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What is Your Favorite Non-Foodie Thanksgiving Dish?

Everyone has those family recipes that make foodies recoil in horror, but they are the dishes that Thanksgiving would not be complete without. What are your dishes and what is the most non-foodie ingredient?

We have one of those Jello salads with cream cheese, whipped cream, crushed pinapple and lime Jello. It looks like it's from outerspace, but my father would be most unhappy if it were missing from the table.

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  1. Okay...I know I'm going to get "churched"...haha

    But seriously, what IS a foodie? I get called that all the time, I assumed it was because I want to ultimately be a chef...but now you're using it in a different context, so now I'm confused. LOL

    Thanks in advance for the clarification anyone.

    3 Replies
    1. re: akcskye

      I think examples would be the best way to explain.

      Foodie Food: Crispy Quails with Chile Jam and Three-Bean Salad
      Non-Foodie Food: Mashed Potatoes From A Box, Microwaved

      1. re: PikaPikaChick

        "BFT"
        aka.....BLACK FRIDAY TURKEY & this year it will be :

        Gram's Creamy Turkey Ragout with Pimiento Cornbread Dumplings - obviously, it's all left over from the night before transformed into a new supper, but what's left over from here goes you know where...."BFT" ('bout freakin' time) - I'm not a turkey fan & my family will not deviate from traditions; although, I must admit that the "BFT" is actually better than the actual Thanksgiving spread.

        The true Thanksgiving charm is obviously not about the turkey, but rather the long awaited weekend with close family on a slow speed setting at the beach cottage without televisions, computers & fuss - just good old-fashioned food & fun !

        1. re: PikaPikaChick

          honestly pikapika. i lol'd and even snorted a little bit when i read this. PERFECT description!

      2. We have two - both from the grandma's who are no longer with us, except at Thanksgiving!
        My husband's mother always made or brought "shrimp dip'". One bar of cream cheese and one sauci shrimp cocktail, the kind that comes in a glass jar in the refrigerator section of the grocery store - these two ingredients are pureed in a blender and served with bugles. It's getting hard to find the shrimp cocktail and the bugles but we have to have this!

        My mother made creamed onions by draining a glass jar of boiled onions and mixing them with a can of cream of celery soup (undiluted) and sprinkling on some Italian bread crumbs. These are baked when the turkey comes out to rest. My husband insists we make these every year.

        Actually there is a third item and it's mine! - stuffed mushrooms with deviled ham as the secret ingredient- but it's a secret.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ginnyhw

          Wow Ginny. My family has a dish we make that is remarkably similar. You unwrap a block of cream cheese and plop it on a plate then dump a jar of prepared cocktail sauce on top. On top of that, you drain a dump a can of baby shrimp. That's it. You don't do anything else to it but stick Triscuits in it and enjoy!

          1. re: southernitalian

            I guess my mother in law must have gotten a blender for Christmas one year and wanted to kick it up a notch!

              1. re: southernitalian

                I can't believe someone else makes this. I used to have a friend who called this "Crab Pizza". She would let the cream cheese soften, then spread it on the plate. (Funny aside: one time my now-ex saw the block of cc on the counter and put it back in the fridge. He thought he was doing her a favor.) Haven't had it since she moved away 18 yrs ago. Not sure if I miss it!

              2. re: ginnyhw

                Oh my, the memories. We totally did the cream cheese/cocktail mix and even had the bugles. I had forgotten all about these delicious cone shaped goodies until reading this. Classic.

              3. Because I am first generation, we had very little American food for Thanksgiving until I learnt to cook it myself. Instead of turkey we had tikka; instead of potatoes, we had pancit. So when I finally tried green bean casserole at a friend's Thanksgiving when I was 20, I fell in love with what was then the most exotic Thanksgiving side I had ever had. Onion rings on vegetables? What manna from heaven is this?

                29 Replies
                1. re: JungMann

                  That green Jello with pineapple concoction was a staple at our T-day dinners too. It was sliced into squares, plopped on 1 leaf of iceberg lettuce and set at each place instead of a green salad. Now that I celebrate Thanksgiving with in-laws I have offered to make it there too, but they've got plenty of their own nasty sides to contend with, and I suppose the carbophobes in the group would not care for this "too sweet" item (but the sweet potatoes paved with marshmallows are apparently OK)......

