Celebrations these days are looking a bit different, aren’t they? Facetime play dates and Zoom birthday parties are the new, temporary norm as we all do our part and stay home.
But one of the things that makes celebrations so fun – the treats! – can be a challenge while social distancing. Making a cake for each virtual celebration can be a drag if you don’t have enough people to share it with – but so can skipping the cake completely.
In this case, small-batch desserts are an awesome answer.
I’ve rounded up eighteen awesome small batch dessert recipes for you today – perfect options for making for your next celebration during social distancing special without burying you in leftovers!
I wanted to sneak in one last Thanksgiving leftover post before the big festivities tomorrow. This is pretty much the perfect day-after sandwich – super quick to throw together in the midst of shopping trips but it doesn’t feel like leftovers.
The crunchy onions and cranberries are staples in lots of Thanksgiving dishes so I’m guessing you’ll have them (and turkey!) on hand. A few extra ingredients and you’re good to go.
I made a few of these during the last week and I’m genuinely looking forward to refreshing my turkey stash tomorrow so I can have another.
Chipotle Ranch Turkey Panini (a Kate’s Recipe Box Original) Makes 1 sandwich
3/4 cup chopped turkey
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. crunchy onions
1 Tbsp. real bacon bits
2 Tbsp. chipotle ranch dressing
2 slices provolone cheese
1 Ciabatta roll
In a small bowl, toss together the turkey, cranberries, onions, bacon bits and dressing until evenly combined.
Slice the roll in half, top with turkey mixture and cheese. Press in a Panini press until warmed through and crunchy on the outside.
I’ve got these filed under “easy enough to throw together with a super fussy baby in tow”. Because that’s totally a file in our house right now. Teething, man.
As simple as these are, they took all day to make. I caramelized the onions during the first (30 minute) nap. Fried up the bacon during the second (20 minute) nap. Assembled and wrapped them in foil while I wore him on my back and then threw them in the fridge until ready to bake. It was just one of those days.
On another note, every time I make caramelized onions I have an oh-goodness-I love-these-so-much moment. I’m thinking I need to start just keeping caramelized onions in the fridge so I can put them on, like, everything.
Baked Ham and Cheese Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions and Bacon (slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum) Serves 3
1 large yellow onion, sliced into thin rings
4 Tbsp. butter, divided
6 slices of bacon
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 package of King’s Hawaiian sub rolls (6 rolls)
1 lb. deli-sliced ham
6 slices Swiss cheese
In a frying pan over medium-low heat, melt 1 Tbsp. of butter and then add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until caramelized. When done, transfer to a bowl and wipe out the pan. Cook the bacon in the same pan, removing to a paper-towel lined plate when done.
In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the remaining butter. Whisk in the mustard and Worcestershire.
To assemble the sandwiches, brush some of the mustard mixture on the cut side of each roll. Divide ham between rolls and top with caramelized onions, a slice of bacon and a slice of cheese.
Wrap assembled sandwiches in foil. Bake at 350F degrees for 10 minutes or until warm and melty.
1Tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1Tbsp. unsalted butter
2Tbsp. olive oil
12 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed
½ tsp. salt, to taste
1Tbsp. minced garlic
In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey and water. Set aside.
In a pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, add the green beans and salt and toss to coat. Cook 7-8 minutes, until beans are slightly browned and shrunken. Stir in garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
Add in the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat. Cook for about 30 seconds, until the sauce becomes glaze-like. Transfer to a serving dish and serve immediately.
This was sort of a thrown-together dish – something to go with the Thai-spiced chicken skewers and something that would use up some more green beans. It ended up being one of my favorite things of the week.
I’m always a fan of quick sides and this fits the bill. It was the perfect accompaniment to our dinner and a dish I know I’ll be making again soon!
This is, by far, my favorite summer meal. We’ve been making it for years and it’s something we make over and over during grilling weather – mostly because it’s so easy. This pizza takes almost no prep and cooks in about five minutes.
We generally don’t go in with much of a plan when making them – toppings are whatever we happen to have still in the fridge. Ham and pineapple is a favorite, as is kalamata olive and fresh basil. And we like to make them smaller so we can vary the toppings – and each person can top their own.
It’s meals like this that are keeping us sane with a newborn!
Preheat the grill to medium-high heat and spray with nonstick spray.
Roll out dough as desired – we like to make four smaller pizzas because they’re easier to work with, 2 medium or 1 large would work too!
Place the dough onto the grill grates and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is solid and has grill marks. Flip, add sauce, cheese and toppings and close the lid of the grill. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until cheese is melted and bottom has grill marks.
Transfer to a cutting board and let sit for a few minutes before cutting.
We have zucchini in the garden this year. I feel like shouting it from the rooftops because our zucchini never seems to work out. Having an abundance now is a huge novelty and I’m happily working through some of the recipes I’d saved from previous years.
