Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite Holiday. While I love Christmas, the decorations, cookies, food, weeks of celebration, there is something about the simplicity of Thanksgiving that really appeals to me. Thanksgiving is just more casual, more relaxed (maybe not so much for the cook!).

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Not only do I love the food but also the opportunity to reflect on what I’m grateful for, so many things that I might not spend the time to truly consider  during my busy daily life.

Growing up Thanksgiving was about family. Watching the parade in New York or Detroit on tv in our pajamas, baking pies the night before, watching football, spending time with loved ones, and appreciating those relationships. This November marks my fifth since moving from Michigan to North Carolina, and I’ve only made it home for Thanksgiving once since.

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I’ve been fortunate to spend other years with wonderful friends in Charlotte at the annual Friendsiving celebration, and last year we went to Kansas to celebrate with my husband’s family. This year I will be traveling without my husband for what will be our first Thanksgiving as a married couple. I’m really excited for my trip, but also sad we won’t spend the day together.

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I decided an early Thanksgiving celebration was in order and I was going to do it! That got me thinking about all the other people that might be able to travel and celebrate with family, or who might have recently moved somewhere new and only know their spouse or their roommate. Or maybe there are some couples that would like to enjoy the day to themselves. Whatever the reason, here are my tips for making Thanksgiving for two.

  1. Compromise is key. One of the best parts of Thanksgiving for me is all the sides- I love them all but it’s not practical to make everything when you’re doing it yourself and only for two people. We chose to make mashed potatoes, since they were a priority for both of us, and to forgo the sweet potato casserole and stuffing/dressing.
  2. Choose one dessert and make it in advance. No surprise I love all the desserts, pumpkin pie, apple pie, any other fall-inspired treat. Since apple pie is the favorite for both of us it was an easy choice. I made this first and typically make my pies a day in advance then store them in the fridge. I used this 5 minute-food processor pie crust.
  3. Don’t feel obligated to make an entire turkey! Heck, skip the turkey all together if it’s not a priority or one of you is a vegetarian. I decided to roast a 5 lb. turkey breast because I wanted lots of leftovers, but I almost made a 1.5 lb. turkey loin, the kind you can find in the poultry section of the grocery store year round. To make it easy on myself I simply covered the turkey breast in a mixture of olive oil, fresh rosemary, dried thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and threw it in the oven; it took a little less than 2 hours.
  4. Plan things out, just like if you were cooking for a crowd. I baked the green bean casserole (top priority for my husband- see the recipe below) first, then reheated it when the turkey was resting. While it baked I made the orange-cranberry sauce (top priority for me) and I started the mashed potatoes when the turkey was almost done, knowing I would leave it to rest for about 20 minutes before we ate.
  5. Share what you’re thankful for. It might only be two of you, and if it’s your spouse or someone else close you might regularly express your gratitude for that person. I like to Thanksgiving to really think about all that I’m grateful for during the past year and we shared why we are grateful to have one another in our lives.

Bonus: don’t rush to do the dishes, they can wait a bit!

Our entire menu included: Roast turkey breast, green bean casserole (see recipe below), olive oil mashed potatoes, orange-cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, and apple pie. It was well worth the work in the kitchen!

Fresh Green Bean Casserole
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
My favorite variation of green bean casserole after five years of fighting back against canned varieties.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 c vegetable broth (sub chicken broth if desired)
  • 1 c half & half
  • 2 T flour
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • ¼ t ground nutmeg
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t black pepper
  • 1 c Fontina or Asiago cheese grated
  • ¾ crispy onions (I used Trader Joe's) or Panko breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Boil a large pot of water. Add the green beans and cook until soft. Drain and add to a 8 x 8 baking dish.
  2. While the green beans cook, add the onion and garlic with 1 t olive oil to a medium sauce pan. Cook until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour.
  3. Add the half & half, chicken broth, thyme, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer until thickened, about 7 minutes.
  4. Add the cream sauce to the green beans in the baking dish. Stir until well incorporated.
  5. Top with the cheese and then the crispy onions or breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes until bubbly and the cheese has melted. Cover with foil to keep warm if needed.

 

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