Published: Nov. 27, 2013

Celebrating Thanksgiving safely

Contact(s): Alex Barhorst Residential and Hospitality Services

It’s Thanksgiving time, and everyone has food on the mind. Especially some of MSU’s faculty.

“I want people to think while they’re cooking their meals on Thanksgiving,” said Lucia Patritto. “I get phone calls from people in the community all the time, and I don’t mind answering one bit.”

Patritto, a health expert with MSU Extension, says her Thanksgivings are quiet and consist of the traditional foods typically associated with the holiday. She’s actively involved in meal preparation, and says she practices the safe cooking behaviors that she preaches.

“Some people have been cooking Thanksgiving meals for years and don’t realize they’re putting their families in danger,” Patritto said. “No room temperature thawing, using a food thermometer…in my house, we do it right.”

While safe food preparation is important, Jeannie Nichols said careful storage for your leftovers is just as important. Nichols, a food safety and canning expert, does not condone the common family tradition of leaving food out for all-day snacking.

“Put the food in the fridge,” Nichols said. “It can always come back out, but if it sits on the counter you’re running the risk of letting your family pick up foodborne illnesses.”

Everybody has their own special dish to contribute to the Nichols family’s Thanksgiving feast. Jeannie said she makes the pies: pumpkin, apple, pecan and peanut butter. Recipes for the latter two pies can be found below. Have a happy Thanksgiving from the kitchens of MSU to you.

Pecan Pie

3 eggs

¾ cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon white sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup pecan pieces or halves


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Beat the eggs in a bowl- use a whisk.
  3. Add the sugars, salt, vanilla and corn syrup and beat until well blended.
  4. Stir in pecans
  5. Pour into an 8- inch unbaked pie shell.
  6. Place in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until it starts to crack near the edges. The cracked top is acceptable for this kind of pie.
  7. This pie does not have to be refrigerated.

Peanut butter pie

2 – 3 ounce boxes of vanilla pudding

3 cups whole milk

½ c. creamy peanut butter

½ teaspoon vanilla

8 ounces of whipped topping (like Cool Whip)

¼ cup unsalted chopped peanuts (optional)


  1. In a sauce pan or microwave pan mix the pudding mixes and the milk.
  2. Cook on top of the stove or in the microwave, stirring often, until it is bubbly and thick.
  3. Add the peanut butter and vanilla and stir until smooth.
  4. Fold in ½ of the container of Cool Whip type topping.
  5. Place mixture in a baked 9 inch pie shell.
  6. Cool and spread the remaining Cool Whip on top.
  7. Sprinkle with unsalted chopped peanuts if desired.
  8. This pie must be kept refrigerated after it has cooled.



Jeannie Nichols, MSU Extension food safety and canning expert, whips up some holiday pies.

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