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Your Most Nontraditional Thanksgiving Dish or Dessert

I'm always on the lookout for something new and interesting for Thanksgiving. I think there would be a serious revolt if I didn't serve my turkey, gravy, and dressing. I think my best option is an interesting side dish or dessert to add a little pizzazz. What do you serve?

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  1. A friend of mine makes this cranberry relish with jalapenos, and apparently it's become a big family favorite. Maybe worth a shot? http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/201...

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChristinaMason

      Thanks for posting that, it's right up my alley and I usually buy and freeze a lot of fresh cranberries through the fall to use later.

    2. I make a spinach and gorgonzola "soufflé" that is one of my favorite Thanksgiving sides. I got the recipe from my sister years ago.

      18 Replies
        1. re: foodslut

          Yes it does! Can you post the recipe?

          1. re: chloebell

            Here you go:

            Spinach & Gorgonzola Casserole

            1 10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, undrained

            1 16 oz. container small curd cottage cheese

            4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (1 cup)

            ½ c. butter, melted

            3 T. flour

            5 large eggs, beaten to blend

            Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 6 to 8 cup soufflé dish. Place spinach in large bowl, mix in cottage cheese, Gorgonzola, melted butter, and flour. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add eggs and stir til blended. Transfer to prepared dish. Bake until spinach is set in the center, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or room temperature.

            1. re: tcamp

              That sounds great. I may have to give that a try before thanksgiving.

              1. re: tcamp

                Nice; I'll be trying this! Dumb question, but does "undrained" mean you remove the excess liquid, or not?

                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                    Right, keep the liquid - it goes into the dish.

                    1. re: tcamp

                      OK, thanks. I thought so, but I asked because some people use "unpeeled" to mean "peeled" and it can get confusing :) I thought maybe this was the same.

                      1. re: ChristinaMason

                        But, Christina "unpeeled" ALWAYS means NOT peeled . Do not let anyone confuse you on this. If someone told you otherwise they made a mistake.

                        1. re: MazDee

                          I agree, and wish people would use the terms consistently :)

                  2. re: tcamp

                    This is definitely going on my list. I may do a test run this weekend.

                    1. re: tcamp

                      It's in the oven!!!! I can't wait to try it.

                        1. re: tcamp

                          I think I may actually break tradition and add this to my Thanksgiving menu. My husband is on a gorgonzola kick lately, and he does love creamed spinach. This sounds a step or two above. I am thinking of subbing ricotta for the cottage cheese though, just to keep things Italian!

                          1. re: coll

                            It was very good! The only thing I'm going to change is making it in 3 smaller dishes.....hubby liked the crust on the edges it made.

                            Overall, it's a keeper for sure!!!!

                          2. re: tcamp

                            I just got spinach and blue cheese to make this :)

                            1. re: ChristinaMason

                              Can't wait to hear how this is... it's a pretty inexpensive recipe to boot!

                              1. re: gingershelley

                                Yeah, I hope the cheese is still good. I haven't made it yet! I will aim for this weekend.

                1. Cabbage rolls--traditional at most Eastern European celebrations... and potato salad (Olivier in Russian, "French salad" in other countries).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foodslut

                    How funny you say that. I'm of (half) Ukranian decent and cabbage rolls are always on the table for the big family meals. Mrs. Sippi, as you can imagine, is Southern and their TG table is full of great Southern dishes. She keeps saying, "Nothing says Thanksgiving like cabbage rolls." Then snickers. She doesn't get it when I say "I'm sure in Eastern Europe nothing says Thanksgiving like Sweet Potato Casserole." Then snicker.

                    So anyway, part of my point is, what one region finds traditional may be very non traditional in another.


                  2. Lately, since I've been able to get cheap lobsters in the late fall, Mom has requested Lobster Thermador. In a way, I suppose an argument could be made that lobster is a truly old fashioned Thanksgiving ingredient, but I don't see it on many tables these days.

                    Raw oysters with freshly grated horseradish are another common offering for our family.

                    Last year, we had to forego these extra dishes due to the Hurricane. Now, this year Mom wants to know if I could maybe make fish tacos for my Brother's kids.

                    My personal favorite Thanksgiving eat, however, is the deep fried turkey livers that I try to hide from the crowd.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: MGZ

                      I do agree lobster and oysters were at the first feast...
                      probally some smoked fish as well

                      1. re: girloftheworld

                        Now, girl, lets not you and I get in the way of the myths that have made this Country so exceptional, ok?

