Seasonal Sundays (Week 48) Last-Minute Thanksgiving Ideas

A veritable Thanksgiving buffet for a small, re-invented holiday: ideas for a make-ahead Thanksgiving morning; ideas for a Thanksgiving weekend; even ideas for those of us who don't quite know what to do with ourselves when Thanksgiving is smaller and simpler.
Seasonal Sundays ♥, a seasonal collection of recipes and life ideas in and out of the kitchen.

"I hugged my mom this week ..."

A young nurse wailed these words out loud. She'd just gotten test results: positive. She wasn't scared for herself, even for her baby who also tested positive.

Instead she was gut-wrenched frightened for her mom, a bit older with underlying risk. Instead she was wrecked with guilt for exposing her mom because she'd wanted, needed, a simple hug from her mom.

And that's the thing about Thanksgiving 2020-style, limiting it only to those with whom we live, those inside our designated protective bubble.

And it is hard. No hugs. No kids and grandkids. No aunts and uncles. No brothers and sisters. No neighbors. No work potluck. No FriendsGiving. No parade. No football. No late-night Black Friday runs.

And it's only natural to grieve for the situation we find ourselves in. It's even natural to rail at those whose actions have put us here. Go ahead, I'm with you ... let's scream until we're hoarse.

But here we are.

Cancelling Thanksgiving in 2020 isn't about wearing a mask to protect a stranger in the grocery store. It isn't about flattening the curve. It isn't about the divisive politics of individual freedom vs collective responsibility.

Instead, cancelling Thanksgiving in 2020 is about protecting those we love the very, very most, those who sit at our tables every day, not just at Thanksgiving.

This week, a physician told us of a colleague who lost his 38-year old son and another who survived but was on a ventilator so long, he will forever require a breathing tube.

Cancelling Thanksgiving in 2020 raises the odds, God willing, we'll live to gather in 2021.

And that mom and daughter? I checked in two days ago and for some worrisome hours, crickets. Then word back: Day Six and Mom still tests negative and Daughter, well, she's still holding her breath.

Please, protect your bubble, seal the edges, guard the chinks. Whatever plans you've made, whatever tickets you've bought, whatever menu you've created, whatever hug you're longing for, it's not too late to put it all on ice for a year.


Pick One is for those of us overwhelmed by life's unending 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.

Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash ♥ A Veggie Venture, just three ingredients, silky smooth and quite elegant.
  • ALANNA's TIP Many thanks to a reader for a reminder that it's been waaaay too long since making this soup. Is it fancy? It could be. But really, it's simple food prepared well. It's gorgeous. It definitely belongs in my 3x5 box. And if ever there's a year when soup could fit into a Thanksgiving menu, it's 2020. My plan is to serve it about an hour before "dinner" then do a "kitchen dance for two" putting our dinner on the table ... that way when we finally sit down, we won't be starved and can laugh and linger as long as we like.

  • THE RECIPE Butternut Squash Soup that Actually Tastes Like Butternut Squash Just three ingredients + an unusual technique bumps flavor.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Butternut Squash Soup with Mango & Toasted Coconut

Still Figuring It All Out? Thanksgiving Resources

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

My First Viral Recipe

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.
  • Fourteen years ago I was Up North for Thanksgiving with my dad. Dad's house had dial-up internet (remember that? not so long ago!) so I plugged my laptop in at the local coffeeshop to check email, only to find that my fresh green bean casserole (fresh green beans, fresh mushrooms, sooooooo good) had gone viral. Wow. Blogging was still a very new thing, to me and to the world, so all the traffic was such a shock. All these years later, home cooks everywhere still flock to this recipe at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, even the 4th of July. Just look at all the rave reviews!

  • THE RECIPE World's Best Green Bean Casserole Yesterday's comfort food made fresh.
  • AND ... IT'S LIFE-CHANGING! Happy Thanksgiving from the Green Bean Casserole Lady: A Love Story


Julia Child's Soubise (Onion & Rice Casserole) ♥ Dreamy. Heavenly. Ethereal. Addictive. Yes, it's that good.

