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Tips for gourmet meals without the fuss

Tracy Ruckman is a full-time freelance writer, wife and mom. You can visit her on the web at www.tracyruckman.com.

Easy, Elegant Gourmet Recipes

Gourmet meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. With a few easy tweaks and effortless shortcuts, you can create gourmet fare for your family any night of the week. Here are some tips to dine on gourmet meals without spending hours in the kitchen. Your meals will taste like you spent half the afternoon cooking, but only you will know that your meals came together in far less time.

Pot Roast in Crock Pot

Add finesse with international flair

Don't just cook American food because that is where you live. Liven up your meals by cooking ethnic dishes. For example, the French are known for their gourmet foods, and one of the most well-known dishes is Coq Au Vin. The stewed chicken in Coq Au Vin is flavorful, comforting, and delicious, but recipes usually call for extensive preparations, special ingredients, and a lengthy cooking time. Thanks to the crock-pot, you can prep the ingredients then set them to cook, and have a delectable gourmet meal without much fuss.

Another example is pot roast – a family favorite that becomes humdrum after a few Sundays. Dress up your next pot roast German-style. The bold seasonings in German Pot Roast will delight your family – just watch it disappear. Try saving enough leftovers for a sandwich on Monday. German Pot Roast between two slices of soft bread, slathered with mayo, is almost better than the roast itself!

Try a different cut to make dinner a cut above ordinary

The type of ingredients you use can elevate your meal from ordinary to mouthwatering gourmet. For example, if a recipe calls for mushrooms, you can impress your dinner guests by adding tiny button mushrooms instead of pre-sliced. If a recipe calls for ground beef, try using beef strips or beef tips for a more upscale version. Don't settle for ordinary, make recipes fit your family, your budget, and your occasion.

Seafood is an elegant dish that you can have at home

Seafood is regarded as an extravagance, usually reserved for restaurants or special occasions. However, with a simple Scampi recipe, you can impress your family or guests without spending all day in the kitchen or busting the budget. Look for seafood in your supermarket circular and take advantage of seafood sales.

The power of presentation

Take an everyday food and give it a twist to make it more upscale. Changing the appearance of a dish, while keeping the same flavor, is a fun and easy way to give an old recipe new life. For example, wrap ground beef in phyllo or puff pastry instead of fixing hamburgers, or skewer sliced vegetables and chicken and grill instead of stir-frying – serve the skewers on the plate with a colorful salad composed of gourmet greens, toasted nuts and crumbled cheese.

Substitutions and Sides

Many great recipes take on a whole new personality with different ingredients. Even side dishes can become something special with a few adjustments. Add a tablespoon of minced, roasted garlic to your mashed potatoes. Cook rice in broth for a richer flavor. Flavor cooked pasta with a healthy drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, minced garlic and fresh herbs before serving. The possibilities are endless – just use your kitchen creativity to make your dishes something special.

Creativity, attention to details, and flexibility are the keys to providing gourmet meals without the fuss. Wow your family and friends with your gourmet expertise – but be sure you don't let them in on your secrets! Some things are better left for only the cook to know.

Put these gourmet tips to the test with these Easy, elegant gourmet recipes.

And for more gourmet recipes, check out the SheKnows.com Food and Recipes Channel.

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