                        1. re: MGZ

                          No way! Green bean casserole and crescent rolls were totally at the first Thanksgiving.

                    2. Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

                      I home grown and smoke dry my own chipoltes. They are not in an adobo sauce. I grind them into powder.

                      Saute chopped onion in a generous amount of butter. Add chipotle powder, brown sugar and some molassas. Toss in large chunks of sweet potato and stir to coat. Roast at 375 until tender, about 45 minutes or so.

                      15 Replies
                      1. re: chileheadmike

                        I do a similar dish with cream rather than brown sugar and molasses, but plenty of chipotles. Sweet potatoes are peeled and sliced to about 1/4 inch, same baking time.
                        Also, a sexy turkey stuffing/dressing helps. I include oysters and chestnuts, and one year I added fresh huitlacoche and it was a big hit.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          I have also made a sweet potato gratin with cream and chipotle - it is one of my favorite things EVER!

                          1. re: Veggo

                            I'm definitely trying that out. So you sauté onions then add the sliced potatoes, cream, and chipotle? How much cream and chipotle? Fresh or powdered chipotle? Thanks!

                            1. re: tcamp

                              I blend a couple canned chipotles in adobo with a little of their sauce in my little chopper and combine it with a pint of heavy cream, then pour the cream- chipotle mixture on layers of 1/4 inch sweet potato slices, usually about 4 layers, in a glass baking dish. I don't use onions, sometimes some toasted pecan pieces for another flavor and texture, then bake covered with foil.
                              chiliheadmike's recipe above with onions and brown sugar is a little different.

                                1. re: tcamp

                                  Similar, but different, is this butternut squash and poblano casserole; I made this a few years ago to have something 'different', and it was a huge hit with my family - esp. sister-in-law who is a vegetarian - this is her T-day entreé now!


                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                    That sounds great! Last year I made a butternut squash, leek, and apple gratin that was a big hit.

                                    1. re: 512window

                                      That sounds awesome! Recipe source?

                                      1. re: 512window

                                        My SIL made one similar to this, and she added blue cheese. MIghty tasty!

                                      2. re: gingershelley

                                        This looks divine! I'm going to the store tomorrow & get the ingredients!

                                        1. re: gingershelley

                                          I made this last Thursday. AWESOME!!!! It's now on our menu. Thanks!!

                                        1. re: Veggo

                                          This is how I make mine as well. Have also added some lime zest. Always well received. It's always fun to see this devoured by people who say they don't like sweet potatoes.

                                          1. re: Pwmfan

                                            Important for anyone who will try it for the first time - a couple canned chipotles, NOT a couple CANS of chipotles! I think we blew a few fuses when this recipe was first shared here some years ago...

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              Nyleve is the one that shared that recipe first, as I remember. I did the whole can too, live and learn. But with ONE chipotle pepper it is perfect.

                                              The hot stuff I portioned out and added to soup and Indian dishes until it was gone, sometime in the spring I think.

                                  2. When my grandmother was still around, she was not particularly enamored with American food, so we added Asian touches to most of the side dishes to suit her. Cranberry sauce was made with ginger, orange rind and sambal. Green beans were stir fried with eggplant, ginger and garlic and finished off with miso and red curry paste. And of course we had copious rice, fresh spring rolls and, if there was time, sweet potato and bean sprout fritters with fried shrimp.

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      JungMann, this not only sounds incredible, but it's a wonderful way to take traditional items and adjust them to something your grandmother would have enjoyed. Thank you for sharing this!

                                      1. re: JungMann

                                        Ooh, do you have a recipe for the sweet potato and bean sprout fritters?

                                        1. re: sandylc

                                          They're called ukoy. Variations abound on the internet but at its most basic it consists of mixing one shredded sweet potato (or winter squash) with 1 1/2 c. bean sprouts (you want just a bit more than the shredded yam/squash/sweet potato) and seasoning with salt or fish sauce, a couple minced garlic cloves, pepper and a teaspoon of annatto water. If you want to add chopped tofu for a little meaty texture or shredded carrots or napa cabbage, feel free to be creative.

