Last-minute, red-button Thanksgiving recipe post.


So. I had all these grand plans to make you White Castle stuffing, and bacon-basket potatoes, and vegan sides last week.

And then life just got away from me.

Also: I caught a nasty, nasty cold that makes me sound like someone’s stuffed fiberglass insulation into my sinuses.

But for those of you still in need of some last-minute recipe ideas, I’ve pulled a few from friends who have graciously allowed me to share them with you.

This first one is from my friend Sherrie, whose own skills in the kitchen are nothing to sneeze at. This particular recipe is a subject of great debate at Thanksgiving, as there are, literally, too many cooks in the kitchen.

The Kluesner Women’s Random Modification of a 1940s Carnation Milk Cookbook Cranberry Salad


So, my mom was either busy (likely) or hasn’t checked her gmail lately (also likely). So I went on a hunt through my cookbook collection to try and jog my memory.

In one of the many church compilation cookbooks ala fundraisers, I found a similar recipe. (Am I the only one who has tons of these? Midwestern gal, easy Christmas gift? No? Just me, then?)

From my aunt. My mother’s younger sister. Hmmmm.

Suspicious, I dug into the cookbooks I inherited from my grandmother. My maternal grandmother. And on page 38 of a cookbook I no longer own the cover to, I discovered Molded Raw Cranberry Salad.

Ah, the 1940s. They knew how to name dishes, didn’t they?

It is essentially my Grandmother Kluesner’s cranberry recipe, which my mother makes every year, with her own modifications. I help. And modify. Or ruin, depending on your perspective.

What you need:

  • 2 c. raw cranberries
  • 1 c. cold water
  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • Juice of one lemon (hey, this is in the original, and it would make it TONS better)
  • 1/2 c. chopped walnuts. (My mom chunks them. I chop them fairly fine. This is a point of contention. My sister generally tries to stay out of it.)
  • 1 c. chopped celery (I leave this out. I love celery, but ew. No. This is another point of contention.)
  • 1 c. chopped seedless grapes, white (I put this in instead of the celery. My mom adds it as an extra.)
  • 1 c. chopped raw apples. I prefer Jonagold if I can get them. My mom doesn’t care. Whatever is on sale. We chop them into 1/4 inch chunks. Not super-fine, but not super-chunky, either. How’s that for technical?
  • 2 peeled oranges, chunked, save 1/2 of the peels, chopped fine. (That’s my aunt’s addition. We may have to try the peel thing this year.)

Here’s the land of dispute:

You will need either:

  • 1 package orange Jell-O (my aunt) OR
  • 1 package cranberry Jell-O (my mother) OR
  • 1 package plain gelatine (me)


  • 1 c. hot water

And there’s a variation that includes marshmallows. Don’t. Trust me, don’t go there. EW.

  1. Dump the cranberries in a food processor or blender and chop to a fine, granular texture. Chop everything else, if you haven’t already.
  2. Pour 1 c. of cold water in bowl. Add in whichever gelatine mix you picked into the water, add 1 c. hot water, and stir until dissolved.
  3. Aside: I am actually not allowed to make the Jell-O. I am a foodie at heart, I make all sorts of complicated recipes, but I screw up Jell-O every time. This is legendary in my family. And my in-laws’ family.  I truly make a gooey mess, even when I follow the instructions. Jell-O does not like me. My sister or my daughter generally makes the Jell-O part. If I do it, the recipe is doomed. DOOOO-mmmmmeeeddddd.
  4. Add lemon juice to Jell-O mix. Set aside.
  5. Mix cranberries, walnuts, grapes, apples and oranges and peel. (Hey, lemon peel might be good too. See how it morphs over time?)
  6. Stir in the sugar. Mix the fruit/nut/sugar mix into the Jell-O bowl. Stir well.
  7. Here’s the 1940s part: “Place salad in individual molds and let congeal in the refrigerator. Serve in lettuce cups.”
  8. Here’s reality: We do this the night before, stick it in the downstairs fridge, and we divide into two bowls to let it set better. If we forget to divide it, we have cranberry/nut soup the next day. (This is still good, but a bummer for the people who want gelled cranberries.)

Next, we come to my friend Leslie Dombalis, who’s wonderful and smells like daisies. (Her grandmother is, apparently, not so cool, but her food is fine.)

Swedish Tea Ring



  • 2 C hot milk
  • 12-20 cardamom seeds or 1 T vanilla
  • 1 C sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 C butter
  • 7 to 8 cups flour
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 packs dry yeast

Combine milk, sugar, butter and salt. Cool to luke warm. Dissolve the yeast as directed on package in a small amount of warm water. Add to milk mixture. Beat in flavoring and eggs. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough; put rest on bread board. Turn the dough out and make it your bitch aka knead in enough flour so that the dough is not sticky, but be sure not to add too much. Place in a buttered bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled. Punch down and let rise again. This amount of dough will make 2 tea rings.

