Food & Drink

Readers submit Thanksgiving side dish favorites

Turn our reader submitted recipes into your own family favorites. Pictured here are orange-glazed sweet potatoes, bottom, and, from left to right, cranberry sauce with port and figs, pumpkin bisque and cream biscuits, slow-cooker stuffing with chicken sausage and cornbread and sweet and spicy greens.
Turn our reader submitted recipes into your own family favorites. Pictured here are orange-glazed sweet potatoes, bottom, and, from left to right, cranberry sauce with port and figs, pumpkin bisque and cream biscuits, slow-cooker stuffing with chicken sausage and cornbread and sweet and spicy greens.

So many Thanksgiving side dishes come with an extra helping of family lore.

When I asked readers to submit their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes for our annual reader recipe section, I received handwritten letters and emails with stories and photo attachments.

Take Jane Warren’s recipe for Raspberry Ring, one of those ’50s era Jell-O ring recipes (it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a Jell-O dish on the table, right?).

Her mother-in-law found the recipe sometime in the 1950s, but the family isn’t sure of the timeline. They remember it being served in the 1960s. “She and her sister Fay fixed it for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and it was soon adopted as a family favorite.”

As the family story goes: It was served in lieu of cranberry sauce because most of the family disliked cranberries. “They preferred the raspberry dish as it was tart and sweet, similar in taste to a good cherry pie. One interesting thing she did was change the name. It was originally called ‘Raspberry Mold,’ but she thought that wasn’t an appetizing name, so changed it to ‘Raspberry Ring.’ 

Cheryl Bassett of Gig Harbor also inherited her family’s Thanksgiving favorite, crookneck squash casserole. “I received this recipe from my mother-in-law about 25 years ago. Everyone I have shared this recipe with, (it) becomes their family favorite,” said Bassett.

Johnny Ashbaugh, of Puyallup, creates new Thanksgiving recipes every year. His recipe for stuffing is intended to save oven space. Most of the cooking takes place on the counter in a slow cooker.

When I asked him where he found the recipe, he said “I basically took tips from a bunch of recipes, cut what I didn’t like and added what I did. Almost all of my recipes are like that — Frankenstein like,” he said.

Locals also submitted Thanksgiving side dishes for guests with dietary restrictions.

For gluten-free eaters, Cheryl Hutchinson of Tumwater shared her recipe for cornmeal cakes, which can stand in for bread.

Jacqui Little, a registered dietitian and low-carbohydrate chef, submitted a high fiber pumpkin bisque that is sweetened with Swerve, a sweetener that is erythritol based, a sugar alcohol that is not absorbed.

While these recipes have been edited, do note that only six have been recipe tested and are noted as such.

Here’s a friendly piece of advice for novice cooks: Never try a new Thanksgiving recipe on the day of your meal. Always recipe test in advance. Your family will thank you.


Cream Biscuits

Source: Angie Britt, Tacoma.

4 cups all purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cubed

1 1/2 cups heavy cream plus more for brushing

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk 4 cups flour and next three ingredients in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour using your hands, knives or a pastry blender. Alternately, pulse the butter into the flour mixture using a food processor.

Flour-butter mixture should form into pieces the size of peas. Stir in cream until dough forms, adding more cream by tablespoons if dry. Roll to ¾-inch thickness on a floured surface. Cut into rounds.

Transfer to baking sheet. Brush tops with cream. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Yield: About 1 dozen

Gluten-Free Cornmeal Cakes

Source: Cheryl Hutchinson, Tumwater.

1/4 cup gluten-free flour (sorghum, brown rice, etc.)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 cup gluten-free cornmeal

1 tablespoon butter

1 slightly beaten egg

In a small bowl, stir together gluten-free flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

In a medium bowl, stir together boiling water and cornmeal. Stir in butter to melt.

Whisk in egg and then flour mix.

Cook cakes on hot griddle. Thin with milk if batter is too thick.

Yield: Approximately 16 cakes

Fig, Onion and Bacon Jam

Source: Michelle Galaz, Lakewood.

1 pound fresh figs

1 onion

1/2 pound bacon

2 tablespoons agave syrup, or to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste, if desired

2 tablespoons canned jalapeños, chopped


Saute bacon and chop into small pieces, then set aside.

Slice halved onion into strips. Saute until caramelized. When done, the onions should be caramel-colored.