                                          Once you've settled on your ingredients and combined them, they are mixed with a light batter consisting of a beaten egg, 1/2 c flour, 1/2 c cornstarch, 1/2 tsp. baking powder and just enough water to loosen the mixture. When everything is combined, you need only spoon out a couple tablespoon rounds of the mixture into a pan of hot oil. While the tops are still wet, press a whole shrimp into the top. While the bottoms cook, the shrimp will set in place, which is when you can flip the fritters. Cook until golden brown.

                                          The fritters should have crunchy, lacy edges and satisfyingly meaty middles where the shrimp and sweet potatoes have settled. I've thought about making these even lighter by using rice flour and soda to make a tempura batter, but as written, they're still great with hot chili vinegar or a squeeze of lemon.

                                              1. re: JungMann

                                                So, basically, non-kosher, Asian flavored latkes. They sound delicious!

                                                1. re: tcamp

                                                  That's a perfect description of most ukoy, but I prefer a much lighter fritter. Makes it that much easier to eat more than one. The chef at New York's Purple Yam, arguably America's most famous Filipino chef, makes ukoy the same way, with wispy edges and a tempura-weight batter, which you can see in the linked picture.


                                                2. re: JungMann

                                                  That sounds like a great 'T-day" appetizer - thanks JM!

                                                  1. re: JungMann

                                                    That sounds really good - thanks!

                                                3. re: JungMann

                                                  cranberry sauce with sambal sounds excellent!

                                                4. We stick close to tradition, but with a spin. Side dishes like Brussels sprouts roasted with bacon and walnuts, cauliflower roasted with lemon and Parmesan or green beans caesar instead of the traditional casserole.

                                                  1. I don't eat beef or turkey so we make baked salmon. Crushed garlic spread on top of the fillet, sometimes dill, followed by mayonnaise. Baked/broiled til cooked and brown. It's sounds funky but it's pretty good. I eat it like that but my mom serves it with fish sauce mixed with calamansi (lemon, kind of).

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: youareabunny

                                                      I'll go with Spaghetti Carbonara, as per Calvin Trillin's explanation of what was really on the menu at the first Thanksgiving. http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/11/ca...

                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                        Thanks, that was a fun read, and I'm with you! Hmmm, but with turkey and dressing on the side.

                                                    2. I like to bring lemon bars for dessert as a change of pace from pies. They are usually well received and gobbled up.

                                                      8 Replies
                                                      1. re: Marylandmama

                                                        That's a good idea for those too stuffed for a slice of pie!

                                                        1. re: Marylandmama

                                                          They would be well received in this household! What a great idea.

                                                          1. re: Marylandmama

                                                            That's a great idea! After such a heavy meal, this would be a nice light finish.

                                                            1. re: Marylandmama

                                                              I love me a lemon bar! After a slice of pecan pie, that would be my go to...

                                                              1. re: Marylandmama

                                                                I make either double lemon bars (zest in the crust) or Earl Grey lemon bars. Always a hit!

                                                                1. re: Marylandmama

                                                                  Earl Grey lemon bars, oh MY! Please, please share a recipe!

                                                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                    It's the recipe from Cooking Light--will pop right up on Google. I make the crust a little thinner than they call for. The double lemon bar recipe is on epicurious. Enjoy!

                                                              2. We ducked out of family obligations last year and barbequed a leg of lamb marinated in za'atar, olive oil, garlic and lemon last year and made a big Middle Eastern spread to accompany it. Just the two of us at home. :) Hoping to repeat it this year, we enjoyed it so much more than the "traditional" fare and the company was excellent!

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                  if you are interested in a guest list, please consider inviting my family ;)

                                                                  1. re: rmarisco

                                                                    It made enough for an army so we enjoyed it all weekend. :)

                                                                  2. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                    We also often have lamb for Thanksgiving. Every 4-5 years my kids beg for a "traditional" meal, and then after say that we should go back to be being nontraditional. Except for pies - we have to have pies every year and then they get them for breakfast the day after too.

                                                                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                      This sounds like my ideal Thanksgiving, weezie!

                                                                      1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                        That my make my list this year... Thanks.

                                                                      2. I make a huge salad-massage chiffonaded kale with lemon juice and olive oil, lots of super thin sliced raw fennel and celery, cubes of roasted butternut squash, toasted pumpkin seeds and a pretty sprinkle of the fennel fronds and pomegranate seeds, drizzled olive oil, fresh pepper and salt. A nice fresh palate cleanser to some of the more fatty and starchy sides

                                                                        We make grandma's signature shrimp dip since she is no longer with us...:(. Its a mix of boiled small fresh "salad shrimp" with cream cheese, some sour cream and a half packet of onion soup mix-served with well toasted white bread, no crusts and each slice cut into four triangles. Good stuff.

