Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

'Twas the week before Thanksgiving, and all through the house thoughts of turkey were stirring, sized for you and your spouse. A lot of my friends stay in the city for Thanksgiving and opt for low-key two-person celebrations. Often "home" is too far away, or they have plans to travel for Christmas so stay put for Turkey Day. What to do when the holiday arrives and it's just you two?

The first step to making Thanksgiving for two special is to avoid the tv dinner vibe. Put on music instead of the television, change out of those sweatpants and set the table. Cloth napkins, candlelight and a modest centerpiece can go a long way toward setting the scene.

An entire turkey is far too big for just 2-3 people. Invest in a breast—a small turkey breast will offer plenty of meat for dinner and you can freeze the leftovers for sandwiches and soups later. If you want a little more pizzaz you can pick up cornish game hens. The miniature birds can be roasted whole for all the look at a fraction of the size. We wrap ours with bacon and stuff them with green apple cornbread. Cornbread: Cook up a slice or two of bacon and chop it, then sauté 1/2 cup celery and 1 cup onion in some of the bacon grease, seasoning with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix a small diced Granny Smith apple with one package Jiffy cornbread mix, a beaten egg and a few tablespoons of apple cider until moist. Add in the bacon, celery and onions and stir to combine. Stuff the game hens and roast until done. I cook any extra stuffing in a separate ramekin on the side.

Another great option is to buy turkey cutlets. Pound the turkey cutlets to flatten them, put a dollop of the stuffing of your choice in the center of each, roll the cutlet around the stuffing, then wrap with kitchen twine. Brown the turkey rolls in a skillet before placing them in a preheated oven. Cook at 375 degrees F until turkey is cooked through, about 20 minutes. The great part about this is you can assemble the turkey rolls the day before and have them ready for browning/roasting without further prep on Thanksgiving Day. Don't forget the gravy—my friend Morgan has a stress-free gravy recipe on her blog.

A whole pie can be just right for couples with a serious sweet tooth, but consider making miniature pumpkin, apple or pecan pies in jars or ramekins to avoid too many leftovers. Or think outside the box and serve pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin creme brulee, or pumpkin cupcakes.

Finally, find a way to tell your companion how thankful you are for him or her. List a few of their best attributes in a note or share a memory of a time spent together you particularly treasure. Then toast to the memories to come in the year ahead.

Check back in later this week. We'll talk about hosting Thanksgiving for 4-6 as well as for big family gatherings.

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