Updated: December 08, 2016

Save time for holiday baking and shopping by whipping up these three easy meals this week. Kids and adults alike will go crazy for my quick and delicious fried chicken recipe, especially when it's served with sweet and spicy barbecue beans. The butternut and red lentil soup comes together in only about 25 minutes, making it the perfect soup for an evening filled with Christmas tree (and cookie!) decorating. Enjoy!

Grocery list:
8 boneless chicken breasts (with skin on)
Large bottle of canola oil
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Ground white pepper
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
Hot sauce
2 cans cannellini beans
1 huge bunch fresh kale
1 jar barbecue sauce
Cider vinegar
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs.)
Red lentils
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
6 cloves garlic
2 medium-size yellow onions
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Fresh ginger
Curry powder
1 bunch fresh cilantro

Easy Buttermilk Fried Chicken
No need for a deep fryer here—just use a regular sauce pot to make this deliciously tender fried chicken. Serve with steamed kale and mashed potatoes!

Serves 4

8 cups canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
8 boneless chicken breasts (with skin on)
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Mix together the buttermilk, hot sauce, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small casserole dish. Add the chicken breasts and coat with the mixture. Place in fridge and let marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat oil to 350° in a sauce pot. In a pie dish, combine flour, salt, white pepper, and cayenne. Roll each chicken breast in the flour mixture completely and then drop into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the chicken in the oil or it will cook unevenly. Also, make sure your oil is hot enough. If it is too cold, the chicken will absorb the oil and the outside will then burn while the inside stays pink.

Cook chicken for about 8 minutes. Test with a meat thermometer to make sure the inside reaches 165° before removing from the pot. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

Sweet and Spicy Barbecue Beans
Easily my favorite vegetarian meal. This is perfect as a one-pot meal or as a side dish alongside pulled pork or fried chicken.

Serves 4-6

2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
8 cups chopped kale (I don't measure; I just chop a huge bunch!)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, minced
1/2 jar barbecue sauce (Stubbs is recommended.)
2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup warm water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for about 6 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.

Mix in chopped kale and cook for a few minutes, tossing frequently. Add remaining ingredients and combine well.

Bake beans, covered, in a 9-inch glass pan (or casserole dish) for 45 minutes.

Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup
The perfect soup for a rainy day! Plus, it tastes better the next day and can also be easily frozen.

Serves 4

1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs.), peeled and cubed
1 cup red lentils
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste)
Cilantro to garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until it is soft and translucent.

Add ginger and garlic and continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the squash.

Mix in diced tomatoes, red lentils, chicken stock, salt, cayenne, and curry powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until lentils and squash are tender and cooked through.

Carefully transfer the hot soup to a blender and process until smooth. Season with more salt if needed. Top bowls with fresh, chopped cilantro right before serving.