                                                                        1. Pinot Noir Cranberry Sauce. It has chinese 5 spice, ginger and cumin and the taste is a great foil for turkey and all the trimmings.


                                                                          1. Sauerkraut...FANTASTIC with turkey!

                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                                                Just heat it up and serve it plain. It's really good in a bite with turkey/potatoes/gravy. Kind of balances all that heaviness with something tangy.

                                                                              2. re: jbsiegel

                                                                                Are you from Maryland? Kraut is always around for holiday turkey!

                                                                                1. re: bugablue13

                                                                                  My family is...

                                                                                  Kraut and succotash...gotta have 'em!

                                                                              3. Thanksgiving, three years ago, we overdosed on turkey. Two years ago we had Thanksgiving steak dinner. The only traditional item on the table that year was pumpkin pie.

                                                                                Last year was turkey with our traditional sides and dessert--stuffing, yams, homemade cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

                                                                                This year I'm hankering for either roast beef with mashed potatoes and gravy or sloppy Joes, coleslaw, and French fries.

                                                                                1. pumpkin risotto.

                                                                                  a Paula Wolfert recipe for squid in its own ink and braised greens.

                                                                                  duck stewed in red wine with collards and cornmeal spoon bread.

                                                                                  pomegranate sorbet.

                                                                                  carrot flan

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Madrid

                                                                                    This is why I love threads like this. Pumpkin risotto is what is served in every "trendy" house around here during the fall. It's actually considered retro as it was big in the '80's. Same with any thing pomegranate ie: sprinkled on salad, granita, ice cream, in cocktails, you name it. You cant go to a dinner party without someone dragging out the pomegranate vinegar, syrup etc.

                                                                                    The latest for the last few years is every possible braised green. Yet when I go to my husbands family these are considered new and the "unique/non traditional" thing. My grandmother would laugh at that!

                                                                                    Just goes to show that one person's unique is someone else's BTDT.

                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                      yep, i first made all of these in the 80's. My bio family still talks to this day about all the strange stuff i've served for Thanksgiving decades ago. Especially the squid in its own ink.

                                                                                  2. Beets with Brussels sprouts!

                                                                                    1. Since I'm always in charge of the Thanksgiving desserts for the family--last year I decided to go against the grain and baked most desserts from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook:
                                                                                      The following was made: Compost Cookies, Corn Cookies, Chocolate Chocolate Cookies, Crack Pie and Candy Bar Pie. All were such an overwhelming success that they have been requested for this year--and my addition will be Milk Bar Blueberry and Cream Cookies.
                                                                                      I DO bring a pumplin dessert though--and it has always been Ina Garten's Pumpkin Roulade.

                                                                                      1. May not be of much help at your table this Thanksgiving, since it's not ideal as a side, but it's non-traditional:

                                                                                        Our usual gathering has several vegetarians. For several years they were offered only some not-so-great commercial mac and cheese, so I volunteered to make stuffed shells. They raved, so it's become a small tradition. Stuffing is ricotta, parmesan, egg, garlic, and fresh parsley; the shells baked with tomato sauce. Pretty sure that the success has had a lot to do with the quality of the ricotta -- for the holiday, I've splurged and ordered from a local cheese shop.

                                                                                        This year I'd hoped not to be making the long trip and doing a lot of the cooking, and to have fun doing a less-traditional meal here. But the matriarch may not be around for many more Thanksgivings, so... I'll store away several of the nifty ideas in this thread for another time.

                                                                                        1. Not that I have tried this, but I have always liked Calvin Trillin's idea: that Thanksgiving should be known as Spaghetti Carbonara Day! www.rlrubens.com/Thanksgiving.html

                                                                                          1. We always have Toll House Pie as one of the desserts - my brother requested it years ago, and it's stuck on the menu. It's usually the first pie to go.

