Thanksgiving Dinner for Two

Originally posted on November 30th, 2010


Growing up, Thanksgiving always meant a huge feast that took the entire day to prepare (and several hours to eat).  Now that it’s just hubby and me, I’ve managed to pare down our menu considerably.  For starters, I forgo the whole turkey in favor of a turkey breast. And instead of an endless buffet of side dishes, I stick to just two of our favorites each year.  Below are some pics and recipes from our humble but delicious meal for two (which easily could have served four if we were willing to forgo leftovers).


Herb Roasted Turkey Breast w/ Pan Gravy:

(adapted from Rachael Ray’s Thanksgiving in 60 on

  • 1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemon, scrubbed clean
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • Large handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 1/2 cup, from 12 stems)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pan
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 6 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 lb. turkey breast
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a roasting pan and set it aside.

Put the onion into the bowl of a mini food processor. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the lemon in thin strips, being careful not to cut into the bitter white pith. Add the lemon zest to the food processor and reserve the whole lemon for another use. Chop the onion and lemon zest until fine. Add the sage, parsley, olive oil, and 1 teaspoon salt and pulse until it forms a coarse paste.

Put 2 of the bay leaves and the butter into a small pan and heat over medium-low heat until the butter is bubbling. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the turkey breast on a work surface. Carefully run your fingers between the skin and the flesh from 1 end, being careful not to pull it completely off, creating a pocket. Season the turkey breast generously with salt and pepper. Stuff half of the herb paste under the skin of each breast, and spread it evenly under the skin. Transfer the turkey to the roasting pan, and slide 2 bay leaves underneath. (The heat of the pan will release the bay leaf oils and flavor the breast.) Using a pastry brush, baste the turkey with half of the bay butter. Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 400 degrees F. After 30 minutes, baste the turkey with the remaining butter, and roast for an additional 35 to 40 minutes, until cooked through, and a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the breast registers 170 degrees F.

Remove from the oven, transfer to a platter, cover, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving while you make the gravy.

Put the roasting pan over the burner on medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the pan juices, and cook, stirring, for a few minutes. Add the  heavy cream, and scrape the pan to lift the bits that are stuck to the bottom. Bring to a simmer, and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal, and serve with warm gravy.


Cheddar Cheese Smashed Potatoes:

  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar
  • 3 tablespoons chives, snipped
  • Salt and black pepper

Quarter potatoes and place in a large pot. Cover with water, salt generously and bring to a boil for 10 minutes or until tender. Drain and return potatoes to pot. Smash potatoes with masher and combine with sour cream and cheese. Add chives, salt and pepper and continue mashing. Adjust seasonings according to your tastes.


Glazed Green Beans w/ Pancetta:

  • 2 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 12 oz. fresh, snipped green beans
  • Salt and pepper

Steam green beans for 3 to 5 minutes and set aside.

In a skillet over medium high heat and add the pancetta. Brown the pancetta bits, about 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Return pan to heat, reducing heat to medium. Add oil and shallots to the pan and let the shallots saute 2 minutes.  Add sugar and cook with shallots 1 minute. Add vinegar to the pan, scraping up pan drippings. Add steamed green beans to the mixture to coat evenly and top with crisp pancetta.

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  • Kelly November 29, 2010 at 8:18 am

    Sounds yummy! Glad you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  • Monique November 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

    DROOLING…I mean, everything looks delicious! Looks like you two had a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    • ClosetConfections November 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      We definitely enjoyed ourselves. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Jenn from Much to My Delight November 29, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Looks like a perfect combo to me! Those green beans with pancetta sound fantastic. Hope you had a happy holiday, Kendra.

    • ClosetConfections November 29, 2010 at 3:41 pm

      I most certainly did. I hope you enjoyed yours as well!

  • Gaby November 22, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    i love this! not everyone has a big thanksgiving. my bf and i just make reservations… and see a movie. there might be yoga and a run in coney island this year (last year we braved the parade). great post.

    • ClosetConfections November 23, 2011 at 8:44 am

      I tried making dinner reservations one year for a change, but Eric was not happy with the Peking Turkey, lol! One of these years, I have to make it down to the parade. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Anikasmom November 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Our Thanksgiving will be a lot different this year than normal. We usually go to my Grandma’s for dinner but she is very ill this year so we will just be going out for dinner. It’s funny how even traditions change eventually.
    Hope you & yours has a great Thanksgiving 🙂

    • ClosetConfections November 23, 2011 at 8:42 am

      My heart goes out to you and your family. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and maybe even start some new traditions.

  • Ashley Ellis November 23, 2011 at 8:24 am

    That looks delicious.  Pray you both have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  🙂

    • ClosetConfections November 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

      Thanks! Have a wonderful thanksgiving too!

  • Caramelnaps25 November 24, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Its three/four of us depending on the day, and I went light this year. Normally we make something and go to the inlaws, but I want to chill this year especially since I have class all weekend:(  I did mac and cheese and dressing and may make some greens tomorrow!  The hubby baked a turkey. That’s it!  Clean up done, one hour left and its a wrap:) Its too much cooking all that stuff. I was looking at my best friend’s list and I don’t want to even think about all that food! That 10 pounds I’d gain in one day!  lol I am gonna try those cheddar cheese smashed potatoes for sure!