                  1. re: Cheflambo

                    my Jello-O is red, not green.
                    and my husband would be bereft if we didn't do the green bean/mushroom soup thing.
                    Thanksgiving is all about being non-foodie for a day.

                    1. re: rudysmom

                      When I was a kid and it was on my Grandmother's Thanksgiving table it was lemon jello with shredded carrots and celery.

                      I didn't get it then and I don't get it now.

                    2. re: Cheflambo

                      We also have a jello dish.. Jello, frozen berries on top of a layer of cool whip and cream cheese.. all on a crust made from pretzels and butter.

                      the other dish we just have to have around thanksgiving is called sex in a pan. it is a shortbread cookie crust, with a coolwhip and crem cheese layer, topped with chocolate pudding (Jello from the box), topped with more coolwhip.

                      (and a sercret of mine.. I add a little spam to my homemade cornbread pudding. everyone thinks it is sausage or ham....lol)

                      coconutgoddess
                      http://www.coconutgoddess.typepad.com...

                      1. re: coconutgoddess

                        Pretzel Salad! I haven't thought of that recipe in ten years! Someone always made one for all of our block parties, birthday gatherings or Wive's Club luncheons when we lived on base. I remember thinking it was the best-tasting disgusting-sounding recipe I had ever tried. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I'll have to make one soon.

                    3. re: JungMann

                      This is my favorite also. Not for the actual Thanksgiving Dinner, but for the leftovers as the side to a delicious turkey sandwich on white bread with mayo, lettuce, and a little salt. Heaven!

                      1. re: mtleahy

                        You almost have it right... '-)

                        Gummy white bread, Hellmann's/Best Foods mayo, A SLICE OF CANNED CRANBERRY JELLY, turkey, salt and pepper, with lettuce. Best eaten at 11:00pm Thanksgiving night when everyone else is watching TV or sleeping, and your olfactories have had a chance to regroup after cooking all day. For the cook, this is the great Thanksgiving dinner.

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          see i like the contrast of toasted white bread and LOTS of mayo. and lettuce and turkey. and of course leftover mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce on the side. like 2 hours after dinner. because there are some people at my house who get that "oh i can't eat another bite" thing - really? i don't have that problem so i just eat more after they leave! :)

                          1. re: Caroline1

                            Bingo!! I cook dinner for 20+ and usually dont' get to really enjoy the dinner. But I LOVE the sandwich you described. I don't include the lettuce, but love this sandwich- call it a turkey terrific, and I usually have it with some of my moms creamed cauliflower on the side.

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Oh, man! So close, yet...not quite!

                              Whole wheat bread, "Hellmann's/Best Foods mayo," cranberry jelly (fresh or canned), white meat turkey, yellow mustard, "salt and pepper, with lettuce."

                              If you *really* wanna go whole hog, add two strips of warm bacon. (Get it? "Whole hog"..."Bacon"? Heh? Heh? Heh?)

                              Stuffing slathered in gravy on the side, with more cranberry jelly on top of it, with another side of a dab of GBC or mashed potatoes with yet more gravy. BTW--*real* turkey gravy has visible pieces of hard-boiled egg white in it.

                              1. re: KenWritez

                                Swiss cheese and stuffing on mine!

                                1. re: KenWritez

                                  Never heard of (I presume) hard boiled eggs in turkey gravy. Or any kind of eggs, for that matter. But I do use the giblets in my gravy. Without giblet chunks, it ain't turkey gravy! I buy extra gizzards so I can have "giblets" in both the gravy and chopped up in the sage/bacon dressing I make from scratch. Both of which recieve a healthy dose of white vermouth to enhance flavor... (Thank you, Julia!)

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Hard boiled egg in turkey gravy is a fine old southern tradition, although it's one that always rather puzzled me. Never really saw the point, myself, but that may be because my family didn't do it.

                                    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                      My family has always done the sliced hard boiled eggs with giblets in the gravy too. Giblets also go in the cornbread dressing, I think.

                                  2. re: KenWritez

                                    I have to laugh as I read these posts-like many of you I am the TG cook and don't really take the time to enjoy my "treat" until a few hours after the main meal. Then I toast up some wheat bread, get out the Best Foods,white turkey meat,cranberry jelly, and left over stuffing. These ingredients then are lovingly portioned with almost equal amounts except for mayo. Perfection.