                                                                                            1. Ohhh... I love Thanksgiving!
                                                                                              We love bread in our house and every Thanksgiving we make a challah-type bread that we form into a Turkey (or as close to one as we can - it doesn't always work out as planned). The challah-type bread is very easy to form into various shapes (round, braid, etc)
                                                                                              We also make various sauces for the Turkey in addition to the standard cranberry - some spicy; some sweet; some sour, etc to please every palate.
                                                                                              We also make a ton of desserts - including cream stuffed croissants and pinwheel-shaped danishes topped with apricots (none of us like pumpkin pie).

                                                                                              1. My mother has made chicken for as long as I can remember.

                                                                                                Also momofuku brussel sprouts are now standard on our table.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: relizabeth

                                                                                                  We like the momofuku brussel sprouts, too!

                                                                                                2. Every year I do one "other" thing.

                                                                                                  In years past it has been:
                                                                                                  • a timpano (the year after I watched Big Night)
                                                                                                  • "French kiss" (foie gras stuffed fig poached in Armagnac)
                                                                                                  • a variation on Susan Spicer's duck sandwich (with cashew butter and jalapeno jelly -- my variation is in a puff pastry)
                                                                                                  • lasagna

                                                                                                  BUT the "other" thing which makes my Thanksgiving table complete is my grandmother's celery salad.

                                                                                                  It is pretty simple, basically finely diced celery and a little onion in a dressing of mayo, veg oil, citrus, etc. Very simple, very good. And it is so refreshing in the middle of that feast.

                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: hambone

                                                                                                    Jesus, those figs sound incredible!! Is it super-involved to make them? Recipe?

                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                      I cobbled together a few recipes/ideas.

                                                                                                      In truth, I would mail order a few from Daratgnan first.

                                                                                                      (6 for $9.99 not bad.


                                                                                                      I made a foie gras mousse, used dried figs and poached them in armagnac and using a pastry bag, filled the figs. (In truth, the armagnac in my figs was too strong.)

                                                                                                      1. re: hambone

                                                                                                        Might hafta splurge on those for the holidays :-)

                                                                                                        Thx for the info, hb!

                                                                                                  2. I serve a savory popcorn on the table in honor of Snoopy

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: girloftheworld

                                                                                                      I LOVE this idea! What do you put on the popcorn?

                                                                                                      1. re: Christina D

                                                                                                        I know your question wasn't directed at me, but I've been playing with savoury popcorns lately. Some of my favorites:

                                                                                                        - truffle butter and grated parmigiano reggiano (this will actually be one of my cocktail nibbles this year)
                                                                                                        - butter, soy sauce and garlic powder
                                                                                                        - butter and sriracha (or the buffalo wing version with Frank's Red Hot)
                                                                                                        - sesame oil, furikake and sesame seeds

                                                                                                    2. I love this Asian cucumber salad .. I posted it before, here it is again in case you missed it:

                                                                                                      walker Sep 18, 2013 03:53 AM

                                                                                                      So much is going on that I just do baby frozen peas at the last minute. I also love this recipe for roasted carrots; they are delicious and look gorgeous on the plate. Instead of balsamic vinegar OR pom molasses, I use a little of both:


                                                                                                      A day or so ahead I make an Asian Cucumber Salad; it's so refreshing with the rich dinner:

                                                                                                      1/4 cup rice vinegar (not seasoned) or white vinegar
                                                                                                      1 Tbl fresh lime juice
                                                                                                      3 Tbls water
                                                                                                      3 Tbls sugar
                                                                                                      1/2 teaspoon salt
                                                                                                      6 pickling cucumbers, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
                                                                                                      about 2 1/2 cups (I much prefer Japanese cukes OR
                                                                                                      Persian cukes, no need to cut in half. If you can only find
                                                                                                      English, cut in half and scrape out seeds
                                                                                                      )2 shallots, thinly sliced
                                                                                                      1/2 Serrano or other fresh chile, sliced (optional
                                                                                                      )6 sprigs cilantro, chopped (I omit this)

                                                                                                      Combine vinegar, lime juice, water, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir well and add the rest. Refrigerate.

                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: walker

                                                                                                        That is the very cuke recipe that my family loves! But rather than omitting the cilantro, we put in a ton of it...

                                                                                                        Excellent recipe. I think it is originally from Food & Wine.

                                                                                                        We use Persian cukes, too.

                                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                                          Walker, thank you so much for posting this recipe. I made it for our Thanksgiving dinner minus the cilantro. My family was wild about it.

