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Christmas dinner for 2?

By an unusual set of circumstances, my mother and I are alone for Christmas this year. Not wanting it to turn into 'just any other evening at home', I offered to cook X-mas dinner.
The problem is every X-menu posted online tends to be for huge gatherings, i.e. lots of dishes and courses.
I am looking specifically for a main course and a dessert (not a plethora of dishes). Ideally a bird and a warming fruit based dessert.

Any novel dishes out there that don't require master chef skills?

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  1. If you really wanted to do a bird you could roast a brined turkey breast with a small/individual apple pie in ramekins?

    1. Here is a link to a very simple turkey breast cooked in a crockpot. I will see what recipe I have in the way of a warm fruit dessert and post later if I find anything.


      1. Here is a fried apple recipe that my granddaughter sent to me. I have not tried it; however, it appears to be easy, not time consuming, and has some flexibility in the serving.

        Fried Apples

        Makes 2 to 3 servings

        1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
        3 to 4 apples peeled (I don’t peel them), cored, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
        1/4 cup sugar
        1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
        1 tablespoons cognac (optional)

        Melt the butter in a heavy large frying pan over high heat, stirring until the butter foams and becomes golden, about 2 minutes. Toss the apples slices, sugar, and cinnamon in a lmedium bowl to coat. Immediately add the apple mixture to the hot butter. Stir the apples to coat with the butter. Simmer until the juices evaporate and the apples become caramelized, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes. Make sure that the apples are caramelized. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the caramelized apples back to the large bowl.

        If using cognac, stir it into the caramelized apples. Spoon apples into individualized serving bowls.

        You can also add 1/8 cup of raisins and 1/8 cup of chopped toasted walnuts, pecans, or almonds into the caramelized apples. The key is to serve the apples warm. You can layer the caramelized apples between sheets of baked puffed pastry or phyllo dough for a wonderful apple napoleon. They are fabulous as a topping for pancakes and waffles or add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven!

        1. Since you are two this year, why not cook 2 Rock Cornish Game hens? I hesitate to serve these to company since you have to get in with both hands to truly enjoy them. But, since it's just you and your mom, why not? There are tons of recipes on the net, most very easy. The hens, stuffing, cranberries and a quick gravy sounds like a great and easy Christmas dinner to me.

          1. Cornish hens are fun when cooking for two. Here are a couple of tasty recipes:


            Another possibility is duck. You could do the 5 hour duck if you're going to be around to deal with it every hour, it's amazingly easy and gratifyingly good, it just needs pricking and flipping every hour. And it really does need all that pricking, especially in the "armpits". I also flip it once during the last hour, ending with it breat up the last 30 minutes. Bonus is all the rendered duck fat for future use!

            3 Replies
            1. re: GretchenS

              Following on the duck idea...we really love Jaques Pepin's recipe for skillet duck. Leftovers are very tasty and you still get all the lovely duck fat:

              A non-bird option would be rack of lamb. We got one in our meat CSA this month and I'm planning to have it with my hubby for our Christmas dinner (I might share with the kids if they've been very, very good!).

              1. re: GretchenS

                Cornish Hens are good, but I have this vision of a table with a single bird on it.

                1. re: meatnveg

                  That's where plating comes in handy :)

              2. Depending on what you and your mom want to eat on Christmas Day, I think any of these suggestions are good. I haven't had cornish hens in ages, and I think that is a good idea. For other parts of the meal, you might consider buying a special dish the day before at a good fresh food counter. You can certainly have a look at Whole Foods' offerings, but any good grocer in a sizable town should have things that would appeal. You can simply warm your choice(s) up. The obvious for this scenario is bread. But I've gotten cranberry relish from my grocer many times.

                A specially prepared dish that you don't have to do is a godsend when there is only one cook!

                Have a happy Christmas Day!

                1 Reply
                1. re: sueatmo

                  intriguing idea to buy one dish or both. Thanks!

                2. If it were me, I would do prime rib for two. Last time I did that for my husband and I, I had the butcher cut the meat from the bone and then retie it so I could keep the flavor. You only need a 2-bone roast and it does not take that long in the oven. You can do either a baked potato or some garlic mashed potato as a side and maybe some brussel sprouts or glazed carrots. For dessert, do a couple of chocolate cakes in a mug.


                  I know this is not fruit or bird, but it can still fill the bill. If you want, just leave out the sides and make a good horseradish and some au jus for the meat.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: boyzoma

                    It would beef if it were me as well, sadly, the vision of single roasted bird is one I think I will hold to

                    1. re: meatnveg

                      Perhaps just a gloriously roasted chicken?

                  2. Depending on the circumstances that provide the back-drop for this Christmas dinner, you might just want to consider NOT going with a poultry-fruit dessert/ faux traditional Christmas dinner.

                    The first year that it was just Mom, my sister and me, we made a conscious and mutual decision to break the mold of ALL previous Christmas dinners as they just kind of stressed the (in our case sad) difference of this one.