                              2. re: JungMann

                                JungMann, your last sentence cracked me up! I love the green bean casserole too. Also, Stove Top stuffing from the box, livened up with a little more fresh celery and onion.

                                1. re: JungMann

                                  One of my favorite (non-traditional) Thanksgiving dishes is a culinary exchange student with yours. Definitely a bastardized dish, it's Madhur Jaffrey's gujerati sem (green beans stir-fried with garlic and black mustard seeds) simmered for a couple of minutes in white sauce and sprinked with crispy fried shallots and garam masala.

                                  AFAIK the sauce takes it completely outside the realm of any traditional Indian cuisine. And fried shallots and garam masala may not appropriate to northern cooking. But the dish works as a whole, fits right in on the T-day table, and doesn't cause my midwestern in-laws to raise an eyebrow. Onion rings on vegetables?} Oh, yeah!!!

                                  1. re: JungMann

                                    >> Onion rings on vegetables? What manna from heaven is this? <<

                                    It's GBC, baby! Green Bean Casserole, one of the most famous American holiday side dishes! It's easy to make, tastes great, looks pretty, and anyone who turns their nose up at it as being "insufficently foodie" wears their underwear too tight.

                                    If you asked 10 people at random if GBC was at their Thanksgiving dinners, I'll bet at least 6-7 would say "yes."

                                    You have given me an idea, and I thank you for it: Next time I make this, I will use fresh-made onion rings, chopped, instead of the canned onions. (I still won't be able to eat more than two bites of it because of my restricted salt diet, but I love seeing other people enjoy good food.)

                                    1. re: KenWritez

                                      You'll be sorry!! Everyone will complain about the onions.

                                      1. re: yayadave

                                        I agree, the Frenchs onions are integral.
                                        My twist is frozen french cut string beans, with lots of sherry and dried exotic mushrooms presoaked in sherry.

                                        1. re: yayadave

                                          Some years ago, Cooks Illustrated did a homemade version of green bean casserole that got rid of the inedible aspects of it (canned green beans, cream of mushroom soup) and replaced them with things people would actually want to eat, like fresh green beans, real mushrooms and a proper white sauce. However, they totally kept the canned french-fried onion rings, simply because nothing else even came close.

                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                            I have a green bean frencher that I use to prepare fresh green beans for GBC. I blanch the frenched beans, drain them, and then assemble the casserole with the cream of mushroom soup and fried onions. The fresh beans really brighten up the dish!

                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                              I have celiac disease, so unfortunately, have to make my own mushroom soup and onion rings. I think my version is better than the old one, overall, but I do miss that crunch.

                                              I don't bother battering the onions, I just slice them thinly, let them sit out a while on paper-towels so they aren't too wet, and fry them in peanut oil until crispy...then salt them.

                                              I use parmesan cheese in there too. Pretty damned good but very time consuming. Still, once a year, has to be done.

                                              1. re: kitINstLOUIS

                                                If you are looking for that "crunch" that the onion rings provide, try crushed pork rinds. I know, I know, so white trash, but they offer the crunch with no flour or carbs of any kind. Mixed with your onions and parmesan cheese you will get flavor and crunch.

                                                I have also processed them in the food processor and used them to bread pork chops or even chicken when I wanted the feel of fried chicken without the flour.

                                                Desperate times call for desperate measures.

                                                1. re: gardencub

                                                  My Mom (who is a Chef) made pancakes out of Pork Rinds and said they were delicious. They are low carb evidently. Here is the recipe she used. CRAZY! Who knew these could be so versatile?

                                                  http://www.mrbreakfast.com/superdispl...

                                          2. re: KenWritez

                                            One year I made a delicious dish with green beans, shoe peg corn, onions, celery, sour cream...and my husband was crushed that there was no regulation GBC that year...I learned my lesson! And yes, I love GBC as much as anyone else!

                                            1. re: KenWritez

                                              I don't mind so much that's it's non-foodie, Ken. I mean, my idea of a great lunch when hubby's at the office and all the kids are wherever they are is a handful of Sunkist dates which I dip one-by-one into a jar of good ole Skippy. Understand the dates have utterly no purpose; they're merely the vehicle for stuffing globs of hydrogenated legumes into my mouth. Conscience is forcing me to put up with natural peanut butter these days, but it's just not the same without the added sugar, and--shhhh, don't tell--but sometimes I just have to sprinkle salt on top.

