You too can make quick and easy meals that will really impress your friends and family. With just a little planning, these mouth-watering suggestions will also mean you don’t have to spend so long in the kitchen cooking, leaving you enough time to enjoy the company of your guests. One dish that never fails to impress is homemade pizza. Imagine a crispy thin crust, homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese and unlimited interesting meat and vegetable toppings. Serve with a fresh garden salad, add a simple yet tangy dressing and you’ve got a great meal with a twist on the ordinary that makes people come back for more.

Salmon is always a hit – and it’s easy. Consider salmon drizzled with olive oil, lime juice and a mixture of spices, grilled quickly over hard-wood charcoal, and served with steamed snow peas and fresh bread.

Soup is a winner, too. Homemade minestrone Soup with fresh bread is a hearty, healthy meal and it’s a ‘comfort’ food too.

An impressive favourite is Coq au Vin (Chicken in red wine) with potato casserole, French Beans, Cotes du Rhone wine, and a chocolate mini tart for dessert. A melange of flavours in this meal plan would make it a great option for all the family and not just for a French farmer’s Sunday dinner.

Another wonderful creation is Cioppino, an Italian-San Francisco seafood stew, served with Italian Bread and Sauvignon Blanc.

And, don’t forget breakfast time. Starting the day with Sourdough Whole Wheat Pancakes with warm maple syrup, fresh fruit, freshly squeezed orange juice and freshly ground coffee puts you in a great mood right away!

And don’t forget pasta with a simple home made tomato sauce. A basic sauce is delicious by itself, but if the creative urge grabs you, this sauce is a willing host for other herbs and seasonings (such as oregano, sage and rosemary) or for the addition of other ingredients such as cooked ground beef, sausage and many more.

Using pasta such as linguini or thin spaghetti, spoon the sauce over a serving and sprinkle with parsley and shredded parmesan cheese. With a fresh salad and crusty garlic bread warmed in the oven, plus a crisp Italian white wine, you’re on your way to a simple, delicious and dare I say ‘romantic’ meal. Life is good at times like this!

Fraser Neilson may be contacted at . Click here to view more of their articles. Fraser Neilson is a lover of good food and believes that, with a little help, anyone can cook like a gourmet. Head over to his site at and sign up for the free Gourmet Cooking Mini course.

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