NDSU Extension - Benson County


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Consider Food Safety this Thanksgiving

By Kimberly Fox, Extension Agent Family Nutrition Program/Family and Consumer Science

With several big meals ahead of us in the next few months, it is important to remember basic food safety tips so that your guests do not go home with a stomach ache, or worse.  Disregarding food safety can mean severe illness or death if the wrong bacteria find their way into your family’s meal.  To avoid an unhappy holiday season, here are a few tips:

  1.  Make sure to disinfect all preparation surfaces before and after making the meal.  Be especially carefully of seafood, poultry, and meat. 
  2. Do not leave your food sit out for more than 2 hours.  The longer your food sits out, the more bacteria it will grow.  If you forget to put your food away in the allotted time period, throw it away.  It is better to be safe than to end up getting food poisoning. 
  3. Take the temperature of all of your meat products to ensure they are cooked to the proper temperature.  You cannot tell if something is done by its color.  The color of your meat is determined by pH, not temperature.  Turkey needs to be cooked to at least 165 degrees. If you do not own one already, invest in a food thermometer.  The pop up thermometers are not always as reliable as we would like them to be.
  4. When you are thawing your turkey, be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave if it fits.  NEVER thaw meat on the counter or in warm water.  This inhibits bacteria growth, which will result in an unwelcome guest at your holiday meal.

Enjoy your holiday meals with your family and be confident that your food is safe for everyone to eat. If you have any question, feel free to call the NDSU Extension Office in Benson County at (701)473-5363. 

Here is a recipe that will help with any leftover turkey you might have.  Enjoy!

Leftover Turkey Casserole


  • 6 slices bread, whole wheat
  • 4 ounces cubed turkey
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups milk, 1%
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup, low-sodium (10.75 ounces)
  • 2 slices bread, whole wheat
  • 2 teaspoons margarine
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, low-fat shredded (or jack cheese)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, light

Directions: Lightly coat a 9x9x2-inch baking dish with vegetable spray. Cut 6 slices of bread (fresh or day-old) into 1-inch cubes and place half into the bottom of a baking dish.  In a bowl, combine turkey, onion, celery, mayonnaise, and pepper. Spoon mixture over bread crumbs.  Place remaining bread cubes over turkey mixture and press down slightly with spoon.
Combine eggs and milk and pour mixture over cubes. Cover and refrigerate overnight.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325°F.  Spoon soup over top of casserole.  Spread one teaspoon margarine on side of each slice of bread. Cut buttered bread into 1/2-inch cubes and sprinkle on top of casserole.
Bake for 60 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean. Remove from oven and sprinkle cheese over top. Let stand 15 minutes before cutting and serving.


Makes: 6 servings.  Each serving contains 277 calories, 11 grams of fat, 17 grams of protein, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, and 639 mg of sodium.  


Sources:  University of Illinois Extension. Wellness Ways recipes


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