Have Yourself a Food Safe Holiday

Happy Holidays! Whether you’re the head chef at your holiday gatherings or bringing a casserole to share, food safety is always the most important job in creating a holiday meal. Eating food that’s not cooked or refrigerated correctly could make you and your guests sick. Nobody wants to miss out on the fun because of unsafe food. Keep your holiday festivities healthy and happy this year with these simple food safety steps!

(Wash)ing in a Winter Wonderland

Holiday food safety starts with the basics. Be sure to wash your hands, utensils, and cooking surfaces before and after you are in the kitchen. Don’t forget to rinse fresh fruits and vegetables with clean water too!

Where’s the Turkey?

We’ve all been there: you forget to pull the turkey out of the freezer and it’s frozen solid. Panic sets in and drastic measures are taken to unthaw as fast as possible. A little planning can prevent foodborne illness (and heartache). Allow 3 to 4 days for your turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. You could also try running it under water and check it regularly, changing the water so that it does not reach 75 º F or higher.

Timing and Temperature: The Perfect Holiday Pair

Using a thermometer to check the temperature of your dish not only ensures food safety, it can also improve the taste! Avoid over or undercooking by using this safe cooking temperatures chart: eatright.org/holidayhelpertipssheet.

Transporting (Safely) All the Way

If you’re traveling and bringing cooked food, be sure it arrives bacteria-free to the holiday feast! Use towels or insulated bags with ice packs to keep food hot or cold. Hot food should be at 140º F or above, and cold foods at 41º F or less.

Serving your Feast

Foods left at room temperature can quickly grow harmful bacteria. When serving your holiday spread, be sure that foods are not left out for more than 2 hours.

Enjoying Leftovers 

What’s a holiday meal without delicious leftovers, right? Enjoy them safely by making sure foods are fully reheated to a minimum of 165º F. 

Happy Holidays!

Logan, EFNEP student employee

Carrot Cake Bites


• Non-stick cooking spray

• 1/2 cup flour• 1 cup dry oats

• 1 tablespoon cinnamon

• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 1 egg

• 1/2 cup butter

• 1 cup shredded carrots

• 1/2 cup raisins

• 1/2 package cream cheese (about 4 ounces)


1. Preheat oven 350°F. 

2. Spray cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

3. Mix together flour, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and brown sugar in a large bowl. 

4. In a separate bowl, beat egg, butter, carrots, raisins, and cream cheese together.

5. Add egg mixture to flour mixture. Stir until all ingredients are mixed and batter forms.

6. Drop dough by small teaspoons onto cookie sheet.

7. Bake at 350°F for 10 minutes.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

110 Calories, Total Fat 4.5g, Saturated Fat 3g, Protein 1g, Total Carbohydrate 15g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sodium 55mg. Excellent source of vitamin A.

Tumbleweed Pasta

Makes 8 Servings


2 cups cooked Rotini noodles
1 cup (8 ounces) salsa
1 can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, diced
½ green pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Dice green peppers and onions.
  2. Drain cans of corn and beans and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add salsa, green pepper, and onion.
  4. Stir together.
  5. Add cooked Pasta and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Mini Meatloaves


1 lb lean ground beef, turkey, or chicken

1 ½ cup salsa

1 egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup dry bread crumbs

¼ cup finely chopped onion

Dash of black pepper

Non-stick cooking spray


Heat oven to 350 F

Combine all ingredients, saving half of salsa for topping

Divide into 5 equal portions and shape into flattened loaves.

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray and place loaves in dish

Spoon half of the remaining salsa on top of loaves and bake for 20 minutes

Take out of oven and spoon remaining salsa over top and bake for another 10 minutes. Be sure ground beef meatloaf reaches 160 ̊F or 165 ̊F for ground turkey or ground chicken.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

150 Calories, Total Fat 4.5g, Saturated Fat 1.5g, Protein 22g, Total Carbohydrate 7g, Dietary Fiber 1g, Sodium 170mg.

Excellent source of Vitamin C. Good source of iron.