                                              So, as you can see, I'm hardly one to denigrate GBC on a technical basis, but the truth is...I just don't like the stuff. No matter who has ever prepared it, it always feels...slimy...to me.

                                              I also TRULY don't care for baked yams or sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping....even though I LOVE Marshmallow Fluff (hmmm...I should try adding that to my date/Jiffy recipe). Sometimes when I watch family and friends devour these two dishes, I feel like a changeling who was dropped off by Martians. :-D

                                              1. re: MaggieRSN

                                                Great post!! My family has been eating the same dishes at Thanksgiving for my entire life. It is a traditional meal, except- believe it or not, does not include GBC, and the sweet pototoes are always baked, then mashed and seasoned with only butter, salt and pepper. As a matter of fact, I am 53 yo and have never had either!! I think I may have to just them sometime- but I am not allowed to make them for Thanksgiving- no way I can change the menu!

                                                1. re: MaggieRSN

                                                  I'm with you Maggie on the sweet potato with marshmalllow thing. I was 28 befiore I figured out I liked sweet potatoes becuase I thought they always had to come with gobs of white goo or brown sugar and pecans. ha ha

                                              1. re: PikaPikaChick

                                                Oh yes, StoveTop Stuffing, plain or doctored, can't go wrong!

                                                1. re: blue room

                                                  so glad to be among friends. I do so love Stovetop. Fancy schmancy dressing just isn't the same

                                                2. re: PikaPikaChick

                                                  Pepperidge Farm (blue bag) stuffing made with chicken broth from a can, into which I put 1/2 pound of Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage, sliced mushrooms, butter, slivered almonds and Bells Seasoning in the yellow box. My family whines if I don't make this.

                                                  1. re: PikaPikaChick

                                                    Agree with this one. And additionally, prior to me becoming unable to eat MSG, Rice-a-Roni. I could eat a whole box for a meal.

                                                  2. Orange jello with shredded carrots, canned pineapple and walnuts.

                                                    23 Replies
                                                    1. re: doctor_mama

                                                      Another mark in the jello category...
                                                      Coke Salad- Black cherry jello, coke, pecans, pineapple, and cherries.
                                                      Only in the South would you label something like this a "salad"

                                                      However, what I really look forward to at Thanksgiving are the following days of turkey sandwiches. Turkey, fresh white rolls, brie...heat under broiler. Top with mayo and left-over cranberry relish. OMG

                                                      1. re: Honey Bee

                                                        :) Laughing at salad comment (I'm from SE Kansas orginally). So true!

                                                        Rice Salad - cooked white rice, cool whip, walnuts, red grapes...I think that's it. From grandma, of course.

                                                          1. re: stellamystar

                                                            Where in SE Kansas? I'm from Coffeyville.

                                                            "Salad" at our Thanksgiving table is Pretzel Jello.

                                                            1. re: revsharkie

                                                              Coffeyvile?? I once spent Thanksgiving with relatives in Baxter Springs and we went to a truck stop. I think that might have been a step up from other options.

                                                              1. re: miss louella

                                                                Yes, Coffeyville. There used to be a really good smorgasbord restaurant over by Riverton called the Spring River Inn. We would go over there now and then if my dad was off on Sunday. (He ran George's Cafeteria in Coffeyville from about 1972 until 1988. It's gone now. I miss it, sometimes.)

                                                              2. re: revsharkie

                                                                Pretzel Jello. Yes, my wife's elderly aunt, God rest her soul, would bring that to nearly every dinner, including Thanksgiving.

                                                                A few weeks ago, my wife got nostalgic for that dish and we didn't have the recipe. It was provided by Google, however.

                                                                My grandmother was from Galena, Kansas.

                                                            2. re: Honey Bee

                                                              LOL Honey Bee, that salad had fruit, didn't it??? ;-} (from a fellow Southerner with tons of church cookbooks with tons of similar "salads")

                                                              1. re: Honey Bee

                                                                You may be right. My mother calls this "jello mold." It's a reference to the vessel in which the mixture is chilled, not to anything that grows on its surface.

