thankful for do-ahead thanksgiving recipes

In ALL, ENTERTAINING, FOOD LOVE, HOLIDAYS by Stephanie Klein15 Comments

Over the past three days, I’ve received more than a handful of random requests for my cranberry sauce recipe, and for the Corn Pudding Pushover. Recipes included below, along with links to prior Thanksgivings, including last year’s video of how I planned a do-ahead Thanksgiving, not days in advance, but weeks! Lots of these are side dishes, perfect to bring to someone else’s home. In the coming days, I plan to post a lot of Thanksgiving things, from recipes and videos to tabletop plans and takeaway plans (last year, I baked Cranberry Orange Nut muffins, and wrapped them individually for guests to enjoy “the morning after”).

1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained
3 (16 ounce) cans whole cranberry sauce (not jellied)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 (16 ounce) package frozen strawberries, thawed and drained
1 (6 ounce) can mandarin oranges
Shaved apples
Orange zest (not sure how much)

In a large bowl, mix together the pineapple, cranberry sauce, walnuts and strawberries. Mix in orange zest.  Cover and chill overnight before serving in glass serving bowl.  The truth is, you can’t screw this up.  Just drain out the juice, or it will be too watery.  And if you want more mandarin oranges in it, just add them.  Everyone, EVERYONE, loves this, and it’s so damn easy.  The shaved apple idea comes from my father’s wife, Carol.  She uses McIntosh.
Open Door Policy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving 2006 was an Open-Marriage, Open-Door Thanksgiving in Austin, TX back when the beans were still guppies, swimming in my bowl. Phil deep-fried his first turkey in the backyard!

Thanksgiving 2007
Thanksgiving 2007 was in Manhasset, NY at my Dad & Carol’s pad. We were up visiting from Texas, so the grandparents could get their bean fix.
Thanksgiving 2008
Thanksgiving 2008 involved my Grandmother’s China, a deep fried turkey and a glazed ham in Texas.

Rotisserie Turkey
Thanksgiving 2009 is where the most recipes live. Including Cheesemonger’s Mac N’ Cheese

The Thanksgiving of 2009 was spent in Florida with my mama—one of the best cooks I know. She makes all holidays magical, and I LOVE that, like me, we can taste, enjoy, and analyze the meat out of any dish, knowing how we’d tinker with the recipe, what we’d add, how we’d change it, every bit of it. I wish I could spend every Thanksgiving with her. That’s what’s hard about divorce.

Thanksgiving 2010
Thanksgiving 2010 was spent in Texas, just our double knot of 4: Luke, Abs, Phil, and Moi

Generations, Thanksgiving 2011
Thanksgiving 2011 We were existing in Boca Raton, FL. My least favorite year, by far, and I was, of course, at my thinnest, size 27 J Brand jeans, size 4, looking my best, feeling my worst.  It’s just true. When I’m happy, I get fat. For the record, this year, 2013, I won’t even get on a scale, that’s just how happy I am. None of my clothes fit, but my life suits me. I am at peace, which is my best description of what success is. It’s being completely at peace. I am. I’m likely a size 10, but screw it. I’m happy. In 2011, we spent Thanksgiving at my mom’s, then after dinner, we gathered together at a tented pool reserved for our family, where we binge picked our way through desserts. Together, with all my first cousins (and their kids) we were close to twenty-five people, give or take a drumstick.

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 took a lot of planning (recipes here alone with my Do-Ahead Thanksgiving Video), fit to feed 19 people. Phil’s parents and sister, neice, my step-sister’s and their own crews, my step-mother, her brother, etc. It was the first Thanksgiving where we hosted at our house, both families, now that we moved back to New York. My theory is that if you live in the same state, you should all be celebrating together! 2012 photos here (my one regret is that I shouldn’t have had the meringue sitting out for presentation-sake. It got weepy and needed to stay cold. There are different types of meringue, some that stand at room-temperature longer than others. I need to work on this, this year). Another post soon to follow on the 2013 Thanksgiving lineup! It will surely include the recipe for these:


6 cups coarsely chopped parsnips (about 3 large)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Anjou pears, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 Tablespoon Cognac
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Place parsnips in a medium saucepan and add water to cover. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer covered until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add the pears and saute for 5 minutes. Add the Cognac and cook stirring frequently for 15 minutes.

