Take a Break from Hectic Holiday Meals! 4 Favorites

Somewhere in between savoring turkey and stuffing and slicing a ham and serving dozens of Christmas cookies, there has to be a break from the holiday feasts. One evening a week, we turn off the holiday hype to have a dinner that is quick, simple, healthy and more everyday than one of my grandmother's from-scratch recipes. While we love traditional fare around here, it's a relief to have a night off, like a re-set button on dinner time during the busiest season of the year.

I use the opportunity to fill up on lots of veggies and to call on recipes I know will be quick, comforting and kid-pleasing. This makes both mom and kiddo happy so we can spend the evening meal focused on anything but our hectic schedule of parties, school assemblies, shopping and decorating. 

Taking this kind of dinner break requires some prep -- not a lot, but some. It also works great to get some help with pre-cooked and prepared meals that hold your high standards -- no trans fats, no MSG, no artificial flavors, gluten-free and cooked in under ten minutes. The portions are perfectly sized for you and a child, husband, friend or just to tuck away for lunch tomorrow. Here are a few of our quick-fix favorite not-holiday dinners.

Balsamic shrimp and spinach salad

The best part of this simple, filling salad is that you can throw in any extras you have in the fridge or pantry -- dried cranberries, extra veggies, last night's leftover Brussels sprouts, doubled up tomatoes. Before you dress the greens, set aside a portion for tomorrow's lunch, turning a healthy dinner into two meals. 

Italian sausage rigatoni

Sunday nights are pasta nights, and this quick skillet dinner gets paired with a side of steamed broccoli, a wedge of garlic bread and a family-friendly movie. 

Shrimp and veggie tacos

I like to do a one-two punch of sauteed or stir fried veggies one dinner, followed by taco night for the next dinner. I top simple pre-cooked shrimp with all the leftover veggies, add my favorite tomatillo salsa or fresh cilantro and diced tomatoes.  If the kid is not into all that, I melt it all together in a quickie quesadilla. Margarita for mama is optional.

Sesame braised beef with snow peas

Warm and tasty, this recipe requires just a few ingredients you probably have on hand in the winter months anyway, like fresh ginger and rice. Sub out the rice for protein-rich quinoa or wrap the beef in the lettuce for a healthier twist.

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