This side is pretty simple, but it’s a great one to have in your repertoire – easy, fast and delicious.
Cheesy Zucchini Bake
(slightly adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen)
Serves 2-3 as a side
1 large zucchini, cut into half moon slices
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. Herbes de Provence
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/3 cup shredded mixture of provolone and mozzarella, divided
2 Tbsp. grated parmesan
Salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Spray a small baking dish with non-stick spray.
Toss the cut zucchini with the basil, green onion, herbs, parmesan and half of the shredded cheese until evenly distributed. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to baking dish. Bake for 2-25 minutes.
Sprinkle remaining shredded cheese over the top and bake for 10-15 minutes more, until the cheese is nicely melted.
Generally, this is how meal planning goes around here: On Thursday we get the grocery ads for the next week and I sit down and pick meals based on what we have on hand already and what’s going to be on sale. I email the list off to Mark and he either approves it, vetoes things or reminds me of plans I’ve forgotten that would throw off dinner. It’s a good system.
And then there are weeks when things just get busy and fall through the cracks. I realized as we were standing in the grocery store shopping for the week that I’d never bounced the week’s dinners off him – and he was really skeptical of this meal. Luckily, once dinner was on the table, he liked it. We served it along with onion rings and fresh cut-up veggies.
Grilled Chicken and Zucchini Tortas
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 medium zucchini
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Hot sauce, to taste
2 cups shredded cabbage
Juice of 1/2 line
Whisk together the garlic, oregano, paprika, oil, salt and pepper until well combined. Quarter the zucchini lengthwise and pound out the chicken to 1/2″ thick. Place zucchini and chicken on separate plates and rub each with the marinade evenly. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise and hot sauce to taste. Remove half of the mayonnaise mixture to a small bowl and set aside. To the medium bowl, add the cabbage and lime juice and toss until evenly coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Grill chicken and zucchini over medium heat for about 10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and zucchini is tender, flipping halfway. Slice the chicken against the grain.
Serve the chicken and zucchini on rolls topped with mayonnaise spread and slaw.
For me, Pinterest is sort of a peer pressure zone. If I see a recipe or trend enough times, I feel like I need to try it too. This is why I started making overnight oats. I’m pretty sure the first time I saw it I thought it was gross – and then the idea grew on me. I’m a big oatmeal fan in the winter months, so this idea seemed perfect for the warmer weather.
I’ve tried quite a few overnight oat recipes, and this is the first one that has been blog worthy. I loved everything about this – the consistancy was spot-on for me and it felt like a treat without being overy sweet. I’ve already made it several times!
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped strawberries
1 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
Large pinch of cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. chia seeds
Small pinch of salt
On top: 1 chopped strawberry, 1 tsp. mini chocolate chips, extra milk for consistancy (if needed)
In a small bowl or jar, combine the oats, milk, 1/4 cup chopped strawberries, cocoa powder, cinnamon, vanilla, syrup, chia seeds and salt. Mix until well combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, thin with additional milk if desired (I didn’t – I like my oatmeal thick!) and top with chopped strawberry and mini chocolate chips.
Yesterday was my husband’s birthday – the official kick off of our “celebrating season”. Within the next few weeks we’ll also celebrate my birthday and our anniversary. And next year we’ll be adding Father’s Day and baby boy’s birthday to this. Of course, this is on top of any graduations and weddings that are prevelant this time of year. It gets busy, to say the least. It also means we end up eating a lot of “celebrating” food.
When I asked Mark what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday, he said none. It was just going to be us celebrating and he didn’t want a whole cake for the two of us. I can’t really blame him – but the idea of no birthday cake just didn’t fly with me. The solution was obviously just to make a smaller cake.
This one was chocolate and peanut butter – the birthday boy’s favorite – and sized for two. Perfect!
Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Layer Cake (adapted from Picky Palate) Serves 2-4
For the cake:
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocoalte chips
For the icing:
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, for decoration
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease a large ramikin (or any other bowl/pan you want to use).
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt and baking soda.
In a microwave safe bowl, microwave the semi-sweet chocoate chips at half-power for 30 second intervals, until melted.
Add in the eggs, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and melted chocolate chips into the dry ingredients. Stir until just combined. Transfer batter to greased ramikin and bake until a knife inserted comes out clean – the time will vary based on your pan, for me it was 45-50 minutes.
Let it cool for 10 minutes before removing from ramikin to cool completely.
Slice the cake in half to make two layers.
In a medium bowl, stir together the peanut butter, powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Adjust the amount of powdered sugar or milk to get desired consistancy.
Spread about 1/3 cup of the icing on top of one of the laters and then place the other layer on top. Use remaining frosting to cover the cake. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips over as decoration, as desired.