An Elegant Holiday Dinner
For Less Than A Crowd
By Brenda Hyde
While many families celebrate together at Thanksgiving there are also many people that are separated from their family and friends for the entire holiday, or like our family, join them on the weekends before and after. In these cases even a 12 pound turkey is too much for dinner, unless you want to have turkey leftovers for breakfast, lunch and dinner the following days! Never fear, there are solutions and actually it's easy to cook an elegant meal for a two to four people than a big crowd.
Boneless turkey breast is a great solution. They are large enough to enjoy for dinner, and you'll have just enough leftovers for dinner that night or the next day. If you are cooking for just yourself we also have a solution using fresh turkey tenderloin. Whatever your situation, you deserve to have a festive holiday dinner! Be sure to phone your family members or friends on Thanksgiving to chat with them and feel part of the celebration.
A Menu for Two to Four People
Herbed Roasted Turkey Breast
1 Bone-in Turkey Breast-about 3 pounds
2 slivered garlic cloves
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary or a sprig of fresh
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pepper
Salt to season
Make small slits in top of breast and insert garlic slivers and the fresh rosemary sprigs. If you are using dried then add it to the honey mixture instead. In a small bowl, combine honey, mustard, oil, lemon juice, dried rosemary if using and pepper. Brush herb mixture over the turkey breast. Sprinkle with salt. Place turkey in baking dish or roaster pan, meaty side up. Roast at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes. Baste every 10 to 15 minutes until done. Cooking time depends on the size of the breast. It should read at least 165 degrees on a meat thermometer that has been inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Allow to set while you finish the preparations, the carving will be much easier.
Herb Buttered Zucchini and Carrots
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound small zucchini
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried thyme or 2 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter
Scrub the carrots and zucchini. Slice the zucchini 1/8 inch thick and leave the carrots whole. To the boiling water add the salt, thyme and carrots. Cover and simmer about 10-15 minutes until carrots are still crisp-tender. Add the zucchini and mix well. Bring back to a boil and cover. Reduce heat and simmer about 5 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Drain and add butter, tossing gently to coat. This makes about 4 servings.
Herb Onion Stuffing
1 cup finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
1 stick butter
5 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup chicken broth
Cook the onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over fairly low heat, stirring, until butter is melted and onion is slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Combine bread crumbs, herbs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and stir in butter mixture and gently stir in broth. If you like a moister stuffing you may need to add more broth. Transfer stuffing to a buttered baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes with your turkey breast at 350 degrees, then uncover and bake until top is crisp and stuffing is heated through, about 20 minutes more.
Notes: The fresh herbs should be easy to find in your produce section, but you can substitute dried tarragon-using half the amount. I don't recommend dried chives, but you can use the green part of green onions as a substitute. Parsley is always available fresh-if not, leave it out. This makes about 5 cups of stuffing.
Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Topping
Single 9" pie shell
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 14-oz can pumpkin puree (about 1 1/2 cups), not pie filling
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup corn syrup
1-1/2 cups pecan halves
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
NOTE: Do not prick bottom of your pie crust.
Break eggs into a large bowl. Beat until blended. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg until evenly blended. Then add pumpkin and milk, stirring until blended.
Pour pumpkin mixture into the unbaked pie shell. Bake on bottom rack of oven just until crust is golden around edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees and continue baking until pumpkin filling seems set in center when lightly jiggled, about 45 to 50 minutes more. Place on a cooling rack while making topping.
In a large saucepan, combine sugars and corn syrup. Place over medium heat and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until sugar is completely dissolved, about 3-1/2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pecans. Evenly spoon over warm pie filling. Place in center of preheated broiler rack. Watch carefully and only broil until the topping bubbles. It will happen quickly! Remove from oven and place on cooling rack. Pie can be served warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers for up to two days.
A Holiday Menu for One or Two
My suggestion for dining with one for the holiday is to make it elegant but simple. Use your best dishes and glassware, light a candle, and make those phone calls!
The previous recipe for Herb Buttered Zucchini and Carrots can easily be cut in half using the same instructions but exactly half the ingredients. The Herb Onion Stuffing can also be cut in half, be sure to use a small casserole dish that will fit the smaller serving of stuffing. Finally, if you know of someone else that is dining alone, consider asking them over for the holiday and ask them to bring dessert!
Herbed Turkey Tenderloin
1 pound fresh turkey tenderloin, cut in half lengthwise
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage or 1 tsp. dried
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
Spray large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium heat until hot. Sprinkle turkey with salt and pepper; add to skillet. Cover; cook 3 minutes. Turn turkey; add pineapple juice. Cover; cook an additional 5 to 8 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink in center. Remove turkey from skillet; place on serving platter. Sprinkle with the green onions, sage and thyme. Cook liquid remaining in skillet over high heat 2 to 3 minutes or until reduced to about 1/3 cup. Spoon sauce over the turkey. You may slice the turkey before adding sauce.
About the Author:
Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer, wife and mom to three. For more holiday traditions, recipes, crafts and ideas visit her at http://seedsofknowledge.com or http://oldfashionedholidays.com.