You may be hosting a smaller gathering this year, so how can you change up your menu while still keeping it special? You can get together safely and still have fun, but do stay abreast of pandemic safety guidelines.

Here are  a few of my ideas:

  • Make fewer side dishes, or smaller ones that only provide the number of servings you’ll eat. There are lots of ideas in my cookbook for two.
  • To get everyone to embrace your new version of the holiday, add a new side dish to the table (see the Wild Rice Salad below).
  • Instead of a casserole, just bake sweet potatoes and serve them with a choice of special toppings. Bake for 35 minutes, then add toppings of your choosing (chopped nuts, mini marshmallows, cranberries, cinnamon) and return to the oven for 10 more minutes.
  • Go with a roasted turkey breast instead of the whole bird. You can also roast a drumstick or two, or a small ham. Or try a Cornish hen instead of a whole turkey.
  • For something special, try my Turkey Roulade.
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Turkey Roulade

If you have a smaller crowd, I recommend trying this roulade. It takes a little prep the day before, but it's delicious, and you'll have no waste. Add a couple of turkey drumsticks, and you can easily serve 6 to 8 people.
Servings 6 servings
Author Rosanne Rust MS RDN,


  • 3 pounds boneless turkey breast, skin on
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened, divided
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 ounces ground sausage (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups bread stuffing
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil


Day Ahead

  • In a medium skillet, melt remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add celery and onion and saute for 1 to 2 minutes. If using, add sausage and cook another minute. Sprinkle sage evenly over mixture, stir to combine, and cook until sausage is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  • Place bread stuffing into a medium mixing bowl. Transfer sausage mixture to bread stuffing bowl. Add cranberries and mix until combined. Add broth gradually (you may need less, or more) and mix until moist.
  • Lay turkey breast out flat on clean surface, skin side down. Pound it with a meat hammer until about 1 inch thick. Rub 1 tablespoon of butter under skin and spread evenly.
  • Place 4 to 5 pieces of poultry string under the breast. With turkey breast skin-side down, spread the stuffing evenly onto the turkey breast. Starting on the long side, tightly roll the turkey breast. Begin tying the roulade at the center, then at each end. (If skin loosens, stretch it over the roll before tying.)
  • Wrap the roulade tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To cook

  • Remove the roulade from the refrigerate and let it rest for 10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Lightly rub the olive oil over the surface of the roulade. Place the roulade onto a baking dish.
  • Roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees to 165 degrees, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Before slicing, snip off poultry string. Slice into 1-2 inch thick slices and place onto serving platter.

Keep it Simple

I know you. You don’t always want to fuss with from-scratch cooking or baking! Sometimes, yes. Other times, I need something quick and easy.

  • Instead of a pie, make pumpkin custard cups. Cut your pumpkin pie filling in half, then pour it into custard cups (coated with cooking spray). Bake at 350F for 20 minutes, or until set. You skip the work (and calories) of the crust, and keep all of the pumpkin nutrition. Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A. It’s also a source of potassium, vitamin C and adds a little fiber too.
  • I love this easy hack using store-bought cake mix and jazzing it up with pure pumpkin to make mini cupcakes. 
  • Use a quick rice mix and turn it into something new and delicious like my Holiday Wild Rice Salad.

Easy Holiday Wild Rice Salad

5 from 1 vote

Easy Holiday Wild Rice Salad

This easy wild rice side dish is perfect if you want to try something different. It comes together quickly thanks to Minute Rice® and is a fresh and light side dish to accompany a big meal.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Author Rosanne Rust MS RDN,


  • 2 3-oz bags Minute Multi-Grain Medley (Brown Rice Red Rice Wild Rice and Quinoa), cooked cook according to package directions
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup peanuts, pistachios, or walnuts, chopped
  • 1 6-oz can mandarin oranges, drained
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 2 tbsp orange juice you can also use the juice drained from can
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp sugar


  • Cook the rice and set aside to cool.
  • Place rice into medium sized bowl.
  • Add the cranberries, nuts, oranges and celery to the rice. Toss well.
  • Mix the orange juice, olive oil, salt and sugar in a small bowl using a small whisk. Mix until well combined.
  • Pour dressing over rice salad, toss lightly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Serve chilled or at room temperature.


You can make the dressing extra special by adding a tablespoon of a lemon flavored balsamic vinegar.