Thanksgiving is usually a time to gather with family and friends, but sometimes it’s nice to have a more intimate gathering with just your “better half”, or a few friends at home. Since Tatjana is working in London, and I just had a fabulous week in New York with mom – I decided to have a relaxed, quiet celebration this year with just a few close friends.

Julie Anne & Nick Rhodes

Cooking a whole turkey just doesn’t make sense for two or three people. I originally wrote this recipe for center cut pork chops (with cooking time adjusted accordingly) but realized it would be a great combination of flavors with turkey when I spotted the turkey tenders in my local grocery store.

Boil sweet potato chunks to just fork tender and drain

Reduce the apple juice and cider vinegar for the sauce
Dredge tenders in flour with fresh thyme
Simmer turkey tenders with sweet potato & pears
Serve the juicy turkey tenders with sauce, pears, and sweet potatoes
Festive and tasty, yet much easier and quicker to make. Leftovers are great sliced into a crusty roll and dipped into the sauce as you would a French Dip the next day.
… and enjoy with someone special

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Turkey Tenders with Pears, Sweet Potatoes & Maple – Cider Reduction

Perfect for smaller Thanksgiving celebrations, plus this recipe is a lighter, healthier alternative to the Thanksgiving classics.

Servings: 4


4 cups water
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup apple juice
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Bartlett pears, peeled and cut into 1/2” chunks
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dried thyme, divided
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 pounds of turkey tenders
salt and pepper to taste


1). Bring water to boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add sweet potato chunks, cook until just fork tender but not mushy, about 12 – 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

2). Meanwhile bring cider vinegar and apple juice to boil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Reduce by half, boiling for about 15 – 20 minutes. Add syrup and mustard and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, whisk continually for 5 minutes. Add pear chunks, stir for two minutes, and reduce heat to low.

3). While cider vinegar and apple juice are reducing, mix flour, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, and granulated garlic. Dredge the tenders, shaking off any excess flour. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4). Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add turkey tenders and brown 4-5 minutes per side. Add sweet potatoes and cider vinegar mixture with pears to the pan, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until turkey tenders are just cooked through, an additional 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the tenders. Internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F. Serve hot with sweet potatoes and sauce spooned over the top.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with a green vegetable such as sautéed spinach.

This post was first published November 24, 2014

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