Jillian R.
I really don't like eating out very much these days if I don't absolutely have to; or if a restaurant serves something that I can't/don't know how to make at home.

I started planning my weekly menus about two years ago. It started the first few months after we moved to Muscat. We didn't have a car (we rented one later on) and every time we needed to take a taxi somewhere, it involved 10 minutes of haggling - and still paid such a hefty fee for a 5-10 minute ride. We did a major food shopping once a week, so I had to make sure my shopping list didn't leave out the cilantro! Anyway, we realized quite quickly how much more convenient menu planning was, and how much healthier we were eating.

To make this post as brief as possible, I wanted to show you how easy and fast it is to make a satisfying three course, balanced meal in about an hour - I spread it out throughout the day, but there's no reason why you couldn't do it all at once.

On the dinner menu today I have the following Gordon Ramsay dishes :-

To start; Cauliflower-Saffron Soup

I cheated a bit with this one and used instant vegetable stock instead of making it from scratch (I usually do). It took 5 minutes to boil the milk, another 2 minutes to cook the cauliflower florets, a few seconds to whiz it all up into a pureé and about a minute of sautéing a few florets into a lovely golden brown.
Total time: 10 minutes
Note: If I do use homemade stock, I would make it a day ahead so that I could skim off the fat

The entré; Chicken Marsala with Red Chicory

I cut up the chicken earlier in the day and had them covered in the fridge. All I needed to do during dinner time was brown the pieces for a few minutes in the pan with some garlic, threw the Marsala over it and dish it out. It took all of 20 seconds to stir fry the chicory leaves.
Total time: 15 minutes (including prep time)

And finally, dessert; Chocolate-Coffee Mousse

Desserts always take the most time to make (in most cases), and this one in particular needed time to set, so I had it done in the early afternoon. It took about 5 minutes to whip the mascarpone and cream, while at the same time melting the chocolate on the stove. The mixing took another 5 minutes.
Total time: 10 minutes (cleanup NOT included!)

So, like I said, this entire dinner took about 40 minutes to cook. It's healthy; I substituted low fat milk for milk, olive oil for butter, etc, clean and easy on the wallet. Plus, eating at home means *doggie-tax for the babies!

*Note: We NEVER feed our dogs from the table. We make them wait until we finish eating and they get a couple of bite-size pieces of our meal. This way, they don't get overfed, and don't beg as they know that waiting is rewarding!
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