3. Process the parsnips and pears in a food processor until smooth. Add the sour cream, allspice, and salt and pepper to taster and process just to blend. Serve immediately.

This is the best recipe for corn pudding, ever. Rave rave rave reviews each and every time. What I love most? You just dump and run, and then it’s done. Love it.

2 cans of corn kernels with juice
2 cans creamed corn
2 boxes corn muffin mix (Jiffy or Krustaez for an all natural alternative)
2 sticks of butter, melted
2 cups (1 container) sour cream

Mix all together and bake in a casserole dish at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.


  1. For years I’ve been a royal bitch about the holidays. A regular party pooper. But now that the darlings are out of the house, the parents have decided not to die right this second, and the lover is so very warm and deliciously present, I’m coming back around.

    This will be the second year in a row that we aren’t eating out, but instead are tucking in around my dining room table to enjoy life and love, peace and plenty.

    I’ll be puttering around slicing the honey baked ham, the turkey, my favorite stuffing and the best damned candied sweet potatoes you’ve ever had (with grand marnier and brown sugar). Mom will make her signature pumpkin and pecan pies and Parkerhouse rolls. Dad will pour the wine and the hot buttered rums, and – in a perfect world – all will be calm and bright.

    1. Author

      Ahem, you may not drop a bomb like that here without posting the accompanying recipe. Bring on the Sweet Potatoes Recipe you have, por favor. Also, I could squeeze you! I love that you’re warming to this holiday!

      1. Okay – here we go!

        Heavenly Sweet Potatoes

        Boil 8 palm of hand sized sweet potatoes (not yams) until fork tender. Peel and cool 1/2 hour. Marinate for 2-3 hours in:

        1 cup Grade 3 maple syrup
        1/2 cup brown sugar
        3 oz. grand marnier
        3/4 lb. butter

        Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

        Heaven – I tell ya.

        Meanwhile – tomorrow is the 23rd birthday of my first baby. How astonishing that time has gone so quickly, and that suddenly, my young precious boy is graduating cum laude from the business school, 6’6, and incredible.

        He wrote me a letter the other day for my birthday, once again thanking me for being strong and independent, for fiercely protecting him and his sisters and providing the calm, stable world they grew up in. Now he’s rejoicing that I’ve allowed someone new into my world. I loved this part:

        “mom. You’ve taught me that in an uncertain world where so much is dependent upon chance, we do have the ability to make a few important choices. We can choose whether we face the world with optimism or pessimism. We can choose whether to indulge ourselves early in life, or delay gratification with the assurance that everything will be better if we place success and effort over easy pleasures.

        Most importantly, though, we can choose who we spend our time with. The people we allow into our lives are the single most important determinant of our happiness. If we choose the wrong people, our lives become prisons. If we choose the right people, our lives open up in ways we never imagined.”


        Thanks be.

  2. The cranberry compote sounds perfect to bring to the dreaded office potluck. How do you shave the apple? into strips?

    I honestly just googled “shave an apple” and it brought up results for shaving your adams apple. vomit.

    1. Author

      Peel the apple, discard skin. Then with the veggie peeler, shave it much the way you would a carrot.

      You are going to be everyone’s fav coworker with these two things!!!

  3. Your food posts are always my favorite. :) I’m going to be making the cranberry compote and the corn pudding for sure.

  4. Love your food posts too! Looking for ideas to shake up my sprouts routine, now that my in-laws have decided they do love them after all. What I can’t believe is that I have only posted 2-3 times, but I remember all of these Thanksgivings, your wedding and the move to Austin too!

  5. Hi! Couple questions.. sorry, i know you’re prob super busy:).. About this corn pudding.. What size corn muffin box do you use? there’s an 8oz and a 15oz.. Also most recipes call for eggs so just confirming you don’t use eggs…? And lastly, what size dish do you bake this in? Seems like a lot o’ stuff but definitely sounds delish. Thank you so much! Hope you have a lovely thanksgiving! Love your books! <3

    1. Author

      You can halve the recipe and make everything 1 instead of 2 if you want less. But as it is, it feeds a bigger group with leftovers (everyone will want). No eggs! The small boxes, 8.5 oz., not the larger. I make this in an 8x8x3 (the key is that it is deep)!

  6. I think I just enlisted my friend to make the “dump and run “corn casserole for our Friendsgiving next weekend. That sounds so decadent and the recipe name made me snort out my tea. WIN! Thanks for sharing your best!

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