I can't tell you how many recipes I've come across that are described as easy -- like, the word "easy" is in the title and repeated several times throughout the directions ("So easy!"). But they include at least 24 steps (often including mysterious-to-me cooking techniques like "scald," "julienne," or "broast") and feature ingredients like truffle powder or Tuscan kale.
Call me crazy, but I think if a recipe takes more than one hour to complete and also requires that you secure a second mortgage on your home in order to purchase the ingredients, it's officially NOT easy.
I'm particularly interested in going the cheap and easy route this time of year, because the last thing I want to do in December is drive myself insane and broke trying to master some crazy gourmet concoction like candied turducken or whatever. If you're also in the anti-Martha holiday camp -- fist-bump! -- I've got a list of super simple, inexpensive, perfectly awesome holiday treats for you to try:
Okay, this isn't technically a treat, it's more of a food decoration. But these kind of blew my mind because my experience with clove-studded oranges has always involved filling the entire surface of the orange with cloves. Which, as you may know, takes forever, and takes about 40 jillion whole cloves, which are expensive. This method is more stylish looking and looks easy enough so that the kids might actually help you with it. You could do it with those mandarins that are always on sale this time of year, too.
Pioneer Woman's Buttered Rosemary Rolls
I was asked to contribute the rolls at our family Thanksgiving meal this year, and after dithering around for several days worrying about whether I'd screw up a from-scratch recipe, I followed Ree's example and made these frozen rolls. (To be honest, I skipped the rosemary and didn't bother with a skillet, so basically this is less of a recipe idea and more of a suggestion to buy Rhode's frozen rolls, but make sure you add all the extra butter and the salt.) They were, I swear to god, the best rolls I've ever eaten, homemade or otherwise.
You cannot get easier than this: Hershey's kisses on pretzels, melted in the oven for 4-5 minutes, topped with an M&M. Delicious and festive results with zero mess!
Chocolate Candy Cane Stirrers
I've seen fancier varieties of these that involve colorful marshmallows and whatnot, but these basic candy canes look perfect on their own. All you need are the canes and some chocolate chips to microwave -- then wrap in cellophane next to a packet of hot chocolate and tuck into a mug for a super cute, inexpensive gift idea.
Foolproof Holiday Fudge
I know, this one's from Martha Stewart, which is usually enough to send me hurrying for the CLOSE TAB browser button, but it really is a surprisingly easy, kid-friendly fudge recipe. No candy thermometer needed, the ingredient list is pretty basic, and the only time-consuming part is waiting for the candy to cool.
Monkey Bread Minis
All you need for these individually-sized monkey bread servings are a couple cans of Pillsbury biscuits (have someone else on hand to pop open the canister if you have an irrational Biscuit Container Fear like I do), butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Fifteen minutes later, you have a sweet gooey treat that's sure to please anyone who isn't, you know, completely INSANE. Bonus: Since they're so small, it's perfectly fine to eat several of them at once.
What's your family's favorite holiday treat to make? Do you have any easy, budget-friendly recipes to share?
Images via Joy the Baker, Pioneer Woman, Food.com, Julieturns.com, Martha Stewart, Pillsbury