A Butternut Squash PSA (Public Service Announcement)

How to Safely Cut a Butternut Squash into Cubes and Keep All Ten Fingers, step-by-step photos ♥ Rave reviews!

Our Thanksgiving Menu. I Think.

So much depends on grocery availability, right? I'm back to using Instacart again, avoiding the crowds. And I pre-ordered chickens from Whole Foods, since we're cooking three, one for us, two for my husband's local kids.

~ Smoked Chicken ~
(weather permitting)
~ Fast Roast Chicken ~
~ How to Roast Potatoes to Perfection ~
~ Bodacious Brussels Sprouts ~
~ Turnip Puff or Rutabaga Puff ~
(rutabaga, I hope)
~ Honey Pumpkin Pie ~
(husband request!)

Thanksgiving Morning ... Keeping It 90% Make-Ahead

Overnight Coffeecake ♥, easy, adaptable coffeecake recipe, mix it the night before, bake to serve hot and fresh in the morning.

Easy Green Chile Egg Casserole ♥ No bread! Just eggs, green chiles, bits of cheese and a surprising ingredient, cottage cheese. Vegetarian. Low Carb. High Protein. Weight Watchers Friendly!

Spinach Quiche with Red Pepper & Feta, another classic spinach recipe ♥, creamy custard packed with fresh or frozen spinach in a homemade or refrigerated crust. Budget Friendly. Company Worthy.

Thinking Ahead: Thanksgiving Weekend

How to Transform Your Morning Oatmeal ♥, half steel-cut oats and half old-fashioned rolled oats cooked in part milk, part water. Great texture. Great for meal prep. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Turkey Wild Rice Casserole ♥, my long-time go-to wild rice casserole, perfect with after-Thanksgiving leftover turkey.

Soft Sandwich Rolls (NOLA-Style French Rolls) ♥, soft insides with crispy crust perfect for sandwiches of all shapes and sizes, even from the same batch.

Thinking Ahead: December

LOL this list of meal prep ideas is for those of us who don't know what to do with ourselves when we're not cooking 20 things for 20 people on Thanksgiving ...

Maple-Glazed Pecans ♥, crisp and barely sweet, add a spoonful to salads, morning oatmeal, a bowl of ice cream.

Gingerbread Granola ♥, granola all dressed up for Christmas with orange and molasses plus special spices. Lower Sugar, Bigger Flavor. Vegan. Gluten Free. Great for Meal Prep & Homemade Food Gifts.

How to Make Homemade Applesauce, another simple seasonal recipe ♥ No added sugar!

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce for the Slow Cooker ♥, the convenience of the slow cooker plus the sweet aroma of cranberries, fresh ginger and orange zest!

No-Chill Cutout Sugar Cookies ♥, just mix and roll, no need to wait. Mix and bake in under an hour.

Just Updated!

Perfect Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes (Party Potatoes) ♥, rich, fluffy mashed potatoes, perfect for parties and family gatherings.

Cranberry Apple Crisp ♥, my signature dessert during cold weather. A classic sweet apple crisp, punched up cranberries and brandy-soaked currants, bright with citrus and ginger.
  • THE RECIPE Cranberry Apple Crisp A wintry take on fall's favorite, my signature dessert during cold weather.
  • ANOTHER TAKE Extra-Crispy Apple Crisp My very own "perfect" recipe, barely sweet apples firm and tart, topped with an extra-crispy topping, thanks to a secret ingredient.

Text Me Back!

I'd love to hear from you. Comment, send me a quick e-mail via, dot-dash in Morse code, build a fire for smoke signals, launch a message in a bottle, send a Christmas letter, get the dog to yip, toss me a note wrapped in a rubberband, write a message in the sky, scratch a note in the sand, listen to a seashell, 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

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

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