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What do you think is the easiest Thanksgiving to make for two?

Store-bought items are okay... just not Trader Joes (they only just opened the first one in Florida and it's an hour's drive from here!) I was enthusiastic about Turkey Day but now I'm just feeling tired and washed out and unwell and highly unimaginative and I want to make the minimum possible amount of fuss for something that tastes delicious without costing a fortune. (money is tight) No seafood (allergies) and no MSG or overly much salt (blood pressure issues), but anything else is okay... and NO CHICKEN - we've been living on the stuff for the last two weeks and I think I'm about to grow feathers!

I'm thinking Bob Evans fresh hash brown casserole (tastes great and only needs microwaving) and a Marie Callenders coconut cream pie (delicious if you thaw it in the fridge overnight). Does anyone make a dressing that doesn't have MSG in it? Unfortunately at the moment I can only stand for ten minutes at a time before the sciatica kicks into my leg, so my options are limited...

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  1. Would cornish hens work? That's what I made last time I did Thanksgiving for two. Very little effort involved too.

    1. Some supermarkets which have roasted chickens also roast turkey breasts.

        1. re: Veggo

          Exactly what I was thinking. So very different than chicken!

          1. re: chefathome

            Everything tastes like chicken -- ducks included.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              That's what the duck lobbyist would have you think. The truth is they are much tastier.

              1. re: Veggo

                <That's what the duck lobbyist would have you think. >

                Why would duck lobbyists do that? Do you mean chicken lobbyists?

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  A duck lobbyist's job is to keep ducks alive at the expense of other critters.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Oh, that kind of duck lobbyists. Got it. Kind of like cows are the spokemen for Chic-Fil-A:


                      1. re: Veggo

                        Has it occurred to you that I am A duck lobbyist?

                        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                          I wish you could persuade the 16 muscovys to stay in my lake and stop shitting in my driveway. They were fun when they were young, but it's time to move on.....
                          Oh, and one of them just had 11 chicks, so it's like groundhog day with ducks here.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            In all seriousness, have you considered having certain animals to drive them off? Like a dog or a swane?

                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                              I'm a cat person, no dogs for me. I'll see how the winter goes. I thought the early hatch of 16 would have fanned out to get a life by now, which they didn't, and now there's more. If things don't change by spring, I'll be posting more duck recipes. And pate. And duck fat uses. I don't feed them or encourage them, but they eat well and have no predators on my property. Their mama didn't raise no stupid ducks.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                You have my sympathies... sweet little ducklings are VERY sweet - but they grow up fast and those muscovys are the biggest, ugliest, STUPIDEST pooping machines on the planet! They have to forcibly relocate them from our lake every few years because the neighbourhood gets overrrun and you can't move for stepping on a pile of duck poop. Even all the car-fatalities don't keep them under control (I cried my eyes out when I saw one of our neighbours hit three adults at once with his SUV...) But to keep this more on-topic, I don't think you'd want to eat a muscovy duck - anything that looks that ugly and smells that bad can't possibly taste good!

                                1. re: Kajikit

                                  Yeah they're ugly and stinky, but males produce huge and delicious breasts. Females do too, just smaller.

                            2. re: Veggo

                              Muscovys make a great 'coq au vin'. All dark meat and tough as hell cooked any way but low and slow braised.
                              They are always in a perpetual 'bad mood' in my experience having raised some (never ever again!).

                              1. re: Puffin3

                                I enjoy a local flock of 34 Amazon parrots also, and although they can be noisy, I enjoy everything about them. They remind me of my Yucatan days with countless parrots, such pretty birds. As Kajikit pointed out, Muscovy's are truly ugly.

                  2. re: Veggo

                    For me, duck eats like beef. Most chicken today is flavorless.

                    1. re: treb

                      Nah, I think it tastes more like buffaloes.

                2. re: Veggo

                  I'm going to third this. Growing up, we were a long day's drive from extended family, and a duck was just right for Thanksgiving for 4, but I've made it for two with just enough leftovers to make cassoulet or something a few days later. When it was just me, I'd roast a couple of duck legs - one to eat for dinner, one for soup later, and a bit of leftover duckfat to keep me warm and fuzzy for a couple of months later.

                3. Since you said no chicken, how about ham? Or is it too salty? Duck is definitely an option as Veggo has pointed out.

                  If you don't like ham, you can roast your own pork...

                  1. Duck is a great ida, but could be a little pricy....

                    Have you considered sticking to traditional Thanksgiving fare and just scaling back to something manageable? It shouldn't take more than an hour to cook, and just a little bit longer to prep. A modest observation, with costs and salt in consideration, a home cooked meal would be a far better option than a store bought casserole...