                    We did a giant homemade pizza with festive green and red peppers, Caesar salad and a cheesecake with strawberries and mint leaves. We invited Jewish friends too, and so kept everything kosher.

                    All terribly corny, but it got us all over the weirdness, and we still giggle over the year of the Non-Christmas. Just a thought, plus all these things are dead simple or bits can be purchased and assembled in advance.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: LJS

                      Sounds like it was fun! However, this is the first time I am cooking an elaborate dinner.
                      As I am freshly unemployed (new graduate) I have been cooking dinner for ~3 months and pizza being my mom's favorite thing, has shown up frequently.
                      The cheesecake is a good idea though...I have an excellent recipe for one that uses hung curd and oranges.

                    2. Thanks All for your suggestions. After seeing my options I have decided to go with an asian themed taste profile for the dinner

                      On the menu will be:

                      Chinese 5-spice roast duck

                      Chinese Date Pancakes with Ice cream (this is a dessert from my childhood spent in Chinese restaurants in India)

                      What I need now is an idea for either a side dish or a stuffing. suggestions?

                      BTW, the circumstances are not sad or happy, just unusual

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: meatnveg

                        How about a good fried rice - you can make the rice the day ahead, then simply fry it up with soy sauce, some shredded fried egg, green onions, and peas (carrots, too, if you like them). That way you have a starch and veg combined. The pancakes and ice cream sound good, but if you are still considering a fruit dessert, I'd go with apple crisp and ice cream. Happy holiday!

                        1. re: meatnveg

                          Would a sticky rice work? It could be used as a side, or a stuffing.


                          This is a general recipe but you can play w/ the ingredients and what you can get. You can get chinese sausage at Costco now, if you don't live near a Chinese store.

                          1. re: meatnveg

                            As a side how about green beans sauteed simply with some shallot or ginger and garlic, perhaps a little soy or sesame oil and deglazed with orange juice?

                            1. re: just_M

                              Costco ha some great Small green beans right now. You can also roast them with a little salt and olive oil @ 400° for about 12 min.

                          2. Is having a whole bird to carve important? If so, I would go with duck----there's so little meat it's really not overkill for two if you like leftovers on the 26th (duck curry, anyone?). If not, here are a few things I've done over the years for holiday meals for two:

                            Roasted turkey breast
                            Turkey legs braised with mushrooms, white wine, sage, and whole cloves of garlic (then sliced in the kitchen and served under the mushrooms, pan sauce, and garlic cloves)
                            Duck breasts in either a red wine or port reduction
                            A small high quality ham
                            Small, bone-in rib roast (prob 2 bones), salt and pepper crusted
                            Half a leg of lamb (a bit much, but great sammies for days)
                            Small rack of lamb
                            Lamb rib chops (pricey, as they're cut from the rack, but more tender and juicier than loin chops, and also faster and far easier to cook to that "just so" point of doneness).

                            And just a tip: the things surrounding the meal go a long way toward making a two-some feel festive----good music, a special bottle or two of wine, maybe make a couple fancy hors d'oeuvres the night before. And if you're a baker a great loaf of homemade bread---maybe a french spiked with rosemary and some nicoise olives---is great, too, perhaps left to rise in the fridge overnight so all you have to do Christmas morning is toss it in the oven.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                              I am afraid I must disappoint you on both counts.

                              1. Yes the bird to carve is important, simply because it is quite novel for us. Being Indian, we have always been at family gatherings for X-mas where the dishes have usually been ribs, beef, chicken, salads of walnuts, beets and such and desserts of chocolate cakes, trifles etc. The whole bird experience has eluded us

                              2. I am not a great baker and do not want to mess around with it.

                              The hors d'oeuvers idea is one I will take though as is the second day duck curry.


                              1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                A festive table also adds to the occasion.

                                1. re: Maryelle

                                  Yes - breakout the good dishes and crystal! I really think we save using these far too often. Celebrate! Its a special meal :)

                              2. I wouldn't forget the Zuni Chicken as an option. Seems like it would be perfect for 2..

                                6 Replies
                                    1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                                      I do something almost identical, but I mince my herbs (usually rosemary) and mix with softened butter and put the herb/butter mixture under the skin. It keeps the meat very moist and juicy. I also put a quartered onion in the cavity along with a sprig of rosemary. It comes out looking like this:

                                      (I think it is the same recipe King posted above - it just had the photo - Mine was just as brown and lovely as this though)

                                      1. re: King of Northern Blvd

                                        I love, love, love that chicken. And the bread salad. And it's so easy and failsafe.

                                        1. re: c oliver

                                          Agreed. This is exactly what I thought of at first as well.

                                    2. re: King of Northern Blvd

                                      I'm glad Zuni chicken made the thread. Too good for words, and the currant panzanella is outstanding. If you're deeply-invested in your five-spice duck, you might consider some stir-fried baby bok choy with mushrooms and a bit of ginger, garlic and soy and some easy panfried yakisoba, but if the noodles are too casual you could head for a rice stuffing with a bit of ground pork and some minced shallots and garlic; another side to consider would be stir-fried broccoli with crispy shallots.