In the Kitchen

updated 12/03/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Kelli Williams & Shannon Wilcox
It won't be long before Kelli Williams starts carrying on a family tradition: baking banana bread with her kids. The mother of three (ages 6, 3 and 1), who stars in the new NBC drama Medical Investigation, first baked with her grandmother. "Half the batter would go on the floor," she says, "but we would have fun doing it." Later she and her mother, actress Shannon Wilcox (The Princess Diaries, Raising Helen), used the family recipe at their home in Bel Air, Calif., "whenever there were bananas that were almost done for," says Williams, 34. "It became something we always did around Thanksgiving. It smelled so great when it was cooking." This year the two have also teamed up on another project, their first joint TV appearance in the Hallmark Channel's A Boyfriend for Christmas. "She was perfectly cast to play my daughter," says Wilcox.

Patty Duke & Mackenzie Astin
When these two get together, laughs come easy. "I don't hold my tongue nearly as much as I should," says Mackenzie Astin, Patty Duke's son with her third husband, actor John Astin, "but she appreciates my sense of humor." It comes in handy when she hosts Thanksgiving dinner for 30 at her Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, home. "I used to get up at 5 in the morning to get everything ready," says Duke, 57. "Then I did the math and discovered that I really didn't have to get out of bed until 11 and it would still be done in plenty of time." Mackenzie (half brother of Lord of the Rings star Sean Astin) remembers feasting on homemade turkey, ham and green bean casserole as a boy but "racing through plate after plate to get to Aunt Lena's store-bought pumpkin pie with a lot of Cool Whip." The star of the upcoming Hallmark Channel movie Love's Enduring Promise, Mackenzie, 31 is newly engaged to L.A. designer Samantha Sinclair. Which means set another place at Mom's table.

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