Home Alone for the Holidays? 5 Easy Recipes to Make Yourself

The holiday season is a lot less thrilling when you don’t have a chance to get together with family. Whether you can’t get away because of a work conflict, budget limitations, or uncooperative weather, missing out on the usual festivities can be a bummer. It’s even more of a downer when you think about all the delicious feasting you’ll be missing.

With the right recipes, a solo or two-person holiday can be just as delicious. Put down the takeout menu and head for the grocery store because these five recipes will have you feeling merry in no time.

1. Ham with Tart Berry Sauce

ham, berry sauce, preserves

Source: iStock

A glazed ham is a thing of beauty. It also yields enough to feed a small army, which isn’t practical for someone cooking for just one or two. Get the flavors of the holiday favorite in a more manageable package with Epicurious’s ham steak topped with lingonberries. It’s sweet, salty, and just a little bit sour. If you can’t find lingonberry preserves, use cranberry sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8-ounce, ½-inch-thick) ham steak, cut into 2 pieces
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • ¼ cup lingonberry preserves or whole-berry cranberry sauce
  • 1½ tablespoons water
  • Salt

Directions: Season ham generously with pepper. Melt 1½ tablespoons butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add ham and sauté until brown around edges, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer ham to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining butter, then stir in shallots and mustard. Cook until shallots begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Mix in lingonberries, water, and vinegar. Stir until sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over ham and serve.

2. Herb-Roasted Turkey Thighs

roasted chicken pieces and vegetables

Source: iStock

Roasting an entire turkey takes the better part of a day. The good news for those looking to make a smaller meal is they can achieve the same taste in a lot less time. Try this turkey thigh and vegetable roast from Wishful Chef, adapted from The New York Times. Since the thighs cook so much faster than a whole bird, this recipe uses a smart technique of cooking the meat skin-side down for 30 minutes before flipping it over and adding the vegetables. This step ensures crisp, brown skin without overcooking the turkey.

Feel free to play around with this recipe a little bit. Any combination of root vegetables will work in place of the potatoes. You can also use different herbs. Thyme would be especially nice.

Ingredients:

  • 2 turkey thighs
  • 1 handful of garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 handful of pearl onions, peeled
  • 4 small potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sage sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 parsley sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Flour

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow turkey thighs sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to roasting.

Chop enough of the herb leaves to measure 2 teaspoons of each and rub onto both sides of each turkey thigh. Season turkey thighs with salt and pepper, then arrange in a deep roasting pan, skin-side down. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove pan from oven, flip over thighs, and add potatoes, onions, garlic, and remaining herbs. Add broth, making sure not to splash over the turkey skin. Season with additional salt and pepper, and drizzle top of turkey and vegetables with olive oil. Transfer to oven and bake 30 to 40 minutes longer, or until turkey is cooked and vegetables are tender, stirring vegetables once during cooking.

Remove pan from oven and transfer vegetables and turkey to a platter. Cover with foil to keep warm. Meanwhile, strain pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Whisking constantly, sprinkle in a bit of flour. Let simmer, adding more flour if needed, until gravy reaches your desired thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Serve gravy with turkey and vegetables.

3. Mahogany-Glazed Cornish Hen

roast cornish game hen

Source: iStock

For those who love the idea of roasting a whole bird, Cornish hens make the perfect individual meal. Usually over by the chicken in the supermarket, these tiny poultry take less than 30 minutes to roast. We like Taste of Home’s glazed hen because they get a huge flavor boost from ginger, apricot preserves, and a bit of soy sauce. Serve this dish with some simple veggies and grains for a complete meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (20- to 24-ounce) Cornish game hen, split lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 to 1½ cups chicken broth, divided

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange hen, skin-side up, in a shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl, mix butter with ginger and orange peel. Using your fingers, loosen skin from hens and rub butter underneath, smoothing skin back into place afterwards.

In another small bowl, whisk preserves, vinegar, soy sauce, and mustard to combine. Transfer half of the mixture to another container, then brush one half over the hen. Season hen with salt and pepper. Pour ½ cup of stock into the bottom of the pan.

Roast hen for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just cooked through, adding broth to maintain the level and basing with remaining glaze halfway through. Serve hens with pan juices.

4. Chateaubriand for Two

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

You can certainly cook a few rib eyes if you’re in the mood for beef, but no steak feels as special as a roast. As long as you have a decent butcher, you can typically ask for a smaller portion of tenderloin. If not, divide the whole thing yourself, then store the additional portions in the freezer. You can even save a few bucks if you trim it yourself. Check out this guide from Serious Eats to see how it’s done.

Once you have your small piece of tenderloin, turn it into a two-person supper with Emeril Lagasse’s recipe, featured on Food Network. It even takes care of sides since it includes potatoes and some other veggies. To make things even faster, use a purchased Creole seasoning.

Ingredients:

Creole seasoning

  • 2½ tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Roast

  • 1½ pounds beef tenderloin, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 large baking potatoes, peeled
  • 2 carrots, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 large turnips, peeled, and halved
  • 1 cup beef stock

Directions: Combine all seasoning ingredients thoroughly and store at room temperature in an airtight container.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Season tenderloin with 2 tablespoons Creole seasoning. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat and sear meat until well browned on all sides. Transfer to a roasting rack set in a roasting pan and roast for 15 minutes, or until medium rare.

Meanwhile, cut vegetables into like-size pieces. Cook vegetables separately in small pots of salted water until just tender. Drain.

Transfer meat to a carving board and let rest at least 10 minutes, covered with foil. Remove rack from roasting pan and place pan over medium-high heat. Add stock to deglaze, and bring  to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Simmer and adjust seasoning. Add vegetables to stock and allow to reheat. Slice meat and serve with vegetables and sauce.

5. 5-Minute Single Serving Apple Crisp

individual apple crisp

Source: iStock

Baking for one is a lot less ridiculous than it sounds, as long as you make something easy. These quick apple crisps from Pinch of Yum are perfect because they use ingredients most of us already have on hand and cook in the microwave. Though this recipe calls for coconut oil, we like to use butter for the undeniably rich taste.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • ¼ cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 2½ tablespoons whole-wheat flour, divided
  • 2½ tablespoons turbinado or brown sugar, divided
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 apples, chopped
  • Honey

Directions: Melt coconut oil in the microwave, then stir in the oats, nuts, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and the salt to combine.

Toss apples with remaining flour, sugar, and cinnamon.

Spoon a small amount of the oat mixture into the bottom of two 9-ounce mugs or ramekins, then top with the apple filling, dividing equally between the mugs. Top with remaining oat mixture, transfer to the microwave, and cook for 3½ minutes, or until apples are bubbling. Let stand for a few minutes. Drizzle with honey, if desired. Serve.

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