Updated Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 07:01 AM
For many people, Thanksgiving conjures thoughts of roaring good-time family gatherings, large dining tables crammed with relatives, an oversized turkey and enough stuffing to feed an army.
But if you're hosting an intimate gathering, you can still have all the traditional tastes on a smaller scale. You can cut recipes in half, choose to have just two or three dishes, or avoid the stress of cooking altogether with the help of our local markets. We've rounded up some options for the cook, the I-don't-want-to-cook, the vegan, the locavore and everyone in between.
Cooking for two?
If you're hosting your own Thanksgiving for two, try replacing the turkey with more appropriately sized Cornish game hens.
Cornish Game Hen With Garlic and Rosemary
2 1 ¼- to 1 ½-pound Cornish game hens, giblets removed
1 lemon, cut into wedges
4 large fresh rosemary sprigs
3 tablespoons olive oil
15 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup low-salt chicken broth
Additional rosemary sprigs for garnish
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Season cavities with salt and pepper. Place two lemon wedges and two rosemary sprigs in cavity of each hen. Rub hens with ½ tablespoon oil. Season outside of hens with salt and pepper to taste. Arrange in heavy large roasting pan. Scatter garlic around hens (stuff a few garlic cloves in the cavity of hen for additional flavor).
Roast hens 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Pour wine, broth and remaining oil over hens. Continue roasting until hens are golden brown and juices run clear when thigh is pierced at thickest part, basting every 10 minutes with pan juices, about 20 minutes longer.
Transfer hens to a platter, pouring any juices from the cavity into the roasting pan. Tent hens with foil to keep warm. Transfer pan juices and garlic to a heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to sauce consistency, about 6 minutes.
Cut hens in half lengthwise. Arrange on plates. Spoon sauce and garlic around hens. Garnish with additional rosemary sprigs and serve.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit via Epicurious.com.
Don't want to cook?
Whole Foods has several meal options that free you up to enjoy more of the day outside the kitchen. The Intimate Holiday Dinner with organic Turkey ($99, serves up to four — think leftovers) is truly "the works": an oven-roasted petite organic Diestel turkey, fresh green beans with shallots, savory herb stuffing, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, cranberry relish, dinner rolls and a traditional pumpkin pie.
PCC Natural Markets offers a roasted turkey meal for two to four ($69) with Diestel free-range boneless turkey breast, mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, apple sage stuffing, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls from The Essential Baking Company, a vegetable side (choose from Walnut Beet Salad, Roasted Squash, Parmesan Mixed Vegetables, Hearty Greens Caesar salad) and apple, pumpkin or vegan pumpkin pie.
On a budget?
To cut costs, head to Marlene's Natural Market, which has locations in Tacoma and Federal Way, for an economical ready-to-serve Dinner for Two ($25.99). The fuss-free meal includes turkey breast, cranberry orange chutney, gravy, garlic mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and two mini pumpkin pies.
Vegetarian or vegan?
PCC's Vegan Field Roast Meal ($69) serves two to four people with field roast en croute, creamy mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, apple sage stuffing, cranberry sauce, one vegetable side, dinner rolls from The Essential Baking Company and a pie.
Prefer to eat local?
At Eat Local, you can pick up organic and locally sourced turkey or side dishes in smaller portions, including heritage turkey breasts with apple stuffing from Crown-S-Ranch in the Methow Valley ($15 per serving; available in single or double serving sizes) or mini pumpkin pie ($5; serves two) made with organic pumpkins from Boistfort Valley Organic Farm just southwest of Centralia.
Not entirely sure what you want to do? The Red Coat Brigade at Metropolitan Market might be able to help. Between Nov. 20 and 22, the team of culinary concierges are in stores, available to assist with menu planning, shopping for the right ingredients and customizing your meal.
Andrea Dashiell is a freelance writer.
Thanksgiving for two.