10 Easy & Affordable Meals That'll Blow Your Dinner Guests Away

I’m a big fan of cooking and feel that we haven’t seen enough in the way of culinary content on the Buckscoop bargain blog recently. In light of this, I’ve decided to compile ten quick and easy recipes to save you both time and money whilst impressing your diners all at the same time. It's often risky to take a girl/guy out to a restaurant on a date with the intention of presenting a discount voucher upon arrival, as this could make you look cheap. Invite them over for a tasty meal instead that you've prepared yourself from scratch and there's no doubt that your efforts will be viewed in a far more positive light. You'd be surprised at just how simple and cheap this approach can be with the right recipes.

Another good reason to strengthen your gastronomic arsenal is due to arrival of the cooler Autumn season, generally a period when many begin to migrate indoors more frequently (with the excuse of catching up on a good TV series or two). A great precursor to any indoor activity often comes in the form of a tasty meal. Thus, the following 10 recipes are my collection of some of the top quick and easy dishes which you can knock together in a matter or minutes, rather than hours. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.


1) Steak topped with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

Steak topped with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes

This dish is a great alternative to steak and chips, prep only takes 10 minutes if that, and the remaining time is spent frying the steak whilst your garnish cooks in the oven. Ingredients are very straight forward consisting of salt, pepper, garlic, balsamic and tomatoes, meaning the key to this dish is the presentation. Depending on the type of steak you choose, cooking times can take anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes and of course are dependent on how you like you steak done. The recipe (via the link above) contains enough ingredients to serve 2 people, but of course if you fancy sharing with more, feel free to double everything up without losing any of the flavour.


2) Scallops in Herb infused Brown Butter

Scallops in Herb infused Brown Butter

The trick for this dish is asking for 'dry' scallops, because they come with little preservatives and also release very little liquid when cooking. This recipe serves four and is a brilliantly quick and light dish to rustle up in no time. Scallops cook fast and literally only need 3 minutes each side before complete. A dashing of herbs during cooking and a splash of lemon juice before serving is all thats required to start and finish within 20 minutes.


Chicken Piccata

3) Chicken Piccata

This dish is a winner in families across the country, its simply tantalising and if you have never tried it, what are you waiting for. A chicken dish with a twist, the Piccata is basically pan-fried chicken breasts served with a rich lemon caper sauce. The key to locking in flavour within this dish is to firstly mallet the chicken breasts tenderising them, before cooking the entire dish within a skillet. The recipe serves four but of course if you have a large skillet feel free to add more chicken breasts to feed more people. The lemon infusion with the capers in this dish make for a nice light dish.


4) White Wine Broth steamed Mussels

White Wine Broth steamed MusselsMussels in many peoples opinions are an acquired taste, but if you’re a fan then this dish can be a really quick meal to knock together. Preparing this dish takes 15 minutes whilst cooking takes an additional 15 minutes. If this recipe is your first attempt at cooking muscles, then make sure you purchase them from a trusted seafood counter and when you get them home, unwrap them and store in a cool place because muscles are still alive before you cook them. Whilst preparing your dish check each muscle to see if they are cracked chipped or open and if so, throw them away.


Herb Infused Salmon with Salted Roast Potatoes

5) Herb Infused Salmon with Salted Roast Potatoes

The start to finish of this dish is a short 30 minutes, prep time is 20 mins and actual cooking time is only 10. This dish again uses lemon to really bring the flavours to life, using both the juice and the zest. When following this recipe if you still feel that the dish could do with some more greens try adding some complimentary watercress or arugula.


6) His and Hers Pork Chops with Salad and Mustard Sauce

His and Hers Pork Chops with Salad and Mustard Sauce

Moving away from some of the chicken dishes here, pork chops when cooked well carry so much flavour from pan to your mouth, this is helped by the bone attached to the chop. Preparation for this dish is a short 30 minutes and the infusion of ingredients such as black pepper, salt, sugar and honey play on both the savoury and sweet palette. The recipe serves four and one tip recommended by the chef is to pound the pork chops prior to cooking to speed up cooking time.


Thai Fish Fillets en Papillote

7) Thai Fish Fillets en Papillote

This dish is considered by the chef as a sure fire way to steam cook fish every time like a pro. ‘En papillote’ stands for cooked in the bag, however the bag is slightly different to the ones available for roasting a chicken, the bag is made from creased and folded baking paper, designed to lock in flavour as it cooks. The entire dish only takes 20 mins to make and if you are looking to expand your culinary skills in the fish department, this dish is a winner.



8) One Pan Chicken Legs on Brussel Sprout Bed

One pan chicken leg on a bed of brussel sproutsIf you know any British kids then you may well know their universal distaste for Brussel sprouts, therefore this dish could potentially be used as a weapon if you have visiting family from the UK. In my opinion fried chicken is always a winner and this interesting combination is definitely something that will be making an appearance in my house. Chicken stock and lemon juice help remove the slight bitterness stored within the mini cabbages whilst the parmesan garnish really works to finish the dish off before serving.


One Pan Chicken Legs on Brussel Sprout Bed

9) Indian Coconut & Vegetable Curry

A winner in the eyes of your vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diners, this dish includes a healthy variety of seven different vegetables. Wow them with this tasty dish and for your carnivore compadres fry some chicken separately, slice it and dice it before throwing it into your meat lovers dishes. Total prep time for this dish is only 5 minutes whilst cooking time sits around the 25 minute mark, making this dish another 30 minute warrior in the kitchen.


10) Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Fettuccine

Shrimp Scampi Linguine with Fettuccine

Last but certainly not least in this list or recipes, we have a delectable seafood pasta that serves four. This dish packs a punch in the flavour department, olive oil, butter and garlic bring the pasta to life whilst the peppers, white wine and lemon juice infuse all of the flavours together to hit your tastebuds in the sweet spot. This dish is really quick with the pasta consuming most of the cooking time, if you’re using pre-cooked shrimp when the pasta is al dente the hard parts over, maximum time to cook is around 30 mins. Serve with a sprinkling of parmesan and a healthy sized glass of wine each.

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