Meals to help with holiday stress

Easy Eggnog Custard Pie (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

It’s a crazy, busy time of year. There’s lots to do as the holidays approach. There are lengthy to-do lists. Planning parties, get-togethers, and holiday celebrations. Buying gifts for those we love. Baking treats. We get caught up in the daily stress of preparation.


The house must be cleaned before the tree is set up and the decorations hung.


Colorful lights outside — and indoors. Christmas trees. Holiday wreaths. Red ribbons. Greens all over the house. Whether you enjoy decorating or do it because you must, it all takes time.


December is when we turn on our ovens. Baking treats to send to far-away family members. More treats to share with neighbors. Cookie exchanges.


Traditional holiday foods “like grandma used to make” are time-honored dishes, but often take more time and effort to prepare than the meals we make for every day.

Preparing for the holidays can be stressful. There are restaurant meals and frozen dinners. But there are ways to cook quick meals with things you have on hand — pasta, potatoes, couscous or quinoa. Add some protein — eggs, ham, or leftover meat — and a few veggies, and dinner can be served in just the time it takes for potatoes or pasta to cook.

Here are some easy, fast, nourishing meals to save time and give you the energy you need for all that holiday fuss.

Pasta with Cabbage and Apples


Pasta of your choice

A little oil for the pan (EVOO, butter, etc.)

1 onion

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small head cabbage (about 4 cups)

A little apple cider or broth to moisten

2 apples

1-2 cups diced cooked ham, optional

1/2 cup raisins, optional

1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese


Cook pasta according to package directions.

While water is heating for pasta, heat oil to medium-low. Add onion and salt; cover and cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, wash cabbage; remove any wilted leaves; chop coarsely. Add to the skillet with the cooking onions, and stir.

Keep an eye on the skillet, stirring as needed; if it gets too dry, add a little apple cider, broth, or water to moisten.

Next, chop and core the apples. Stir into the skillet along with the ham, if using.

When everything is cooked to desired tenderness, stir in the cheese; cook 1 to 2 minutes until cheese melts.

Serve over pasta.

Serves 2 to 3.

Easy Eggnog Custard Pie


1 prepared pie crust (home-made or store-bought) for a single shell pie

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/2 cups eggnog (store-bought or home-made)

1 or 2 Tablespoons rum, optional

1 teaspoon cinnamon or nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Line pie dish with the pie crust. Pre-bake 5 minutes at 400 degrees F. while you beat the filling ingredients.

In a bowl, beat eggs with sugar (an electric beater is best). Beat in eggnog and rum, if using.

Remove pie crust from the oven and lower heat to 350 degrees F.

If you wish, sprinkle with a tablespoon or two of walnuts, craisins, or both.

Pour filling into prepared pie shell. Sprinkle with cinnamon or nutmeg. Return to oven and bake until set, 30-50 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Garnish with whipped cream, if desired.

Serves 6 – 8.

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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.


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