                                                                1. re: doctor_mama

                                                                  doctor_mama, we have a favorite "mold" dish, too. Shrimp mold. It's not necessarily a T-Day staple, but an all around holiday staple. Sounds awful, looks awful, but I will defend it til the day I die. Highly seasoned boiled shrimp, chopped, chopped celery, other ingredients that fail to come to mind now, all mixed together with unflavored gelatin and molded. It shows up at bridal showers and wedding receptions, too (not professionally catered ones, of course).

                                                                2. re: Honey Bee

                                                                  Wasn't Coke Salad a T-day staple at the Clinton White House? The chef was required to obtain the recipe from an Arkansan elder stateswoman and duplicate it annually for the President's holiday dinner. Much to his chagrin...

                                                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                    That sounds about right. I bought a cookbook of his favorite recipes and the Coke salad is in there.

                                                                    The jazz brunch at Clinton's musesum hosts his "favorite" desert. It's looks like uncooked brownie mix, but it is hot and extremely chocolate. It is spooned on a plate and topped with whipped cream and cherries.

                                                                  2. re: Honey Bee

                                                                    Ahh Honey Bee...Coca Cola Salad...we add chunks of cream cheese to ours. It's a staple at our house for Thanksgiving. One year, mom decided not to make it and you woulda thought she hadn't cooked anything else, from all the caterwallin from my brothers (never mind that the table was groaning under the weight of all thoe other food!). They simply couldn't enjoy Thanksgiving dinner if we didn't have my Grandmother Jessie's Coca Cola salad.

                                                                    1. re: Honey Bee

                                                                      MMMM, bing cherry jello salad...

                                                                      1. re: Honey Bee

                                                                        I wondered if someone was going to mention Coke Salad!
                                                                        This is from my BiL's family (TX), so if any of my sister's family comes over we have it. Ours is just as you decribed yours. I love it!
                                                                        We do have trouble finding the Black Cherry Jello tho & in the past few years we have had to use plain cherry. We went to countless stores in a 25 mile range.

                                                                        Where do you find the Black Cherry Jello?

                                                                        On the other hand, I don't think my family had any unusual Thanksgiving items. Oh wait . . . I guess having Oyster Dressing and Rice Dressing and Cornbread dressing and Herb Dressing might be considered unusual. These are 4 separate dressings, not one! We are from New Orleans.

                                                                        1. re: Isabella

                                                                          We have relatives bring or ship Black Cherry Jello from Utah since we can't find it in CA. My favorite is a lime jello with pears and cream cheese with whipped cream folded in. It's soft and silky like a mousse and doesn't hold its shape like a traditional jello salad

                                                                          1. re: Isabella

                                                                            If you can't find the Black Cherry Jello - use regular cherry jello and then use DR PEPPER instead of Coke...tastes pretty good actually!

                                                                          2. re: Honey Bee

                                                                            Coke salad? O, hurt me! This sounds incredible! See, this is what I get for my parents not moving to the South and parking in California instead.

                                                                            Do you substitute Coke for all the water?

                                                                          3. re: doctor_mama

                                                                            Another jell-o vote from a Utahn by birth. My mom makes a layered salad with four different flavors of jell-o, splitting each batch in half and mixing one half with some sour cream to create an opaque pastel layer for each color. The salad takes hours to make because you have to let each one set before you can pour the next, but it makes a pretty spectacular (and sort of campy) presentation of an 8 layered rainbow salad. I made this salad for friends last Thanksgiving and added vodka shots to the layers. It was that much more spectacular.

                                                                            1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                              Molly - I assume by your screen name you are Mormon, so I have a question for you..In Jeffrey Steingarten's book he talks on and on about how good Mormons are at baking amazing fruitcakes around the holiday season. Is there a specific reason for your delicious fruitcake? Or, do you think he writes about an isolated incident?

                                                                              1. re: stellamystar

                                                                                I'm not Mormon any more (see vodka in the jello) but I was raised Mormon in a small town in Utah that's heavily Mormon and my family is still practicing. But I've never actually had fruitcake nor see a recipe in any of my Mormon cookbooks. Doesn't fruitcake typically involve alcohol? If so, then I'm guessing that it was an isolated incident. Which book of Steingarten's? I'd be interested to read about it.

                                                                                1. re: mollyomormon

                                                                                  It's The Man Who Ate Everything, and he specifies that the fruitcake his wife's relatives made contained no alcohol. Great book.

                                                                                  1. re: lissar

                                                                                    I'm flying to Utah tomorrow so I'll be sure to ask around while I'm there!