                    I once had to spend Thanksgiving alone and really enjoyed cooking for one! (Actually, it took my mind away from being so far away...) The quality of the food ended up better!

                    I dry brined and roasted a small turkey breast (best leftovers ever). Mashed two potatoes with some roasted garlic. Canned Cranberry Sauce, Stove Top, and a simple gravy done with a simple Roux + Chickenstock (which is still a staple). I did a few other things too, but this was the simplest part that I think would be a great option for someone looking for simplicity.

                    Happy Thanksgiving!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: redips

                      I agree with this, I've been alone before and this year it's only 2 but somehow it's still fun to cook for a few. No pressure.

                    2. You are in Florida -- are you near a Publix? Their prepared dishes are always high quality.

                      If you want to cook -- turkey breasts are on sale at most stores. It is just as easy to cook a large one as a small one. You can eat for days on the leftover turkey. Cook according to the packaging (I like to use a Reynold's cooking bag) and freeze whatever you won't eat within the week. Sweet potatoes should also be on sale -- bake some big sweet potatoes and serve with butter, salt, and pepper. Bake a few extra for leftovers. Frozen rolls are just fine, as is a can of cranberry sauce. King's Hawaiian rolls are good with turkey. So, start the turkey, following the directions on the cooking bag package, then add the sweet potatoes to the oven when you have about an hour to go, then the rolls. You want something green -- a simple green salad, cole slaw, or a ready to steam frozen package of brussel sprouts or green beans. Open the can of cranberry sauce. Thaw out your pie. Don't forget a loaf of bread, mayo, and mustard for leftover turkey sandwiches.

                      1. Hmmm... duck sounds interesting - but I wouldn't have the first clue how to cook it! I've only ever tasted it twice in my life and I've never attempted to make it myself. I do know they sell 'exotic' poultry at Publix - maybe I'll have to check the price. Ham is okay but I don't eat it much because of the salt - and 'small' hams cost a fortune compared to the big ones, but there's no way the two of us could use a whole ham before it went bad.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Kajikit

                          If you want to do a whole one, this is a good technique (long on time, but very low on prep and time on feet):

                          A couple of legs or breasts is even easier.

                          I seriously love duck, and clearly don't make it for myself enough. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery and whatnot.

                          1. re: Kajikit

                            How about a ham steak? They heat through in just minutes in a skillet, so it would meet your 10 minute limit (and no leftovers). And my local stores sell very small jars of good mustard to make it a bit festive(so again, not too expensive and not too much left over). A bit of applesauce for the fall flavor (maybe with nutmeg shaved on top?), some frozen corn and green beans that you can season to your liking. My local grocery stores also sell mini pies and pie by the slice; maybe your Publix does as well?

                            1. re: Kajikit

                              Is freezing the leftover ham not an option? I just made a half ham today and there's just 2 of us... I plan on freezing a lot of it to use later.

                              1. re: Kajikit

                                A frozen duck at Publix is $12-14. Google "5 hour duck" . Really easy, but needs occasional attention, I do 4 hours.

                              2. What about a vegetarian thanksgiving alternative like stuffed mini pumpkins or squash?

                                1. Whole Foods has pretty good holiday sides and turkey. The online ordering ended today but they always have tons in the store.

                                  1. How about a really flavorful meatloaf made with ground lamb or a combo of beef, pork and veal. The kind that makes really great sandwiches the next day. Meatloaf goes well with a hash brown casserole. Then maybe a tossed green salad with a light dressing and a hot vegetable, maybe a roasted root vegetable medley in the oven at the same time as the meatloaf and casserole. Then you sit back later, relax and dig into the MC pie. Three dishes in the oven and a salad while you wait.

                                    1. Maybe some turkey cutlets with gravy some roasted veggies/roasted squash etc (sometimes I use frozen mixed veggies and roast in the oven, great) dressing is cheap to make, get a simple recipe online, and a buy a small pumpkin pie. Get a bottle of 2 buck chuck, a few dinner rolls. Should be able to do for well under $10. per person. You can score most ingredients at the 99 cent only or dollar store.

                                      3 Replies
                                        1. re: treb

                                          Your idea is the best so far. Simple delicious yet still a *modified* traditional Thanksgiving feast. I already bought my T day foods but thanks to you I am going to look for some turkey cutlets to stuff...roll.. tie with string and roast:)

                                          1. re: treb

                                            Another +1 to turkey cutlets. I make them with a mustard and cranberry sauce and they are good.

                                          2. Publix has their semi-boneless half hams for $1.89 per lb. I've made them many times. They are good. DH and I have little problem finishing one off. I usually freeze the last bits and the bone to make soup/beans/greens with later.