                                                                                                          1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                            So happy to hear you liked it; yes, I never put the cilantro. It's so easy and so fresh with all the other rich foods. I make this recipe often and leftovers never go to waste.

                                                                                                        2. I make a pumpkin pie that never fails to get oohs and aahs. I take the standard recipe for pumpkin pie found on the side of a can of pumpkin, add an extra 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 4 Tbs. molasses, and substitute Chinese Five-Spice Powder for the cloves and nutmeg -- and I use it liberally (4-5 Tbs of the stuff from the Asian market) (add the cinnamon as usual). You can make this substitution in Bread Pudding, too.

                                                                                                          1. Every holiday we make chopped liver. Not just Passover. It's just so good homemade

                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Siegal

                                                                                                              That was always a staple in my home growing up, Grandma always made that. Oh, and kasha varniskas, which I HATED.

                                                                                                              1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                Haha yes. I had a baby so my grandma made me tons of food for the freezer. I have like 5 lbs of kasha varnishkas in the freezer. Just need to force my husband to eat it

                                                                                                            2. We love the Philipino noodles that our cousin brings!!

                                                                                                              1. Stuffed Miriliton. It's only non-traditional if you're not in New Orleans. It's a Creole classic of chayote squash that's stuffed with a mixture of shrimp,onions, butter, cheese, breadcrumbs and spices and baked. Really delicious and only about 2,000 calories per serving.

                                                                                                                1. Cranberry sauce that tastes like a Cosmopolitan. Not to be served to those "under age" or "recovering" or that would have any other issues....

                                                                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                    Does it taste like that 'cause it has booze in it? If so, recipe?

                                                                                                                    1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                      I personally don't think the booze flavor is very strong. I'll post the recipe tonight. and yes, it does have some booze.

                                                                                                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                        One of the reason Cosmos are so dangerous, too.


                                                                                                                        1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                          It's really odd but I've never drunk a Cosmopolitan (or any other kind of Martini) but this recipe appealed to me. I've made it a few times and even after Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                          Cosmopolitan Cranberry Sauce

                                                                                                                          1 (12 oz) bag fresh cranberries, rinsed, drained and picked through
                                                                                                                          1 cup sugar
                                                                                                                          1/3 cup vodka
                                                                                                                          3 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier is what I use, or Triple Sec)

                                                                                                                          In a heavy medium saucepan over moderate heat, combine the cranberries, sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring often to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to moderately low, and simmer, stirring often til thickened and reduced to about 3 cups, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl, and cool, stirring often til tepid, about 30 minutes. Stir in the vodka and liqueur. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate til chilled and set, at least 2 hours. The sauce can be made ahead up to 2 weeks ahead (tho it keeps in my fridge for months). Serve chilled or at room temp.

                                                                                                                          Hope you enjoy it!

                                                                                                                          1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                            Thanks, that looks interesting. I always make a spicy cranberry chutney but I'm the biggest spice fiend and I bet the rest of the crowd would enjoy your recipe.

                                                                                                                            1. re: alwayshungrygal


                                                                                                                              I'm gonna make this this week as a test run. You don't do anything to remove the seeds?

                                                                                                                              Just go rustic...?

                                                                                                                              1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                I don't really notice seeds per se and it doesn't seem rustic, just regular jellied. Watch the cooking time, the longer it cooks, the more solid it becomes. I made a batch over the summer (I stocked up on cranberries last winter and froze them) and it's still good.

                                                                                                                                I can't claim creation of the recipe, I think I found it online somewhere. Luckily I have plenty of vodka and Grand Marnier to spare so I think I'll be making this til I deplete my stock of booze and cranberries. It's also good with roast chicken and pork.

                                                                                                                                1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                  Where would seeds be coming from? I make a similar recipe and....well, cranberries don't have any noticeable seeds!

                                                                                                                                  Mine I think is the original, Bert Greene from the 1980s. No vodka, fresh orange juice instead; strange for me to say but it's boozy enough with just Gran Marnier. Funny but the kids go especially crazy for it.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                    That is it, I'm stopping for cranberries tonight.

                                                                                                                                    I have a feeling it isn't going to keep in my fridge for months (if you know what I mean.)

                                                                                                                                    1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                      I know exactly what you mean. If I cooked/ate at home more often, I would have less by now. Not cooking much lately due to work schedule...which will improve dramatically a week before Thanksgiving! No plans to do the big dinner but I will definitely indulge otherwise.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                        I stopped and got cranberries.

