Seasonal Sundays (Week 47 Week Before Thanksgiving)

It's Thanksgiving crunch time, right? I'm here to help with an entire "pick one" Thanksgiving menu plus lots of insider tips from someone who cooked her first Thanksgiving dinner at age 16! Plus ... the new Weight Watchers program, MyWW.
Seasonal Sundays ♥, preparing for Thanksgiving, a seasonal collection of recipes and ideas.

Welcome to Seasonal Sundays!

Hey, y'all. Yes, we're just back from a 2700-mile road trip to/from/all over Texas so this Midwesterner is temporarily allowed to say y'all.

But anyone else have Thanksgiving on the brain?

For the next few weeks, websites like mine (to say nothing of Pinterest ... yikes!) will be crazy busy, everyone searching for favorite recipes, new recipes, checking details, deciding what to make, what to assign, how to get it all done.

Thanksgiving Recipes, Menus & More, organized for easy browsing & targeted searches ♥

I hope to help! The one-stop page is Thanksgiving Menus, Recipes & More, all very organized for easy browsing and targeted searches.

And for vegetables, A Veggie Venture is super-organized by vegetable, so many side dish options, Thanksgiving Vegetable Recipes.

But the more minimalist my food (and life) sensibility becomes, the more I appreciate fewer options and fewer decisions.

Maybe you're the same? So for today's edition of Seasonal Sundays, I'm following the "Pick One" practice for an entire Thanksgiving menu.

Perhaps I can fill in a gap or two for you?

ALANNA's TIPS I've added extra tips to most entries but hey, I'm not the only one with good ideas. Send me yours! I'll add them in ...


Pick One is for those of us who are overwhelmed by life's choices. If that resonates, then check out this one recipe and then call it a day. It's one that I think could make the most difference, the one I hope will become a regular in your kitchen, as it is in mine.

Fresh Cranberry Bars, a chewy almost-blondie molasses and spice bar with bursts of juicy fresh cranberries, topped with a scattering of sugar 'snow'. Addictive!

This recipe dates back to the years I lived in Dallas and my friend Lisa and I checked out a new natural foods grocery store that was getting some buzz. Today, that "store" is nationally known but back then, well, things were different.

Fresh Cranberry Bars, a chewy almost-blondie molasses and spice bar with bursts of juicy cranberry, topped with a scattering of sugar "snow".

About These Thanksgiving Recipes

We all have a certain sensibility about Thanksgiving. All these reflect mine.

  • MENU CHOICES I mostly stick to tried 'n' true recipes, my crew isn't especially adventurous or discriminating. Know your crowd!
  • SHOPPING I buy all the non-perishable Thanksgiving groceries the week before and the perishable stuff on Monday or Tuesday.
  • TABLES I set the tables on Tuesday or Wednesday, at minimum, get everything out.
  • MAKE SOUP! Before I start cooking, I make a big pot of soup. That way, there'll be dinner ... not just a fridge full of Thanksgiving dishes.
  • PREP I do the majority of the actual cooking (except for the turkey itself) on the Wednesday. So my recipes are full of make-ahead tips.
  • THANKSGIVING BREAKFAST Arrgh, all that cooking and people want breakfast too? :-) But go easy on yourself, make a breakfast casserole (maybe Easy Green Chile Egg Casserole?) then c-l-o-s-e the kitchen. Any one who oversleeps? So sorry.
  • OVEN TIMING It pays to be super-organized with oven timing, time and temperature. A second oven makes a difference but even that's hard. If you've made vegetable dishes the day before, bring them to room temperature (allow 2-3 hours) so they'll heat up faster once they hit the oven.
  • HONOR TRADITION My husband's sister thought it was funny to put canned black olives on her finger tips. She's gone now but those olives? Yep, on the table.
  • REAL FOOD On the other hand, it's all homemade, all with real food.
  • ALLOW FOR LEFTOVERS Make a lot! it usually takes no more time to make a double batch.
  • TAKE NOTES I've been jotting down notes on 3x5 cards since I was a kid. But notes really help, especially when you only make something once a year. Which grandson loves Brussels sprouts? How did an ingredient substitution work out? How long does something take to bake in the oven? What's the effort:pleasure ratio?


Mulled Apple Cider ♥, how to mull apple cider with fruit and spices, turning everyday supermarket-variety apple cider into something special and irresistible.

ALANNA's TIPS FOR A HOST Assign an appetizer or two to a guest. Just make sure that it's someone who arrives on time to a party, otherwise, well ...

