Thanksgiving for Three

Cooking a Thanksgiving dinner for less than 6 people is a challenge but this year it is just us three- my Mom, Matt, and I. Mom is hosting at her place, but we all worked on the menu together. An added challenge this year was to make dinner “relatively” healthy and to not be overwhelmed with leftovers.

The bird (Mom)


The smallest turkey we could buy fresh was 12 lbs. I would have liked a 10 lbs or less bird but oh well.  Mom is making our traditional family recipe- minus the dressing.  In 1977 (my first thanksgiving) my Grandma tried a new turkey recipe from Bon Appetite which called for the turkey to be cooked upside down in a brown paper bag.  I don’t think my Grandma (or anyone in my family for that matter) ever tried another recipe again.  This recipe (from the article Talking Turkey: How to Buy, Marinade, Stuff, and Roast the Perfect Bird by Rita Leinwand) has been reprinted in Bon Appetite several times for good reason.  My family has photocopied the original recipe and passed it on numerous times.  Just a day ago I got an email from my dad who is celebrating Thanksgiving with his sisters looking for a copy of our turkey recipe. I finally got smart and scanned it to a google document. I suggest giving it a try next year.

The stuffing (Mom)

In an effort to be healthy this turkey day we are giving a new stuffing a try.  We’ll be incorporating whole grains and I mean whole grains! Wheatberries are uncracked wheat- can’t get much more whole grain than that.

Wheatberries Source

I found a recipe for Wheat Berry Stuffing with Pearl Onions on Epicurious in the healthy section (love the healthy and the quick meal sections).  Cannot wait to give it a try.

The Starch (Amy)

I love sweet potatoes (sans brown sugar/marshmallow/etc)  but I don’t want to give up my regular old potatoes. Instead of doubling up on starches I found a recipe that uses both.

Bon Appetit November 2009

Roasted Sweet Potato, Potato & Sage. In addition to Yukon Gold ‘taters this recipe also uses red-skinned and tan-skinned sweet potatos. Yum, Yum, Yum.

The Veggies (Amy)

Green beans are a must for us on the Thanksgiving table, although I don’t like green bean casserole *gasp*.  I did make green bean casserole completely from scratch once -i.e. no cream of mushroom soup- and it was bomb a$$.  It was a lot of work and a lot of calories but amazing. I am not 100% on the veggie recipe yet but here are the top contenders:

Green Beans with Ginger Butter

Green Beans with Miso and Almonds

Haricots Verts, Roasted Fennel, and Shallot

Cranberries (Mom)

Yeah, I am funny about my cranberries too.  I am in the raw relish camp rather than the cooked sauce camp.  The absolute worst? Canned cranberry sauce.  The can shaped log kills me.  Matt thinks this is funny and now I am the proud owner of this shirt:

Lets Get Sauced –

Our recipe for cranberry relish is super complicated and top secret… ok, really it has 3 ingredients and comes from the back of the ocean spray cranberry package.  Love.

Dessert (Matt)

Even though he will likely help me with the side dishes Matt is 100% in charge of dessert. He is the house baker/ice cream maker after all!

Pumpkin Gingersnap Ice Cream  Sunset Magazine October 2011

We have some extra pumpkin sitting around and we’ve been toying with this healthy dessert.  Most likely we’ll make it next week and just serve the ice cream for Thanksgiving dinner.

Pumpkin-Pear Crips Bon Appetit November 2011

There you have it! A simple, *healthy-ish* Thanksgiving menu for 3.  Left overs shouldn’t be overwhelming and I think the menu has balance.

Do you have any *healthy-ish* turkey day suggestions?  What is the smallest group you’ve cooked Thanksgiving dinner for? Which green bean recipe would you choose?



Filed under We Cook

6 responses to “Thanksgiving for Three

  1. We had an early Thanksgiving downunder because my brother was leaving for another island, and Josh wanted him to be there for Thanksgiving. So we had just 3 people too! We had chicken (because Turkeys are like $60 here), buttered asparagus, roast potatos and sweet potatos, and cranberry sauce. We had some soft cheeses and chips and dips for starters, and I made cherry pie for dessert 🙂 I think a small Thanksgiving is nice…it is easier to keep everyone happy!

  2. My Thanksgivings growing up were always just 3! Mum, dad and I. Mum rarely did a full turkey, sometimes she’d buy turkey breasts, sometimes a whole chicken instead. Sometimes lamb, because we like lamb. 🙂 Same at Christmas too.
    I’m with you on the canned cranberry sauce, blegh! I also don’t understand why when people do serve it, the leave it looking like it came out of a can. Mush it up a bit with a spoon and try to fool me! Mum makes this awesome cranberry relish from a Delia Smith Christmas cookbook that is out of this world!

  3. Sarah

    I’ve spent 3 days trying to squeeze (no pun intended) the “secret” cranberry recipe out of Dad and each set of directions is more vague (“oh, you know, oranges and cranberries and you just toss them all in the blender or something…I’m sure there’s a recipe on the internet”) Glad you linked–this is exactly what I was thinking, but can’t find my copy anywhere 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Oh my goshhhh that ice cream looks delicious. I’d go with the ginger butter green beans! Our Thanksgiving dinners are usually pretty big (all 3 that we attend!!) but I think doing a simple, small Thanksgiving would be so nice…hopefully one year in the future 🙂

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