By Special to MSNBC
updated 11/19/2004 12:17:35 PM ET 2004-11-19T17:17:35

What do you do when your Thanksgiving dinner is not a crowd around the table but instead a table set for two?

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As an only child, I am used to small celebrations that still represent a full Thanksgiving feast with all the indispensable holiday dishes — without enough leftovers to feed a small army. A combination of home cooking and some prepared foods are key to a menu-for-two that features soup, turkey with dressing and gravy, and pumpkin pie.

This meal will nurture good memories without wearing you out in the kitchen. And it won't stress a loved one's health, for which we all can be thankful.

A roast turkey and a pie that are store-bought are an easy first step in building the menu, but it takes homemade gravy and dressing for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner. Below is a hearty, traditional dressing made with fresh herbs.

Lean gravy recipe
For a rich but lean gravy, coat a small skillet generously with cooking spray, then add 1 tsp. canola oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot, add 1/2 cup chopped onions and cook until deeply browned, about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat and whisk in with a fork 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. (Avoid too high a heat to make sure the flour doesn't burn.) Add 1 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring until the gravy thickens. Purée the mixture in a blender, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve. To reheat, microwave, partly covered, for 60 to 90 seconds (depending on your microwave) on low power.

Thanksgiving stuffing for two
A hearty, traditional stuffing made with fresh herbs.

8 slices multi-grain or whole-wheat bread, cut in 3/4" cubes
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 celery rib, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 leek, white part only, finely chopped
1/2 small shallot, finely chopped
1/2 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut in
1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. dried and crumbled rosemary, or to taste
1 tsp. dried thyme, or to taste
1 large egg, beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups fat-free, low-sodium, chicken broth

Spread bread cubes in 1 layer on a baking sheet and leave them out overnight to dry. Or, toast the cubes in a 300 degree oven until dry, 15 to 20 minutes. Place dried cubes in a large bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute celery, onion, leek, and shallot until soft, 4 minutes. Mix in the apple to coat it with oil. Add this mixture to the bread cubes. With a fork, mix in the egg. Add rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Toss with a fork to blend. Pour in 1 cup broth and mix until dressing is moist but not soggy, adding more broth if needed. Pack dressing firmly into the prepared pan, and cover with foil.

Bake 30 minutes. Uncover and set aside for 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 215 calories, 7 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 33 g. carbohydrate, 8 g. protein, 5 g. dietary fiber, 540 mg. sodium.

Nutrition Notes is provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

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