Meanwhile, cut up figs and put in saucepan over medium heat with 1/2 cup of water. Keep an eye on water and add water if it gets too dry. Cook until figs fall apart, about 10 minutes.

After figs have cooked, add agave syrup, the cooked bacon, chopped jalapeños and caramelized onion. Stir and cook over low heat for another 8 to 10 minutes. Add water if mixture becomes too dry.

If desired, add salt and pepper to taste. Also, add more agave if you desire a sweeter taste.

To serve: Spread over sourdough bread, bread, crackers. Also perfect for leftover turkey sandwiches.


Cranberry Sauce with Port and Dried Figs

Source: Rachael Bouma, Tacoma. Adapted from a recipe from Epicurious.

1 2/3 cups ruby Port

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed, chopped

1 6-inch-long sprig fresh rosemary

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries

3/4 cup sugar

Combine first six ingredients in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Discard rosemary.

Mix in cranberries and 3/4 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat until liquid is slightly reduced and berries burst, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Cool. Transfer sauce to bowl. Chill until cold. Cranberry sauce can be prepared days in advance. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Tartiflette (Potatoes with Bacon and Cheese)

Source: Jeff Barrick, Bonney Lake. Adapted from a recipe from Food and Wine Magazine.

2 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled

1/2 pound slab bacon, cut into a small dice

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3/4 cup dry white wine

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 pound raclette or another soft, ripe cheese, sliced

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cover potatoes with water in a large pot, and bring to a boil. Cook for 20 minutes, or until potatoes can be pierced easily with a knife. Drain and let sit until cool to the touch. Dice potatoes.

In a saute pan, cook bacon until browned. Drain, leaving a tablespoon of fat and add onion. Cook over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until golden brown. Add diced the bacon and wine and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add diced potatoes.

Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place half of the potato mixture in an ovenproof dish. Spread half the sliced cheese on top of the potato layer. Cover with remaining potato mixture. Top with remaining cheese.

Bake 20 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling.

Great Potatoes

Source: Donald Ernst, Olympia.

2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch slices.

1 package Lipton onion soup mix

⅓ cup olive oil

Place potatoes in a baking dish coated in shortening or pan spray. Mix soup mix and olive oil, pour over potatoes and stir to coat.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Keep stirring if they stick.

Deep-Fried Sweet Potatoes with Chile Salt

Source: Evan Bragin, Tacoma.


3 large sweet potatoes or yams, cut into spears

Enough canola oil to halfway fill a deep pot


2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon Korean chile flakes

1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

For the salt: Combine all ingredients. Store in dry, tightly sealed container.

For the potatoes: Heat canola oil to 350 degrees. Be sure to leave plenty of room in pot for adding ingredients. Do not overfill.

Place spears in hot oil for about 10 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Remove spears from hot oil with a heat-proof strainer. Drain on dry paper towels. Season liberally with chile salt and serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4-6.


Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Source: Kathi Kershul, Tacoma.

8 sweet potatoes or yams

1 cup light brown sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups orange juice

1/2 cup light raisins

6 tablespoons butter

⅓ cup dry sherry (optional)

1/4 cup sliced almonds

Cook potatoes (see editor’s note).

Cut cooked and cooled potatoes into half-inch slices and arrange in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with salt.

In a saucepan, combine brown sugar and cornstarch. Blend in orange juice. Add almonds. Cook and stir over medium heat. Cook one minutes. Add butter, sherry and raisins. Stir until butter melts.

Pour over potatoes and bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until well glazed and potatoes are soft when pierced with a fork.

Editor’s note: In our test kitchen, we opted to use yams for a more colorful presentation. We baked yams in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes to partially bake, but you can also peel and boil the yams before baking.

Yield: Serves 8-10

Tasty Jiffy Corn Muffin Casserole

Source: Bev Schroetlin, Puyallup.

1/4 pound (1 stick) butter or margarine

1 can cream corn

1 can whole corn kernels

2 eggs, well beaten

1 cup sour cream

1 small package Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix

1/4 cup sugar

Melt butter or margarine and mix with corn, sour cream and eggs in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add muffin mix and sugar. Beat well. Pour into a prepared (greased) 1.5 quart casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Yield: Serves 6-8

Cheesy Corn Casserole

Source: Suzanne Seiter, kitchen manager of Tacoma’s Hob Knob.

