thanksgiving Feast Recipe Round-up

Hi, Friends! It has been quite the year for our family – August saw our lives turned upside down with an unexpected, severe and current health crisis for my oldest daughter, which I will talk about at some point, around the time that I finish processing all that has happened – i.e., a long time from now! In the meantime,  here we are on the doorstep of Thanksgiving!

To make things more interesting – because really, how could we be anything but bored? – My doctor made the challenging and strong recommendation this year that I follow a mostly Paleo diet. The restrictive nature doesn’t entirely work for me year round, especially around this time of year. So, I’ve opted to follow a mostly Paleo diet 80% of the time and Gluten-free/Dairy-free, with a touch of Vegan the rest of the time. Believe me, my family loves me a whole lot better this way – what I eat they eat!

Cue Thanksgiving. 100% Gluten Free/Dairy Free and mostly Egg Free as well.

Let me give you an idea of what Thanksgiving usually looks like for us.

And, with all of the new restrictions, here was my idea of what we were going to be eating this year.


I perused the likes of The Pioneer Woman, Alton Brown, Hello Gluten Free, The Gluten Free Goddess, Gluten Free on a Shoestring, Back to Her Roots, and, of course, my favorites recipe book. Guess what? Thanksgiving was an HIT! I believe I got the “this is the BEST Thanksgiving food EVER!” compliment. Doesn’t get better than that!

So, grab a seat and a coffee – or your pre-Thanksgiving cocktail. It’s going to be a long ride.

Here is what I served:

The Pioneer Woman Roasted Turkey

Turkey and gravy – Literally, hands-down, the BEST turkey I’ve ever had, Ree Drummond’s, (the Pioneer Woman) recipe for citrus brined, roasted turkey. Seriously, the gravy off this bird is AMAZING. If you’ve never brined before, try it this year, and make sure to start 24 hours before! The bird was tender and crispy and just.. Well, the BEST turkey I’ve ever had!

Best Vegan Mashed Potatoes – The Minimalist Baker

Mashed Potatoes – Mashed potatoes are pretty easy to swap. I swapped out the milk for homemade turkey stock and added non-dairy butter (I like Smart Balance). Easy peasy. But it was the addition of roasted garlic from Dana at the Minimalist Baker that knocked these out of the park. I roasted the garlic early in the morning, and it was ready when it was time to mash. Just squeeze the garlic in and you are good to go. I think I would add an extra head of garlic next time, but they were great as is.

Favorite Family Recipes

Cranberry Orange Sauce – Already gluten free/dairy free. This recipe at Favorite Family Recipes is along the lines of my go-to recipe. I like to add a half an apple for texture, and a 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger in addition to the cinnamon. I also split the cup of sugar into half white and half dark brown sugars. Use fresh cranberries, make sure to make it a few days in advance to give the flavors time to marry and don’t even think of reducing the sugar.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apples – Back to Her Roots

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Apples – A family favorite that is already Gluten Free/Dairy Free, I swapped out the balsamic for a splash of sriracha. It’s the perfect blend of heat and sweet and takes the rustic brussel sprout to new heights. Try it! Thanks to Back to Her Roots for the base recipe!

Best-Ever Green Bean Casserole – Alton Brown

Green Bean Casserole with Panko Breaded Onions – There are all kinds of things wrong with the traditional Green Bean Casserole for me, starting with the cream of mushroom soup (dairy) and ending with the crispy onion topping (wheat). Alton Brown, that amazing kitchen scientist, has this recipe for Best-ever Green Bean Casserole. I traded corn starch for the flour in the base and swapped in GF Panko for the topping. The topping is still crispy two days later. Awesome.

Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing – Num’s the Word

Apple Sausage Stuffing – Another family favorite, I skipped the cranberries and swapped out the bread crumbs for GF corn bread and GF bread crumbs made from Udi’s whole grain bread. Magical. Fresh herbs do make ALL the difference.


Watergate Salad – Spicy Southern Kitchen

Watergate SaladPineapple Pecan Salad or the green stuff. Bekah LOVES it, and it’s my Sister-in-Law, Shannon’s, signature dish. Made with Cool Whip, which, by the way, does contain milk, this salad is a no-no for me. At least until I found So Delicious Dairy Free Coco-Whip. The hint of coconut adds to the flavor. Win!

Gluten Free Dinner Rolls – Hello Gluten Free

Gluten Free Dinner Rolls – As anyone eating Gluten-free knows, bread is the one thing that is hardest to replicate. These rolls from Hello Gluten Free! are the closest I’ve ever come. I swapped out the egg for Ener-G Egg Replacer mixed with rice milk and brushed them with dairy-free butter.

Kucha – Pronounced Coo-Ka. It’s an old family recipe that most closely resembles the German dessert kuchen (link is in German). It’s a sweet dough filled with custard, then baked with a dense layer of cinnamon and sugar. For our family, we eat as you would eat a roll – with your dinner. It is tasty with turkey or ham. It is a part of every family dinner memory I have. It IS Thanksgiving for me. And, of course, it’s loaded with wheat and dairy. Luckily, I managed to find subs that were just as amazing! I traded the standard heavy cream for full-fat coconut milk in the custard and used the sweet bread recipe from Recreating Happiness. Score!


Pumpkin Pie with Praline Topping – The Gluten Free Goddess

Pumpkin PieThe Gluten Free Goddess does it again! I followed this lovely lady long before my doctor crashed my sugar-loving’ party. This pie is gluten free, dairy free and egg free. And, it has a taste to die for. I ran out of time, skipping the praline topping. It was just as lovely with a dollop of So Delicious Dairy Free Coco-Whip.