                                            And, I've used Publix prepared foods for work-related holiday dinners many times. They are pretty good. They have a lot of choices for sides: http://www.publix.com/food/catalog/De...

                                            1. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/24/mag...

                                              NYTimes ran a story today on a small scale Thanksgiving. Might find some inspiration here.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. Salisbury Steak.

                                                Then serve it with all of your other already-noted pre-prepared sides like the Bob Evans hash brown casserole, MC coconut cream pie, etc.

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  And then plan to be alone for Christmas.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    I guess that would be one way to get DH to take me out to eat! The local 24-hour diner has a fairly extensive 'holiday menu' for $15-20 a head. But that seems like more than I want to pay for diner food... their food is okay, not extraordinary.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      More salisbury steak for me, then.

                                                      Let me try that again.

                                                      "All the salisbury steak for me, then."

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                        I had a lifetime of Salisbury steak on Wednesdays during one year of boarding school when I was 15.
                                                        I suppose if I'm ever imprisoned I'll have more.

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          I used to volunteer for cafeteria duty during grade school just so I could get the leftover Salisbury Steak on Wednesdays.

                                                          And believe you me, on Wednesdays I was *very* judicious with my servings.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            You are what you eat, but I nevertheless have a high opinion of you.

                                                            1. re: Veggo

                                                              But I use duck in my Salisbury Steak.

                                                  2. We like roasted turkey wings, which take about an hour and ten minutes in a 350 oven. Wild rice is delicious and affordable mixed with long grain brown rice. Roasted Brussels sprouts are simple.

                                                    1. Reservations? Sometimes enough is enough, and you need to be waited on.

                                                      Or pick a couple of things that would really delight you (plural) and forge on.

                                                      1. Sciatica is a bummer!

                                                        I would suggest a swedish cured pork loin. A day before you plan to cook, make a cure of equal parts salt and sugar, with garlic powder and coriander and black pepper. Rub it all over, wrap tight in plastic, and chill overnight. Next day rinse really well and roast (I like at 300 until 135 and carry over till 140 degrees) and eat. I serve this with lemon horseradish roasted potatoes. Clean and section potatoes of your choice into evenly sized chunks. Combine a couple TBSPs of melted butter, juice of a lemon, and a couple of TBSPs of prepared horserashish. Stir and pour over potatoes, who join the pork in the oven. Add a salad or frozen peas (heated. . .) and yum. It's my go to looks complicated yet easy for company meal.

                                                        Could you do some prep work sitting at the table? I recommend that frequently to my patients to minimize symptoms.

                                                        1. We're doing rack of lamb.

                                                          1. You know, at the first Thanksgiving, it's likely Turkey wasn't there..........just clams, oysters, and maybe that garbage food.........lobster....but guess those are out

                                                            So..you can always do whatever you want.....roast beef??

                                                            or.a small turkey breast.or even...gasp....turkey tenderloins.and make a simple stuffing

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                              "time" has been defined by hundreds of scholarly types, and may occupy a whole page in your dictionary, but my favorite is simply "the apparently irreversible interval between events".
                                                              With your lovely imagery, it's too bad it's true.

                                                            2. I do bone in turkey breasts in my slow cooker a lot - doesn't take much time at all. I rub with salt and spices and then let it cook all day. You don't get the crispy skin, but I've never been a skin eater anyway - it just doesn't agree with me.

                                                              Even if you get a small one, there will likely be a good amount of leftovers. You'll have enough for turkey sandwiches, and then I usually dice the rest and use for turkey salad, casseroles, creamed turkey over biscuits, and other things of the like.

                                                              I'd do roasted potatoes instead of mashed. Not much work, just cut into larger chunks, peel if you want, toss with some oil and spices, and roast in the oven until tender.

                                                              I don't have sciatica, but I have really severe asthma, and often can't cook much right now. The kitchen in the home that we are living in now (2 more weeks until new house!) is very small and heats up quickly, and I end up having to stop cooking to do breathing treatments.

                                                              On Thanksgiving day, it will just be my husband and I, though we are planning on having a more traditional Thanksgiving meal after we move when our stepdaughter isn't with her bio-mom. Right now, I'm planning on individual beef welligntons (can be prepped in stages ahead of time, then baked later), roasted potatoes, steamed green beans, a cranberry salad, corn, and some sort of dessert. Going to skip the dressing for this meal and make it another time.

                                                              1. Turkey 'bits' were too expensive... so was duck. I decided to try my hand at stuffed pork loin because I already had the roast in the freezer and I only had to get the veggies etc. Here's hoping it works out!