Easy But Impressive Meals

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If the in-laws are coming over or you're hosting a holiday party for your friends, you'll probably want to make an impressive meal. Unfortunately, most people don't have the time to dedicate an entire day to cooking dinner. The solution is to use some simple tricks and substitutions to create impressive meals without spending a lot of time. Go the easy route to surprise your guests with food they'll be raving about.

Food on the Grill

Skip the burgers and fries and make a simple but impressive meal on the grill. Throw some apple wood or mesquite chips on the coals and smoke a turkey breast all day. Once you get the breast on the grill, you only have to add more coals and chips every couple of hours. Cut up chunks of beef or chicken and vegetables and make magazine-quality shish kabobs in minutes. Slice thick chops from a pork loin and baste them with an apple glaze. Make foil packets of baby vegetables and herbs to roast next to the protein for a colorful side dish.

Stove Top Food

Make quick meals on the stove top that make you look like an expert chef. Break out the wok and stir-fry chicken or shrimp along with a bunch of colorful vegetable pieces. Serve this over brown rice or rice noodles. Cook precut chicken strips, peppers and onions along with packaged Mexican spices for fajitas in minutes. Simmer a pot of chicken stew and bake a frozen loaf of bread for a cold weather treat.

Meals in the Oven

Turn your dining room into a gourmet pizza spot by topping premade pizza crusts with upscale toppings, such as light Alfredo sauce, spinach and mushrooms or shredded chicken, roasted red peppers and broccoli. Invent new gourmet pasta dishes, much like popular Italian restaurants do, by using different pasta shapes, meats and vegetables. Place a succulent beef roast or chicken in a roasting bag along with root vegetables for a home-style dinner without cleanup.


Few things impress guests in your home more than a tasty tray of appetizers before the main meal. Make smaller versions of basic larger food for an impressive display. Use mini phyllo dough cups as the base for tiny quiches. Cut layered sandwiches into squares and serve them on picks. Make a tray of baby vegetables and serve them with an array of three light dips and salad dressings.