ALANNA's TIPS IF YOU'RE TAKING AN APPETIZER Make your appetizer 100% "hands off" for the host. Bring something that's ready for eating. Don't count on counter space for assembling, definitely don't plan on "popping something into the oven for 20 minutes". That oven is going to be b-u-s-y. Finger food is best, I think, otherwise bring along whatever utensils are needed for serving and eating, party knives, small forks, etc.

The truth is, I really don't get Thanksgiving appetizers. It's not as if there's going to be a shortage of things to eat! But I do like to have a beverage on offer when people arrive.

Mulled Apple Cider, fruit and spices turn supermarket apple cider into something special and irresistible.


How to Dry Brine & Roast a Whole Turkey ♥, a simple, basic recipe for dry brining and roasting a whole turkey, producing a dark, crispy skin and moist, flavorful meat.

ALANNA's TIPS Your grocery may be taking orders for turkeys, I've found it pays. If you're buying a frozen turkey, it can take up to a week to fully thaw a big one! Assign somebody else to carve the turkey, make sure they study up ahead of time and take care of knives, etc.

Most of all, forget brining a turkey, really and truly.

How to Dry-Brine and Roast a Whole Turkey, it's simple and uncomplicated and produces turkey with dark, crispy skin with moist, flavorful breast meat and dark meat. So good!


Sausage Stuffing ♥, my grandmother's recipe for sausage stuffing, just sausage, good bread, herbs and an egg-milk binding. Stuff a turkey with it or just bake in the oven.

The truth is, picking just one stuffing recipe is easy because I have just one recipe, my grandmother's, my mom's, my sister's and mine.

ALANNA's TIPS Use bread that tastes good. Tear it into cubes and let it dry out in a cold oven for a couple of days, even on the countertop.

Sausage Stuffing, my Canadian grandmother's recipe for sausage stuffing.


Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes, also called Party Potatoes. The potatoes are smooth, rich and fluffy, great for serving a crowd, perfect for parties and family gatherings.

ALANNA's TIPS There's enough going on at the last minute, mashed potatoes don't need to be one of them. And if you've ever tried to just peel and cut up the potatoes ahead of time without actually cooking them? Just don't. Brown City.

Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Party Potatoes), make-ahead mashed potatoes for a crowd, I need to add my notes from last year, I did them in a slow cooker!


World's Best Green Bean Casserole ♥, yesterday's comfort food made with fresh green beans and fresh mushrooms, no canned beans, no cream of mushroom soup. Rave reviews since 2006.

ALANNA's TIPS If you want to be a star at Thanksgiving, make this green bean casserole. There's no canned mushroom soup, no canned green beans. The rave reviews keep comin' in ...

And? There's a love story here too. I think this is the year I'll tell it ... tee hee, how's that for a tease?

World's Best Green Bean Casserole, yesterday's comfort food made fresh.


Sweet Potato Casserole ♥, traditional sweet potato casserole, updated. Think way-fewer-than-usual mini marshmallows, hints of vanilla and ginger, plus a pecan-panko topping. Delish! Recipe, make-ahead tips, nutrition & WW Weight Watchers points included.

It's definitely a sweet potato casserole, marshmallows and all. But it's updated! Think hints of vanilla and ginger, plus a pecan-panko topping and way-fewer-than-usual marshmallows. Delish!

Not into marshmallows? I hear you. Think about Savory Sweet Potato Casserole.

Sweet Potato Casserole, way less sweet but still definitely a traditional sweet potato casserole.


Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin ♥, first roasted, then braised in cream or half 'n' half, turned dark and luscious. My favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts during cold weather but also a Thanksgiving favorite! Low Carb. Rave reviews!

Yes, we really do have a grandson who l-o-v-e-s Brussels sprouts, especially these.

This is actually my favorite way to cook Brussels sprouts during cold weather but for Thanksgiving, it's extremely forgiving and people totally gobble it up.

ALANNA's TIPS Brussels sprouts take time to trim but good news, that's a job easily done the day before even if they're not roasted until the day before.

Creamy Brussels Sprouts Gratin


quash Puff ♥, an old family recipe traditional at Thanksgiving, a welcome savory make-ahead casserole, just creamy winter squash topped with pumpkin seeds. Rave reviews! Weight Watchers Friendly. Vegetarian.

A reader wrote this week, "Still passing on the recipe, all these years later ..." Hi, Elisia!

This is an old family recipe from my Canadian family, one I totally adore, it makes especially good leftovers. That said, it's the turnip and rutabaga version, Turnip Puff or Rutabaga Puff, that's really taking off in 2019.

Squash Puff, this is a recipe which doesn't "shout" Thanksgiving, make it all winter long.