2 cans cream corn

1 can corn (drained)

1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese

1 pack of saltine crackers (crushed)

½ teaspoon pepper

¼ cup melted butter

2 beaten eggs

Mix all ingredients together. Pour into a prepared (greased) casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Yield: Serves 6-8

Crookneck Squash Casserole

Source: Cheryl Bassett, Gig Harbor.

5 cups yellow crookneck squash

1 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1/4 teaspoon thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup butter

Cut squash into quarter-inch slices. Boil squash for 10 minutes until tender. Drain well. Mix mayonnaise, egg, onion, green pepper, thyme, salt and pepper. Add drained squash, mix well. Pour into a greased casserole dish.

Sprinkle top with Parmesan cheese and dot with ½ cup butter.

Refrigerate for 1 hour. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until top is light golden brown.

Yield: Serves 6-8

Onion Casserole

Source: Kendall Warren, Lake Tapps.

3 medium onions

1 pound grated cheddar cheese

1 bag potato chips (about 10 ounces)

1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup

1/2 cup milk

Dash of cayenne pepper, optional

Peel onions and slice as thinly as possible. Place slices in buttered casserole dish, overlapping each other about 1/2 inch or so. When bottom is covered, sprinkle a layer of grated cheese over the onions. Crush potato chips and sprinkle a layer of chips over the cheese. Repeat the layers until you reach the top edge of the dish, and sprinkle grated cheese across the top.

Mix the can of soup with 1/2 cup of milk. Pour the mixture over the top. Use the point of a table knife to make holes for the mixture to flow into the layers below as it cooks.

Sprinkle the top with cayenne pepper, if desired (that will make it spicy). Bake at 325 degrees until onions are tender (test with a fork).

Note: Amount of ingredients needed will vary with the size of baking dish. Avoid sweet onions, as they don't seem to cook down very well.

Yield: Serves 6-8

Biker Jim’s Charred Cauliflower and Sesame

Source: Steve Body, Tacoma.


1 head cauliflower, broken into 2-inch pieces

Sesame oil

Sea salt

Black sesame seeds for garnish

Black pepper


1/4 cup tahini

1 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 ounce lemon juice

For the cauliflower: Fill a large pan with salted water, bring to a boil and drop in cauliflower. Blanch 3 minutes. Drain, rinse and dry.

Toss blanched cauliflower with sesame oil, salt and pepper and spread on a baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees until edges of cauliflower brown.

For the sauce: Whisk together all sauce ingredients.

To serve: Toss hot roasted cauliflower with sauce, sprinkle with black sesame seeds and serve immediately.

Yield: Serves 4-6


Sweet and Spicy Greens

Source: Joaquin Buttner, Tacoma.

5 pounds greens (collard, kale or another sturdy green)

1 ½ pounds thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 packed cup of brown sugar

3 cups red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons chipotle powder

½ tablespoon cayenne powder

Cook bacon in large pot until crisp. Add brown sugar and dissolve. Add vinegar and cook for 10 minutes. Add washed and trimmed greens (stems are fine to use).

Cook over medium heat until greens are wilted. Add cayenne and chipotle with enough water to cover the greens. Simmer, partially covered, for 60 minutes or until greens reach desired texture. Add more water, if needed, if greens become too dry.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Note: As prepared, this will be very spicy. To reduce spice, skip or halve the chipotle powder or cayenne.

Yield: Serves 10-12

Pea and Almond Salad

Source: Bruce Sharer, Lakewood. Recipe adapted from Alice Bay Cookbook.

12 ounces frozen peas, thawed

6 ounces canned smoked almonds

3 green onions chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon curry powder

Combine thawed peas, almonds, green onions. Combine mayo and curry and pour over pea mixture. Toss and chill.

Yield: Serves 4-6

Cranberry Walnut Salad

Source: Isidro Romero, chef of Knapp’s, Tacoma.

1 bag fresh cranberries

1 1/2 cup diced and peeled apples

1 cup sugar

1/2 large container Cool Whip

1/2 bag mini marshmallows

1 cup walnuts

Put fresh cranberries in food processor and finely chop. Combine with sugar and mini marshmallows. Refrigerate overnight. Before serving, add apples, Cool Whip and nuts.