                                                                                                                                        Got home, made a batch of cosmos so I had a recent taste memory, Went into the kitchen, had a second cosmo. Mrs. Hambone got home, told me mine were not right (she's a bartender) so she made another batch (much better.)

                                                                                                                                        After her batch I fell asleep.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: hambone


                                                                                                                                            Thanks for this humor time-out. I've had a hectic, stressful day at work and this was a much needed laugh-out-loud moment.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                              OK. Two bottles of vodka (I was experimenting with Cosmos), one rotten and thrown out bag of cranberries (I was doing research -- see above) and one new bag of cranberries later...

                                                                                                                                              Very good.


                                                                                                                                              Mrs. Hambone thinks it is delish. That really is all that matters. (As they say, "If the sow is happy, the whole stye is happy.") Have a great Turkey Day!

                                                                                                                                              1. re: hambone

                                                                                                                                                So glad you liked it! I'm not hosting this year, so I can't serve it to anyone. I'll just have to keep enjoying it myself and will make another batch when this one is depleted.

                                                                                                                                                Have a great T day yourself (and everyone else have a great one too)!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alwayshungrygal

                                                                                                                                                    Huge hit.

                                                                                                                                                    I'm adding that to my regular Thanksgiving rotation.

                                                                                                                                                    (Oh, and can I retract every mention of seeds? I have no idea what I was thinking of.)

                                                                                                                          2. I didn't cook it but wish I had: Halibut Wellington with dressing where the spine and ribs were taken out.

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                                                                                                                            1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                              Interesting...might be good without the liver pate but more mushrooms and pastry.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                Spinach feta pie, usually no crust or phyllo, and a really cheesey mac and cheese. If I'm feeling like doing the work, I make a nut loaf with mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes.

                                                                                                                                And dessert? Not pie. Usually a pumpkin or zuchini bundt cake, and once in a while, cheesecake. But if it were entirely up to me, it would be oatmeal raisin cookies for dessert with maybe some fresh berries and whipped cream. Oh, yum.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Miri1

                                                                                                                                  For dessert, I'd probably hope to find flan. I'd also suggest that wonderful (and achingly sweet) Jewish cake made with a boiled orange, almond flour, and confectioners sugar. I don't remember the name of it, but served with a Middle Eastern coffee, it would be a good way to round out a rich meal.

                                                                                                                            2. For years, I served homemade pizza as the bread option because that is pretty much all my son would eat and I wanted him to enjoy his feast day, too. More recently, he asks for my grandmother's fattening-as-hell rolls with slices of honey-baked ham, so that's sort of my non-traditional side dish.

                                                                                                                              One dish I do for Christmas (but not T-day) is a medieval dish called rastones. You take a large boule-type loaf of bread, hollow it out, then toss the bread innards with melted butter, fennel seed, poppy seeds and currants. Wrap the bread in foil and bake until it's warm. It's a sort of stuffing you eat with your fingers and it is delicious. If you're serving a crowd, make several so your guests won't fight.

                                                                                                                              1. haven't made this yet, and i'm not cooking for thanksgiving, but a group of us recently had something similar to this at a tapas restaurant and absolutely loved it, so now i want to make it:


                                                                                                                                it was served with idiazabal cheese and walnuts. so good.

                                                                                                                                we do have a thxgiving potluck at work.... hmmmm.....

                                                                                                                                1. Making Chinese sweet tofu for dessert. It's similar in texture to flan and panna cotta, it's light, not cloyingly sweet and dairy free.


                                                                                                                                  My whole Thanksgiving menu is Chinese, so I guess it's all non-traditional :) But I do think that dou-hua could translate nicely to a Western menu (more so than my lotus leaf wrapped spareribs in rice). It is served warm with ginger syrup and is comforting for Fall. You could roast and candy pumpkin seeds and sprinkle them on top for crunch.

                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: Pookipichu

                                                                                                                                    Is it almond flavored? The link is just a picture (maybe bc I'm on an iPhone). If it's almond tofu i would love your recipe

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Siegal

                                                                                                                                      It's not almond flavored. There's a dish Almond tofu which has gelatin and is more like jello, dou hua is more like a dessert tofu and doesn't have the jello-y consistency. This is a basic recipe:


                                                                                                                                      It's served with anything from red beans to boiled peanuts. It's a very comforting and light dessert for after a heavy meal.