Mac n Chicken, just your best Mac n Cheese with chicken, with protein ♥ One-Pot Comfort Food. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Long-Time Family Favorite. High Protein. Great for Meal Prep. Recipe, insider tips, nutrition and Weight Watchers points included.

ALANNA's TIPS Kids at the table? Gotta have mac 'n' cheese! But make enough for the grown-ups too.

I use the same recipe for Mac n Chicken and plain Mac n Cheese, just adjusting the ingredients a little. And? Some times I add some cooked sweet potato because it somehow mimics the color and even taste of Kraft dinner.

Mac n Chicken, without the chicken.


Homemade Butterhorns (Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls) ♥, my Iowa grandmother's recipe for butterhorns, the 'crescent rolls' so often served at Thanksgiving. Easy dough to work with. Recipe, tips, step-by-step photos, nutrition and Weight Watchers points included.

This dough is a dream to work with, it's even made the day before! And I love how the cornucopia shapes work especially well for Thanksgiving.

ALANNA's TIPS Oven timing is important. I usually bake the pies Dark Early, then the rolls, all before the turkey goes into the oven.

Homemade Butterhorns (Thanksgiving Crescent Rolls), my grandmother's recipe.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars ♥, pretty layers of cheesecake, pumpkin and whipped cream on a graham cracker crust.

It's an impossible task, picking just one dessert.

But me, the pie baker, I'm going with something that can be made the day before, no baking the morning of Thanksgiving.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars, so pretty on a plate!


Easy-Easy Jam Tart ♥, food processor crust + jam = an amazing tart in 15 minutes!

ALANNA's TIPS Contributing to a meal like Thanksgiving is its own art. Don't count on counter space for assembling, don't count on oven availability.

  • SWEET Easy-Easy Jam Tart, takes just 15 minutes, including the super-easy press-in crust, but really looks impressive!
  • SAVORY Wild Rice Salad, excellent texture contrast, pays homage to our Native American heritage as well
  • HOSTESS GIFT Cranberry Chutney, it can be made several days ahead of time!


Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce ♥, the convenience of the slow cooker, the natural sweetness of maple syrup, the sweet aroma of cranberries, fresh ginger and orange zest! Recipe, cooking tips, nutrition and Weight Watchers points included.

I have several cranberry recipes (and make them all!) but this is the one I make all winter long.

ALANNA's TIPS If there's anything that can be made way ahead of time, make it!

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce for the Slow Cooker, sweet aroma of cranberries, fresh ginger and orange zest! Sweetened with either maple syrup or sugar.

Hello? Weight Watchers Folks? Get Ready for MyWW.

Weight Watchers has changed its program a-g-a-i-n. As a blogger looking at 1800 recipes to update? Heavy Sigh.

But as someone who loves the whole Weight Watchers concept? I'm all in. And I think that many people are going to like the new version – make that versions because for the first time ever, Weight Watchers is letting each of us select our own approach to weight loss and healthy eating!

MyWW has three different versions. Each one has different different daily point allotments and different "free" foods. And on the app, you can switch any time from one version to another.

  • green plan – here, you get the highest most points per day but the shortest list of free foods (just fruits and non-starchy vegetables, fewer vegetables than with the most recent Freestyle program and no other free foods)
  • blue plan – this is the new name for the Freestyle program, you get a generous amount of points and 200+ free foods (fruits plus most vegetables plus legumes plus chickpeas plus quinoa plus non-fat yogurt plus eggs plus chicken/turkey breast plus fish/seafood plus tofu and a few others)
  • purple plan – here, you get the fewest points per day but a much-expanded list of 300+ free foods, including potatoes and sweet potatoes, brown rice, farro, whole wheat pasta, some whole-grain cereals, plain oatmeal, even air-popped popcorn

And? My sister and I have both signed back up for Weight Watchers!

So far, both of us are using the "green" plan. I may switch to the blue version because so many of my recipes already have blue/Freestyle points calculated. But Adanna is keen on the most restrictive "green" plan because she found the old Freestyle plan too loose, it was too easy to eat too much of the "free foods".

Any thoughts on the new MyWW program?

One last thought. It might seem crazy to sign up for a weight loss program just before the holidays but I think it makes total sense: like a double win, even if you don't lose weight during the holidays, if you don't gain then that's weight you don't need to lose later. And keeping ourselves on track during the holidays, well, it doesn't mean there can't be occasional lapses and even splurges. Yes?

Watch the Weight Watchers Recipes for more information on how MyWW will work for Kitchen Parade/A Veggie Venture in the next couple of weeks.

Text Me Back!

I love hearing from you! Comment, send me a quick e-mail via, dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, whatever.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2019

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.