Thanksgiving life hacks for the broke, talentless college student

The average college student will likely be spending Thanksgiving Day with his or her family and loved ones, but just because someone else might be roasting the turkey doesn’t mean you can’t pitch in. Here are a few simple and delicious Thanksgiving ideas for the time-strapped college student:

1. Roasted Vegetables

Almost everything can be roasted. Potatoes? Roasted. Asparagus? Roasted. Brussels sprouts? Roasted! Roasting vegetables is easy, doesn’t take too much time and can be delicious with the right seasonings. You can use a single vegetable or mix and match, but some veggies are better for roasting than others. Potatoes — white or sweet — carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts and asparagus are all perfect for roasting. Just heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, slice up your vegetables and toss them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh salt, pepper and fresh Italian seasonings (oregano, rosemary, thyme and basil). Let the vegetables roast in the middle of the rack for 20 to 40 minutes depending on chosen produce (potatoes take longer). If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, dice up some bacon to roast with the dish.

2. Mashed Potatoes

Almost everyone loves mashed potatoes. Who wouldn’t? They’re creamy, delicious and really easy to make. You can use almost any type of potato to make mashed potatoes, and the preparation will be the same even though flavor profiles will differ. The first step is to wash and peel each potato unless you plan to keep the rind on. The rind is full of nutrition but can be displeasing to more sensitive palates. Boil the potatoes in salted (and oiled if you prefer) water, making sure they’re fully cooked by testing them with a fork. Once cooked, just throw them in a bowl for mashing with butter, cream (or milk), salt and pepper. For a gourmet touch, add pureed roasted garlic and fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to white potatoes or diced and roasted chipotles and cumin to sweet potatoes.

3. Sautéed Green Beans

This dish is as easy as the pie you’ll be eating after dinner. You technically only need green beans and oil, but dicing up some bacon, fresh garlic and almonds can really add to the flavor. Just dice your green beans — once on each side and then to an appropriate length. And then stir-fry the ingredients in a pan on medium heat. If you’re looking for an international flavor, you can add leeks, bok choy or shallots to the stir-fry. A simple Asian dressing can be made by mixing corn starch into a warmed mixture of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and honey. Then, add the dressing to the stir-fry mid-way through cooking. The sauce should thicken uniformly across the dish. Garnish with sliced almond or pecan and you’re done.

Other Tips for a Delicious Thanksgiving:

You can make homemade butter with some heavy whipping cream, a small glass mason jar and a marble. Fill the glass about halfway with heavy whipping cream, place the clean marble inside, seal and shake until the contents become thick. Then, separate into butter and buttermilk. This also makes a great activity for young children who will squeal in delight when it works.

Likewise, adding hard liquor as replacement for half of the water in a pie crust will make your crust flakey and delicious. Vodka will maintain a neutral flavor, whereas rum and bourbon will impart their respective profiles.

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