Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to not only share food and drink but to reflect over the past year and to be thankful for all the wonderful things that have happened in our lives. Family, friends, work associates and neighbors all play an important part in our day-to-day happiness. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to be thankful and reflect on all the goodness around us. The sharing of events and stories all mix together to add a wonderful side dish to this annual tradition.

Many families, ours included, go around the Thanksgiving table and share one thing they are thankful for, and this year we will again have all of our kids, in-laws, and grandkids in our home. Indeed a very wonderful thing to be thankful for. We know of one family (I’m not divulging names) that goes around their table with a comic relief tradition. Each family member gives up the name of one person they think was the biggest turkey of the year and why, but it can’t be a family member. Now that could be a skit on SNL … But don’t be a turkey at your table. Sharing love and food go hand-in-hand at Thanksgiving, so “Please Join Our Table” as we share wonderful sides of food made from recipes passed down from our grandparents and dear old friends, near and far.

I am starting with my mother’s strawberry Jell-O. She made this every Thanksgiving. I have edited it for my family and add cranberries (the only way I can get some of my family to eat them). Enjoy!


Jean Kariotis’ Thanksgiving Strawberry Jell-O

1 package (6 ounces) strawberry Jell-O
1 cup boiling water (Note: I use the drained pineapple juice and add enough water to make 1 cup, then boil it)
3 medium, ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
2 boxes (10 ounces each) frozen strawberries (or omit one box and replace with one can cranberry sauce with berries)
1 can crushed pineapple, drain and save the juice
2 cups (one pint) sour cream
(Note: sometimes I replace 1 cup of the sour cream with whole-milk, Greek yogurt)

DIRECTIONS: In a medium bowl, combine the Jell-O and boiling water/pineapple juice mixture. Stir, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, ‘til gelatin is completely dissolved. Cool for 10 minutes. Stir in bananas, nuts and strawberries; divide this mixture in half. Pour 1/2 of the gelatin mixture into a 12x8 pan or a large Jell-O ring mold. Place in the fridge and chill until set, about 1 hour. Keep remaining 1/2 of gelatin at room temperature. Now, take the partially set Jell-O out of the fridge and carefully spread the sour cream over it. Slowly pour on remaining gelatin. Cover and place back in fridge until it sets, about 1 1/2 hours or overnight.

This recipe was given to me by a co-worker at the City Club of Washington … unusual, but the kids love it!

Cheesy Pineapple Ritz Casserole

1 20-ounce can pineapple chunks
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
40 Ritz crackers, crushed
1 cup butter, melted
Note: I like to kick it up a notch, so I mix in 1 chopped jalapeno before pouring the mixture into the dish.

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drain the pineapple chunks; set aside 1/4 cup of the juice. Combine the flour, sugar, cheddar cheese, reserved pineapple juice, pineapple chunks and crushed pineapple in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish. Mix the cracker crumbs and butter in a small bowl and then sprinkle over the pineapple mixture. Bake in 350-degree preheated oven about 30 minutes or until golden brown.

I receive a lot of creamed corn recipes; this one I enjoyed at the “Am Vets Post 70,” in Port Royal, S.C. Thank you, Bill Rice, for sharing this wonderful dish!

Easy Creamed Corn

1 12-ounce can creamed corn
1 12-ounce can regular corn, undrained
1/4 stick butter, melted
8 ounces sour cream
1 pkg. Jiffy corn bread mix

DIRECTIONS: Mix all ingredients together well and add into a greased rectangular baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees 40-50 minutes.

This is the one casserole that is probably on everyone’s Thanksgiving table. So easy even our grandkids can make it. We have tried many of the Food TV recipes for green bean casserole, but this one always wins out as the family favorite!

Green Bean Casserole

1 10-3/4 oz. can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2-cup whole milk
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 14-ounce cans green beans
1 1/3 cups French fried onions (found in a can on the vegetable aisle at your grocery store)

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease, oil or spray a 9 x 13 pan or 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together soup, milk and soy sauce. Stir in green beans and 1/2 cup of the onions. Pour into prepared casserole dish. Bake 25 minutes. Sprinkle remaining onions on top. Bake another 5 minutes until warmed and bubbly.

Karen Boughton
Author: Karen BoughtonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
I grew up in a big, Greek, cooking family. I married my high school sweetheart and soon had three daughters. My husband and I worked in the family’s Greek restaurant, “Zorba’s,” for several years before moving to Baton Rouge and eventually Corpus Christi. There I taught microwave cooking classes for studio and on television for three years before moving to Kingwood in the late '80s. I reached out to learn more about regional and international foods, spending 16 years in management in private athletic/dining/country clubs for ClubCorp, where I embraced health and cooking. In 2008 I joined the Tribune Newspapers as food editor, the same time that I became a nutrition advisor and USANA Health Sciences Associate. These two passions have given me better health and the freedom to live life my way.

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