The Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner

The Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner | www.kiwiandbean.comT minus 6 days until my Christmas guests arrive for a big roasted turkey and all the trimmings. This is only the second time ever that I will be hosting and cooking a Christmas dinner. I am very lucky to have some highly competent Christmas dinner cookers in my family (Mom, Irene, Susan and Mary I’m talkin’ about YOU!) and for most of my adulthood I have let them do the cooking while I eat spinach dip and play charades. But this year, it’s all me.

Now here’s the thing about all this: while I’m happy to do the planning, cooking and shopping for the big meal, I still want to eat spinach dip and play charades, darn it! I want to sit by the fire with a glass of champagne and some jingle bells. I do NOT want to be madly whisking lumps out of the gravy while everyone else is kissing under the mistletoe.

Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |

Enter the Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner. Well, not the actual dinner, but the formula to create it. Reminiscent of the intense nerd-dom that is my Summer Barbeque Menu Matrix, the idea here is that everything—even the turkey, if you can believe it—is cooked before your guests arrive, so that it need only be warmed up and brought to the table when your guests are ready for dinner.

Too good to be true? Maybe a little bit. Doing it this way makes for more work in the days leading up to the big meal, yes. And you need to have your organizational wits about you, and possibly even defend your own nerd-dom from doubting family members. BUT when you are egg-nogging it at 3 p.m. on Christmas day, you will thank me. I promise.

Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |

So without further ado, here is the (1) menu, (2) recipes, and (3) prep and cooking schedule for the Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner. It will serve about 8 people, but can be adjusted to serve more or less if necessary.
Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |


5-7 days before Christmas:

  • Order the turkey (about 2 pounds of uncooked meat per person).
  • Take an inventory of your pantry staples and make a list of what you need to buy.
  • Buy the groceries.
  • Make the cake and throw it into the freezer.

3 days before Christmas:

  • Make the cranberry sauce and refrigerate in a pretty serving dish.

2 days before Christmas:

  • Pick up the turkey.
  • Make the goat cheese/spinach dip and refrigerate in an oven-proof casserole dish.
  • Prep all the vegetables: cauliflower, parsnips, carrots, onions/vegetables for the stuffing, brussels sprouts, kale.
  • Make the salad dressing for the kale salad.

The day before Christmas:

  • Make the stuffing and refrigerate in a large oven proof casserole dish.
  • Make the Cauliflower, Carrot, Parsnip Puree, and refrigerate.
  • Cook the turkey; carve into large portions and refrigerate (Yup, I’m totally serious). Use the turkey drippings to make the gravy.
  • Prepare the kale salad (minus the avocado, apple and dressing, which should be added about 1/2 hour before serving) and refrigerate in a pretty salad bowl.
  • Whip the cream for the cake, and throw it into the fridge (yes, you can totally whip cream in advance).

Vegan Gluten-Free Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

Christmas day:

  • In the morning: remove the cake from the freezer and leave on the counter to defrost.
  • In the afternoon: remove the cranberry sauce from the fridge and leave it on the counter to come to room temperature. Roast the brussels sprouts and transfer to an oven-proof serving dish.
  • Just before the guests arrive: bake the goat cheese spinach dip and serve with crackers and cut veg.
  • Before dinner: In the oven, warm up the turkey (instructions here) and brussels sprouts, and bake the stuffing. On the stove, reheat the Cauliflower/Carrot/Parsnip Puree and then transfer to a serving dish. Add the avocado and apple to the kale salad and toss the salad with dressing. Reheat the gravy in the microwave. Transfer everything to the table.
  • After dinner: serve the cake topped with whipped cream.

Ultimate Make-Ahead Turkey Dinner |

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20 Healthy Holiday Treats (and some news!)

20 Healthy Holiday Treats

Ok, so before I get into the cookies and stuff, can I just drop all humility for a moment and share with you some really amazing, totally overwhelming news? The 2014 Canadian Weblog Awards announced their winners last night, and…WE WON! This seems like the perfect time for a big fat OMG! That’s right, (Cooking for) Kiwi & Bean took first prize in the Food & Drink category and second prize in the Family & Parenting category. Holy wow.

Guys, I started this blog a couple of years ago having no idea how to design and build a blog or take a food photo (like honestly, my photography skills were cringe-worthy at best). I started it as a creative outlet from my long lawyering days and  to spare my poor friends the daily “Guess What I Made for Dinner!!” emails. There have been (many) days when I’ve asked myself whether it’s REALLY worth the time and soul-baring embarrassment, when I’ve shed a few (or lots) of tears over 759 spam comments, hacked files, recipe fails and accidentally-deleted photos, and when I’ve considered just packing it all in and taking up stamp-collecting.

But today is definitely not one of those days. I am honoured, chuffed and totally thrilled that two years in, I can call this (mostly) happy little corner of cyberspace my *award-winning* food blog. Squee!

And now onto the stuff you actually came here to read:  Continue Reading →

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Good-for-Ya Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

Gingerbread craving? Satisfy it with this good-for-ya (and gluten-free and vegan!) Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake. It’s moist, sweet, gingery and studded with dark chocolate, but secretly healthy and nutrient dense, thanks to the sweet potatoes, buckwheat flour, flaxseed, olive oil and blackstrap molasses.