Tea Ring:

Take half the dough and roll it into a rectangle. Brush liberally with melted butter and sprinkle with brown or white sugar (be heavy-handed about it), currants, raisins, dried cranberries, whatever you want. (My mother always uses pecans and raisins; I prefer chopped orange peel and cranberries.) Roll up the dough long ways to make a ring, tuck the edges under and seal. Place on well-greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Make cuts in the dough with scissors, about 1 inch apart, but do not cut all the way through. Lay each layer on its side. Let rise, then bake at 375 roughly 45 min. DO NOT OVER BAKE.

If you’d rather make cinnamon rolls, cut all the way through your ring. Frost if you want.

Ghio Family Cornbread Stuffing/Dressing (transcribed directly from my racist-ass grandmother’s cookery book.)


You will need:

  • 1 8×8 pan or so of cornbread, usually made the day before. Use the recipe on the box.
  • 1 lb sausage
  • 2 med onions chopped fine
  • 2 sticks of celery chopped fine
  • 6 cups celery leaves chopped fine
  • 1 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C chopped pecans
  • 1 C oysters

Put a small amount of oil or butter (2 or 3 T) in a skillet with celery, leaves and onions. Cook over low heat until transparent or white looking. Crumble cornbread and mix (using your hands) with raw sausage. Add cooled celery/onion mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. This can be done the night before, just be sure to refrigerate over night.

I usually put the neck & giblets in a pan of water to cook the night before, covered with a little salt and simmered for a few hours. The next day, when you stuff the bird, you can use a little juice to moisten the dressing. Then when you make the dressing balls, grease the pan you put them in and pour a little of the giblet juice (hehehee) over them. The rest can be used in the gravy along with the cut-up giblets, if you wish. Bake with the bird.

Sweet Potato Casserole


  • 2 C sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 C white sugar
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange extract
  • 2 T flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 C melted butter
  • Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425. Mix it all together, pour into a 4-6 cup casserole dish, bake until set. Make topping.


  • 1 C crushed gingersnaps
  • 1/4 melted butter
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (the ratio of spices in the next recipe is perfect)

Mix all this stuff together. Sprinkle over top of COOKED casserole and return to oven to brown for 10-15 minutes.

And this final one is from one of my favorite food nerd friends, Mehgan. I DO NOT APPROVE OF THE SEASONED STUFFING MIX, but if you’re worried about it at this point, you have bigger problems than toasting your own bread.

Harvest stuffing:


  • 1 bag seasoned stuffing mix (I know, blasphemy…but that’s how it’s done in my mom’s house)
  • 2 packages ground pork sausage (country or sage is best. We use jones brand, not sure if you have that over there).
  • 4 sticks celery, chopped (add in the leafy parts from the inside too – don’t be wasteful)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 green or other tart apple chopped
  • 1 package fresh cranberries, sliced in half
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2c Chicken or turkey stock (better be homemade)
  • 1 part Rosemary, 2 parts thyme and 2 parts sage, chopped
  1. Empty stuffing mix into large bowl.
  2. Brown sausage in big pan. Once done, move to large bowl.
  3. Sauté veggies in big pan, in sausage grease (yum). Once softened and onions are barely translucent, add to large bowl.
  4. Add apples and cranberries to large bowl. Let cool a bit before finishing up.
  5. Mix with hands until mostly homogenous. Yes, hands. It is more fun and effective!
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix to combine.
  7. Add stock, 1/4 c at a time, until moist but not wet. (See cooking notes below for adjustments).
  8. Add chopped spices as needed, mixing to incorporate, until the mixture is quite fragrant with spicy goodness. If you can’t smell the spices, you need more.

If baking outside of bird or in casserole dish by itself, add all the liquid. Bake for an hour at the same temp of turkey.

Or, if spatchcocking the bird, as is now law in my house, reserve 1/2 to 1c of the stock. Spread stuffing in the middle of 2 sheet pans. Place baking rack on top of one pan. Turkey goes on top of that, and try to keep all stuffing covered by turkey (to prevent burning). yummy turkey drippings add bonus flavor to stuffing while cooking in oven.

Here’s the tricky part: Remove pan 1 halfway through turkey cooking, and swap out for pan 2 to finish out the turkey cooking process. Pan 1 will need to be brought up to internal temp of 150 though, before serving, to ensure no extended guest stays in bathroom. Not bad when you have a double oven, but might be a deal breaker for some. A pain, yes. Worth it? Completely.

Good luck over the next few days, guys. And happy Thanksgiving!




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