                                                                                                                                  2. Tamales made by some Native American friends.

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                                                                                                                                    1. re: sandiasingh

                                                                                                                                      oh yes one of the ladies who works at school always brings me homemade tamales before break and I bring her orange crandberry chuttney

                                                                                                                                    2. Our T-day is always very, very traditional but I play around with dessert. Always an apple pie. Something pumpkin that's NOT a pie and then a third wild card thing.

                                                                                                                                      Several years ago I discovered this Nutmeg Maple Cream Tart from Smitten Kitchen. It fits in perfectly with the flavors of T-day so maybe it wouldn't be anyone else's idea of non-traditional but we loved it and I'm doing it again this year.


                                                                                                                                      1. Stir fried green beans with a fermented black bean sauce.... instead of green bean casserole.

                                                                                                                                        1. We are not a traditional turkey household; in fact, we have everything but! Varies from wild boar with polenta to sea bass to venison with potatoes and chocolate blue cheese sauce to quail to duck with duck fat fries. Or we choose interesting cultural themes such as German, Latvian, Lebanese, Turkish, Swedish...

                                                                                                                                          Once we did a fondue night with tons of pots going all day. Lots of fun.

                                                                                                                                          1. Last year I made a chocolate crusted caramel filled chocolate ganache glazed tart with a bunch of fleur de sel on top. It was epic.

                                                                                                                                            It's joining the lineup this year as well.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. How about a traditional, non-traditional dish? Around these parts, most Thanksgiving tables have sauerkraut and maybe, kielbasa. For many outside the Baltimore area, that seems completely foreign.

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: Christina D

                                                                                                                                                Here perogies and cabbage rolls are ultra traditional but other places less common.

                                                                                                                                              2. Smoked salmon terrine as an appetizer and no-bake peanut butter chocolate pie. At least that's what we're bringing to the Thxgiving dinner a friend of ours is hosting.... which is also not very traditional, as there won't be any turkey :-)

                                                                                                                                                1. There's a dish I'd love to serve for dessert but don't know if I'll get arguments. I may just make it for myself. I think it was meant to be a frozen cranberry salad that my mother would make, but with the addition of an oreo cookie crust, I have found that it's a good dessert for the lactose-intolerant (me):

                                                                                                                                                  The ingredients will make you more discerning folks think of Honey Boo-Boo's mom's cranberry lasagna, but I still think it's tasty:

                                                                                                                                                  Frozen cranberry pie

                                                                                                                                                  6-8 oz softened cream (or neufchatel) cheese
                                                                                                                                                  1 can jellied cranberry sauce
                                                                                                                                                  2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
                                                                                                                                                  a little lemon zest (I don't like too much)
                                                                                                                                                  1/2 tsp vanilla
                                                                                                                                                  1 oreo cookie pie crust

                                                                                                                                                  Whip up the first 4 ingredients till smooth (I use my stick blender) and then pour into the pie crust. Freeze until firm.

                                                                                                                                                  I find it very refreshing--and so delightful to be able to eat something ice cream-like without getting sick.

                                                                                                                                                  1. I just saw a recipe over at Serious Eats for homemade potato chips sprinkled with a homemade herb mix that captures the flavors in traditional bread stuffing. Might be an interesting play on tradition at the snack table.

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                                                                                                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                      A conversation starter for sure.

                                                                                                                                                    2. As related in another thread.........

                                                                                                                                                      My Grandfather grew up partly in North Carolina, so Grits were a Turkey day must. Out of 20 ppl or so, not sure who else ate them. Must have been my mother because she continued the tradition. I am sure she was the only one that ate them. After she died, the first Thanksgiving was at my house and my sister INSISTED we have them. Since the bowl full sat untouched through the whole meal I proclaimed that never again would Grits appear at a family Thanksgiving.25 years later, none have!

                                                                                                                                                      Oh.and at the ORIGINAL T-day, there may or may not have been a bird Scrawny, tough and gamey. More likely the oysters (and clams) were cooked in a stew. Shimmery Jello concoctions......please! Bad enough when fruit is added to them...but things like shrimp and meat............yuck

                                                                                                                                                      And since back then they were plentiful and considered almost garbage food, a few lobsters may have graced the table.