While the hectic pace of everyday life may mean most family meals are quick and budget-friendly, there are special occasions that call for more than just an everyday dinner. Birthday or holiday, sometimes the best gift a mom can give is an extra-special dinner that includes premium ingredients you usually pass up at the grocery store. Besides, it costs less to cook a fancy meal than it does to take the family out to a fancy restaurant, so overall you're still being budget savvy.
Shrimp Fettuccini Alfredo
Splurge on quality shrimp for a special pasta dinner that's creamy enough for kids to enjoy and sophisticated enough for adults to feel indulged. Make your own creamy Alfredo sauce with butter, cream and freshly grated real Parmesan cheese. For an easier version, purchase a quality bottled Alfredo sauce and add real Parmesan cheese to give it a homemade touch. Toss the cooked shrimp and fettuccine noodles with the warm sauce and garnish with fresh parsley for a professional presentation. Serve the pasta with a light garden salad with a favorite creamy dressing. End the menu with mini lady fingers or mini tiramisu for dessert.
You don't have to wait until Thanksgiving to serve a big turkey dinner to your family. You also don't have to worry about dealing with a whole turkey. Purchase one of the many seasoned turkey breast roasters available at the grocery store. They're much easier to prepare, cook quickly, and usually come with their own little packet of gravy. For side dishes, add steamed green beans and fluffy mashed potatoes with real butter or sour cream seasoned with dry dressing and dip mix. Pour pumpkin or apple pie mix into a premade crust and bake to finish off the meal right.
Sweet Pork Loin
Add a sweet glaze to turn a seasoned pork loin into a dinner tasty enough for a special occasion. Glaze with apricot or orange marmalade mixed with a little apple cider, and roast the loin in the oven. Serve the pork over mixed brown and wild rice seasoned with a packet of dry salad dressing mix. Add steamed asparagus sprinkled with lemon juice and toasted pine nuts as a side dish. End the dinner with peach or blueberry crumble made with canned or frozen fruit.
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Chicken cordon bleu, French for "blue ribbon chicken," is a rich dish that's easier to make than it looks. The basic recipe consists of a breaded chicken breast stuffed with cheese and wrapped in ham. For the best flavor, bread the breasts and cook, then slice open to add Swiss cheese, and wrap in honey ham. Cook until the cheese melts, then serve over linguini. Add a side of honey-glazed carrots and a small side salad with creamy dressing to the menu. Conclude the dinner on a light note with lemon sorbet for dessert.
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