By Casey Choung
With Thanksgiving approaching rapidly, you may find yourself having to bring something to a family gathering or potluck dinner. However, many students do not have the time nor patience to cook elaborate meals. These recipes are designed to be simple, easy, and geared towards inexperienced home cooks who want to bring a great dish to the table. All recipes are meant to feed a large amount of people.
- 1 12oz bag of rinsed cranberries
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup of maple syrup
- 2 tbsp of brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
Cranberry sauce can be the sidekick of any dinner party. While cranberries are notoriously sour, cranberry sauce mellows out the sharp sourness. When you’re stuffing your face with turkey and mashed potatoes, all that fat needs to be balanced with some acidity.
This recipe takes less than 15 minutes. s The first step is to put all the ingredients into a saucepan on medium high heat. Once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat. At this point, you may be surprised to hear the cranberries pop and see a thin layer of foam. As the popping recedes, you should see which cranberries are left unpopped and smash them against the side of the pot. Take the sauce off the heat when you can pull your spoon through the sauce, leaving a trail behind. The sauce can be stored for up to 2 weeks, so this is something you can prepare ahead of time.
- 4 large potatoes, any variety, washed
- Olive oil, as needed
- Salt, as needed
- Pepper, as needed
While this recipe does not require lots of active cooking, you will have to use your inner cooking judgement. Start by cutting your potatoes into a uniform size, but no thinner than one inch. Any shape will do. By cutting them somewhat thick, the potatoes still retain a fluffy interior, and are not fried all the way through.
The distinguishing feature of these potatoes is their extreme crispiness. To achieve the crunch, the potatoes must be boiled, then baked in a good amount of oil. According to food writer and chef J. Kenji López-Alt, “Simmering starchy baking potatoes in water (seasoned with salt) gelatinizes a layer of starch on their exterior surfaces. This layer will then dehydrate and brown as the potato roasts, creating a thick, crisp shell.” For the first step, put your cut potatoes into a pot of boiling water and cook them until they are nearly falling apart. Depending on the size of your potatoes, boiling may take from 15-20 minutes.
It is imperative that between boiling and baking the potatoes are handled carefully. They should be prone to falling apart at this point; otherwise, you may want to try and boil them longer. Drain them by covering with a lid and opening it up slightly, so as to allow the water to flow out. Transfer the potatoes onto a baking tray, and coat them well with oil.
The baking is also dependent on the size of your potatoes as well as your oven. Here, you have to judge when you think your potatoes are done. The potatoes I used took 50 minutes at 450°, with a flip halfway through. After pulling them out of the oven, pat the potatoes with a paper towel to reduce greasiness. As far as seasonings go, you can do whatever you want. For a more traditional dish, go with salt and pepper. However, if you want to go crazy, you can go with a plethora of spices such as garlic powder, paprika, sage, thyme, or whatever you can think of.
Headstart Brussels Sprouts
- 1 2-pound bag of brussel sprouts, washed and trimmed
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of pepper
Brussels sprouts end up mushy and unappetizing. The technique used in this recipe solves that problem. Take your brussel sprouts,cut them in half, and then toss them in the oil (3 tablespoons), salt (1 teaspoon), and pepper (½ teaspoon). While that is all happening, have your oven preheating to 400° with a baking tray inside. Let the baking tray sit in the oven for five minutes after the oven has reached 400°. Lay the Brussels sprouts cut side down and enjoy the sizzling noise made upon contact with the hot sheet. By heating our sheet first and getting it extremely hot, we develop a nice crust on the Brussels sprouts before steam builds up and turns the Brussels sprouts mushy. Leave them in the oven for 20-40 minutes, depending on if you want them tender or crusty. If you want to add additional flavor, you can toss them in a vinaigrette or salad dressing of your choice.
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 2 large sweet potatoes, skinned and quartered
- ½ cup of milk or non-dairy milk
- 2 large eggs
- ⅓ cup of brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 cup of mini marshmallows
Some may say sweet potato casserole is a side dish, while others may argue it is a dessert. This recipe functions as both. While lightening up on the sugar will make it more appetizer worthy, you can also run the recipe as printed above in place of a pie.
To start, boil your sweet potatoes until they begin falling apart. Drain and mash them. Add your milk (½ cup), eggs (2), brown sugar (⅓ cup), and vanilla extract (1 teaspoon), then begin mixing it all into a smooth paste. Pour your batter into a baking vessel sprayed with non stick spray and spread your paste all around the vessel. Top with marshmallows according to how you sweet you want it to be, . Finish it off by putting it in the oven at 375°.
With these four recipes, you can now tackle any cooking assignment with ease. Impress your friends and family with your new cooking skills and beautify your creations accordingly. If you’ve cooked these recipes a few times already, try making some edits or rewriting the recipe to what satisfies your taste buds.