I (Jeanine) come from a very traditional midwestern family where some Thanksgiving traditions are not to be messed with. I don’t know how some of these culinary delights came to be, but I’m sure many of you can relate… the infamous canned green bean casserole made with canned cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions? Plain white mashed potatoes with a stick of butter? Sweet potatoes made sweeter with sticky marshmallows? And I’m not sure if this is a midwest thing or a “my family” thing, but there’s always Jello (and not for dessert… it’s “dinner Jello”).

I won’t be with my family this Thanksgiving, but if I were, I might bring something like this to spice things up. I’ve had cornbread stuffing on my mind lately and when I saw these cute little poblano peppers at the farmers market, I knew they would add just the right kick (of course you could use jalapeños if you can’t find poblanos). I mixed them with some traditional stuffing ingredients – onions, celery, carrots, and sage – as well as some southwestern accents – scallions, cilantro and mexican oregano. And for a healthy kick I even snuck in some kale.

This also just happens to be vegan and gluten free (but no one has to know that).

photos by Love & Lemons


serves 4-6


  • 1 batch of cornbread, coarsely crumbled (a recipe you like, or see below)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup chopped poblanos or jalapeños (depends on how spicy you want it)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • scant 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup white wine (whatever you’re drinking)
  • 1/2 cup corn (frozen works fine)
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced kale
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1/4  cup melted butter (or vegan earth balance butter)
  • 1.5 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (reserve some for garnish)


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, cook for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add carrots, celery, salt and pepper, and continue cooking until the vegetables soften. About 5 minutes. Add poblanos, garlic, sage, oregano and cook a few minutes more. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine. Add the corn, scallions, currants and kale (and some more salt) and cook for just another few minutes until the kale wilts down. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  3. Whisk together almond milk, melted butter and maple syrup. Set aside.
  4. Place crumbled cornbread in a large bowl, add the cooked veggies from the pan, and toss it all together. Pour almond milk mixture on top and toss again. Mix in the chopped cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings, keeping in mind that it will taste (a lot) less spicy once it’s baked.
  5. Pour into a greased 11×9 (or similar) pan and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. You want the inside to remain soft, and the outside just slightly crisped. I turned my broiler on for the last 2-3 minutes to get a nice golden crust.

*Alternatively, you could stuff this in the turkey and/or bake some separately if you have vegetarian guests.



fills an 8×8 baking pan. adapted from The Angelica Home Kitchen Cookbook


  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup all purpose gluten free blend (or regular all purpose)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour (or whole wheat flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk wet ingredients.
  4. Using a large spoon, mix both together (do not overmix)
  5. Pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish and bake for approx. 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Comments (30)
  1. 1
    serena November 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    I’ve lived in the Midwest for most of my life, my family is from the Midwest, and I’ve never heard of dinner Jello. In fact, I haven’t had Jello since I was a kid. I would guess that it’s your family.

  2. 2
    danamcdowell November 15, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    HELLO JELLO! Yes. Cranberry jello and orange/pineapple jello are always a part of the dinner spread. I am so happy you shared this (my family is from Chicago, but relocated to SE Missouri)!!

    • Jeanine Donofrio November 15, 2012 at 2:40 pm

      maybe it’s a Chicago thing then (that’s where I’m from). And to be fair, I did love that Jello for many years growing up 🙂

  3. 3
    Lindsey November 15, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    This sounds so good! I love cornbread stuffing and would have never thought to put peppers in it! Great idea!

  4. 4
    Camille Styles November 15, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    My mother-in-law introduced me to her cranberry jello dish, and it’s become a new staple on the Thanksgiving table! And she is British! 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio November 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      oh, so funny, I thought at the very least thanksgiving Jello was an American thing 🙂

  5. 5
    Sarah November 15, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    I’m from the Midwest (Michigan) and we always have “dinner jello” at our family gatherings! You’re not alone 🙂

  6. 6
    erin alderson (@naturallyella) November 15, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    I was excited to see what you were going to come up with after our chat about cornbread! I love the addition of the poblanos!

    • Jeanine Donofrio November 15, 2012 at 4:22 pm

      yea I was kind of undecided until the farmers market spoke to me. Can’t wait to see what you come up with, of course!

  7. 7
    Erin (@LawStudentsWife) November 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Not only does my family do the dinner Jell-o: We do it it TWO flavors, both complete with a layer of some type of sour cream mixture in the center, lol.
    I’m seeing cornbread stuffing everywhere this holiday, and I couldn’t be happier!! I’m all about food with a kick, so the poblano addition sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jeanine Donofrio November 15, 2012 at 4:23 pm

      Ours has a cream cheese layer – and I want to say it has a layer of red and green. Of course, I could me mixing that up with the Christmas Jello 🙂

  8. 8
    Erin (@LawStudentsWife) November 15, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    Not only does my family do the dinner Jell-o: We do it it TWO flavors, both complete with a layer of some type of sour cream mixture in the center, lol.
    I’m seeing cornbread stuffing everywhere this holiday, and I couldn’t be happier!! I’m all about food with a kick, so the poblano addition sounds fabulous. Thanks for sharing!

  9. 9
    Annabelle November 15, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    I’m delighted to say there is no dinner jell-o in my family, but while I grew up in the Midwest, my parents didn’t, so I’m not sure our family counts. Your stuffing recipe sounds fantastic, though — I wonder if I can talk my mother into it…

  10. 10
    Heather - Chickabug November 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I’m a sucker for stuffing – and this looks just AMAZING! It’s going on the ‘must try’ list right now!

  11. 11
    Kelly November 19, 2012 at 11:41 am

    We had a BBQ over weekend and I wanted to put a Thanksgiving spin on it. I made this dish and it was excellent! Great combo pairing it with pulled pork. Also made the roasted vegetables you recommended and those were great as well! Company loved it!

    • Jeanine November 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Glad you liked it! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  12. 12
    lollingabout November 29, 2012 at 11:10 am

    I made this for Thanksgiving and it was a huge hit. I don’t even like stuffing and I love this. A few days after Thanksgiving I formed the leftovers into patties and pan fried them. Topped with a fried egg and some Tobasco-heavenly.

  13. 13
    Mesa Verde November 22, 2020 at 9:31 pm

    Looking for comments/suggestions on cornbread stuffing and instead I find nearly a dozen comments–many of them defensive–about Jello! I’ve eaten these salads in Oregon, Washington and South Dakota but not in California, where I’ve transitioned to various “world” cuisines during the past 30+ years. Wait, there’s a package of authentic lime Jello in my kitchen. Let’s all move on.