Johnny’s Slow Cooker Stuffing

Source: Johnny Ashbaugh, Puyallup.

1 batch cornbread, dried (store-bought or homemade)

1 package Hawaiian sweet rolls, dried

1 roll Isernio’s premium chicken sausage (in a tube)

1 sleeve Keebler Club crackers, crushed

1 package Al Fresco Sweet Apple Chicken Sausage, casings removed

1 package Al Fresco Roasted Garlic Chicken Sausage, casings removed

1 tablespoon poultry seasoning

1 tablespoon white pepper

2 tablespoons cajun seasoning, divided

1 can cream of chicken soup, low sodium

1 can cream of mushroom soup, low sodium

1 egg, beaten (optional)

12 ounces low sodium chicken stock (more as needed)

4 ribs of celery, diced

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 8-ounce bar of Kerrygold butter

The night before or morning of: Cube and then dry the breads by putting them into a 250-degree oven until dried, about 1 hour for the rolls and 90 minutes for the cornbread, or until desired texture.

Saute the vegetables in the butter. Add 1 tablespoon of the cajun seasoning, cook for 1 minute more. Brown the sausage. Add 1 tablespoon of cajun seasoning, poultry seasoning, and white pepper.

Add half the vegetables, the herbs and half the meat to the slow cooker. Add the bread. Add the other half of the vegetables and meat. Add the crackers.

Add the cans of soup mixed with the chicken stock and beaten egg (optional). Cook on high for 4 hours, stirring every hour, adding additional stock as needed. Cook on high with lid skewed for 1 more hour

Papa Scott’s Oyster Stuffing

Source: Scott Ramsey, Tacoma.

2 small yellow onions, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)

6–8 stalks of celery, leaves and ends discarded, diced

1 stick butter

1 quart of medium, shucked oysters (approx. 28-32, see note)

16 ounce bag of packaged stuffing (Stove Top or any brand)

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup oyster liquor, plus more as needed

Note: I use medium oysters and cut them into 2 or 3 bite-size pieces using kitchen shears. This is cheaper than buying “small” oysters, which are often still too large anyway.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and celery. Saute until onions just begin to turn translucent (7-8 mins)

Drain and cut oysters, reserving oyster liquor. Add oysters to skillet and bring to simmer, cook 10 mins stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine oysters, stuffing, and seasoning (if not using pre-seasoned stuffing mix then add salt, pepper, sage, poultry seasoning to taste).

Add chicken broth and oyster liquor and stir until desired consistency of stuffing is achieved. This is a bit subjective. Some folks like dry stuffing, others moister.

Transfer mixture to a Pyrex dish and bake at 350 for 40 minutes (30 mins covered, 10 mins uncovered for crisp crust)


Pumpkin Bisque

Source: Chef Jacqui Little, Olympia.

2 15-ounce cans pumpkin puree

2 cups chicken broth

4 teaspoons Swerve or erythritol sugar alcohol sweetener (or substitute brown sugar)

1 teaspoon sea salt

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of nutmeg

Dash of cayenne pepper

1 cup heavy cream

Sour cream and chopped pecans for garnish, optional

Combine all ingredients in a medium soup pot. Simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Serve hot garnished with sour cream and pecans if desired.

Yield: 6 cups

Raspberry Ring

Source: Jane Warren, Bonney Lake.

2 small packages raspberry Jell-o mix

1 12-ounce (approximately) frozen raspberries

1 cup chopped pecans

2 3/4 cups apple sauce

Topping Mixture (for center of Jell-o)

1 pint sour cream

3 cups small marshmallows

Mix together sour cream and marshmallows. Let sit overnight. Whip until smooth before serving.

Boil 2 1/2 cups of water, add raspberry Jell-o packages. Stir until no granules are left on spoon.

Cool to room temperature. As it begins to thicken, add applesauce, raspberries and pecans.

Spray cooking spray on inner surfaces of round molded ring pan. Note: We used a medium-size molded ring pan, with a cut-out in the center that will create a space for the topping to be added in the center.

Pour mixture into molded ring pan. Chill in refrigerator overnight or at least 8 hours.

For service: When chilled and firm, lay plate on top of pan and invert, removing molded dessert from ring pan onto the serving plate. Spoon prepared topping mixture into center of dessert ring and serve.