Thanksgiving, solo style

22 Nov

Although I am an American citizen, I am the daughter of two Asian immigrants, neither of which probably celebrated Thanksgiving before their 21st birthdays. So my memories of Thanksgiving for as long as I could remember were of ready-made turkeys, trips to Boston Market for ham and sides, Stove Top stuffing and pies from Publix. It wasn’t until about 2 years ago that I and other members of my family started attempting some recipes ourselves; last year my aunt cooked our turkey herself, and I made a sweet potato casserole, which at that time, was a huge accomplishment.

I wouldn’t be comfortable handling an entire Thanksgiving dinner myself yet, but I’d certainly be willing to at least tackle dessert, if not a side or two. But I haven’t yet reached the point in my life where I’m the one hosting family and friends for the holidays. I still go back home to Orlando or I meet with family in another city. And we still leave a good chunk of the work to either the supermarket or a restaurant.

I do have friends who aren’t going home for the holiday, for multiple reasons like distance or lack of vacation time. So one of the many things I’m grateful for this season is that I actually can be with family for Thanksgiving. But if I had to spend Turkey Day solo, and didn’t have anyone in town to pig out with, I figure I’d make these Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce. That way, I can have turkey without cooking an entire bird, and I don’t risk going into a three-day long food coma eating so much of it myself!

Herbed Turkey Meatballs with Cranberry Sauce (adapted from “Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast: Simple Suppers”)


For the meatballs:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ zucchini, finely chopped*
  • ½ yellow zucchini, finely chopped*
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano & 1 tablespoon thyme, or 2 tablespoons oregano
  • Salt and pepper

*You can pretty much use whatever vegetables you have on hand; the cookbook uses celery instead of zucchini, but when I made this, I didn’t have celery on hand. I’ve also made this with mushrooms and green onions.

For the cranberry sauce:

  • ½ cup water**
  • 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
  • ¼ cup sugar

**The cookbook calls for ½ cup of orange juice – I was also out of OJ so I tried it with lemon juice and it came out quite tart. If you want more sweetness, use juice, but water allows the tartness of the cranberries to come out nicely.


Prehead the oven to 425 degrees F.  Lightly spray or oil a baking sheet and set aside. In a frying pan, over medium-high heat sauté the onion and zucchinis until soft and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Spoon the mixture into a large bowl and allow that cool. Once cooled, add the turkey, breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, and egg. Mix everything thoroughly but gently with your hands. Take palm-sized chunks of the mixture and mold them into 12 meatballs. Arrange these evenly on the baking sheet. Bake the meatballs for about 10 minutes, until they’re opaque.

While the meatballs bake, combine the cranberries, water and sugar in a saucepan and place it over medium-high heat. Stir often and allow the mixture to boil and the cranberries to pop, about 3-5 minutes. Once cranberries start popping, break some of them up and allow the juices to release. Turn the burner to low and allow the mixture to thicken, about 5 minutes. Remove the sauce from heat and spoon onto the finished meatballs. Enjoy with your favorite vegetable or side.


4 Responses to “Thanksgiving, solo style”

  1. lubos November 22, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    These look really awesome! I am also not originally from the US, and not a huge fan of turkey, so I typically don’t celebrate Thanksgiving either. This year I am heading off to some cabin with a friend, and we’ll try to cook up something in the fire pit. My mom makes a great potato/pork/veggies wrapped in aluminum foil casserole, so I’ll try to adapt it to the Thanksgiving staples.

    • TheNoviceNosher December 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

      Thanks, Lubos! Hope your cabin Thanksgiving turned out great!

  2. fledglingfoodie December 3, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    I made these tonight. They were great! I used celery and onions.

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