Vegan Gluten-Free Gingerbread Chocolate Chip Cake

I have finally—albeit reluctantly—made peace with December-dom. I could have sworn that labour day was, um, last week. And I refuse to put my flip flops away for the season, despite Kiwi’s frustrated pleas. But there are flashing lights on my house and a gargantuan Christmas tree in my living room. So ya, December—it’s officially on. Continue Reading →

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What’s Cooking on the Web (November edition)

Miami |

I considered titling this post “How to Get Drunk in 12 Minutes” or “Sleeping in until 8:30 a.m. for Beginners” or maybe “The Joy of Peeing Without an Audience”. Kiwi and I took a well-deserved little mini-break down to Miami Beach last weekend, and temporarily reconnected with our pre-children selves.

Miami |

I wish I could say that the highlight of the trip was strolling hand in hand on the white sand or sipping cold drinks next to the pool, but honestly I couldn’t get past the sleeping and solo bathrooming. Oh, and the plane ride. The PLANE RIDE. If you’ve ever flown across the country on your own with two small children one of whom inevitably has to pee as soon as the other one falls asleep (and I happen to have done this *six* times since April), you will appreciate how blissful it is to get on a plane BY. YOURSELF. With a small purse, a cappuccino and a copy of In Touch magazine. Bliss. Continue Reading →

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Jackson Pollock Popcorn, and a Butter Baked Goods Giveaway

I’m taking a little break from all the kale and beans and sweet potatoes this week to bring you this dark-chocolate-drizzled caramel popcorn.

Jackson Pollock Popcorn |

Let me be clear—there is nothing healthy about this popcorn. No hidden veggies or pureed legumes or anything of the sort. But that didn’t stop me and my ecstatic three year old from shoving the whole darn batch down our sugar-deprived pie-holes. (Which is an awfully graphic and unpleasant image, I realize. Sorry.) Continue Reading →

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Black Bean Sweet Potato Chocolate Fudge Bars

These  dense, creamy, fudgy brownie bars are vegan, gluten-free and refined-sugar free, and packed with the goodness of sweet potato and black beans. Healthy never tasted so good, my friends.

Black Bean Sweet Potato Chocolate Fudge Bars |

If there is one thing I have learned in my three years of cooking for a small person: no matter how much you push the healthy food and no matter how delicious you make it taste and appetizing you make it look, your kids will want chocolate. You can tell them that too much chocolate will give them tummy aches or torrent diarrhea; you can talk up the “sugar bugs” that will take up residence in their teeth; and you can hide mommy’s dark chocolate stash on the top pantry shelf behind the millet crackers. But all this will very likely make them want the chocolate even more desperately. It’s just one of those hair-pulling immutable parenting truths. Continue Reading →

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Easy Chicken, Kale & Goat Cheese Enchiladas

Easy Chicken, Kale & Goat Cheese Enchiladas |

Enchiladas were in my dinner blind spot until a year or so ago when I randomly decided that they would be the perfect way to use up some leftover roast chicken. And in my typical go big or go home style, we have probably eaten them just about once a week since then. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Warm, cheesy, comforting, and easy to prepare with basic pantry staples, these Easy Chicken, Kale & Goat Cheese Enchiladas are sure to become a weekly fixture on your menu too. Continue Reading →

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Pasta with Butternut Squash & Smoked Paprika (from Dinner: The Playbook)

I am talking about dinner ruts today. And I realize you are probably thinking: “Ha! Girlfriend has a FOOD blog. What the heck does she know about dinner ruts?” Dinner: The Playbook | But before I had a food blog, I had a really stressful desk job that kept me in the office 12, sometimes 14, hours per day. Kiwi did too. Our refrigerator was a graveyard for good intentions: wilted parsley, expired eggs, rotting apples. We dutifully stocked up on fresh groceries each week, as though they might magically turn into the Braised Short Ribs on Slow-cooked Polenta I had bookmarked in my Internet browser. And guess what? They never did. Instead, we ate dinner at our desks or frozen pizza in front of our television. I am embarrassed to admit that I once bought TEN (yes 10) of the same frozen pizzas because they were on sale for $3.99 a pop. To say we were in a “dinner rut” is probably an over-generous use of the word “dinner,” but let’s go with it. No doubt, however, that it was a rut of gargantuan proportions. Continue Reading →

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What’s Cooking on the Web (October Edition)

What's Cooking on the Web - October Edition

Can we just press pause for a moment and reflect on the fact that it is October 30th today. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED? Where did October go? Not to mention September and August. Am I allowed to swear on here? Shit, shit, shit. I have this really cruddy sense of dread over the impending winterdom. Kiwi says I have to stop being so depressive about it all, but really it seems like just yesterday that I was shovelling snow and desperately looking forward to summer, and bam! summer is done, fall is half done too, and there are Christmas decorations at Target. Boo. Hoo. Hoo. Continue Reading →

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Cooking for Beansprout, Part 4: 20 Baby-Led Weaning Breakfast Ideas

I hope you are all enjoying this Cooking for Beansprout series! I’m trying to make it as useful and un-boring as possible, so if you have any ideas for content, suggestions for improvement, etc. I would LOVE to hear from you in the comments below or by email (

Also, please share photos of your babes eating these recipes! I have already received several pictures and they are SO cute and so inspiring. Keep ‘em coming! You can send them by email ( or tag me on Facebook, Instagram (@kiwiandbean) or Twitter (@kiwiandbean).

Onto today’s post: 20 baby-led weaning breakfast ideas. Continue Reading →

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