Last week I read a blog by my new friend, Rachel. And by new, I mean, we haven’t really met in person but when I read her post I simply knew we could be the best of friends. She hates cooking as much as I do. On her blog she wrote about how she’s thankful for fast food because some nights it’s simply a lifesaver. Please don’t write and tell Rachel and me how bad fast food is for us. We both know. But there are days when desperate times call for desperate measures.
Since it wouldn’t be beneficial to our bodies or our budgets to eat out every night it’s good to have some easy meals on standby that can wow a crowd with minimal effort. So, I thought I’d share my top three favorite easy-prep meals to help you get through this Christmas season.
I wish I could remember who gave me this recipe so I could give her credit. I’m 95% certain it was my friend, Lynn, who probably made it for our family after I had surgery many years ago.
- 1 8 oz. jar of Western (or French) Dressing
- 1 large can of whole cranberries
- 1 pkg. onion soup mix
Directions: Mix the above ingredients together and pour over skinned, boneless, chicken breasts in a 9 x 13” pan. Cover and bake for 30 minutes at 325° and then uncover for 15 – 20 minutes. Total baking time 45-50 minutes.
Serve with rice or baked potatoes and a vegetable.
The next two meals are gluten, dairy, and soy-free given you choose your ingredients properly. Personally I’m always on the lookout for recipes to fulfill these requirements. The Cranberry Chicken could also be made to accommodate food intolerances, I just haven’t figured out the proper substitutes yet. That seems like work to me.
Balsamic Roasted Pork Loin
This recipe came straight from Melissa S. at allrecipes.com (which I hope isn’t against the rules for me to share since I included the link.) It’s mouth-watering good!
- 2 lbs boneless pork loin
- ½ C olive oil
- ½ C balsamic vinegar
- 2 T. Steak seasoning (dry)
Directions: Dissolve steak seasoning in balsamic vinegar then stir in olive oil. Place pork into a Ziploc bag and pour marinade over the top. Squeeze out air and seal bag; marinate 2 hours to overnight.
Place in a baking dish and bake at 425° for 15 – 25 minutes to an internal temperature of 145°. Cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice and serve. (My mom would say you should serve this with applesauce, which isn’t a bad option.)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 jars of your favorite salsa (I usually use one medium and one mild)
- 2 cans beef broth (I use one low sodium and one regular)
- 1 small undrained can of corn
Directions: Brown ground beef. Add salsa, beef broth and corn. Stir and heat for 5 minutes, or until warm. This freezes well so why not make a double batch?
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese (or skip if you need it to be dairy-free) and tortilla chips (it’s delicious with some some sour cream, too.) Add a salad to complete the meal.
My friend, Annette, gave me this Taco Soup recipe many years ago. I have to admit, I didn’t think it had a chance of tasting good but let me tell you, it’s amazing! It always gets rave reviews whether I serve it to my family or bring it to a friend’s house.
Speaking of bringing food to a friend’s house, this is a great time of year to surprise someone with a meal. I can’t imagine any one turning down a meal that showed up at their doorstep during the Christmas season (unless you really had no idea who it came from, that would be a little scary.) But I can assure you that anyone who has been recently diagnosed with cancer, or had a baby, or some sort of surgery, etc. would be totally blessed by your help. I speak from experience here. Last year, after John’s cancer diagnosis, I was THRILLED when I knew a meal was coming. And really, with meals so easy to prepare, why would you not?
I hope these recipes don’t leave you thinking like Rita Rudner: “I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself, ‘well, that’s not going to happen.’”
Trust me and try them. You’ll love every single one!