Intro to Cooking: Thanksgiving at College!

Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday for college students. If you’re within commuting distance of home, you probably can’t wait to burst through your front door to wafting aromas of a decadent home-cooked meal. But if you’re one of the many students who opted to go to school out of state or far from Mom & Pops, you might find yourself stranded in College Town USA, especially if plane tickets home are too expensive to rationalize a short round-trip for Turkey Day when winter break is just around the corner. So don’t despair if you’re holding down the fort in your dorm with other grounded co-eds, here are some foolproof recipes that taste like home.

Cranberry Sauce (from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients: 1 bag (12 ounces) cranberries, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 1 cup water

Instructions: In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, and water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer; cook until cranberries are soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and let cool to room temperature.

Lean, Green, Vegetarian Casserole Machine (from the Operation Beautiful side project Healthy Tipping Point)


1/2 red onion
3 cups green beans
2 tablespoons garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package sliced portobello mushrooms
1 can large butter beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup soy milk
Pepper and salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Prepare green beans by rinsing, trimming, and chopping into bite-sized pieces.  Place beans in pot of water and bring to boil for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile thinly slice 1/2 red onion.   Combine sliced onions, garlic, and olive oil in a hot wok and cook until browned.
4. Rinse mushrooms and combine mushrooms with onion mix in a large bowl.  Set aside.
5. Rinse and drain a can of large butter beans.  Use your hands to mash the beans thoroughly to create a paste.
6. Combine beans, soy milk, pepper, and salt with the onions and mushrooms.  Mix thoroughly.
7. Once green beans have boiled to the point of softness, drain and mix with the rest of the ingredients.
8. Grease a casserole dish and pour the mix in.
9. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.
10. Remove and serve.

Whipped Sweet Potatoes (from All Recipes)

Ingredients: 2 lbs sweet potatoes (peeled & cubed), 2 tbsps. orange juice, ¾ cup brown sugar, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 2 tbsp. butter, 1 cup mini marshmallows


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In a large saucepan cook sweet potatoes in salted water over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and add orange juice, brown sugar, nutmeg and butter. Whip until smooth. Spread into a medium size casserole dish and top with marshmallows.
3. Bake in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until marshmallows are golden brown.

Beginner’s Fool-proof Turkey Tips (with more tips from How to Cook For Beginners)
I promise, it’s not that hard!

1. Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator. Make sure you start out 3-5 days in advance as it will take that long.

2. 24 hours before baking, remove the turkey from the package, discard the innards, towel off the turkey and dry it. Then leave it in the refrigerator so that the skin can get even dryer. Removing the moisture will allow the turkey to get a very even crust and golden color.

3. BUY A MEAT THERMOMETER! The little thing in the turkey that pops out is a piece of crap. When using the thermometer that you buy, make sure it is calibrated, and insert it in to the fleshy part of the turkey leg or breast, away from bone. 

4. When you are about to roast the turkey, slide pieces of butter underneath the breast skin, and rub butter or your favorite oil all over the skin and liberally season the cavity and skin with salt and fresh cracked pepper. This will make things nice and brown when roasted. Throw a few carrot pieces, celery, onions, bayleaf, and parsley stems into the cavity when roasting, it will help add flavor.

5. When roasting, start with a very high temp, I like 450. I will roast it for 30 minutes at that temperature, then drop it to 350 for the duration of roasting. The high temp helps get the turkey nice and golden. Check the meat thermometer. A done turkey will measure at 165 degrees.

6. Take that bad boy out, get a boy with a love of electric tools to carve it up and serve!

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