After all of my fears, I have to say we produced a pretty great looking spread this year.

If you are facing a change in diet, don’t give up hope! You can still enjoy many of your favorite
dishes with a few tweaks.

We are thankful to have enjoyed our favorite dishes in a much more belly pleasing way this year. But most of all, we’re thankful for each other. We’re thankful we’re all together, to have one another to lean on during difficult times and thankful that we’re all, mostly at least, in one piece. However difficult this past few months has been, we’re blessed beyond belief.


Family Photo – circa 2012 – time for an update!

May you and yours be just as blessed! Happy Thanksgiving!

For more ideas check out my Thanksgiving 2015 Pinterest Board or these links!

Happy Camerican Thanksgiving! A Friendsgiving Feast

Start a new tradition this Thanksgiving season with an annual Friendsgiving feast! Whether you’re bending the holiday rules due to shared custody or just need a break from tradition, a Friendsgiving Meal allows you to spend this relaxed but significant time with friends who are like family!

We are a blender family. As many of you blender families know, to survive the holidays, what with visitation and the constant coming and goings of every day, you need complete flexibility and a willingness to bend the holiday rules if necessary, to ensure that you have a meaningful season regardless of who’s year it is to have the kids.

Traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Centerpiece

We share custody of two of our girls, and alternate holiday visitation every year. The years we do not have them on Thanksgiving Day, we often plan a pre-celebration on a different day. It’s our way of giving them the experience of a large, family-style dinner, surrounded by people that love them, even if it doesn’t fall on the right day of the calendar.  And, so it was that Ca-Merican Thanksgiving was born – our affectionate name for our annual Friendsgiving feast. The annual dinner, with all the fixin’s, we share with all of our children and some great friends, who, we a) are thankful for, b)think of as family, and c) lucky for us, are willing to eat turkey twice in a week.



Just because Friendsgiving isn’t exactly traditional doesn’t mean the decor can’t be! I set the table with autumn colors of orange, gold and green.

Looking for tips on how to set an informal table setting? I’ve got you covered with a free informal tablesetting cheat sheet!

Download Informal Tablesetting Cheat Sheet

friendsgiving - table decor

Holiday crackers are a fun Canadian tradition in my family – they are a huge hit! I was so excited to find these at Target for fall, but I’ve also been known to make my own!

friendsgiving - crackers



In creating the menu, I tried to serve dishes that were at least slightly different than we’d all be having on Thanksgiving Day. All of our guests brought yummies to share making this truly a Friends-giving!


Start with simple appetizers to keep everyone happy waiting for dinner.  Mixed nuts and pistachios, a veggie and dip tray, and a cracker, cheese and sausage tray are all easy and relatively inexpensive options. A bowl of goldfish was a favorite with kids. I’m weird, I love bread and butter pickles with my sausage and cheese cracker sandwiches, and I also like canned oysters, packed in oil, with cream cheese and crackers. You’ll also find a bit of both pickles and oysters on the counter.

friendsgiving - appetizersTurkey and ham are a no-brainer.

friendsgiving - turkey

Keep it traditional but add a twist – Mini pizzas all dressed up as fun, and funky turkeys gave the kids something to talk about. Pillsbury pizza dough and turkey pepperoni, with turkey printouts, made making them not only a snap but fun!

Traditional Thanksgiving - turkey pizza



This brussel sprout dish is always a pleasant surprise and loved by most – even by determined brussel sprout haters! Roast Brussel sprouts with bacon, shallots and pure maple syrup. This recipe has become a family favorite that we have all year round.
We also served twice baked potato casserole, green beans almondine, stuffing bites, and 3-cheese macaroni and cheese. Pinterest is packed full of unique Thanksgiving dish recipes – give some a try!


friendsgiving - pie bites cheesecake and pudding cups

One of our guests slaved over and brought a fantastic pumpkin cheesecake with a graham AND gingersnap cookie crust. It was AMAZING. You can find a similar recipe here.

Pumpkin pie tarts, using a basic pie crust (I used Kroger brand refrigerator crust), and a no-bake filling  – again, amazing, and so, so easy. I used a scallop-edged flower cookie cutter and a muffin pan to pre-bake our shells and then filled with this no-bake filling. We topped with whipped cream right before serving. Yum!

White chocolate pudding cups, dipped in chocolate and seasonal sprinkles, with a Hershey kiss and nutter butter acorns were a fun and kid-friendly addition to the dessert table. This idea came from Stephanie Keeping at Spaceships and Laserbeams, a favorite blog of mine.

Pecan pie bars rounded out the list of more traditional desserts with a bit of a twist – a shortbread crust, with an ooey, gooey topping had me eating more than my fair share of these. I’ll probably be working them off until Christmas, at least.

friendsgiving - cupcakes

We also served apple-crisp bites.. bite-size bundles of oh, so good apple crisp. Chelsea has a plethora of amazing recipes to share – do take a look around her site if you have the time.

Store-bought cupcakes and chocolate pie ensured there were plenty of choices to feed our sweet tooth!


One of the benefits of having a Friendsgiving Dinner is the lack of pressure for it to be perfect! You’re surrounded by friends who know the goofy side of you! Keep it light and casual, or plan it to be laid-back and boozy (if you wish). Either way, it’s so much fun!


friendsgiving fun

The evening was filled with great food, great conversation, many shenanigans, even more laughs, and much love. As always, we have much to be thankful for. Here is hoping you have just a great a day celebrating with the ones you love –  whoever they are, and whatever day that is! Happy Thanksgiving!


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